Translation by Edward DeBeukelaer and Thierry Clerc
1) Name and Synonyms
German: Curare, Kalebassen curare
English: Wourari, Wurari, Arrow Poison
Latin: Curare woorari
2) Characteristics of the remedy
a) Physio-chemical characteristics
It is a lethal paralysing poison used by the Indians of South America to poison their arrows for warfare and hunting. The poison is prepared by using a number of different plants belonging to the Loganiaceas and Menispermaceas family.
The mixture of harvested bark and leaves of the plants are boiled for 3 days. This produces a thick syrupy mass. There are about 40 types of Curare used in the Amazon. The curare is also used as antiseptic, diuretic, anti-pyretic and tonic.
Curare is a strong inhibitor of skeletal muscle function. Its action is at the level of the neuromuscular junction by connecting to the nicotinic receptors on the extremity of the motor neuron in competition with acetylcholine. Once the receptors for acetylcholine are blocked, the muscles cease to respond to nerve impulses. This causes a paralysis that leads to death, due to suffocation. Consciousness and sensation are preserved but the poisoned individual cannot respond to anything.
b) Systematic position
According to Frans Vermeulen, the ‘curare in pots’ is mostly used in East Amazonia and mostly prepared from the Loganiacea family of which Strychnos Toxifera is part. In West Amazonia the ‘curare in tubes’ is mostly used, and is prepared from a Menispermacea called Chondrodendron tomentosum better known by homeopaths as Pareira Brava.
c) Active principles.
The main alkaloids and active constituents of curare owe their names to the way the Indians prepare and preserve them.
Tubocurare or bamboo curare, gets its name from being kept in the hollow stems of bamboo. The principal toxin is D-Tubocurarine, a quaternary mono-alkaloid derived from isoquinoline.
Calabash curare is kept in gourds. The principal toxins are alcuronium (alloferin) and toxiferin.
Potcurare is kept in earthenware jars. The active principles are protocurarin, protocurin and protocuridin.
d) Preparation method.
Curare used to prepare the remedy is from plants of the Loganiacea family: strignos toxifera. The part of the plant used for this preparation varies according to the literature: according to SILVA. J.B. ,it is the thick juice. According to ALLEN T.F. it is the poisoned arrow point. According to DEWEY W.A. it is the resin and according to GUERMONPREZ M., It is the bark or the root of the plant.
There is first an acceleration, followed by paralysis of the respiration ending in asphyxia.
Curare causes a flaccid muscular paralysis, starting at the eyes and descending towards the diaphragm. Awareness and sensation are conserved. The poison acts on the nerve-endings of the peripheral motor neuron of the muscle, by competing with the normal neurotransmitter. There is also a reduction in rectal temperature and an increase in the temperature of the extremities caused by a vasodilatation (H. Voisin)
Curare is an antagonist of acetylcholine, causing an inhibition of the autonomous sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It has a post synaptic effect. Via the oral route the toxicity can only be achieved through massive doses because curare is mostly destroyed by digestive enzymes.
Injection causes a paralysis with normal consciousness followed by asphyxia due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Voluntary movement becomes impossible.
Curarizsation during surgery can cause hypoxic accidents and require artificial breathing apparatus.
D-Tubocurarine can cause histaminic reactions like bronchospasm, hypotension and tachycardia.
The same paralysis with loss of reflexes, but conservation of consciousness and sensation. There is increased urine production with glucosuria and the presence of glycosuric acid.
4) Non Homeopathic use
Apart from their know uses to poison arrowheads, curare is used in allopathic medicine as a muscle relaxant during surgery. Several commercial formulations are available. According to Vermeulen, most Tubo-curare is used in these formulations.
5) Homeopathic action of the remedy.
The curare patient cannot make any movement and there is a progressive peripheral paralysis with conservation of consciousness and intelligence. The will cannot act anymore. Deglutination, movement of the jaws, and constriction of the pupils become impossible. There is diabetes and a tendency to hypothermia. The Curare patient cannot stay upright.
6) Modalities, periodicity and etiology.
Cold weather, cold wind, cold air.
Change of weather
Motion aggravates, including mastication.
2 in the morning or 2-3 pm.
From milk or wine
After eating a small amount of food.
The pains are one sided or in diagonal. They extend to opposite the side laid on.
Abuse of strychnine which is antidoted by curare
7) Homeopathic symptoms,
a) Mind and emotions
Irresolute, loss of memory, feels drunk, soporific. The patient is depressed and avoids company. He avoids the gaze of others and withdraws onto himself.
The patient can be angry, cruel, can hit others, may have a desire to kill or hit himself. There is an abhorrence of all work. Fear of falling forward when rising. There is confusion and a possibility to fall in a heap when standing or walking.
He follows imaginary persons.
Vertigo following exhaustion and fixing or looking at moving parts.
Chill during movement. The chill travels along the back and then towards the whole body. There is no thirst.
Perspiration at the least effort. Cold and bloody sweat, mainly at night.
c) Regional symptoms.
Head: sensation of boiling, simmering in the head, aggravated at the least movement.
Stinging pains above the right eye.
The hair loses its lustre and becomes gray.
Various sorts of headaches, congestive flushes.
Expressionless, flaccid paralysis of the face and mouth possibly evolving to difficulties of swallowing.
Eyes: heaviness of the eyelids, ptosis, sensitivity to light.
Ears: Otitis media with unbearable pain and fetid discharge.
Tinnitus: Whistling, bells, animal cries.
Lancinating pains from the ears, radiating pains in the legs, forcing him to lie down.
Nose: catarrh, ozena, discharge of packs of pus.
Mouth: taste bitter or blood
Skin: eczema, pruritis with appetite, the skin is blue even during fever. Hepatic-like brown spots.
Mouth: paralysis of face and mouth. Mouth and tongue are drawn to one side (mainly right side). Dry mouth, coated tongue in the morning.
Stomach: Thirst and increased appetite during fever. Thirst mostly in the evening and night. Acid eructation and pains and bloat after taking the least amount of food.
Frequent and annoying hiccough. Nausea in the morning and after eating.
Vomits green bile the whole night, becoming so weak he can barely keep upright.
Acute rheumatic pains in the hypogastric region followed by nausea.
Desires acids and has aversion to bread.
Abdomen: Pain in the inguinal area with heaviness of the legs when walking. Pain extending from the throat to the left hip. Acute pains of the intestines.
Anus and Stool: Diarrhoea with constant urging. Fetid stool like mashed food and very painful haemorrhoids. Very liquid diarrhoea.
Urinary system: Polyuria with clear urine and kidney pains. Distended bladder. Urging. Glycosuria and emaciation, acute diabetes.
Female: amenorrhea, thick, purulent, nauseous leucorrhoea in clots.
Bearing down and ulceration of the cervix and vagina.
Locomotor: trembling of the extremities before the paralysis. Stiffness of the neck.
Numbness and paralysis of the muscles. Paralysis of the deltoid, paralysis of the left arm.
Great weakness of the writs and hands.
8) Indications and examples of clinical uses.
a) Veterinary uses.
Charles fare: immobility in horses, myositis of the masseter muscle, cerebral congestion, meningo-encephalitis; may be used in case of rabies. No effect on cases of tetanus.
MacLeod: Certain paralyses and consequences of distemper may respond to this remedy when the nervous system of the dog was not involved in the disease.
Paralysis of certain parts of the body: radial paralysis.
Weakness and debility after flu in horses.
Quiquandon: Progressive paralysis and reduction of reflexes with conservation of sensitivity.
Mental depression. Central hypothermia
Aggravation from cold and humidity.
b) Voisin suggests it is indicated in senile debility, paralysis of the respiratory muscles and paralysis in cases of diabetes.
9) Related remedies.
Causticum: is anxious in twilight, has burning pains and better for humidity.
Gelsemium: has more trembling, is more dull and less coordinated.
Conium: has an ascending paralysis with mental excitement. There is no reduction of the reflexes and there is more vertigo.
Bungarus fasciatus: there is severe amyotrophy of the affected muscles.
Another remedy to consider is Crot. horridus.
a) Major indications of the remedy:
Aversion to company and nervous weakness.
Flaccid paralysis with normal consciousness, sensation and intelligence.
Aversion to company to the point of avoiding being looked at by others and withdrawal into oneself.
Fear of falling forward when rising.
Nervous weakness, indifference and apathy to the point of not responding to one’s illness.
Pain in the feet when lying in bed.
Bloody perspiration at night.
Paralysis of the left side after a cerebral bleed.
Catalepsy in the night in bed.
c) Action of the remedy
This is a remedy of limited action.