The Greater Celandine.
“A PERENNIAL plant with a sharp, bitter and burning taste, yielding, when pressed, a yellow, corrosive, milky juice. It grows in hedges and waste places, amid stones and rubbish.” One of our good old chemists (many of them prepared their own homoeopathic medicines), used to make pilgrimages to Box Hill in Surrey, where the Greater Celandine flourishes, in order to get the best tinctures of the plant in its chosen habitat. Tinctures are made from the root, or from the whole plant. HERRING says: “This remedy, famous in antiquity, preserved its repute through the Middle Ages. It was administered in serious complaints, particularly in hepatic derangements, according to the law of signatura, the yellow juice of the plant against the yellow bile and the jaundiced look. It was proved by Hahnemann and later more extensively. Its place in the Materia Medica is well defined by numerous clinical reports, verifying the provings.” CULPEPPER, 1616-1654 (Complete Herbal) tells us “It is called Chelidonium, from the Greek word Chelidon, which signifies a swallow, because they say that if you put out the eyes of the young swallows when they are in the nest, the old ones will recover them again with this herb.” (And Chelidonium has had a reputation of eyes, and for cataract.) Culpepper says “it is one of the best cures for the eyes”- “in an ointment to oint your sore eyes with” “in my experience and the experience of those to whom I have taught it, the most desperate sore eyes have been cured by this medicine” and he suggests that” it is far better than endangering the eyes by the art of the needle.” And Chelidonium is a great eye medicine: for the provings brought out about 130 eye symptoms. HAHNEMANN, in his prefix to the provings of Chelidonium, says: “The ancients imagined that the yellow colour of the juice of this plant (Chelidonium majus) was an indication (signature) of its utility in bilious diseases. The moderns from this extended its employment to hepatic diseases, and though there were cases where the utility of this plant in maladies of that region of the abdomen was obvious, yet the diseases of this organ differ so much among one another, both in their origin and in the attendant derangements of the rest of the organism; moreover the cases in which it is said to have done good have been so imperfectly described by physicians, that it is impossible from their data to tell beforehand the cases of disease in which it must certainly be of use; and yet this is indispensably necessary in the treatment of diseases of mankind which are of such serious importance. Hence a recommendation of this sort (ab uso in morbis) is of but a general, undefined and dubious character, especially since this plant was so seldom given simply and singly by physicians, but almost always in combination with heterogeneous, powerful substances (dandelion, fumitory, water cresses) and along with the simultaneous employment of the so- called bitters, which vary so much in their effects. “The importance of human health does not admit of any such uncertain directions for the employment of medicines. It would be criminal frivolity to rest content with such guess work at the bedside of the sick. Only that which the drugs themselves unequivocally reveal of their peculiar powers in their effects on the healthy human body-that is to say, only their pure symptoms- can teach us loudly and clearly when they can be advantageously used with certainty; and this is when they are administered in morbid states very similar to those they are able to produce on the healthy body. “From the following symptoms of Celandine, which it is to be hoped will be completed by other upright, accurate observers, a much more extensive prospect of the real curative powers of the plant is opened up than has hitherto been dreamt of. It is, however, only the physician who is conversant with the homoeopathic doctrine who will be able to make this advantageous employment of it. The routine practitioner may content himself with the uncertain indications for the employment of Celandine to be found in his benighted Materia Medica.” It will be interesting to run through CULPEPPER’S recorded dicta and experiences, and to compare them with the provings of Chelidonium, whose “Black letter symptoms” will be found at the end of this small resume. He says: “The herb or root boiled in white wine, a few aniseeds boiled with therewith, Openeth obstructions of the liver and gall, helpeth the yellow jaundice; and often using it helps the dropsy and the itch, and those that have old sores on their legs or other parts of the body. The juice dropped into the eyes cleanseth them from films and cloudiness that darken the sight, but it is best to allay the sharpness of the juice with a little breastmilk (!). It is good in old filthy corroding ulcers wheresoever, to stay their malignity of fretting and running, and to cause them to heal more speedily; the juice applied to tetters and ring worms and other spreading cankers will quickly heal them; and rubbed often upon warts will take them away.” He describes its use in toothache, and says “The powder of the dried root laid upon any aching, hollow, or loose tooth, will cause it to fall out” (!). Eyes-liver-jaundice-ulcer. Culpepper was there all right-as the provings show! BURNETT (Greater Diseases of the Liver) makes great play with Chelidonium. Hahnemann tells us to avoid having favourites among the medicines, but Chelidonium was undoubtedly one of Dr.Burnett’s favourites. He says, that “In this country it is the greatest liver medicine we have, and there is, in all conscience, no lack of hepatics. Some of my early success in practice was due to my use of chelidonium. My conception of its true seat of action is that it affects the liver cells. It must not be regarded as a liver cure-all, which it is not.” And of Chelidonium he says, “Its use has trickled down to us through the ages from the primary source of the Doctrine of Signatures.” He says that “it is kindly and gentle in its action, which action is fully set up with only a very small dose.” He tells us that it is one of the Organ Remedies of Paracelsus and Rademacher, and quotes from the latter. “Unweighable and unmeasurable doses of remedies can produce wonderfully curative effects when the conditions of the body in regard to its environment have been altered by disease and thus rendered susceptible thereto, and have thus nothing at all to do with the so-called homoeopathic theory.” Rademacher seems to have been jealous of, and to have thought to rival Hahnemann. But poor Rademacher! he survives for us chiefly in the writings of Dr. Compton Burnett. In regard to Chelidonium NASH has little to say, but it is, as usual, concise and to the point. “The centre of action of this remarkable remedy is in the liver, and its most characteristic symptom in a fixed pain (dull or sharp) under the lower inner angle of the right shoulder blade. This very characteristic symptom may be found in connection with general jaundice, cough, diarrhoea, pneumonia, menses, loss of milk, exhaustion, etc., in fact, no matter what the name of the disease, this symptom present should always bring to mind Chelidonium and close scouting will generally reveal hepatic trouble or complications, as would naturally be expected with such a remedy. “Bitter taste in mouth, tongue thickly coated yellow with red margins showing imprints of teeth, yellowness of whites of eyes, face, hands and skin; stools gray, clay-coloured or yellow as gold; urine also yellow as gold, lemon-coloured or dark brown, leaving a yellow colour on vessel when emptied out; loss of appetite, disgust and nausea, or vomiting of bilious matter, and especially if the patient can retain nothing but hot drinks, we would have a clear case for Chelidonium even if the infra- scapular pain were absent.” Jaundice. One remembers hearing of a man, long ill with jaundice, for whom the local doctor had not done anything, but which was promptly cured with a few doses of Chelidonium by a youthful unqualified upstart, who was thereby even more encouraged to think that it was easy and pleasing to “wipe the doctor’s eye” And, again the Manager of an Ironworks, most inconveniently ill with jaundice and not making any recovery, “What shall I send him? asked the Chairman, himself a good and experienced homoeopathic prescriber. “Chelidonium”. And chelidonium again lived up to its reputation. In regard to gall-stone colic, one has had cases (one from years ago turned up at outpatients only the other day) where Chelidonium 6 for a time, and then occasional doses of cm. caused a cessation of the trouble-and in this case, at any rate, it never returned. HUGHES quotes Dr. Buchmann’s provings, experiments and observations, which have added much to our knowledge of the action of this drug “showing that this remedial power obeys the law of similars. The action on the liver is very strongly marked in his provings. Pain, both acute and dull, and tenderness of the organ; pain in the right shoulder; stools either soft and bright yellow, or whitish and costive, and deeply tinged urine appeared in nearly every prover. In three, the skin became yellow or dark; and in one regular jaundice was set up it has become my own stock remedy for jaundice. “Next the experiments of Tests led him to credit Chelidonium with a specific affinity for the respiratory organs. The two disorders to which he thought its symptoms specially pointed were pertussis and pneumonia. Subsequent experience has confirmed his predictions of its value. Dr. Buchmann shows that in animals poisoned by the drug the lungs are found generally engorged, sometimes hepatized. He develops in several of his provers all the symptoms of an incipient pneumonia. And he contributes from his own practice cases of the disease, in which the beneficial action of the drug was most manifest.” An old homoeopathic text-book on Diseases of Children-given away and its author forgotten-laid it down that most cases of pneumonia in children yielded readily to Chelidonium, with which the author always started his cases. Chelidonium is one of the great pneumonia medicines, especially pneumonia of the right base. It will be observed that Chelidonium is almost exclusively a right-side medicine. It will be useful here to give Dr. KENT’S graphic picture of a Chelidonium pneumonia. “It is generally of the right side, or right-sided spreading to the left. The right -sidedness is marked, and but small portions of the left are involved in the inflammation. The pleura is generally involved, and so there are stitching, tearing pains. You may not practice long before you will find a Chelidonium patient, sitting up in bed with high fever, bending forward upon his elbows, holding himself perfectly still, for this medicine has as much as aggravation from motion as Bry. All of the aches and pains and sufferings are extremely aggravated from motion. This patient is sitting with a pain that transfixes him; he cannot stir, he cannot move without the pain shooting through him like a knife. The next day you will see that his skin is growing yellow. If you see him at the beginning Chelidonium will relieve him and you will present that pneumonia. It is not uncommon in children, and it is extremely common in adults. It is one of the pneumonia medicines.” He adds, “Bryonia wants to lie on the painful side, wants to have that pressed, wants to lie on the back if the pneumonia is mostly in the posterior part of the right lung; he wants pressure and wants to lie on it. In Chel. he is worse from touch, as well as motion. Bell. must lie on the other side and he cannot move a muscle. One cannot touch that right side with pleurisy. Cannot stand a jar of the bed, because of the extreme sensitiveness to motion.” BURNETT further says, in regard to lungs: “I would, however, just dwell upon the fact that Chelidonium will very frequently cure engorgements of the right lung even when it is a concomitant of true phthisis, but it has no influence over the general phthisical state, other than what pertains to, and result from, the lower half of the right lung and liver. As an intercurrent remedy in the hepatic complications of phthisis it is capable of rendering important service.” Chelidonium has also a very violent spasmodic cough, and is found useful, the indications agreeing, for whooping cough. Rheumatism also – but space forbids! HUGHES mentions its “hitherto unknown influence on the kidneys: renal irritation, tube-casts, increased uric acid, diminished chloride of sodium-oedematous swellings of extremities.” The headaches that Chelidonium can cure may be very severe. One remembers from many years ago a cottage woman in the country with such frantic headaches that she was impelled (heaven knows why!) to chop off her hand. The indication for the use of Chel. are forgotten, but Chelidonium quickly cured. A little symptom-complex that spells Chelidonium, in the nondescript cases that come to outpatients, and is useful, is this: Pain at right shoulder-angle; tooth-notched tongue; great drowsiness by day. To this one may add: better for milk; better for hot drinks; especially better for hot milk. We will close with the dictum of GUERNSEY (Guiding Symptoms): “The strongest characteristic calling for this drug, is a very severe pain in the inner lower angle of the right shoulder-blade, running into the chest. This indication furnishes keynote for the cure of an almost endless variety of complaints; also a very specific action on the liver and portal system.”.
BLACK LETTER SYMPTOMS OF PROVINGS
(From Hahnemann, Allen’s Cyclopedia and Hering’s Guiding Symptoms) Great laziness and drowsiness, without yawning. Lethargy. Great discomfort; feels not at all well, without knowing what is actually the matter with him. Debility and lassitude. Distaste for mental exertion and conversation. Weary, indolent disposition. Vertigo: with bilious vomiting and pain in liver, with stumbling as if to fall forward; on closing eyes, etc. Pain over left eye; seemed to press down upper lid. Pressive pain right side forehead. Heaviness in the occiput. (Headaches, sick headaches, neuralgias.) Curious symptoms: cranium feels too small; a forcing in the cerebrum, as if it had not room in the skull, and would be forced through the ear, with noises. Right supraorbital neuralgia. A long-lasting stitch in right EAR. Intolerable sensation in both ears, as if wind rushed out of them. In both ears, thundering of distant cannon. Whites of EYES dirty yellow. Stitches above left eye. Increased secretion of meibomian glands. Remarkably yellow colour of the FACE, especially forehead, nose and cheeks. The usual redness of the cheeks has a mixture of yellow of a dark colour. Greyish-yellow sunken countenance. TONGUE thickly coated yellow; with red margin; showing imprint of teeth. Mucus in mouth with tough mucous saliva. Bitter taste in the mouth. Great tension on and in the THROAT, above the larynx, as if it were constricted, whereby, however, only the gullet was narrowed. Sensation as if the larynx were pressed upon the oesophagus from without, whereby not the breathing but the swallowing was rendered difficult. A choking in throat, as if too large a morsel had been too hastily swallowed. Loss of APPETITE with disgust and nausea. Hiccup. All complaints lessen after dinner. Nausea in hepatitis, and in the vomiting of pregnancy. Bilious vomiting. Constriction, tension and sensitiveness in pit of STOMACH and right hypochondrium. A sharp painful stitch in pit of stomach, which extends through body to the back. (Queer sensation, as of an animal wriggling in epigastrium.) Stitches in region of LIVER. Pressive pain, liver. Pains from region of liver shooting towards back and shoulder. Pains transversely across umbilicus, as if abdomen were constricted by a string. Abdominal plethora. Haemorrhoids. Liver affections. Continued cutting in BOWELS, immediately after eating: food however was relished. Diarrhoea and constipation alternately. Thin, pasty, bright yellow STOOLS. URINE dark yellow, clear. Urine turbid on passing it, brownish-red, like brown beer. Urine stains the diaper dark yellow. Short, quick BREATHING with oppression, (>) deep inspirations. Nightly attacks of asthma, with constriction in chest, region of diaphragm. (Hindrance to breathing as by a tight girdle.) Stitches beneath the right ribs. Deep-seated pain in the whole of right side of CHEST. Oppression of chest, clothing seemed too tight. Soreness in right lower ribs. (Hepatization of lungs: haemoptysis; pneumonia.) Stiffness of NECK. Stitches beneath right scapula. Pains in right scapula. Stitches: pain, beneath right shoulder blade. Tearing lowest lumbar VERTEBRAE, extending to neighbourhood of os ilii; as if vertebrae were broken away from one another, only when bending forwards, and on again bending backwards. Pain in right shoulder. Tips of fingers cold, yellow “dead” ; nails blue; esp. right. Drawing pain hips, thighs, legs, feet; especially right side. Loss of power left thigh and knee when treading. Hard pressure, below both patellae. Pain right knee with burning and stiffness; () waking. TISSUES. Chronic, gastric and intestinal catarrhs. Hepatitis; jaundice; fatty liver; painful enlargement of liver; gall stones; bilious conditions. Distension of veins; abdominal plethora; haemorrhoids. Yellow-grey colour of skin. Itching of skin. Red, painful pimples and pustules. Old, putrid spreading ulcers.