Ledum palustre. Wild or marsh rosemary. N.O. Ericaceae. Tincture from fresh or dried plant.
Skin.-One of the tissue affected by ledum is the skin, where it produces an eruption resembling that of rhus toxicodendron, with which drug it has other relationships. It is used as antidote to rhus poisoning. The eruption may resemble acne, composed of red pimples on the forehead and cheeks, with sticking, stinging pains, excited by touching the spots. Or the rash may resemble eczema, which itches and tingles and is definitely worse from the warmth of the bed. This characteristic is found in other spheres also. The whole surface of the body is liable to be involved and the irritation may spread to the mouth larynx and air passages, causing an irritable cough, occurring in paroxysms not unlike whooping-cough. This haemoptysis suggests a tendency to a vascular vulnerability present also in other parts. Subconjunctival extravasations and bleeding in the lids or in the globe of the eye are examples of this, and ecchymoses readily occur. Even if these are due to the violence of the cough they may point to thinness of the capillary walls.
The digestive system is little affected by ledum, but piles and anal fissures are induced.
The respiratory organs have already been seen to suffer. Besides the laryngeal and bronchial symptoms mentioned, dyspnoea from a feeling of constriction is notable and a double sobbing inspiration may occur. An exhaustive proving shows the joints to be very markedly affected, especially the ligamentous, structures and the periosteum in the vicinity of small joints-ex. gr., fingers, toes, and jaw. The right shoulder,however, is particularly affected by a throbbing pain, and the pains wherever found are (like the skin irritation) definitely worse from warmth of the bed and also from movement. The ball of the great toe is another favourite point of attack: it is swollen and hot but not red. The soles of the feet are so painful that walking is difficult. The pains begin in the lower extremities and travel upwards.
Circulation.-The ledum subject has a “poor” circulation, he finds it difficult to keep warm yet cannot bear the heat of bed. There is coldness of the body generally, or of some parts only- as if cold water were poured over them-this is especially so in the case of injured parts.
Skin affections and rheumatic affections severally in the localities and with the modalities mentioned above are amenable to ledum. But the conjunction of the two affords a picture of the clinical constitutional state so long known as gout. We quote at some length from an article by one of us which brings out this relationship. (T.G.S. in British Homoeopathic Journal, 1918, p. 92). “The symptoms elicited in the provers suggest its employment in gout and rheumatism, and in these complaints it has been successfully used. Teste…thinks that it acts especially on parts of the body where the cellular tissue is wanting, as in the fingers and toes, and hence affects the small joints rather than the large. He recommends it accordingly for true gout of a subacute nature, seated in the hands and feet and causing little swelling. Besides the joint affection ledum produces swelling” (i.e., fulness)” of the veins of the extremities in the evening- another symptom of gout, as is also the eczema caused by the drug. There are nodes about the joints and pains in the heels or blisters upon them. The pains are acute, tearing, with great weakness of the limbs and numbness and coldness of the surface; there is scanty effusion into the joints. A characteristic indication for ledum is that though there is general coldness and the affected parts feel cold, yet the patient cannot bear the warmth of bed or to have them covered, but gains relief from the pain by external application of cold. This unusual symptom should direct attention to ledum and secale in that unusual disease erythromegalgia. The modalities of the rheumatic pains are, therefore, the reverse of those of rhus, the pains being worse for the warmth of bed and worse from motion, while those of rhus are better form the warmth of bed and better from motion. Another characteristic of ledum is that the pains travel upwards, the reverse being the case with kalmia, where the pains shoot downwards. The ledum pains are worse from drinking wine.” “The fact of the eczema and its itching and tingling extending to the mucous membrane of the larynx and trachea, with an irritable bronchial cough of spasmodic character, shows that ledum is homoeopathic to the gouty state where it takes the form of bronchitis. It presents a similar homoeopathic relationship to phthisis when occurring in a person the subject of rheumatism; the rheumatism abates and the chest is affected with cough, purulent expectoration and haemoptysis of bright red and foamy blood. Haemoptysis with spasmodic cough also suggests its use in whooping-cough, and in this complaint it has a good reputation- the character of haemoptysis, bright red and foamy would be the indication, especially if there were also a rheumatic constitution, and the rheumatism were of the ledum type.”
Ledum ranks with arnica as a vulnerary and “often follows arnica after a bruise, as it will often remove the ecchymosis and discoloration more perfectly and rapidly. For black and blue spots from blows or bruises… especially for a black eye, there is no better remedy.”
“Ledum is especially indicated in punctured wounds, wounds made by piercing with sharp instruments like the points of scissors; for whitlows resulting from pricks of needles; as an antidote for the stings of insects. This kind of injury is often accompanied by great general coldness, and when this is present the drug is the more strongly indicated.”.
(1) Constant coldness all over; parts (especially injured parts) feel cold to the touch, but not felt specially cold by patient.
(2) In spite of the coldness pains are worse from warmth of bed, and relieved by cold applications (compare secale).
(3) Pains in limbs worse form movement, especially false-steps or jarring (compare berberis).
(4) Aggravation more or less general at night.
(5) Aggravation from drinking alcohol (especially wine).
(6) Pains in joints have a tendency to travel upwards.
(7) Skin eruptions, vesicular and papular-eczema.
(8) Pains in joints, especially small joints-modalities as above.
(9) Gouty conditions-joints, skin, bronchi, veins.
(10) Haemorrhages and ecchymoses.
(11) Injuries: especially punctures of sharp-pointed instruments; bruises to hasten absorption of extravasated blood; from bites and stings of insects.
(12) Chest symptoms alternate with rheumatism or neuralgia.
Movement (especially joints); warmth of bed (skin, rheumatic pains); night (rheumatic pains); covering up and wet weather.
Cold baths or applications.