Podophyllum | Materia Medica by Carrol 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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This remedy has been flippantly called the “VEGETABLE MERCURY.” It resembles it no more than the “greenback” or paper dollar is like the precious metal which, by a financial fiction, it purports to represent.
Podophyllum is a remedy of great value, and possessing a distinct individuality. It can neither be used as a succedaneum for, nor be replaced by, any other remedy.
It was proved under the auspices of Dr. Williamson of Philadelphia. A very extended essay upon it is contained in Hale’s ” New Materia Medica.”
I propose to notice, in a cursory way, some of its best established relations to the organism.
And first, upon the digestive apparatus.
The secretion of saliva is increased, the breath is offensive, tongue coated white, with a foul taste; worse in the morning.
Sore throat, beginning on the right side and going to the left. Dryness of the throat. Soreness extending to the ears. This is the reverse of Lachesis and the same as Lycopodium.
Regurgitation of food; increased appetite ; satiety from a small quantity of food, followed by nausea and vomiting ; thirst; putrid taste.
This satiety resembles Lycopodium and Nux vomica, but Lycopodium has also great flatulence; flatus being incarcerated under the false ribs.
Acidity of the stomach, nausea and vomiting, heart-burn, heat and throbbing in the stomach, followed by diarrhoea. The vomiting is forcible, and the matter vomited is dark green.
Much pain in the abdomen, as in the transverse colon, occurring or worse about three A. M., and followed by diarrhoea. The colic is relieved by warmth and by bending forward while lying on the side. In this it resembles Colocynth colic.
It is at first accompanied by general coldness, which soon gives place to heat and perspiration.
Feeling of fullness; weight and dragging in the hypochondria, especially in the right, with stitches, twisting pain, and heat.
The stool is increased in frequency and altered in character. Diarrhoea occurs; frequent pappy yellow stools. Diarrhoea immediately after eating or drinking. Similar to Colocynth and China. Watery yellow stools without pain from three A. M. till nine A. M., followed by a natural stool toward evening. These forms of diarrhoea stool are followed by a sensation of great weakness in the abdomen, and especially in the rectum. This sensation of weakness in the rectum is characteristic of Podophyllum.
Besides this modification of stool, Podophyllum produces chalky evacuations, which are very offensive.
Likewise, stools yellow, green or brownish and watery; mucus streaked with blood; and these attended by heat in the rectum, by flashes of heat running up the back, by painful tenesmus, and by a descent of the rectum. Hence a valuable remedy in dysentery, especially when the patient complains jf a sensation of weakness in the rectum.
This prolapsus is to be distinguished from that of Ignatia, Carbo vegetabilis and Hamamelis, in that it occurs before the evacuation of faeces and not after it. The anus is extremely sore.
From these symptoms we might gather that Podophyllum would be a valuable remedy in prolapsus ani following dysentery, in haemorrhoids, in dysentery, and in certain watery diarrhoeas,—an inference abundantly confirmed by experience. The time of occurrence and the concomitant symptoms furnish the distinctive indications. The diarrhoea generally occurs or is worse in the morning, and the stool is followed by a sensation of extreme weakness in the abdomen, or only in the rectum.
From the green, watery diarrhoea and the evident hepatic condition associated with it, one might think of Podophyllum in cases of diarrhoea during dentition; and Drs. Williamson and Bell have used it successfully in dentition-diarrhoea where there was present also cerebral irritation, as shown by the following symptoms:
Grinding the teeth at night, “rolling the head.”
It is to be noted also that in the symptomatology, the diarrhoea (yellow, watery) alternates with a morning headache—a heavy, dull headache in the forehead, with soreness of the forehead and eyes. Such an alternation is observed in many hepatic affections. It reminds one of Aloes.
The urine is increased.
Menstruation is retarded. There is much bearing down in the hypogastric and sacral regions, increased by motion and relieved by lying down. Like Sepia.
Much pain in the region of the right ovary.
Leucorrhoea thick and transparent, with bearing down in the genital organs, and constipation.
Dr. Williamson and others have found Podophyllum a valuable remedy in prolapsus uteri, following parturition, especially when there was also a numb, aching pain in the region of the ovaries, particularly the left.
I shall speak further only of the febrile symptoms of Podophyllum. Dr. Williamson gives the following indications: Chilliness in the evening or morning early, preceded by backache, accompanied by pressing in the hypochondria and aching in the joints of the extremities. Heat comes on before the chilliness disappears. Heat with delirium, loquacity, violent headache, and great thirst with loss of appetite.
Sweat, during which the patient sleeps.
Podophyllum has been used successfully where indicated, in intermittent, remittent and typhoid fevers.