The fruit of this plant is a round gourd (hence its name, kolokunthe, the round gourd or pumpkin), and resembles in size and appearance a green orange. We use the dried fruit, deprived of its rind an seeds, to prepare our tincture.
Colocynth is a violent hydrogogue cathartic, producing also terrible colic. Hughes says that this remedy offers “a crucial instance of the fruitful results attainable by the Hahnemannian process of `proving’ on the healthy human body. Here is a substance which traditional medicine knows simply as a purgative. The modern experimentation on animals has done nothing for it; as as a purgative and nothing else in still stands in the works off” the old school authors.
In addition to its colic, Colocynth also causes violent pains in almost every nerve of the body and all pains are, as a rule, relieved by pressure and by heat. The onset of the pains is sudden, they last an indefinite time, and when they cease they leave as suddenly as they came. They is the explanation of a prominent symptom of the remedy, paroxysmal pains that come and go quickly (148).
One other general condition before we take up the special analysis of the remedy. Hahnemann, who introduced Colocynth into our materia medica, says that it is especially efficacious for the “ill consequences and troubles springing from indignation and embitterment, or internal gnawing mortification over the unworthy treatment of himself or of other persons who excited his pity” (Chr. Dis.).
Colocynth is a valuable neuralgic remedy, and in the head we find violent neuralgic headaches, with sudden cutting and boring pains, and facial neuralgias involving the eye and malar-bone (80), and in all these cases there is a paroxysmal character to the pains, with great soreness of the part affected yet relief from firm pressure (92) and from heat.
It is useful in controlling the pains in iritis and glaucoma, when the pains extend into the head and are better by firm pressure. Whatever the troubles requiring Colocynth, look for pain as it most prominent symptom, with the paroxysmal come- and-go feature, and relief from heat and pressure.
In the colic calling for this remedy you will frequently have the opportunity to verify the statement, that I have heard from more then one old-school graduate, who has also studied our materia medica, that in the majority of cases of acute pain, relief can be obtained as quickly with the homoeopathic remedy as by the use of morphine.
Two cases that I will remember will serve as illustrations. One hot night a stranger got me out of bed and said that his wife had been poisoned by something the she had eaten and he feared she was dying. I found his wife lying on the floor and writing in the greatest of agony. She could not speak to me, but noticing the intermittent character of the pains and her position during the paroxysms. I gave Colocynth. Twenty minutes later she exclaimed, “What a relief|” and she had but slight returns of the pains after that.
I was called to see a colored woman who had been suffering for several from a Colocynth colic. When I left, in about half an hour, her brother met me and asked if I thought his sister would live? I told him not to make nay noise, for she was at that time taking a nap.
Another case illustrative of a different phase of medical life was where I sat for a couple of hours feeding Colocynth to a colic that not only did not want the remedy but would not have it. I always like to wait in a case of colic and administer the medicine myself, a it is such fun to watch the patient get better; in this instance the fun was postponed, and it was not until after the second dose of Croton tig. that it commenced.
We have in Colocynth great flatulent distention of the abdomen, with most violent cutting, griping, flatulent colic, better from hard pressure (175); sometimes with nausea and vomiting, sometimes with diarrhoea, sometimes with discharge of great quantities of gas. The pains start the navel and are paroxysmal (176), griping, as if squeezed between stones (180), and they may extend into the chest (180) or pelvis. These pains my be caused by eating fruit (green apple colic), from suppressed perspiration, as from drinking ice-water when heated, or they may be brought on by fits of anger (177), indignation or grief from ill-treatment or after a scolding; but whatever the cause, the result is the same in all case, and the patient doubles up with the colic (174), usually with the hands folded over the abdomen, so as to get additional pressure, and with relief from heat, from a movement of the bowels, or the passage of wind, either upwards (175).
These pains are paroxysmal nd each paroxysm will stop as suddenly as it started. In severe cases we may have a constant pain which is bearable, while it is the paroxysms of pain that bring tears or the eyes or strong words to the lips. (There may be a certain amount of truth in the statement that a woman cries to keep from swearing, while a man swears to keep from crying.)
Although diarrhoea is not always present with the colic, colic is an accompaniment of the diarrhoea calling for Colocynth. The diarrhoea, like the colic, is caused by eating fruit (57), from anger, vexation, etc. The mere fact of being found fault with, especially if she considers it to be without cause, is sufficient in a susceptible person to bring on a violent attack of colic and diarrhoea.
In dysentery the stools are bloody and mucous, always after eating (57) and drinking (57) and preceded by the characteristic colic.
The urine in Colocynth is high-colored, being likened to brown beer, and becomes turbid and soon as cold, with a copious sediment of urates. It is to be thought of in chyluria, the urine white like milk (199) and coagulating in the cold.
In the pains from gravel (124) this is a frequently indicated remedy, with relief from pressure and from heat.
In the female sexual sphere, Colocynth is often called for in suppression of the menses (134), especially from anger or chagrin, with the characteristic colic (138), and in dysmenorrhoea, with violent paroxysmal pains, better from hard pressure and heat (the hot stove-lid).
In the ovaries it is the value inflammation (148), with great soreness in ovarian colic and in tumors. Many cases of cystic tumors of the ovaries (147) or broad ligament (127) have been cured by Colocynth, especially if the tumors are round and small, associated with pain, or with general discomfort, and with relief from heat; the patient has periodical pains and always wants the abdomen supported by a bandage.
It is not only a very valuable remedy in sciatica, but it is one that is frequently indicated, and Hughes says that it is in sciatica and colic “that the greatest triumphs for Colocynth have been made.” People with only old-school experience are wholly unable to conceive of the promptness with which Colocynth will cure its cases of sciatica. The pains are extremely violent and paroxysmal, of a tearing, shooting or boring character, with relief from heat, pressure (164) and by flexing the leg on the abdomen (163). (Note the misplaced sign here in the Hand-book.)
If the sciatica patient who wants Colocynth is able to be about, you will find that if the pain catches him while walking he will involuntarily stoop and grasp the thigh at the upper portion of the popliteal space; it he is sitting, he is apt to stretch out the leg so that the edge of the chair may press on the sciatic nerve (164).
I use Colocynth 3d.