This substance was first introduce into the Materia Medica by Dr. Petroz, of Paris, is some observations published in the Revue Critique et Retrospective de la Matiere Medicale, vol. iii., 1841.
Dr. Petroz does not state from what variety of the mollusk which furnishes the purple coloring matter the specimen employed by him in the proving was obtained. A coloring substance, to all appearance identical, is found in various genera of the family Muricidae as well as in the genus purpura of the family Buccinidae.
Weber, of Paris, in his Codex, des Medicaments Homoeopathiques ou pharmacopee pratique et raisonne, has the following remarks:
“MUREX PURPUREA. Coquille a pourpre. It belongs to the class of mollusks and to the family of Purpurifera. There are several varieties which may have the same value in Homoeopathy, inasmuch as up to the present day the only part used for experimentation has been the coloring matter which furnishes the purple, and even this experimentation has been made not upon the healthy subject, but upon the sick.
“The ancients derived their purple dye from several different mollusks, from the Biccinum, a variety found upon the rocks, as well as from the Purpurea, which is the “Coquille a pourpre,” properly so-called, and which is found not only upon the Phoenician coast, but also through out the Mediterranean. Recently a juice, analogous to the purple dye, has been found in several conchiferae belonging to the family of the Limacidae. This juice, which is viscous, and, when first obtained, colorless, is found in a distinct little sac which in the majority of these mollusks is situated between the heart and the liver. When brought into contact with the atmosphere this juice becomes successively yellow, green, blue and finally a reddish purple.
“It is insoluble in water, alcohol or ether; consequently, for homoeopathic use, the first three attenuations should be prepared by trituration.”
Jahr and Catellan, in their Pharmacopoeia, Paris, 1853, say: “MUREX PURPUREA, purpura patula, cochlea veram purpuram fundens; pourpre antique; Purpurschnecke. An oval shell furrowed transversely, studded with tubercles, especially when young; with a somewhat short helix, the aperture bell-mouthed. Color, a blackish russet externally. The columella of a russet yellow. The straight margin white. This variety of shell inhabits the Mediterranean, where it is pretty common. Its juice, which is the true purple dye, is contained in a large fold in the form of a pocket upon the back near the neck. It requires a good deal of adroitness to collect this juice, for it is quickly thrown out by the animal. The juice, after being taken from the animal, is at first blue, and then of a beautiful green, finally of a magnificent purplish red. Cloth dyed with it always preserves its color.”
The provings recorded by Dr. Petroz, and which are the only ones that we possess, are, it must be confessed, fragmentary. So are the contributions of every individual prover of every drug. So are the single stones, of which when they are duly placed together, a stately mansion is constructed. If the stones were neglected, because, when regarded separately, they are nothing like a house, how could they ever be brought together and built up, forming the house? If the results of each individual prover’s or experimenter’s labors are to be withheld on the ground that they are fragmentary, how shall matter be accumulated for a complete and exhaustive proving?
It has been further objected that Dr. Petroz’s proving is not a pure one, because his subjects had, two of them a slight leucorrhoea, and the third a cutting uterine pain at the time of the menstrual flow. Some, chief among them Dr. Roth, of Paris, would rigorously exclude from the Materia Medica Pura everything which does not rest upon exact observation of the effect of drugs upon exclusively and strictly healthy persons.
Etymologically, he is quite correct. A pure Materia Medica has no business with a single symptom obtained from observation on the sick, however slightly sick, or sick in a way however foreign to the nature of the symptom in question.
But in good part, the criticism of Dr. Roth is sheer pedantry, not practical sagacity.
An ideal Materia Medica Pura should contain only symptoms obtained upon the absolutely healthy. Ages will elapse before we can have a complete Materia Medica of this kind. It is certainly an object worthy of unceasing labor.
The Materia Medica which we possess while made up in good part of pure symptoms (symptoms observed upon the absolutely healthy), contains also symptoms observed upon those who are not absolutely healthy. The symptoms we possess of certain medicines are wholly of the latter character. Cases occur in practice to which no remedy of which we have pure symptoms corresponds, but which nevertheless finds its simile and it individual specific in one of these drugs of which we have no knowledge except the symptoms it has produced upon the sick.
Now, the pedantry of the critic in his closet may exclude from a pure Materia Medica every proving that is, so to speak, impure, but the question for the practical man is this: Shall any proving, however fragmentary, however impure, which yet puts it in the power of the physician to cure even a single case of disease, be cast out from the Materia Medica? The answer must be, let it remain for the sake of these rare cases as a stimulus to pure and complete provings, as a contribution to the clinical, if not, in pedantic literalness, to the pathogenetic history of the drug!
The point of greatest importance in relation to the fragmentary provings, which are published from time to time, and from a collection of which an exhaustive knowledge of the drug is ultimately to be obtained, seems to us to be this, that the name and condition of the prover should be attached to each symptom, and that thus the student may be enabled to judge for himself of the pureness and authenticity of the symptoms.
The observations of Dr. Petroz are given in the following with but little abbreviation. They are followed by some clinical observations by Dr. Constantine Hering and other practitioners. All together, these remarks should serve to draw attention to Murex purpurea as a substance promising rich returns to the careful prover.
MUREX PURPUREA, by Dr. Petroz, of Paris, from La Revne Critique et Retrospective de la Matiere Medicale:
The entire scope of the action of therapeutic agents is not easily recognized, even by those who have a profound understanding of the Materia Medica based on experimentation on the healthy subject.
This difficulty explains the astonishment of practitioners when they meet with unexpected results, the products of some particular condition different from that which constitutes the physiological state. The observations of these effects in conditions very similar to each other, if collected with care, should, after a time, constitute the second part of the Materia Medica, which we might call the clinical, in contradistinction to the pure or experimental part.
The latter, however, the fundamental basis of the art of curing, should be regarded as an inviolable law, the point of departure of every positive notion, the sacred volume to which we faithfully recur on every occasion on which we may have been led away, by a sort of involuntary impulse as it were, to that empiric method which has, up to the present time, characterized the successively prevailing doctrines.
Experimentation on the healthy subject, while it produces symptoms analogous to the majority of those observed in the sick, has not been able to go so far as to produce those disorders, whether functional or material, serious, and yet so common which appall the most practiced and hardened observer.
That the proving of a medicinal substance upon the healthy subject should make known all the effects which it is capable of developing, it must be repeated not only under different conditions of age, sex, etc., but also under variable conditions of susceptibility. But even if one succeed in finding healthy individuals of very unusual susceptibility, this is but trifling, compared with the susceptibility which characterizes certain pathological conditions.
Furthermore, where is the physician, who, whatever his devotion to science, would assume the right of pushing his proving to the extent of endangering the life of the prover.
This difficulty of pushing experimentation far enough to discover every medicinal property which a substance may possess is relative, as I have said above, to the susceptibility of the prover. Thus a young woman, very impressible and courageous, presented to me, when under the influence of Lycoperdon Bovista, symptoms which were the very image of asphyxia from the fumes charcoal.
In proving a mimosaasperata she experienced several epileptiform nervous symptoms.
But it is a rare thing to find individuals so well adapted to this work. In default of them, we must interrogate the pathological susceptibility, which, in its turn, may prove a fruitful source of positive knowledge.
No. 1. A woman, 46 years old, of nervous temperament, very impressible, but in good health.
One dose of Murex, fourth, was taken in six spoonfuls of water. The first spoonful was taken January 5th, in the evening.
Twelve hours after taking the medicine, acute pain in the right side of the uterus, which crossed the entire body and extended upward to the left breast; extreme feebleness of all voluntary motions, the legs bend under her; irresistible necessity of remaining seated; confusion of ideas, repugnance to conversation, deep sadness.
At six P.M., palpitations of the heart, and throbbings of the arteries in the neck.
In the evening, excessive fatigue, somnolence, heat of the hands; pulse 80. Pains in the knees; pains in the loins, sensation of excoriation and of burning pain, as if broken, in the chest. The night was good.
January 7th. The second spoonful, in the evening, Sharp burning pain under the false ribs of the left flank, toward the vertebral column, in paroxysms; somnolence and sadness; difficult evacuation of faeces, stool requiring an enema of tepid water. The stitch in the side has lasted the whole day. In the evening, painful tension in the right hypochondrium. Dry, infrequent cough. Dyspnoea. Voice is changed and hoarse. The heaviness is much diminished. No leucorrhoea since the first spoonful.
The third spoonful on the evening of the seventh.
8th. The night good. On awaking, feels well. The stitch in the side has disappeared. Sensations of dryness and constriction in the uterus. The heaviness has disappeared. No leucorrhoea.
The fourth spoonful was taken on the evening of the eighth.
9th. A good day. Natural stool. FIfth spoonful, evening.
10th. Very good day. Sixth spoonful.
11th. In the morning, a sensation of heaviness and of dilation in the labia majora. The urine has a white deposit.
Expulsion of a small quantity of bloody mucus, after passing water.
12th. A good day. In the evening the menses appeared abundantly. Stool natural.
13th. Pain in the uterus, as if wounded by a cutting instrument. This sensation has been habitual during the menstrual flow for many years.
No. 2. A woman, aged 38years, of a sanguine temperament, sound mind, judicious of powers of observation, good health.
First day. The leucorrhoea having disappeared entirely, pain in the occiput toward midday, pain in the arms below the elbow.
Second day. On awaking, headache, which disappears on getting up. During the day pains in the left temple, coming and going. Toward the close of the day, tightness in the occiput; I involuntarily raise my hand to the part affected, when the tightness passes from left to right; I raise to the head the hand of the opposite side to that which is the seat of the pain; I bend my head backward because it seems to me that this motion relaxes the nerves of the occiput and of the neck; constant desire to urinate during the day; at three o’clock in the afternoon, great desire to sleep.
Third day. Headache as the evening before, and relieved in the same way; sleep with troublesome dreams; I fled from a troubled sea and found myself again in a meadow with water; during the day momentary heaviness of the head; at five o’clock my right cheek was burning; in the evening, twice, I had a very violent stitch on the left side of th abdomen, downward; it ascended perpendicularly and lasted one minute; at nine o’clock, violent sleepiness. During the day, pains in the legs from time to time, tightness in the head on each side above the ears; pains in the breasts.
Fourth day. Painful dreams, headache on waking pretty severe colic; hunger during the day appetite pretty good in the morning, but not a dinner; pains in the breasts,
Fifth day. I will explain to you. The prover has not dared write all that she felt in the region of the genital organs; excessive sexual desire, an excitement which will and reason could hardly control.
Sixth day. The left cheek burning. Hunger during the day: in the evening headache with pain, lasting about an hour.
Seventh day. Troublesome dreams; waked with a start, in fear; in the morning, leucorrhoea, very scanty, but greenish; in the evening, flatulent colic. This is the seventh day of medication, and since the second day I have been very much constipated; to-day I could not go to stool; in the evening I had headache in front of the forehead. I have forgotten to say that, during the first days, in the morning before breakfast, I coughed several times. In the evening, when breathing, I had wheezing in the chest; for several days, I experience, during the day, paroxysms of anguish, of fear and dread.
No. 3. A woman, aged 39 years, of sanguine-lymphatic temperament.
First day. At two o’clock and at four, I have had sharp but transient pains above the cerebellum. Less of leucorrhoea, but always mixed with blood.
Second day, Friday. Since noon, the head embarrassed and a little heavy; little disposition to work; at half-past two o’clock, buzzing in the ears, and increased heaviness in the head, relieved about four o’clock; about half-past six, I was taken with a sharp pain in the abdomen on the left side. It was acute and extended over the whole abdomen; not equally intense, but felt indifferent spots, like a sharp point; the left side of the abdomen remained sore the whole evening. The leucorrhoea scanty and not mixed with blood. In bed, pains in the renal and lumbar regions, and a decided heat above the thighs persistent.
Third day, Saturday. Less heaviness of the head; but little leucorrhoea, but it is thicker; not mixed with blood; the sore spots of the left side of the abdomen are less sensitive, but are still occasionally felt; some lancinating pains; the heat of the thighs has disappeared, but that of the hip region continues even when not recumbent.
Fourth day, Sunday. This morning, on going to stool, the blood had disappeared, and up to one o’clock, blood was mingled with leucorrhoea; about three o’clock I experienced a severe pain above the right temple; a little pain in the thighs; I have remarked that since taking the medicine the pains in the loins and hips are greater. In the evening, on going to stool, the blood flowed copiously; this day, but little leucorrhoea. For two days, pains in the breasts.
Fifth day, Monday. No blood to-day; but little leucorrhoea; but, on rising, pains under the left thigh, very sensible on touching the part. This continued throughout the day. Some lancinating pains in the womb; the hips are painful; no heat of the thighs, either in bed or when up.
Sixth day, Tuesday. No blood; but little leucorrhoea. The pain below the thigh is less severe, but the part is always sensitive to the touch. The breasts have been very painful, and in bed I have had sharp and painful lancinations in them. The pains of the thighs and of the loins have almost disappeared.
Seventh day, Wednesday. During the night I waked with a start, and a violent desire to urinate. Urinated very copiously. No blood nor leucorrhoea during the night, a good deal during the day. Heaviness of the head and even dizziness, but since taking the medicine, and even before, I have not had so good a day. I have observed that since taking the medicine I lose my memory, and even find my words with difficulty.
Eight day, Thursday. Ceased to take the medicine. The day has been a very bad one. Very severe pains in the breasts, loins and thighs. Distress in the abdomen, resembling that which I feel at the approach of the menses; and we are now at the 20th of August, they should not come until the 5th of September. Desire to sleep, dullness of head; labor is irksome.
This evening, no more pain except in the thighs, always below and toward the middle. When urinating during the day blood appeared slightly; scarcely any leucorrhoea, but very thick and yellow. I have remarked that I suffer more when sitting than when walking, and the pains, which I cease to feel when walking to and fro, return almost immediately when I resume the sitting posture. Good sleep and appetite.
Ninth day, Friday. Good night; yet on first waking, and also several times during the night on waking, I had pretty severe pains, such as attend the menses; anguish.
The breasts, to-day, have been less painful; no more blood in the leucorrhoea, and at stool scarce any leucorrhoea; no pain in loins but extreme lassitude and pains in the legs and knees. No lancinations. A good day.
Headache, however, and frequent transient sharp pain in the right temple. My headache, which continues this evening is more on the right side than on the left.
Clinical Observations. No. 1. Madame J., mother of several children whom she nursed, enjoyed very good health up to her forty-fifth year. At this period she began to have irregularity of the menses and soon to complain of painful weariness in the loins, of a sensation of weight in the hypogastrium and more particularly in the rectum, all of which gave her great concern; deep sadness at the approach of the menses, which were very abundant for several days, and were attended with great pain caused by the expulsion of large coagula. Subsequently, the flow, which lasted ten or twelve days, became russet-colored and finally serous. The interval from one period to the next was only about ten day, during which the above symptoms diminished without entirely ceasing, and at the recurrence of the menstrual flow re-appeared with their original severity.
Exploration, by means of the speculum, revealed the presence of a soft, violet- colored enlargement of the neck of the uterus; a large excoriation on its anterior aspect, which was caused to bleed by a slight touch, induced recourse to cauterization, after which the patient was enjoined to observe absolute repose and a light not very abundant diet. The menses subsequent to the operation were less abundant, without coagula and consequently less painful and of shorter duration; the secondary symptoms were also less marked. This improvement did not last longer than a few months, when the symptoms returned with increased violence. Walking, or standing for a long time became almost impossible; the pain at the appearance of the menses became again violent, for the expulsion of large coagula; during the periods of suffering, the pulse was small and frequent; emission of urine was impossible; a copious sweat covered the patient’s body. Sabina 3/30 in 120 grammes of water, given in spoonful doses, every half hour, moderated the severity of the symptoms without much abridging their duration. Eight days afterward the patient took Murex purpurea4, five centigrammes in 180 grammes of water (a spoonful morning and evening).
Under the influence of this remedy, the painful weariness of the loins, of the thighs, the weight upon the rectum, the leucorrhoea, the itching occasioned by it and the pains in the hypogastrium diminished and then disappeared.
The menstrual epoch, which was retarded several days, occurred as before the sickness, except that there was the weakness resulting from the antecedent sufferings. A second dose, like the first, was given, immediately after the cessation of the menses. From that time she was restored to perfect health. Eighteen months have elapsed, during which she has led an active and sometimes a fatiguing life, without her health being at all impaired.
No. 2. Madame F., 30 years of age, of a sanguine-lymphatic temperament, mother of two children, was subject, in infancy, to violent attacks of cough, caused by congestion of the lungs, the results of a psoric taint (retrocession of itch). These attacks ceased to appear about the time of her first pregnancy, another organ becoming then the center of the congestion and the seat of disorders of another character. The patient began by experiencing a sensation of pressure toward the genital organs; some months after her first confinement, a heavy weight pressing upon the rectum, swelling of the haemorrhoids, greenish yellow leucorrhoea, sometimes bloody, and discharge of pure blood by the vulva at stool.
Thrilling pains in the lower extremities. Painful weariness in the loins, in the nates; very great debility which rendered walking very difficult, often impossible, at the period of the menses. To these symptoms, which kept growing more intense, there was added a painful aching in the whole hypogastrium; it caused an inexpressible anguish and frequent syncope, which ceased when the menses began to appear; soon those became excessive, accompanied by spasms in the abdomen, together with sharp lancinations in the uterus.