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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Borax is the biborate of soda. As a medicine, it won its first laurels in the nursery, where it has long been used in the treatment of sore nipples and children’s sore mouth. Like all popular remedies, it has been greatly abused. Homeopathy has rescued it from the nursery and now offers it to the profession as a medicine of great value, telling when it may and when it may not be used. Underlying this sore mouth, which seems to be the keynote for the use of Borax, is a system or constitution which will permit of the sore mouth, that is, an illy-nourished system. Thus the infant becomes pale or of an earthy hue, its flesh grows soft and flabby; it cries a great deal when it nurses, screams out during sleep and awakens clinging to its mother as if frightened by a dream. The child is excessively nervous, so much so, that the slightest noise, the mere rustling of paper, or a distant heavy noise, will arouse and frighten it. This nervous excitability qualifies the pains. For instance, in the earache, you will find that each paroxysm of pain causes the child to start nervously. This earache is accompanied by soreness, swelling and heat of the ear, just as you find in BELLADONNA, PULSATILLA and CHAMOMILLA. There is a mucous or muco-purulent otorrhoea. Borax is distinguished from these similar remedies by this character of the nervousness, this starting with the pain or with slight noises, by the paleness of the face and above all by another well-proved symptom, the child dreads a downward motion. Thus if the little one is soundly asleep in its mother’s arms and she makes the attempt to lay it down in its crib, it gives a start and awakens. If she attempts to carry it down stairs, it will cling to her as if afraid of falling. This must not be confounded with the excitability of other medicines as Chamomilla and Belladonna. It is not the motion that awakens the child. The child will not awaken if it is moved without any downward motion. It must, then, be the downward motion that arouses it. The reason for this is, that the child is suffering from cerebral anaemia and this downward motion causes a feeling as though it were going to fall. This symptom may also be utilized in adults, as, for example, in the case of invalids who have been ordered to take horseback rides, but who cannot do so, because when the horse lets them down, they feel as if they were in torture. You will also find that ladies, after’ some exhausting disease, cannot use a rocking-chair, because when they rock backwards, they feel as if they would tumble.
The digestion in the Borax case is impaired, as you might infer from the defective nutrition. Colic precedes the diarrhoea, in the child I am describing. The stools are usually green; or they may be soft and yellow, but they always contain mucus. Here you have another illustration of the affinity of Borax for mucous membranes. Aphthous inflammation of the mouth appears as a concomitant of the diarrhcea. Aphthse form in the pouches on the inside of the cheeks, on the tongue and in the fauces. The mouth is hot, which the mother notices when the child takes hold of the nipple. The mucous membrane around these aphthse bleeds easily. The child lets go of the nipple and cries, with pain and vexation, or else refuses the breast altogether.
Similar to Borax are the following remedies: First, BRYONIA ; this remedy has caused and has cured infants’ sore-mouth. But the characteristic symptom in Bryonia is this : The child refuses to nurse or makes a great fuss about it, but so soon as its mouth is moistened, it takes hold of the nipple and nurses energetically. Is not this in. keeping with the character of Bryonia ? Those of you who know anything of that drug will remember how dry the mouth is, and how devoid of secretion is the mucous tract. Hence, when the mucous membrane of the mouth is moistened the child nurses at once.
MERCURIUS comes in as a substitute for the Borax when, with the sore mouth, there is very often salivation. Water dribbles from the child’s mouth. The diarrhcea is accompanied by well-marked tenesmus. These are sufficient distinctions between Mercury and Borax.
Again, you must remember a forgotten remedy and that is AETHUSA CYNAPIUM, or the fool’s parsley. This is to be preferred when the colic and crying are accompanied by the violent vomiting characteristic of this drug.
Another remedy is ARUM TRIPHYLLUM. This is readily distinguished from Borax by the violence of the symptoms. The inflammation of the mouth is exceedingly violent and is accompanied by soreness and scabs around the mouth and nostrils.
Another common baby symptom in the Borax case is that the infant screams before urinating. The urine when passed is hot and has a peculiar pungent foetid odor. Now this is not to be confounded with gravel, which is not uncommon in little children and which will call for SARSAPARILLA, LYCOPODIUM, BENZOIC ACID, etc.; but it is the equivalent of the inflammations of other mucous membranes, so that it compares with ACONITE, CANTHARIS and another excellent baby medicine, PETROSELINUM. Do not forget this last-named drug. It is not generally mentioned in our materia medicas, yet it is an excellent remedy. You should give PETROSELINUM for conditions very similar to those calling for Borax when there is sudden violent urging to urinate. It may be indicated even in gonorrhoea when this sudden urging is present.
Passing from child to adult, we find that although the aphthous condition is still master, we still have many of the other symptoms of Borax, the same difficulty in digesting food, the same weakness, and the mucous membranes still the point of attack. We find, for instance, the conjunctiva, particularly the palpebral portion, affected by Borax, giving you soreness especially marked along the borders of the lids. The eyelashes grow inwards instead of outwards, and irritate the eyeball. You should remember it as a remedy which will sometimes help in trichiasis or “wild hairs” and here you should compare it with GRAPHITES.
The nostrils ulcerate in the Borax case, causing a great deal of soreness, pain and swelling of the tip of the nose.
On the mucous membrane of the throat, we find Borax having an action, being indicated, like all the soda salts, for accumulation of mucus there. But under Borax, this mucus is tough and difficult of detachment.
The leucorrhoea of Borax is clear, copious and albuminous. Like all the other secretions of Borax, this, too, has an unnatural warmth or heat to it.
The action of Borax on the lungs must not be forgotten. We find it indicated when there is cough which is accompanied by sharp sticking pain, worse through the upper part of the right chest. So sharp are these pains that they make the patient catch his breath. The expectoration has a sort of musty, mouldy odor. You can often use Borax in lung troubles and even in phthisis when these symptoms are present.
Lastly, we have to mention a few symptoms of the skin. The skin is unhealthy; every little cut or scratch suppurates readily. There is itching of the skin, particularly on the backs of the fingers, here being something akin to the dorsal eczema of NATRUM CARB. Little ulcers form about the joints of the fingers.
The best remedy we have for these small ulcers about the joints is SEPIA.
Lastly, Borax has been used in erysipelas of the face, particularly of the cheeks. The distinctive character of the drug is a feeling as though there were cobwebs on the face.
I would advise you to caution your nurses, if you can do so, not to use powdered borax every time the child has a sore mouth. It may do harm, if it is not indicated. I think that I have noticed after this use of the drug, that the bowels suffer, and the child grows paler and dwindles rapidly, which it did not do before the meddlesomeness of the nurse.