VEGETABLE OR WOOD CHARCOAL.
Hahnemann says: “The charcoal of any kind of wood, thoroughly heated to redness” (to rid it of the vaporous gases that it has absorbed), “seems to manifest itself uniformly in its effects on the human health, when it has been prepared and potentized in the manner which Homoeopathy uses. I employ the charcoal of birch wood; in some provings by others the charcoal of the red beech was used” (Chr. Dis.).
Hahnemann proved it in the 3d trit. and for medicinal use, says: “The various degrees of potency are employed according to the varying intention in healing, down from the decillion- potency” (30th) “to the million-powder-attenuation” (3d) (Chr. Dis.).
Carbo veg. is adapted to persons who are suffering from exhausting diseases, and especially when exhausted from the loss of vital fluids, haemorrhages, sweats, diarrhoeas, seminal fluid; “it seems to control haemorrhages, especially in older persons” (Allen) and in a general way acts as a tonic in conditions of great prostration (156). Its prostration is more marked than that found under Carbo animalis
It is indicated in the collapsed stage of various diseases (34), she faints readily and wants to be fanned constantly, and in general, with fetid exhalations and discharges, and bluish appearance of the skin. Diseases of the venous system predominate (207), with “symptoms of imperfect oxidation of the blood;” the veins are swollen and livid, the “blood stagnates in the capillaries, causing blueness, coldness” (Hering), coldness of the extremities, especially cold knees.
It is of great value in haemorrhages, especially when they occur in elderly people and there is a tendency to haemorrhage in low types of disease, as in pernicious anaemia, purpura haemorrhagica (158) and typhoid (193). There is a tendency to putrid decomposition.
Headache is a prominent symptom under Carbo veg., the general character of the pain being heaviness and pressure, a dull ache. The head feels as heavy as lead; feeling as if the head were bound up with a cloth (105); the hat pressed upon the head like a heavy weight and the sensation continued even after taking it off, are some of the expressions used by the provers to describe their sensations.
Vertigo is often an accompaniment of the headache and usually both are “attended with weakness and tendency to faintness” (Dunham). The vertigo is pronounced and the patient is obliged to hold on to something to keep from falling. There is aggravation when sitting up in bed after sleeping (207), from quick movements of the head (207) and from stooping (207) as well as vertigo “from flatulence” (Hering).
There is falling of the hair in Carbo veg. after severe diseases and after pregnancy (153).
In the eyes it is useful in asthenopia (72) the result of over work or over use of the eyes, with vision of floating black spots (77).
It is to be thought of for deafness and dryness of the ears after scarlet fever or measles (63), for thin, offensive discharge (63) due to suppuration of the middle ear, and for deafness from defective secretion or absence of wax (65).
Carbo veg. is of value for varicose veins on the nose (146) and for varicose veins on the septum of the nose (146) which are the cause of many a case of nosebleed, especially in old people. We have nosebleed preceded and accompanied by pallor of the face and feeling of faintness, and it is of value in recurring nosebleed in persons who have been overtaxed with anxiety, especially elderly people, as well as in epistaxis occurring during how types of disease, especially typhoid fever.
The gums are sensitive and spongy, they are retracted (84) and bleed easily (84) from sucking them (84) or from brushing the teeth (84). With this condition of the gums the teeth become loose and decay rapidly (186).
The tongue is dry and black (192) in a late stage of typhoid and yellow fevers, or cold, yellow and fissured in the collapse of cholera (31), with cold breath (192).
Carbo veg. has a marked effect on the digestion, especially in atonic conditions, and in flatulent distention of the stomach and abdomen you will find frequent call for the remedy. You all know, as Dunham says, that “charcoal possesses the power of absorbing gases in large quantities in vastly greater proportions than the relation of its bulk. It condenses the gases within its pores. It does not act equally upon all gases in this way; absorbs but little hydrogen, more oxygen, large quantities of sulphuretted hydrogen, and still more ammonia,” and for this reason it has been used as a disinfectant and to purify water. (“Of ammoniacal gas it is said to absorb not less than ninety times its volumes, while of hydrogen it takes up less than twice its own bulk” -Fownes Chemistry.)
Charcoal, or Carbo ligni, as used by the old school for flatulence, “in 5-10 grain doses” (Ringer), “average dose–15 grains” (U.S. Phar. ’05) has a purely “chemical action,” as Hahnemann showed us long ago, and does not accomplish what we as homoeopaths strive for, the cure of the condition causing the flatulence.
For homoeopaths the length of time, after eating, before the distress is noticed, is one of the leading indications in the selection of the remedy (177).
It is of great value in flatulent dyspepsia, with sour eructations (178) difficult to raise (181); the distress comes on half an hour (177) or an hour (177) after eating and the stomach and abdomen become swollen like a drum. Every sort of food disagrees, even things which have usually digested easily and everything seems to be converted into gas (177).
There is an aversion to meat and fat things (177) and to milk (6) as the patient says it makes her flatulent; the stomach seems to be suffering from inertia (178) and is unable to digest the simplest articles of food. The eructations which are noticed after drinking as well as after eating, are not easy to raise, although there is experienced a feeling of great relief when they do break (175). For all that there is such an accumulation of gas, the patient has to squirm about, retract and even knead the abdomen (depending upon where she is and who is looking), in order to dislodge it.
I have always looked upon Carbo veg. as having eructations and flatus of the odor of sulphuretted hydrogen, but it is not so mentioned in Allen’s Encyclop., offensive flatus being the nearest approach to it.
It is useful in acid dyspepsia (178) with heartburn (114), coldness of the surface of the body and feeble pulse, and in the gastralgia of nursing women, with flatulence, sour and rancid eructations and faintness. Associated with the excessive flatulence of the remedy we may have a sensation of burning in the stomach (178), which sometimes extends to the back (180).
In the abdomen there is great distention as from an accumulation of gas (182), with rumbling of flatus (81), which passes more or less easily and with a feeling of much relief (81). The flatus is usually offensive.
A frequent cause for the gastric and abdominal troubles calling for Carbo veg., is hurried eating, eating when very tired and assuming a bad position after a hearty meal, such as sitting bent over on the porch steps or on a chair without a back.
We find in Carbo veg., colic worse riding in the cars or in a carriage, better from the emission of flatus (81).
In diarrhoea calling for this remedy, the stools are brown, watery, slimy and of a putrid, cadaverous odor (59). The diarrhoea is seldom due to any acute condition, but is the accompaniment of low types of fever and associated with coldness of the lips, tongue and extremities, faintness, a tendency to collapse (34) and desire to be fanned.
The urine is scanty, high-colored, or dark red, and contains a good deal of uric acid (123). It is to be thought of in haematuria, with tendency to faintness or collapse, and in suppression of urine in cholera (200).
Carbo veg. is an important remedy for exhaustion following the loss of fluids from the body; this includes haemorrhages from any part of the body, prolonged nursing (146), excessive expectoration, profuse diarrhoeas (58), excessive sexual indulgence (167) and masturbation (167).
Menstruation is too early and too profuse (135), thick, corrosive, offensive (137) or of strong odor, and exhausting
(138), and preceded by violent itching of the vulva (156).
It is to be thought of in menorrhagia, with passive flow (138). The leucorrhoea, like the menstrual flow, is thick and corrosive (126), causing rawness and soreness. It is useful for varicose veins of the pudenda (206), with easy haemorrhages.
In the throat we have hoarseness or aphonia that is painless and worse in the evening, and due to relaxation of the vocal cords (207) so that the voice fails on exerting it. It is useful in chronic laryngeal catarrh, especially of old people and in chronic bronchitis of old people (47), with burning in chest (28) and choking when coughing.
The cough is better from heat (40) or from being in a warm room. Lippe says the cough is worse “after eating (41) and drinking, especially cold things” (41). The cough is generally spasmodic, suffocative, from irritation in the throat, or there may be “a tight feeling in the chest, with constant desire to cough” (Dunham).
Carbo veg. has a burning sensation in the chest that is much more pronounced that under Carbo animalis In Carbo veg. this burning has been likened to that from glowing coals (29) and it is especially noticeable “after the cough” (Dunham).
It is a remedy useful in asthma (19) of old people (21) who are debilitated, troubled with flatulence, etc., and especially when associated with blueness of the skin.
It may be indicated in a late stage of membranous croup and of pneumonia, with excessive dyspnoea, tendency to collapse and necessity to be fanned. In haemorrhage from the lungs (27) it is of value when we have burning in and oppression of the chest (29), the desire to be fanned and the cold skin.
This feeling that they must be fanned, so frequently found under Carbo veg. in states bordering on collapse, is not simply the desire for air (9), but they want it to blow on them. There is a sensation of impending suffocation and as they feel too weak to take a full inspiration, something must be done that will, seemingly, force the air into the lungs.
The heart is weak and the pulse weak and small and Carbo veg. is to be thought of in fatty degeneration of the heart (109), with cyanosis (207), cold sweat (114), tendency to haemorrhages and desire to be fanned.
It is a useful remedy for varicose veins (205) and for varicose and other low types of ulcers, with ichorous, corrosive discharges, burning pains, worse at night, and with purple discoloration of the surrounding parts (206).
It is of value in senile gangrene (82), in gangrenous degeneration of ulcers (82) and for the tendency to carbuncles to become gangrenous (82).
It is valuable in hectic fever from long lasting suppuration (183) and in other low types of fever, especially typhoid, with putrid discharges, offensive odor of the body, tendency to haemorrhages (193) and collapse and desire to be fanned. It is to be thought of in the third stage of yellow fever with haemorrhages (209).
There is sleeplessness at night in Carbo veg., or frequent waking, with coldness of the limbs and especially cold knees. In intermittent fever the coldness of the knees is a prominent feature. While the time of the onset of the paroxysm is not marked, we have a guiding symptoms during the chill, great coldness of the knees (121) and blueness of the finger-nails (121). During the chill there is thirst but during the fever there is none. The sweat is sour-smelling.
While it is useful for the bad effects of quinine (158), “China follows well after Carbo vegetabilis” (Lippe).
I use Carbo veg. 6th.