Generalities: From the time of Hahnemann to the present day Arsenicum has been one of the most frequently indicated medicines, and one of the most extensively used. In the Old School it is most extensively abused, in the form of Fowler’s solution.
Arsenic affects every part of man; it seems to exaggerate or depress almost all his faculties, to excite or disturb all his functions. When all our medicines have been as well proved we will effect wonderful cures. It is a substance easily proved because of its active nature, and from its very abuse we have learned much of its general nature.
While Arsenic impresses the whole economy and disturbs all the functions and tissues of man, there are certain prevailing and striking features in it.
Striking features: Anxiety, restlessness, prostration, burning and cadaveric odors are prominent characteristics.
The surface of the body is pale, cold, clammy, and sweating, and the aspect is cadaveric. In chronic sickness with great debility, anaemia, from long exposure to malarial influence, in the poorly fed and from syphilis this remedy is of great service.
The anxiety that is found in Arsenicum is intermingled with fear, with impulses, with suicidal inclinations, with sudden freaks and with mania.
It has delusions and various kinds of insanity; in the more active form, delirium and excitement. Sadness prevails to a great extreme. So sad that he is weary of life; he loathes life, and wants to die, and the Arsenic patient does commit suicide. It is a remedy full of suicidal tendencies.
The anxiety takes form also in the restlessness, in which he constantly moves. If he is able to get up lie goes from chair to. chair; the child goes front nurse to mother, and from one person to another. When in bed, unable to sit up, the patient tosses and turns from side to side; if he is able, he climbs out of bed and sits in the chair, keeps moving from one place to another, and when thoroughly exhausted, he gets back into bed again.
The restlessness seems to be mostly in the mind; it is an anxious restlessness, or an anguish, with the idea that anguish is a deathly anxiety. That is an effort to express it in the extreme. It seems that he cannot live, and it is not pain that drives him to anguish, but it is an anxiety intermingled with restlessness and sadness.
This state prevails in all diseases intermingled with prostration. An uneasiness comes in the early stage of disease, and lasts but until the prostration becomes marked. While lying in bed, at first he moves his whole body, moves himself in bed and out of bed; but the prostration becomes so marked that he is able to move only his limbs until at last he becomes so weak that he is no longer able to move and he lies in perfect quiet in extreme prostration.
It seems that prostration takes the place of anxiety and restlessness, and he appears like a cadaver. So remember that these states of anxiety and restlessness go towards the cadaveric aspect, towards death. This is seen, for instance, in the typhoid, where Arsenicum is indicated. At first there is that anxious restlessness with fear, but the increasing weakness tends towards prostration.
Running all through the remedy there is the burning mentioned as one of its most marked generals. There is burning in the brain, which makes him want to wash his head in cold water. This sensation of heat in the inner head with pulsation is ameliorated by the cold bathing, but when there is a rheumatic state that affects the scalp and outward nerves, and there is burning, the burning then is ameliorated by heat.
When the headache is of a congestive character, with the sensation of heat and burning inside the head, and there is a feeling as if the head, would burst, and the face is flushed and hot, that headache is better from cold applications and in the cool open air.
So marked is this that I have seen the patient sitting in the room with clothing piled on to keep the body warm and with the window open to relieve the congestion of the head.
Therefore, we say a striking feature belonging to this medicine is relief of all the complaints of the body from wrapping up and from warmth in general, and relief of the complaints of the head by cold, except the external complaints of the head, which are better from heat and from wrapping up. The neuralgias of the face and eyes, and above the eyes, are better from heat.
The burning is felt in the stomach; there is burning in the bladder, in the vagina, in the lungs. It feels as if coals of fire were in the, lungs at times, when gangrenous inflammation is threatened, and in certain stages of pneumonia.
There is burning in the throat and burning in all the mucous membranes. The skin burns with itching, and he scratches until the skin is raw, and then it burns, but the itching ceases; as soon as the smarting lets up a trifle the itching commences again. All night the itching and burning alternate, burning for a minute, when be scratches it until it is raw, but soon the itching begins again and it seems that he has no rest.
The secretions and excretions of Arsenic are acrid; they excoriate the parts, causing burning. The discharge from the nose and eyes causes redness around the parts, and this is true of all the fluids from the various orifices.
In ulcers there is burning, and the thin, bloody fluid discharged excoriates the parts round about. The odor of the discharge is putrid. If you have ever discovered the odor of gangrene, of mortified flesh, you know the odor of the Arsenicum discharges.
The stool is putrid, like decomposed flesh, putrid blood. The discharges from the uterus, the menstrual flow, the leucorrhoea, the faeces, the urine, the expectoration, all the discharges are putrid. The ulcer is so putrid that it smells like decomposing flesh.
Arsenic produces a tendency to bleeding. The patient bleeds easily and may bleed from any place. There is vomiting of blood; bleeding from the lungs and throat. Bloody discharge from the mucous membrane, at times, when inflammation is running high; haemorrhage from the bowels, kidneys, bladder and uterus; anywhere that mucous membrane exists, there may be haemorrhage. Haemorrhage of black blood and discharges that are offensive.
Gangrene and sudden inflammatory conditions like gangrenous and erysipelatous inflammations are common in Arsenic. Parts suddenly take on erysipelas, or parts that are injured suddenly take on gangrene.
Gangrene in internal organs, malignant inflammations, erysipelatous inflammation. No matter how you look upon the condition, no matter what it is called, if it is a sudden inflammation that tends to produce malignancy in the part it belongs to Arsenicum. Inflammation will go on in the bowels for a few days attended with a horribly offensive discharge, vomiting of clots of blood, great burning in the bowels with tympanitic condition.
You may almost look upon this as a gangrenous inflammation, so violent, sudden and malignant is it, and it has the anxiety, prostration, fear of death, and chilliness, the patient wanting to be covered warmly.
When with this inflammation of the bowels the patient is relieved by heat, it means Arsenic.
You should remember that Secale has a similar state; it has all the tympanitic condition, all the ulceration and prostration, all the offensive odor and expulsion of offensive clots, and all the burning, but the Secale patient wants to be uncovered, wants things cold, wants the windows open.
The only distinguishing feature between these two remedies in a case may be that Secale wants cold and Arsenicum wants heat, but this is the way we individualize in our homoeopathic prescribing.
When there is gangrenous inflammation in the lungs, we find the patient has been taken with a chill, there has been restlessness, prostration, anxiety and fear; as we enter the room we detect a horrible odor, and on looking into the pan we see the patient has been spitting up by the mouthful, black, foul expectoration.
Look and see if the patient wants to be covered warmly; if he is easily chilled, and heat feels good; then it is a hard thing to cover that case outside of Arsenicum. The prostration, the vomiting, the anxiety, the restlessness the cadaveric aspect are present, and where will you find a remedy with that totality outside of Arsenic.
I have many times gone a long distance to detect, from the very aspect of things, these symptoms that could be gotten while walking from the door to the bedside. Every symptom is Arsenic; he looks like in acts like it and smells like it. You may go to a patient with high grade inflammation of the bladder, with frequent urging to urinate, straining to urinate, and there is bloody urine intermingled with clots.
It has been found by the attending physician when he introduces the catheter to draw off the urine that clots dam up the catheter, a little is drawn off and then it stops. We have a history of restlessness, anxiety, fear of death, amelioration from heat, great prostration.
You must give Arsenic, not because there is inflammation of the bladder, but because it is a rapidly progressing inflammation, and because it is gangrenous in character. The whole bladder will be involved in a short time, but Arsenic will stop that.