Hahnemann gave us 776 symptoms of this remedy, which Allen has increased to 950 by adding a few additional provings and the poisonous effects, when taken in quantities or from exposure to it in its manufacture.
It is a remedy that well merits additional investigation, Allen saying that its action is “very complex and not clearly defined,” while Hughes, in the little that he has to say concerning it, closes with this paragraph: “I commend Petroleum to your study as a medicine whose virtues have been as yet by no means exhausted.”.
Its action is closely allied to all the carbons. The occipital headache, the nausea and vomiting and the skin symptoms will claim our especial attention.
There is general relief from warmth (10) or warm air, and aggravation, especially of the skin symptoms, during cold weather, and Lippe says (the statement being accepted by Hering) that “many ailments originate or are aggravated during a thunderstorm” (9).
Mentally, the Petroleum patient is timid and easily irritated and in delirium, noticed especially in low fevers, the patient has a fancy that another person is sick in the same bed with him (54) and taking up too much room, or in puerperal fever, that there were two babies instead of one, and that she would be unable to attend to both. Hering gives the additional delusion “that one limb is double.”
The headache are severe; they are located in the occiput (100) or begin there and external to the vertex, or the pain begins in the occiput and travels “over the head to the forehead” (Lilienthal) and eyes. Associated with the headaches we have stiffness of the muscles of the neck, a general feeling of numbness, pronounced vertigo which seems to be located in the occiput, a feeling as if intoxicated (207) and aggravated by sitting up in bed (207) or by looking upward (207), along with nausea and vomiting. Rapid motion of the hands sometimes relieves the pain in the head.
There is often a sensation of pressure in the occiput or numbness, as if made of wood or as if heavy as lead (107). Petroleum is of value in seasickness (165), when, in addition to the nausea and vomiting, we have the vertigo, already spoken of, that is felt in the occiput and aggravated by raising the eyeballs, and the occipital headache. It is of great value as a prophylactic against seasickness, and I have had almost universal success with it by giving it hourly for two days preceding the time of sailing and then at more frequent intervals should the occasion arise. That there have been a few instances when it has not worked with perfect satisfaction may have been due to my using it in the 6th instead of the 30th.
In the eyes Petroleum is useful for inflammation of the margins of the lids, blepharitis, with the formation of scabs and agglutination of the lids, giving the patient ” a dirty look” (Dr. G. A. Shephard). It is also of value for lachrymal fistula (125).
In the ears Petroleum is often called for. There is deafness, with occipital headache and pain in the ears as if water were in them; deafness, with roaring (65) and ringing in the ears, and pain running from the throat through the Eustachian tube to the ears (63). It is of value for eczema of the ears, with fetid discharge (63), greatly increased cerumen (65) and roaring, and for eczema behind the ears (64), moist or dry, with crusts and fissures.
In nasal and post-nasal catarrh (143) we have a good deal of mucus and obstruction of the posterior nares, while in ozaena (148) we have, in addition, the formation of scabs (143) and cracks in the wings of the nose (146).
Petroleum is to be thought of in pharyngeal catarrh, with a feeling of dryness, but with accumulation of much mucus, and with stinging and burning pains shooting through the Eustachian tubes to the ears on swallowing (184).
There is a sensation of relaxation or weakness in the stomach (179) and in gastralgia, the pains come on whenever the stomach becomes empty. We have dyspepsia that is temporarily better from eating (174), and dyspepsia with violent pains extending from the stomach up into the chest (180) and accompanied by nausea, all temporarily relieved by eating.
The prevailing taste seems to be sour (178) or putrid as from a spoiled stomach. As regards appetite, neither desire for nor aversion to food is spoken of prominently, although Hahnemann records that while proving the remedy, “his stomach and digestion get spoiled from but a little food, especially from sour-krout and brown cabbage.”
Nausea, with or without vomiting, is prominent in many complaints calling for this remedy, and it is frequently noticed in the morning on waking and lasting all day. It is of value for the nausea and vomiting (153) as well as the salivation of pregnancy (155) and Lilienthal adds, that it is “applicable to all gastric troubles of pregnant women.”
It has a colic relieved by bending double (174) and gastralgia with a feeling of faintness and coldness in the abdomen (11).
Petroleum is of value for haemorrhoids (86) and fissures in the anus (159), with great itching (159), and for diarrhoea occurring only in the daytime, and according to Bell, with “canine hunger after the stool.”
There is nocturnal enuresis (198) due to weakness of the bladder (21) and dribbling of urine after micturition (198) from the same cause. It is to be thought of in haemorrhage from the kidneys (85), with constant pain in the small of the back and frequent micturition, and in chronic interstitial nephritis (124), with the headache and gastric symptoms of the remedy.
The menses may be too early, as regards the interval between each period, and the flow causes intense itching of the genitals (156).
As regards the heart, a feeling of coldness in praecordial region is the most prominent symptom (109).
Petroleum is of value in the eruption of secondary syphilis, “especially on the scrotum” (Dearborn), for psoriasis (158) and eruptions on the hands, with thick crusts and deep cracks, and especially for bleeding fissures on the tips of the fingers (71), which crack and become very sore. It is useful for eczema on the back of the hands (65), which become completely raw, with burning, smarting and watery oozing and here, as in other skin lesions calling for the remedy, there is aggravation during cold weather. It is to be thought of in herpes zoster (114) and for herpes of the perineum and scrotum, especially with itching, burning and rawness, the latter being a prominent indication for the remedy.
It is of great value for fetid perspiration, especially of the axilla and feet (185), with tenderness of the latter from being kept so constantly moist.
In intermittent fever Petroleum is to be thought of when we have the occipital headache, along with the nausea and vomiting, and in typhoid it will be indicated with the headache and mental symptoms of the remedy.
I use Petroleum 6th.