Alumen | Materia Medica by J. T. Kent
This medicine, like ALUMINA, seems to produce a peculiar kind of PARALYTIC WEAKNESS of the muscles in all parts of the body, a sort of lack of tone. The extremities are weak. This weakness is felt especially in the rectum and bladder. The stool becomes impacted from want of ability of the rectum and colon to expel their contents. The bladder is also slowed down in its action, and it is with great difficulty that the urine is voided. After urinating, the bladder often remains half full. The urine is very slow to start, and when the patient stands to urinate the urine falls down perpendicularly, as in HEPAR. From this we see the sluggish action. The paralytic condition extends also to the veins producing a vaso-motor paralysis.
Another peculiar condition running through the remedy is the TENDENCY TO INDURATION wherever there is an inflamed surface. All remedies that have this in their nature relate more or less to cancerous affections, because in cancer we have as the most natural feature a tendency to induration. Ulcers are common in Alumen, and this induration underlies the ulcer; ulcers with indurated base. Or little scales may appear upon the skin where the circulation is feeble, over cartilaginous portions for instance, and a great thick indurated mass forms. Infiltration takes place under this crust, the crust keeps coming off, and a lack of healing follows because of the weakness of the tissues from a vaso-motor paralysis. Epithelioma is scarcely more than that, and so we have in this remedy features like epithelioma and other cancerous affections. What is the scirrhus but a peculiar form of induration? When the economy takes on a low type of life, a low form of tissue making, and the tissues inflame and upon the slightest provocation indurate we can see that this is a kind of constitution that is predisposed to deep-seated troubles, to phthisis, Bright’s disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. We are on the border line of ultimates and something is going to happen. This remedy leads the economy into such a state of disorder, a low type of tissue making is found, and many of these indurations will have cancer as an ultimate. This is a long acting antipsoric remedy.
There is also in this medicine a tendency to induration of the neck of the uterus and the mammary glands. Glands become slowly inflamed, and do not stop with ordinary congestion and hardness, but become as hard as bullets. This induration extends to the various glands of the body, but is especially noticeable in the tonsils. For those who have a tendency to colds which settle in the throat, especially singling out the tonsils and indurating these; those who keep on taking cold and the tonsils keep on growing and indurating, we have in Alumen a medicine that fits the whole process, the hardening and infiltration, and it cures these cases according to the law of similars—when the symptoms agree. It cures young children growing up with enormously enlarged and very hard tonsils, in whom every cold settles in the throat. Alumen is one of the cognates of BARYTA CARB., which has the same tendency. In one patient there will be one kind of constitution, and, after thoroughly examining it, looks like BARYTACARB. You may have a different constitution in another patient, and, after carefully examining it, see that it looks like Alumen; another you will see is SULPHUR; another, if you look into it carefully, you find is CALCAREA CARB., and another, CALCAREA IOD., and so on among those remedies capable of bringing about the conditions described. If we can find symptoms which picture the constitutional state we have no trouble. When the symptoms have been well gathered the case is as good as cured; it is easy then to find a remedy.
This remedy is imperfect from the fact that it is only partially proved. I do not care to dwell upon partially proved remedies, but when they have a number of striking features that fit into everyday life it is important to know them. The mental symptoms of this remedy are very few. The remedy should be proved in the higher potencies upon sensitive persons in order that the mental state may be brought out.
Some of the symptoms of the head are very striking and valuable. Pain on the top of the head with burning. The pain is a sensation as if a weight were pressing down into the skull. You will see a woman in bed with her hand on top of the head and she will say: “Doctor, it burns right there like fire, and it presses as if my skull would be crushed in, and the only relief I get is from pressing hard upon it and from an ice cold cloth pressed upon it.” She wants the cloth changed and made cold every few minutes. It is a queer thing that a pressing pain is made better from pressing upon the part. This is like CACTUS, pressing pain on vertex relieved from pressure. The rubric of remedies with that symptom is very small, and hence this remedy fills a place. There are some strange, rare and peculiar symptoms for which we have a paucity of remedies, and we have to work in other channels and along sidetracks in getting the constitutional state of the patient. Alumen cured the pressing pain on the vertex in one patient in whom it alternated with the most troublesome chronic, irritable bladder.
“Vertigo; lying on his back, with weakness in pit of stomach; > opening eyes, > turning on right side.” There is another feature, however, in this remedy, the PALPITATION is brought on from LYING ON THE RIGHT SIDE. It would strike anyone as something very singular, because palpitation is generally worse lying on the left side. A heart that is fluttering, enlarged or disordered is generally worse while lying on the left, as the heart has less room then, but it is strange, rare and unique when these symptoms are worse lying on the right side. When this condition is present in a patient it is necessary to find a remedy having just exactly that symptom, and very often it will be seen that the rest of the symptoms of the case fit into the remedy that has produced this peculiar state.
There is one more feature that you must add to these things, viz.: SLOWNESS AND SLUGGISHNESS OF THE MUSCLES throughout the body, a slowing down of all the muscles, a sense of weakness in the arms and legs.
In the CONSTIPATION there may be some urging to stool without result or he may go several days without desire. There is no ability to expel the stool He will strain a long time with no success, and finally after many days the stool is passed and is an agglomeration of hard balls, large masses of little hard balls like marbles all fastened together This is a very strong feature in an Alumen constitution. “Stool: less frequent, dryer and harder; large black, hard or in small pieces like sheep’s dung; no relief afterwards.” After stool there is a sensation as if the rectum were yet full. This peculiar feature comes with the weakness or paresis of the rectum, i.e., the rectum is not strong enough to expel all of its contents, and hence the sensation of unfinished stool. In the rectum there is ulceration with bleeding from the ulcers. The haemorrhoids ulcerate and they are very painful, so that after every stool he has prolonged suffering, a dull aching pain in the rectum.
CATARRHAL CONDITIONS prevail throughout the remedy. In old scrofulous, psoric patients, who are subject to chronic yellow bland discharges from the eyes, with enlarged veins; chronic yellow discharges from the vagina and from the urethra in the male; chronic painless gonorrhoea. In addition to the catarrhal discharges there is a tendency to ulceration, so that there are little ulcerative patches in the vagina, little aphthous patches in the vagina and on the cervix of the uterus. When a patient is suffering from a chronic gonorrhoea, instead of the discharge becoming white as in a gleet it remains yellow, and there are little indurations along the urethra, which the patient will call the physician’s attention to as “lumps.” Discharge with “little bunches” along the urethra. These are little ulcers, and beneath the ulcers are indurations. When this state is present you have an Alumen gonorrhoea. In a little while the patient will have two or three strictures unless he gets this remedy, because these little ulcers will each end in stricture narrowing the canal. Another strange feature in the catarrhal states and in the ulcers is its tendency to affect the vessels. The veins become varicose and bleed, so that there may be bleeding from any of the inflamed or catarrhal areas and bleeding from the ulcers.
There are many neuralgic pains about the HEAD of a nondescript character. These head pains come on in the morning on awaking. The EYE symptoms are of an inflammatory or congestive character, with tendency to ulceration. Purulent ophthalmia; chronic sore eyes. “Sees things double by candle light.” “Nasal polypus left side. Lupus or cancer on the nose. Face pale as a corpse, lips blue. Scirrhus of the tongue.” See what a tendency it has to produce minute growths, little indurations and infiltrations. Bleeding from the teeth; the teeth decay and the gums recede from the teeth; the teeth become loose; scorbutic appearance of the gums. “Mouth burning, ulcerated; grey, dirty, spongy skin about a tooth, which is surrounded with proud flesh; offensive saliva.” In the mouth we have the same general feature of ulceration, with dryness of the mouth, dry tongue and throat, and great thirst for ice cold water. “Uvula inflamed and enlarged. Predisposed to tonsillitis.” “Vomits everything he eats.” After that you can put the word “ulcer,” because it especially refers to that state of congestion where there is easy ulceration.
Under ABDOMEN we find flatulence. The intestines do not perform their work, they take on spasmodic action, and consequently the patient suffers from cramps and colicky pains; boring, rending, tearing pains. Retraction of the abdomen and drawing in of the navel. If you will compare LEAD in its poisonous effects upon those who work in white lead you will see quite a counterpart of this remedy, and you will not be surprised to observe that PLUMBUM and this remedy antidote each other. They do so because they are so similar, they cannot live in the same house. Alumen is a great remedy to overcome lead colic in those who work in lead; it removes the susceptibility. There are many painters who have to give up their occupation on account of this susceptibility. Alumen will often overcome this tendency and enable them to go back to their business.
In the female we note “weight of uterus presses down collum; granulations of vagina; leucorrhoea copious; emaciation; yellow complexion; indurations of uterus, even scirrhus; ulcers of uterus.” Sometimes you get evidence of this vaginal state by the woman saying that coition is so painful that it becomes impossible. It is not to be wondered at that the natural act cannot be performed when so much trouble is present.
“Voice entirely lost.” Chronic loss of the voice from a low state of the economy and from always taking fresh colds. Expectoration of much yellow mucus; scraping of the throat all the time to get rid of a little accumulation of yellow mucus. “Dry cough in evening after lying down.” “Chronic morning cough.” Cough is not a very important thing in this remedy; it is the general state of the economy that is to be looked at. The cough will not interpret the nature of the disease to the physician, because when these little ulcers are present they must cause some kind of a cough. This patient may go into phthisis or be affected with any of the ultimates of disease.
Alumen has been very useful in the treatment of old people who suffer from copious, ropy, morning expectoration, catarrh of the chest, haemoptysis and great weakness of the chest, so that it is difficult to expel the mucus. In this it is similar to ANTIMONIUM TARTARICUM.
Because of its relation to ALUMINA further provings will undoubtedly develop the fact that it has many spinal symptoms. It is well known that it has a weak spine, with coldness of the spine, a feeling as if cold water were poured down the back. Pain in the dorsal spine on a line with the inferior angle of the scapulae; weakness in this region and in the shoulders. Like ALUMINA it has the sensation of constriction, as of a cord or band around the limbs. Feeling as if a cord were drawn tightly around the upper arm. The clumsiness of the fingers, as seen in dropping things, the pain in the lower limbs at night, the lassitude and numbness, are other manifestations of spinal symptoms. Sensation as of a cord around the leg under the knee; soles sensitive to pressure on walking; feet numb and cold, although warmly covered; legs cold to knees. These are all further evidences of the action of the remedy on the spinal cord. Bruised pain in all the limbs. Crawling, tingling paralysis of all the limbs. He is kept awake at night by a sensation as if the blood rushed through the body. Many complaints come on during sleep. Nightmare. He is sensitive to weather changes and very sensitive to cold.