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

Generalities: When we have finished the study of Berberis we will see that it is not a very extensive remedy, but it is a very important one.

Like Benzoic acid, it fits into the gouty and rheumatic sphere. It corresponds to such gouty conditions as do not determine to their proper places.

A low state of the economy is present; anaemic condition; feeble constitution; pallid and sickly, old and worn out; prematurely old and wrinkled men and women.

They are too feeble to determine the gouty deposits to the finger joints, where they naturally belong, and the trouble is yet, as it were, wandering around through the economy.

Wandering pains in the nerves, and nerve sheaths. The wandering, stitching, tearing, twinging pains that run through Berberis are found in old gouty constitutions, and that is where we get the greatest benefit from Berberis.

Pains and urines: Its proving would lead us to see it is similar to the wandering, twinging and tearing pains of old gouty constitutions, in persons who are pallid, and sickly, and chilly, where the deposits have not been so marked in the joints; but where the twinging in the fingers and in the toes are just such as are found – where the deposits do exist.

Of course in all of the gouty states we must look to the liver and kidneys for pains and various distresses; they are centers of observation, because these organs are more or less disturbed. And very often cardiac troubles go along with them.

The kidneys, liver, and heart are more or less disturbed in their functions and we see that Berberis takes hold of these organs. We have the uraemic state, and the state of disorder that ends in these conditions. We will have twinging pains along with kidney disturbances.

Irregularities of the urine. Copious discharges, alternating with scanty discharges. Light urine, and heavy urine, excessive deposits of uric acid and urates.

It is changeable, like Benzoic acid. These two remedies run very much together, yet their symptoms are wholly unlike. We find among these sensations that stitching pains are found in almost every region of the body, and they are all the time changing.

Wandering and stitching pains; little twinges. As you sit by his side and talk to a gouty patient-

“Ow,” he will say. What does he mean by it?

He has had one of those twitching pains. The next thing he knows it is in his knee; then it is in his toes; then it is in his head, all over him.

Finally the gouty deposits become prominent in the fingers, and after the gout has determined itself, then we have sore fingers; but these corresponds more particularly to Ledum, Sulphur, Aesculus and Lycopodium, where the disease has become marked and has located in the joints.

In Berberis these twinging, tearing, stitching, burning pains are everywhere, they never remain in one place, but are always moving, and they are not often affected by motion.

Whether he moves, or keeps still, they keep coming. In a few instances we have pains aggravated by motion, but a very few in proportion to the many pains in Berberis.

He moves many times, because he cannot keep still. He moves, because he suffers. There are also many pressing pains. But the burning, stinging, tearing, stitching, wandering pains are the main feature, the grand feature of Berberis.

If you single them out in places, in a given joint, from that one joint they will radiate in every direction. If it is the knee joint, they will go up; and down, and every way; if it is the finger joint, they will run in every direction.

If it is the kidney, they will go down the ureters; if it is the liver, they will go down into the abdomen in every direction.

“Radiating from a particular point,” is a distinguishing feature, and it puts Berberis almost alone for radiating pains. This is such a strong feature that Berberis, has cured renal colic in many instances because of its well known ability to shoot out in every direction.

It cures gall-stone colic when these little twinges go in every direction from that locality. We see these twinging, shooting pains in gouty constitutions are associated with urinary troubles, and with liver troubles, and we begin to lay a foundation for the study of Berberis.

The joints sometimes swell.

“Enlargement of the joints.”

But the swelling is not so common as the pains without swelling. Soreness, lameness in the joints, with these radiating pains. There will be burning, stitching, tearing, and the pains will radiate and appear in one part of the body then in another.

“A pain in the heel as if it were ulcerating,” and then the pain shoots off in every direction. Numbness. Lameness.

As to the heart, the pulse becomes slow. Very often it is slowed down astonishingly.

Mind: The mental symptoms are very defective, that is, we do not know the mental symptoms. There are a few. We know this, that the mind is weak, that he is unable to sustain a mental effort, and that he is forgetful.

“Defective recollection and weak memory. Terrifying apparitions in twilight.”

It is not a strange thing for a child in the dark to imagine all sorts of things, because they have heard graveyard stories from old people; but with this remedy between the daylight and darkness he sees ghosts, imaginary forms – coming round him. It has melancholy, apathy, prostration of mind.

Head: Some dizziness. The headaches are of the game character as the general pains in uraemic subjects, where there is plenty of sand in the urine, red pepper deposit.

The head comes in for its share of these wander ing, pains. Stitching, tearing, twinging in the scalp; in the skull; in the eyes, ears, back of the head. Burning pains.

“A feeling in the head, as if it was becoming large,” is a peculiar symptom; a puffy sensation.

Always putting the hand to the head; it feels as if he had on a skull-cap. It fits down over the brow, and it is not an uncommon thing with such patients to put the hand to the head to take off the cap.

“Feels as, if he had a cap on the head,” when there is none there.

This symptom is not always described like a cap on the head. It is convertible into numbness of the scalp; many patients describe a sensation of numbness in the scalp, as if they had on a cap.

Some times patients will deny that it is a sensation of numbness, and say it is just a cap. At one time I fully believed the “cap” belonged to two sensations. If it was painful I placed it under “pressure.” If it was not painful it was supposed to belong to “numbness;” but I have now made a new rubric, “the sensation of skull-cap,” which I now think is entirely distinctive, from numbness; but they both have to be compared.

Eyes: Then the eyes take on that same gouty condition, with stitching, tearing pains, twinging pains, shooting pains. Shooting off in various directions.

There is one grand feature about Berberis, that it has no particular direction; it has all directions. Most remedies have pains taking a direction from one part to the other, pains going from the eye to the temple, etc., but in Berberis it cannot be said the pains go to any place in particular.

They are wandering pains and they radiate. Pains in the ears of the same character. In every part of the body we have these twinging, tearing, burning, shooting pains coming and going, causing the patient to scowl and make a sharp noise.

The patient has a sickly look; face pale, earthy complexion, with sunken cheeks and hollow, blue-encircled eyes.

That is a description of a sick face. Berberis has been very useful in phtisical conditions; and in the pains, and twinging, and sufferings in persons who have been operated on for fistula in ano.

When the fistula has been closed, these pains will come if it is a Berberis case. The kidney manifestations will come on, or the liver manifestations, or the enfeebled heart, or these wandering pains.

At one time feverish, full of pains, with violent thirst; alternating with the very opposite state.

Prostration land – aversion to water. Want of appetite at one time; canine hunger at another.

The stomach is disordered, digestion is glow and feeble, and we have manifestations usually known to patients as “bilious.”

Liver: Eructations that are bitter and of bile. The liver is full of suffering.

In the liver we have these pains, and added to them sudden stabbing like a knife puncturing the liver. Shooting, tearing, burning, stitching, twinging pains, wandering from one place to another.

“Gall-stone colic.”

These pains with jaundice. The liver seems to slow down in its actions, and the patients becomes, jaundiced.

The stool becomes white, bileless.

“Sharp, pinching pains in the liver, which come suddenly and with great severity. Violent stabbing pain in the region of the liver, taking his breath away. Had to bend double.”

These pains last a moment and pass away. In gall- stone colic pains are spasmodic, increase in intensity and diminish, but do. not let up entirely.

Berberis when it is indicated will let the little gall-stone loose, and it will pass through, and the patient will take a long breath and wish he had sent for the doctor sooner. Any thing that is spasmodic can be relieved instantly.

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.