Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Every time I take up one of these old domestic remedies I am astonished at the extended discoveries of medical properties in the household as seen in their domestic use. All through the Eastern States, in the rural districts, among the first old settlers, Boneset tea was a medicine for colds. For every cold in the head, or running of the nose, every bone-ache or high fever, or headache from cold, the good old housewife had her Boneset tea ready. Sure enough it did such things, and the provings sustain its use. The proving shows that Boneset produces upon healthy people symptoms like the cold the old farmers used to suffer from.
The common winter colds through the Eastern States and the North are attended with much sneezing and coryza, pain in the head, as if it would burst, which is aggravated from motion, chilliness with the desire to be warmly covered; the bones ache as if they would break; there is fever, thirst, and a general aggravation from motion. Such common every day cold correspond sometimes to Eupatorium and sometimes to Bryonia. These two remedies are very similar, but the aching in the bones is marked in Eupatorium. If this state goes on for a few days the patient will become yellow, the cold will settle in the chest, a pneumonia may develop, or an inflammation of the liver, or an attack commonly called a bilious fever. Such fevers frequently call for Bryonia and Eupatorium, each fitting its own cases. These remedies are especially useful throughout New England, New York Ohio, the North and Canada. They do not have this kind of a cold very frequently in the warmer climates, but Eupatorium is often indicated in the warmer climates for fevers, yellow fever, bilious fever, break-bone fever and intermittent fever. It seems to be useful in one kind of complaints in one climate and in another kind of complaints in another climate.
In the Southwest and the West, in the valleys of the great rivers, Eupatorium cures complaints beginning as if the back would break, great shivering from head to foot spreading from the back, great sensitiveness to cold, congestive headaches, flushed face, yellow skin and yellow eyes, pain in the abdomen, and in the region of the liver, inability to retain any food, nausea from the sight and smell of food; the bones ache as if they would break, the fever runs high, the urine is of a mahogany color, the tongue is heavily coated yellow, and there is nausea and vomiting of bile. That gives the picture of Eupatorium in the Mississippi Valley, in the Ohio Valley, in Florida and Alabama, and all through the Southern States. The most prominent symptoms are the vomiting of bile, the aching of the bones as if they would break, the pains in the stomach after eating, and the nausea from the thought and smell of food. The stomach is very irritable; the thought of food gags him. The patient desires to keep still, but the pain is so severe that he must move and so he appears restless. These are among the acute manifestations, and are things only very general that we must take up and apply to sick people.
Eupatorium has been a very useful remedy in intermittent fever, when epidemic in the valleys. Among the first signs is nausea some time before the attack, and there are sometimes spells of vomiting of bile. About seven or nine o’clock in the forenoon, he commences to shudder, the shivering runs down the back and spread from the back to the extremities; he has violent thirst, but the shiverings are made worse from drinking so that he dare not drink cold water. There is soreness and pulsation in the back of the head, violent pain in the occiput and back before and during the chill. During the chill he wants to cover up and the clothing needs to be piled on. The thirst extends through all the stages. At the close of the chill there is vomiting; often it does not occur until the heat, but before the sweat fairly sets in he vomits copiously, first the contents of the stomach and then bile. When the heat is on he seems to burn all over, sometimes as though with electric sparks. Intense heat, burning in the top of the head, his feet burn and his skin burns. The burning is more intense than the heat would justify. It is characteristic of this remedy for the sweat to be scanty; a violent chill, intense fever which passes off slowly, and very scanty sweat. The bones ache as if they would break. During the chill his head aches as if it would burst, it throbs, it tears, it stings, it burns; he describes the headache in terms expressive of violence, as if probably a congestive headache. One would think after the fever subsides and he commences to sweat a little that he would get relief, which is true excepting the headache, which often gets worse clear through to the end of the attack whole day free from the headache, but on the third day at seven or nine o’clock on will come the same trouble with increasing violence. At times these attacks are prolonged, the one will extend into the other, that is center into a sort of remittent character with no intermission. The longer this runs the more the liver becomes engorged, and finally the urine is loaded with bile, the stool becomes whitish, the fever increases, the nausea increasing, the tongue becomes pointed and elongated, and is dry, the headache is extremely painful, and a state of masked fever comes on.
In those intermittent fevers that begin with violent shaking, and the and headache continues without sweat, or, if with sweat the headache is made worse, thirst during all stages, vomiting of bile at the close of the heat or during the heat, with the awful bone aches, the Western men, who study their Materia Medica, know that they have a sure cure in Eupatorium. The time for the administration of this dose is at the close of the paroxysm. You get the best effect when reaction is at the best, and that is when reaction is setting in, after a paroxysm has passed off. That is true of every paroxysmal disease, where it is possible to wait until the end. You cannot mitigate them very much during the attack, indeed, if the medicine is giving then it very often increases the difficulty, but if you wait until the close of the paroxysm you get the full benefit of you medicine, and the next paroxysm will not develop, or will be lighter, or, if another attack is brought on immediately, you may rest assured there will be no more. It is not an uncommon thing in intermittent fever, when the remedy has been administered at the close of the paroxysm, for the next paroxysm to come within twenty-four hours after the administration of the medicine; these mixed cases are often in a state of disorder. One who does not know this would immediately show the white feather, would be alarmed, would be afraid the patient was getting worse, but you have only to wait for the subsidence of the attack and you will see that you have broken its cycle and periodicity.
When the remedy has been apparently indicated by intermittents, and it has not proved of sufficient depth to root out the intermittent, there are two remedies, either of which is likely to follow it, and these are Natrum muriaticum and Sepia. These two remedies are very closely related to Eupatorium and take up the work where it leaves off, when the symptoms agree.
This medicine has also a chronic constitutional state, viz.: its gouty nature It is a very useful medicine in gout. It has gouty soreness and inflamed nodosities of the finger joints, of the elbow joint, pain and gouty swelling of the great toe, red tumefaction of the joint of the great toe. It establishes, in persons who are subject to chalk stone, deposits around the finger joints. These gouty subjects take cold, the bones ache, the joints become inflamed, the patient will say he is chilly, the skin becomes yellow, the urine is charged with bile the stool becomes whitish, and he becomes weak. In many instances these patients have been for years resorting to Burgundy for relief of their gouty joints and the weakness. Some one of our homeopathic remedies will relieve the suffering, but in those old gouty subjects who have been always drinking wine, you cannot take the wine away from them at once; you cannot do it while they are having the attack, because they have become so accustomed to it. Burgundy is the kind of wine very commonly used by the gouty, but the Scotchman with his gout thinks he must always have a little Scotch whiskey, and in the attack it is quite impossible to take it away from him. What has been his custom must be followed out for a while because he would grow weaker, but it is damaging him, and hence it is difficult to contend with gouty subjects who have been taking stimulants. You do not get the full benefit of Homeopathy and you cannot stop his stimulants because weakness will follow. Persons who have not taken wine as a regular beverage can and should do without it, as it interferes with the action of the homeopathic remedy. These gouty patients have terrible worse sick headaches better. Pain in the base of the brain and back of the head, associated with gouty joints. These are often referred to as worse arthritic headaches better, that is, gouty headaches, headaches associated with painful joints. Or the headaches may alternate with pains in the joints. Congestive headaches, the pain being in the base of the brain, with more or less throbbing; the pain spreads up through the head and produces a general congestive attack. Sometimes these headaches come on when the joints are feeling better, and the more headache he has the less pain he has in the extremities; and again, when the gout affects the extremities, then the headaches diminish. Headaches, having a worse third and seventh-day aggravation better, coming with more or less periodicity. With the headache there will be nausea and vomiting of bile, nausea at the thought and smell of food. This gouty individual is also subject to vertigo, and the sensation as if he would fall to the left is especially noted with the coming on of the headache. The vertigo comes on in the morning; when he gets up he feels as if he would sway to the left, and he has to guard himself in turning to the left. Sometimes in intermittent fever this symptom of swaying to the left and vertigo ending in nausea and vomiting, violent pain in the back of the head and pain in the bones, are the first threatenings. We have in this remedy also other gouty manifestations: shooting through the temples, shooting from the left to the right side of the head; shooting all through the head; stitching, tearing pains in the limbs as well as the bone aches. The headaches are so violent that they make him sick at the stomach. In gouty headaches, in intermittents at the close of the intense heat, in periodical headaches, the course is the same, the pain is so intense that nausea is soon brought on and then he vomits bile. Eupatorium has not been used on its symptoms in gouty states as often as it might have been. In intermittent fever it is well known; in headaches it is only occasionally used. Only occasionally does a man realize its great benefit in headaches and in remittent fevers. In gouty and rheumatic affections it may be suited to the symptoms and is more useful than is generally known. It is not the purpose of our talks to point out ultimates of disease. I do not look upon gout as a disease, but as a great class of symptoms of a rheumatic character that occur in the human family; a great mass of symptoms that may be called gouty, a tendency to enlargement of the joints and gouty deposits in the urine. The ordinary so-called lithemia is a gouty constitution. The gouty state of the economy is the superficial or apparent cause; the real cause rests in the miasm. So when I speak of gout I do not mean the name of a disease, but a class of manifestations that are met in large cities especially, less frequently in the country where the people live on farms and take plenty of exercise and have wholesome food and are not housed up. It is supposed to be due to wine drinking. Often when I say to patients that the symptoms are somewhat gouty, they reply, "I am not in the habit of drinking wine. I have not been a high liver." Such conditions of course bring on a tendency to gout.
Painful soreness in the eyeballs like worse Bryonia better and worse Gelsemium better. The eyeballs are very sensitive to touch and sore to pressure; feel as if he had been struck a blow in the eye; sore, bruised, pain in the eye. Coryza with aching in every bone.
With the bilious attacks there often may be an ending in a diarrhea; copious green discharges, green fluid or semi-fluid stools, but after the attack has lingered until there is one grand emptying out of the bowels, this symptom will disappear and the secondary state comes on in which there is constipation and a light-colored stool, or bileless stool.
Boneset has a dry, hacking, teasing cough, that seems to rack the whole frame, as if it would break him up, it is so sore, and he is so much disturbed by motion. A great amount of tribulation is found in the respiratory tract, in the bronchial tubes. We find a cough in capillary bronchitis that shakes the whole frame, analogous to worse Bryonia better and worse Phosphorus better. The subject is extremely sensitive to the cold air, as much so as in worse Nux vomica better has aching in the bones as if they would break; he wants the room hot, and wants to be covered with clothing which relieves; often the slightest lifting of the covers increases the chilliness, which is true also of Eupatorium, so they run close together. In worse Nux vomica better we have the dreadful irritability of temper; in Eupatorium we have overwhelming sadness. The worse Nux vomica better patient is not likely to say much about dying, he is too irritable to go into the next world; not so with Eupatorium, he is full of sadness.
There are other states that come on secondarily in this medicine. After malarial attacks and in gouty affections, etc., there is bloating of the lower limbs, edematous swelling. It is not an uncommon thing for a malarial fever that lingered a long time to be attended with swelling of the lower limbs. Eupatorium very strongly competes with worse Natrum muriaticum better, worse China better and worse Arsenicum better in such lingering malaria. When the symptoms have largely subsided and left only this state of anemia and dropsy of the lower extremities, in the badly treated cases, it is very difficult to find what medicine to administer, and the course that the homeopath must pursue is to go back and examine the patient to find the symptoms he had at the time of the intermittent fever, before he was meddled with. IF now there is swelling of the extremities, and you get symptoms to show you that he needed Eupatorium in the beginning, Eupatorium will still cure the dropsy of the extremities. It may bring back the chill, turn it right end to and cure his symptoms. The trouble is that the symptoms were only suppressed, had not been cured. So the medicine he needed, but has never had for the chill, may be the medicine that he needs now. Then think of Eupatorium in dropsical swellings of the feet and ankles, and in gouty swellings also. The gouty swellings are all of an inflammatory character. Very commonly these are closely related to hydrarthrosis, and here Eupatorium is to be compared with worse Arsenicum better. Gouty inflammation of the knee. All the way through this remedy you read about bone-aches and bone-pains.
It is peculiar that medicines come around on time with an exactitude. Diseases do the same thing, and we must see that it is also peculiar that they come with a regular cycle, a regular periodicity. We meet with headaches that come every seven days, headaches also that come once in two weeks, and there are remedies that have seven-day aggravations and fourteen-day aggravations and three-day aggravations, remedies that bring out their symptoms just in this form. Do not be surprised when your patient is perfectly under the influence of worse Aurum better if he has a characteristic aggravation every twenty-one days. There are quite a number of remedies having fourteen-day aggravations, worse e.g. better, worse China better and worse Arsenicum better. Again, there are autumnal aggravations, spring aggravations, winter aggravations, aggravations from cold weather and aggravations in the summer from heat. Some remedies have both the latter.