Gelsemium Sempervirens | Materia Medica by J. T. Kent
If you will observe the weather conditions in sharp climates, such as Minnesota, Massachusetts and Canada, you will find that the cold spells are very intense and that people, when exposed, come down with complaints very rapidly and violently. That is the way the BELL. and ACON. cases come on, but Gelsemium complaints do not come from such causes nor appear that way. Its complaints are more insidious and come on with a degree of slowness. A Gels. cold develops its symptoms several days after the exposure, while the ACON. cold comes on a few hours after exposure. The ACONITE child exposed during the day in dry, cold weather will have croup before midnight. But in the South diseases are very slow. Like the people themselves, their organs are very slow, and their reaction is slow. Their colds are not taken from the violent cold, but from getting overheated. Hence, they take colds and fevers of a low, malarial type; they have congestive headaches and congestive complaints that do not come on suddenly. When we think of the climate, and consider the people, and the pace of remedies, we see that Gels. is a remedy for warm climates, while ACON. is a remedy for colder climates. Certain acute complaints in the North will be like ACONITE, while similar complaints will have symptoms in the warmer climate like Gels. The colds and fevers of the mild winters will be more likely to run to this medicine, whereas the colds and fevers of a violent winter will be more likely to run to BELL. and ACON. It is true that ACON. has complaints in hot weather, fevers and dysentery of hot weather, but they are different from the complaints of winter.
Gels. has been used mostly in acute troubles. In lingering acute troubles and in those resembling the chronic it is very useful, but in chronic miasms it is not the remedy. It is only a short-acting remedy, though slow in its beginning. In this it is like BRYONIA. BRY. complaints come on slowly, and hence it is suitable for fevers coming on in the southern climates, but it also has sudden violent complaints, though not to the extent we find in BELL.
The complaints of Gels. are largely congestive. Cerebral hyperemia, determination of blood to the brain and to the spinal cord. The extremities become cold and the head and back become hot. The symptoms are manifested largely through the brain and spinal cord. In connection with brain affections there are convulsions of the extremities, crampings of the fingers and toes and of the muscles of the back. Coldness of the fingers and toes; sometimes the extremities are icy cold to the knees, while the head is hot and the face purple. During the congestion the face is purple and mottled. The eyes are engorged, the pupils dilated (sometimes contracted), the eyes are in a state of marked congestion with lachrymation and twitching. The patient feels dazed and talks as if he were delirious; incoherent, stupid, forgetful. It is like this in intermittent fever that gradually develops towards a congestive chill. Great coldness running up the back from the lower part of the spine to the back of the head. Shuddering, as if ice were rubbed up the back. The pains also extend up the back. With the coldness of the extremities, the very dark red countenance, the dazed condition of the mind, the glassy eyes and dilated pupils, we have the neck drawn back and rigidity of the muscles of the back of the neck, so that the neck cannot be straightened, and there are violent pains up the back and coldness in the spine. This state would remind one of cerebro-spinal meningitis. Pain in the base of the brain and in the back of the neck. With all states there is a very hot skin and a high temperature, with coldness of the extremities. Sometimes the troubles are ushered in with a violent chill. This is a very important remedy to study when such symptoms are present in intermittents and in a few days the tongue begins to coat, nausea comes on, ending in vomiting of bile, and instead of there being an intermission a continued fever extends from one paroxysm into another, with a higher temperature in the afternoon. The chill practically subsides, leaving a state which has the appearance of typhoid, with dry tongue, not much thirst and marked head symptoms, dazed in mind. If this continues many days delirium and all the features of typhoid will come on and the fever will change its type altogether from the intermittent to the continued. In congestive chill with high temperature occurring in the afternoon, the chill part of it subsiding and the fever becoming continued, Gels. is a useful remedy. It is also a very important remedy in afternoon fevers without chill in infants and in children. You will find in malarial districts that it is a common thing for the infants to have remittent attacks, while the adults are having intermittents. It is only occasionally that you will see a child or infant shake with a distinct chill, but they often go into a remittent fever, an afternoon fever which will subside along towards morning, to be followed the next afternoon by fever. With Gels. the child will lie as still as in BRY. but there is more congestion to the head ; there is the dark red face and duskiness like BRY.
Running through the febrile complaints, in the spinal meningitis, in congestion of the brain, in intermittents or remittents that change to a continued fever, and even in a cold when the patient is sneezing and has hot face and red eyes, there is one grand feature, viz., a feeling of great weight and tiredness in the entire body and limbs. The head cannot be lifted from the pillow, so tired and so heavy is it, and there is such a great weight in the limbs. The BRY. patient lies quietly because if he moves the pains are worse. He has an aversion to motion, because he is conscious that it would cause an increase of suffering.
The heart is feeble and the pulse is feeble, soft and irregular. There is palpitation during the febrile state. Palpitation, with weakness and irregularity of the pulse. There is a sense of weakness and goneness in the region of the heart, and this weakness and goneness often extend into the stomach, involving the whole lower part of the left side of the chest and across the stomach, creating a sensation of hunger, like IGNATIA and SEPIA. There is a hysterical element running through Gels. and it has the nervous hunger, or gnawing.
There are cardiac nervous affections like DIGITALIS, CACTUS and SEPIA. SEPIA is not known to be. as great a heart remedy as CACTUS, but it has cured many cases of heart troubles. SEPIA has cured endocarditis, and a remedy that will take hold in endocarditis and root it out must be a deep acting remedy. He feels that if he ceases to move the heart will cease to beat.
The headaches are of the congestive type. The most violent pain is in the occiput, and it is felt sometimes as a hammering. Every pulsation is felt like the blow of a hammer in the base of the skull. These headaches are so violent that the patient can not stand up, but will lie perfectly exhausted, as if paralyzed from the pain. There is an occipital headache that compels walking or rolling the head. There is commonly relief from lying in bed, bolstered up by pillows, with the head perfectly quiet. The face is flushed and dusky and the patient is dazed. After the headache progresses a while, the whole head seems to enter into a state of congestion, there is one grand pain, too dreadful to describe, and the patient loses his ability to tell symptoms and appears dazed; lies bolstered up in bed, eyes glassy, pupils dilated, face mottled, and extremities cold. Gels. has also headaches of a neuralgic character in the temples and over the eyes, with nausea and aggravation from vomiting. The headache is relieved by passing a copious quantity of urine; that is, the urine which has probably been scanty becomes free and then the headache subsides.
There is much nervous excitement. Complaints from fear, from embarrassment, from shock that is attended with fear, from sudden surprises that are attended with fright. A soldier going into battle has an involuntary stool; involuntary discharges from fright and surprises accompanying fright. On becoming suddenly overwhelmed by some surprise he becomes faint, weak and exhausted, he becomes tired in all the limbs and unable to resist opposing circumstances. His heart palpitates. This is similar to ARG. NIT. ARG. NIT. has the peculiar condition that when dressing for an opera a sudden attack of diarrhoea comes on, causing more or less sudden exhaustion, and she must go several times before she can finish dressing. They who are to appear before an audience are detained because of a sudden attack of diarrhoea. A lady has an attack of diarrhoea when about to meet friends over whom she expects to become excited at the meeting. The anticipation brings on the diarrhoea. Such a state is ARG. NIT. These medicines are so closely related to each other that there are times when they will appear to do the work of each other.
Then we have paralytic affections of the sphincters, and so with the febrile conditions there is involuntary loss of stool and urine. There is also paralytic weakness of the extremities and of the hands. With paralytic states there is aching along the spine and in the muscles of the back; drawing, cramping in the muscles of the back and aching under the left shoulder blade.
There are many disturbances of vision; double vision, dimness of vision, appearance of a gauze before the eyes; confusion of vision and blindness. These symptoms come on before going into attacks, in connection with chill, at the coming on of sick headaches and congestive headaches.
All sorts of objects are seen; the field of vision appears full of black spots, or full of smoke or little waves of various colors. It is useful in inflammation of all the tissues of the eye and of the eyelids. The eyeballs oscillate laterally when using them. Drooping of the eyelids or ptosis is a marked feature and is in its paralytic nature. The muscles are relaxed, they do not hold the lids up. The lids close when he is looking steadily; they simply fall down over the eyes.
The patient in general is thirstless, and it is the exception that there is much thirst. It has a profuse, exhaustive sweat and is aggravated from motion, or rather motion seems to be impossible. It seems that he is unable to move, that he is too weak to move, and this runs through all complaints. At times it is a remedy for coryza, with sneezing and running of water from the nose, with coldness in the extremities, and the trouble will go down into the throat and produce sore throat, with redness, tumefaction, enlargement of the tonsils, hot head and congested face. With this, as with the other febrile conditions, there is heaviness of the extremities. The red face, the heaviness of the extremities and sore throat that has come on gradually, a little worse from day to day, until it has become a severe throat, will lead you to Gels., especially if there is paralytic weakness all over, and as the throat trouble progresses the food and drink come back through the nose. This is due to a paralysis of the muscles of deglutition. The tongue also becomes paralyzed and does not perform its work in an orderly way. There are times when the paralytic weakness is not sufficiently marked to account for things seen, but there is an incoordination of muscles and he is awkward. He undertakes to take hold of an article and takes hold of something else. When he does grasp his hands feel weak. He is awkward and clumsy and the muscles do this and that and something not ordered to do. The trembling, incoordination and paresis are especially noticed during high excitement and afterwards, and these states occur with the febriie condition and remain sometimes after. Useful in paralytic cases that begin with fevers. Tearing is felt in the nerves all over the body and seems to be due to an inflammatory condition. It has cured sciatica, with tearing pains, associated with great weakness of the limbs. Loss of sensation is sometimes found; numbness of the end of the nose, of the ears, of the tongue, of the fingers, of the hands and feet, numbness, here and there, of the skin.
In the male, the sexual organs are in the same condition as the patient in general. The semen dribbles away; there is impotency, no ability to perform the sexual act; the sexual organs are relaxed.
The sleep is greatly disturbed. He cannot go to sleep; every excitement keeps him awake. During marked febrile conditions he has a profound sleep or coma. When he is not in this comatose sleep during congestion he is in a state of nervous excitement in which he lies awake thinking, and yet thinks of nothing in particular, because his mind will not work in an orderly way.
The symptoms of Gels. may be present in inflammation of any organ, uterus or ovaries, stomach, the lungs and of the rectum. It has congestion of organs, but it has also high grade inflammation. There is nothing peculiar in the inflammation itself that would indicate Gels., neither should Gelsemium ever be given because there is inflammation, but when the mental symptoms are present, the delirium, the flushed face, the determination of blood to the head with the cold extremities, the GREAT HEAVINESS OF THE LIMBS, the disturbance of sensation, the paralysis of sphincters, then Gels. would be good for inflammation of any organ of the body. In a most distressing and violent, rapidly spreading erysipelas that seems destined to cause death in a few days all the symptoms point to Gels., and though Gels. may not have produced erysipelas it will stop the progress of the disease in a few hours and the patient will go on to a quick recovery. Many times when erysipelas has spread over the face and scalp and in the most dangerous manner with the dusky red color that belongs to Gels., and other symptoms such as I have described in a general way, Gels. has taken hold of the erysipelas and cured. If we master thoroughly the Materia Medica we do not stop to see if a remedy produces certain kinds of inflammation, etc., but we consider the state of the patient.