(St. Mary’s Thistle).
An admirable proving of this drug, by Dr. Reil, of Halle, is contained in the third volume of the Hom. Vierteljahrs-Schrift, page 453. This drug was popularly used for a stitch in the side. Its re-introduction into use as a remedial agent is due to Rade macher, who ranged it among his “Abdominal Remedies.” This drug seems to enjoy a specific curative influence in certain chronic affections of the liver. Kissel, one of Rademacher’s disciples, describes the hepatic affection which yields to our lady’s thistle, in the following terms: “Its form,” says he, in his Zeitschrift fur Erfahrung, Vol. III., page 88, “was partly acute febrile, and partly chronic, and accompanied by fever; it presented a great variety of forms, the more constant of which, however, may be said to have been fever, stitch in the side, cough, frontal headache, debility and want of appetite; symptoms, nevertheless, not sufficient to diagnose the remedy. The fever and pains were exceedingly various, the stitches sometimes in one side, sometimes in the other, then under the false ribs, and again wandering about the abdomen; strangury was frequently present; cough, mostly dry, short, with scanty expectoration, seldom streaked with blood; debility always very great; inspiration constantly very painful, but percussion and auscultation showing nothing abnormal. The right hypochondrium was soft, but sometimes very painful under pressure, in the region of the gall-bladder; anorexia, moderate thirst, small, sometimes accelerated pulse; stool brown and consistent; urine mostly orange-yellow, frequently deep-yellow, or reddish-yellow; generally clear, always acid. In simple cases the remedy employed was tincture of Carduus Mariae, in doses of a drachm to a drachm and a half a day; in complicated cases, tinctura ferri acetici was simultaneously used.
In the fifth volume of Kissel’s work, page 12, Brennschedt, describes an epidemic of grippe where Carduus proved the specific remedy. Digestive organs: Tongue moist, almost always coated, whitish-yellow in the middle, red at the tip and edges; appetite wanting or diminished, taste sticky, bitter; frequent nausea; vomiting exceptional; the bowels were sometimes constipated, no diarrhoea, the faeces looked natural; hepatic region for the most part sensitive, especially in the neighborhood of the epigastric region; percussion showed nothing unnatural; urine brownish dark- yellow, reddish. Chest: catarrh of the nasal mucous membrane, and cough, with stitches in the side, but no haemoptysis Mucous rales; hurried and superficial respiration. Nervous system: very troublesome headache in the frontal and temporal regions was always present, and even in slight attacks of the epidemic; they complained of dizziness and want of clearness of thought; sad and depressed expression of the countenance. General: Feverish reaction; increased temperature of the skin, terminating in sweat. the dose was from 15 to 20 drops of the tincture; in inveterate cases, a drachm five times a day.
In 1850, a disorder resembling influenza, raged in Halle, as a precursor of cholera. The digestive apparatus was predominantly affected. Dr. Reil and some of his colleagues found the Carduus the most rapidly curative remedy. The symptoms were exceedingly diversified, but might all be reduced, in most of the cases, to disturbance of the hepatic functions. This was evidenced by the peculiar brown, gray, dirty complexion of the patient, sometimes passing into a true icteric tint, the sensitiveness of the left hepatic lobes to pressure, the bright, pale-yellow, seldom dark- green stool, and the dark-brown urine. This was accompanied by catarrhal irritation of the respiratory passages in varying intensity, generally with considerable expectoration, without blood, but with great feeling of oppression over the whole chest, stitches in the side and great debility; even in the slightest cases these latter symptoms were never wanting, and the patients complained of difficulty in speaking. Fever was present, with evening-exacerbations, violent ache in the forehead, and dullness of the head.
When this disorder attacked old, asthmatic, haemorrhoidal or tuberculous subjects, their chronic ailments were greatly exaggerated, and the Carduus alone restored them to their former condition.
Rademacher was very fortunate in his treatment of concomitant affections, dependent upon disorders of the liver and spleen, of various sorts, with Carduus Marioe. He enumerates among them haemoptysis, uterine haemorrhagia, epistaxis, jaundice, sciatica, chronic cough, haematemesis, hepatic affections consequent upon dysentery.
Rademacher prepares his tincture by putting five pounds of the unbruised seeds in a convenient vessel, and pouring on them the most highly rectified alcohol and water, five pounds of each, digesting and frequently agitating for a week, pressing and filtering. Rademacher cautions against administering the seeds in emulsion, as the virtue lies in the hull, not in the kernel. It acts well in powder, a small spoonful of which may be administered four or five times a day; but should the apothecary, in his anxiety to prepare a fine powder, leave the chaff upon the sieve, the result will be null. An effective powder is not too fine, as the hulls are hard and difficult to pulverize.
Reil sums up the curative sphere of Carduus in the following short paragraph:
“It seems to act especially upon the liver; and, next to that, upon the haemostatic processes effected in the portal system; also upon the thoracic and intestinal mucous membrane; it seems to act curatively in chronic as well as acute catarrhs of those tissues in old hepatic and splenic affections, and disorders of the female genital system.”.