Lycopodium clavatum. Club moss. Wolf’s claw. N.O. Lycopodiaceae. Tincture of spores (ethereal). Trituration of spores.
LYCOPODIUM POWDER, prepared from the spores of the moss, is made up of a number of little particles about one eight hundredth of an an inch in diameter and shaped like a nut. These little nuts when fractured are shown to contain oil globules in which the medicinal property of lycopodium resides. The small nuts are hard and are fractured with difficulty, so that to make the first decimal trituration it is directed that trituration with milk sugar should be prolonged for two hours. No tincture but an ethereal one is found to dissolve the sporules and extract the oil. This shows how Hahnemann’s process of trituration can liberate unsuspected medicine powder from what seems to be an inert powder, which is used in orthodox practice only for dusting on the skin to prevent abrasions, and is considered to be of no medicinal use.
Lycopodium has been well proved and the provings lay down the main lines in which it can be used for therapeutic purposes, but the results of the provings have been supplemented by many symptoms and general indications furnished by experience culled from long clinical use, which add to, but in no case contradict, those given by the provings. It will be convenient, therefore, to take the provings and the symptoms derived from clinical sources together, as in this way they will provide a more complete picture of the range of the drug from which to decide whether lycopodium should be given in any particular case.
General Effects.-Lycopodium acts powerfully on the vegetative system of the body, that is to say, on the mucous membrane of the whole alimentary tract, from the mouth to the anus and on the prolongation of this tract into the liver, on the whole of the genito-urinary mucous membranes and on that of the respiratory tract. It also acts on the skin which externally corresponds to the mucous membranes internally. On these tissues, skin and mucous membrane, it acts as a depressant and causes slowly advancing weakness, loss of function, and finally decay. Digestion is impaired, the functions of liver and kidneys are interfered with and the skin suffers. From failure in the functions of these tissues there arises secondarily a state of general and advancing ill-health which shows itself by symptoms related to nearly every part of the body and makes of lycopodium one of our principal polychrests.
Digestive Tract.-We will consider first its action on the alimentary tract, as it is there that the symptoms are the most important and striking. There is a moist, suppurating eruption round the mouth, the corners of which are sore and cracked (graphites). Saliva or mucus dries on the palate and lips, and tastes salt. The tongue is coated white, vesicles are present on its tip and ulcers on its under surface, it is dry, stiff and swollen, and seems too large for the mouth, giving the patient a silly expression and impairing his speech. Large quantities of saliva accumulate in the mouth, especially in the morning, when there is nausea and inclination to vomit. Much sticky mucus which feels like glue collects in the mouth and gives a sensation of the teeth being adherent to one another. The gums are bluish, swollen and bleeding, very sensitive to touch, and there may be gumboils. The teeth are loose and feel too long, and there is toothache with swelling of the face, relieved by the heat of the bed and warm applications. The submaxillary glands are swollen and tender. The taste is bitter, slimy, pasty, sour or metallic and there is a disagreeable odour from the mouth. At night, thirst may be present for small quantities frequently, or may be absent. Appetite is very variable, it may be absent altogether, but the more characteristic condition is hunger with early satiety. A small quantity of food seems to fill up the patient, even to the throat, so that he can take no more. He may be hungry though inclined to vomit. The hunger may be quite voracious, so that “the more he eats the more he craves” but the more usual condition is a hunger which is soon satisfied but soon returns. He is often hungry at night and will get up to take food. Sometimes hunger is associated with a headache which is relieved only by eating.
There is accumulation of mucus in the throat with inclination to swallow, a contracted feeling in the pharynx prevents swallowing and fluids regurgitate through the nose, or an irritation in the oesophagus compels the patient to be constantly swallowing. Pain, soreness, swelling and suppuration of the tonsils begin on the right side of the throat and travel over to the left, and membranous patches spreading from the right side have been found clinically to indicate lycopodium in diphtheria. A feeling of pressure or of a ball rises from the stomach through the oesophagus to the throat, where it causes choking. Throat symptoms are made worse by cold and ameliorated by warm drinks (lach. and phos. the reverse.)
The patient has an aversion from coffee, tobacco, boiled warm food, rye bread and meat; he desires sweets and oysters. Cold drinks, starchy food, green vegetables and oysters disagree. Everything tastes sour, and eructations are sour and cause heartburn. There is much belching of air without relief. The stomach feels full, with a sensation of pressure or heaviness, or a sinking feeling may be experienced. Gnawing, burning, or griping pains are present. The epigastrium is very sensitive to touch or pressure, so that the patient must loosen his clothing. Visible pulsation is conspicuous in the scrobiculus cordis. There is great sensitiveness in the liver region, worse from pressure, so that the patient cannot lie on the affected side. A cord-like tension is felt across the hypochondria. The whole abdomen is tympanitically distended and is tender to touch; coughing and taking a deep breath cause pain. Stretching and bending backwards increase the tension and cause pain; the patient wants to bend forwards in order to relax the sensitive abdominal integuments. Abdominal distension is worse after food, is accompanied by audible rumbling and gurgling, most in evidence in the left hypochondrium, and is relieved by the passage of flatus. There may be constant griping pains around the navel or a feeling of retraction towards the spine. The pains in the abdomen go from right to left. Much flatus accumulates here and there in the abdomen, in the back and in the groins, especially in the right groin where it presses out as if a hernia were protruding. Flatus also causes a pressing-out feeling in the rectum. Diarrhoea may occur of foetid, yellow, or green, watery stools, but the more usual condition is one of constipation, when the stools are hard and there is urging, which proves in-effectual from contraction of the sphincter ani. After stool there is a feeling in the rectum of much remaining behind and there are shooting, tearing and burning pains in that part with much flatulence. Haemorrhoids protrude with the stool and are very painful to touch, too painful to sit; the rectal mucous membrane protrudes with a hard stool. The latter may be dry and hard (bry., sulph.), or the first part is lumpy and the second soft. There is commonly an itching eruption, painful to touch, round the anus, or there may be itching without any eruption.
The urinary symptoms caused by lycopodium are important and show involvement of the whole of the urinary system from the kidneys downwards. A severe pain is felt in the loins which is relieved by passing urine. Bearing-down pain over the bladder accompanies frequent desire to urinate, but the patient may have to wait long before it passes. Urine may be suppressed. It is usually either scanty, dark, red, albuminous, and passed with pain, or it may be very clear and abundant, especially at night. Frequent profuse evacuations of urine at night is one of the indications for lycopodium. The characteristic urine is a clear fluid, from which are deposited crystals of uric acid which are seen as red sand at the bottom of the vessel as soon as the urine has been passed. The passage of the crystals is accompanied by pain along the urethra and at the neck of the bladder and sometimes their sharp angles cause haemorrhage from the injured mucous membrane with consequent haematuria. They may set up cystitis and the formation of a stone in the bladder, in which case the urine may become alkaline, purulent and offensive.
In the male sexual organs lycopodium causes redness and inflammation of the prepuce and frequent stitches in the glans penis. The penis is small, cold and relaxed. Sexual desire is diminished. Erections are feeble or occur without sexual desire. There may be amorous dreams with excessive and exhausting pollutions or emissions without previous erections. The patient may become impotent. There is intolerable itching and smarting of the scrotum and thigh, and inflamed brown spots occur in these positions.
In women there are dryness and burning in the vagina before and after coitus, chronic vaginal catarrh with burning and itching and the discharge of wind as if from the vagina. A milk- like leucorrhoea or one that is bloody and corroding may be present. There is cutting pain across the hypogastrium from right to left. The menses are too protracted and too profuse, or they may be suppressed. Often in lycopodium patients the first menses are delayed. Varices and erectile tumours may be present in the external genitals.
The eyes are inflamed, painful and smart as if dust is in them, the lids swell, and it is with difficulty that they are opened in the morning on account of their being agglutinated. Photophobia occurs, especially in the evening or looking at artificial light. Sparks, flickerings and black spots appear before the eyes, there is lachrymation, vision is dim and mucus must be wiped from the eyes in order to see clearly. Only the left half of an object is seen distinctly (calc. c., lith.). Trembling or quivering of the eyelids is often noticed.
Ears.-Shooting pains occur in the ears, which are oversensitive to hearing, or there may be roaring, humming and whizzing noise with hardness of hearing. A purulent, ichorous otorrhoea and suppurating scurf on and behind the ears may be present.
Nose.-Lycopodium causes violent nasal catarrh with alternation of coryza and a stuffed-up condition. The stuffing-up is at the root of the nose and may be accompanied by catarrh of the frontal sinuses, giving rise to a frontal headache which is relieved when the discharge becomes free again. The patient is oversensitive to odours. A peculiar nasal symptom is a fan-like movement of the alae nasi which is rapid and not synchronous with respiration, it is a sort of vibrating twitching and is not necessarily associated with respiratory troubles, though sometimes seen in them when lycopodium is indicated. Food and drink may regurgitate through the nose.
Respiration.-The patient is hoarse and has a feeble, husky voice, he breathes quickly, especially on any exertion, and there is a sensation of pressure over the sternum; this may be either from oppression of flatulence in the stomach and abdomen interfering with the action of the diaphragm, or from accumulation of mucus in the chest, in which case there will be rattling and cough with expectoration of thick, yellow, or purulent mucus, which tastes salt and may be streaked with blood. When dyspnoea is due to pressure of flatulence the cough will most likely be dry and shake the head and stomach painfully. The cough is worse from 4 to 8 p.m., from exertion, stooping, lying down, especially on the left side, from eating and drinking cold things, in the wind and in a warm room. Stitching pains in the sides of the chest, constriction round the lower ribs and sensations of burning, rawness and pressure over the sternum are experienced. Stitches are felt in the cardiac region and the pulse is quickened.
The skin is dry and hot, pimples, vesicles, pustules and scaly eruptions that itch violently may occur in any part of the body. the pustules often break down into ulceration which burrows under the skin which sloughs easily, and wounds do not readily heal. The ulcers bleed and discharge copious, offensive, thick, yellow or green pus. There is a sensation of heat in the back and along the spine, especially between the shoulder blades. Frequent horripilation or “goose-skin” alternates with pricking and itching, the skin in excoriated between the buttocks, blind boils are often seen which do not mature but remain blue, and the flesh is apt to get into ridges (wheals), as if struck with a stick.
Head.-The patient is giddy with a tendency to fall backwards, felt especially in the morning on rising from bed, and the giddiness may be accompanied by a rush of blood to the head which causes frontal headache with heat in the face and a feeling of tension in the forehead and scalp. Heaviness and confusion in the head, as if intoxicated, often occur, yet the mind remains clear. Headaches are frequently associated with stomach or liver disorder, are then of congestive character and are worse from lying down, from the warmth of the bed, becoming heated from exercise, mental exertion, and wearing any head-gear, they are relieved in the open air, in a cool place, from sitting up, and from uncovering the head. A pressing headache on the vertex may come on from 4 to 8 p.m., and is worse from stooping, or it may be a throbbing headache, which is worse from reclining the head backwards. A frontal headache will come on from the stopping of chronic discharge from the nose. Cough causes shattering pain in the head and chest. There is also a “hunger headache” (phos., psor.), relieved by taking food. The hair becomes grey early and falls out. Eruptions begin in the occiput and spread all over the scalp, they are pustular and form thick, bleeding crusts which ooze a foetid moisture.
Face.-With headache, especially frontal headache, the face is hot and red, but the usual appearance is sickly, yellow, sallow and puffy.
Back and Limbs.- The muscles of the neck feel stiff or too weak to hold up the head and the skin of the neck is the seat of itching pimples; the cervical glands are swollen. Shooting pains are felt in the scapulae, deltoid muscles and right clavicle and a sensation of burning, as of hot coals, between the shoulder- blades. Stiffness and aching pain occur in the lumbar and sacral regions, which are much in evidence on rising from a stooping posture or from a seat. Drawing and tearing pains are felt in the limbs at night, they are worse when at rest but better from warmth. The muscles and joints become stiff and painful Numbness is common, especially in the fingers and feet. The extremities go cold and dead; a peculiar symptom is that one foot may be warm while the other is cold. Pains wander from one part to another, they come and go suddenly, are better from warmth and movement and worse in wet weather and wind storms. The limbs are very weak, the arms weary and heavy and the legs feel as if the knees would give way. The legs feel as if the knees would give way. The legs may be oedematous and the seat of varicose veins and ulcers. The feet perspire a warm foetid sweat and there are bleeding cracks on the hands and heels.
Muscles.- The body generally is weak and trembling, and the muscular tissues are soft and lax. Bruised pains and stiffness are felt all over. The patient is weary and exhausted, yawns frequently and is drowsy; exhaustion and sleepiness are still worse after a meal. The patient emaciates, the emaciation is observed chiefly in the upper part of the body as the lower part is often in puffy or semi-oedematous. There is a tendency in to alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles; in the neck this produces nodding to and fro of the head.
Chill Fever, .- The patient dislikes cold and is better generally from warmth, but the the congestive head aches are worse from warmth and wrapping up and better in the cool air, if still; wind always aggravates. He is subject to chills, most frequent at 9.a.m or from 4 to 8 p.m. they may be one-sided (left). Nausea and vomiting may precede the chill and this is followed by sweat without intervening heat. Flushes of heat with red cheeks and headache are frequent. Perspiration is caused by the least exertion it is often cold and clammy and may have the odour of onions.
Sleep.- The patient is drowsy by day but uneasy states of the body deep his tossing about at night, he is worse waking out of sleep and may then be cross and hungry, or in terror, or feeling suffocated.
Mind.- His thoughts are confused, he mixes up letters and syllables, or omits parts of words in writing, his memory is weak, he dreads both to be alone and to meet company he prefers to be in a room by himself but to have someone within call, he has lost confidence in himself and is very apprehensive that he will fail in any important duty he has to undertake, nevertheless when he attempts it he gets through with it well (sil) he is very sensitive to impressions, is easily upset, emotional and even weeps when thanked, but at the same time is irritable and easily roused to anger; he is avaricious, and has alternations of cheerfulness and depression which may be accompanied by canine hunger he is disinclined to work, is lazy and imperious.
In homoeopathic prescribing a medicine should be given on account of the totality of its symptoms agreeing with those exhibited by the patient, and not because at times it has been found useful in such and such diseases at times it has been found useful in such and such diseases. This is especially so with lycopodium, which requires for its successful administration a very close correspondence between drug and disease. The symptoms of the drug have been given fairly fully above and if they are found to be similar to those of the case in hand lycopodium may be given with confidence no matter what the complaint. Clinical experience, however, has disclosed certain characteristics and peculiarities of the drug a knowledge of which will greatly assist in exercising a proper choice. They are:(a) Pains and symptoms come on or are worse from 4 to 8 p.m. especially at 5.p.m. (b) The direction of pains and symptoms is from right to left, commencing on the right side and passing over to the left (lach. is left to right). (c) Pains and symptoms come and go suddenly (bell.), ex.gr., sudden flushes of heat, sudden short pains, sudden satiety of food. (d) Improvement from uncovering, especially of the head; this seems to be correlated with sensitiveness to touch and pressure and not to dislike to warmth which, with the exception of the head symptoms is agreeable. (e) Fan-like movements of the alae nasi; this seems to be a particularly instance of the tendency to vibratory twitching of muscles caused by lycopodium, as seen also in nodding and side-to-side movements of the head, in vibratory twitchings of the eyelids, side-to-side rolling of the tongue, and alternate drawing up and relaxation of the muscles which move the angles of the mouth. (f) Restlessness and pains, relieved by motion; this, lycopodium has in common with many medicines such as arsenicum, rhus and others, and therefore is not so peculiar as some of the other symptoms, but it is, nevertheless, important. (g) One foot hot the other cold; it does not seem to matter which is the hot or which the cold foot, some authorities give the right foot as the hot one and some the left; if the different between the temperature of the feet is marked, lycopodium is strongly indicated. Chelidonium has “the right foot cold as ice, the left foot natural.” It is a medicine very like lycopodium in its action on the liver and complements it. the presence of one or more of these seven characteristics in a case should ensure a very careful consideration as to whether lycopodium may not be the suitable drug to prescribe. It remains to enumerate briefly some of the complaints for which it has been found useful.
Digestion.-Firstly, it is most valuable in the particular form of indigestion already described, the acid, flatulent indigestion brought on by too much starchy food, such as new bread, potatoes, vegetables and fruit, when the stomach and abdomen are distended with wind and yet the patient feels hungry, he takes food but immediately becomes satiated and can take no more, but in an hour or two may be just as hungry again. Lycopodium, with carbo. veg. and china, is one of the three drugs in greatest repute for flatulence. With lycopodium the flatulence is mainly in the intestines and colon, it presses up against the diaphragm, impeding breathing, and downwards on the bladder and groins, causing urging to urinate and protrusion as of a hernia, and further down it distends the rectum and presses on the anus. It tends to become incarcerated, when borborygmi and griping pains result, which are relieved by the passage of flatus through the anus. Lycopodium has been used for right-sided hernia and for chronic liver complaints of the atrophic variety.
It is a good remedy for chronic constipation and for the obstinate constipation of young children; the stools are dry and hard, there is difficulty in passing them on account of contraction of the sphincter and after stool there is a feeling of much remaining behind.
Urine.- It is also a principal remedy for what has been called the lithic acid diathesis, in which there are gouty or rheumatic pains in the limbs and the passage of uric acid gravel in the urine. In its course down the ureters and through the urethra acute pains may be set up with dysuria and possibly haematuria, and if the uric acid crystals are long retained in the bladder cystitis and calculus may result. The excretion of gravel in the urine often alternates with gouty and rheumatic pains in the head and limbs, or it may give relief to dyspeptic symptoms and colic.
Sexual.- Lycopodium has been of service in impotence, especially in elderly men who have married again but also in in younger men who have become impotent from self abuse or sexual excesses.
It will bring on the menses in undeveloped girls, and in women will regulate menstruation when too profuse and long lasting, if the general symptoms agree.
Throat.- It is useful for tonsilitis when the right tonsil is first affected and for diphtheria when the membrane is first seen on the right side of the throat and then travels to the left, or when it passes down from the posterior nares.
Respiration.- Lycopodium has been much used in the respiratory sphere; for chronic nasal catarrh with purulent discharge and crusts that stop up the nose at night and cause mouth breathing; for the dry, teasing cough sometimes present in emaciated boys worse in the morning; for dry cough day and night sympathetic with stomach and liver disorders: for chronic pneumonia and chronic bronchitis: to promote resolution in cases of acute pneumonia at the end of the stage of hepatization, when it seems doubtful whether the normal process of resolution is going to proceed or whether the normal process of resolution is going to proceed or whether the lung will break down.
When chronic pneumonia or pneumonic phthisis has occurred it is still a valuable medicine, as also it is in chronic bronchitis with copious muco-purulent or mucoserous expectoration, the cough sounds loose, and there is great dyspnoea which is relieved by expectoration. It will often clear up a condition of suspected phthisis in young men. In all these cases the presence of fan- like motion of the alae nasi will be a strong indication, though that is not necessary for the prescription of the drug. The right lung is more frequently affected in cases needing lycopodium, and the coincidence of liver symptoms is an additional indication.
Skin.-Lycopodium is useful in porrigo capitis, in chronic cases of urticaria, in boils which do not mature, and for bleeding, fistulous ulcers with elevated edges and surrounding inflammatory swelling. Good results in benefiting or controlling vascular tumours and naevi have been claimed from the use of this remedy.
In one direction, which the provings would not lead one to expect, the drug has proved curative in a few cases, viz., in aneurysm.
As mentioned above the general symptoms are the important guides for prescribing lycopodium, which is one of the most valuable in the homoeopathic materia media, and in suitable cases is antipsoric, antisycotic and antisyphilitic.
(1) Flatulent distension of stomach and abdomen, with sensitiveness of overlying integuments; borborygmi, colic pains, relieved by passage of flatus downwards.
(2) Acid dyspepsia; hunger with quick repletion; distension, heartburn.
(3) Nightly polyuria.
(4) Uric-acid crystals, “red sand” in the urine.
(5) Fan-like movement of the alae nasi.
(6) Time and aggravation of symptoms 4 to 8 p.m., especially 5 p.m.
(7) Alternation of symptoms: catarrh and headache; sand in urine and rheumatic or gouty symptoms; hunger and satiety; relaxation and contraction of muscles.
(8) Sensitiveness to touch and pressure: head, abdomen, anus, ulcers, &c.
(9) Burning, as of hot coals, between the scapulae (phos.).
(10) Stiffness and muscular pains, better for continuous movement (rhus.).
(11) One foot warm (usually the right), the other cold (chel.).
(12) Great weakness and prostration (ars.).
(13) Exhaustion and sleepiness, worse after a meal.
(14) Emaciation, most marked in the upper portion of the body.
(15) General aggravation from cold food and drinks, amelioration from warm.
(17) Left-sided hemiopia.
(18) Symptoms and pains come and go suddenly.
(19) Direction of pains and symptoms from right to left.
(20) People of feeble muscular development but keen intellect.
(21) People who are lean and predisposed to lung and hepatic affections.
(22) People who are lazy, apprehensive, fearful (of darkness, ghosts, death, and of crowds), miserly.
(23) Has been used in diphtheria and pneumonia, where the similarity of drug and disease features is very marked.
(24) Paralyses-diphtherial and other.
(25) For desire and aversions see p. 608.
From touch, clothing, morning on waking, afternoon, 4 to 8 p.m. after eating, wrapping up head, warm room, getting heated by exercise, warmth of bed (headache and irritation of skin), cold food and drink, wet, stormy weather, wind, rest, lying with head low, lying on right side, lying on painful side (sciatica), lamplight (eyes); eating cabbages, beans, peas, husks, rye bread, pastry, wine oysters or milk; from suppressed menstruation; rising from a seat (sacral and lumbar pain).