Dulcamara – bitter sweet
This medicine seems especially to affect the mucous membranes It appears to have a tendency to establish or ultimate discharges, both acute and chronic.
The Dulcamara patient is disturbed by every change in the weather, from warm to cold, from dry to moist, and from suddenly cooling the body while perspiring. He is ameliorated in dry, even weather; cold and damp aggravate all the conditions. He is worse evening and night and during rest.
Dulcamara produces catarrh of the stomach, intestines, nose, eyes, ears, and inflammatory conditions of the skin with eruptions. If you go through any of these in detail, you will be astonished to find how disturbed is the constitutional state of this patient by weather changes.
It is a medicine wonderfully useful in diarrhea, at the close of the summer, hot days and cold nights, with changeable stool; diarrhea of infants. There seems to be no digestion; yellow, slimy stool; yellow-green stool, with undigested stool; frequent stool, blood in the stool and quite a mass of slime, showing a marked catarrhal state. This gets better and worse; this gets better under ordinary remedies; it will often get better from Pulsatilla, because Pulsatilla symptoms seem to predominate, and sometimes it is relieved by Arnica; but every time the child takes cold, it comes back again, and soon the physician will realize that he has not struck the remedy belonging to all the symptoms. It is very often an annoying condition, because the symptoms are not recognized until two or three attacks have come. It is not easy to discover that the attacks come on from cold.
Every year women bring their babies back from the mountains, at the end of the season, and then we get some Dulcamara cases. One needs to be in the mountains at the close of the summer season to know what the condition is. If you go into the mountains at such a time, either in the North or West, you will notice that the sun’s rays beat down during the day with great force, but along toward sunset if you walk out a draft of cold air comes down that will chill you to the bone. This will make the baby sick; it is too warm to take the child out in the middle of the day, and so he is taken out in his carriage in the evening; he has been overheated in the house during the day, and then catches this draft in the evening. Dulcamara is suitable for conditions that would arise from just such a state. So with an adult who has been out in the heat of the sun and catches the cold draft by night, which means hot days and cold nights, such as occur in the fall of the year, at the close of the summer and coming in of the winter; this intermingling of hot air and cold drafts. You go up toward the foot of the hills after a hot day, you will walk through a stratum of air that will make you perspire and the next minute a cold air that will make you want your overcoat on, and then again a stratum of hot air and so on. Such a state will bring out a sweat and then suppress it. The symptoms that come from Dulcamara seem to be like symptoms that arise from just such causes. And we are free, then, to infer from such an experience that Dulcamara cures these cases. I have been puzzled in times past over these babies that have brought home from the mountains, and have prescribed upon the visible symptoms, until I thought about the matter care fully and figured it out that they had come from these hot and cold regions. Babies have to be hurried home at times, because of the diarrheas that cannot be cured in the mountains, but a dose of Dulcamara will enable them to stay there and live right in that same climate. Chronic recurrent dysentery from cold. If they have a dose of Dulcamara it fortifies them against the continual taking of cold.
There are people in a certain kind of business that really constitute a Dulcamara state. Suppose we look at our ice-cream men and our ice handlers and cold storage men; in a cold room they are handling ice; the summer weather is hot, they must go out and take some of the heat, and then they go back into their cold rooms and handle the ice. I have seen these things and have had occasion to follow them out. These men are subject at times to bowel troubles, and other catarrhal affections, but generally to diarrheic affections. Their business cannot stop because it is their means of living. Dulcamara cures such chronic diarrheas when the symptoms agree. Arsenicum is a medicine that would be suitable for such patients if the symptoms agreed, but the symptoms at times agree with dulcamara, for that is the nature of the remedy, to take cold from cold, damp places, from suppressing a sweat, from going out of a hot atmosphere into an ice house, into icy rooms; into cold rooms; in this climate such complaints as come on from overexertion, overheating; and then throwing off the clothing and becoming chilled, suppressing the sweat; fevers may come on, aching in the bones, trembling with the aching, trembling in the muscles, and as the fever goes on, he is in a distressed state, cannot remember, forgets what he was about to speak of, forgets the word that would naturally express his idea, and he enters into a dazed state, a state of confusion. It suits these cold that have this sluggish circulation of the brain, with trembling and chilliness, coldness as if in the bones.
Dulcamara is full of rheumatism, full of rheumatic pains and aches, sore and bruised all over, the joints are inflamed, become red, sensitive to touch and are swollen. It is suitable in cases of inflammatory rheumatism, due to suppressed perspiration, induced by changing from a high to low temperature, or from cold, wet weather. Worse evening and night and during rest.
Now, it has many chronic complaints. A catarrhal condition of the eyes, purulent discharges, thick, yellow discharges, granular lids; eyes become red every time he takes cold; "every time he takes cold it settles in the eyes," is a common expression of the patient. The patient will often ask the question, "Why is it, doctor, that every time I take cold it settles in my eyes? If I get into a cold atmosphere, or take off my coat after being heated, I have to look out." If it becomes cold in the night and he has thrown the clothes off, he takes cold, or, if a cold rain comes on, he takes cold and then has sore eyes. Such eyes are very often effectually cured by Dulcamara. As to the eye itself, it is only an ordinary catarrhal state, but the manner in which it comes on is the important thing. That is the nature of the patient to have sore eyes whenever he takes cold; it belongs to some other remedies as well, but this one particularly.
Dulcamara has also catarrhal discharges from the nose, with bloody crusts; blowing out thick, yellow mucus all the time. In infants and children who have sniffles, they are always worse in cold, damp weather. When the patient says: "Doctor, in cold, damp weather I cannot breathe through my nose; my nose stuffs up;" or, "I must sleep with my mouth open." Dulcamara is a very useful remedy to know in catarrhal cases that always stuff up when there is a cold rain.
It is markedly an autumnal remedy. The Dulcamara patients go through the summer very comfortably; their catarrhal conditions to a great extent pass away; the warm days and warm nights, because of the even temperature, seem to agree with them, but as soon as the cold nights come on and the cold rains come, all their difficulties return; there is an increase of the rheumatism and of the catarrhal discharges. This medicine has been used a long time by our mothers. They used to make ointments out of Dulcamara. You will find that the old ladies, in almost any rural district in which Dulcamara grows, gather it and make it into a salve for ulcers. Well, it is astonishing how soothing it is when applied externally to smarting wounds, whether in solution or salve or any other way. But it is a better medicine, of course, when indicated by symptoms of the constitutional state; it is a better medicine if used internally. It produces ulcers and a tendency to ulceration of the mucous membranes and this condition will become phagedenic. Sometimes it starts as nothing more than an herpetic eruption, but it spreads and finally yellow pus forms and then the granulations that should come, do not come; an eating condition appears and the surface does not heal. Especially along the shin bone there will be raw places, which even extend to the periosteum, to the bone, producing necrosis and caries; so we have affections of the mucous membranes or skin, first becoming vesiculated and then breaking open and eating. It is especially related to very sensitive, bleeding ulcers with false granulations, phagedenic ulcers. This is not generally known; it is a matter of experience with those that have watched this medicine; and again, strange to say, Arsenicum, which I have already mentioned once or twice, has this state. Arsenicum leads all other medicines for ulcers that eat, phagedenic ulcers. Arsenicum is a typical remedy for spreading sores, for spreading ulcers, and especially those that come from a bubo that has opened and will not heal.
Another feature of this medicine is its tendency to throw out eruptions over the body. It is a wonderfully eruptive medicine, producing vesicles, crusts, dry, brown crusts, humid crusts, herpes. Dulcamara produces eruptions so nearly like impetigo that it has been found a useful remedy in that condition. i.e., multiple little boil-like eruptions; it produces little boils, and the boils spread. Enlargement and hardness of the glands. Eruptions upon the scalp that look so much like crusta lactea that Dulcamara has been found a very useful medicine. Extreme soreness, itching, and the itching is not relieved by scratching, and the scratching goes on until bleeding and rawness take place. Eruptions that come out upon the face, upon the forehead, all over the nose, but especially on the cheeks, which become completely covered with these crusts; eczema of infants. Children only a few weeks old break out with these scalp eruptions, and Dulcamara is one of the medicines that you will need to know. It is about as frequently indicated as any of the medicines. Sepia, Arsenicum, Graphites, Dulcamara, Petroleum, Sulphur and Calcarea are about equally indicated, but of these, in this climate at least, I think Sepia is probably more frequently indicated.
All of these catarrhal symptoms, the rheumatic symptoms, the eruptions upon the skin, are subject to the peculiar aggravations of the constitutional state. No matter what the symptoms are, the constitutional state is worse in cold, damp weather.
"Catarrhal and rheumatic headaches in cold, damp weather." When the headache is the main trouble, the catarrh takes a different course from what it does when the catarrh is the principal ailment. There are two ways in which that conducts itself. In some Dulcamara patients, whenever he takes cold from the cold, damp weather, he commences to sneeze, and to get a coryza, and soon comes a copious, thick, yellow flow from the nose. On the other hand, Dulcamara has a dry catarrh in its first stage, and a fluid catarrh only in the second stage. One who is subject to Dulcamara headaches, has the dry catarrh; whenever he takes cold instead of the usual catarrhal flow with it, he at first sneezes and then feel a dryness in the air passages, a slacking up of the usual discharge, which would give him relief, and then he knows that he must look out, for along will come the neuralgic pains, pains in the occiput, and finally over the whole head. Congestive headaches, with neuralgic pains and dry nose. Every spell of cold, damp weather will bring on that headache. The catarrh is not always acute enough for him to pay attention to it. He does not say very much about it. The Dulcamara headache is very severe, is accompanied by tremendous pains; and he may go to the doctor with the idea of getting rid of the headache, but it is a catarrhal state that is suppressed, that has slackened up and the nose becomes dry. As soon as the flow starts up his headache is relieved. Then headache of this catarrhal kind that comes on from every cold, damp spell, or from getting overheated, from getting into a cold draft after being overheated, or getting overheated with too much clothing and then throwing the coat off, will also belong to the Dulcamara state. A form of eruption that is very likely to be a Dulcamara eruption is the ringworm, herpes circinatus. It comes sometimes upon the face and scalp. Children sometimes have ringworms in the hair. Dulcamara will nearly always cure these ringworms in the hair.
The Dulcamara child is very susceptible to earache.
"Coryza dry, relieved by motion, worse during rest, and renewed by the warm room, and others want a warm room. The Dulcamara coryza is worse going out in the open air and better from motion. The Nux vomica coryza is better in the open air. The patient feels much aching distress in the nose. The Nux vomica patient ordinarily wants warmth and warm air and a warm room, but with the coryza he is the very opposite; he wants motion in the open air, he looks for cool air, for it relieves the distressing sensation. In the warm room there is a tickling sensation in the nose, and the nose will drip, night and day. The Nux vomica coryza is worse in the house, and worse in the night, and worse in the warm bed, so that the discharge will run all over the pillow. In Dulcamara it is more fluent in the house, in the warmth, and less fluent in the cold air in a cold room. With the Dulcamara coryza, if the patient should go into a cold room pain will commence in the nasal bones and he will begin to sneeze, and water, will be discharged from the nose. That very state would relieve a Nux vomica patient. Allium cepa is made worse in a warm room; like Nux vomica, is better in cold, open air. Commences to sneeze as soon as he gets into a warm room. So that we see the meaning of such things, the necessity of going into particulars and examining every case.
Here is a state that you will often find in the fall of the year, some where about August 20th. They sometimes call it hay fever. Every year as the nights become cold, and there is cold, damp weather and fall rains, he has a stuffing up of the nose with constant sneezing and wants the nose kept warm. I have known these cases at times to sit in a warm room with cloths, wrung out of hot water, over the face and nose to relieve the distress, the catarrhal state of the eyes and the stuffing up of the nose. Heat relieves the stuffing up of the nose. These patients can sometimes breathe with these hot cloths over the nose, but if they go out into the night air, or a cold place, and especially if there is a damp, fall rain, they suffer much. Other cases of hay fever suffer during the day, and they go to as cold a place as they can find, and are even driven to the mountains for a cool place. These things are indicative of a state of the constitution; the state gives out signs and symptoms to lead the intelligent physician to cure. If that state had no means of making itself known by signs and symptoms, there could be no curing it by remedies.
"Profuse discharge of water from the nose and eyes, worse in the open air," "better in a closed room, on awakening in the morning," etc. The Dulcamara patient is so sensitive to newly mown grass and drying weed, that he is obliged to absent himself from the country where they are found. For hay fever we have especially to look up such remedies as have complaints worse in the fall of the year. There are other conditions that are just as much hay fever, for instance, "rose cold" that comes on in June. There are other conditions that come on in the spring, sometimes cured by Naja and Lachesis. So that we have to observe the time of the year, the time of the day, night or day aggravations; the wet and the dry remedies, the hot and the cold remedies. We have to study the remedy by circumstances.
The Dulcamara patient often becomes a sickly patient, with threatening of the catarrhal discharges to center in the bronchial tubes, i.e., in the mucous membrane of the breathing apparatus. Many adults die of acute phthisis that might have been cured by Dulcamara, and you will find very commonly among this class of patients those that are worse from every cold, damp spell of weather. Such enter right into the Dulcamara sphere. They are better by going South where there is a continuously warm climate. The Dulcamara patient is a sickly patient, threatened with acute phthisis; pallid face, sickly yellow and sallow. This shows that it goes deeply into the life, creating such disorders as are found in very sick patients, i.e., those chronically sick, in persons whose vital economy is so much disordered that it cannot keep the body in repair.
The throat comes in for its share of trouble. Persons who in every cold damp spell have a sore throat, from getting overheated, throwing off the wraps, getting into a cold place. The Dulcamara patient says: "Well now, I know I am fixed; l am now chilled; I begin to feel hoarseness in my throat." On comes the sore throat; it fills with mucus, with yellow slime; the tonsils become inflamed; even quinsy comes on. Or it may affect the throat uniformly; it may become red and inflamed and dry at times, and at other times filled with mucus, and at night the throat fills with thick, yellow, tough mucus, which is hawked up in great quantities. These colds that settle first in the nose and throat, post-nasal catarrh, often very worst sort gradually creep on until the whole respiratory apparatus is in a state of catarrhal inflammation. Every cold that he takes aggravates his catarrh wherever that may be. If it be in the nose, then the nose is aggravated; if in the chest, then those parts are aggravated. A continual rousing up. Every experienced physician must have met with many cases where for a time he felt unable to cope with the case because of his inability to reach the constitutional state that underlies this continual taking cold. So he puzzles, for a long time, and prescribes on the immediate attack and palliates it. For instance, the immediate attack might look like Belladonna or Bryonia, Ferrum phos. or Arsenicum, etc.; he treats that attack without taking in to consideration the underlying constitutional state of the patient. It is quite a profitable business for one who has not much conscience and not much intelligence. But a conscientious physician feels worried and knows he is not doing what he ought to do by his patient, unless he reaches out for the remedy which touches the constitution. It is far more useful to keep people from taking colds than to cure colds.
There is a form of acute Bright’s disease that Dulcamara cures. You can probably now surmise from what we have said of the nature of the remedy, that in cases of Bright’s disease following scarlet fever, or from malaria, or in any acute disease that has ended badly, i.e., the patient has been exposed to the cold too soon, and has taken "cold," or from sudden change of weather, damp and cold, the feet commence to swell, there is albumin in the urine, the limbs are waxy, the face becomes waxy and sallow, and there is constant urging to urinate. Dulcamara, with other constitutional symptoms, will be suitable.
In bladder catarrh, where there is a copious discharge of mucus, or mucopus in the urine; when the urine stands, a thick, purulent sediment, yellowish-white, and a constant urging to urinate; every time he takes a little cold, the urine becomes bloody, the frequency of urination is increased, the urine becomes irritating, the catarrh of the bladder rouses up like a flame, all the symptoms are worse in cold, damp weather, and from getting chilled; better from becoming warm. So you see whether it is a catarrh of the kidney or a catarrhal state of the bladder, or an attack of dysentery, or an attack of sudden diarrhea, every cold spell of the weather brings on an increase of the trouble. There is another Dulcamara symptom which will often be expressed suddenly in the midst of a lot of other symptoms. After you have been hunting for a long time, the patient will say: "Doctor, if I get chilled, I must hurry to urinate; if I get into a cold place, I have to go to stool, or to urinate." So we see that the symptoms come on when the patient is cold, and are better when he is warm. Any catarrhal trouble of the bladder that is better in the summer and worse in the winter. In dry, teasing coughs that are winter "colds," that go away in the summer and return in the winter. Psorinum has a dry, teasing, winter cough. Arsenicum has a winter cough. "Rash comes out upon the face before the menses." "As a forerunner of catamenia, with extraordinary sexual excitement, herpetic eruptions." Its "cold" sores are very troublesome. The patients are subject to these "cold" sores upon the lips and upon the genital. Every time he takes "cold," herpes labialis, herpes preputialis. "Catarrhal ailments in cold, damp weather." "Mammae engorged, hard, sore and painful." "Mammary gland swollen, inactive, painless, itching, in consequence of a "cold’ which seems to have settled in them."
"Cough, from damp, cold atmosphere, or from getting wet." "Cough, dry, hoarse and rough, or loose, with copious expectoration of mucus and dull hearing; catarrhal fever." The cough is worse lying and in a warm room and better in the open air. Rheumatic lameness and stiffness in the back from taking cold better by motion. Drawing pain in the lumbar region extending to the lower limbs during rest. Stiff neck from every exposure to cold. Stitching, tearing, rheumatic pains in limbs after exposure to cold, better by motion, worse at night or in the evening, with some fever. Sore, bruised feeling all over the body. Warts on hands, fingers and face.