Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica - James Tyler Kent

Dulcamara

– Bitter Sweet

This medicine seems especially to affect the mucous membranes. It appears to have a tendency to establish or ultimate discharges, both acute and chronic.

Modalities: The Dulcamara patient is disturbed by every change in the weather, from warm to cold, from dry to moist, and from suddenly cooling the body while perspiring. He is ameliorated in dry, even weather; cold and damp aggravate all the conditions. He is worse evening and night and during rest.

Diarrhea: Dulcamara produces catarrh of the stomach, intestines, nose, eyes, cars, and inflammatory conditions of the skin with eruptions. If you go through any of these in detail, you will be astonished to find how disturbed is the constitutional state of this patient by weather changes.

It is a medicine wonderfully useful in diarrhoea, at the close of the summer, hot days and cold nights, with changeable stool; diarrhoea of infants. There seems to be no digestion; yellow, slimy stool; yellow-green stool, with undigested stool; frequent stool, blood in the stool and quite a mass of slime, showing a marked catarrhal state.

This gets better and worse; this gets better under ordinary remedies; it will often get better from Pulsatilla, because Pulsatilla symptoms seem to predominate, and sometimes it is relieved by Arnica; but every time the child takes cold, it comes back again, and soon the physician will realize that he has not struck the remedy belonging to all the symptoms. It is very often an annoying condition, because the symptoms are not recognized until two or three attacks have come. It is not easy to discover that the attacks come on from cold.

Babies: Every year women bring their babies back from the mountains, at the end of the season, and then we get some Dulcamara cases. One needs to be in the mountains at the close of the summer season to know what the condition is.

If you go into the mountains at such a time, either in the North or West, you will notice that the sun’s rays beat down during the day with great force, but along towards sunset if you walk out a draft of cold air comes down that will chill you to the bone.

This will make the baby sick; it is too warm to take the child out in the middle of the day, and so he is taken out in his carriage in the evening; he has been overheated in the house during the day, and then catches this draft in the evening.

Dulcamara is suitable for conditions that would arise from just such a state. So with an adult who has been out in the beat of the sun and catches the cold draft by night, which means hot days and cold nights, such as occur in the fall of the year, at the close of the summer and coming in of the winter; this intermingling of hot air and cold drafts.

You go up towards the foot of the hills after a hot day, you will walk through a stratum of air that will make you perspire and the next minute a cold air that will make you want your overcoat on, and then again a stratum of hot air and so on.

Such a state will bring out a sweat and then suppress it. The symptoms that come from Dulcamara seem to be like symptoms that arise from just such causes. And we are free, then, to infer from such an experience that Dulcamara cures these cases.

I have been puzzled in times past over these babies that have been brought home from the mountains, and have prescribed upon the visible symptoms, until I thought about the matter carefully and figured it out that they had come from these hot and cold regions.

Babies have to be hurried home at times, because of the diarrheas that cannot be cured in the mountains, but a dose of Dulcamara will enable them to stay there and live right in that same climate. Chronic recurrent dysentery from cold. If they have a dose of Dulcamara it fortifies them against the continual taking of cold.

Diarrhea: There are people in a certain kind of business that really constitute a Dulcamara state. Suppose we look at our ice-cream men and our ice handlers and cold storage men; in a cold room they are handling ice; the summer weather is hot, they must go out and take some of the heat, and then they go back into their cold rooms and handle the ice. I have seen these things and have had occasion to follow them out. These men are subject at times to bowel troubles, and other catarrhal affections, but generally to diarrheic affections.

Their business cannot stop because it is their means of living. Dulcamara cures such chronic diarrheas when the symptoms agree. Arsenicum is a medicine that would be suitable for such patients if the symptoms agreed, but the symptoms at times agree with Dulcamara, for that is the nature of the remedy, to take cold from cold, damp place flora suppressing a sweat, from going out of a hot atmosphere into an ice house, into icy rooms; into cold rooms; in this climate such complaints as come on from overexertion, overheating, and then throwing off the clothing and becoming chilled, suppressing the sweat; fevers may come on, aching in the bones, trembling with the aching, trembling in the muscles, and as the fever goes on, he is in a distressed state, cannot remember, forgets what he was about to speak of, forgets the word that would naturally express his idea, and he enters into a dazed state, a state of confusion.

It suits these colds that have this sluggish circulation of the brain, with trembling and chilliness, coldness as if in the bones.

Rheumatism: Dulcamara is full of rheumatism, full of rheumatic pains and aches, sore and bruised all over, the joints are inflamed, become red, sensitive to touch and are swollen. It is suitable, in cases of inflammatory rheumatism, due to suppressed perspiration, induced by changing from a high to low temperature, or from cold wet weather. Worse evening and night and during rest.

Now, it has many chronic complaints. A catarrhal condition of the eyes, purulent discharges, thick, yellow discharges, granular lids; eyes become red every time he takes cold;

“every time he takes cold it settles in the eyes,” is a common expression of the patient. The patient will often ask the question,

“Why is it, doctor, that every time I take cold it settles in my eyes? If I get into a cold atmosphere, or take off my coat after being heated, I have to look out.”

If it becomes cold in the night and he has thrown the clothes off, he takes cold, or, if a cold rain comes on, he takes cold and then has sore eyes.

Such eyes are very often effectually cured by Dulcamara. As to the eye itself, it is only an ordinary catarrhal state, but the manner in which it comes on is the important thing. That is the nature of the patient to have sore eyes whenever he takes cold; it belongs to some other remedies as well, but this one particularly.

Nose: Dulcamara has also catarrhal discharges from the nose, with bloody crusts; blowing out thick, yellow mucus all the time.

In infants and children who have sniffles, they are always worse in cold, damp weather. When the patient says:

“Doctor, in cold, damp weather I cannot breathe through my nose; my nose stuffs up;” or,

“I must sleep with my mouth open.”

Dulcamara is a very useful remedy to know in catarrhal cases that always stuff up when there is a cold rain.

It is markedly an autumnal remedy. The Dulcamara patients go through the summer very comfortably; their catarrhal conditions to a great extent pass away; the warm days and warm nights, because of the even temperature seem to agree with them, but as soon as the cold nights come on and the cold rains come, all their difficulties return; there is an increase of the rheumatism and of the catarrhal discharges.

This medicine has been used a long time by our mothers. They used to make ointments out of Dulcamara. You will find that the old lady, in almost any rural district in which Dulcamara grows, gather it and make it into a salve for ulcers. Well, it is astonishing how soothing it is when applied externally to smarting wounds, whether in solution or salve or any other way. But it is a better medicine, of course, when indicated by symptoms of the constitutional state; it is a better medicine if used internally.

Ulcers: It produces ulcers and a tendency to ulceration of the mucous membranes and this condition will become phagedenic. Sometimes it starts as nothing more than an herpetic eruption, but it spreads and finally yellow pus forms and then the granulations that should come, do not come; an eating condition appears and the surface does not heal.

About the author

James Tyler Kent

James Tyler Kent

James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods. In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.

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