Kalmia latifolia. Mountain laurel. N.O.Ericaceae. A tincture is made from the fresh leaves.
KALMIA has sometimes been used as an astringent, but apart from the homoeopathic use it is negligible therapeutically.
Its effects are easily summed up and easily remembered; they are pains and numbness more or less general over the body- described as rheumatic and neuralgic, and a depressing action on the heart. The pains wander from part to part and cause restlessness, and are worse from movement and relieved by lying quietly.
Head.- The pains in the head are mostly described as tearing: in the forehead they are worse on the right side and extend into upper teeth or down the neck. The usual tendency of kalmia pains is to shoot or extend downwards, but sometimes they extend from the nape of the neck up over the head to the face- either side. Herein they resemble silica pains, but the kalmia pains are worse from heat, while the reverse obtains in the case of silica. Vertigo may be present.
Eyes.- Stiffness and shooting or tearing pains are felt in the eyes-aching or throbbing deep in the eye; moving it aggravates the pain, and the muscles feel weak and become paretic so that squinting or double vision and dimness of sight occur. The pains (chiefly right-sided) extend down on to the malar bones and face, with numbness and stiffness.
Digestive Symptoms.- Crampy, griping abdominal pains, relieved by eructations or passing flatus, may be accompanied by palpitation and some of the symptoms of angina pectoris; it may go on to fainting and vomiting. Also a feeling of fulness or pressure in the epigastric region is aggravated by sitting bent and relieved by sitting erect or standing. It may be associated with soreness to touch; the patient cannot bear tight clothing. Another characteristic feature of the drug is aggravation from movement.
Genito-urinary Systems.- The urine feels hot as it passes, it is scanty and frequently passed. Albuminuria is said to be caused. Menstruation becomes irregular, with pain in the loins, back and down the thighs.
Respiratory Organs.- Oppression of breathing, with palpitation and anxiety, is cause, or definite dyspnoea and pain. Tickling and dryness in the throat bring on cough.
Heart.- The oppression mentioned above is often associated with pains in the region of the heart and with slow, feeble pulse; it is worse from going upstairs, even slowly. The slowness of the pulse is very characteristic. Stabbing pain in the heart through to the shoulder and down the left arm also causes dyspnoea and palpitation.
The neck, back and limbs and pains more or less alike in character. Shooting, darting pains are felt in the spine, and upper and lower limbs. The left side (especially upper limb) is chiefly affected and the pains are generally worse on motion and in the evening. The muscles of the neck are tender to touch and pains may extend downwards to the fingers. pain, like lumbago, with heat, and burning, worse from motion and in bed at night are prominent, making the prover feel stiff and lame. On the right side from the neck downwards to the third and fourth fingers ; neuralgia of right ulnar nerve, and from the hips down to the feet are present. Shivering, without coldness, and quick alternations of cold and heat, restlessness and bruised, weak feeling all over are the chief febrile symptoms.
The above condensed account summarizes a mass of symptoms found in the detailed schema of the larger materia medica lists, which are chiefly made up of small variations of phraseology and repetitions which it would be out of place to record here. Should the patient’s ailments correspond with these records they can be utilized though not representing any named disease.
The pains indicating kalmia may be called rheumatic, neuralgic, or syphilitic; they may be (or appear to be) located in nerve tissue, muscular or fibrous tissue, bone or periosteum; but it is not these facts (if acts they be) which decide. Likewise the characters of the pain are not of considerable value in deciding for kalmia; they may be tearing, aching, or shooting pains (like “lightning” and recalling the pains of tabes). The character of pain, plus the various sites mentioned in the previous section help in building up a diagnosis; but there are many drugs having similar features. If there were further the feature of pains passing downwards another stage in diagnosis building would be accomplished. For “downward” it would perhaps be more accurate so say “radiating” – passing from centre to circumference. This would cover an apparent exception, which in itself is of some diagnostic value, namely, pains passing from the cervical region over the head to the face. This characteristic symptom is made worse from warmth. When pain changes its locality, though it may pass from the lower limbs to the upper, the pains themselves, in either limb, go from above downwards. Yet another item helpful in choice of kalmia is that pains calling for it move from site to site, and that somewhat rapidly, either passing from centre to periphery from one side to the other or crosswise, as from right upper part of body to left lower. With the exception of the neck and head pain, made worse by warmth, the only notable temperature modality is that in a kalmia case the patient is generally more or less aggravated in or by the sun’s rays and gets worse (especially headache) as the sun travels towards its meridian (increases in power) and is relieved as it decreases or if the sun becomes overclouded. Thus, as regards time and sun’s rays there is a gradual crescendo- decrescendo feature as the day advances. Combined with this is pain which comes in sudden paroxysms-along the course of a nerve (sciatic or trigeminal, for example), or down a long bone, such as the tibia, apparently located in the periosteum. It resembles belladonna pain in the particular of each short attack coming and going suddenly, lasting second or a few minutes only. The kalmia pains have some arsenic features-they are liable to be very severe; they are accompanied by considerable weakness or even much prostration; and in the case especially of bone or periosteum pains are worse during the night. They are differentiated from arsenic pains in not being relieved by heat or movement.
Among other modalities the most important is aggravation from movement. This is of general value, for not only will movement or effort aggravate or bring on pain or headache, but the movement of a limb or hand may bring on vertigo, perturbation and inability for mental effort.
The pains high up in the abdomen, located possibly in stomach or liver, are notably worse for sitting bent double-a position which relieves purely colicky pain. Local tenderness – due to congestion or subinflammatory states-is aggravated in this position by crowding the viscera together and is a form of aggravation from pressure or touch. This last is found in connection with soreness to touch in the epigastrium, in the neck and back, and wherever the bruised feeling of the muscles is marked.
These then are the modalities or pain characteristics of the drug, completing the diagnostic edifice of kalmia. Any patient showing such a series of symptoms can be treated with satisfaction by it and, if the correspondence be close with a practical certainty of success. It may be repeated here that it is not necessary or to be expected that a drug should present all the symptoms of a patient, or that any patient will present all the symptoms in the pathogenesy of a drug. The striking and characteristic symptoms of both, however, must coincide. Let it be noted again that by “characteristic symptoms,” we mean the patient’s own “peculiar” symptoms, not those diagnostically characteristic of a disease, say of sciatica or typhoid fever, but those which differentiate the sciatica, &c., of A from that of B.
Weakness.- The weakness to which we have already alluded is associated with restlessness and desire to change position frequently, but the patient is too weak to turn or move without distress-such as mental prostration, vertigo, embarrassed breathing is a cardiac condition due to a myocardial weakness or to valvular disease, either the result of the rheumatic “poison,” or other form of sepsis to the reflex effect of long-continued joint or nerve pain. It has been customary in homoeopathic literature to attribute rheumatic endocarditis to the “suppression” of articular rheumatism by local measures or by drugs (e.g. salicylates), which relieve the patient’s pain without improving his general condition. It is, perhaps, to-day unnecessary to adopt that view in full for it is known that in some cases rheumatic endocarditis exists with little or no articular affection, that joint and heart may be affected simultaneously, and that both may be affected when only homoeopathic treatment has been carried out. In other words the rheumatic “infection” involves serous and synovial membranes alike. Frequently when kalmia is indicated pains suddenly leave the limbs and go to the heart.
To make the correspondence complete kalmia has the power of affecting both, the joints may become hot, red and swollen : the heart’s action is feeble, irregular and slow, sometimes very slow (dig), the breathing is oppressed, pain extends down the left arm and through to left shoulder from the cardiac area’ there are palpitation, worse lying on the left side, fluttering, and valvular murmurs, the bruits may even be audible at a distance. Sitting bent forwards aggravates the palpitation an dyspnoea. Even when hypertrophy and dilatation have arisen kalmia may still be the remedy.
Kalmia also irritates the urinary system, causing frequent micturition of small quantities of yellow urine, with thick deposit and feeling hot as it passes. Albuminuria is also attributed to the drug, whether justly or not its use in the albuminuria of pregnancy is justified by experience. It has also proved useful in different forms of Bright’s disease. Ocular conditions, with dimness of vision, double vision and pains have been found on examination of the fundus to be associated with retinitis, and the retinitis may be the first finger-post pointing to the kidney affections. Here the appropriateness of kalmia must be carefully considered. It is a valuable palliative (where indicated) even if the patient be incurable. Choroiditis, sclerotitis, asthenopia may also find a remedy in this drug. There are a few other points worthy of note which are mainly clinical.
Syphilitic affections (spirochaetal) for which kalmia may be required, are neuralgia, periostitis (long bones, cranium &c.), ocular paralyses, ex. gr., ptosis with stiffness of lids and cardio-vascular conditions.
Neuralgias requiring kalmia may be syphilitic; or following herpes zoster, h. frontalis, &c,; after cold (facial). They are often associated with numbness.
Rheumatism may be due to toxaemias from teeth, intestines or gonorrhoea (paroxysmal) may be due to the same causes : these all may be benefited by kalmia if their modalities agree with those of the drug.
Meningitis.- Under kalmia the following symptoms of meningitis may be found; Headache, stiff neck, vomiting (cerebral type), pyrexia, slow irregular pulse, strabismus (ocular paresis), optic neuritis and constipation. We are not aware that it has been used for any type of meningitis, but it appears worth consideration.
(1) Pains of any type, chiefly shooting, tearing or sore (bruised) feeling.
(2) Pains in almost any situation, especially neck, head and face (chiefly right-sided), limbs, upper (chiefly right-sided), lower (chiefly left-sided).
(3) Pains moving quickly from place to place, or joint to joint (rheumatism), pains travelling downwards or centrifugally.
(4) Pains : (a) Crescendo-decrescendo as the day goes on; (b) occurring in short paroxysms with sudden onset and departure; (c) worse at night (especially if of syphilitic origin).
(5) Pains usually very severe in degree.
(6) Pains (neuralgia) after herpes.
(7) Vertigo on stooping, &c.
(8) Numbness and tingling, with or after pain.
(9) Heart’s action slow, feeble, irregular; violent palpitation, shaking, body; cardiac neuralgia.
(10) Oppression of breathing, dyspnoea, chest pains, pains down left arm.
(11) Severe, even serious, general weakness of cardiac origin.
(12) Named conditions having characteristic symptoms like the foregoing:-
(a) Rheumatism (acute or subacute), neuralgia, syphilis (tabes, &c.).
(b) Angina pectoris.
(c) Organic or functional hear affections.
(d) Albuminuria of pregnancy, nephritis.
(e) Ocular conditions : retinitis, choroiditis, sclerotitis, ocular paresis (double vision, squint), ptosis.
(g) Meningitis (?).
(a) From slightest movement (local and general ); (b) from warmth (neck), sun’s rays (headache and general); (c) from lying on left side; (d) from bending forwards (pain in upper abdomen, and dyspnoea); (e) by touch or pressure; (f) stooping (vertigo).
(a) Lying on back; (b) sitting erect (except sight); (c) standing; (d) remaining absolutely quiescent; (e) food (neuralgia).