“Ignatia Amara”, “St. Ignatias been”, more popularly known as “Strychnos Ignatia”, is a large climbing shrub, growing in Philippine Islands, and Cochin China. It contains Strychnine, as well as a large proportion of Bruime, making the ultimate picture of its effect differ vastly from those of its congener “Nux Vomica”- Though chemically and botanically similar to Nux Vomica,” Ignatia differs materially from that remedy in symptomatology, and that too, despite strong family resemblances.
Indeed, there is little real difference between the coarser effects of large doses of these two drugs, for both acts strongly upon the cerebro spinal axis, and hence allopaths regard Ignatia as identical in action with Nux Vomica. The superficial use of chemistry in the basis of prescribing for the sick has led the old school to the error, and here its shows the superiority of Homoeopathy over the other science.
The great differences in the characteristic features of Ignatia and Nux vomica prove the wisdom of considering medicines apart from their so-called active principles alone; there are many activities in plants, besides these alkaloids they may contains, and they are often the determining factors of the drugs specific action.
If we carefully analyse the effects of the two drugs, we shall presently see what an immense difference exist between the two, for which while one has become a remedy for the Females, the other suits well to Males. “Ignatia” has been rightly called the Feminine of the Masculine Nux Vomica”.
The emotional disposition of the patient for whom Ignatia is serviceable differ widely from that of those requiring Nux Vomica. While in Nux vomica, we find anger, vehemence, irascibility or violence predominating, Ignatia subjects are characterised by melancholy, with a tendency to weeping. They are subject to rapid attenuation of gaity and disposition to weep, the emotion and sensory disturbance being uppermost.
Now, while there is this melancholy with the tearful mood, yet Ignatia patients smother their griefs. They nurse their sorrows, keep them from others, while with Nux vomica, they are vehements and angry, they strike any one, who may oppose them. The Nux patients are sometimes so overbearing, that one can scarcely live with them.
Ignatia acts less then Nux vomica upon the organic substance of the body, producing appreciable changes in tissues, but much more exclusively upon the vital power. Upon the vital power, its action is not so much exalting, but it is rather depressing, destroying the harmony of action between different portions of organisms, perverting the co-ordination of functions.
Hence, it is seen to produce many queer symptoms, quite contrary to normal expectations. As for example, where there is heat of the body, and cold air would be expected to be agreeable, the contrary condition might be obtained. When from the fever existing, we would expect thirst, we find there is none, which during chill and rigor, when no thirst is expected, the patients is seen to drink much. Indeed thirst only during the chill is a key-note symptom of Ignatia. With inflammation, accompanied by heat, redness, swelling and pain etc., pressure is seen to relieve, and so on.
(1) Ignatia patients are emotional, over-excited, over- sensitive whimsical, delicate women and children, who are subject to alternate gaity and disposition to weep.
(2) Most Ignatia patients realise their position, and are thereby led to conceal their grief or shame. Hence, it is the greatest of all remedies for concealed grief or shame, thus differing from Pulsatilla. Whenever a patient looks to others for consolation, whenever the patient seeks sympathy, she requires Pulsatilla.
While Ignatia is indicated in nervous women, labouring under grief, especially when of recent origin, particularly if the patient dwells upon her troubles in secret, hiding from others. Such cases then find relief in Ignatia, if not of long standing-when of long standing and chronic, we find resort to Acid phos or Natrum mur.
(3) With the Ignatia patient, the emotions and sensory disturbances are ever uppermost, and while many of his symptoms are excessively violent, they always rest upon a more or less nervous substratum Whatever act such a one performs, he carries to the extreme limit, but he lacks the inherent staying qualities with which to maintain his position thus giving him the semblance of variableness.
Hence in Ignatia, we find “Rapid attenuation of wood.” They are unable to properly balance the impressions they receive. The mind is the principal point of attack and it is here, that it makes an impress quite its own.” It increases susceptibility to the extreme limit but also brings with it an inability to properly balance the impressions which it receives.
This fact alone accounts for the great resemblance of the effects of Ignatia to those of Hysteria. Here it should be noted that this drug is more suitable to those over wrought, highly educated, highly refined girls that develop nervous complaints like Hysteria then to those that are naturally hysterics.
(4) The Ignatia subject has a nervous instability, that leads her to do the most unexpected things, and have the oldest of symptoms, often of the most contradictory nature, If she has a cough, the more she coughs, the more she wants to; it may come in paroxysms of the greatest violence, and be made worse by the least cool air, uncovering etc.
In case, her throat is sore, she feels better when she swallows, particularly solids. Thus, we may go on through the whole category of symptoms always, however, finding the unexpected and unlooked for. If the practice of true Homoeopathy consisted in having the prescription upon the strongest symptom, Ignatia would always be indicated, but there are a number of other factors in the case, the greatest of all being our ability to get a grasp of the whole picture; (to find out the totality of symptoms).
(5) “Suddenness” is another note of the remedy-Sudden loss of function in part or parts; e.g. Sudden paraplegia, sudden blindness etc.
(6) Spasms and convulsions end in long down sighs.
(7) The sense of a lump rising in the throat, which is known as “Globus Hystericus, which occurs in patients specially in the victims of hysteria, is a great and reliable indicator for this remedy.
(8) “Clavus”, or a feeling of a nail being pressed into some part, and a sense of goneness at the stomach are prominent under both Hysteria and Ignatia.
Practical application of Ignatia may be briefly summarised as follows:-
(a) When the bad effects of anger, of grief, and of sudden mental shocks produce still grief, or a disposition to brood over sorrow instead of giving way-But when these emotion and shocks make the patient supercilious or crazy, Platina is useful.
(b) It is prescribed in convulsions. In epileptic attacks, with consciousness; in convulsions from grief; from dentition; from labour when without fever or cerebral congestion.
(c) In dyspepsia, for weakness in the epigastrium.
(d) In proctalgia, after the stool; it is distinguished by stitches up into the abdomen.
(e) For haemorrhoids, especially after labour, with the characteristic stitching pain up into the abdomen.
(f) In spasmodic cough specially in neurotic patients. The more the patient coughs, the more the patient wants to; cough, everytime the patient stands, while walking; cough, with a sensation of as if a feather dust were in the throat, followed by a violent, dry, shattering cough, coming in quick succession.
(g) In Intermittent fever-where there is thirst only during the chill stage, with no thirst during the heat or sweat stage. The chill stage is relieved by external warmth and wrapping up of the body, thus differing from its congener Nux vomica.
(h) For the vomiting of pregnancy, when there is characteristic salivation, copious lemon-coloured urine etc. and clavus hystericus.
(i) Lastly, Ignatia has earned a reputation of acting as preventive, as well as curative in that fell disease, known as Plague. Honigberger relates that it was a common plan when plague was raging in Constantinople for people to wear a bean attached to a string as a prophylactic and later on, he himself caught that disease in India, and cured himself with the same remedy.