THE ANACARDIACEAE FAMILY.
All members of this family possess poisonous properties, poisoning the blood, and developing an eruption on the skin which is at first a mere erythema, then papular, vesicular and finally pustular and eczematous. A true inflammation of the skin, a dermatitis.
Malacca Bean. Marking nut. From ana without and kardia a heart, because the pulp of the fruit, instead of having the seed enclosed, has the nut growing out of the end of it. It is one of the most famous medicines of the old Arabian school, forgotten for nearly 1,000 years.
The fruit contains a balsam-like fluid of vesicating power. On the skin, in a few minutes, it causes burning, itching, followed by redness and swelling. In about 12 hours, wheals, firm and solid arise which change into vesicles, at first pea-like and flat but soon coalescing to form large bullae which open and discharge a turbid purulent discharge. The cuticle then falls off, leaving the exposed cutis swollen and congested, suppurating profusely. If protected, the spot may skin over in about 10 days. We thus see an acute dermatitis developed by this drug greatly resembling that brought on by Rhus or other members of this botanical family.
Like Rhus it is characterized by intense itching, swelling and vesication which may go on to the formation of pustules. This action of Anacardium on the skin gives the first objective symptoms that are striking. Its most characteristic feature is the formation of wheals which gradually change into flat, confluent vesicles or bullae. This tuberous nettle-rash for which Anacardium is so homoeopathic is simply an effusion of serum and a small quantity of plastic lymph in the cutis vera. Anacardium produces also wart-like excrescences, with thickening of the epidermis, and hence its popular reputation against warts is also based upon its homoeopathicity. Especially favored seats are the dorsal surface of the hands and fingers, although at times even the palmar surface shows the warty excrescences.
The sensations accompanying Anacardium are, of course, the intense itching and burning. These sensations, the blister-like eruption and swelling remind us of poison oak, for which the drug is an excellent antidote. It is extremely valuable in eczema especially with great irritability of mind. The eruption itches excessively and burns. Anacardium is homoeopathic to many important skin diseases. We have already seen its relation to nettle-rash of the tuberous variety, its bullous and phlegmonous erysipelas. It may be used in smallpox, in rupia, and in severe and malignant ulcerations, such as lupus or syphilitic affections.
All its external manifestations point to its proclivity to extend its operations to the subcutaneous cellular tissue, more so than Cantharis or Rhus, whose action here it greatly resembles. In Hindu medicine it has some reputation against leprosy, but yet the native doctors are afraid of handling the drug for fear of getting this very disease, again showing the homoeopathicity. Dr. Sicar has used the 6th with success in leprosy. The effect of Anacardium upon the mucous membranes was strikingly shown on a patient of Dr. E.S. Brayfegle who received the first attenuation for excessive nervousness, a dose every four hours.
Soon the mouth became sore and burned, the slightest touch was unbearable, vesicles appeared and a dirty membrane was easily removed from the tongue. The gums were likewise affected and salivation occurred. At the same time skin symptoms developed on the wrists and ankles and later over the body, worse about the anus. All itched and burned and were relieved by hot water. Prostration, weak legs, cold chills from least exposure, and urticaria followed before he got over the effects.
MENTAL. Weakness of memory is one of the conditions for which Anacardium was used, long before homoeopathy established its scientific basis by provings. Again, every kind of intellectual labor is difficult for him. Dullness of the head and of the senses, with prostration. Any little effort of the mind causes a sensation as if brain were bruised. Mental illusions, hears his name called, has presentiments of evil. Fixed ideas that he is double, all is a dream, her child not her own, sees a coffin with himself or some friend as an occupant. Strange forms accompany him. A demon sits on his neck and tells him most offensive things, whispers blasphemy in his ears. Imaginary unpleasant smells, offensive taste to his food.
When walking he feels anxious, as if some one were pursuing him. Seems to have two wills, one commanding what the other forbids. Two different influences seem to be exerted upon him at the same time, one to do murder and the other to do good. In one ear a devil prompts him to murder, in the other ear an angel prompts him to acts of benevolence. It is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again. With such contradictory mental influences you will not be surprised that the Anacardium patient gets irritable, shows irresistible desire to curse and swear. He feels as if blasphemous words were constantly suggested.
He used profane language, swears, and thinks himself a demon. It is a mental state, remember, not low down profanity of every day life. Then he gets anxious, indifferent, despondent, he is separated from the whole world and has so little confidence in himself that he despairs of being able to do what is required of him. He loses his will power, loses his memory, he becomes morose, peevish, irritable, at last maliciously wicked and cruel, or sullen, dull, imbecile, so that it is difficult to get an account from him and such are short and incomplete. The final imbecility is shown by his dull, stupid, fixed gaze. Inclination to commit suicide by shooting.
Now such an interesting series of mental disturbances caused by the drug ought certainly to bear good results when applied homoeopathically, and we are not disappointed. Clinical experience verifies them. It is a valuable remedy in different forms of insanity, hysteria, dementia, etc. In hysteria we have constant restlessness, the patient uses profane language, has these two wills, one commanding the other forbidding, great forgetfulness, with much itching and soreness of the pudenda, and a constant desire to urinate. In insanity we have the fearfulness about the future, presentiment of misfortune, hallucination of hearing voices, irresistible desire to curse and swear, feels as if he had two wills.
Lack of moral and religious feeling, loss of will power and cowardice. A slight offense makes him vehement, wicked and cruel. In dementia of old age it is an excellent palliative when there is rapid loss of memory and mental vigor. Again, it is useful in certain hallucinations, as may be seen in a case reported by Dr. Gerson of a dyspeptic, 30 years of age, who had a fixed idea that a demon was pursuing him. In fact he thought it seated itself on the back of his neck and was possessed with a double voice which troubled him everywhere. This morbid condition was completely removed by Anacardium 2x, night and morning.
In neurasthenia: We have the sadness, weak memory, headache, digging, relieved by eating, worse on any attempt to use the mind, anxiety when walking, as if some one were pursuing him, full of suspicion. Symptoms often disappear during or after eating but return after a few hours. The rectum feels powerless and plugged up, deafness with loss of memory. It is a medicine that may be used with great advantage in cases of weakness of memory and general temporary feebleness of brain power, in nervous exhaustion induced by overstudy, unwanted mental labor preceding examinations, etc. Again, this mental and nervous debility may be caused by loss of vial fluids, here also, Anacardium 12 to 30 is a good friend in need.
The ancient reputation of Anacardium was as a remedy for weakness of the mind, memory and senses; a preparation of it was known as the “Confectio Sapientium.” But some preferred to call it “Confectio Stultorum” because many had lost their memory and had become mad on account of using it too often and inconsiderably, proving its homoeopathicity. It is a remedy to be used after inflammatory diseases, when the mind fails to regain its power and former strength although the corporeal powers have been completely restored. It often happens after typhoid and other infections that the capacity for any mental application is lost for a long time, weeks or months. Anacardium is your remedy in these cases.
Case. A lad, 18 years old, after an attack of smallpox, regained his usual bodily strength, but became “silly,” his memory was deficient, reflective powers weak, self possession limited. Eighteen months passed by without any indication of improvement in his mental powers. He then took Anacardium 1, eight drops in water, every night. In two weeks he was vastly improved and continued to improve, increasing his mental powers and memory. (Weber).