The principal feature of Colocynth is its severe, tearing, neuralgic pains; so severe that the patient is unable to keep still. Sometimes they are better by motion – at least it appears that they are worse during rest – better by pressure and sometimes better by heat. Pains occur in the face, abdomen, along the course of the nerves.
These pains are often due to a very singular cause, namely, anger with indignation. Hence persons who are haughty and easily offended or chagrined have Colocynth complaints. Anger will be followed by violent neuralgia in the head, eyes, down the spine and in the intestines.
In spite of extreme restlessness there is great weakness with the pains. A patient suffering with chronic diarrhea, with severe colic, will sometimes become so weak that he can hardly speak. A feeling of faintness, or even fainting, is by no means an unusual concomitant of the pains. Griping occurs along the course of nerves, and in some cases numbness, pricking and tingling, like the crawling of ants in the part affected.
With many doctors Colocynth is a routine remedy for sciatica; and only when it fails to do they take the symptoms of the case in order to find the remedy that is indicated. There is no excuse for such practice. When the pain is better from hard pressure and from heat, where it is worse during repose and drives the patient to despair, Colocynth will generally cure. But it is not indicated in all cases. Some remedies select the muscles and tendons, some the bones and periosteum, while others select the great nerve trunks in which to manifest their symptoms. The pains of Colocynth appear, as a rule, in the larger nerves.
The mental symptoms are not very striking. As soon as the prover of Colocynth begins to have pains along the course of nerves he becomes irritable; everything vexes him; he is worse from vexation.
Screams with the pains. Walks about the room and becomes increasingly anxious as the pain goes, on. Disinclined to talk or to answer, or to see friends.
His friends irritate him and he wants to be alone.
He has all he can do to stand those terrible pains.
Vomiting and diarrhea frequently come with the pains, especially if they are in the abdomen.
Colic comes on in paroxysms that grow in intensity.
The patient becomes increasingly nauseated until finally he vomits and he continues to retch after the stomach is empty.
Colocynth produces a state in the nervous system like that found in individuals who have for years been laboring under annoyances and vexations. A man whose business affairs have been going wrong becomes irritable and nervous exhaustion follows. A woman who must watch her unfaithful husband night and day to keep him away from other women gradually assumes a sensitive irritable state of mind, and is upset by the least provocation. This is the state of the Colocynth prover. You will seldom find this medicine indicated in strong, vigorous, healthy people who have suddenly become sick. It is more likely to be in the constitution just described, and those who are in the habit of over eating.
We find tearing pains in the scalp, brought on by anger; exhaustion; pains that are better from pressure and heat, and worse when not in motion.
Constant, gnawing pains in the head.
Painful, tearing, digging through the whole brain, becoming unbearable when moving the eyelids.
Intense pain through the whole head; worse from moving the eyes.
Severe, pressing, tearing headache, causing her to cry out.
Intermittent headache in those of a rheumatic, gouty or nervous diathesis.
Pain tearing and screwing together.
Violent periodical or intermittent headache.
Such are some of the expressions in the text. But the particular character of the pain is not as important as the circumstances that are likely to cause it and the conditions in which the patient has been living, Knowing the life of a patient affords much knowledge of the patient himself.
The same violent neuralgic pains are found in the eye.
Rheumatic iritis, worse in the evening and night.
Severe, burning, cutting and sticking pains in the eye.
Burning is more characteristic of the pains of the eyes than of other parts of the head and face.
Sharp, cutting stabs; pressing pains.
The face ache is especially important, because Colocynth is one of the most frequently indicated remedies for neuralgia of this region. There are three remedies which are indicated in face ache more often than any others, Belladonna, Magnesia phosphorica and Colocynth.
The Belladonna pains are as violent as any, and are accompanied by red face, flashing eyes, hot head, and great sensitiveness of the part to touch.
In Colocynth the pains come in waves, are better from heat, from pressure, worse if anything during rest, and are brought on by excitement or vexation. They are generally on the left side; while those of Belladonna are on the right, and are caused by cold.
Magnesia phosphorica has tearing pains that shoot like lightning along the nerves and are relieved by heat and pressure.
The expression of the Colocynth face is one of anxiety from the severity of the suffering. No matter where the pain is the face is distorted. Finally, it becomes pale and the cheeks become blue.
Tearing pains in the cheek-bones, or more correctly, in the infraorbital nerve where it emerges from the foramen. Sometimes this pain feels like a hot wire, sometimes like a cold nail, and sometimes it is tearing, burning or stinging. Frequently it spreads over the face, following the ramifications of the small branches of the nerve, usually on the left side. The patient cries out and is very restless.
Tearing or burning pain extending to the ear and head.
All pains are better from pressure, but this is in the beginning. After the pain has been going for several days with increasing severity, the part becomes very sensitive and pressure cannot be endured.
Aversion to food.
Colic brought on from drinking while overheated; from eating indigestible things, from high living; colic from eating potatoes.
Potatoes and starchy foods disagree with the Colocynth patient like Alumina.
The vomiting of Colocynth is different from that of most other remedies dies. Nausea does not appear at first, but when the pain becomes sufficiently intense nausea and vomiting begin, the contents of the stomach are ejected, and the patient continues to retch until the severity of the suffering decreases.
The stomach pains are clutching, cramping and digging, as if grasped by the fingers.
Similar pains occur lower down in the abdomen, but they are still better from hard pressure, and from doubling up – which amounts to pressure – come on in paroxysms of increasing severity, until the patient is nauseated and vomits, and are associated with great restlessness and faint, sinking feeling at the pit of the stomach. The victim bends down over the back of a chair, or over the foot-board if unable to get out of bed.
In the Guiding Symptoms we find several pages of repetitions, showing how extensively this medicine is applicable in abdominal complaints where these symptoms are present. It would be well to read them.
The pains in the lower part of the abdomen are relieved by drawing up the limbs and pressing with the fists. In the violent ovarian neuralgias of Colocynth, the woman will flex the limb of the painful side hard against the abdomen and hold it there.
The physician asks: "What has happened to give you these pains?" Her answer is likely to be "My servant spilled some dirty water on a hand some rug, we had some words over it, and this is the result."
Colic from anger with indignation; better from bending double and worse in the upright position, while standing or bending backwards.
Colic of infants when they are relieved by lying on the stomach; as soon as the position is changed they begin to scream again.
The same symptoms accompany the diarrhea and dysentery. The stools consist of white mucus, are thick, ropy and jelly-like; at times bloody. At first they may be copious, strong smelling, pappy, and later watery, yellow, scanty and almost inodorous.
Diarrhea and dysentery from anger with indignation; the most awful tenesmus during stool; urging to stool with colic.
Eating ever so little, brings on the colic, urging and stool.
Watery stools after eating.
Many of these cases find relief from heat and the warmth of the bed