CACTUS GRANDIFLORUS-NIGHT BLOOMING CEREUS.
(Cactus-Kaktos, kaktos, a prickly plant; Cereus, a wax candle.)
Cactus was first proved by Dr. Rubini of Italy, the report being published in 1864.
Cactus is particularly a “heart remedy,” most of the symptoms being the outcome of cardiac disturbance, and from its principal symptom ” it seems to have an action on the circular fibres of the muscular tissue of the heart, while Digit. acts on all the muscular fibres alike” (Hale).
In all the heart conditions we have either violent palpitation (112), or what is considered as more characteristic of the remedy, a sensation of constriction around the heart, and associated with anxiety, suffocation and cold sweat (114).
The sensation of constriction is found frequently, under Cactus, in other parts of the body, as in the throat, oesophagus, chest, abdomen, ovaries and uterine region and neck of bladder, but nowhere is it as pronounced as in the chest and heart. In the chest the symptoms read: difficult breathing, with oppression and uneasiness as if the chest were constricted by an iron band (113); sensation in middle of sternum as if bound with iron pincers; constriction as from a tight cord around false ribs. Hering says, the “whole body feels as if caged, each wire being twisted tighter and tighter.”
Cactus is useful in periodical (99) neuralgic or congestive headaches, pulsating and throbbing (103), worse on the r. side or on the vertex, and in threatening apoplexy (18). It is one of the remedies that has a headache as from a weight or pressure (103), and worse from noise or strong light (95).
Dyspnoea is pronounced, in the chest conditions calling for Cactus, whether we had bronchitis or haemoptysis, and due to the sensation of constriction.
In the heart we often have pricking pain and sticking, and either the sensation of constriction, or violent beating, or both. The palpitation (111) is worse from walking, from the least excitement, and from lying on the l. side (111).
Cactus is useful in angina pectoris (107), in acute endocarditis and pericarditis and in hypertrophy of the heart (110); it is also of value in cardiac dropsy, with oedematous extremities (63), labored breathing and inability to lie down (107), but in all these conditions your attention will probably be first directed to the remedy by the sensation of constriction about the heart.
Many of the symptoms in other parts of the body and calling for Cactus seem to be due to, or have reference to some heart condition or lesion; thus we have nosebleed and dyspepsia (111), with hard, violent action of the heart and sensation of constriction.
There is dysmenorrhoea, with heart symptoms, the menstrual flow ceasing on lying down (134).
We have haemorrhages from the lungs (27), with oppressed respiration and violent action of the heart, and haemorrhages from the bladder or rectum, with heart symptoms, especially in malarial fever.
While the intermittent fever case requiring Cactus is seldom seen, the malarial feature is marked and periodicity is a prominent condition. The paroxysms recur at the same hour, usually 11 A.M. to 12 M., or 11 P.M., and are accompanied by haemorrhages, especially from the bladder or bowels. The cold stage is the most prominent (121) and the hands grow icy-cold and neither covering nor external heat relieves the chill. The paroxysms may be complete, i.e., with chill, fever and sweat, or incomplete, chill followed by fever and “no sweat” (Hering), or the chill may be followed by cold sweat.
I use Cactus in the tincture.