HomeMateria Medica by Carroll DunhamIgnatia Amara | Materia Medica by Carrol Dunham

Ignatia Amara | Materia Medica by Carrol Dunham

Ignatia Amara | Materia Medica by Carrol Dunham

Homeopathy Materia Medica by Dr. Carroll Dunham
Homeopathy Materia Medica by Dr. Carroll Dunham

Dr. Dunham (1828-1877) graduated from Columbia University with Honours in 1847. In 1850 he received M.D. degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York.

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Ignatia Amara


The seed of a large tree, a native of the Philippine Islands. It contains strychnine, and in poisonous doses its effects are regarded as identical with those of Nux vomica.

The seeds are used in medicine. They are bruised and triturated.

By allopathic writers Ignatia is classed among the spinants, as acting exclusively upon the spinal cord. Containing strychnine, it is regarded as identical in action with Nux vomica.

We shall see that, however great the similarity, there are yet great, and to us, as therapeutists, most valuable differences between these drugs. This is not the first instance in which a superficial use of chemistry has led to error.


Much of what was said of Nux vomica is certainly applicable also to Ignatia. Yet it appears that Ignatia acts less than Nux vomica upon the organic substance of the body, producing appreciable changes in the tissues, and much more exclusively upon the vital power.

Upon the vital power its action is not so much exalting or depressing, although in certain organs each of these varieties of action is distinguishable; but rather disturbing, destroying the harmony of action between different portions of the organism, perverting the co-ordination of functions. Thus, where we find heat of the body, and should anticipate such a condition of the nervous system as would make cool air agreeable, the contrary condition obtains ; where we should, from the fever existing, expect thirst, we find none, and VICE VERSA. The great sensitiveness of the surface, instead of being aggravated by contact and by pressure, is relieved by it, etc., etc.

Now, it would seem as though such results from provings might be fanciful, were they not corroborated by too many witnesses to admit of the idea being entertained.

And yet, singular as this state of things is, it finds its analogy in the natural history of disease. For if you analyze the phenomena of hysteria, you will find this “perversion of the co-ordination of functions” to be the fundamental principle of the malady. And of all our remedies none so completely corresponds to hysteria, and so often cures it, as Ignatia.

In the words of Dr. Wurmb the whole character of Ignatia may be expressed in two words: ” ENTGEGENGESETZTE NEBENBESCHWERDEN.

Accessory or concomitant phenomena which are contradictory to or inconsistent with each other.


HEAD. The headache of Ignatia is aggravated by talking or listening or paying close attention to anything, but not by independent mental action. It is a sensation of heaviness, as if congested, relieved by stooping and leaning forward, not therefore a real congestion (here is a contradiction). There is sometimes a semi-lateral throbbing, sometimes a throbbing over the orbits.

The most characteristic pain is that as if a nail were driven into the head. It is generally in the parietal or vertical region. Thuja has a similar pain in the occiput. This calls to mind the clavus hystericus, in which Ignatia is very useful.

EYES. The affection of the conjunctiva is moderate. There is but little congestion. On the contrary, photophobia is sometimes intense, though capricious.

The vision is affected in this way : on one side of the axis of vision is observed a zigzag, white flickering.

EARS. Ringing and noises in the ears are observed.

FACE. The muscles of the face and the lips often twitch and are convulsed.

TEETH. It is noted of the Ignatia toothache that though it consists chiefly in a soreness and tenderness of the teeth, it is felt more in the interval between meals than when eating. (Another contradiction.)

THROAT. The sore throat of Ignatia, which is a sticking sensation, is felt more when swallowing than when the throat is at rest.

The digestive organs are much modified in action. The mouth is full of mucus. The taste is flat; food has a bitter, repulsive taste. There are fanciful aversions to special articles of food. There is sometimes craving for a particular article, and then, after a small portion has been taken with great enjoyment, a sudden and great aversion to it.

Frequent regurgitation of food and of a bitter liquid. Vomiting at night of food taken in the evening. Empty retching relieved by eating. (Contradiction.)

Distention of the abdomen after eating. Sour eructations. Salivation copious, frothy, sour. Hiccough.

In the region of the stomach great emptiness and qualmishness and weakness, with a flat taste in the mouth. Characteristic.

(The above three paragraphs are very important, applying to vomiting in pregnancy.)

There are sticking and soreness in the epigastrium, and moderate flatus, with cutting and griping.

The stool is but little affected. There is a tendency to frequent but scanty stool, as in Nux \ vomica ; but Ignatia acts less on the substance of the rectum and more on its nerves. Thus in the rectum we have a distressing contraction and constriction of the sphincter, most painful after a stool, and when walking and standing, and relieved by sitting. (Contradiction.)

These are very important symptoms; violent stitches shooting from the rectum upward and forward into the abdomen. Along with these soreness, constriction and blind or bleeding haemorrhoids, worse after a stool.

Besides these symptoms of haemorrhoids and of proctalgia, itching and creeping at the anus indicate the presence of ascarides.

The chief symptoms of the urinary system are an increased secretion of clear, lemon-colored urine. (Hysteria.)

Menstruation is too frequent and too copious, and for this state of things, other symptoms corresponding, Ignatia is a remedy.

RESPIRATORY ORGANS. With regard to the respiratory organs, besides the itching of the nose and disposition to ulceration around the anterior nares, I call attention only to the cough.

This is characteristic of Ignatia. It arises from a feeling of constriction in the trachea or larynx, as if drawn together, then a tickling as if feather dust were in the throat; the cough is dry, violent, shattering; the shocks come in quick succession; the tickling irritation is not relieved by coughing. On the contrary, it becomes worse the longer the patient coughs, and is only relieved by a resolute suppression of the cough. (A marked contradiction, this!) The cough occurs chiefly in the evening, after lying down. This cough is unlike that of any other drug ; the contradiction is the characteristic feature.

There is occasional spasmodic dyspnoea.

In the trunk various tearing pains, and lassitude.

There are jerkings and twitchings in the extremities, especially after lying down at night, and startings when just falling asleep.

Sleep is sometimes deep and irresistible, sometimes the patient is wakeful. It is disturbed by dreams.

The fever is partial in all its stages. The peculiarity of the chill is that it is relieved by external heat, and that it is accompanied by excessive thirst; whereas the fever, which is partial, is not attended by thirst. (Contradiction.)

The symptoms of the mind are most important. Anxiety, as though something terrible had happened ; he cannot speak because of it, Hurry, fearfulness, terror, alternating with irresolution and inertness. Fixed ideas; the prover sits still and broods over thoughts and griefs.


Ignatia is indicated:

1. When the bad effects of anger, of grief, and of sudden mental shocks produce still grief, or a disposition to brood over sorrow instead of giving way. But when these emotions and shocks make the patient supercilious or crazy, give Platina; when boisterous and wild, Belladonna.

2. In convulsions. In epileptic attacks, with consciousness: in convulsions from grief; from dentition ; from labor, when without fever or cerebral congestion; not, therefore, where Hyoscyamus or Belladonna is required.

3. In intermittent fever, when there is chill with thirst or fever without. Distinguished from Ipecacuanha, Eupatorium, Rhus toxicodendron.

4. In dyspepsia, for weakness in the epigastrium.

5. In proctalgia, after the stool; it is distinguished by stitches up into the abdomen ; it is not indicated in fissure of the anus, which calls for Nitric acid and Plumbum.

6. For haemorrhoids after labor.

7. For ascarides.

8. For the vomiting of pregnancy, if appetite, salivation, copious lemon-colored urine, etc., be present, and clavus hystericus.

9. In spasmodic cough. Note the sensation oi constriction felt in the rectum and in the trachea.

Ignatia has a general correspondence to hysteria ; to the form characterized by a mental character, which is mild, gentle, yielding though whimsical (else it were not hysteria), and introverted. There is another form represented by Platina, which drug will be the subject of the next lecture.

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