Heart Affections

Dr. Dewey discusses the homeopathy treatment of Heart Affections in his bestselling book Practical Homeopathic Therapeutics….

Digitalis. [Dig]

      **Digitalis is known chiefly for its action on the heart, and it is rare that a patient suffering from an affection of that organ does not get **Digitalis in some form. There is no doubt but that it is a much abused drug and when used in strong doses its action is cumulative and dangerous. Its symptoms are, however, clear, and briefly stated, as follows:

The pulse is slow, but primarily strong, there is great weakness of the cardiac tissue, and, secondarily, the pulse becomes weak. Extra exertion increases its rapidity, but diminishes its force, so that the quick pulse becomes irregular and intermittent. This irregular intermittency is a marked symptom.

The heart feels as if the blood stood still. There is weakness and numbness of the left arm, and often blueness of the surface of the body, or cyanosis. The patient fears that the heart will stop beating if he should make any motion. This uneasy feeling about the chest rarely amounts to real pain.

**Gelsemium has the opposite symptom to this. The patient is roused out of sleep feeling that the heart will stop beating, and he is impelled to move about to keep it going.

A number of drugs have numbness of the left arm in heart affections, notably **Aconite, Kalmia, Rhus and Pulsatilla. These are not “keynote ” symptoms, however, as is shown further on.

The Digitalis patient has a doughy look to the skin; there is often a sick feeling at the stomach after eating.

**Apis has a symptom that will lead to its use in heart affections, namely: “He does not see how he can get another breath.” In pericarditis with effusion it is one of our best remedies vying here with **Cantharis, but the latter has burning and spasms. Cartier recommends the 30th or 200th.

Like **Arsenicum and Lachesis, the tendency of **Digitalis is downwards, and it must be used cautiously and only when indicated homoeopathically. There are numerous other symptoms that will indicate Digitalis. Disturbed sleep, apprehensiveness, deep sighing, slow respiration,, dry cough, suffocative spells; in fact, such symptoms as may be caused by an irregular distribution of the blood. **Digitalis is also indicated in dropsical conditions dependent on heart trouble, swelling of feet and ankles, anasarca, cardiac dropsy associated with slow pulse, urine suppressed or scanty. **Apocynum is similar in this relation. The special field of usefulness of **Digitalis is inflammation of the heart muscle approaching insidiously and in sudden cases of myo-or endo- carditis with the symptoms above outlined. The first noticeable benefit is a steadier heart’s action and an increased flow of urine. To use it in strong doses for a long time will render the patient incurable.

Cactus grandiflorus. [Cact]

      Perhaps the next most important remedy in heart affections, from the homoeopathist’s standpoint, is Cactus. Its well known characteristic symptom, “Sensation as if the heart were grasped with an iron hand,” which clutches and relaxes alternately, is ever present to the mind. It should be borne in mind that not all patients express themselves alike. A squeezed sensation may mean the same symptom. It has, however, other symptoms. It is similar to **Arnica in chest soreness and constriction; it has pains shooting into the left arm, oedema and a quick, throbbing, tense, hard pulse, which may or may not intermit. Carditis and pericarditis may call for Cactus. It presents a better picture of rheumatic carditis than any other remedy. It seems to lie midway between **Aconite and Digitalis. It controls the inflammatory condition and strengthens the heart’s contractions, and does not poison the heart like **Digitalis or Strophanthus.

There is great irritation of the cardiac nerve and **Cactus may be found to be the remedy for angina pectoris. It is a remedy adapted to hypertrophy of the heart in young people. It is also very useful in intense palpitation and fluttering sensations about the heart; it is indicated for such symptoms in young girls about the age of puberty and at menstrual epochs. Difficult breathing, suffocative, fainting, violent palpitation and inability to lie down are symptoms indicating the cardiac asthma or dyspnoea.

Kalmia latifolia. [Kalm]

      **Kalmia is a remedy for cardiac hypertrophy, especially after rheumatism, and has the symptom so common in heart affections, namely, “numbness of the left arm.” There is with **Kalmia much pain and anguish about the heart, some dyspnoea, palpitation, and pressure from the epigastrium towards the heart. The heart is irregular and intermits every third or fourth beat. There are shooting pains through the chest to the scapula.

**Kalmia is an excellent remedy for cardiac troubles when they have been caused by the suppression of rheumatism by external applications. The pulse of Kalmia is slow, but not as slow as Digitalis.

**Phytolacca has tingling and numbness of the right arm, but the three chief remedies having this symptoms in the left arm are **Kalmia, Rhus and Aconite. These pains, as Prof. W.B. Hinsdale points out, should not be considered as “keynotes.” Their symptomatic value consists in pointing to a class of drugs rather than to an individual drug. The minutiae of the pains should be studied.

Acute pericarditis depending upon rheumatism will call for Kalmia; the sharp pains taking away the breath will call attention to it. Hering says Kalmia has a most beneficial action in diminishing too rapid pulsation of the heart.

Spigelia. [Spig]

      **Spigelia is another remedy for the painful affections about the heart. It stands at the head of the list for acute carditis and pericarditis. There are sharp pains shooting from the heart to the back, and radiating from the heart down the arm, over the chest, and down the spine. There is palpitation worse from any movement of the arm or body. There is a purring sensation felt over the cardiac region when placing the hand thereon. The pulse is intermittent, not synchronous with the heart beat, and the slightest motion of the arm or hands makes the patient worse. Heart symptoms accompanying neuralgia call for **Spigelia. Irregular and tumultuous action of the heart are well met by **Spigelia. At times the heart beat is even audible. We sometimes find this symptom under **Arsenicum, which is useful in hypertrophy of the heart from climbing high places, mountains, etc., but **Spigelia comes in earlier in heart troubles than does **Arsenicum.

Rheumatic endocarditis will often find its curative remedy in **Spigelia, and it has a most beneficial action in angina pectoris. In cardiac inflammation it comes in after **Aconite. It corresponds well to chronic affections of the heart, particularly valvular disease and hypertrophy.

Cimicifuga. [Cimic]

      This is a remedy often indicated in heart troubles, especially when they supervene upon chorea or rheumatism of the bellies of the muscles. The headache confined to the forehead or as if the top of the head would fly off is present and an indicating feature. Pain under the left nipple and down the left arm may also be present. The pains is apt to come in shocks. Insomnia is persistent.

Aconite. [Acon]

      Among the remedies having a marked influence of the heart is **Aconite. It has, as has been seen, numbness of the left arm; it also has tingling in the fingers, associated with heart disease. **Aconite produces a cardiac congestion, with anxiety, oppression and palpitation, worse when walking; lancinating stitches occur, and also attacks of intense pain. It is the remedy in uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart. In pericarditis and endocarditis when the inflammation sets in with fever with the intense mental anxiety so characteristic of the drug. The 30th acts marvellously in these conditions.

**Glonoine has a fullness in the region of the heart, with some sharp pains, fluttering of the heart with violent beating, as if the chest would burst open. Labored breathing pains radiating in all directions, even into arms. Must have head high and a pulsating headache to well indicate the remedy.

**Amyl nitrite has oppressed breathing and constriction about the heart. Both of these latter remedies are useful in angina pectoris.

**Veratrum viride has a condition simply of intense arterial excitement and is recommended as a remedy to be used continuously in hypertrophy with dilatation. The force and frequency of the pulse are abnormal, as a rule slow, sometimes rapid. It is an important remedy in all inflammatory affections of the heart and its membranes, especially those caused by infections.

Rhus toxicodendron. [Rhus-t]

      Rheumatic hypertrophy calls for Rhus. It is a palpitation of the heart from over-exertion, with numbness and lameness of the left arm and shoulder. Pericarditis or endocarditis from exposure to rain, getting wet, etc. These symptoms are worse on every change of the weather. Uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart such as comes in athletes, machinists, etc., calls for Rhus; and among other remedies for this condition may be mentioned **Arnica and Bromine.

W.A. Dewey
Dewey, Willis A. (Willis Alonzo), 1858-1938.
Professor of Materia Medica in the University of Michigan Homeopathic Medical College. Member of American Institute of Homeopathy. In addition to his editoral work he authored or collaborated on: Boericke and Dewey's Twelve Tissue Remedies, Essentials of Homeopathic Materia Medica, Essentials of Homeopathic Therapeutics and Practical Homeopathic Therapeutics.