(From vol. v, 2nd edit., 1826.)
(The tincture is made by macerating for a week, without heat and with a daily shaking fifty grains of the powder of the whole plant of Spigelia anthelmia in 500 drops of a alcohol.)
This annual plant, which was first used in South America as a domestic remedy for round worms, became known about eighty years ago to our practitioners, who, however, since that time have made no other employment of it than that which they were originally taught by the simple negroes of the Antilles, viz. Solely for the expulsion of round worms.
It should, however, be remembered that the accumulation of round worms in the intestines is never a peculiar independent disease, but is merely a symptom of some other fundamental disease of man, and unless it is cured, the round worms, though many of them may be expelled, always collect again in the bowels. It would, therefore, be foolish to employ a very powerful medicine like spigelia merely on order to expel these worms, if this plant did not at the same time remove the disease on which they depend. This, however, it is capable of doing, as many observations seem to prove, in which the patient has recovered without the expulsion of any worms whatever.
And yet it has been persistently asserted with a strange want of perception, that spigelia can only be regarded and employed as a vermifuge. But if no more important use has been made of this very remarkable medicine (and the same object may often be easily accomplished by cina seed), this would be to act as injudiciously as if some trivial operation should be performed with a costly tool. The extraordinary and manifold powers of this plant indicate a much higher destiny than to remove a few worms from the bowels, as we are taught by the following manifestations and symptoms of medicinal disease.
If we consider the inconsiderateness of physicians of the ordinary stamp in administering this plant to patients in doses of 60 and 70 grains of the powder, we must acknowledge that medicines could not well have come into more inappropriate and improper hands than those of ordinary physicians, who were content to employ medicines, those inestimable and useful gifts of God, only for those purposes for which common folk imagined them to be adapted, and who gave them in doses dangerous to life which it pleased them to determine at their desks, quite unconcerned as to what was the inward peculiar medicinal quality of each medicinal substance in particular, that is to say, unconcerned about the true dynamic relation of each of them to the human health, as it only clearly revealed in pure experiments on healthy persons.
This plant has this peculiarity, that the primary action of a single unrepeated dose usually increases somewhat daily during the first seven to ten days, so that pure experiments with it on healthy persons should only be conducted that caution, seeing that 60, 80, to 100 drops of the tincture produce violent effects even in otherwise robust, healthy persons.
For the homoeopathic employment the decillion-fold dilution, each diluting phial of 100 drops being shaken not oftener than twice, is almost too strong, even when but a small portion of a drop of it is given for a dose.
Spigelia, even in a small dose, acts for more than four weeks, and on account of this powerful and long-lasting action it ought never to be given as a remedy except after careful selection; in which the peculiarly marked characteristic symptoms of the case of disease are found in great similarity among those of spigelia. When this is so it is capable of removing very severe diseases.