Tincture from bark of root of Berberis vulgaris, the barberry N.O.Berberidaceae.
BERBERIS is discarded by orthodox medicine as a superfluous “bitter,” and its alkaloid as an inferior antiperiodic.
show it to have a quite definite action with renal, hepatic and rheumatic symptoms and a febrile condition.
Back.-First of all pains in the back are prominent, probably muscular in origin. They affect the lumbar muscles and are of a bruised and sore nature accompanied by stiffness and numbness. These have modalities resembling those of rhus tox, viz, they are worse at rest and on first moving-expressed by provers as being worse when sitting and lying and when rising from at seat.
Starting from the loins and renal areas, especially the left, are other pains, shooting tearing, “bubbling” or throbbing in character, and sometimes extending downwards, apparently along the course of the ureter to the groin, bladder and urethra. There may be definite tenderness in the region of either kidneys. Painful micturition commonly accompanies the above pains, which seem to start from the kidneys, and it lasts some time after the bladder is emptied; sometimes also the desire to pass water lasts after the bladder is empty.
Pain may radiate from the loin (usually one-sided) up, down (as stated) or forwards to the umbilicus or epigastrium.
In the last-named case, if on the right side, its origin in the gall-bladder may be suspected. If jaundice is present or the pain is severe, causing vomiting or faintness and extending down towards the crest of ilium, groin or rectum the case is probably one of gall-stones, causing biliary colic. It is unlikely that berberis actually causes gall-stones, but it is said to act upon the mucous lining of the gall-bladder and to “promote the flow of bile.” The explanation of some pains resembling those of renal and biliary calculi may be that the drug causes intermittent spasm of the unstriped muscle of ureter, bile-duct and intestine. On the homoeopathic principle this would render intelligible the relief (which is not in doubt) afforded by the drug.
Besides the jaundiced aspect during the attack patients with recurrent gall-stone symptoms will be liable to have a sallow, earthly complexion. This is a further indication for berberis, whose pathogenesis also has sunken eyes, with blue circles under them. The typical berberis patient is an ill-nourished, anaemic, sickly looking chilly subject, worn, and appearing older than his years. Besides easing to some extent the pain of passing gall- stones, this remedy may do something towards preventing their (further) formation. It will not do anything to remove or “dissolve” those already formed.
The following digestive symptoms help in the choice of berberis. Constipation, with pale, hard stool, which leaves a sore or painful feeling in the rectum after defecation, or a burning pain in the anus. Piles may be present with burning before, during and after stool, and it has been found useful for the pain of anal fistula, especially of the left side. There are a variety of abdominal pains, superficial and deep-seated, radiating in different directions according to the source of pain-kidneys or gall-bladder. Thirst, heart-burn and bitter eructations may be present. Kent mentions alternation of thirst and canine hunger with thirstlessness and anorexia (loc. cit.).
The state of the urine may indicate bladder irritation or disturbed metabolism, it may contain a flocculent mucous sediment or a deposit of uric acid or of urates on standing. Or the urine may be very deep in colour, suggesting the presence of bile.
Clarke states that “chills and fever are among the prominent effects of berb. vulg., coldness of body with hot face, commencing at 11a.m; burning heat in the afternoon, and worse during the night.” It is useful for il-defined malarial attacks, in which shivering predominates, with icy-cold feet. The perspiration is said to smell like urine.
Headache is a natural accompaniment in these cases, and the indications for berberis are frontal pains moving to temples and frequently changing site. Provers complain of a sensation of constriction and a feeling as if the head were becoming larger, compared to a feeling of having a tight cap on the head; vertigo may be present. There is nothing very characteristic about this except perhaps the radiating of pains in all directions.
The drug has been useful in testicular neuralgia and for dysmenorrhoea; also for dyspareunia due to soreness of the vaginal walls; aversion to and prostration after coitus.
The pains in the limbs resemble gouty or rheumatic pains, similar to those experienced in the back. The shoulders are one of the chief sites of pain which is aggravated by pressure and characterized by stiffness and weakness; shooting and tearing pains, appearing first in one place and then in another. Gouty deposits with such symptoms may be amenable to berberis. A sore pain in the heel and balls of toes, as if ulcerated, is a marked berberis symptom.
(1) Muscular and joint pains, especially of back, but also in limbs, with the above-mentioned modalities. Lumbago.
(2) Pains in back, shooting and tearing in character, starting in one or other kidney-region and extending to the crest of the ilium, hypogastrium, urethra, hip and leg. Renal colic.
(3) Similar pains in region of right hypochondrium spreading inwards to epigastrium, across to the left or down to the umbilicus. Gall-stone colic.
(4) Jaundice may be associated with the last-named symptoms.
(5) Pains in many places, mostly left-sided, frequent change of site; pain radiating in many directions, shooting, throbbing or “bubbling,” i.e., probably contractions of small muscle bundles.
(6) Restlessness in spite of the pain caused by moving.
(7) Weakness with trembling and faintness.
From sitting and lying, and on (first) moving or driving and from fatigue (muscles), morning on waking (muscles), especially from jarring (muscles and calculi), left side (renal, &c.,), from cold.
From open air, from passing flatus or stool, standing (renal pain), in the afternoon (muscles of the back), from warmth.