Cardiovascular Diseases Disease Index Homeopathy Papers

Homoeopathy in Heart Affections

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From: Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics Ed. W. A. DEWEY, M. D.

Digitalis: Digitalis is known chiefly for its action on the heart, and it is rare that a patient suffering from an affection of that organ does not get Digitalis in some form. There is no doubt but that it is a much abused drug. Its symptoms are, however, clear, and briefly stated, as follows:

The pulse is slow but primarily strong, there is great weakness of the cardiac tissue, and secondarily the pulse becomes weak. Extra exertion increases its rapidity, but diminishes its force, so that the quick pulse becomes irregular and intermittent. The heart feels as if the blood stood still. There is weakness and numbness of the left arm, and often blueness of the surface of the body, or cyanosis. The patient fears that the heart will stop beating if he should make any motion.

Gelsemium has the opposite symptom to this. The patient is roused out of sleep feeling that the heart will stop beating, and he is impelled to move about to keep it going.

A number of drugs have numbness of the left arm in heart affections, notably Aconite, Kalmia, Rhus and Pulsatilla.

The Digitalis patient has a doughy look to the skin; there is often a sick feeling at the stomach after eating. 

Apis has a symptom that will lead to its use in heart affections, namely: “He does not see how he can get another breath.”

Like Arsenic and Lachesis, the tendency of Digitalis is downwards, and it must be used cautiously and only when indicated homoeopathically. There are numerous other symptoms that will indicate Digitalis. Disturbed sleep, apprehensiveness, deep sighing, slow respiration, dry cough, suffocative spells. In fact, such symptoms as may be caused by an irregular distribution of the blood. Digitalis is also indicated in dropsical conditions dependent on heart trouble; anasarca, cardiac dropsy associated with slow pulse, urine suppressed or scanty. Apocynum is similar in this relation.

Cactus grandiflorus : Perhaps the next most important remedy in heart affections, from the homoeopathist’s standpoint, is Cactus. It’s well known characteristic symptom, “Sensation as if the heart were grasped with an iron hand” which clutches and relaxes alternately, is ever present to the mind. It has, however, other symptoms. It is similar to Arnica in chest soreness and constriction; it has pains shooting into the left arm, oedema and a quick, throbbing, tense, hard pulse, which may or may not intermit. Carditis and pericarditis may call for Cactus.

There is great irritation of the cardiac nerves, and Cactus may be found to be the remedy for angina pectoris. It is a remedy adapted to hypertrophy of the heart in young people. It is also very useful in intense palpitation and fluttering sensations about the heart. It is indicated for such symptoms in young girls about the age of puberty and at menstrual epochs.

Kalmia latifolia : Kalmia is a remedy for cardiac hypertrophy, especially after rheumatism, and has the symptom so common in heart affections, namely, “numbness of the left arm.” There is with Kalmia much pain and anguish about the heart, some dyspnoea, palpitation, and pressure from the epigastrium towards the heart. The heart is irregular and intermits every third or fourth beat. There are shooting pains through the chest to the scapula. 

Kalmia is an excellent remedy for cardiac troubles when they have been caused by the suppression of rheumatism by external applications. The pulse of Kalmia is slow, but not as slow as that of Digitalis,  Phytolacca has tingling and numbness of the right arm, but the three chief remedies having this symptom in the left arm are Kalmia, Rhus and Aconite.

Acute pericarditis depending upon rheumatism will call for Kalmia, the sharp pains taking away the breath will call attention to it. Hering says Kalmia has a most beneficial action in diminishing too rapid pulsations of the heart.

Spigelia : Spigelia is another remedy for the painful affections about the heart. It stands at the head of the list for acute carditis and pericarditis. There are sharp pains shooting from the heart to the back, and radiating from the heart down the arm, over the chest, and down the spine. There is palpitation worse from any movement of the arm or body. There is a purring sensation felt over the cardiac region when placing the hand thereon. The pulse is intermittent, not synchronous with the heart beat, and the slightest motion of the arm or hands makes the patient worse. Heart symptoms accompanying neuralgia call for Spigelia. Irregular and tumultuous action of the heart are well met by Spigelia. At times the heart beat is even audible. We sometimes find this symptom under Arsenicum, which is useful in hypertrophy of the heart from climbing high places, mountains, etc., but Spigelia comes in earlier in heart troubles than does Arsenicum.

Rheumatic endocarditis will often find its curative remedy in Spigelia and it has a most beneficial action in angina pectoris. In cardiac inflammations it comes in after Aconite.  It corresponds well to chronic affections of the heart, particularly valvular disease and hypertrophy.

Aconite : Among the remedies having a marked influence on the heart is Aconite. It has, as has been seen, numbness of the left arm. It also has tingling in the fingers, associated with heart disease. Aconite produces a cardiac congestion, with anxiety, oppression and palpitation, worse when walking. Lancinating stitches occur, and also attacks of intense pain. It is the remedy in  uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart.

Glonoine : has a fullness in the region of the heart, with some sharp pains, fluttering of the heart with violent beatings, as if the chest would burst open.

Amyl nitrite : has oppressed breathing and constriction about the heart. Both of these latter remedies are useful in angina pectoris.

Veratrum viride : has a condition simply of intense arterial excitement and is recommended as a remedy to be used continuously in hypertrophy with dilatation. It is an important remedy in all inflammatory affections of the heart and its membranes.

Rhus toxicodendron : Rheumatic hypertrophy calls for Rhus. It is a palpitation of the heart from over-exertion, with numbness and lameness of the left arm and shoulder.  Pericarditis or endocarditis from exposure to rain, getting wet, etc. The symptoms are worse on every change of the weather. Uncomplicated hypertrophy of the heart, such as comes in athletes, machinists, etc., calls for Rhus, and among other remedies for this condition may be mentioned Arnica and Bromine.

Pericarditis due to septic conditions will call for Rhus and in heart troubles, as in all others, it follows Bryonia well, and Bryonia may be an early remedy in pericarditis. The rheumatic basis of nearly all the heart symptoms and the general condition of the remedy will decide.

Bryonia : In affections about the membranes of the heart, of course, Bryonia is one of the most prominent remedies. It corresponds to the first or second stage of pericarditis when of rheumatic origin, and especially if pleuritic symptoms be present. There are intense fever, frontal or occipital headache, and acute stitching pains which are aggravated by movement, and the friction murmur is always present. It does not usually correspond to pericarditis from Bright’s disease or pyaemia.

Asclepias tuberosa : is similar to Bryonia, but the symptoms are not so acute, the fever is not intense, the pain is pricking and extends to the left shoulder. Tthere is a dry spasmodic cough and the pain is relieved by bending forward.

A valuable group of symptoms calling for Bryonia is the following: Cramp in region of the heart, aggravated by walking, raising one’s self or using the slightest exertion, even raising the arm. Heart beats violently and rapidly.

Convallaria : There is quite a large class of remedies affecting the heart which might be termed the newer remedies. Among these is Convallaria. It is useful in valvular diseases of the heart with scanty urine, dropsy and great dyspnoea. It has so relieved the oedema in a number of cases that the patient could lie down. Dyspnoea, palpitation and oedema due to mitral disease have been relieved by it The provings of the remedy show a feeble heart sound, anaemic murmurs over the jugular vein, pain in region of heart, and an uneasy fluttering; a sensation when exercising as if the heart stopped beating and then started up again, causing a faint, sick feeling. This uneasiness about the heart should suggest its use in the condition known as cigarette or tobacco heart.

Another of the new remedies is Adonis vernalis. It increases arterial tension, regulates the heart beats by lessening the frequency of the pulse and increasing the force of the cardiac contraction. The remedy is well tolerated, increases diuresis and acts with rapidity. Otherwise it is similar to Digitalis. It is seen, however, from the above that its use is physiological rather than homoeopathic.

About the author

W.A. Dewey

Dewey, Willis A. (Willis Alonzo), 1858-1938. Professor of Materia Medica in the University of Michigan Homeopathic Medical College. Member of American Institute of Homeopathy. In addition to his editoral work he authored or collaborated on: Boericke and Dewey's Twelve Tissue Remedies, Essentials of Homeopathic Materia Medica, Essentials of Homeopathic Therapeutics and Practical Homeopathic Therapeutics.

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