HYOSCYAMUS NIGER-COMMON HENBANE-HOGBEAN.
(Hyoscyamus- vo, vos, hus, hyos, a hog; kyamos, a bean.)
Hyoscyamus, or Hogbean, “because it does or does not poison swine-an open question” (Millspaugh); henbane, because it is supposed to be fatal to fowls. Hyoscyamus, indigenous to Europe and Western Asia, was introduced into this country in the seventeenth century.
It was used as a medicine by the ancients, the earliest account that we have of it going back to 681. Its violent character was known and Dioscorides rejected it as a medicine as being too highly poisonous for use. In 1872 it was again brought to the notice of physicians and is now in general use by the old school as a sedative and as an anti-spasmodic, and as a hypnotic in cases where opium would be used, did it not disagree.
Hyoscyamus was first proved by Hahnemann.
“It acts very similarly to Belladonna,” says Allen, “but with less indication of congestion or fever,” and Dunham goes a step further in his description when he says, ” the convulsions, the mania, the delirium, the cough, the sleeplessness, all occur almost absolutely without any manifestations of fever. In this respect it presents a marked contrast to Belladonna.”
Mentally we find stupor alternating with periods of great mental activity; with the stupor we have twitching of the muscles, while with the mental activity, talking is the pronounced feature.
Talcott tells us that it is a remedy “especially adapted to women who become insane during pregnancy or after parturition; to those who suffer from jealousy or unhappy love; to victims of delirium tremens; nd to young people and children who are inclined to convulsive attacks, to epilepsy and to chorea. In general paresis (149) it is frequently called for to control the
In mania and in delirium the features that will direct our attention to the remedy are loquacity (55) and obscene talk and actions (55).
In the delirium occurring during the course of acute diseases we have restlessness (160); he is constantly busy with his hands, picking, working and clutching (183); he keeps up a constant muttering (55) or talking, with frequent silly laughter; he is “almost always jolly” (Talcott). Or we may have a violent delirium, with tendency to bite, scratch or get out of bed (53), he is suspicious of his friends, afraid of being poisoned (53) or of being pursued (53) and has illusions of vision in which everything is unusually large.
While this condition of wild delirium is not common, we find, usually, in the Hyoscyamus patient a deliberate attempt to throw off the bed-clothes in order to expose the genital organs, or he or she talks in the most horribly lewd manner, and this in those who in their right mind are delicate and refined and you wonder where they ever heard the words, as they never could have seen them in print.
Talcott lays special stress on the Hyoscyamus patient being “mostly good natured and jolly” in his delirium and sums it up in this way: “Hyoscyamus paints the mental town of its victim a brilliant and luminous red, and stimulates him to sing, in merriest and most vociferous tones, the songs of Venus and Bacchus combined.”
It is a remedy useful in delirium tremens (54), with suspicions concerning his friends, illusions as to common, every- day objects in his room, and talkativeness, and in puerperal mania (129) with desire to lie uncovered.
It may be of use in chorea (31) when we have clutching movements of the hands and numerous incoherent muscular movements, “jerking and twitching of the muscles of the face and eyes” (Hughes); in paralysis agitans; in tetanus (189); and in hydrophobia (119).
Let me quote from Hahnemann: “When we take together symptoms” (referring to those having dryness of the throat and difficulty in swallowing, the mental and convulsive symptoms), “we have a tolerably accurate picture of the ordinary hydrophobia caused by the bite of a mad dog. The true histories of this frightful disease show us several varieties of this malady in human beings, for each of which there will be a perfectly suitable remedy, among which henbane is one of the best.
“For the other cases either Stramonium or Belladonna is the suitable homoeopathic remedy, according to the character of the totality of the symptoms.
“Belladonna has already affected some perfect cures, and would have done this more frequently, had not either other interposing remedies been administered at the same time, or, and especially, had it not been given in such enormous doses, that the patients were sometimes killed by the remedy.
“Large doses of drugs, homoeopathically suitable, are much more certainly injurious than such as are given without any similar (homoeopathic) relation to the disease, or such as have an opposite (antipathic) relation to the case, that is to say, are quite unsuitable (allopathic). In the homoeopathic employment of medicines, where the totality of the morbid symptoms has a great similarity to the action of a drug, it is really criminal not to give quite small doses, indeed as small as possible. In such cases doses of the size prescribed in the routine practice become real poisons and murderous agents. Convinced by a thousand-fold experience, I assert this of the homoeopathic employment of medicines universally and invariably, particularly when the disease is acute; and this is especially true of the employment of Belladonna, Stramonium and Hyoscyamus in hydrophobia.
“So let it not be said, ‘One of these three remedies was given in the strongest doses, and not too seldom, but every two or three hours, and yet the patient died.’ ‘That was precisely the reason why the patient died, and you killed him.’ Had you let him take the smallest portion of a drop of the quintillion-fold (5th) or decillion fold (30th) attenuation of the juice of one of these plants for a dose (in rare cases repeating the dose after three or four days) then the patient would have been easily and certainly saved” (Mat. Medorrhinum Pura).
Fright enters into many of the conditions calling for Hyoscyamus and it is useful in convulsions in children when you can trace the cause back to some fright that they have had (81). It is to be thought of in epileptiform spasms(66) or convulsions in children or after labor (155).
In the eyes we have spasms of the ocular muscles, eyes distorted or rolling, with dilated pupils (76); also illusions of vision, in which objects seem too large (78), or double (77).
We have twitching of the muscles of the face, noticed especially in conditions of nervous excitability, and in delirium a dry and cracked tongue, with more or less paralysis (192), the “tongue protruded with difficult, can hardly draw it in” (Hering).
We have involuntary movements of the bowels, in nervous conditions, and a paralysis of the bladder (22), with involuntary discharge of urine, and retention of urine, especially after labor (200), with seemingly no power to evacuate the bladder.
Hyoscyamus is a remedy that must be thought of in nymphomania (146), sometimes of the most furious character, and with loss of all shame. As I look upon the drug this condition is chiefly mental and they only wish to expose themselves and talk on forbidden subjects.
Hyoscyamus has a dry, hacking, irritating cough, worse while lying down at night, better sitting up (41) and seemingly due to an irritable condition of the epiglottis, or from elongation of the uvula (44); this is especially found in phthisis and towards the end of whooping cough, with the aggravation at night on lying down. We also have irritable cough worse after eating (41), drinking (41), talking or singing.
It is a remedy to be remembered in sleeplessness (169) from nervous irritation, with great uneasiness and restlessness, and with difficult breathing or swallowing; also, as Talcott says: “Sleeplessness without apparent cause. The patient is very nervous; jumps in his sleep, and thus awakens himself.” It is very useful in the troubled sleep of children, when they twitch (193), cry out and wake in fright (810).
I use Hyoscyamus 3d.