Introduction: Aconite is a short-acting remedy. Its symptoms do not last long. It is a violent poison in large doses, either destroying life or passing away in its effects quite soon, so that if the patient recovers, the recovery is not delayed. There are no chronic diseases following it.
Like a great storm, it comes and sweeps over and passes away. By a little meditation we will discover what kind of sickness all this is like, and what kind of a patient is most likely to have that short, sudden sickness.
If we think a moment from experience and homoeopathic observation, we will remember that vigorous, plethoric individuals, when they take cold, come down violently, whereas feeble people, sickly people, come down and recover slowly from acute diseases, and do not become so violently and so suddenly sick.
From this, and from examining the sudden effects of Aconite, it will be easy to see that persons who come down with Aconite sicknesses are plethoric individuals.
Strong, robust people, rugged children and infants become sick, not a very slight cold, or from slight exposure, but from more violent exposure. From being exposed with deficient clothing; from (sudden, violent changes; from prolonged exposure to the cold, north, dry wind.
A vigorous person caught out with thin clothing, or remaining out in the cold, dry air of mid-winter, with its sudden, violent changes, comes down even before night with violent symptoms. This is the class of patients, the plethoric and vigorous, who have a strong heart, active brain, vigorous circulation, and come down suddenly from violent exposure, that need Aconite.
Aconite has in its nature none of the results usually following inflammation. The storm is over so quickly that it seems mostly to conform to the earlier condition. In these vigorous patients sudden congestions are likely to be thrown off by good reaction.
The patient seems to be threatened with a sudden and violent death, but recovery is quick. So, as was observed by Dunham, it is a great storm and soon over. Dunham’s discussion of this remedy in his Materia Medica is very poetical and well worth reading.
Generals: Attacks come on suddenly from exposure to a dry, cold wind. In plethoric children we have an illustration of that in, the sudden congestion of the brain with intense fever, or with convulsions.
We get illustrations of its suddenness and violence in any organ of the body, the brain, the lungs, the liver, the blood, the kidneys. It is suited to the complaints that come on suddenly from the very cold weather of winter, or from the intensely hot weather of summer.
It has the lung and brain complaints of winter, and the bowel inflammations and stomach disorders of summer. We know how these plethoric individuals become suddenly overheated and become violently sick.
Their sudden attacks are frightful to look upon. All these inflammatory conditions are attended with great excitement of the circulation, violent action of the heart, a tremendous turmoil of the brain, a violent shock. with intense fear.
Mind: The mind symptoms that are nearly always associated with Aconite conditions stand out in bold relief.
The patient feels the violence of his sickness, for he is under great nervous irritation and excitement.
Fear is depicted upon his countenance, and the heart’s action is so overwhelming the first thing he thinks of is that he must die; this must mean death, which he fears. It stands out upon his countenance.
“Doctor, there is no use; I am going to die.”
Many times he actually predicts the moment or the hour of his death. If a clock is in the room, he may say that when the hour hand reaches a certain point he will be a corpse.
When we see this intense fear, this awful. anxiety, great restlessness, the violence and the suddenness of these attacks, we have a case, perhaps, that is dying from the poison of Aconite, or one who needs Aconite.
One who has a sickness resembling the poison of Aconite needs the smallest possible dose of Aconite. It is a very short-acting medicine, and that must be remembered.
It hardly matters what part of the body we are considering we will find inflammatory conditions. But regardless of the region or the locality of the inflammation, that which I have described is the appearance of the patient. Such are the symptoms that will stand out, that you will observe first – the appearance of the face, the mind symptoms, the restlessness, the intensity.
Now, there are many little mental symptoms that are of much less importance than this fear, this anxiety, symptoms that will be masked by these marked symptoms that indicate the patient. He has lost all affection for his friends. He does not care what becomes of them, he has not the slightest interest in them. It sometimes may be a state of indifference.
What I have brought out will enable one to readily see that this picture does not belong to all the remedies in the Materia Medica. In fact, it belongs only to Aconite. No matter what remedy you compare this with, you would find it only under Aconite.
You will find some of the features in the text under other remedies, but those which I have mentioned collectively will be found only under Aconite.
Take the mental symptoms, intensity marks every one of them. If it is a delirium, it is an intense delirium, with excitement, with fear, with anxiety.
Patients in delirium, with excitement and fear, will weep, as in great torment.
Great excitement, fear, fear of death. You wonder what she is weeping about. There are all sorts of moods intermingled also with the fear of Aconite.
There is moaning and irritability, anger, throwing things away, all attended. with the violence and anxiety. These features that I described as uppermost are intermingled with all the other symptoms.
“Screams with pain.”
The pains are like knives, they are stinging, cutting, stabbing. The intensity of the Aconite suffering is wonderful, so that if the nerves take on neuralgic pains the pains are intense. It is the feeling that some awful thing must be upon him or he could not have such dreadful suffering.
It says in the text, “predicts the day of his death.”
This to a great extent is the result of the awfulness that seems to be overwhelming him. And this mental picture is always present, in pneumonia, in inflammatory conditions of any part of the body, in inflammation of the kidneys, of the liver, of the bowels, etc.
Vertigo: Dizziness prevails throughout all this symptom picture.
“Vertigo, turning and whirling.”
A woman out shopping runs up suddenly against a dog and becomes violently dizzy, she cannot even get to her carriage.
“Vertigo that comes on from fear, from sudden fear, and the fear of the fright remains.”
There is a remnant of that fear left, but it will lead you no more strongly towards Opium.
“Complaints from fear. Inflammation of the brain from fear, dizziness from fear.”
Even congestion of parts as a result of fear. A turmoil in the whole sensorium. Things go round and round.
Head: The headaches can hardly be described, they come with such violence. Tearing burning in the brain, in the scalp, attended with fear, with fever, with anguish; headache from taking cold, from suppressing catarrh in the nose.
Catarrh stops suddenly in plethoric people, from exposure, from riding in the dry, cold wind such as we have in this northern climate in winter.
“Violent headache over the eyes.
Congestion of the brain, with congestive headache, with anxiety, with hot face.”
Eyes: The symptoms that would lead you to give Aconite for affections of the eye are numerous.
Eyes take on sudden inflammation. Congestion of the eye. Blood red appearance of the eye.
Sudden inflammation of all the tissues; conjunctivitis, etc., from taking cold, from exposure to dry, cold winds.
There is a teaching that has long prevailed: give Aconite for the first stage of an inflammation. It is not good teaching, although it is recommended in all of our books. It does not say for what kind, of a constitution, or how it comes about.
Do not practice that way. Get all the elements for an Aconite case, if possible, or give a better remedy. Another practice has prevailed, viz., giving Aconite for fever. Aconite was the fever remedy of many of our early routinists, but it is a bad practice.
Aconite has an inflammation of the eyes that comes on so suddenly that one wonders how that inflammation came in so short a time.
The eyes take on great swelling without any discharge, or only very watery mucus. The sudden inflammations that come on with thick discharges would never be Aconite.
Fever and Chills: Aconite has no results of inflammation. Those conditions that are about to take on the results of inflammation will always indicate some other remedy. You are not to think of Aconite in fever unless the Aconite patient is present.
With the Aconite fever there will be sensitiveness to light.
“Great restlessness with fever.”
Eyes staring, with pupils contracted, “violent aching and inflammation of the deep structures of the ball.”
Give Aconite only when the symptoms agree. An inflammation that is about to run a prolonged course, to take on suppuration, or if it is mucous membrane to take on discharge of pus, will never show you the symptoms of Aconite.