(Lycopodium–lykos, lukos, a wolf plus “ovs, pous, foot; so called from the appearance of the roots. Clavatum, clava, a club.)
Lycopodium was first proved by Hahnemann.
The Lycopodium powder or pollen which is taken to prepare the drug for our use, is made up of spores or nuts, within which the oil having medicinal virtues. While the tincture of Lycopodium will be furnished by the pharmacist, if you ask for it, the powder must be triturated for a long time so as to break up the spores, before the alcohol is added, as “in its ordinary crude state” it is “almost without any medicinal effect on the human body” (Chr. Dis.)
It is thought that no trituration below the 12x will have been ground sufficiently fine to have all the spores broken and to convert into a liquid potency it is best to start with the 12x rather than with the 6x, as is the rule with other insoluble substances.
Lycopodium is used by the old school simply as a dusting- powder for chafing, etc., and as of no medicinal value; but, says Hahnemann, “when the pollen of the club-moss is treated in the mode by which the homoeopathic art unveils the crude substance of nature, there arises a wonderfully effective medicine in its thirty different degrees of dynamization” (Chr. Dis.).
The great characteristic of the remedy is the peculiar indigestion and the production of flatus in the intestines, noticed while eating, and we expect to find some evidence of this nearly every time that the remedy is prescribed.
Another characteristic of the remedy is an aggravation of many of the conditions from 4 to 8 P.M., with regular recurrence.
A symptom that is frequently overlooked is the desire for and general relief in the open air (9).
Lycopodium produces uric and deposits, “hence pains in the kidneys and bladder; and hence indirectly the pains in the limbs and joints” (Dunham). It produces catarrhal symptoms in the nose, throat and especially in the lungs. It “acts upon the vegetative system, producing weakness of its powers, and wasting and decay of the tissues” (Talcott), and is adapted to atonic types of disease, to “deep-seated progressing chronic disease” (Hering), for conditions of malnutrition (129), and is more frequently useful for persons who are emaciated than for those who are well nourished.
It is said that the emaciation is especially of the upper part of the body, and an indication for the remedy in children is when they look wrinkled and prematurely old (31).
While Lycopodium is a remedy especially indicated in deep- seated chronic affections, it is sometimes required as an “inter- current” during the course of an acute malady (121). It is a right-sided remedy (163) or begins on the right side of the body and travels to the left.
Lycopodium is of great value in conditions of mental torpor,
with slowness of comprehensions, “for overworked brains where brain trouble threatens” (Dunham) (93), especially for old people, with forgetfulness of words and syllables, with confusion of ideas generally unless he concentrates his mind on the subject. There is a loss of mental control, a want of self- confidence, with great mental and nervous weakness (156), with physical relaxation (155).
It is of value in melancholic hypochondriasis, with weeping and apprehension, or they are irritable and hate everybody, especially when suffering from indigestion, or they are domineering in manner, with exaggerated ideas of their own importance (54). At times the patient is very easily frightened and startled, and with a dread of seeing anyone.
It has proved useful in tubercular meningitis (133), with moaning, sleep and half-open eyes and an afternoon aggravation, and for chronic hydrocephalus (119), with screaming out in sleep, but without general Apis symptoms.
It is a remedy to be thought of for premature grayness of the hair (88), “preceded or accompanied by dryness of the scalp” (Dearborn). There may be falling out of the hair on the scalp, with increased growth on other parts of the body, or, according to Lippe, “baldness after diseases of the abdominal viscera and after parturition” (88).
In the eye Lycopodium is of great value in night-blindness (76), especially when associated with vision of black spots floating at a short distance from the eyes (77).
The progress of cataract (73) has been arrested by this remedy, the keynote for its use being the associated gastric symptoms, which we will take up in their proper order.
In the ear it is of value for chronic deafness, with or without purulent otorrhoea, and especially after scarlet fever (63), and for eczema of the external ear or behind the ear (64), with bleeding, offensive discharge and rawness, and aggravation from 4-8 P.M., and with relief in the open air.
In the nose Lycopodium is frequently neglected, especially in acute conditions. It is useful in acute coryza, with swelling of the nose externally and stoppage internally (39), the stoppage being especially worse at night. There is in both acute and chronic conditions a sensation of dryness of the mucous membrane posteriorly, and an excoriating discharge anteriorly (37); or we may find in both acute and chronic conditions, dryness of the entire nasal mucous membrane, with the formation of scabs or clinkers (143).
It is a remedy useful for polypi of the nose (145), associated with an acrid coryza, and it must be remembered as one of the two prominent remedies that has fan-like motion of the wings of the nose (145), and noticed here, especially in diphtheria and pneumonia.
The teeth grown yellow and feel too long (187) and the gums become swollen and bleed profusely when touched (84) or on brushing the teeth (84).
In the throat Lycopodium presents much of interest, and we have as prominent symptoms a feeling as if a ball rose from below up into the throat (189) and stuck there, usually associated with abdominal distention, and a too tight or contracted sensation on swallowing, so that food and drink regurgitate through the nose (190).
It is to be thought of in tonsillitis, especially of the right side, and in diphtheria beginning on the right side and traveling to the left, the patient worse about 4 P.M., with fan- like motion of the wings of the nose and involvement (62) and stoppage of the nose.
In the stomach and abdomen Lycopodium has some very prominent symptoms, and as we have already said, some of them are very apt to be present whenever the remedy is prescribed, irrespective of the trouble that the patient complains of.
There may be a feeling of constant satiety (177), but the most pronounced gastric and abdominal symptom is a feeling of fullness or distention that comes on while the patient is eating and before he leaves the table (177). It is frequently noticed in this way: The patient feels hungry on going to the table, but a very few mouthfuls cause flatulent distention and immediately the appetite is lost; or he feels full, up to the throat, before eating enough to satisfy the appetite that he came to the table with, and does not dare to take any more food for fear that it will cause vomiting. He is in the same condition, after eating a little, as the boy was at his first party, after eating a great deal; he refused the dessert and gave as his excuse that while he could still chew, he could not swallow.
Lycopodium is of value in acid dyspepsia (178), with sour eructations (178) and burning in the stomach (178), the epigastric region becoming distended and extremely sensitive to touch (12); in chronic dyspepsia, where solid food causes excruciating pain and sometimes vomiting; and in atonic dyspepsia (178), with slowness of digestion and bloating of the stomach and abdomen (13). We may have incomplete eructations, rising only into the pharynx, where they cause burning.
It is useful in chronic gastritis, with burning pains (178) and waterbrash (179), and for scirrhous induration (178) of the pyloric orifice of the stomach, with vomiting of blood, burning and the extreme distention and marked eructations so characteristic of the remedy.
Associated with the flatulent distention of Lycopodium we are apt to have hiccough (116), which is worse after every meal.
In the abdomen we have great tympanitic distention (13), with a good deal of fermentation, rumbling and gurgling (11), and pains of various sorts, with necessity to loosen the clothing (12) and relief from empty eructations (175). It is of value for chronic inflammation of the liver, with enlargement, heaviness and soreness, and is useful as a palliative in cirrhosis of the liver (127). It is to be thought of in abdominal dropsy (11), due to chronic hepatic disease, as well as for the brown patches of chloasma, liver-spots, when they appear on the abdomen (127).
Lycopodium has proved useful in strangulated hernia (114) when there was great distention and retching, and for gall-stone colic (82).
It is a remedy to be thought of not only for non-bleeding haemorrhoids (86), which become very painful when sitting, and associated with distention of the abdomen, and mental depression, but also for haemorrhoids which bleed frequently (85), even when the patient is not constipated.