Star of Bethlehem.
IN the days of the Cooper Club, which met in Dr.Clarke’s house, and where the moving spirits were Dr.Robert Cooper, with his genius for the discovery of useful remedies, Dr.James Compton Burnett, who had a genius for grasping their idiosyncrasies and possibilities and employing them with success for the patients who besieged him and Dr.Clarke who noted them with the carefulness of genius and recorded them for permanent help of humanity in his Dictionary of Materia Medica: working, as he used to say, in order to save himself work, because he MUST know where to lay his hand on any drug he might need:. one of the very important, but, so far, poorly proved remedies that emerged from their discoveries and deliberations was.
A member of the onion, leek, and garlic tribe, with many of the peculiarities of action, in sensitives, of these comestibles.
Boericke has, now, a brief mention of Ornithogalum in his comprehensive Pocket Book. But all he says is:
“To be considered in chronic gastric and other abdominal indurations, possibly cancer of intestinal tract, especially of stomach and caecum. Center (sic) of action is the pylorus causing painful contraction with abdominal distension.
“Depression of spirits. Complete prostration. Feeling of sickness keeps the patient awake at night.”
Years ago one obtained a permit from Kew to pick specimens of medicinal plants. Dr.Cooper’s way of obtaining his plant remedies, was seeking them out at their best, as regards not only season, but time of day or night. Armed with a small bottle three parts filled with spirit of wine, he would secure his choice specimen and bottle it forthwith. He thus provided himself with the purest and most uncontaminated “mother tincture” possible. In many cases he would give one drop of this, at long intervals, as required, waiting, always, till its stimulating action was spent before repeating. And, for remedies so prepared he had a name of his own “Arborivital remedies”. He evidently got astonishing reactions of healing. But, of course, for this purpose, and for such administration, he could not use a drug of virulently poisonous properties: this would have to the toned down to a “3x” in order to be useful without endangering life.
But to return to Kew. One was stopping, one day, over a bed of Stars of Bethlehem, choosing the ideal one for bottling a la Cooper, when, from behind, came a reproachful voice, “What are you doing?” Of course it was a keeper, whose duty it was to prevent such depredations: and, equally of course, it was the first time that one had failed to bring along the never-used permit.
The only course was that of humble explanation, and one succeeded in so interesting and appeasing the keeper as to be hailed along to one of the big sub-tropical houses, and given a specimen of some other unknown, but very precious medicinal plant-or so the keeper said.
All this by the way. The question is: What do we know of practical importance, from the prescribing point of view, about Ornithogalum?
In one of Dr.Cooper’s booklets entitled Cancer and Cancer Symptoms, he writes under quoting first from the Treasury of Botany, as follows:
“A common weed in many parts of England and Scotland. It is known as the Star of Bethlehem from its being abundant in Palestine and having star-like flowers. It is also supposed to be the Dove’s Dung of Scripture (2 Kings ch. vi.); and its bulbs which are wholesome and nutritious when cooked are to this day eaten in Palestine. The genus is closely allied to Scilla, from which it is distinguished only by its flowers being persistent instead of deciduous, and white-greenish or yellow instead of blue. All the species are bulbous plants, with radical and not stem-sheathing leaves, and terminal racemes of flowers, each flower with a withered branch beneath it. Their perianth has six distinct segments, spread out star-fashion; and their six stamens have flattened filaments, and are almost free from the perianth.”
Cooper continues: “Belonging to the natural order Liliaceae it is botanically allied to Asparagus officinalis, Paris quadrifolia, Convalaria majalis, Scilla maritima, Agraphis nutans, Colchicum autumnale, Allium sativum, cepa, and Polygonum officinale, besides, of course, many other less known but valuable remedies.
“My acquaintance with it in cancer cases was due to the very distinctive disturbance it produced in a woman very sensitive to all alliaceous flavouring substances in food. The dose was taken at mid-day, and the same evening distension of the stomach and duodenum came on, with frequent belching of mouthfuls of offensive flatus obliging her to loosen her clothes, and this was accompanied by the most hateful depression of spirits and desire for suicide, a feeling of complete prostration and painful sinking across the pit of the chest, and a feeling of sickness that kept her awake the greater part of the night, and that did not pass off for several days.
“The subject of this disturbance was about 54 years of age, of quite a sanguine temperament, inclined to enfeebled digestion, and with a history of pleuritic seizures, and possible phthisical tendencies, but otherwise not subject to any settled form of disease.
“Since the medical thrill above recorded, her general strength, digestion and capacity for enjoyment of life have manifestly improved.
“The Ornithogalum umb. in those sensitive to it, goes at once to the pylorus, causes painful spasmodic contraction of it, and distends the duodenum with flatus, its pains being invariably increased when the food attempts to pass the pyloric outlet of the stomach.” (The italics are ours.)
And elsewhere he says: “The Ornithogalum umb. is a species of garlic (Allium sativum), and, like it and Allium cepa, produces indigestion with excessive eructations of wind.”
Dr. Cooper gives wonderful cases of apparently malignant ulceration of the stomach, cured by Ornithogalum, and one actually proved malignant by operation at one of the London Cancer Hospitals, where the patient was afterwards informed that “adhesions had been found between the stomach and the thoracic wall with a cancerous growth and thickening of the pyloric extremity of the duodenum, and that it had been impossible to remove all the diseased tissue”. He was later re admitted to the cancer hospital on account of his agonizing pains, but when sent home six weeks later, was informed by his own doctor that everything possible had been done for him; that he could not possibly live along, and that he must bear the pain while life lasted.
Cooper found him writhing in agony on his bed. He could keep nothing long on his stomach; warm foods relieved, cold drinks aggravated. Pains were worse at night; they spread from stomach to heart and between shoulders, as if an iron brick were being forced through the stomach and chest. The growth was rapidly enlarging, with visible bulging underneath the attachment of the diaphragm; with marked dullness on percussion; the bulging extending to scorbiculus cordis. Tongue red, coated towards the back; bowels confined, with sometimes diarrhoea.
In this case the effect of Dr. Cooper’s unit dose of Ornithogalum was, first intensified pain, then bowels acted, and a frothy substance came up which gave relief. After a second unit dose, he began bringing up a black jelly-like substance, with great relief of pain, and general improvement in his condition.
During a coupe of following months legs and feet would go to sleep and he was unable to keep still. Then feet and ankles began to swell; right leg felt bruised and got painful and angry; then swollen and tense, and pitted on pressure. He had also a feeling as if food choked him with some flatus. These symptoms confirmed Cooper in his belief that this swelling of the absorbents shown by the condition of the right leg and the previous swelling of feet and ankles, resulted from the high pressure put upon the emunctories owing to the setting free of the poison in the system. Some few weeks later he came to show the terrible condition of his legs-swollen, with great red streaks and patches coursing down the limbs. Cooper insisted upon his walking away without another dose, believing that this was due to the rapid elimination of the cancer poison. After that his recovery was uninterrupted. He received no other medicine except at the very first, when greatly suffering, a few doses of Carbo veg. 3x, which seemed to increase the pain, and was discontinued, and at the last a unit dose of Alliaria officinalis. Cooper’s treatment began in July 1898, and in May 1899 the man wrote that the was “in almost perfect health, appetite good: eating almost any kind of food, able to enjoy meals, which he had not done for many years; able to enjoy meals, which he had not done for many years; able to get about well, and carry on his business without fatigue”. “I have rejoined the Volunteer Force and have done two or three good stiff marches, besides firing in competitions, and feel no ill effects. I have never felt so well for nearly twenty years. I feel wonderfully well now, and have gained two stone odd which I lost during my illness.”
We have quoted at some length, but condensing, in order that we may take heart, and learn to do, and to hope. It may be well to reproduce these booklets of Dr.Cooper’s; since the experiences of such men of originality and success should not be forgotten and lost.
We remember to have seen about half a dozen cases of gastric or duodenal ulceration clear up under this drug. They were all about the same time, at the end of the last Great War. so far as one remembers, when one saw a great deal of Ward work, and when only one of the lot resisted Ornithogalum and needed, one remembers, Phosphorus. In the worst of these cases, the patient was absolutely blanched from loss of blood, and had to be hurried into a bed in hospital, to brilliantly clear up on Ornithogalum. And that she did clear up one knows, since she still comes up for trifling ailments, all these years afterwards, and reports that she has never had a return of the trouble. Therefore one realizes that Dr.Cooper was correct in claiming that Ornithogalum can CURE, in suitable cases, gastric or duodenal ulcerations.
But we need definite symptoms if we are to prescribe the drug with any degree of assurance. Its locality and mode of attack are important, yet we need more, for, after all other drugs have caused, and therefore cured, such ulceration:-what about Kali bichrom., Arsenicum, Phosphorus?-how are we to choose between them? Try them one by one?-or give the one that has helped with some previous case, and stands therefore first in our estimation?. NOT GOOD ENOUGH! We must know more, in order to make fit choice of the proper remedy, and so establish healing contact.
Like all the onions, as Dr.Cooper tells us, it is capable of evoking really terrible flatulence-in sensitives. And we must remember that it is only from sensitives that one can obtain useful provings, and it is only sensitives that will respond curatively to a remedy, i.e. be stimulated, thereby, to curative reactions.
We have turned up three of Dr.Cooper’s original pamphlets published in 1897, 1898 and 1899. In one of these, in regard to his “Arborivital remedies”, he tells us:
“An Arborivital Remedy is one whose action can only be explained, by supposing a hidden force to exist in plants that is not demonstrable to the senses, and that is independent of any special mode of preparation.” And as to What if an Arborivital Dose? he says:
“It is simply a single drop of the preserved juice of a fresh plant that is allowed to expend its action till no evidence forthcoming of this action.”
One may say that Dr.Cooper had the reputation (as one learnt accidentally from a stranger at a garden party years ago) of “the one doctor who cures cancer”. Have we even one in these days?.