WILD YAM-COLIC ROOT.
Dioscorea, named in honor of the famous Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides, is a creeper or twister, native of the United States, but common only in the South, and was first proved by Dr. A.M. Cushing, of this country. The root, which is one of the yams not edible and the only one used in medicine, had long enjoyed a reputation, first among the aborigines for curing abdominal pains, and later in domestic practice as a specific in bilious colic, “and country nurses will narrate almost miraculous cures from its use, after the patient had been given up to die by the attending physician” (Hale). Dioscorea root is not an officinal drug in the old school.
Our principal use for dioscorea is in gastric and abdominal conditions, with colic and flatulent distention (13), and the general characteristic that the colic is relieved by walking or from motion.
It is of value in flatulent dyspepsia, with belching of large quantities of tasteless or offensive gas, the eructations partially relieving the colicky pains (175) in the stomach and abdomen. The flatulent dyspepsia may be the result of drinking tea (7).
In the gastralgia the pains are very severe, cutting or cramp-like, and extending from the stomach, along the sternum (180) and into both arms (180), with cold, clammy sweat (185) and usually with relief from belching and standing erect.
In the abdomen we have rumbling (11) and griping, pains, with emission of much flatulence but without much relief from so doing.
It is of value in most violent flatulent colic, generally better from walking about and from pressure (175), worse lying down, except when lying flat upon the back; the pains are cutting and twisting and they radiate from the abdomen to the back (180), into the chest (180) and into the arms.
While most of the pathogenetic symptoms of Dioscorea give relief, in the stomach and abdominal pains, from walking and being erect, some show amelioration from bending double, as is found prominently under Coloc.; and clinically, we find frequent use for Dioscorea where the patients not only press hard against the abdomen but also bend forward in order to obtain relief (174).
Dr. F. E. Doughty once told me of a case of colic that he himself had experienced, where there was relief by bending double but on which Coloc. had not the slightest effect. A couple of doses of Dioscorea gave such prompt relief that he felt it to be a pure coincidence and stopped taking any more medicine in hopes that the colic would return and give him the opportunity to test it. The colic did return and he satisfied himself that Dioscorea had relieved and now cured his colic.
While you will probably give Coloc. before you will Dioscorea in this condition, remember the latter in case the former does not give prompt relief. One differentiation that we can keep in mind between the two remedies is, that in Dioscorea there is more inclination to walk (10), even if bent over.
The general character of the Dioscorea colic is a “constant pain, aggravated at regular intervals (176) by paroxysms of intense suffering” (Hale), very like what we find in certain cases calling for Coloc.
It is to be thought of in gall-stone colic (82) the pains radiating into the chest and arms, with terrible eructations; in colic from the passage of gravel or kidney calculi (124), with pains shooting up into the kidney an down into the testicle (125) and leg, with cold, clammy sweat.
The haemorrhoids (86) calling for Dioscorea look like bunches of grapes, or “like red cherries,” as the pathogenetic symptom reads; they protrude after the stool and are associated with darting pain in anus, shooting up to the liver.
The diarrhoea of Dioscorea is associated with the characteristic cutting, twisting, paroxysmal colic. The stools are thin and of a deep yellow color; they are most frequent in the morning, are followed by exhaustion (58) and do not afford much relief to the colicky pains.
In the male we have sexual atony, with relaxation and coldness of the sexual organs (168), and seminal emissions during sleep (167).
While no provings seem to have been made by women, it has been found useful in uterine colic, dysmenorrhoea, and perhaps “after-pains” (Hale), with the pains shooting in different directions from the uterus.
Dioscorea is to be thought of in sciatica of the right side, with shooting pains, shooting the whole length of the extremity when moving the limb, with entire relief when keeping perfectly still.
It has been recommended for felons (81), Bell saying that it “will usually cure if taken as soon as the pricking in the finger is felt, and greatly relieve and hasten the termination if taken later.”
I use Dioscorea 3d.