Ambra Grisea

James Tyler Kent describes the symptoms of the homeopathic medicine Ambra Grisea in great detail and compares it with other homeopathy remedies. …

Premature old age: On looking over this remedy as a whole it will appear to you that you have been studying the characteristics of one prematurely old.

You will often see symptoms coming on in one at fifty years of age that should appear at eighty, and after studying this remedy you will see that the same aspect is presented, a premature old age.

We recognize trembling and a peculiar kind of feebleness that cannot be described by any expression but senility; it is not the confusion of mind belonging to sickness, but the peculiar state we recognize in old people, in declining life; trembling and tottering and a dreamy state of mind with forgetfulness.

He goes on from one subject to another, asking a question, and, without waiting for it to be answered, asking another.

And so he jumps about from one topic to another. It can hardly be said to be confusion, it is a dreamy state of mind, a state of senility.

This remedy is useful when such a state is found in young persons, when the mind is not insane and yet it is weak. Especially is it indicated in those persons who manifest a momentary, fleeting inquisitiveness, jumping from one subject to another.

Often a patient asks me one question after another, never waiting to have the first one answered, a flitting, flighty talker, who does not seem to realize that I have not answered his questions; that patient, I say to myself, needs Ambra grisea.

That state of mind belongs to modern society women in such great frequency that you will be astonished to note it on all hands.

A modern society belle that could not darn the heel of her stocking to save her soul will in a few years get into just that state, and even Ambra will not cure her.

But there is a kind of nervous sickness manifested by these symptoms that Ambra grisea will cure. Alternation of depression of spirits with vehemence of temper is an other feature. That naturally belongs to old age.

A period of greatest excitability is often followed by depression, a state of indifference to all things, to joy, to grief, to people etc., treating with indifference things that would naturally break the heart of a well-balanced person.

He does not even wonder why he is not excited over these wonderful things, so decided is the state of indifference. Many of the complaints are worse in the morning.

He gets up with confusion and dullness of mind and is in a dreamy state and towards evening he takes on symptoms of insanity.

Vertigo: Ambra is one of the most frequently indicated medicines in simple, nondescript vertigo of old men.

So dizzy that they cannot go out on the street; so dizzy upon getting up in the morning that they must wait a while until they can get a-round on their feet. It is the dizziness belonging to senility and to premature old age.

Mind: Now, when this man undertakes to meditate upon something his ideas are whisked away. It is a sort of confusion with vanishing of ideas.

He has to make an unusual effort a few times to bring his thoughts back to the place before he can concentrate the mind to meditate upon some idea.

But while concentration of the mind is difficult, he is compelled to sit and dwell upon the most disagreeable things that force themselves upon him and he cannot get rid of them.

It is somewhat analogous to Natrum mur., but the peculiar feature of the Natr. mur. is that she delights to dwell upon past unpleasant occurrences and lies awake at night thinking about them.

Ambra grisea is forced to dwell upon such things. Images, false faces, hideous imaginations, fancies and visions annoy him and keep him awake.

In the semi-dreamy state he is kept holding up before his mind these grimaces. Such a state of mind may come on from business embarrassments with vertigo, congestion to the head and brain fag.

One thing running through this remedy is that the presence of other persons aggravates the symptoms; also the marked aggravation from conversation.

A woman, when attended by a nurse, is unable to have a stool without sending the nurse into another room. In spite of much straining she can do nothing unless alone.

It is said in Natr. mur. that the patient cannot urinate in the presence of other persons.

The urine will not start when anyone is around. That is a port of general feature of this remedy. Confusion of mind and embarrassment in the presence of other persons. Embarrassment in company. As soon as he goes into company there is flushing, trembling, nervous excitement and the thoughts vanish.

With these symptoms the patient imagines that he is going out of his mind, and finally he settles down into a state of melancholy, sadness and despair, and does not want to live. He loathes his life and wants to die.

“Great sadness.”

“Melancholy, sits for days weeping.”

Such is the mental state of this prematurely old patient with broken down constitution. It is a picture of a wreck and the question will arise when you find a patient that looks and acts in this way whether you have received him in time to cure him.

You readily see you have before you one who is going down hill and going into insanity of one form or another. A physician sees the forerunner of a great breakdown when he sees an Ambra grisea patient with the nervous mental state, the quivering, trembling and excitement in one who was once a strong, vigorous man.

Some great business or domestic shock has come upon this patient. It is not the aspect you see when phthisis is coming on; you do not we the cachectic condition, but it is a prostration of the nervous system, a mental prostration.

A man goes through the trial of one death after another in the family and there seems to be nothing remaining; he cannot look at it philosophically; he has lost his business and his friends and then he takes on dreaminess and wonders whether life is worthing living.

Then it is you get the Ambra grisea aspect.

Modalities: Many of the complaints come on in the morning and many come on after eating.

“Vertigo with feeling of weight on vertex; worse after sleep,” but especially in the morning.

It is not mentioned in the text, but it is also worse after eating.

“Had to lie down on account of vertigo and feeling of weakness in stomach.”

Running through the nervous symptoms we have music is intolerable; music makes him tremble, aggravates his mental symptoms and gives him pain in the back as from a hammer.

A number of physical symptoms are brought out by listening to music. The tones seem as if they were a material substance taking hold of him.

Complaints are often one-sided; perspiration on one side of the body or perspiration on the affected side.

“On right side of head, a spot where hair when touched pains as if sore.”

The same sensation is in the skip, oversensitive to touch.

“Scalp feels sore in the morning when awaking; this is followed by a sensation of numbness.”

The word numbness you will find running through the complaints.

You will find a peculiar kind of numbness, such as belongs to old people. Diminished sensibility of the parts; feeble circulation.

Eyes: Again, we find under the eye symptoms,

“Dullness of vision as if from looking through a mist.”

There is dimness of vision coming on without any condition in the eye that would justify it. It is a nervous dimness of vision, a senile paralysis coming on.

“Itching on eyelid as if a sty was forming.”

Itching is felt all over the body; itching in all the little openings.

Among the symptoms that, are not in the text and that are decided symptoms belonging to this remedy are,

“Pressing headache starting from both temples, drawing and tearing in the head, to and fro. Shooting through the head, lancinating, cutting pains, worse on exertion, better from quiet and lying. Headache when blowing nose.

Pressing pain in the left frontal eminence and in the eye. Burning in the right eye and in the eye-lids. Tearing in short streaks in and upon the right eye, pressure on the left eye-brow, shooting, aggravated after eating; lachrymation.”

These are in the original provings, but not in the text; they have been left out. This is the case all through the Guiding Symptoms; important symptoms were left out because it was necessary to cut down the work.


“Hearing decreases.”

Dullness of hearing without any organic affection of the ear. So perverted is his ability to hear that music aggravates his symptoms, that is through the nerves of hearing.

“Listening to music brings on congestion to head.”

Music aggravates his cough. Think of one commencing to cough simply because he hears music! What a strange thing that is! Calcarea has such sensitiveness that the stroke of the piano is painful in parts, especially in the larynx.

Bleeding: This remedy is full of bleeding.

Copious bleeding from the nose in the morning. There we get the morning aggravation again. We get the idea of the feeble circulation because of the easy oozings from mucous membranes.

“Copious nose bleed early in bed.”

“Dried blood gathered’ in nose.”

“Long continued dryness of the nose, frequent irritation as from sneezing.”

In the nose an old, dry catarrh with atrophic condition of the mucous membrane. The nose inside becomes shiny and withered.

James Tyler Kent
James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods.
In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.

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