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).
HEAD. With such a mental state there is a headache as from a plug in the vertex. This headache is worse from mental work, better during a meal. Here you have the two great characteristics of this drug, sensation as from a plug pressing in, this may be anywhere, in head, in rectum, in abdomen. There is a pain around the navel as if a blunt plug were squeezed into the intestines. Dull pressure as from a plug in the chest, in the glutei muscles, etc., anywhere pressure as from a plug indicates Anacardium.
STOMACH. Again, the symptoms are relieved by eating. They disappear entirely during dinner but begin anew after two hours. Anacardium is a valuable stomach remedy and is very similar to Nux, and Nux is often given when Anacardium is the remedy. The symptoms are these: There is a faint feeling in the stomach one or two hours after eating, there is a dull pain in the stomach extending to spine. The eructations are tasteless or sour. The symptoms disappear after eating but return in two hours and increase until the patient eats again. There is violent gastralgia especially at night. There is urging to stool and a sensation of a plug in the rectum. With these symptoms there is apt to be associated hypochondriasis, confusion and loss of memory.
Petroleum and Chelidonium have gastralgia relieved by eating. The patient is hungry most of the time, he is better while eating and after eating. There is nausea, vomiting, heartburn and hiccough, rumbling and fermentation in the stomach. Such symptoms are found in men of sedentary habits who do mental work, whose memory is inclined to be impaired, inclined to hypochondriasis, bowels are constipated, though there is a desire for stool, till the rectum seems powerless with sensation as if plugged up.
Now if the sexual sphere shows an intense excitement, if there be itching of the scrotum, urinary disturbances, the remedy is so much more indicated. Remember it especially in nervous dyspepsia with flatulence, prostration of the nervous system and functional languor of stomach, often caused by excessive mental work, exhaustion of nerve force and hence, constant desire to eat which eases momentarily, must get up at night to eat something.
There is a paretic state of the rectum in Anacardium which will distinguish it from Nux. The rectum seems powerless.
Sepia. Urging as if a foreign substance were in the rectum, dull feeling in rectum even after stool, inactivity, even soft stool expelled with difficulty. Uterine symptoms.
SKIN. Swollen face covered with blisters which are umbilicated, discharging yellow serum hardening into skin, often accompanied by gastric symptoms.
HEART. Palpitation in the aged rising from slight difficulties and associated with weak memory. Rheumatic pericarditis.
BACK AND LIMBS. Tired feeling in limbs, numbness of fingers, cracking of the joints. There is a well marked periodicity in the symptoms, they intermit one or a few days then reappear. It has been found useful in injuries of tendons and in chronic rheumatic troubles. Cracking in cervical vertebrae on raising arm, cracking in shoulders with pain as if dislocated. Cracking in hip joint on moving it while sitting. Sensation as if a band were tied around the body, as though a plug were stuck in the spine and motion made it stick in further. The knees are weak and paralyzed, feel as if bandaged tightly, the swelling is chronic and attended by a sensation of subcutaneous ulceration. Ankles feel sprained.
In the cerebral sphere Anacardium resembles Phosphoric acid and Zincum. In its action on the skin it resembles Rhus, Croton tig., Urtica, Mezereum, Ledum and COMOCLADIA. Platinum follows well.
Phosphoric acid resembles Anacardium in the debility of the mind, brain fag but Phosphoric acid has greater weakness due to waste of nerve tissue or conditions resulting from continued grief, over-exertion of mind, excesses. The mental condition most characteristic of Phosphoric acid is indifference. The least attempt to mental work causes heaviness of head and limbs.
Zincum comes in later in these cases. It is a deeper acting remedy. Patient is forgetful, mental operations difficult and sleepy, a soporous condition of the mind, vertigo, pressure at root of nose, all symptoms worse from drinking even small quantity of wine. There is apt to be twitching and jerking in various muscles and much nervous, fidgety, moving of the feet. The Zincum patient cannot keep the feet still.
The Cashew nut. This acts principally on the skin and produces a vesicular eruption, as does the Anacardium orientale, itching terribly and umbilicated as in smallpox. There is also produced an erysipelatous eruption on the face. Said to be efficient to remove warts, vegetable growths, corns, etc. The nuts are edible.
From the same family, a tree common in Cuba. It produces skin symptoms very similar, if anything more severe, and the inflammation is apt to penetrate deeper. Ulceration of skin. The face, too, is apt to be more swollen, a great deal of swelling and soreness around eyes, very painful eyeballs. Erysipelatous inflammation of tissues in and around eye. Pain in the right eye as if pushed out of head, worse near a warm stove. Rhus is better from heat.
It should be remembered that in the greater prominence given to some symptoms by the inflammatory action, we may obtain a clue to the true homoeopathic remedy for the whole case at least for the remedy most completely indicated at that time; and which, being given, must be waited upon until its action is nearly exhausted, before another prescription is made. -H.N. GUERNSEY, M.D., 1866.