Pterygium Cured by a single remedy in high potency.
(1 Read before the Homoeopathic Medical Society of Cayuga County, N.Y., June 22, 1864).
The following case is thought worthy of special notice for several reasons. It presents an instance of a diseased condition which, being on the surface of the eye, may made the subject of constant observation:
Such a condition has never, so far as may knowledge goes, been produced by any remedy. It is not contained in any proving. A homoeopathic prescription for it must therefore be based upon the general characteristic symptoms which the patient may present, and to which corresponding symptoms may b e found in some drug-proving.
The writer had never treated a case before, and does not recall any record of a cure made by homoeopathic remedies. He was not, consequently, influenced in the selection of a remedy by any knowledge ex usu in morbis.
The patient was not encouraged to expect a cure, but looked forward to a surgical operation as a matter of necessity. There can be no ground, then, for ascribing the cure to faith, the last report of the credulous incredulous, to whom it is easier to believe that a grave and material disease can be cured by imagination, the intangible, than by a high potency, the imponderable!
The cure was effected by a single remedy, in a high potency, the two hundredth (prepared by myself).
J.N.S., a farmer, aged fifty-five years, generally in good health, has had for three years a pterygium upon each eye. Starting from the inner angle of the eye, this morbid growth, which was thick, opaque, and richly supplied with large blood-vessels, and much resembled a strong muscle, extended over the sclerotic, had invaded the cornea with a thick, broad extremity, and now covered more than one-half of the pupil, rendering the patient nearly blind.
The conjunctiva of the remaining portion was deeply injected. The eyes were filled in the morning with a muco-purulent secretion.
The patient was unable to endure artificial light, and compelled to carefully protect the eyes during the day-time. Reading was out of the question at all times.
Within the last six months the growth of the pterygium had been very rapid.
The eyes were very painful, especially in the evening and at night. The pain was in the inner angle of the eye, a pricking, smarting pain, seeming to be situated deep in the globe. Dust in the atmosphere greatly aggravated the pain. In addition there was a very severe pressure at the root of the nose and across the supra-orbital region. There was considerable lachrymation, especially in the evening.
The effect of this disease was to entirely incapacitate the patient for every kind of business.
In this condition the patient placed himself under my care about the 1st of July 1863. He had been advised that an operation for the removal of the pterygium was the only thing to which he could look for relief, but had also been told that in the present inflamed condition of the eyes, and at the unfavorable season of midsummer, the operation would expose him to no inconsiderable danger of sequelae that might be very disastrous. He had been counseled to endure his present symptoms until the weather should become colder and more favorable for the operation.
His motive, therefore, in coming to me was to get some palliation of his suffering, some temporary relief, that the summer months might be made more tolerable to him.
I gave him no encouragement to believe that I could do more than slightly palliate his sufferings; for, as has been already remarked, I had never treated a pterygium, and never heard of a homoeopathic cure of one.
Seeking a homoeopathic remedy for the case, as it has been stated, I could get no light from the objective symptoms, since no proving contains anything like them. Nothing remained but the subjective symptoms. Of these the pain, smarting and pricking, and which was singularly confined to the inner angle of the eye and seemed deep-seated, the pushing pain at the root of the nose, the marked aggravation in the evening, these symptoms together suggested Zincum metallicum.
In the proving of Zincum we find (symptoms 194, 197, 205, 209), biting, pricking and soreness in the inner angle of the eyes; lachrymation, especially in the evening; inflammation and redness of the conjunctiva; suppuration of the inner angle with soreness, many of these symptoms being aggravated in the evening; symptom 248, “Pressure on the root of the nose, as if it would be pressed into the head, almost intolerable,” together iwth 249-251 of a like significance.
The other symptoms of the patient being well covered by those of Zincum, I concluded to give this remedy.
I felt the more hope of some benefit from it, from the fact that my (allopathic) preceptor, who had much experience and success in the treatment of diseases of the eye, had often said that Sulphate of zinc, applied externally, had a more beneficial effect in pterygium than any other astringent or caustic application.
Now, as Sulphate of zinc is by no means so powerful an astringent or caustic as many other substances that are commonly used as applications in such cases, certainly the superiority of Zinc could not be attributable to its mere possession of those properties which it has in common with other collyria, as, for example, Nitrate of silver, Sulphate of copper, etc., etc. It must be due, then, to some specific quality of the Zincum met. In passing, let me venture the remark, that in clinical observations like the above, made by sagacious allopathic observers, we may often find valuable hints to supplement our pathogenetic knowledge of drugs.
To return to the case, I determined to give the two hundredth potency Zinc, the case being, as it seemed to me, a very fine one for experiment with a high potency.
I gave four powders of sugar of milk, each containing three globules of Zincum metallicum 200, and ten additional powders containing nothing but sugar of milk; a powder to be taken dry on the tongue, every night on retiring; the patient to report on the fourteenth day. No change to be made in diet, regimen, or occupation. No external applications to be made.
July 15. The patient presented himself and stated that on the third day after he began to take the powders he began to feel much better, and that now he was entirely free from pain and discomfort and from lachrymation. The morning secretion was much less. I thought the eye appeared less inflamed, but beyond this there was no change in its physical condition. I gave sugar of milk and requested a report in a fortnight, or sooner, in case the pains should return.
August 1. No return of pain. The pterygium has certainly diminished in size; it is not so thick and luxuriant as formerly. Sugar of milk.
August 10. The patient came to apprise me of a return of the pains to moderate extent. I gave three powders of Zincum metallicum200, to be taken every night on retiring.
August 20. The pains disappeared after the first powder and have not returned. The pterygium is evidently decreasing.
Twice again the pains returned, and on each occasion I gave a powder for the Zincum200. By the end of October, the time fixed for the operation, the pterygium had diminished so far that it was only a little colorless ridge in the extreme inner angle of the eye, the sight was entirely restored, the patient could use his eyes freely both by day and in the evening; there was no longer any thought of the operation; in fact, it would have been hard to find anything to operate upon.
At the present date there is no trace of the pterygium remaining upon the left eye. In the inner angle of the right eye there is a small speck yet visible.