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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Selenium is isomorphous with Sulphur and resembles it both chemically and medicinally. We find it producing very little effect on the blood and lymphatic vessels. But it acts on the nervous system. We often find it the remedy in nervous diseases. It seems to produce a weakness or general debility involving all parts of the body. This debility is expressed by easy fatigue from any exertion or labor. If the patient sits up a little late at night, or exerts his mind a little too much, he is exhausted the whole of the next day and is thereby unfitted for either mental or physical work. Particularly is he weakened from hot weather. It is evident that the hot weather weakens him, for the weakness increases with the heat of the body, and he becomes stronger as the sun sinks and the temperature with it. He is sluggish on account of this debility. He wants to sleep from sheer exhaustion, and yet he is always worse after sleep. He cannot bear any nervous exhaustion, consequently he is made worse by seminal emissions, whether voluntary or involuntary. As a result of the seminal loss, there are the next day irritability, mental confusion, headache, almost paralytic weakness of the spine, involuntary escape of prostatic fluid, dribbling of semen during sleep, and after stool and urination.. Now you will notice at once the resemblance of the drug to Sulphur. Both have bad effects of mental exhaustion and loss of sleep, and both have involuntary emissions and prostatorrhoea. The distinction lies in the fact that Selenium is worse in the relaxation. Here you find two substances suitable in similar conditions, and yet that shade of difference is sufficient to enable you to know.which one is the more useful for your case. Both have impotence. With Sulphur there is more coldness and shrivelling of the genital organs. With Selenium there is more of this total giving up or relaxation, so that semen escapes involuntarily and in dribbles.
We may be called upon to use Selenium for the sequelae of typhoid fever. When the patient begins to walk about, there is such great debility of the spine that he fears that he will be paralyzed. Again, you see the great similarity between Sulphur and Selenium. Sulphur is invaluable in the exhaustion, consequent upon protracted diseases. This again we have in Selenium. Selenium does not have such characteristic Sulphur symptoms as flushes of heat on the least motion. Sulphur has more that gone weak feeling in the forenoon, which is not marked under Selenium.
We find Selenium also indicated in headache of nervous origin; The pain is of a stinging character, and is usually situated over the left eye and it is worse from the heat of the sun. Notice again, how hot weather influences the Selenium patient. The headaches return quite periodically every afternoon, and are increased by any strong odor, as the odor of tube-roses, musk, etc. This headache is evidently nervous because it is associated with profound melancholy and profuse flow of clear limpid urine. You often find this last symptom in hysterical patients. Other remedies, however, have it more marked than Selenium.
Again, another indication of the nervousness of this headache is seen in the fact that the patient is worse from drinking tea and from certain acids, notably lemonade. Even tamarind-water aggravates. Here again we have resemblances to the Sulphur, in the periodical return of the headache. With Sulphur, however, it does not return every afternoon but it returns every week; nor has this remedy the aggravation from tea although it has from coffee.
You will find both remedies indicated in the headache of drunkards and of those who have been guilty of debauchery. The Sulphur headache is worse from all forms of alcoholic drinks. The Selenium headache is sometimes improved by brandy, as are also the gastric symptoms. You will find that the patient has a longing for brandy. Now this is not the drunkard’s craving. It is the result of a peculiar weakness in the stomach, in which there is a feeling as if the patient wanted something to stimulate him, and brandy is desired as it has a temporary palliating effect. The same symptom you find under STAPHISAGRIA and HEPAR SULPHUR, both of which have that great relaxation and dragging or want of tone in the walls of the stomach and consequent insufficiency in the secretion of gastric juice.
Selenium is indicated in a peculiar form of constipation. It comes to us well-recommended, but it failed me in the one case in which I used it. The constipation for which it is indicated is one purely due to atony of the intestinal tract. Peristaltic action is almost nothing, so that faeces become impacted. The faeces are hard and dry from absorption of their moisture and require removal by artificial means, yet Selenium is said to tone up the rectum and prevent the recurrence of this symptom’. The same symptom is found under ALUMINA, OPIUM, PLUMBUM and BRYONIA, but these are probably not indicated so often during convalescence.
Another peculiarity of Selenium which qualifies its symptoms is the character of the sleep. The patient sleeps in cat-naps. He awakens often in the night or is easily aroused by any slight disturbance. He awakens at precisely the. same hour every morning, before his usual rising time, at which time all his prevailing complaints are worse.
Here again it resembles Sulphur. These “cat-naps” are characteristic of Sulphur. The true Sulphur sleeplessness is this : The patient is aroused from sleep and is then wide awake, and is not ready to fall asleep again. He has not this periodical hour of awakening each morning, which calls for Selenium.
Another resemblance between the two drugs, you will find, in affections of the skin. Selenium is useful in skin diseases, particularly when there is itching in the folds of the skin as between the fingers, and about the joints, particularly the ankle joint. The itching may also occur in small spots and is associated with tingling, here again showing involvement of the nervous system. The hair falls off, both that of the head, the eyebrows, and whiskers and other parts of the body. You will find on the scalp an eczematous eruption which oozes a serous fluid after scratching. Here again it bears a striking resemblance to Sulphur, but is distinguished from that remedy if the patient is old enough to describe his case, by this tingling in spots.
We sometimes find, although not often, that Selenium like Sulphur is indicated in chronic affections of the liver. Especially is it called for in enlargement of the liver with loss of appetite, particularly in the morning ; there is white coating on the tongue, thus separating it at once from Sulphur. Then, too, when Sulphur has loss of appetite, it has increase of thirst, which is lacking in Selenium. There are sharp stitching pains in the hepatic region, worse on any motion and worse on pressure. Sensitiveness of the liver is found and there is a peculiar fine rash over the hepatic region. If that is present, Selenium is the only remedy you can think of to suit your case.
Selenium has a very marked action on the larynx and lungs. Several animals were poisoned with Selenium. It produced inflammation of the lining membrane of the larynx, congestion of the lungs with exudation into the pulmonary substance. Post-mortem examination showed the mucous membrane to be congested, with dark purplish spots here and there through it. Oozing of blood and frothy serum followed the incision of the knife. I have used Selenium successfully in the hoarseness of singers, particularly when the hoarseness appears as soon as they begin to sing. It may also be used when hoarseness appears after long use of the voice. There is frequent necessity to clear the throat by reason of the accumulation of clear starchy mucus. These symptoms are very suspicious of incipient tubercular laryngitis. Here Selenium is grouped with ARUM TRIPHYLLUM, SPONGIA, CAUSTICUM, CARBO VEG. and PHOSPHORUS.
ARUM TRIPHYLLUM has entirely different effects, but it bears a strong symptomatic resemblance to Selenium. It is also useful for the hoarseness of singers and orators, but it is especially indicated when the voice suddenly gives out during use. For example, the patient is talking in a sort of monotone when the voice suddenly breaks and goes up to a higher key.
The antidotes to Selenium are PULSATILLA and IGNATIA. China and wine are inimical to it. The debility caused by Selenium, so says Hahnemann, is very much increased by the use of Cinchona. Now the emaciation caused by Selenium is very similar to that of Cinchona. We have debility and emaciation from loss of animal fluids. That is also found under Cinchona ; yet the two drugs are inimical.