Sanguinaria canadensis. Blood-root, red-root, puccoon. N.O.Papaveraceae. Tincture of the fresh root.
SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS contains an alkaloid, sanguinarin, which is identical with chelerythrin, the alkaloid present in Chelidonium majus.
Sanguinaria excites vomiting and is an irritant of mucous membrane. Its action on the nervous system is to cause tetanus and wild excitement, also it depresses the circulation. Sometimes it produces increased menstrual flow and occasionally has caused uterine haemorrhage independently of menstruation. “In large doses it sometimes causes vomiting, but more frequently burning at the stomach, faintness, vertigo, impaired vision, insensibility, coldness, extreme reduction of the force and frequency of the pulse, with great prostration of muscular strength and, occasionally, though rarely,convulsive rigidly of the limbs. In a few instances neuralgic pains have been produced in various parts of the system and sometimes a violent but transient gastrodynia.” (Sanguinaria: “Cyclop. Drug Path.”)
Applied locally it first irritates and then paralyses the sensory nerves. Head-Enumerating the symptoms in greater detail, as given by the provers of sanguinaria, we have vertigo in the morning on rising from a sitting posture and in quickly turning the head or looking upward. There are; Rush of blood to the head, whizzing in the ears and flushes of heat; a pain in the back of the head and neck, extending downwards; serve, quick, darting pains recurring at intervals in the forehead and temples; severe headache, tearing or boring, over and about the right eye, extending to the temples, and with pain in the right eyeball, which is worse from movement of the eyeball, and is accompanied by dimness of sight, feeling like snow blindness. They may also be a severe headache through all the front part of the head, extending down into the cheek bones, and with soreness of both eyeballs, through which sharp pains frequently dart, accompanied by dimness of sight.
Eyes-There is sometimes a feeling as a hairs in the eyes. The eyelids smart on closing them tightly, there is lachrymation in a strong light, the eyeballs are tender to touch and the pupils are dilated.
Face-The veins of the forehead and face are distended and sore. The countenance is pale, except in chest affections, when there is a circumscribed redness of one or both cheeks. The jaws feel stiff, and jerking pains occur in both maxillary bones, extending towards the eyes. The teeth are loose and ache, especially when touched by food.
Nose-There is a dull, heavy pain in the forehead, and in the root of the nose, with sneezing and coryza, which is alternately fluent and stuffy; when fluid the discharge is acrid, making the nose sore and causing a stinging sensation. Sense of smell is lost.
Ears -Pains occur in the ears, with headache and increased sensitiveness to sounds, and in some of the provers there was a beating under the ear at irregular intervals, often of a couple of strokes only at a time. Buzzing and whizzing noises are produced in the ears, which are often hot and red, especially on the right side.
Digestion-Taste is lost, the lips feel dry, the surface and tip of the tongue feel as if scalded, and a prickling sensation is felt in the tongue and roof of the mouth. Salvation occurs, accompanied by extreme nausea, which is not relieved even by vomiting. The throat is dry and burning, especially after eating sweet things, it feels swollen, and there is pain on swallowing. There are frequent malodorous eructations, with a disposition to vomit. The patient craves food, but he does not know what he wants, except that he desires something piquant. Food causes soreness in the epigastrium, or burning in the stomach, and then follow vomiting and headache. Or there may be a sensation of emptiness after food, with nausea, waterbrash, and lassitude almost to fainting. Butter disagrees, and leaves a nauseous taste in the mouth. Nausea is intense and may come on in paroxysms, with salivation, chills and headache, and may end in vomiting, and sometimes diarrhoea, which latter relieves the nausea, but no amelioration of the nausea is obtained from vomiting, though it relieves the headache. Vomiting is of food taken, or of bitter water, or sour, acrid fluids. a sensation of heat streams from the right clavicle and breast towards the liver region. Violent stitches are felt in the splenic region, which are worse from coughing and better from pressure and lying on the left side. In the abdomen are flatulence and colic, cutting pains and soreness, and often thee is a feeling as if hot water were pouring from the chest into the abdomen, followed by diarrhoea. There is escape of much flatus, upwards and downwards. The stools are thin, faecal, bright yellow, undigested or watery. There may be urging without evacuation, but discharge of offensive flatus only, and a sensation that a mass is left behind in the lower part of the rectum. Diarrhoea may alternate with constipation and sometimes follows coryza.
Urine-There may be a severe, dull, aching pain in the kidney region and frequent voiding of urine that burns in passing, and deposits a reddish sediment.
Sexual-The menses are increased in quantity, may be too early or at the right time, with flow at first bright red and offensive, but afterwards black and less offensive; the4y are accompanied by pain in the right side of the forehead and a pressing-out sensation in the eyes. The nipples are painful and there are pain and tenderness under the right nipple; stitches occur in both breasts, and a burning pain between the breasts, worse towards the right side.
Respiration-A sensation of constriction is felt across the chest, with a desire to take deep inspirations, which cause tearing pains, mostly in the right side of the chest. Stitches occur various parts of the chest. A dry cough is excited by tickling in the throat-pit, or in the stomach, or by eructations of gas. “A dry cough wakes him from sleep and does not cease till he sits up and discharges flatus upwards and downwards.”
Back and Limbs-Sanguinaria causes rheumatoid pains that are worse in the parts least covered by flesh, in the nape of the neck and in the limbs, stiffness and drawing pains in the bends and sides of the knees, pain in the shoulders, in the deltoids, in the loins worse from bending forwards, and in the first joint of the right great toe, like gout. There is a sensation of extreme weakness in the lower extremities; there may be slight tremors and soles are burning hot, and the patient puts the feet out of bed (compare sulph., cham., med., sabin.), the hands are red.
Chill, Heat, &c-Except when there is much nausea or vomiting there is a glow of warmth over the body and sensations of a flow of heat from one part to another frequently occur-from the stomach to the head and vice versa, from the upper chest to the right hypochondrium, from the lower chest to the abdomen.
Perspiration is free, flushes of heat are followed by chills. There is an afternoon fever, 2 to 3 p.m., with circumscribed redness of cheeks. Cold sweat accompanies nausea and vomiting, and there is often chilliness with the nausea and headache.
Sanguinaria ” occasions a quickly diffused transient, but very peculiar nervous thrill, which pervades the whole nervous system, and often extends to the furthest extremity” (Sanguinaria, C.D.P.).
Skin-There are shooting pains in various parts, which leave behind tender spots. The patient is drowsy, torpid, suffers from extreme languor and is constantly yawning.
Sleep-He is sleepless at night, and awakes from sleep in a fright, with fear of falling. His dreams may be of sailing on the sea, and are disagreeable or frightful.
Mind-He is morose, depressed, disinclined to make the least exertion, and very irritable and impatient.
He is very susceptible to cold, change of weather, draught and change of clothing, and is always catching cold from these causes.
The above symptoms from the provings giver a fair indication of the affections for which sanguinaria is of benefit, but clinical use has given a more precise definition to some of the symptoms and has added a few others. Sanguinaria has been chiefly used in respiratory affections and in certain kinds of headache.
In the respiratory sphere it is a remedy for (a) Acute coryza, when there is pain in the forehead and eyeballs and at the root of the nose, there is a sensation of stinging or tickling in the nose which provokes sneezing, and swelling and irritation of the nasal mucous membrane, with or without free discharge; also for “rose fever” and hay fever with those symptoms, the patient is sick and faint from the odour of flowers. (b) Laryngitis, with soreness in the larynx, and a sensation of dryness and heat, but with expectoration of some thick mucus which may be streaked with blood; also for aphonia, with dryness and congestion of the larynx. (c) Croup, with marked dyspnoea, whistling cough, hot throat, and redness and burning in the larynx; also for oedema of the glottis, when the mucous membrane, instead of being white, as is the case with apis, is red. (d) A cough like whooping-cough, or which comes on subsequently to whooping-cough, the cough is dry, is worse on lying down at night, is accompanied by loose stools or diarrhoea, and with each paroxysm vomiting and pain in the stomach occur. (e) Bronchitis, when there is heat in the larynx and sharp pain in the chest beneath the sternum,, the cough is dry and worse when lying down (hyoscy.), the patient must sit up in bed and is relieved after passing flatus upwards and downwards, expectoration is scanty and glairy. Such a cough often comes on after influenza, and is sometimes very troublesome; sanguinaria will cure it (f) Sanguinaria will go beyond what we should have gathered from the provings alone, and will exert a beneficial influence in pneumonia of subacute character and those occurring in typhoid and other fevers; in these cases the face is livid or dark red, the pulse rapid, the cough worse when lying on the back and the expectoration scanty and blood-stained. (g) When the lung is breaking down into cavities, after pneumonia or in phthisis, the breath is offensive, there are hectic fever, burning pain in the chest, and circumscribed redness of the cheeks, expectoration is offensive, even to the patient himself, and, contrary to what usually occurs with this drug, is profuse.
Head-The most characteristic headache for which sanguinaria is indicated is a periodical “sick headache”. It comes on every seventh day, the patient wakes up in the morning with it, it starts in the occiput, travels upwards over the vertex and settles over the right eye and in the right temple, it gets worse as the day goes on and lasts till evening, till it culminates in vomiting of bile, smile, bitter substances and food, which gives relief, as does also passing flatus upwards and downwards. It is aggravated by light and movement, and is better from lying down. The pain is throbbing or as if the head would burst. The attack is often preceded by scanty urinary secretion, and goes off with the passing of large quantities of colourless, aqueous urine.
Another headache is one with nausea and chilliness, followed by flushes of heat, which extend from the head to the stomach; it may be caused by over-eating or improper food. Or the headache may come in paroxysms of throbbing or lancinating pains through “the brain”. Or it may be a dull, frontal headache, mainly right-sided, which is better in the open air, but worse from motion and stooping. There is also an afternoon headache in the occiput and nape and a rheumatic headache in the occiput and nape and a rheumatic headache, with pain running up the posterior auricular region. Any of these may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting. They often occur about the time of the climacteric, with hot flushes, noises in the ears, toothache,a burning or faint feeling in the stomach and shivering, or they may be associated with profuse menses, the pain is then of a bursting character and the face red and hot. These headaches must not be too sharply relegated to water tight compartments, the main points about them are that they are usually right- sided, of a congestive, full or bursting character, that they settle chiefly over the eyes and in the temples, require the patient to lie down and be quiet and have gastric symptoms as concomitants.
Sexual-Sanguinaria is useful for climacteric disorders, especially flushes of heat associated with menorrhagia and leucorrhoea; also for metrorrhagia from uterine polypi.
It is a remedy for neuralgia of the face, which has its seat in the jaws and extends to the eyes and ears and down the neck, the patient ” kneels down and presses the head against the floor for relief,” or, in other words, it is better from hard pressure. It is a remedy for eruptions on the face of young women with scanty menses.
This remedy has been serviceable in hepatic disorders, in ulcer of the stomach, in catarrhal diarrhoea following the sanguinaria coryza described above; in earache, toothache and many other complaints, when the indications for the drug are present. It has gained some reputation in tumours of the breast, and is a medicine to be thought of in comparison with ferrum for rheumatism of the deltoid, especially when it is in the right shoulder, is worse at night, and the patient cannot raise the arm to the head, although he can swing it freely to and fro.
Nitrate of sanguinaria has been used for the nasal and laryngeal troubles for which sanguinaria is indicated, and with equal, or,as some claim, with greater success.
(1) “Bilious, sick headaches,” usually right-sided.
(2) Neuralgic headaches settling over right eye and in right temple. Periodical headaches, every seventh day.
(3) Dry cough , worse lying down, better sitting up and passing flatus.
(4) Menorrhagia with headache and stomach symptoms.
(5) Circumscribed redness of cheeks’ pneumonia, phthisis.
(6) Offensiveness and acridity of discharges; vomit, stool, menses, sputum, offensive flatus and breath.
(7) Nausea, unrelieved by vomiting.
(8) Fulness and tenderness behind the angles of the jaws.
(9) Deltoid rheumatism.
(10) Right-sided symptoms;moving right to left.
(12) Gastro-intestinal symptoms accompany other complaints; headache with nausea and vomiting, coryza, followed by diarrhoea, cough, with vomiting and diarrhoea, menorrhagia, with nausea and vomiting.
(13) Recurrence or aggravation of complaints at the climacteric.
(14) Streams of heat flow from one part of the body top another.
(15) Pains leave tender spots behind them.
From touch, jar, lying down (cough), lying on the right side, motion and exercise, swallowing, eating, cold room (cough), at night , sunrise to sunset (headache), cold and damp, right side.
From hard pressure (neuralgia of the face), lying on left side, sitting up and passing flatus (cough), passing flatus (headache), eructations (mind), vomiting (headache), rest in a dark room (headache).