Daphne mezereum. Common mezereum. Spurge olive. N.O. Thymelaceae. Tincture of the fresh bark gathered just before the plant flowers in February and March. Triturations of the dried bark.
“A girl, aged 14 rubbed the juice from the leaves upon her cheeks and the adjacent parts. There followed: burning pains; swelling of the face, especially of nose, eyelids and forehead, like an erysipelas bullosum (on the cheeks the blisters become confluent); continued violent and painful sneezing and complete closing of the nostrils; dull, intolerably pressive pains in the forehead; disagreeable dryness in the fauces and irritation causing dry, fatiguing cough; febrile pulse; burning red urine. . such an extent that she was almost imbecile.” (Cyc. Drug. Pathog.)
This case shows the violently acrid property of the plant and also that it is capable of producing serious constitutional effects. Provers of the mother tincture and those who chewed the root experienced similar effects from the acridity of the drug in the upper alimentary tract.
Digestive Tract.-The lips were swollen and dry; smarting and burning, like pepper or a sensation as if scalded, occurred in the swollen tongue; there was burning all over the buccal cavity, especially of the palate, with great dryness of that part and the upper portion of the oesophagus; much saliva was produced and copious mucus collected in the throat and was easily hawked up; the epithelium of the lips, gums and tongue swelled and became detached, the gums bled and suppurated and swallowing caused much pain in the fauces and soft palate. With dilute solutions these acute symptoms give place to merely dryness in the mouth and throat, but the teeth are unusually prone to decay and break off; drawing pains are felt in them, worse on biting and if air meets them, the gums bleed, and pain is felt in the malar bones and along the lower jaw. There is burning in the fauces, relieved by drawing in air, and in the oesophagus and stomach, relieved by swallowing food. There is thirst for cold water. Appetite is usually increased from a sensation of hunger in the stomach, which is accompanied with borborygmus. The patient desires ham fat, coffee and wine, but there is discomfort after taking them or any kind of food. Fat things and wine especially disagree. There are eructations of a sour rancid taste. Loud rumblings occur in the bowels, flatus is repeatedly discharged and rushes noisily through the anus; it precedes and accompanies the passage of pappy or lumpy, soft, brown, fermented, very foetid stools. In some cases constipation occurs, with a feeling as if the stool would split the anus in passing; itching and crawling are also felt there.
Urine.-In the morning until noon there are frequent hurried discharges of pale urine; at other times it may be dark yellow and turbid, with floating flakes and red sand, which cause smarting and burning in the fore part of the urethra during the last part of micturition.
Sexual.-There are swelling and heat of the penis and occasional pains in the glans, drawing pains in the spermatic cords and tenderness of the testicles on pressure, much itching on the internal surface of the prepuce and on the scrotum, and strong erections with sexual desire.
The menses are too soon, profuse and long lasting, or are scanty and accompanied with leucorrhoea like white of egg, and with face-ache.
Respiration.-Dryness in the larynx and trachea give rise to a short, dry cough, the chest feels constricted and there is a feeling on trying to breathe deeply that the chest is too narrow.
Nose.-Mezereum causes nasal catarrh, with sneezing, and a thin, acrid mucous discharge that makes the nostrils sore and excoriates the upper lip. The coryza may alternate with or be replaced by stopped nostrils, which are sore, especially the right, and filled with scabs. Severe boring pains are occur in the nasal bones.
Face.-The complexion is sallow, there are brown rings round the eyes and circumscribed red spots on the cheeks. Small pustules appear on the chin and on the forehead near the margin of the hair, and they may break down into little ulcers. Boring pains are felt in the left lower jaw and burning in the skin of the right cheek.
Ears.-The ears, especially the right, have the peculiar sensation of being too open, and as if filled with air. One prover described it as if “wind was howling in the right ear.” There are humming and buzzing noises in the ears, and the auricles may be swollen and painful.
Head.-The head pains seem to be referable to the periosteum and bones of the skull; they are jerking and boring in the cranial bones, pains like a peg driven into different parts of the head, a pain localized in the middle of the right eyebrow, pressive pains in the upper part of the forehead and a tearing rheumatic headache on the right side. There is also described a pain as if “the brain” were lying loose in the skull and knocked on its walls when the head is moved. The hair hangs down loosely, and the scales on the scalp are whiter and dryer than usual.
Eyes.-There are pressing pains in the eyes when the lids close over them; it feels as if the eyeballs are too big. The lids smart at their edges and stick together; they itch, especially in the canthi. Black or shiny white spots are seen before the eye. There is lachrymation.
Black and Limbs.-In the back and limbs there are tearing and boring pains, which appear to be mostly in the bones; their principal seats are in the shoulder-girdle, especially the scapulae, in the right hip, the knees, the wrists, and in the fingers, finger-joints, ankles and bones of the feet, but above all in the tibiae, especially the left. Numbness or “going to sleep” is frequent in hands, legs and feet. The limbs are weary and tremble. The hands are very cold, or the right hand is cold and the left warm.
Chill, &c.-There is general chilliness of the whole body and sensitiveness to cold; the water the patient washes in and the outside air both feel abnormally cold to him; or if he feels too warm, as may occasionally happen, he yet has cold chills going over him, especially in the back and limbs.
Mind.-He shudders frequently, either all over or in separate parts, is weak and faint, trembles as if he had taken too much wine, stretches and yawns, is irresistibly drowsy, has a distaste for everything, is uncommonly lazy with regard to speaking, every word is an effort, desires wine and coffee to stimulate him, and is sad and indifferent to everything, but if he is roused from this state he resents it and is inclined to say insulting and annoying things.
Sleep at night is disturbed by many vivid but unremembered dreams, or is prevented by face-ache.
Skin.-Next to its effects on the bones mezereum is remarkable for its action on the skin. It causes an itching eruption, like flea-bites all over the body, or a brownish miliary rash, seen mostly on the chest, upper arms and thighs. Vesicles of clear serum occur in various parts. It causes an increased darkness in colour and scaliness of any “liver spots ” on the body, and over the back of both wrists many small, dry dark brown scabs or scales appear. The skin of the hands is dead, chapped or corrugated. Itching occurs all over, it is intolerable and induces violent scratching, which makes the skin raw, and when it leaves one part it goes to another. Burning and pricking may accompany the itching.
Bones and Nerves.-The two principal spheres in which mezereum has been used therapeutically are the skin and the bones. In the latter sphere affections of the shafts of the long bones and the bones of the skull and face have come under its curative influence. The most common cause of diseases of these bones is syphilis, and consequently it is in syphilitic affections of these parts, especially where mercury has been abused, that mezereum has been most frequently used, but its use is not confined to syphilitic cases. Its bone pains have the characteristics, common to mezereum, syphilis and mercury, that they are worse at night and from damp weather. The bones are very tender, the least touch being intolerable. Mezereum is, therefore, a remedy for nodes and nocturnal bone pains, and for neuralgic headaches caused by syphilis or the abuse of mercury; the pains are boring and burning, and extend from the occiput all over the head and down to the shoulders. It is useful also for rheumatic periostitis and for neuralgia following herpes, especially for supra-orbital and intercostal neuralgias, which are worse at night and from heat. It is a remedy for neuralgia of the face arising from the teeth, which decay in the roots and sides rather than in the crowns (merc. the reverse); the pain is worse at night, from touch, washing the face, and biting the teeth together, and better from holding the mouth open and drawing in air. Numbness often follows the attacks of prosopalgia.
Eyes.-It is a remedy for ciliary neuralgia after operations on the eye, the pains shoot downwards, are associated with a cold sensation, and are followed by soreness in the bones.
Skin.- In affections of the skin, itching is the indicating symptom when the eruption is dry, or when there is not eruption, but simply pruritus. Prurigo occurs principally over parts where fat is deficient itching is worse in the evening and in bed from warmth and is associated with general coldness and sometimes twitching of subcutaneous muscles. Prurigo senilis often requires mezereum; there are terrible itching and formication of the parts where the skin is most shrivelled, worse at night, from heat and from heat and from scratching. It relieves the itching and cures the eruption of pityriasis versicolor. In the skin affections where there is most eruption mezereum is indicated when there are thick, adherent scabs, under which yellow pus collects; ulceration, if present, is surrounded by an areola which is very sensitive to touch. Porrigo capitis, impetigo, mercurial and mercurio-syphilitic ulcers are skin diseases in which mezereum is useful. It has cured deafness resulting from suppression of impetigo of the scalp. It is one of the chief remedies for shingles, both for the eruption and the subsequent neuralgia when mezereum characteristics are present.
Sexual.-It has been used also for leucorrhoea like white of egg, and accompanied with pruritus vulvae, also for blenorrhoea from the urethra or vulva when accompanied with much itching.
Digestion.-Mezereum has not been used much in gastro- intestinal affections, but has been found serviceable in some cases of constipation, when it has been indicated by the symptom “stools feel as if they would split the anus.” It would be indicated in chronic diarrhoea when associated with or following the characteristic skin symptoms.
Mind.-It should be thought of in melancholia, especially if associated with syphilis.
(1) Bone and periosteal pains, worse at night, and from heat.
(2) Itching of skin, with or without eruption, changing place, worse from warmth and scratching, and at night.
(3) Neuralgias: post-herpetic, supra-orbital, facial, intercostal.
(4) General chilliness; sensations of cold air; in eyes, in ears, blowing on the head.
(5) Dirty, unhealthy skin, shrivelled; “live spots”; brown scabs.
(6) Prosopalgia, worse at night, from biting, and better from drawing air into the mouth.
(7) Syphilis and mercurio-syphilis.
(8) Phlegmatic temperament; indolent, light-haired persons; old people with prurigo.
From cold, damp, cold winds, sudden changes in weather, heat (skin, rheumatic symptoms), touch, pressure, evening, night, fats, wine.
From heat (head pains), heat of stove (prosopalgia), drawing in air (toothache).