KALMIA LATIFOLIA symptoms of the homeopathy remedy from Plain Talks on Materia Medica with Comparisons by W.I. Pierce. What KALMIA LATIFOLIA can be used for? Indications and personality of KALMIA LATIFOLIA…



      It seems that Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist and founder of the “Linnean system” in botany, had a pupil named Peter Kalm, who was not only a noted botanist and a Swede, but he had traveled in this country and wrote a book about it. History is silent as to which one of these achievements entitled him to everlasting fame, but the fact remains that Linnaeus named this plant after his pupil who had brought him a specimen from this country, and because it was broad-leaved, he added the name latifolia, to distinguish it.

There are several varieties of Kalmia, but this is the only one proved. All are poisonous if eaten, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its Bulletin No. 86, “Thirty Poisonous Plants,” includes Kalmia latifolia, or Kalmia, as we will hereafter call it.

Kalmia is commonly called laurel, north of Maryland, and ivy, poison ivy, or big ivy, south of Maryland. Among the many other names given to this shrub is calico-bush, from the color of its flowers.

Kalmia was first proved by Hering, and the fresh leaves are used to prepare our tincture.

It will help us in our study of this remedy if we will remember as more or less of a rule, that “Kalmia is left-sided as regards the heart and circulation, and right-sided in neuralgias” (Deschere).


      Kalmia is a rheumatic remedy, with special involvement of the heart, and it causes tingling and numbness (146) in various parts (neuralgic or rheumatic), shifting pains (149), restlessness (160) and most marked of all, a slow, weak pulse.

There is a weakness of the limbs so that it is difficult to go up stairs and a bruised feeling (166) all over the body, or a feeling as if one had been exposed to a soaking rain.

We find, also, rheumatoid pains in various parts of the body. These pains, which involve the muscles of joints, are shifting and finally go to the heart and involve that left arm (110) and shoulder, and are associated with stiffness and numbness.

Farrington speaks of Kalmia being useful in rheumatism when the pains shift “from the joints to the heart,” and it is especially to be thought of when the heart becomes involved after the use of “external applications to the joints.”

Because, as it seems to me, of the tendency of the rheumatic pains to finally shift to the heart, some authors look upon Kalmia as one of the remedies where rheumatic pains travel from below upward (!63).

With the rheumatic, as well as in the neuralgic pains of Kalmia, we have great weakness and numbness of the parts, they feel as if paralyzed, and Dunham says, “these paralytic sensations and great pain and aching in the limbs seem to be characteristic of the drug, for they accompany nearly every group of symptoms.”

In the eyes we have paralysis of the upper lid (78), with a feeling of stiffness on trying to raise it, and muscular asthenopia (72), with a feeling of stiffness in the muscles of the eyes on moving them.

It is useful in rheumatic iritis (74), with pain on moving the eyes, as well as in inflammation of the sclera, the eyeball painful on motion. It is of value in retinitis albuminurica (76), especially during pregnancy, associated with “much pain in back, as if the back would break” (Hering).

Kalmia is a useful remedy in “right-sided supraorbital neuralgia” (Deschere) (76), especially when caused by exposure to cold air. It is also of value in right-sided facial neuralgia (80), especially with a feeling of numbness (146) and stiffness; generally rheumatic in origin, that is, excited by cold. It is to be thought of in facial neuralgia, following herpes zoster (114).

A feeling as if something “s a stone” (Lilienthal), were being pressed under the stomach towards the heart, and associated with “eructations and palpitation” (Hering). It is useful in gastralgia, coming on in sudden paroxysms (176), with aggravation from bending double and relief “when sitting up, or when lying on the back” (Hering) (174).

It is of value in croupous nephritis (125) during pregnancy and in interstitial nephritis, with backache, or “sensation as if it would break from within outward” (Dunham), and with palpitation and pain about the heart.

In the heart we have palpitation and fluttering (109) on exertion, or a slow, feeble pulse, or creeping, the artery slowly contracting and dilating, like the action of an earthworm.

The question is often asked, how in our pathogenesis we get such opposite or contrary symptoms, as in this case, the rapid and the extremely slow pulse? In reference to Kalmia, the answer would be that the physiological action depends upon the amount of the drug taken, for it was found in the provings that Kalmia “in small doses accelerates the heart’s action, while in large doses it moderates it, reducing it almost to a minimum” (Dunham) and this slow, feeble, creeping pulse is the more characteristic of the remedy.

Allen, in 1892, reported the following case to the N. Y., Hom. Mat. Medorrhinum Society: “Boy. act. eight. Impending paralysis of the heart, following scarlet fever and diphtheria. Pulse slow, irregular and feeble. Oppressed breathing. On twenty-first day, from diphtheritic invasion, pulse sank to fifty-five, was irregular. Extremities cold. Digitalis 7th, 6th and 3d given with only temporary relief. On evening of same day pulse sank to forty-five; at 2 A.M. pulse sank of thirty-nine. Fifteen minutes after first dose of Kalmia, pulse reached sixty and continued to improve steadily under Kalmia.”

Think of Kalmia in post-diphtheritic paralysis (62), “with tendency to involve the heart” (Deschere). It was due to Dr. Deschere’s talk to me on this subject, that I now give Kalmia, as soon after disease as possible, to act as a preventive against post-diphtheritic paralysis.

Kalmia is of value in rheumatic affections of the heart (162) and Dunham says “in rheumatism that alternates with heart troubles” (163).

In general, we can think of Kalmia in angina pectoris (107), organic diseases of the heart, hypertrophy (110) and fatty degeneration of the heart (109), in all these conditions, with slow pulse, paroxysms of extreme anguish about the heart and dyspnoea, with wandering pains about the heart extending down the left arm (110).

I use Kalmia 6th.

Willard Ide Pierce
Willard Ide Pierce, author of Plain Talks on Materia Medica (1911) and Repertory of Cough, Better and Worse (1907). Dr. Willard Ide Pierce was a Director and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Kent's post-graduate school in Philadelphia.