(From vol. iii, 2nd edit., 1825.)
(The alcoholic tincture of the root of Veratrum album.)
Though the subjoined symptoms indicate a powerful action of this medicinal substance on the human health, a great capacity for effecting changes in it, and consequently show that we may expect great things form its suitable employment, yet the investigation of all its medicinal symptoms is so far from complete, that the following can be regarded as only a fraction of its wealth of pathogenetic effects.
In the meantime, however, I have resolved to communicate to the world what I have been able to ascertain up to the persent moment, because even this amount is capable of being usefully employed.
I might certainly have adduced the symptoms recorded by the older Greek authors in corroboration of my own, but I have refrained from doing so in order to avoid the appearance of wishing to make a display of learning.
This much is, however, certain, that the ancients could not have obtained so much reputation for their hellebore treatment at Anticyra and other places in Greece, unless they had effected much with it, and unless they had restored many sick persons to health by means of this medicinal plant.
Our modern physicians do not know how to make any good use of this valuable medicine, and indeed, do not employ it at all, as they are unable to give it in a Justa-dosis, i.e. in drachms and ounces, without killing their patients.
Consequently they must leave uncured those diseases which cannot be cured without this root.
Physicians have no notion of the power possessed by this drug to promote a cure of almost one third of the insane in lunatic asylus (at all events as a homoeopathic intermediate remedy), because they know not the peculiar kind of insanity in which to employ it, nor the does in which it should be administered in order to be efficacious and yet not injurious.
As there can be no rapid and permanent cure of dynamic diseases, unless by medicines endowed with the dynamic power of producing similar morbid states, as I have shown often enough, so we have only to make ourselves acquainted with the peculiar kinds of insanity in the following observations, regard being pain to the other symptoms, in order to know in which of the manias white hellebore root may be homoepathically employed with good effect.
We must not imitate the ancients in their doses. No doubt many of their patients were cured, but not a few succumbed to their enormous doses. For even in those times, just as nowadays, the delusion existed in the medical art that diseases depended on a morbific matter in the body, and consequently that they could not be cured without the elimination of this (imaginary) morbific matter. Hence the ancients in their treatment of chronic diseases gave their white hellebore root almost in such doses (a drachm and more of the medicine in the form if coarse sifted powder) as were capable of exciting excessive vomiting, and at last also purgation; and (blinded by the above theory) even those cases in which the patients were cured of their diseases by white hellebore, without undergoing vomiting hot purging, failed to convince them that the cures were effected in quite another way than by evacuations upwards and downwards.
It is also quite false that the patients affected with emotional and mental diseases as a rule require and bare enormous doses of medicine, as our physicians still imagine. No doubt, allopathic and unsuitably chosen drugs, even in large doses, seem to have but little effect on the grosser part of the organism and the general health of such patients. But in such diseases the general health is but little implicated, and their subjects are often very robust in that respect; as a rule, the malady has settled in the fine invisible organs of the mental and emotional spheres undiscoverable by anatomy (which serve as the medium of the purely spiritual soul by which the grosser body is ruled). These subtle organs suffer most in those diseases, it is they that are most morbidly deranged.
When unsuitable, unhomoeopathic (allopathic) drugs in large doses when administered to such patients, the more massive body assuredly suffered but little from them (it was often seen that twenty grains of tartar emetic caused no vomiting, &c.); but, on the other hand,(and this our physicians did not observe, for, as a rule, they are gifted with but small powers of observation), the mental and emotional organs were all the more severely affected; the mania or melancholia was much aggravated by such violent unsuitable remedies, sometimes even rendered incurable.
On the other hand, it is undeniably true, though not hitherto suspected, that patients suffering from mental and emotional diseases soon regained a healthy state of their mental and emotional organs, that is to say, a perfect recovery of their health and reason, by means of doses as small as those that suffice for other non-physical maladies, namely, by quite small doses, but only of the appropriate and perfectly homoeopathic medicine.
I have never found it necessary to give a dose of more than a single drop, often only a small portion of a drop, of white hellebore tincture, diluted to such an extent that one drop contains a quadrillionth of a grain of this root. This dose may, when necessary, be given to the patient without his knowledge in his ordinary drink – consequently without it being requisite to employ the slightest force, which is always prejudicial in such cases, provided the regimen is so regulated that all the conditions generally required to sustain healthy life are simultaneously enforced, and everything than can interfere with the cure, from heterogeneous medicinally-acting food and drink to moral and physical hindrances, is most carefully eschewed. This is not the place to treat this subject in greater detail.
Paroxysms of pains similar to those the white hellebore root can itself produce, and which always brought the patient for a short time into a sort of delirium and mania, often yielded to the smallest dose of the above solution.
Also in agues which consist of outward cold only, or are attended by only inward heat and dark urine, this root is often employed advantageously, especially when cold sweat of the body or, at least, of the foreheads, is present.
In several hypochondriacal affections, as also in certain kinds of inguinal hernia, it is very useful, at all events as an intermediate remedy.
Sudden, grave accidents from taking white hellebore root are most surely removed by a few cups of strong coffee. But if the predominant state is pressive pain in the head with coldness of the body and unconscious sopor, camphor is the antidote.
If an anxious, distracted state, accompanied by coldness of the body or burning sensation in the brain is present, then aconite is of service. The other chronic affections caused by the abuse of white hellebore root, e.g. a daily forenoon fever, are best relieved by small doses of cinchona bark.
Among the following symptoms of white hellebore root, some seem to belong to the secondary action (i.e. the opposite state developed in the organism after the primary action), but these can only be elucidated by repeated observation.
I have seen the positive effects of this root, even in small doses, last five days and longer.
[HAHNEMANN was assisted in this proving by BECHER, FRANZ, FRIEDRICH HAHNEMANN, STAPF, TEUTHORN.
Citations are made from the following old-school sources;
ALBERTI, Jurispr. Medorrhinum, vol. vi.
ALSTON, Lectures, on the Materia Medica.
BENIVENIUS, in Schenck, viii.
BERGIUS, Mat. Medorrhinum
BORRICHIUS, Acta hafn., vi.
DESSENIUS, Composit. Medicam., lib. x.
DOBRZEWSKY, in Eph. Nat., Cur., Dec. I, ann. 2.
ETTMULLER, Opium, tom. ii.
FORESTUS, P., xviii.
GALENUS, CL., Comment., v.
GESNER, CONR., Epist. Medorrhinum
GRASSIUS, S., Misc. Nat. Cur. Dec. I, ann. 4.
GREDING, Vermischte Schriften.
KALM. Nordameric resa., iii.
LEDELIUS, S., in Misc. Nat. Cur., Dec. iii, ann. 1.
LENTILIUS in Misc. Nat. Cur., Dec. iii, ann. 1, app.
LORRY, De Melanch., ii.
MURALTO, J. DE, in Misc. Nat. Cur., Dec. ii, ann. 2.
MULLER, F., in Hufel. Journ., xii. i.
REIMANN, in Bresel. Samml. 1724.
RODDER, L. in Alberti, Medorrhinum Leg.
SCHOLZIUS, in Schenk. Lib. viii.
SMETIUS, Misc. Medorrhinum
SMYTH, in Medical Communications, vol. i.
VICAT, Plantes venen de la Suisse.
WINTER, in Bresl. Samml. 1724.
The Frag. De Vir. Gives 267 symptoms; the 1st edit 711: this 2nd edit. 716, 8 new symptoms being added to HAHNEMANN’s own observations, and 3 symptoms omitted from the “observations of others.” Many of the symptoms quoted from modern authors are given in HAHNEMANN’s thesis, On the Helleborism of the Ancients, for the purpose of comparison with the effects “white hellebore,” recorded in the works of ancient physicians, especially those of ANTYLLUS, a physician who flourished between the second and fourth centuries of our era, and who was the first writer who described the operation of tracheotomy; but, for the reason given (p. 689.), HAHNEMANN has not admitted there latter symptoms into his Materia Medica.]
Vertigo. [SMYTH, (Effects of tincture given for cutaneous disease.) in Medical Communications, vol. I, p. 207. – S. LEDELIUS, (Effects of infusion in wine.) in Misc. nat. Cur., Dec. iii, ann. I, obs. 65.]