E. A. Farrington was born in Williamsburg, NY, on January 1, 1847. In 1866 he graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. In 1867 he entered the Hahnemann Medical College, graduating in 1868. He entered practice immediately after his graduation, establishing himself on Mount Vernon Street.
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ARGENTUM NITRICUM, or the Nitrate of Silver, in its action on the brain and spine furnishes us with a list of symptoms that lead to the use of the remedy in many forms of nervous disease from simple nervous debility to full-fledged locomotor ataxia, or paralysis. Among the anomalous sensations which it causes are the following, which are characteristic of the drug. A very common general symptom which may be present in the headache, ovarian affections and in many other diseases, is this, a feeling as if the body or some part of the body were expanding. In the case of headache, the patient has a sensation as if the head were enormously large. Sometimes with the ovarian pains, the patient says that she feels as if there were an immense swelling in the side affected; and yet an examination shows no enlargement of the painful organ. We find this symptom under several other drugs, very prominently under Argentum nitricum, however. Again, vertigo is almost always present when it is the remedy. This vertigo is associated with general debility and trembling from nervous weakness. The patient staggers and reels as if he were intoxicated. The vertigo is so severe at times that he becomes momentarily blind in association with mental confusion, buzzing in the ears, nausea and trembling. The patient suffers from mental anxiety. He is very impulsive. He must be always busy and yet he accomplishes nothing. He makes frequent errors of perception. He hurries restlessly about to fulfil an engagement, thinking that he will be too late, when in reality he has an hour or so more than is necessary. In some cases, there is profound melancholy. The patient fears that he has some incurable disease of the brain. He constantly makes mistakes as to his estimation of distances. For instance, when walking the street, he dreads to pass a street corner, because the corner of the house seems to project and he is afraid that he will run against it. All these errors are traceable to imperfect coordination of muscle. This last is no imaginary symptom. It has been met with a number of times and it has been cured by the Argentum nitricum.
This defective coordination of muscles is a prominent symptom in the disease known as locomotor ataxia, for the treatment of which allopaths have long employed Argentum nitricum as a most valuable remedy. We also may use it when the following symptoms are present: The patient staggers in the dark or when his eyes are closed. The legs are weak and the calves feel bruised as after a long journey. There is a feeling of soreness in the lumbo-sacral region ; also pain in the small of the back, very severe when rising from a sitting posture, but rather relieved by walking. ZINCUM is also better from walking and worse from sitting. The difference between the two remedies is that Argentum nitricum has pain when rising. Sometimes, there is pain in the sacroiliac symphyses, a feeling as if the bones were loose there. Here it is similar to AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM. Another symptom which I would like to specialize is trembling of the hands, which causes the patient to drop things. He is very nervous at night. When he does sleep, he has all sorts of horrible dreams. These nervous symptoms are especially worse at eleven A.M. So you see that SULPHUR is not the only remedy that has this eleven A.M. aggravation.
You will at once see the resemblances between Argentum nitricum and KALI BROMATUM and NATRUM MUR. That trembling weakness with palpitation is the exact counterpart of the NAIRUM MUR. condition. This fearful and apprehensive mood, this imagining that he cannot pass a certain point, reminds you of KALI BROMATUM.
But there are less severe symptoms that will call for Argentum nitricum, and one of them is what we may call functional paralysis, such as follows exhausting diseases, post-diphtheritic paralysis, for example. GELSEMIUM is here a concordant remedy of Argentum nitricum.
Other nervous affections, for which we may use Argentum nitricum are the following : It is one of the best remedies we have for hemicrania. This is not a simple neuralgia. It is a deep-seated neurotic disease, and by some is supposed to be of epileptic nature. It comes periodically; for its relief the remedy under consideration is one of the best. There is frequently boring pain in the head, which is worse in the left frontal eminence. This boring is relieved by tight bandaging of the head, hence the wearing of a tight-fitting silk hat relieves. It is excited by any mental emotion of an unpleasant kind, or by anything that depreciates the nervous system, as loss of fluids, loss of sleep or mental strain. Sometimes, the pains become so severe that the patient loses his senses. The paroxysms frequently culminate in vomiting of bile or sour fluid.
There is another form of headache which is mostly neuralgic and for which Argentum nitricum is the remedy. The bones of the head feel as if they were separating, or the head feels as if it were enormously large. The pains about the head increase to such a degree that the patient almost loses her senses. These attacks end in vomiting, probably to recur once more within a few minutes or an hour.
We also find Argentum nitricum indicated in prosopalgia, particularly when the infraorbital branches of the fifth pair and the nerves going to the teeth are affected. The pain is very intense and at its height is accompanied by unpleasant sour taste in the mouth. The pains are of the same character as those already described for the hemicrania. I do not believe that this sour taste in the mouth is of gastric origin, but I think that it is due to some abnormality or disturbance in the gustatory nerves. The face, in almost all these cases, is pale and sunken, rather sallow than pure pale, and in extreme cases, when the blood is very much affected, the surface of the body is of a dark muddy, leaden hue.
We also find Argentum nitricum indicated in that troublesome disease gastralgia, a neurosis of the stomach. It is especially indicated in delicate nervous women. The gastralgia is excited by any emotion, by loss of sleep and frequently at the catamenial period. There is a feeling in the stomach as though there was a lump there. This is sometimes accompanied by gnawing ulcerative pain referred to the pit of the stomach. From this spot, pains radiate in every direction. These pains seem to increase and decrease gradually, just as under STANNUM. With this, there is apt to be intense spasm of the muscles of the chest. The patient cannot bear to have a handkerchief approach the mouth, as it would cause dyspnoea. The patient cannot bear the least food because it makes this pain worse. Sometimes, the pain is relieved by bending double and pressing the hand firmly into the stomach. The paroxysms end with a vomiting of glairy mucus which can be drawn into strings, or what is more common, they are accompanied with enormous accumulation of wind. The patient for a long time cannot belch, but when he does succeed in so doing, the flatus comes in an enormous volume. This is often accompanied with general tremor, and a nervous feeling, or by a sensation as if he was being squeezed in a vice.
The nearest ally to Argentum nitricum here, is BISMUTH, which is indicated in pure nervous gastralgia. The main distinction between it and Argentum nitricum is in the vomiting. Just as soon as food touches the stomach, it is ejected.
Another nervous disease in which Argentum nitricum is indicated is epilepsy. The strong indicating symptom for Silver nitrate is this : For days or hours before an attack, the pupils are dilated. After the attack, the patient is very restless and has trembling of the hands. It is especially indicated in epilepsy caused by fright or in that which comes on during menstruation.
It may also be used for puerperal convulsions, when between the attacks, the patient is very restless, and tossing about, now on one side and now on the other.
Nitrate of Silver is also indicated in angina pectoris. The patient complains of intense pain in the chest and about the heart. He can hardly breathe.
We also find it indicated in pure nervous asthma. There are present spasms of the respiratory muscles. The dyspnoea is great. A crowded room produces or aggravates this dyspnoea.
Leaving now the action of Argentum nitricum on the nervous system, we come to its use in inflammations and ulcerations. First of all, under this head, we will consider it in diseases of the eye. Nitrate of Silver cures purulent ophthalmia, and by this term I mean any inflammation of the lids or eyes which develops ulceration or pus. This pus is thick, yellowish and bland. It is useful in ophthalmia neonatorum when the pus is of the character just mentioned and is profuse. Especially is it called for after the failure of PULSATILLA or one of the mercuries.
You may also use it for the purulent ophthalmia of adults with pus of this character. Like Pulsatilla, the symptoms are relieved in the open air and become intolerable in the warm room.
In purulent ophthalmia, PULSATILLA stands very closely allied to Argentum nitricum. You will notice that both have profuse, thick, bland purulent discharge and both have relief from the cool open air. It has been determined clinically that when Argentum nitricum ceases to act, a dose of Pulsatilla interpolated, helps.
You may also use Argentum nitricum in blepharitis when there are thick crusts on the lids, suppuration and induration of tissue. Even the cornea has become affected by the continued inflammation. The heat of the fire makes the patient a great deal worse. This symptom you also find under MERCURIUS.
Granular conjunctivitis also calls for Argentum nitricum. The conjunctiva is almost scarlet, so red is it, and there is profuse mucopurulent discharge.
RHUS TOX. is very similar to Argentum nitricum, but it has more spasmodic symptoms. There is spasmodic closure of the eyelids and, when you force them open, hot, scalding tears gush forth, and these cause pimples around the inflamed eyes.
EUPHRASIA is similar in granular lids; it differs from Argentum nitricum in this: The purulent discharge is excoriating and there is, in addition, excoriating lachrymation.
KREOSOTE may be used in inflammation of the eyelids, whether in the infant or the adult. There is a discharge of hot, scalding tears from the eyes, occurring early in the morning.
Argentum nitricum may be useful in asthenopia from want of accommodation. Even the coarsest kind of work strains the eyes.
Coming now to the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat, we find Argentum nitricum producing a dark reel appearance of the fauces. Thick mucus collects in the throat and the patient complains of a sensation as of a splinter there. With all this, there may be ulceration. The cause may be mercury, syphilis or scrofula. The papillae of the tongue are elevated. The gums are tender and bleed readily, but are very seldom swollen, thus giving you a distinction between it and Mercurius.
The larynx suffers from the action of Argentum nitricum. There is muco-purulent sputum, seeming to come from the posterior wall of the larynx. There is also marked hoarseness ahd sometimes even loss of voice. Singers frequently complain of a feeling as if there were something clogging the vocal organs.
MANGANUM is similar to Nitrate of Silver, causing laryngeal symptoms, particularly in pneumonic or tubercular patients. The hoarseness is usually worse in the morning and grows better as they succeed in hawking up lumps of mucus. The Manganum patient has cough from loud reading, with painful dryness and roughness of the larynx. The cough is usually relieved by lying down.
SELENIUM is also similar to Argentum nitricum.
PARIS QUADRIFOLIA is a neglected drug in laryngeal affections. We find it indicated when expectoration is mostly noticed in the morning and when it is green and tenacious.
Nitrate of Silver may be used in ulceration of the cervix of the uterus when it is enlarged and indurated, with copious yellow, corroding leucorrhoea and frequent bleeding from the points of ulceration.
Next, I would refer you to the action of Argentum nitricum on the kidneys, because attention is not paid to this action of the drug. I think that it was Dr. Preston, of Norristown, who used the drug mostly in such cases. He gave it very frequently iu nephralgia from congestion of the kidneys or from passage of calculi. The face is of a rather dark hue and has a dried-up look; there is dull aching across the small of the back and also over the region of the bladder. The urine burns while passing and the urethra feels as if swollen. There is sudden urging to urinate. The urine is dark and contains blood, or else renal epithelium and uric acid deposit. It is especially useful when Cantharis, which it resembles, fails.
NITRIC ACID is to be thought of for urinarv calculi when the urine contains oxalic acid and when that substance is the principal ingredient of the stone.
Lastly, I have to speak of the action of Argentum nitricum on the bowels. Here it is very similar to Arsenic. The stools are green and shreddy and consist of blood, slime and epithelium. This is often associated with the discharge of a great deal of flatus and is often provoked by the use of sugar. Especially is it indicated when diarrhoea follows any excitement or when the imagination has been played upon. The bowels are apt to move as soon as the least food or drink is taken.
In cholera infantum it is indicated in children who are thin, dried-up looking, almost like mummies. The legs are apparently nothing but skin and bones. The stools are green and slimy, with noisy flatus, and are worse at night.
NATRUM MUR. is the proper remedy to antidote the abuse of Argentum nitricum.