IN my early years of practice we had to treat many cases of typhoid fever, now rare in New York City. What a remedy we had in Gelsemium! The weakness, the stupor, the trembling, etc., characterised the symptoms presented by a large majority of patients. I often wonder what I would do with the majority of my cases of influenza without this wonderful polychrest. It is no less useful for an ordinary nasal cold, with congested turbinates making breathing difficult. Later there is a thin watery discharge. The tired,languid feeling is usually present. I cannot present the story of Gelsemium, but let me give a few cases to illustrated its great efficiency.
Case I. Some years ago when I was teaching materia medica at the New York Homoeopathic Medical College one of the class brought in a patient for treatment. He had been to Johns Hopkins and other well-known institutions, but had obtained no relief. The condition had lasted since he was ten years old, for forty-one years. Symptoms: Periodical headache occurring once a week and confining patient to bed. He had pressure and dull weight starting in supra-orbital region and extending over entire head.
He could not bear the slightest touch, jar or sound. The faintest whisper was intolerable. Gelsemium tincture, ten drops in half- glass, a teaspoonful half-hour before meals and at bed time, was prescribed. This was two days before the expected weekly attack. He had only slight symptoms that day, and no more trouble since, excepting once when he had a slight suspicion of pain after discontinuing the medicine for a time. He was completely cured.
Case 2. Male, 41. Similar, excepting a different day or exacerbation. I was obliged to give this patient two drops four times daily before obtaining results.
Case 3. Male, 33. Jewellery polisher. Duration of symptoms two years. I will not take the time to give all the symptoms in detail. They resembled tic douloureux. His suffering was so intense that he thought he would go insane in agony. I gave him an ordinary minute dose without effect. Then I gave him two five drop doses of the tincture at short intervals. This produced complete relief.
This I followed by one drop doses every half- hour for a few hours. I told him to take the following regularly. Ten drops of the tincture in half-glass of water, two teaspoonfuls four times daily. He was told if the pain became severe to take five drops of the tincture as before. This he was obliged to do only a few times. He also was completely cured.
The value of this remedy in neuralgia and migraine became strongly impressed on my mind, and I had many verifications of its power. Time presses and I will give only two more cases.
Case 4. Now and then I have a case referred to me by one of my former students. This patient was sent by a member of the class who witnessed the cure of the first case reported. This was about fifteen years ago and he still remembered it. The present patient, a young man of thirty-seven, came to my office October 20th, 1931. He was suffering from persistent dull headache in the left parieto-occipital region extending down neck. This had lasted one and a half years. No treatment helped. He had just spent thirty-two days in one of the great New York hospitals. X-rays were taken and all other diagnostic tests were made.. Psychoneurosis was the diagnosis.
The diagnosis was good, but the treatment failed to be of the slightest benefit. Heat was applied daily for nineteen days. Aspirin, massage and other forms of treatment failed. He was then transferred to a home connected with the hospital. He did not remain. On his first visit I prescribed Gelsemium tincture, ten drops in half-glass of water, two teaspoonfuls four times daily. In one week he had improved. I then substituted twenty drops instead of the ten. In another week he was practically well, only experiencing a slight soreness in the occipital region, but no violent attacks. He returned to work without discomfort and continued to improve in every way.
Case 5. Female, age 67. Intense radiating pain in the left lower jaw, presenting the characteristic symptoms of tic douloureux. The trouble followed the extraction of teeth. She had many examinations by dental surgeons, roentgenologists, physicians and surgeons. Her family insisted one her consulting a well-known neurologist at a famous medical centre. The diagnosis of tic douloureux was made and a prescription for twelve well-known analgesic tablets, costing eighty cents, was given. She did not obtain the slightest relief. Gelsemium cured her. At first I prescribed ten drops of the tincture in two-thirds of a glass of water, two teaspoonfuls every hour or less. I was obliged to increase the quantity to thirty drops before marked benefit was shown. As she improved I diminished the frequency of the dose. It was a stubborn case and took several months before complete freedom of pain resulted, although decided gradual relief was manifested from the first administration of the remedy.
One may ask why I prescribe Gelsemium so often in neuralgia and migraine. They may also justly ask the indications for my choice. I do not always prescribe Gelsemium although it is my favourite remedy. I may give Aconite, Spigelia, Belladonna, Thuja, Kalmia, etc.
I cannot bear to leave Gelsemium just yet. I have cured quite a number of cases of hysterical amblyopia with it. I will report two of these. One, a missionary to China, 36 years old. She had had smallpox and was under intense nervous strain. Her vision was almost gone, she could not read and was only able to discern distant objects with great difficulty. An “old school” oculist gave a bad prognosis. She also had great nervous exhaustion. I gave her Gelsemium tincture on No. 40 pills, three pills four times daily. Immediate improvement, and cure within a few months.
Male, 39. Nervous strain, could not see print with right eye. Lassitude, drowsiness, occipital headache, ptosis, occasional tremor, difficulty in holding urine and desire for absolute quiet were the general symptoms. Under fractional drop doses of the tincture be began to improve at once and was completely cured in about two months. At first he began to see print about half the normal size, which seemed larger and larger as improvement progressed. It appeared of normal size when cured.
I must give one more before I pass from Gelsemium. Male, 46. Post-diphtheric paralysis. I am aware, ofcourse, that this form of paralysis usually clears up in a few months. This case was unusually severely and a bad prognosis was given by the superintendent of the Contagious Diseases Hospital, a physician of much experience, where the patient was confined. Atrophy of the muscles of the lower extremities, with almost complete paralysis and loss of the knee jerk were present, also numbness of the fingers and soreness of the calves. He began to improve after receiving the tincture on No. 40 pills, three pills four times daily. In several months he was entirely well.
What a wealth of therapeutics power we have in such remedies as Arsenicum, Apis, Belladonna, Bryonia, Nux vomica, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Sulphur and a host of others having an extended symptomatology. Many remedies, however, not having a wide range of application, are nevertheless very valuable within their field. Take Petroleum for example. We have the mental symptom characterised by delirium, thinks another person lies alongside of him in bed, occipital headache with nausea resembling seasickness, diarrhoea only in the day time, dribbling of urine after urination, moist eruption resembling eczema, which is aggravated in the winter, and a few other key-note symptoms.
I have had considerable experience with this remedy in eczema and seasickness. I remember one old lady who suffered many years from eczema of the legs, markedly aggravated in the winter. Her doctor had failed to help the condition and told her she would have it all her life. I prescribed Petroleum 3x four times daily and she was cured in a short time.
One of my important patients was leaving for Europe last summer. He wished for something to prevent his usual seasickness. I gave him this remedy in the 3x potency four times daily for four days prior to his sailing. He was instructed to take it more often if he became ill. He was not ill, but gave it to his wife and some of his fellow passengers with marked result. He returned most enthusiastic. He said, “Doctor, that drug you gave me has all the other seasick remedies skinned a mile. If you put it on the market you would make a fortune.” I told him that no ethical physician could do this and that we had a large number of remedies which were just as potent for many human ills.
I do not recall of a failure with Petroleum as a prophylactic for seasickness, and I have had many cases. Another was the ex- champion wrestler of the United States. He was a better wrestler than sailor and always became seasick. I gave him Petroleum before a very stormy southern voyage and he remained free from trouble.