With Kali Carbonicum as the Remedy for Investigation.
Many students of materia medica begin with the chemical formula of the drug under consideration, giving its relationships in the drug world and sketching the pathological states likely to need such a medicine. For instance: Hughes says of Kali Carb. in his pharmacodynamics:
“The carbonate of potash is not credited with any specific action of its own in old-school therapeutics; but it classed with the acetate citrate, and other vegetable salts of the alkali. The only exception is whooping-cough, where it has some reputation.
“Dr. Drury recommends it also in cough from relaxed uvula. It is in affection of the respiratory organs that it has found its chief use.
“It seems agreed that the chief indication for it is profuse, purulent expectoration, but also–which is peculiar to it– much pain in the walls of the chest.
“Another specific action of Kali Carb. is that which it exerts upon the ovario-uterine system.
“Besides these more defined uses of Kali Carb. it is a medicine which not infrequently comes into play in the treatment of complex cases of chronic disease. When the symptoms present are, on consulting our repertories, found in its pathogenesis, we may generally use it–preferably in the higher dilutions–with good hope of benefit”. Kali Carb. is one of the big polycrest remedies; yet there are just two pages devoted to it in this book.
Could any student learn to know this remedy from such a description of it ? Is there anything distinctive one can remember? What sort of patient needs this drug? He could not tell.
Others pay not so much attention to the chemical side but go on to a brief survey of the parts of the body affected, giving a regional outline of diseases of disorders calling for the drug, with a few symptoms under each heading. It is all true so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. There is nothing really distinctive here either, so the student must memorize these symptoms.
After doing this for many remedies the memory begins to play tricks and the result is something near helplessness at the bedside in time of need. A smaller group follows the keynote method in studying materia medic. These hunt for the famous “three legs to stand on” and drill on a few characteristics of each remedy, expressed often times in terms of small details.
There is no board vision here and the student is disappointed in practice because the keynotes do not bring success. These groups of students seek to condense the materia medica. Many small volumes are the result. The use of these exclusively cannot lead to adequate knowledge of any drug, much less a knowledge of how to study the materia medica. The homoeopathic materia medica is too vast a thing to memorize. All any student can do in class is to learn how to study it; when he goes on studying it all his life.
The best preparation for remedy study is the observation of people; appearance, modes of thought, actions, reaction to environment, circumstances, etc. The homoeopath should have had some training in psychology as well as the medical sciences. The provings must not be condensed but the student must be shown how to use them, how to study. He is given the idea of searching for evidence of the personality of the drug, of how it behaves under all sorts of circumstances, how various things react upon it, what one may except from it.
Then the drug provings are used as the field for observation from which to gather and formulate the characteristics of the drug which will be invaluable in actual practice and will differentiate the drug under consideration from all other drugs.
The symptom lists seem interminable. At first there seems to be no character or order to the, but soon the real personality of the drug begin to appear and generalizations can be made.
Taking Kali carb., then, let us turn to the symptom lists based upon the proving, as given in Herings Guiding Symptoms and Allens Encyclopedia of the Materia Medica, and, after reading them, begin carefully to generalize about the patient who would need this remedy.
Perhaps the first thing that appeals to the reader as running all through the proving is the character of the pain– sticking, stitching, burning pains.
“Stitches in forehead and temples.”
“Stitches into eyes and root of nose.”
“Stitches extend from nape of neck into the occiput.”
“Sticking in the teeth.”
“Twitching in left cheek with fine, burning stitches.”
“A stitch in the upper lip.”
“Sticking and biting in posterior portion of palate.”
“Sticking pain in pharynx as if there were a fishbone in it.”
“Sensation as if a sick extended from throat to left side abdomen, as if stick had a ball on each end.”
“Sticking in the stomach.”
“Sticking-tearing in right hypochondrium.”
“Stitch pain in right side chest through to shoulder.”
“Cutting, shooting, darting, stitching all over abdomen.”
“Stitches in groins on moving or stretching out.”
“Needle-like stitches in haemorrhoids,”
“Proctits with violent stitching pain.”
“Stitches in region of the kidneys.”
“Sticking-itching in the glans penis.”
“Stitches transversely through the pudenda.”
“Uterine tumor; stitching ; stitching pains.”
“Labor pains stitching, shooting.”
“Tearing-stitches in mammae on flow of milk.”
“Hoarseness as if something were sticking in the throat.”
“Pleurisy; stitches in left chest.”
“Systolic murmur; stitch pains.”
“Stitching-tearing extending into finger joints.”
“Stitches fine but very acute in left hip joint while standing.”
“Stitches in corns.”
This comes near being predicated of the patient as a whole and therefore general, doesnt it?
“Burning and biting in the eyes.”
“Burning of the tip of tongue as if it were raw or covered with blisters.”
“Painful blisters in all parts of the mouth, with burning pain.”
“Ulcerated nostrils with burning pain.”
“Burning in haemorrhoids.”
“Feeling as if red hot poker were being thrust up rectum.”
“Burning in urethra during and after micturition.”
“Burning in hips before menses.”
“Burning stitches in both costal regions.”
“Burning pressure in back.”
“Burning in insertion of nail of middle finger.”
“Stitching-burning in ball of great toe,”
“Burning in skin.”
Another generally characteristic kind of pain ; and here is another one:
“Throbbing and beating in the forehead.”
“Congestion to the head, with throbbing and humming.”
“Throbbing in head and whole body.”
“Beating vibration in right temple.”
“Throbbing behind ears.”
“Toothache only when eating ; throbbing.”
“Throbbing in the pit of stomach like violent palpitation of the heart.”
“Throbbing in the precordial region.”
“Pulsations in the abdomen.”
“Feels pulsation of all arteries even down to tip of toes.”
“Pulsation pains in upper arms at intervals.”
Tendency to dropsy is another phase running all through this remedy :
“Swelling between the eyebrows and lids like a sac.”
“Body, legs and scrotum dropsically swollen.”
“Painful bloatedness in groins.”
“Oedema left foot extending upward over whole body.”
“Great swelling of feet extending to the malleoli.”
Now, what would the following denote?
“Coryza, thick, yellowish, purulent, yellow, green or bloody.”
“Sore, crusty, nostrils, scurfy.”
“Much mucus in the back of the throat.”
“Tenacious mucus in fauces and posterior pharynx, difficult to hawk up.”
“Expectoration of small round lumps from throat.”
“Must expectorate much mucus frequently for half an hour”.
Some will say that this merely shows that the remedy under discussion belongs to the potash group. It does show this, but discharges are important in indicating the kind of patient who needs the remedy and the kind of discharges listed here points to a patient with deep chronic tendencies toward organic disease.
The next thing which commands the attention of the reader of symptoms is the time aggravation. This too is important and characteristic of the remedy and of the patient who needs it.
“Begins to cough as early as 3 A. M.”
“Dry, hard cough, especially worse 3 A. M.”
“Sharp, stitching pains awaking him 3 A. M.”
“She awoke every night for three nights consecutively at about three oclock with the sense of water running from the mouth.”
“Awakening between 2 and 4 A. M. with nearly all ailments.”
“At 3 or 4 A. M. diarrhoea worse.”
“2 or 3 A. M. wakened by tensive pain at pit of stomach.”
“At 3 A. M. terrible attacks of asthma.”
“5 A. M. suffocating and choking cough”.
So far we have found characteristics of the drug which are strong and peculiar and interesting, but these things are not characteristic of the patient or descriptive of the person who needs Kali Carb. So we look further. Ah! here they are:
“Oversensitive to all sorts of things: drafts, weather changes, any illness, least touch, etc., etc.,”
“Every noise is unpleasant.”
“Intolerance of the human voice.”
“Starts when touched.”
“Frightened and cries out whenever he is touched lightly on his feet.”
“Patient shrieks when even slightly touched on three painful vertebrae.”
“Great sensitiveness of the epigastric region externally.”
“Pit of stomach tense, swollen, sensitive to touch.”