I. Improper Food.
CASE I. CONVULSIONS FROM EATING INDIGESTIBLE FOOD, CURED BY Nux vomica.
SOME years ago I was called in a great hurry to see a girl, about eight years old, in convulsions. The child was completely unconscious, was struggling violently, the eyes were distorted, and the face dark. It was the beginning of the fruit season, and I discovered that she had eaten some foreign plums an hour or so before the attack came on. There was scarcely any remission in the convulsions; she went out of one into another. I mixed a few drops of Nux vomica in water, and put a little of it between her teeth every two or three minutes. After a few doses she was quieter, and at last was able to swallow the medicine. I stayed with her for about an hour, by which time the convulsions had entirely ceased, and they did not return. She passed a quantity of the indigestible fruit by the bowels, and the next day was quite well.
Nux vomica is the most frequently called-for remedy in cases of acute indigestion from improper food. But if the food is of a rich or fat kind, as fat pork, Pulsatilla must be given.
The dieting in these cases is a simple affair. No food of any kind should be given until the attack is over. If there is thirst, water or toast-water may be given, as much as is desired.
When habitual disregard of the stomach’s requirements has set up a chronic indigestion, the same remedies will be demanded according to their symptoms. Consult also in the MATERIA MEDICA, Arsen., Hydrast., Ac. carbol., Kali bichrom., and the chapter on DIET.
2. Irregularities of Diet.
CASE II. -EXTREME DYSPEPSIA
WITH MENTAL SYMPTOMS FROM
IRREGULARITIES OF DIET, etc.
-Sulphur, Lycopodium, and
In November, 1890, I was written to from the country by a young lady, who complained of inability to take any kind of food, more especially meat, without the most intense suffering, bodily and mental. From her description of her case I gathered that she might be helped by treatment, and asked her to come to town to see me, which she did, accompanied by a friend. She was extremely thin, somewhat anaemic, with the ruddy complexion on a pale skin that is found in many cases of anaemia. She looked greatly depressed, and was, in fact, in very low spirits; very irritable, and liked to be alone.
Up to the previous June she had been in excellent health. In that month she had visited a sister who was ill, and helped to nurse her. This entailed much worry, and she was subjected to great irregularity in the times of taking meals. In addition to this, she was frequently exposed to cold, going out in thin shoes and getting her feet wet when heated.
The first symptoms which ensued were-continual and almost unbearable pains in the back, severe headaches, loss of appetite, unpleasant taste in the mouth, and a great distaste for meat. She had much thirst, and the bowels were constipated. At last she could not take the smallest piece of anything without great pain, and she became dreadfully low-spirited and cried much. She had a “queer feeling in her head as if she could not think.” She took medical advice, but did not improve. In August her friends became so much alarmed about her condition, both mental and bodily, that they induced her to go away for a change to the seaside. There things got worse rather than better. She forced herself to eat in spite of the intense pain and general discomfort the food caused; she had constant nausea, especially in the morning, and either had diarrhoea or was constipated. Returning home, she tried starving herself, taking only liquid foods and not much of them, and she found that the less she took of anything the better she felt, though she became very weak and felt dreadfully exhausted at times.
Things went on very much in this way till she consulted me in November. Her condition at that time was as follows :-
She was extremely thin and weak. Though quite young, her hair was greyish, and had been so for three months. Her face burned frequently, and more especially after food. Her tongue was white; she had thick white phlegm in the throat, which felt sore and rough in the evening.
The especial dyspeptic symptoms were the following: A craving for food and a sense of weight felt in the lowest part of the abdomen, and made worse by eating. Sinking, empty feeling all day. Flatulence both of stomach and bowels. Vomits food at times. Sour eructations at times, and sometimes she hawks or coughs up white or yellow phlegm. Rumbling in the bowels, distension after food, particularly after breakfast. Bowels always constipated; motions dark, accompanied with pain; urine has been very thick and red, with sediment at times.
There was aching in chest in the morning on waking. Pulse slow and soft. Continual and almost unbearable pain in the back. Aching in limbs from exertion. Feet very cold; hands and feet used formerly to perspire much, but have not done so for the last three or four months. Sleep poor, wakes between 3 and 4 a.m. She is very chilly, and is better when warm. She received Sulphur as a medicine, and was told that, in spite of the suffering it gave her, she must persevere in taking food. She was to have scalded milk (that is, cold milk into which an equal quantity of boiling water has been poured) in place of tea and coffee. Breakfast at 8, of porridge, raw egg or bacon. At I o’clock, beef-tea, milk pudding, no vegetables. At 5, toast with scalded milk. At 8.30, bread and milk.
In a fortnight she reported herself better in some respects. The pain in the back was less severe. She had not vomited, though the nausea continued. She complained of a sensation as if the food rose up into the throat and stuck there. There was less flatulence. The urine was clearer. The bowels were still confined, though she had an action each day. She felt the intense cold of the weather very much. She still slept badly. Eggs disagreed with her.
The next prescription was Lycopodium; and in the way of diet I ordered Nichol’s “Food of Health” (a preparation of wheat) in place of oatmeal porridge. The Lycopodium seemed to aggravate her symptoms; she felt less well; the constipation became worse; she had a worrying headache in forehead and left temple; thick jelly-like and greenish or yellow phlegm from upper part of throat came after eating. The Lycopodium was now replaced by Nux vomica, and this made a speedy change for the better. In a week the pains in the body and back were much better; the headaches had gone; the constipation was better; she could eat eggs without any discomfort; and her spirits were very much better. Though still waking early in the morning, she was practically quite well in body and mind by the end of January. I forgot to mention, as showing the alarming state she was in, that the friend who came with her when she visited me first, asked me privately, after the interview, if I did not think the patient was going out of her mind. My reply was that the mental condition was secondary to the bodily disease, and would become all right when the latter was remedied.
This was a case in which the condition had gone so far that mere reform in diet was not sufficient to restore the patient; the additional help of the gentle powers of homoeopathic medicines was needed for the cure.
The value of Nux vomica in dissipating the effects of a too free indulgence in the pleasures of the table is too well known to need illustrating. The splitting headache, dirty tongue and absence of appetite, experienced the following morning, send the delinquent who has once tried it to the Nux vomica bottle ever after. Older sinners, with tremulous, white-coated tongue, vomiting in the morning, pale face, and no appetite, will find some relief from Antimonium tart., and if they can be persuaded to give up their tippling habits, they may recover and preserve a measure of the strength they have squandered. And even when it has come to a case of “hob-nail” liver and dropsy, hope must not be abandoned, as the following case will show :-
CASE III.-CHRONIC ALCOHOLISM;
CIRRHOSIS OF THE LIVER;
DROPSY; INDIGESTION; GREAT
AMELIORATION-China, Kali carb.
On the 11th of December, 1886, there came to my clinique at the Homoeopathic Hospital a man, E. T., aged 45, an inspector on the railway by occupation. He was a tall, large man, having his face covered with the red spots characteristic of spirit drinkers. He had recently been discharged from St. Thomas’s Hospital as incurable, having been in there thirteen weeks, during which period he was tapped four times for dropsy. Ever since he was tapped the third time he had suffered from pain about the navel shortly after anything he had eaten or drunk.
In addition to this, he complained of swelling of the limbs and body, coldness of the hands, pain in the bowels, the motion being light, and bad sleep. The tongue was clean, the appetite good, in spite of the pain caused by eating. There was much dropsy of the legs and body, the liver was hard and small, and its sharp edge could be distinctly felt beneath the ribs. He had been a great drinker, his favourite drink being gin and water, cold. When he left St. Thomas’s Hospital he was not warned about his drinking habits.
Nine months previous to the date of my seeing him first he had been for six weeks under his club doctor, and received so much benefit that he thought he was cured.
Three years previously he had lost his wife, and his health had never been the same after. He suffered from rheumatic gout at times. Sixteen years before, he had gastric fever very badly, but except for these had never suffered from any illness.
When this patient came to me first I happened to have several medical students connected with St. Thomas’s Hospital watching my work, and as they were acquainted with the case of E. T., and the treatment he had received at St. Thomas’s and its results, they were anxious to see what else could be done for him.
I prescribed China in the IX dilution to be taken three times a day, with the same medicine in the 30th dilution to be taken at bedtime. I also cautioned him about his drinking habits, but, I regret to say, without very much effect.
He returned in a fortnight, and his former hospital acquaintances were able to note a marked change for the better. He had lost all pains after food, and also the pains in his limbs which were less oedematous; the abdomen was less distended; the motions were darker in colour, and a troublesome cough from which he suffered was better also.
Under this same medicine he steadily improved; gradually all the dropsy disappeared out of his legs, and he was able to do his work with comfort. Once, when his face became very troublesome, the pimples being inflamed and red, I gave him Kali carb. 30 for a few days, and with good effect. This was the only alteration I made in the original prescription, and he ceased attending on March 25th.
He continued at work till the following autumn, and might have been at work still, in my opinion, if he could only have kept from alcohol. This, however, he failed to do, and I heard that he died after a very short illness following a severe cold.
CASE IV.-AGGRAVATED DYSPEPSIA
CAUSED BY TOBACCO POISONING,
CURED MAINLY BY Nux vomica.
At Christmas, 1886, an active man of business came up from the country to place himself under my care with symptoms of acute indigestion. He was 46 years of age, short but stout, and had been exceedingly strong; his complexion was dark and rather sallow. There was not much doubt about the cause of his indigestion. He had commenced to smoke at 12, and had continued to use the drug in excess, both chewing and smoking until a year before he came to see me. At that time he had met with an accident, being thrown from his trap, and after this his health failed rapidly. He began to be sick after his breakfast; and tingling in his right thigh; lost flesh; was bilious and depressed. He left off his after-breakfast pipe, and only smoked after his dinner. The sickness then ceased for a time, but soon returned as badly as ever. He consulted several medical men, and received a little help from some of them. In September a lay friend, who is skillful in the use of Homoeopathy, happening to be visiting at his house, took him in hand, and gave him Nux vomica. At that time smoking was an impossibility; he vomited as soon as he attempted to smoke; his sickness was extreme; he could not walk along the street without vomiting. Under Nux vomica he improved in a surprising manner, and soon regained appetite and digestion. In a week he felt so well that he thought he might try a pipe again. Again the sickness came on as violently as before, and this time, though the Nux helped him, it did not restore him so completely as at first. Now his sensitiveness to tobacco was so great that he could not bear to be in a room where anyone was smoking.
When he came under my care, Nux was again the chief agent in his restoration. Calcarea carb. was very efficient in correcting the acidity which was one of his symptoms, and Iodide of Arsenic also did him great good, but Nux again practically cured him. He was able, when I heard from him last, to eat any kind of food; he attended to his business, and was steadily gaming weight. Of course, all this time he abstained from tobacco.
Besides the remedies used in this case, Ipecac. is also a useful remedy in tobacco dyspepsia, relieving the sickness greatly.
CASE V.-INDIGESTION WITH INDURATED
LIVER; ALCOHOLIC HISTORY.
A city gentleman, about 50, came to me in the summer of 1895, complaining of a pain in his left flank and round the body, giddiness, flatulence, and great depression of spirits. Eight years before he had stone in the bladder. For the last two or three years he had suffered from liver symptoms, and since then he had been very chilly, whereas previously he never felt the cold. He had eczema severely, but he found out that it was only when he took fruit. The giddiness occurred when he turned his head. This had troubled him at times since the previous winter, when he had several severe attacks, the first one occurring in a train.
His tongue was dirty. Good appetite except for breakfast. His appetite was better than his digestion. Formerly he had been in the habit of drinking too much beer, but recently he had taken none, though he had not given up alcohol altogether. He had a sinking sensation at the epigastrium before lunch. Had a pain in left flank and all round the abdomen when he moved. The bowels used to be constipated, but since he had taken Carbo veg. on his own account that had been remedied, and he had discarded the use of Hunyadi Janos water, on which he had depended before. He had a pain in the soft part of the loins going round to the front on both sides. The fingers were shrivelled as in cholera patients; and after washing there was a peculiar odour from the tips, lasting a long time.
On examination I found his liver was considerably enlarged, and very hard and tender. There was a venous zigzag along the attachment of the diaphragm. The indication for Bryonia, especially the marked aggravation from movement, was sufficiently clear, and he received that medicine in the 30th.
Sixteen days later he reported that the pain gradually disappeared, also the deadness of the fingers; he was free from headache, but had slept badly on account of irritation at the rectum.
R Sul. 30 ter die. Verbascum Ointment.
Three weeks later he reported himself much better. Irritation gone. Very little indigestion. The liver was softer, though the spleen dullness was increased. He was suffering from a cold, for which Cepa 30 was given with relief, and then he had Nat. mur. 30. Calcarea c. and Psorinum 30 were given later, and he lost all his distressing symptoms, though his weight remained much below his normal.
CASE VI.-TOBACCO AND WHISKY
Here is a somewhat similar case of more recent date. J. M., 35, wrote to me from the North of Scotland in May, 1890, complaining of indigestion which had troubled him for four years, before which time he had been exceptionally strong.
The chief symptoms he complained of were : A sweetish taste in the mouth; tongue thickly coated, white in the morning and yellow in the evening; hot, burning risings in the throat, which was inflamed at the right side sometimes; white sediment in the urine after standing. Besides these, he had other related symptoms; he was unable to think at times, could not concentrate his thoughts on any matter he had to do, and at those times he had a feeling as if the blood were running cold in his head; he was either very drowsy or sleepy, or else very cross, and his sleep was unrefreshing. He was always chilly, always catching cold, and obliged to wear very heavy clothing. He was a heavy smoker, and also took whisky. These I stopped, and also forbid all kinds of stimulating food and drinks. The medicine I prescribed was Nux vomica in a high attenuation.
In a month he wrote that he was still troubled a good deal with the sour risings, the condition of the mouth, and the white sediment in the urine. It was evident the Nux was not a sufficiently deeply-acting remedy to reach his complaint; though for the purpose of antidoting the effect of his bad habits and of preparing the way for the constitutional remedy it was the natural one to think of first. The next medicine on the list of similars was Lycopodium, the leading indications being-acid risings, sore throat, worse on right side, white sediment in urine (though with Lycopodium it is more characteristically red), excessive chilliness, mental confusion. I sent him three powders of the medicine in the same attenuation, with directions to take one at bedtime, on the following morning, and one again at bedtime. The medicine was now allowed to act without further repetition.
The change wrought by these three doses may be estimated by the man’s own words. Writing a month later, he said : “I have felt much better with the last medicine than the first. The tongue is less white, sometimes the coat has cleaned right off, though it has come on again. I feel much stronger now and quite warm.” No more medicine was given or required. The increase in the bodily heat is a sure sign of regained vitality.
CASE VII.-TEA DYSPEPSIA, CURED
By Mercurius sol. Actaea racemosa, ETC.
Emma E., 39, dressmaker, consulted me at the London Homoeopathic Hospital on June 21, 1883, complaining of the following symptoms: Great nervousness; pain in the left side when she ate; sensation as if there was a weight on the shoulders and back, especially when tired; aching in the nape of the neck all day; offensive breath, bleeding gums, bad taste in the month, white tongue; restless sleep. The bowels were regular and the appetite good. She took her meals at regular times, and drank nine cups of tea in a day.
I told her she must give up her tea, and gave her Mercurius sol. 6, in drop doses four times a day.
She returned in a fortnight, and reported that she had reduced her allowance to six cups daily.
The sharp pains she complained of were better than they had been for years, and she slept better; the breath was still offensive. Repeat medicine.
She was not able to attend for a few weeks, and having been cut of medicine, was not so well. She was so very nervous. By this time she had got down to four cups a day. Repeat medicine.
On August 11th she received Actea rac. for headache, and did not return till Oct. 6th, when she reported that the medicine had done her head good, but now she had soreness of the chest, and much flatulence. Carbo. veg. 6, one drop four times a day.
November 3rd.-Has kept well till to-day. Now has palpitation; headache at the back of the head; sore feeling within the head; giddiness; flatulence. Gelsemium 1, one drop four times a day.
On November 17th, a fortnight after, she reported that she had not been so well for years. The head was very much better, and she had hardly any of the palpitation. She had now brought herself to two cups of tea a day. She received more of the medicine, and soon after ceased to attend.
In each instance the medicine given responded admirably to its indications, but I question if she would have received much benefit if she had not, besides, cut down her allowance of tea. It is possible to antidote a poison when the poison is being taken, but it is easier to antidote its effects when it is no longer present. Sometimes the effects of a poison, if not antidoted, will last for years after the last dose has been taken.