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

Generalities: Baptisia is suitable for acute diseases. It is principally a short-acting medicine, suitable for complaints that are not long lasting. So far as we know it is not an antipsoric, does not go deep into the life.

All of its acute diseases and complaints have the appearance of Zymosis, like scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid, and gangrenous complaints. There is one thing that is unusual about it, it brings on this septic state more, rapidly than most other remedies.

The zymotic complaints of Arsenicum, Phosphorus, Rhus, and Bryonia, are much slower in their pace. But Baptisia is suitable for typhoids that come on rapidly, and hence it is not so often suitable in idiopathic typhoids.

When an individual comes down suddenly from cold, from malaria, from drinking poisonous waters, and from any zymotic or septic cause he is hurled into bed in a few days, instead of going through a period of four, five or six weeks. The old idiopathic typhoid fevers come on slower.

Baptisia is suitable for those blood poisons that are highly septic such as the puerperal state, such as scarlet fever. He comes down perhaps with the appearance of a sudden violent break down, with a remittent fever.

But all at once it turns continued, and takes on septic symptoms. So much for its progress and its pace. Every medicine must be observed as to its velocity, as to its pace, as to its periodicity, as to its motion, and its wave.

Looking and smelling: We get that by looking at the symptoms. You take an individual who has been down in a mine, in the swam, down in the mud, in the sewers, who has inhaled foul gases, who goes into bed with a sort of stupor, from the very beginning he feels stupid. It is not gradual, but he goes down very suddenly, and he is stupid.

He is prostrated. His face is mottled. Sordes begin to appear on the teeth much earlier than in the regular typhoid. The abdomen becomes distended much earlier than in a regular typhoid; that is one who is accustomed to observing those things knows they are postponed for a number of days; while with this remedy the third day the abdomen is distended, his mouth is bleeding, and is putrid.

His odors are horrible; and he is in a marked state of delirium, such as would not be expected until the typhoid is out for many days. So it has rapid running diseases. It has velocity.

That is, he is going down toward death rapidly. He is increasing in his prostration more rapidly than usual. It is not a gradual decline of days and weeks.

He goes into a state of stupor. When aroused he takes on delirium. It does not matter whether it is scarlet fever, or typhoid fever, or a septic surgical fever, or a puerperal fever, or what.

He has fever, and if you look at him, and talk to him, and turn him over, and rouse him up, and make him realize that you want to say something to him – which is difficult – he gives you the impression that he has been on a big drunk.

That is the first thought you will have in a Baptisia case. His countenance is besotted. It is bloated and purple and mottled. Blood oozes from the mouth. You have seen the besotted countenance of drunkards, and it is like an old drunkard.

Mind: His mind seems to be gone. He does not know what be is talking about lie is in confusion, and when aroused be attempts to say some thing, and utters a word or two and it all flits away, and he is back in his state of stupor again.

No matter what disease that comes in, no matter what inflammation is present, no matter what organ is inflammed, if that state of the blood that can give rise to such symptoms and such sepsis is present, if that state of the mind is present, it is Baptisia.

Discharges: All of the discharges are putrid. The odor is cadaverous, pungent; penetrating. His perspiration, if he has any, is sour, foetid, pungent, and penetrating.

If he has no sweat the body gives off an odor that is unaccountable. The odor is so penetrating that on going into the front door the whole house, if the room is open, is filled with the odor. The odor from the stool is putrid and so penetrating that it can be detected on first going into the house.

Now, a strange thing that runs through the remedy is a peculiar kind of mental confusion, in which he is in a constant argument with his parts.

Delirium: He seems to feel that there are two of him. He realizes a dual existence whenever he is roused up. He will begin talking about the other one in bed with him.

It is said clinically that

“his great toe is in controversy with his thumb.”

Or, “one leg is talking to the other leg.”

Or, one part is talking to another part; or, he is scattered around over the bed; tumbles and you ask him what he is trying to do.

“why, I am trying to get those pieces together.”

He never succeeds; he is in delirium, Of course these are only examples; you will get a new phase every time you get a Baptisia case.

Most of the time he is un conscious except when roused. Sometimes mutters. You will see his lips go, and you rouse him to see what he is about, and he is trying to get the pieces together.

“Confused as if intoxicated.”

There are stages when he is not quite so stupid, and he is sleepless and restless. That is the exception. Most, generally you will find him lying upon one side curled up like a dog, and he does not want to be disturbed.

Again, when the stupor is not so great he is restless and turns and tosses. In that case he cannot sleep, because he cannot get the pieces together. He feels if he could once get matters together he could go to sleep, and these parts that are talking to each other keep him awake. His mind wanders as soon as his eyes are closed. Dullness, especially at night. Indisposition to think. Mind seems weak.

There you find the whole picture of the mental aspect in all complaints, in all acute diseases but they all come on in a hurry.

They are zymotic, of a low form such as scarlet fever, such as malignant diseases; and yet it takes on a continued type of fever.

These patients will die in from ten to twelve days if let alone. Whereas, ordinary typhoid will run for weeks, and sometimes die at the close of four weeks in a crisis.

The bleedings are black and offensive. The putridity is marked. In the mouth, the mucus from the throat and nose is bloody and putrid. It has a diarrhoea.

Stools: Thin, faecal, watery, yellow. It has a typical typhoid discharge; the most typical typhoid stool is like yellow corn-meal mush, coming on many times a day, but soft, pappy, just about the consistency of soft mush.

This remedy has that stool, but it is not the commonest form – but the black, the brown, the dark. In treating a good many cases of typhoid it was my fortune to observe a large number of Baptisia cases, which the remedy cured promptly.

The stool where the Baptisia did the most service was like ground up slate, slate colored, brownish. The odor was penetrating. In addition to that I have seen this medicine cure that kind of diarrhoea when it was slate colored, even thin as water, if it was horribly putrid like decomposed meat; like the cadaver, attended with great prostration.

I have seen it cure that diarrhoea when there were none of the elements of typhoid fever present a simple prostrating form of diarrhoea.

Exhaustion. Exhaustion comes rapidly. In three days he has a deathly sinking coming over him.

Headaches: The headaches are nondescript. Only those congestive attacks, frontal headaches – violent pains in the head, and especially in the occiput, such as occur in the low forms of disease.

I hardly ever go into the details of headaches. Baptisia is not a headache remedy. It is not a remedy that we would single out to treat headaches with, except such violent pains in the head of a congestive character that are associated with this low form of fever.

Face: It has characteristic eye symptoms. Congestion. Redness.

Pains in the eyes, and back of the eyes. So it has with hearing. So it has with nasal symptoms. But associated with fevers. But as soon as we come to the face we begin to realize the Baptisia symptoms, that besotted expression.

The countenance shows that. The eyes show it, the face shows it. And these are the symptoms:

“Dark red with besotted appearance. Hot and perceptibly flushed; dusky.”

That tells the whole story. Burning; beat in the face.

“Critical sweat on forehead and face. Anxious, frightened look.”

On rousing from sleep looks as if he had a horrible dream.

And then comes the mouth, and the teeth, and the throat, and the tongue, all show marked Baptisia features.

The tongue is swollen, painful, offensive. Covered with black blood. Raw; denuded. Stiff and dry as leather. Described as if it was made of wood, or burnt leather; ulcerated. Ulceration runs all through the remedy.

Aphthous patches. These little ulcers that start no bigger than a pin-head become black and are so offensive and run together so that the whole surface of the mouth will be in a state of ulceration; raw and denuded, oozing a thick saliva that is putrid.

Throat: The throat takes on ulceration; is raw and bleeding.

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.