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

Lycopodium is an antipsoric, anti-syphilitic and anti-sycotic, and its sphere is broad and deep. Though classed among the inert substances, and thought to be useful only for rolling up allopathic pills, Hahnemann brought it into use and developed its power by attenuation.

It is a monument to Hahnemann. It enters deep into the life, and ultimate changes in the soft tissues, blood-vessels, bones, liver, heart, joints. The tissue changes are striking; there is tendency to, necrosis, abscesses, spreading ulcers and great emaciation.

Generalities: There is a predominance of symptoms on the right side of the body, and they are likely to travel from right to left or from above downward, e. g., from head to chest.

The patient emaciates above, especially about the neck, while the lower extremities are fairly well nourished. Externally there is sensitiveness to a warm atmosphere when there are head and spine symptoms. The head symptoms also are worse from the warmth of the bed and from heat, and worse from getting heated by exertion.

The patient is sensitive to cold and there is a marked lack of vital heat, and worse in general from cold and cold air and from cold food and drinks. The pains are ameliorated from warmth except of the head and spine.

Exertion aggravates the Lycopodium patient in general. He becomes puffed and distressed, and dyspnoea is increased by exertion. He cannot climb, he cannot walk fast. The cardiac symptoms are increased as well as the dyspnoea by becoming heated from exertion. The inflamed parts are sometimes relieved from the application of heat. The throat symptoms are generally relieved from the application of heat, from drinking hot tea or warm soup. The stomach pains are often relieved by warm drinks and taking warm things into the stomach. Nervous excitement and prostration are marked.

In the rheumatic pains and other sufferings the Lycopodium patient is ameliorated by motion. He is extremely restless, must keep turning, and if there is inflammation with the aches and pains the patient is better from the warmth of the bed and relieved from motion, and he will keep tossing all night.

He turns and gets into a new place and thinks he can sleep, but the restlessness continues all night. He wants cool air, wants to be in a cool place with head symptoms. It is true that the headache is worse from motion enough to warm the patient up, but not from the motion itself. The headache is worse from lying down and from the warmth of the room, and better in cold air and from motion until he has moved and exercised sufficiently to become heated, when the headache becomes worse. That is quite an important thing to remember concerning Lycopodium, because it may constitute a distinguishing feature.

The head symptoms are worse from warm wraps and warm bed,

The complaints of Lycopodium are likely to be worse at a fixed time, viz., from four till eight o’clock in the evening. An exacerbation comes on in the acute complaints and often in the chronic complaints at this time.

The Lycopodium chill and fever is worse at this time, and in typhoid and scarlet fever the patient is especially worse from 4-8 P.M. In gouty attacks, in rheumatic fevers, in inflammatory conditions, in pneumonia, in acute catarrhs, which are complaints especially calling for Lycopodium, it is always well to think of this remedy when there is a decisive aggravation from 4-8 P.M.

Stomach: The Lycopodium patient is flatulent, distended like a drum, so that he can hardly breathe. The diaphragm is pushed upwards, infringing upon the lung and heart space, so that he has palpitation, faintness and dyspnoea. It is not uncommon to hear a Lycopodium patient say,

“Everything I eat turns into wind.”

After a mere mouthful he becomes flatulent and distended, so that he cannot eat any more. He says a mouthful fills him up to the throat. While the abdomen is distended he is so nervous that he cannot endure any noise. The noise of the crackling of paper, ringing of bells or slamming of doors goes through him and causes fainting, like Antim crud., Borax and Natr. mur.

These general conditions go through all complaints, acute and chronic. There is an excitable stage of the whole sensorium in which everything disturbs. Little things annoy and distress.

The Lycopodium patient cannot eat oysters; they make him sick. Oysters seem to poison the Lycopodium patient, just as onions are a poison to the Thuya patient.

The Oxalic acid patient cannot eat strawberries. If you ever have a patient get sick from eating strawberries, tomatoes or oysters, and you have no homoeopathic remedies at hand, it is a good thing to remember that cheese will digest strawberries or tomatoes or oysters in a few minutes.

Skin: The skin ulcerates. There are painful ulcer, sloughing ulcers beneath the skin, abscesses beneath the skin, cellular troubles. The chronic ulcerations are indolent with false granulations, painful, burning, stinging and smarting, often relieved by applying cooling things and aggravated by warm poultices. It is somewhat a general in Lycopodium that warm poultices and warmth ameliorates; warm applications ameliorate the pain in the knee, the suppurating condition and the gouty troubles. in an unusually warm bed, and in a warm room hives come out.

The hives come out either in nodules or in long and irregular stripes, especially in the heat, and itch violently. Lycopodium has eruptions upon the skin, with violent itching. Vesicles and scaly eruptions, moist eruptions and dry eruptions, furfuraceous eruptions, eruptions about the lips, behind the ears, under the wings of the nose and upon the genitals; fissured eruptions, bleeding fissures like salt rheum upon the hands.

The skin becomes thick and indurated. The sites of old boils and pustules become indurated and form nodules that remain a long time. The skin looks unhealthy, and it will slough easily; wounds refuse to heal. Surface wounds suppurate as if they had contained splinters, and this suppuration burrows along under the skin. Ulcers bleed and form great quantities of thick, yellow, offensive, green pus. Chancres and cancroids often find their similimum in Lycopodium.

The Lycopodium state when deciphered shows feebleness throughout. A very low state of the arteries and veins, poor tone and poor circulation. Numbness in spots. Emaciation of single members. Deadness of the fingers and toes. Staggering and inability to make use of the limbs. Clumsiness and awkwardness of the limbs. Trembling of the limbs.

Mind: The mental symptoms of Lycopodium are numerous.

He is tired. He has a tired state of the mind, a chronic fatigue, forgetfulness, aversion to undertaking anything new, aversion to appearing in any new role, aversion to his own work. Dreads lest something will happen, lest he will forget something. A continually increasing dread of appearing in public comes on, yet a horror, at times, of solitude.

Often in professional men, like lawyers and ministers, who have to appear in public, there is a feeling of incompetence, a feeling of inability to undertake his task, although he has been accustomed to it for many years.

A lawyer cannot think of appearing in court; he procrastinates, he delays until he is obliged to appear, because he has a fear that he will stumble that he will make mistakes, that he will forget, and yet when he undertakes it he goes through with ease and comfort. This is a striking feature also of Silicea. No medicines have this fear so marked as these two.

Lycopodium also has a religious insanity, which has a mild and simple beginning, a matter of melancholy. This religious melancholy grows greater and greater until he sits and broods. He has very often aversion to company, and yet he dreads solitude.

“Dread of men and dread of solitude; irritability and melancholy.”

This dread of men is not always a state of dread in women. It is a dread of people, and when that is fully carried out in the Lycopodium patient you see that she dreads the presence of new persons, or the coming in of friends or visitors she wants to be only with those that are constantly surrounding her does not want to be entirely alone; wants to feel that there is somebody else in the house, but does not want company; does not want to be talked to, or forced to do anything; does not want to make any exertion, yet at times when forced to do so she is relieved.

“Taciturnity, desires to be alone.”

Now, let us follow that out a little further. The taciturnity is because the patient does not want to talk, wants to keep silent, yet, as I have said already, very glad to feel there is somebody else in the house and that she is not alone. She is perfectly willing to remain in a little room by herself, so that she is practically alone, yet not in solitude. If there were two adjacent rooms in the house you would commonly find the Lycopodium patient go into one and stay there, but very glad to have somebody in the other.

The Lycopodium patient often weeps in the act of receiving a friend or meeting an acquaintance. An unusual sadness with weeping comes over this patient on receiving a gift. At the slightest joy she weeps, hence we see that the Lycopodium patient is a very nervous, sensitive, emotional patient. Here it is:

“Sensitive, even cries when thanked.”

When lying in bed suffering from the lower forms of fevers, there is delirium and even un consciousness. He picks at imaginary things in the air, sees flies and all sorts of little things flying in the air.

“Excessively merry and laughs at simplest things.”

A condition of insanity.


The Lycopodium patient wakes up in the morning with sadness. There is sadness and gloom. The world may come to an end, or the whole family may die, or the house may burn up. There seems to be nothing cheering, the future looks black. After moving about a while, this passes off. This state precedes conditions of insanity, and finally a suicidal state comes, an aversion to life.

See how this remedy takes hold of the will and actually destroys man’s will to live. That which is first in man is his desire to be, to exist, and to be something, if ever so small. When that is destroyed, we see what a wonderful thing has been destroyed. The very man himself wills then not to be. It is a perversion of everything that makes the man, the destruction of his will.

“Apprehensiveness, difficult breathing and fearfulness.”

“Anxious thoughts as if about to die.”

“Want of self-confidence, indecision, timidity, resignation.”

“Loss of confidence in himself and in everything.”

“Misanthropic, flies even from his own children.”

“Distrustful, suspicious and fault finding.”

“Oversensitive to pain; patient is beside himself.”

Head: Lycopodium is subject to periodical headaches, and headaches connected with gastric troubles. If he goes beyond his dinner hour a sick headache will come on. He must eat with regularity or he will have the headache which he is subject to. This is somewhat like a Cactus headache.

Cactus has a congestive headache which becomes extremely violent with flushed face if he does not eat at the regular time. One distinguishing feature is that with the Lycopodium headache, if he eats something, the headache is better while the Cactus headache is worse from eating. Lycopodium and especially Phosphorus and Psorinum have headaches with great hunger.

At or about the beginning of the attack there is a faint all-gone hungry feeling which eating does not satisfy. Such is the nature of Phosphorus and Psorinum when the appetite and headache are associated.

The Lycopodium headache is < from heat, from the warmth of the bed, and from lying down, > from cold, from the cold air, and from having the windows open. Lean, emaciated boys are subject to prolonged pains in the head. Every time this little fellow takes cold he has a prolonged, throbbing, congestive headache, and from day to day and from month to month he becomes more emaciated, especially about the face and neck. This same trouble is present when a narrow chested boy has a dry, teasing cough, without expectoration, and emaciates about the neck and face.

This remedy is especially suitable in these withered lads, with a dry cough or prolonged headache. In children who wither after pneumonia or bronchitis, emaciate about the face and neck, take cold on the slightest provocation, suffer with headache from being heated, have nightly headaches, and a state of congestion that affects the mind more or less, in which they rouse out of sleep in confusion.

The little one screams out in sleep, awakes frightened, looks wild, does not know the father and mother, or nurse or family until after a few moments, when he seems to be able to collect his senses and then realizes where he is and lies down to sleep again. In a little while he wakes up again in a fright, looks strange and confused. That repeats itself.

The headaches are throbbing and pressing, as if the head would burst; but this is not so important as the manner in which they come on, the circumstance of their cause, the things that the child does and the fact that they are better from cold, worse from noise and talking, worse from 4 to 8 P.M., and he emaciates from above downward.

These are more important than the quality of the pain that the patient feels, but if he describes the quality of the pain it is spoken of as a throbbing, pressing, bursting or as a fullness.

Upon the scalp we find eruptions in patches, smooth patches with the hair off. Patches on the face and eczematous eruptions behind the ears, bleeding and oozing a watery fluid, sometimes yellowish watery.

The eczema spreads from behind the ears up over the ears and to the scalp. Lycopodium is a very important remedy to study in eczema of the infant.

Eczema in a lean, hungry, withering child with more or, less head trouble, such as has been described, with a moist oozing behind the cars, red sand in the urine, face looking wrinkled, a dry teasing cough, in a child that kicks the covers of a child whose left foot is cold and the other warm, with capricious appetite, eating much, with unusual hunger at times and great thirst, and yet losing steadily, will often be cured by Lycopodium

It will throw out a greater amount of eruption at first, but this will subside finally and the child will return to health. The head in general is closely related to one symptom, viz., red sand in the urine. A long as the red sand is plentiful, the patient is free from these congestive headaches, but when the urine becomes pale and free from the red pepper deposit; then comes the bursting, pressing headache, lasting for days.

It might be said that this is a uraemic headache; but it does not matter what you call it, if the symptoms are present the remedy will be justified. In old gouty constitutions, when the headache is most marked, the gout in the extremities will be > and vice versa.

The headaches is present only in the absence of pain in the extremities. Again, when there is a copious quantity of red sand in the urine the gouty state, either in the head or extremities, will be absent, but whenever he takes cold the secretion seems to slacken up with an < of the pain.

There is another feature of the Lycopodium headache related to catarrhal states. The headache is < when the catarrh is slacked up by an acute cold. The Lycopodium subject often suffers from thick, yellow discharge from the nose.

The nose is filled with yellow, green crusts, blown out of the nose in the morning and hawked out of the throat. Now, when the patient takes cold the thick discharge to a great extent ceases, and he commences to sneeze and has a watery discharge. Then comes on a Lycopodium headache, with great suffering, with pressing pains, with hunger, and finally the coryza passes away, and the thick yellow discharge returns and the headache subsides.

We have many eye symptoms in Lycopodium, but most prominent are the catarrhal affections of the eyes. The symptoms are so numerous, they describe almost any catarrhal condition of the eyes, so that you cannot discriminate upon the eye symptoms alone. Inflammatory conditions with copious discharge, with red eyes, ulceration of the conjunctiva and lids, and granular lids.

Ears: For the ears Lycopodium becomes an important remedy, because this selfsame emaciating child, with the wrinkled countenance and dry cough, has had, since an attack of scarlet fever, a discharge from the ears, thick, yellow and offensive, with loss of hearing.

If the suitable remedy be given in a case of scarlet fever, there will be no ear trouble left, because ear troubles do not necessarily belong to scarlet fever. They are not a part of scarlet fever, but are dependent on the constitutional state of the child. Lycopodium has also most painful eruptions of the ears, otitis media, abscess in the ear, associated with eczema about the cars and behind the ears.

Nose: The nose symptoms I have only partly described in association with the head.

The trouble often begins in infancy. The little infant will lie at first with a peculiar rattling breathing through the nose, and finally it will breathe only through the mouth, as the nose is obstructed. This goes on for days and months. The child breathes only through the mouth, and when it cries it has the shrill tone, such as is found when the nose is plugged up. If you look you will see the nose is filled up with a purulent matter and hanging down the throat is a muco-purulent discharge. Much stuffing up of the nose is a chronic state of Lycopodium.

The child will go on with this trouble until it forms into great cruse, yellow, sometimes blackish, sometimes greenish, and the nose bleeds. It is most useful in those troublesome catarrhs associated with headaches; in such patients as lose flesh about the neck. It may seem strange and unaccountable that Lycopodium can cause emaciation about the neck and shriveling of the face when the lower limbs are in a very good state of preservation. In old chronic catarrhs of adults they must keep continually blowing the nose.

He cannot breathe through the nose at night, as crusts form in all portions of the mucous membranes. Crusty nostrils with eczema, with oozing eruptions about the face and nose. The mucous discharge is almost as thick and tenacious as in Kalium bichromicum.

Face: The face is sallow, sickly, pale, often withered, shriveled and emaciated.

In deep-seated chest troubles, bronchitis or pneumonia, where the chest is filled up with mucus, it will be seen that the face and forehead are wrinkled from pain, and that the wings of the nose flap with the effort to breathe.

This occurs with all forms of dyspnoea. We see something like it in Ant. tart., the sooty nostrils being wide open and flapping. In Ant. tart. the rattling of the mucus is heard across the room and the patient is seen to be in distress, but if you see the patient lying in bed with the nose flapping and the forehead wrinkled, with rattling in the chest, or a dry, hacking cough and no expectoration, you will often find the particulars of the examination confirm your mind that it is a case for Lycopodium.

In that exsudative stage of pneumonia, the stage of hepatization, Lycopodium may save the life of that patient. It is closely related in the period of hepatization to Phosphorus and Sulph.

The Sulph. patient is cold; there is no tendency to reaction; he feels the load in the chest, and examination of the chest shows that hepatization is marked. He wants to lie still and is evidently about to die. Sulphur will help him.

It does not have the flapping of the nose, nor the wrinkles upon the forehead, like Lycopodium In the brain complaints of Stramonium, the forehead wrinkles, and in the chest complaints of Lycopodium the forehead wrinkles, and their wrinkles are somewhat alike. You go to a semi-conscious patient suffering from cerebral congestion and watch him; he is wild, the eyes are glassy, the forehead wrinkled and the tendency is to activity of the mind.

That is not Lycopodium but Stramonium By close observation these practical things will lead you to distinguish, almost instantaneously, between Stramonium in its head troubles, and Lycopodium in the advanced stage of pneumonia.

The face is often covered with copper-colored eruptions, such as we find in syphilis, and hence it is that Lycopodium is sometimes useful in old cases of syphilis, cases which have affected the nose, with necrosis or caries of the nasal bones, and the catarrhal symptoms already described. About the face also there is much twitching.

You will see by the study of the face that his face conforms to his sensations. lie is an oversensitive patient and at every jar or noise, such as the slamming of a door, or the ringing of a bell, he wrinkles his face. He is disturbed, and you see it expressed upon his countenance. He has a sickly wrinkled countenance, with contracted eyebrows in complaints of the abdomen as well as in chest complaints.

We also see that the jaw drops as in Opium and Muriaticum acid. This occurs in a state marked by great exhaustion and indicates a fatal tendency, It is especially marked in typhoid when the patient picks at the bed clothes, slides down in bed, wants almost nothing, and can hardly be aroused.

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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