(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.
While we may have painless diarrhoea, movements thin, or mixed with hard lumps, and with aggravation from 4–8 P.M., the usual state of the patient is one of obstinate constipation, with little or no desire, stools hard and dry, and spasmodic constriction of the anus whenever the attempt is made to evacuate the bowels (158).
Lycopodium is an important remedy in the uric acid diathesis, with deposits of red sand (123) (uric acid crystals which are easily removed from the vessel). The urine is apt to be scanty and burning when passed (194), and we may find “urging to urinate; must wait long before it will pass” (Hering) (200).
It is useful in dysuria in children, especially with scanty urine, and for retention of urine, the flow being by “fits and starts” (Hering) (199). It has relieved renal colic of the right side (124) and is useful for haematuria when caused by gravel (85). It is a remedy to be thought of for tendency to the formation of stone in the bladder (22).
Lycopodium is of value for chronic interstitial nephritis
(124), with oedematous extremities and the gastric derangements of the remedy. In oedematous conditions generally, a characteristic symptom of Lycopodium is emaciation of the upper part of the body with swelling of the lower.
In the male sexual sphere, it is of value for sexual exhaustion, especially after chronic gonorrhoea or cystitis. There is loss of desire, “he goes to sleep during coition” (Chr. Dis.) and the penis is relaxed and cold (168). With these symptoms it is an important remedy for impotency (168) in the aged, for those who wish to appear to advantage in a new field, and Lilienthal refers to it as the “old man’ balm.” It is to be thought of in chronic prostatitis (155), with more or less cystitis and the urinary symptoms already spoken of.
Lycopodium is a remedy of value in depression of spirits and abdominal distention preceding or during menstruation, or for suppression of the menses, with increased flatulence (138) and melancholia (139).
The leucorrhoea is a paroxysmal discharge, or it flows in gushes (126), and is associated with a sensation of dryness and burning in the vagina (205). With the leucorrhoea, as well as in chronic inflammation of the uterus, cancer (202) and fibroid tumors (202), we are apt to have discharge of gas from the vagina (205). It is a remedy to be thought of for varicose veins of the pudenda (205).
Lycopodium is useful for neuralgia (147) or inflammation of the ovaries, when confined to the r. side (147), or starting there and traveling to the 1.
In the chest Lycopodium is frequently but not always given, because, as it seems to me, the abdominal symptoms have such a prominent place in our minds that we are apt to forget that there are nay others worth remembering.
It is of value for chronic catarrh, especially in old people (147), with dyspnoea from the least exertion, cough worse after 4 P.M., and usually with free expectoration. It has a tickling, irritating cough, as though caused by the inhalation of sulphur fumes (43), with gray salt expectoration (70). It also has a sudden, violent cough from itching-tickling in larynx, as if it were tickled with a feather (43), with scanty expectoration. When there is scanty expectoration, in his remedy, the cough is violent and affects or shakes the stomach or abdomen. A unique symptom is the clinical one given by Allen, “cough rather worse when going down hill than up.”
It is of great value in subacute pneumonia, with easy expectoration but great difficulty in breathing and fan like motion of the wings of the nose (145a0, with aggravation when lying on the back. It is of especial value in mismanaged pneumonia, so-called, when another physician has first been on the case, or if you have treated it from the beginning, one that has never presented a good picture of any remedy, and you, in your anxiety, have shifted from drug to drug as the condition has gone from bad to worse, until now, with the continued hepatization and time for resolution to take place, the patient is getting in a low condition, has great difficulty in breathing, with the fanlike motion of the wings of the nose on each inspiration; in such a condition, Lycopodium, the inoffensive dusting powder, will straighten the case out if anything will.
In phthisis, with cold night-sweats (185), it is called for when the characteristic abdominal symptoms present themselves.
Lippe gives a symptom that sounds as if it should be a prominent one of the remedy, but it is not in the provings, “palpitation of the heart, worse after eating” (111).
Besides ascites, already spoken of, Lycopodium is of value for dropsies of the pericardium (109) and pleura (29).
In the back, we find a burning pain between the scapulae, as from hot coals (168).
In lumbago, Lycopodium is of value after Bryonia has ceased to act, and with aggravation from every motion.
In rheumatism, and especially in chronic conditions, the trouble is worse on the r. side, with aggravation towards evening and from warmth (160). It is of value in chronic rheumatism of any joint, small ones especially (161) and of the hands in particular (161), the hands and fingers swollen and stiff. It is also of value in chronic gout (84), with chalky deposits in the joints.
In rheumatism and gout the gastric and urinary symptoms occupy a prominent position in the selection of this remedy.
Lycopodium is indicated in varicose veins (205) and ulcers, with oedema and aggravation from heat and hot applications, naevus vasculosus and pigmentosus (mole), for eczema and psoriasis (158), with itching and easy bleeding, in general with aggravation from warmth (122) and relief from cold or in the open air. It is useful in intertrigo, “especially under the arms, between the thighs and on the scrotum ” (Dunham), with the above conditions of aggravation and amelioration.
The intermittent fever case requiring Lycopodium is especially a chronic one, with recurrence of the paroxysm at 4 P.M. or between 4 and 8 P.M. and associated with nervous irritability, red sand in the urine, enlarged spleen (13) and teasing cough (121), with sour vomiting at end of chill, which vomiting may continue during the fever.
The chill is apt to begin in the back (121). There is no thirst during the chill but there is thirst (121) during the fever and “after the sweating stage” (Hering). The sweat is sour- smelling.
Lycopodium is occasionally called for in typhoid fever, with distention of the abdomen, uric acid sediment in the urine and great mental depression.
Hahnemann says that a dose of Lycopodium “operates for forty to fifty days,” and ” it is especially efficacious, when it is homoeopathically indicated after the previous use of Calcarea” (Chr. Dis.).
I use Lycopodium 6th.