Family: Jussieu [vegetable substance]
Mode of preparation: For Homeopathic use we use the tincture from the fresh shoots, leaves and blossoms.
The essential features
Ailanthus has come down to us with a reputation for malignant scarlatina, where the normal rush of the disease does not appear but instead we see sparse patches of a dark bluish colour, like mahogany and symptoms of cerebral intoxication. But this remedy, like every one of our remedies, is indicated in both chronic and acute conditions as long as the general picture agrees. It is very unfortunate that the old masters left none of their personal experience of the action of the remedies apart from those indications that have always been in our books. In my understanding Ailanthus is a remedy that could easily be confused with Baptisia in acute cases and with Lachesis in chronic cases.
We shall speak about the chronic conditions first, after which we will consider its action upon the acute diseases. Ailanthus is a remedy that you need to think about in cases of congestive headaches, hay fever, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, brain stroke, allergic skin conditions, acne, chronic abcesses etc., where you have a stout and robust patient with a feeling of fullness and heat in the head; an “apoplectic fullness” as described in the books where the face is besotted, dark red, or has a bluish discoloration; it may be mottled or you may find patches of bluish red colour, whether due to a mistreated skin eruption, an allergic skin condition or a simple discoloration. It is a remedy that should be remembered in cases of alzheimer’s disease where we have an appearance of the type of Ailanthus with high blood pressure.
It is the face that you see in those suffering with chronic hypertension or those that are about to have a brain stroke. They complain of a severe internal fullness with extreme diminution of their mental faculties.
Their mind becomes dull, stupid, sluggish and they start having difficulties in comprehending a discussion, difficulty in thinking. They cannot make simple calculations as they used to, it is very difficult for them to concentrate and do calculations. They will answer incorrectly. They develop an aversion to mental work, even to thinking. They feel prostrated, mentally exhausted, and eventually mentally confused. This may be characterized by a feeling as if they were drunk, which causes everything to seem unreal and dreamlike.
Ailanthus’ memory decreases rapidly; what happened yesterday is forgotten, they may not recognise persons they were supposed to know, and forget what they have just said, etc.. “All past events are forgotten. Past events are forgotten or remembered as belonging to someone else, or as matters read.”
In a similar way the senses are blunted and lose their acuity. In such patients you will notice an anxiety depicted in the face, a kind of obvious distress. There is an aggravation which starts before going to bed and lasts until sleep takes over, which reappears on awakening after a little sleep, and continues for some time after rising in the morning. The aggravation of their symptoms is coupled with an acute anxiety. Symptoms are also aggravated if they lie on their left side, so in all these symptoms we see the resemblance to Lachesis. Epileptic convulsions very early in the morning with extremely distressed breathing.
Ailanthus cases have a desire to weep all the time for no reason as they are acutely troubled by all this mental confusion and deterioration.
Eventually they fall into depression, low spirits, or a state of indifference or apathy with constant sighing.
I should like to note here that you should not always giveIgnatia for grief and sighing, since other remedies, like Ailanthus, also have sighing after grief. In order however to prescribe Ailanthus you need to have the mental picture as well, the stupefuction of the brain, the dark redness of the face, the fullness in the head etc.
It is important for the student of homeopathy to realise the particular effect that each remedy has upon the different systems or organs, and prescribe accordingly. In this remedy we have a specific effect upon the brain that the student of homeopathy must perceive clearly before he can prescribe it to the sick with some accuracy.
There are some peculiar symptoms in Ailanthus, one of them being electric currents, which may also be described as an electrical thrill, going through the body starting from the head and ending in the finger tips. These symptoms in the provings suggest that the remedy may be of use in convulsions or epileptic fits. Another symptom is a crawling feeling especially on legs where the sensation is as if some small animal is crawling upwards. In the fever these sensations become illusions.
His sleep is restless and there is a lot of moaning and groaning during sleep as well as much talking. I have observed that patients with progressed arteriosclerosis talk very loudly in their sleep in response to vivid images they see in their dreams. Do not forget that it is a remedy that can easily deteriorate into a state of delirium.
Pediatricians or general practitioners should make a special study of Ailanthus in acute conditions, as it corresponds to severe cases of zymotic fevers, like blood poisoning, epidemic diseases, especially malignant scarlatina, meningitis, follicular tonsilitis and diphtheria. Ailanthus is also indicated in typhoid, glandular fever, puerpural fever, septicemia, etc., as well as in cases where there is an eruption which is in appearance like measles or scarlatina, but is partially suppressed for one or another reason.
Kent writes: “This remedy is especially suitable in the low zymotic forms of sickness such as we find in diphtheria and scarlet fever…..where the rash does not come out, but in its place red spots, roseola like, make their appearance; the usual uniform spread of the eruption has failed, or has been suppressed, and there is bleeding from the gums and nose, and dreadful tumefaction in the throat…There is an appearance of great prostration but it is really stupefaction; he seems stupid and benumbed. If you look at the throat you see it is covered with little purple patches, intermingled with an oedematus appearance similar to that found in Baptisia. …. The blood that oozes is black. The child enters a state of stupor and it is with difficulty that he can be aroused. Sometimes blisters are formed on the end of the fingers, or here and there over the body. From the mouth and nose come fetid odours. The child is going as rapidly as possible into a form of malignant disease. Sometimes the disease comes on as a light febrile attack, but from taking cold and suppressing some of the natural manifestations the case takes on a low typhoid form. Whereas you had at first only a simple remittent, the case has now assumed a state of prostration with a very rapid heart, foetor, purple or blueness, a passive congestion with purple blotches of the skin, causing a mottled appearance. When a disease turns so suddenly it is due to blood poisoning and a symptomatic typhoid state appears.”
N.M. Choudhuri describes the acute throat condition in an excellent way:
“It is very helpful in some of those obstinate cases of malignant sore throat accompanying scarlatina, measles and other eruptive diseases. It was in such a case that I first tried Ailanthus. The result exceeded my most sanguine expectations. The fever was very high and the patient was in a state of stuporous delirium. His whole body was covered with a sort of dark miliary rash. The inside of his throat was swollen and livid. The tonsils looked immensely large and were studded with ever so many angry looking ulcers, discharging a sort of a foetid, ichorous, humour. The tongue looked equally bad – it was cracked, dry and parched. The teeth were covered with a brown sordes. The cellular tissues around the neck were infiltrated. Through the nostrils there flew a thin ichorous bloody discharge. All symptoms pointed towards a fatal end. His prostration very marked from the beginning progressed with leaps and bounds. This sudden and great fall in vital force, so characteristic of Ailanthus, drew my attention to it and as it covered most of the symptoms of the patient, it was administered.”
There follows a summary of the main points that should be born in mind for an Ailanthus case:
1. a stage of cerebral intoxication that comes very early, and slips too soon into a state of stupor, of muttering delirium (Bapt.) and finally into unconsciousness. In his delirium he does not recognize anybody, but looks prostrated, totally exhausted, in spite of which there is restlessness, illusions of mice running across the room or up his leg or of a snake crawling up. Thinks the house is on fire.
Delirium with sleeplessness. Another peculiarity is that the delirium, the stupor, the coma and all these precarious situations are relieved by vomiting. Vomiting ameliorates the symptoms.
Sometimes we may see a maniacal, raging delirium with brilliant eyes. (Bell). Restless delirium.
2. rapid prostration in fevers with rapid pulse, nausea and vomiting.
3. the face during fever becomes red, purplish, besotted, (Bapt.) like Lachesis or Opium, or develops purple or blue patches, the eyes are very congested (like belladonna), to the extent that sometimes they actually bleed.
4. fetid odour from mouth and nose. (Baptisia)
5. where you may expect an eruption in epidemic diseases that does not appear or appears in a different form (partially suppressed eruption).
Finally, in Ailanthus children we see a lot of shrieking, screaming and shouting with a tendency for weeping all the time.