It seems futile at this time of year to waste time in describing anything so familiar as Ranunculus bulbosus or common buttercup. But the origin of the drug Mezereum may be less well known. Mezereum is the name applied to the bark from a small shrub called mezereon which is widely distributed all over Europe and which belongs to a family of tough-barked trees, shrubs and herbs. Just before this shrub flowers in February and March the bark is gathered and from this is made the tincture, and in this connection it is interesting to note that its use is adapted to complaints coming on in the earliest months of the year. In the case of Ranunculus the tincture is made from the whole plant.
Mezereum seems to be a better known and more fully proved remedy than Ranunculus bulbosus. Mezereum is one of Hahnemanns antipsorics, is the vegetable analogue of Mercurius and one of its most important antidotes. Both Mezereum and Mercurius affect mind, skin, eyes, mucous membranes and bones in much the same way. They are both sensitive to damp, cold, and warmth and subject to the same nightly aggravations.
From the clinical viewpoint the only affections in which both Ranunculus and Mezereum seem to be useful are neuralgia, herpes zoster, and rheumatism. It is with the first of these only that this paper is supposed to with the first of these only that this paper is supposed to deal, and yet in order to get a fairly complete picture it seems well to run through outstanding symptoms in the usual order.
MIND. Mezereum and Ranunculus are somewhat similar in their mental symptoms. Both have depression similar in their mental symptoms. Both have mental dullness. Mezereum takes no pleasure in anything; nothing makes a real impression on his mind. Ranunculus finds mental activity very difficult while Mezereum has a poor memory.
Ranunculus is indifferent to everything and everybody and yet desires company, but is averse to talking; dares not be alone, is afraid of ghosts, is quarrelsome and irritable and restless, especially in the evening. Mezereum has a phlegmatic temperament and yet gets angry with others over very trifling things, and is too distracted to keep anything in mind for more than a short time.
SENSORIUM. Both drugs have dizziness with tendency to fall, but with this dizziness Mezereum has contracted pupils.
HEAD. Both have severe headache; Ranunculus more over the right eye, also a pressing headache in forehead and vertex, often occasioned or aggravated by change in the weather. Ranunculus also has a feeling of enlargement of the head. Mezereum has aching pains in the bones of the skull, and burning and itching of the scalp, and eruptions of various kinds. Ranunculus has only a burning pricking of the scalp but no eruptions.
EYES. In both remedies there is pressure in the eyes; in Ranunculus with smarting of the eyeballs and in Mezereum with dryness and a feeling of enlargement. Mezereum has ciliary neuralgia especially after eye operations. It also has neuralgia about the eyes, with the pains shooting downward. A very strong indication for Mezereum is a feeling in the eyes as if a cold wind were blowing into them.
EARS. Ranunculus has no important symptoms here, but Mezereum has one somewhat similar to the peculiar one just mentioned about the eyes. This is a feeling as if the ears were too open, as if air were blowing into them, and occasionally a sensation as if air went through the ears into the throat.
NOSE. Ranunculus has hay fever; Mezereum a diminished sense of smell, sneezing, fluent coryza with excoriation of the nose.
MOUTH. Mezereum has painful teeth which feel longer than normal, much toothache worse at night and better from drawing air into the open mouth. Both drugs have burning in the roof of the mouth and in the throat, though Mezereum has his to a greater degree than Ranunculus. Mezereum also has burning in the throat and pharynx which sometimes extends down into the oesophagus.
UPPER FACE. Ranunculus has spasmodic and whirling neuralgic pains in face and jaws. There is dry heat in the face and the cheeks are bright red. Mezereum seems to be much more used in facial neuralgia than Ranunculus. It has pains which come quickly and leave the parts numb, lightning-like pains coming from the right infraorbital foramen and extending to the temples and corners of the mouth. These pains come suddenly while talking or eating. During intervals between pains there is twitching of the muscles.
In comparison with this Ranunculus has a cramping, numbing pressure beginning in the left zygoma and spreading toward eye, temple, ear, and down neck to shoulder. There is occasional pressive pain in occiput, sudden stitches in side and sensation of ants running over the chest. The pains of Ranunculus are all worse from warmth, even worse from entering a warm room.
In the lower face Mezereum has severe pain at the mental foramen as if a hole were being bored. The pain is irregular, comes day or night and lasts several minutes, and seems to run along the course of the inframaxillary nerve. The motion of the jaw is interfered with and saliva runs from the open mouth.
STOMACH. In this organ Mezereum seems to have no use as far as neuralgia affections are concerned. It has nausea, vomiting, aching and burning in the stomach but not actual pain. On the other had, Ranunculus has irregular attacks of neuralgia of the stomach coming on without any apparent cause. These is pain in the pit of the stomach with distressing soreness and, like Mezereum, with burning. Ranunculus wants clothing loose and wants to bend backward for relief. It has great restlessness and some jaundice.
ABDOMEN. Both drugs have stitches in the left side of the abdomen and both have a sensation of burning. Mezereum has a great deal of flatulence while Ranunculus has colic with cutting pains and great tenderness to touch.
STOOL AND RECTUM. Both have diarrhoea, and yet Mezereum is strongly indicated for constipation.
URINARY ORGANS. Mezereum has sticking pain in the kidney region, frequency, burning urine with red sediments, and haematuria. Ranunculus has only occasional ulcers in the bladder.
FEMALE SEXUAL ORGANS. Ranunculus has chronic ovarian neuralgia which always seems to be excited by atmospheric changes. Both remedies have a corroding leucorrhoea.
CHEST. Ranunculus has stitches in the chest with every change of weather, the sharp shooting pains of intercostal neuralgia. Mezereum is very useful in the intercostal neuralgia following herpes zoster, especially if the pains are burning in character.
NECK AND BACK. In this part of body Ranunculus has more of the stitching pain while Mezereum has pain with stiffness. Neither has actual neuralgic pain in this region.
UPPER LIMBS. Ranunculus has stitching pains in arms and hands. Mezereum has pain in right shoulder and soreness in the right axilla.
LOWER LIMBS. Ranunculus has sciatica especially in women, with stitching, burning pains. MEZEREUM has drawing pains, pains in the periosteum of long bones, and syphilitic ulcers.
Comparing the modalities of the two remedies we see that the pains of Ranunculus are brought on by touch or motion, any change of position, and by change in the weather, especially wet, stormy weather. The pains of Mezereum are also aggravated by touch and motion and by changes in the weather. They are also both worse at night. Mezereum is sensitive to washing with cold water.
Nash mentions a case of a man he cured of obstinate neuralgia with Mezereum. These pains were caused or greatly aggravated by eating and the only relief obtainable was to hold the painful side close to a hot stove. Only radiated heat proved effective. Hot cloths wet or dry were of no benefit. This is an exception to the modality worse by warmth.
Clarke reports two case of neuralgia benefited or cured by Mezereum. A man, 28, had violent, boring pain in the left lower jaw extending to the temple and and ear. This was worse at night and better by pressure. Mezereum relieved in two hours.
The second case is one of a stout healthy negro who had left supraorbital neuralgia recurring daily at 9 a.m., becoming steadily worse until noon, improving gradually until 4 p.m., when it left, leaving no soreness behind. Mezereum cured permanently.
In considering the question of neuralgia with these two remedies the face seems the region where they come in most usefully and here Mezereum seems more often called on than Ranunculus. In ciliary neuralgia Mezereum is useful, but Ranunculus has no such symptom. However, neuralgia of the stomach calls for Ranunculus rather than Mezereum, as does also the ovarian neuralgia. In the chest for the sharp pains of intercostal neuralgia both drugs are useful, although Mezereum is more so following herpes zoster when the pains are burning. Since facial neuralgia and intercostal neuralgia seem more prevalent than stomach or ovarian neuralgia the conclusion seems to be that in neuralgia Mezereum is by far a more useful remedy than Ranunculus.