Too humble is half proud.
Gratiola officinalis. Hedge Hyssop. N.O. Scrophulariaceae.
CLASSIFICATION With about 220 genera and some 3,000 species the Scrophulariaceae is a large family of mainly north temperate shrubs. The family, commonly called the Foxglove or Figwort family, has wide distribution with a wide range of habitats – from grassy plains and very dry areas to swamps.
GENUS The genus Gratiola comprises about 20 species of rhizomatous herbs with small opposite leaves and solitary, tubular, two-lipped, five-lobed flowers. The genus is found in north and south temperate zones and on tropical mountains. Gratiola officinalis favours wet grassland, fens, river banks, ditches, etc. It prefers a rich moist alkaline soil in full sun.
NAME The name Gratiola derives from L. gratia, grace or thanks, in allusion to its medicinal properties. Old names as Gratia Dei and Herb of Grace refer to the employment of the plant as a divine favour.
CONSTITUENTS All parts of the plant are poisonous, but especially the leaves and stems. The plant contains several glycosides similar in effect to those in Digitalis [gratiotoxine, gratioline, gratioside], volatile oils, gratiogenin [a triterpene saponin closely related to the cucurbitacins of the Cucurbitaceae], and aucubin [see Euphrasia].
TOXICOLOGY Ingestion of the plant causes salivation, vomiting, colic, violent diarrhoea, visual disturbances, nephritis, metrorrhagia, palpitation of heart; in lethal cases, paralysis of respiration or cardiac arrest. Experiments by Schulz have demonstrated an effect on colour perception. Half a drop of Gratiola tincture evoked an increased perception of the colour green, while ten drops of tincture caused colour-blindness for green. Gleditsch has observed that horses which are fed on hay containing much Gratiola soon became lean.
NYMPHOMANIA Orfila gives an account of several cases, in which nymphomania was caused by injections prepared from this plant. Bouvier, in 1816, came to similar observations as a result of the employment of enemas prepared from Gratiola. “The next day a fourth enema was taken, which produced sharp cuttings and abundant evacuations, followed by palpitations and at length a shocking nymphomania, with all the delirium which usually accompanies this condition. It took three weeks of bleedings, baths, diluents and demulcents, and counter-irritation from a distance, to restore calm. After recovery, patient felt such shame at what had passed that she drowned herself. Similar accidents occurred in a young woman for whom such lavements had been prescribed by a herbalist to remove ‘obstructions.’ She had to be sent to Charenton, and could not be let out for two months. A third lady, who used same measures for a persistent quotidian, lost [after 2 enemas] her fever, but became permanently nymphomaniac, so as to compel her husband to separate from her. A young woman of 24 took, for weight in renal region, a single enema made with a handful of Gratiola, retaining it for half an hour. She then had copious evacuations, vomiting, a fainting fit, and at length a complete nymphomania, for which she had to be confined, but from which she soon recovered.” [Hughes]
MEDICINE Hedge Hyssop was formerly an official drug; hence its specific name. The root and herb are still used in herbal medicine. It is a drastic cathartic and emetic, and possesses also diuretic properties. Has been used for the relief of dropsy, and is recommended in scrofula, chronic affections of the liver, jaundice, and enlargement of the spleen, and as a worm dispeller. Has formerly been used as a heart medicine, but is now obsolete on account of its toxicity.
PROVINGS ••  Hartlaub and Trinks – 2 provers; method: unknown.
••  Hermann – 10 provers [9 males, 1 female], 1838; method: repeated doses of tincture, ranging from 1 to 60 drops.
••  Lembke – self-experimentation, 1871; method: tincture in doses from 10 to 50 drops over a period of 14 days.
Gastrointestinal tract. Mind. Sexual organs. * Left side.
Worse: Eating. Drinking too much water [= diarrhoea]. Summer. Motion. Coffee. Dinner.
Better: Open air.
• “Useful in mental troubles from OVERWEENING PRIDE.” [Clarke]
• “In Gratiola the most important cause is Ailments from pride of others, the overweening pride. It is one of the important remedies where daughter-in-law has to tolerate mother-in-law, where employee has to tolerate employer. It is a scenario where the boss dominates his staff and the staff cannot answer back. … If a boss is very strong in temperament, he will humiliate his members of staff in the presence of others. This humiliation goes very deep into the Gratiola mind and there is strong desire to be silent.”1
M NYMPHOMANIA, ‘not really satisfied by any kind of sexual encounter’, driving to MASTURBATION.
• “Burnett considers it specific in female masturbation and nymphomania.” [Clarke]
M Distortion of senses about size of body.
Delusion diminished, smaller [esp. head] [reverse of Plat.].
• “Gratiola develops depression very, very easily and very, very fast. During the phase of depression, which is predominantly endogenous in nature, she slides into that phase very quickly. Once she is into that phase, she desires to be silent and all her vivacity is lost. She refuses to eat, she has no desire to work. Work is impossible. The depression goes so deep that she is tired of life. Later on she develops a suicidal disposition. The suicidal disposition is expressed by an impulse to jump, like Aurum. But Aurum has a strong will and is dedicated to his hard work and wants to work all the time, while Gratiola has a weak will and has an aversion to work. The depression even gets expressed in the delusions: that her head has diminished in size, that the brain is decreased in size, that her body is smaller in size and that she is very small.”2
G Nervous complaints associated with stomach and bowel troubles. [Kent]
• “In nervous diseases [mania, gastralgia, nymphomania] and in neuralgic affections [megrim, sciatica] caused by the prolonged use of coffee.” [Teste]
G Sensation of coldness.
[head, vertex, stomach, abdomen]
• “Frequent sense of cold on vertex, sometimes painful, which on covering head soon passes into heat.” [Hughes]
G Disturbed sleep [from excitement].
• “He felt excited after each dose, and could not sleep in early night; he began to perspire all over, and to experience frequent urging to urinate, and pulsations, especially in head, during which pulse was very rapid.”
• “Unable to get to sleep if he sits up later than usual.” [Hughes]
G VERTIGO DURING EATING.
• “Rush of blood to head and vanishing of sight I consider a keynote.” [Clarke]
P Tensed feeling in head.
• “Feeling as if brain was contracted and head would become smaller, with general sick feeling, going off in open air; sudden sensation in whole head, while sitting, as if someone let go a steel spring which had been made very tense, and which vibrated and hummed for some time, so that hearing and sight vanished, though consciousness was not lost.” [Hughes]
P Visual disturbances. [compare Digitalis]
• “In reading or looking at illuminated objects, momentary loss of sight, which disappeared after closing eyes, but returned incessantly; on reopening eyes all objects appeared white, even verdure of trees and grass.” [Hughes]
Perception of green increased or lost.
P Affinity with the solar plexus.
CRAMPS start at pit of stomach and RADIATE there from.
P Pressing pain in stomach after eating; as of a heavy load.
Like a STONE rolling from side to side on turning.
And Nausea and eructations.
P Empty feeling in stomach AFTER eating.
P Green, frothy, watery diarrhoea, coming out with great force.
Followed by burning in anus.
< Drinking too much water [during hot summer weather]. P Circulation [compare Digitalis] • “Violent beating of heart, felt all through body, but only lasting a few seconds, especially strong after stool. Small pulse, intermitting several times after the palpitations.” [Hughes] • “Feeling of pressure at the heart as if its action were impeded.” [Allen] [1-2] Shah, Overweening pride: The picture of Gratiola; HL 1/98. Rubrics Mind Ailments from pride of others [1/1]. Anger from contradiction . Confusion, when lying . Contradiction, disposition to contradict , intolerant of contradiction . Delusions, all is diminished , he is diminished, small . Fear, when hungry . Loquacity, cheerful, exuberant . Undertaking many thing, persevering in nothing . Loss of will power . Head Sensation of coldness on vertex, becoming hot on covering head [1*]. Sensation of a hair hanging down in middle of forehead [1*]. Pain, occiput, > lying on abdomen [1/1], occiput, as if screwed together ; pressing, sides, skull feels smaller .
Close involuntary .
Colours, green objects look white . Lost, looking at bright objects , during rush of blood to head , < motion [1/1]. Face Coldness, with sensation of burning . Sensation of swelling . Wrinkled, forehead, during headache . Mouth Spitting, constantly . Throat Constriction, > eructations [1*]. Constant disposition to swallow, from choking [1*], but food and drink are swallowed freely [1*].
Diarrhoea, > eating , from drinking water .
Forcible, sudden, gushing . Green . Thin, liquid, green .
Erections, painful, at night, after coition . Disposition to masturbation . Sexual desire excessive .
Palpitation, felt all through body [1*], after stool .
Weakness, upper arm, when raised [1/1].
Sleepiness, overpowering , > stool [1/1]. Sleeplessness, on remaining up later than usual [1/1].
Death of relatives . Freezing [1/1]. Snakes .
* Repertory additions [Hughes].
Aversion: : Fats and rich food; fish; smoking.
Desire: : Bread; bread, only; bread and butter; coffee.
Worse: : Coffee; cold drinks.