Fagopyrum, the common buckwheat, is a neglected remedy, despite the fact that it has been rather extensively proven. Its pathogenesis occupies twenty-four pages in Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica. An instructive paper on Fagopyrum was read before the American Institute in 1873, by D.C. Perkins of Rockland, Maine, and reprinted in Anshutz’s New, Old and Forgotten Remedies.
He says that there is no other remedy which possesses a more marked individuality and which more fully fills a place by itself. It is safe to say that not one in ten of those who practice the healing art has ever used it or is familiar with its pathogenesis. A study of the provings confirms Dr. Perkin’s appraisal of this remedy.
Generals. Burning, stinging, soreness, rawness, dryness, itching. Pulsating, fullness and pressive, bursting sensation outwards (head, eyes, face).
Aching, burning, shooting pains (limbs, face, head).
Sensation of heat, general or in local areas (hands, feet, throat, etc.).
Offensive discharges (auxillary sweat, foot sweat, stools).
Pulsation (carotids, head, hands).
Aggravations: evening (most symptoms); from heat (general itching); touching something cold (pains in hands); getting cold (pains in limbs); pressure (abdomen, liver); pressure of clothing (chest, abdomen, liver); rapid motion (most symptoms).
Ameliorations: eating (gone, empty sensation in the epigastrium, cloudiness of mind, headache, nausea, stomach symptoms, abdominal pain, pain in shoulders, etc.); gentle motion, walking in the cool, open air (pains in shoulders, limbs, etc.); cold applications (headache, etc., pruritis vulvae).
Mind: bright, active; dull, confused; inability to read or study; melancholy; irritability; aversion to mental labor; impaired memory; inability to concentrate.
Head: rush of blood to the head, vertex, occiput, forehead, behind the eyes as if pushed out; always of a bursting character; in the occiput extending down the spine; from the left eye to the occiput; burning heat; itching of the scalp. Sensations of heaviness.
Eyes: itching, smarting, swelling, dryness, redness, lachrymation. Soreness of the eyeballs, worse on moving.
Ears: burning, inflamed itching as in frost-bite.
Nose: redness, swelling. Coryza, fluent, with burning, tickling in the nose, followed by sneezing; dryness and the formation of crusts in the nose.
Mouth: sensation of dryness, yet the mouth is moist. Tongue red with cracked edges. Lips cracked and dry.
Throat: bright red; dryness, burning, rawness; tonsils red and swollen; soreness and swelling of the hard palate; elongated uvula.
Stomach: persistent morning nausea, better from eating; empty, gone feeling; canine hungers soon after eating; no appetite but as soon as he begins to eat, it becomes excessive; thirst for large quantities of cold water; watery eructations which often rise up to the throat and are so hot and acrid that they almost strangle him.
Abdomen: soreness and great flatulent distension; must loosen the clothing; tenderness in the right hypochondrium, worse lying on the right side; stitches in the liver from within outwards. Profuse, noisy, fluid or pappy stools with a foul odor, followed by tenesmus which may last for ten minutes.
Sexual Organs, Male: profuse offensive sweat.
Sexual Organs, Female: bruised, dull or burning in the right ovary; stitches in the nipple extending from before backwards.
Scanty, yellowish leucorrhoea flowing more when at rest.
Chest: heaviness; dull aching or stitching pains relieved by gentle walking; deep pulsating; uneasy feeling in the heart better from loosening the clothing; violent throbbing and palpitation; oppression of the chest; very rapid pulse.
Extremities: stinging, burning, shooting pains; soreness, stiffness or aching; numbness after remaining in one position, relieved by walking; visible pulsation of the back of the hand; pains from the hip to the lumbar region and often down the legs to the feet; weakness of the lower limbs; heat of the lower limbs, or burning of the feet in bed at night. Hot, sweaty hands; left hand cold. right hot.
Skin: sore, red blotches; eruption like flea bites which multiply on scratching; violent itching, worse from warmth; burning after scratching. Hands burn even though they feel cool to the touch.
Moist palms. Abortive boils which may reach a large size.
Fever: sensation of heat all over, especially after retiring, with restlessness; flushes of heat with slightly moist skin.
I have given only a brief sketch of the pathogenesis of this remarkable remedy, endeavoring to include all the most peculiar symptoms. In many ways it resembles a number of remedies that are better known. I have always thought that it was most similar to Sulphur, though Perkins fails to include it in the list of fifteen or more which, to him, were its nearest analogues. The empty, gone feeling is more like that of Sepia, as is the amelioration of nausea from eating.
In other respects, the two remedies vary greatly, especially as to an important modality that of the effect of motion. The Sepia patient is relieved by vigorous exercise, while the one calling for Fagopyrum is relieved by gentle movement. However, when a remedy appears to be indicated but does no t exactly fit the case. one or more of the unusual singulars recorded above may lead to a study of Fagopyrum, as for instance, sensation as if the eyes would be pushed out pain in the left eye extending to the occiput, one hand cold, the other hot, sensation of dryness in the mouth when saliva is not wanting or headache extending down the back.
I have chosen the following illustrative case, not only because it is one of the few I have cured with Fagopyrum, but also because some of my patient’s symptoms will not be found under this remedy, and may prove to be valuable clinical additions to its pathogenesis:.
Mr. H.H.S., aet. 64, has been well all his life up to several week ago. He states, “Had ten days of torture at the Mayos with no benefit”.
Frequent attacks of ophthalmia, worse in the left eye and in the morning. Swelling and redness of the eye-lids. Sensation of dryness. Eye-balls feel sore, especially on looking around. Stars or pinwheels in the field of vision. Nyctalopia.
Always catching cold; coryza, watery, slightly acrid with sensation of dryness in the nasal passages. Sneezing in a warm room. Often descending to the chest. Cough with white, tough sputum.
Sensation of dryness in the mouth but saliva is not wanting.
Dull pains in the region of the heart; stitching pains in different parts of the chest. Pulse rapid, full. Palpitation worse lying on the right side.
Pulsating in one or the other temple, in the occiput or vertex.
Ravenous appetite. Empty, gone feeling in the epigastrium. Not much thirst. Acrid, watery eructations.
Great flatulence and distension of the abdomen.
Dull pains in the region of the liver. X-ray reveals no gall-stone.
Dull pain in the left lumbar region.
Cold feet; coldness of legs and feet frequently waking him at night; or, burning of the legs as though hot water coursed through the arteries. Burning of the feet at night in bed. Numbness of the hands, legs or feet, especially the toes.
Crawling like insects on the skin of the legs.
Hot flushes or extreme heat all over the body, often after sleeping for an hour or two or lying on the left side. Must uncover and then he becomes chilly.
April 6, 1947-Worse from cold and cold air. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
May 22, 1947-Better in every way; feet are now warm. Rx Sac. lac.
June 5, 1947-Not so well; heart too fast. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
July 31, 1947-Heart much better. Rx. Sac lac.
October 27, 1947-Hot flushes at night after sleeping on the left side preceded by troublesome dreams. Night-blindness. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
December 2, 1947-Practically no palpitation or cold feet. Remarkably few colds. Ex Sac. lac.
January 29, 1948-Slight recurring signs of coryza. Rx. Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
March 16, 1948-Better in every way; no colds “this winter.” Circulation of legs normal. Rx Sac. lac.
June 10, 1948-Caught cold but it did not go to the chest. Rx Sac. lac.
October 14, 1948-Sweats when covered too much. Palpitation worse. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
November 16, 1948-Good reaction form the remedy; palpitation better at once. Eyes much better at once. Eyes much better. No night-blindness. Rx Sac. lac.
December 30, 1948-Palpitation. Cold feet in bed. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
September 20, 1949-Has been quite well till a month ago. Left eye inflamed; night-blindness. Rx Fagopyrum 30., 9 doses.
November 3, 1949-Immediate results especially as to heart and eye symptoms. Has been free from colds for a year and a half. Rx. Sac. lac.
June 13, 1950-Three months ago, attack like gall stones. X- ray negative.
June 24, 1950-Palpitation lying on the right side. Numbness much better. Rx Sac lac.
July 13, 1950-Improving. Rx Sac. lac.
August 8, 1950-“Never felt better.” Rx Sac lac. October 10, 1950-Palpitation after meals. Stitching in left side of chest. Rx Fagopyrum 10M.
February I, 1951-Chest pains gone. One slight attack of bronchitis. Flatulence worse for a few days. Less hungry but tenderness from clothing and some gnawing in the stomach. Rx Sac. lac.
July 20, 1951-a few spells of flatulence and palpitation. Rx Sac. lac.
September 25, 1951-Throbbing pains left temple and occiput. Gnawing in stomach. No palpitation. Ex Fagopyrum 10M.
May 30, 1952-The headache soon disappeared and he seems quite well.
The curative action of the remedy in this case is unmistakable. While the intense burning and stinging pain are absent, there are the characteristic dull aching and numbness of the extremities and throbbing in the head. There are no skin symptoms, but these cannot be expected in every case. They are, however, the most evident and usually the only toxic manifestations in those who are allergic to buckwheat.
The symptoms of cold feet is not mentioned in any of the papers on this drug or in the provings. The same is true of nyctalopia, photopsies, hot flushes at night when lying on the left side- a marked symptom in Mr. S’s case-palpitation while lying on the right side, relief from loosening the clothing and a few other minor symptoms.
Fagopyrum is one of the best examples of the transformation of substances inert in their crude state, or even common articles of diet, into deep-acting medicines by potentization.
30 N. MICHIGAN
DR. ROGER A. SCHMIDT [San Francisco, Calif.]: Fagopyrum is really an interesting remedy. We don’t know much about it because it hasn’t very many characteristics that would keep your mind on it. But I remember some years back a case eczema of both upper extremities, from the elbow down to the hands and the fingers. I worked on that case for quite a while without change until I stumbled on Fagopyrum which cleared the case nicely with a few doses. If I remember, one of the characteristic indications was symmetrical lesions on both sides. It was a dry eczema of quite some duration.
DR. I.L. MOYER [Columbia, Pa.]:In Pennsylvania they sow buckwheat to get rid of the weeds. Just before Dr. Farrington got up, I thought, “Well, that is a new remedy. I am going to write a paper on it”.
Back in 1946 we had our convention at Detroit. I was to give a paper for Dr. Shettel in this group. It was just at that time that the Agricultural Department was making experiments with Fagopyrum just outside of Philadelphia. I learned that the most rutin in buckwheat or in Fagopyrum is contained in the plant between the third and the fifth week after budding. I immediately got ready. i scoured my own neighborhood and York Country to get some buckwheat. I finally found it on one of the York Country farms.
In the spring I sowed a patch. The first year I made myself a gallon of tincture, and the second year I made some more tincture. Now, by the time I get home, the buckwheat patch will be ready so I can make some more tincture.
Possibly the first patient that struck me very forcibly was an old lady who had had a cerebral haemorrhage in October of that year. I was called there in the evening. When I went in, the patient said,” I am lame in one side”.
I said, “Get up”.
“I can’t get up,” she said.
I said, “Let’s get into this bed”.
She said, “Look here, Doctor, I have graveyard spots”.
“Well, you do? Let me see them”.
She had a lot of these haemorrhagic spots over the skin.I concluded that possibly she had that kind of thing in the brain. Anyhow, I gave her two teaspoonfuls of Fagopyrum tincture in an eight-ounce glass. I said, ‘Now, you keep taking that until I come back tomorrow night about this time. I believe you had better take about a teaspoon every thirty minutes”.
I came back the next night. She said, “There is nothing the matter with me. There was nothing the matter with me yesterday. I don’t know why you came”.
She looked at me and said, “Look, honestly, just see how I can walk”.
That is a miracle, I guess, but, anyhow, Fagopyrum did something to that brain.
I have an old lady-I have lots of them [laughter]-and I have to tell this story. When I first came to see this old-lady she said that she was sixty-two. This day she took me in her front parlor and commenced to get rather confidential.
She said, “Doctor, do you know how old I am?”
I said, “I always took you for an honest woman. you tell me you are sixty-two.”
“Now, Doctor, you know better than that.”
I said, Sure, that is what I think.”
She said, “No, Doctor, you know better. I am eighty-nine years old”.
That was the age. Anyhow, the next day we took her to the hospital. She lived right across the street from the hospital. She had high blood pressure way up, 220. She had tremendous pain across the abdomen and terrific headache, and she had some trouble with the left arm and was a pretty sick woman.
She said that she was the first nurse from England to come from Guy’s Hospital and practice in the United States. That was another curious thing to me.
Anyhow, I commenced to give her Fagopyrum. Of course, I am also a friend of Veratrum viride’ I am also a friend of Glonoine. She got the whole three together. She got about 3 drops of Veratrum viride, 1/200 of Glonoine and about 6 drops of Fagopyrum every hour. I put it on the chart to carry it out, to repeat it every hour until the blood pressure came down to 170. For some reason or other, the nurses overlooked it. When I took the blood pressure, it was down to 125. She was a pretty sick woman, after doing that. In a short time, a day or so, she went up again, and we held her when it was 160, and I have been holding her there for about half a year until such a time that she doesnt have any need of a blood pressure depressant. But if she doesnt get the Fagopyrum, she seems to leak blood out of the vessels. That is my opinion of the Fagopyrum.
I am very fond of the Fagopyrum, and it is a cure-all among the people who seem to have bleeding heart vessels.
DR. FARRINGTON [Closing]: I have little to add. Thank you for the discussion. This, of course, being a new remedy, unfamiliar to all of us, it would hardly bring out very much discussion. I hope that, perhaps, when you go back, starting into practice again, you may run across some cases which will be relieved by this remedy.
It seems to me it ought to be a good remedy for some of these rashes that come out from nervous excitement or great stress. Sometimes they are symmetrical but they itch and burn.