This European plant, Atropa Belladonna, is of the family of sedatives.
(Atropha-Atropos, one of the Fates whose duty was to clip the thread of life. Belladonna-the Italian for beautiful lady, probably because the Italians made an extract from the berries for preserving the freshness of the complexion).
(A student from another College once gave this explanation for the calling of deadly nightshade, Belladonna or beautiful day; he said e supposed it was “because its physiological action was to paralyze the heart and top stimulate the sympathetic.”)
Belladonna was first proved by hahnemann.
We all know that when he commenced to give medicine on the homoeopathic principle of the similarity of the drug to the diseased process, he prescribed the usual doses of the time, Opium, once fifth to half a grain, Ignatia, two or three grains, Ipec, five gains, Nux vomica, four grains, Camphor, thirty to forty grains, Cinchona bark, one to two drams; and as he found that such dosage caused aggravation, for that reason and for no other, he reduced the amount for he was not subject to criticism, for the mouth that he had administered. It may not be known, however, that when he used Belladonna, for instance, it excited a good deal of adverse comment, notwithstanding that at this he advised its use in the 30th potency, for he says: Those small- souled persons who cry out against its poisonous character must let a number of a patients die for want of Belladonna, and their hackneyed phrase, that we have well tried remedies for these diseases only serves to prove their ignorance, for no medicine can be a substitute for another” (Mat. Medorrhinum Pura).
Dunham says: “The action of Belladonna on the system is so general and so complex as almost to defy analysis. On the vital forces of animal life its action is pre-eminent,” while “on the organic substance it acts less profoundly.”
On the heart is two-fold, stimulating the accelerator centers and paralyzing the pneumogastric, or “the motor power of the heart is increased in activity, and the inhibitory control is lessened” (Bartholow). The heart’s action is rapid, pulse full and frequent, the peripheral vessels dilated. There is wild delirium ending in stupor; convulsions, with dilated pupils. The urine is at first increased then suppressed, and it suppresses the secretion of glands, of mucous membranes and of the skin. It produces intense scarlet redness and hyperaesthesia of the skin (166) and high fever, with absence of thirst (189). There is irritability and acuteness of all the senses, taste, smell, sight, hearing touch (166), and the mind is easily moved and the thoughts are more active.
Belladonna is a remedy for acute conditions; the pains in many lesions are in short attacks, or are characterized by the fact that they come and go quickly (148). It is a remedy where the affected part is congested and full of arterial blood, and the skin is dry and burning to the touch (in Aconite the skin is dry and hot; in the Belladonna condition the word burning is more appropriate).
Belladonna is particularly useful in plethoric persons. It is a right-sided remedy (163).
“Belladonna develops two distinct states of mind. One where the patient is flushed; the mental powers seem unduly excited and exaggerated” (Talcott). He may have hallucinations of sight, of horrid monsters or of mice (54), which excite fear or laughter, but more characteristic of this stage is great excitement and fury, with tendency to run about and escape from the room or bed (53). He tears clothing, howls and strikes, bites or spits at his attendant. Associated with this we have dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, with an aversion to water amounting to a dread of drinking. Hahnemann was the first to advise the use of Belladonna for hydrophobia (119).
“There is also a contrary state where the patient passes into a stupid and dazed condition; the pupils remain wildly dilated; there is heavy stertorous breathing; the face is purplish red; there is marked rigidity or steady tension of the muscles; and occasionally there is low muttering delirium” (Talcott).
The headaches calling for Belladonna are very severe, “terrific” says allen, and there is throbbing (102) and a congested feeling as if the head were full of arterial blood (104). the headaches are violent at the base of the brain (100) and the head is generally drawn backward, with aggravation in bending the head forward. There is violent throbbing in temples and carotids, there is a rash of blood to the head (102) and a sensation” as though the brain rose and fell” (106) “in. hot waves” (Allen’s lecture), and the face is red and burning hot. The headaches may be so violin that the patient seems to get blind (104) and becomes unconscious. “At time, the pain becomes a severe aching or stabbing and is sometimes associated with extreme sensitiveness of the scalp externally” (Allen’s lecture) (91), when even the pressure or dragging of the hair causes pain. the headaches are almost universally aggravated by light (95), by motion (96) or any jar and by noise (96).
Belladonna is also of value for sunstroke (98) and in the early stage of meningitis (133) and apoplexy (18).
Dunham sums up these head conditions thus: “Belladonna seems to be required in cases in which the arterial storm which would have indicated Aconite has already burst upon the patient and localized its action in he encephalon; this localization is still in the first state of engorgement and plastic deposit. When the period of serous effusion arrives or when the deposit is complete, the case has already passed beyond the province of Belladonna.” In the eyes we have the dilated pupils (76) and photophobia, the protruding or sparkling eyes, with injected conjunctiva, especially with dryness, and a feeling of stiffness of the muscles, or heat, as if the eyes were enveloped in a hot vapor, with vision of sparks before the yes, or of flashes of light (78).
It is of value in supraorbital (76) and infraorbital neuralgias of the right side, in ciliary neuralgia (75), for congestion of the conjunctiva, inflammation of the optic nerve and hemorrhages from the retina (77) due to suppression or eruptions or of the menses. It is seldom to be thought of in glaucoma and not to be used unless you are an oculist and willing to take the responsibility. (Atropine is never to be used in glaucoma).
Belladonna is frequently indicated in acute earache (63), especially of the right side, with throbbing and burning, the child screams with the pain, which is paroxysmal in character, and with relief, as if seems to me, from pressure or when lying on a hard pillow.
In facial neuralgia (80) and in toothache, the r. side is mostly affected, the pains come and suddenly and while light tough may aggravate, pressure or clenching the teeth tightly seems to stop the blood supply and give momentary relief (187). It is useful in erysipelas (68) of the face, with the bright redness and heat, and it is to be thought of in lock-jaw and tetanus (189).
It is of value in teething of children (187), with fever, flushed face and excitement, and it is one of the remedies spoken of for stuttering (182).
The mouth and throat are hot dry and red, and the tongue presents the well-known strawberry appearance, characterized by the deep redness of the papillae, and Belladonna is indicated in he beginning of many inflammatory diseases of the throat, when the right side is more affected and with great hyperaemia and dryness and a sensation as if too narrow when swallowing, or with spasmodic contraction of the pharyngeal muscles and regurgitation of liquids on attempting to swallow (183).
In the stomach, we have nausea and vomiting of food, soreness and burning (178) and usually thirst for cold water. Allen says: “Nausea and vomiting are among the most persistent effects of this drug; these symptoms than is generally supposed.” It is useful in gastritis and for most violent gastralgia, with as our chief guide in the selection of the remedy, the paroxysmal character of the pains (180), without desire to double up, but rather with necessity to bend backward (174). Hering speaks of “pain in stomach extending through to spine (180), between shoulders.” This is a purely clinical symptom and I do not know of its value. In inflammatory conditions of the abdomen, three characteristic indications for the remedy are, skin hot and burning extreme sensitiveness of the abdomen to ouch and intolerance of even the pressure of the clothing (12).
It is to be thought of for bleeding hemorrhoids (85), with forcing downward and great tenderness to touch, in dysentery, especially in children, the mucous membrane of the anus swollen.
Menstruation is too early and too profuse (13), bright red and hot, at times coming out in gushes (137) or decomposed, putrid odor, and found especially in women of full habit. We may have suppressed menstruation with violent cerebral symptoms even convulsions(135), and dysmenorrhoea, especially neurology (139).
Belladonna is of value in prolapsus (203) and inflammation of the uterus, with heavy, forcing, dragging pain, as if the uterus were heave with hot blood (202) and for fibroid tumors of the uterus (202). with the sensation of weight and paroxysmal discharge of hot blood.
During labor, we would find constriction of the lower part of the uterus, the rigid(154) or wire-edged os, with great heat of the parts. Remember it for retained placenta (150), due perhaps to the spasmodic constriction, and for post-partum haemorrhage (12), with gushes of bright red, hot blood.
Belladonna is of value for ovarian tumor, with, as Minton says, aggravation during the menstrual periods, and for ovaritis and neuralgia (147) of the r. ovary (147), with great tenderness to touch and a sensation of heat, fulness and pressure downward tough the vagina.
In acute laryngitis and in spasmodic croup, the larynx is hot and dry as if glazed, is very sore or feels swollen, with suffocation. The cough is dry, like the bark of a dog, causes great pain and is associated with pronounced hoarseness or loss of voice. In whooping cough we have cough in short paroxysms, preceded by crying (41) and accompanied by hot head and face, and nose bleed of bright red, hot blood (47).
In the early stage of mastitis (22) Belladonna is frequently indicated, the breast hot and extremely sensitive to touch, with bright red streaks radiating from the nipple.
The pulse of Belladonna is full and bounding and the fever and congestions are attended with marked throbbing of the carotids.
It is a remedy to be though of where one catches cold readily (5) from a slight draught of air, especially after getting the hair cut (5) and it is frequently indicated in stiff- neck, worse on the r. side, from taking cold.
Hyperaesthesia of th whole surface of the body (166) or of the affected part is very pronounced under Belladonna and it is a useful in spinal irritability (171) with extreme sensitiveness to touch, where pressure on the dorsal vertebrae causes screams and distress in the stomach, or violent cough and flushed face.
In sciatica thee is this same sensitiveness, the nerve feels as if uncovered and the patient cannot bear top have anything press upon the affected part.
There is a good deal of restless (160) and mental excitement with dreams as of fire on falling asleep, and frequent waking in fright (81). children especially have restless sleep, talk and quarrel, with sudden starting and jerking of the extremities (193).
Belladonna is rarely indicated in typhoid fever, but frequently in fever during dentition and particularly in scarlet fever.
“One of the most characteristic features of Belladonna poisoning is a rash over the whole body, a rest hat is only a smooth scarlet redness. This scarlet-like redness of the skin, the direct and unmistakable action of Belladonna, seems like a true exanthemata. This rash a little later, desquamates like true scarlatina. During this period of desquamation, and the action of the kidneys is less frequent and nephritis of an acute or catarrhal nature may supervene. In short, we have a picture (almost an exact counterpart) of an attack of scarlatina. The prodromal fever, with cerebral excitement, the dry mouth and throat, with scarlet redness of the latter, with the prodromal nausea and vomiting, followed by a scarlet rash, and that by desquamation, and then, by symptoms of acute nephritis, and a more perfect picture of scarlatina simplex it would be difficult to imagine.
No wonder that Hahnemann, almost a the very onset of his investigations into homoeopathy, reached the conclusion that in Belladonna we have true prophylactic to scarlet fever (Aliens lecture).
I think it sage to say that all physicians of the three schools of medicine and the majority of laymen, have heard of the preventive powers of Belladonna against scarlet fever, as the result of the success obtained by Hahnemann and his immediate followers. At the present time its employment is by no means universe even in our own school the excuse made for not using it being, that not withstanding it has been tried in all strengths, from the tincture up, no better results have been obtained that when it was not given.
I was fortunate in obtaining from Dr. St.,Clair Smith a statement of his success with it, although it was used under the most adverse circumstances, ad sums the matter up in these words: The point that I wish to bring forward is this that the 30th of Belladonna prepared as Hahnemann directed, 1 drop of one potency successes with 99 drops of alcohol to make the next potency will each and every time act as a prophylactic against scarlet fever.
As a student, I heard Prof. Smith make a similar statement and immediately made my own 30th potency, which I have used since whenever the opportunity presented. I give it every two hours for the first day then t.i.d., and continue it at that rate until two weeks after the date of the last exposure to the disease shall have passed. If the person taking the preventive dose, not come down with the disease within three days I consider that they have been rendered immune, and I have never seen a secondary case of scarlet fever, no matter to what extend not for how long the exposure was continued, where this Belladonna 30th was being taken as a prophylactic.
I use Belladonna 3d, 6th,30th.