Delphinium staphisagria. Stavesacre, palmated larkspur. Ranunculaceae. Tincture of the seeds.
The active principle of staphisagria is the alkaloid delphinine C24H37NO2, which closely resembles aconitine in its physiological action. Like aconitine it causes slowness of the pulse and breathing, paralysis of the spinal cord and death by asphyxia. At first it slows the heart by stimulating the vagus centre, although it at the same time stimulates the accelerating centre of the heart, but the former actions is the more powerful. It slows respiration by exciting the retarding fibres of the vagi. Later the vagus terminations in the heart become paralysed and also the cardiac muscle. In its influence on the heart it antagonizes the action of muscarin and digitalin. It first depresses and then paralyses the spinal cord, and also, after a preliminary excitation, paralyses the terminations of the sensory nerves. From both causes reflex action is abolished, beginning behind and extending forwards. It is also thought to paralyse, at a later stage, the terminations of the motor nerves in the muscles. By its action on the cord it arrests the convulsions caused by strychnine. The provers of delphinium in fairly large doses experienced a burning, prickling sensation in various parts of the body, itching and prickling of the whole skin, so that the prover could not rest in bed, burning and prickling of the tongue and lower lip, increased secretion of saliva, redness and inflammation of the fauces, with a gnawing, burning sensation, nausea, diminished appetite, feeling of pressure in the stomach, efforts to vomit, urging to stool without relief, urging to urinate with a sensation of burning in the urethra, but without diuresis, and diminished rapidity of pulse.
When delphinium has been taken in the more diluted form of the tincture of staphisagria wet symptoms referable to the primary stimulation of the sensory nerves mixed with depressing effects.
Mind.-There is hyperaesthesia of mind and body. The mind is particularly affected, and the patient is easily upset by trifling annoyances. The mortal disposition is more disturbed than the intellectual faculties, though they suffer to some extent, as shown by loss of memory and mental lethargy. The moral loss of balance is carried over to the bodily functions, and causes numerous perversions of function and sensation which give rise to various symptoms. The patient is extremely sensitive to the least unpleasant impression, he cannot bear any criticism, is always taking offence when no offence is meant, becomes very indignant if slighted or offered any rudeness and is angry if opposed. THe indignation, however, is not expressed openly, but is suppressed, and the offence is brooded over for days till he becomes ill on account of it, and suffers from headache, neuralgia, colic, or some other functional disorder. Staphisagria also causes a state of apathy, gloom and loss of memory and mental energy, with disinclination to do any work. This is like the state associated with or produced by sexual excesses and onanism, or by allowing the mind to dwell much on sexual relations. The patient is unable to put sexual thoughts out of his mind, and is irritable and easily fatigued by his unsuccessful efforts to control them.
Sexual.-A chronic irritable or sub-inflammatory condition of the prostrate and prostatic urethra is often associated with these symptoms, and extends into the ejaculatory ducts and vesiculae seminales; seminal emissions are the result of this local irritation and cause further prostration of mind and increased weakness. The genitals hang down relaxed, and dragging or pressing pains occur in the testicles and spermatic cords. The patient is made worse by coition, and during coitus an attack of dyspnoea may come on.
The female sexual organ itch, have stinging pains in them and very sensitive to touch, so that sexual congress is painful and dreaded; there is, nevertheless, sexual desire, which, with the pruritus, may lead to masturbation.
Head.-Staphisagria causes a whirling vertigo, which comes on while sitting or lying, and is better from getting up and turning round circle. It induces pressing out and squeezing together pains in the head, mostly in the forehead and occiput. There may be a sensation as if a hard, round ball were in the forehead, which does not move when the head is shaken. The head often feels numb, hollow or wooden; this is probably due to the action of the drug on the sensory nerves of the scalp. Moist, itching, offensive eruptions occur on the scalp, on the occiput, the sides of the head and behind the ears.
The yes are sunken, with raised blue rings round them, there are pains in the upper eyelids, sometimes as if a hard substance is beneath them, itching occurs in the margin of the lids, which are glued together by secretion at night. The pupils are dilated.
Face.-The staphysagria patient has a sunken countenance, peaked nose and bashful look. The bones of the face are tender, throbbing pains and burning stitches are felt in the cheeks, a sensitive induration occurs beneath the chin, and the submaxillary glands become painful as if bruised.
Digestion.-Staphisagria produces increased saliva with ulcerated, spongy gums, which bleed when touched. The teeth decay and turn back, or show black streaks in them, they are very sensitive to touch. The pains in the teeth are tearing, and are worse after eating, from drinking anything cold and in the open air, hard pressure frequently relieves. The throat is dry and rough, and there is impulse to swallow while talking. Appetite is apt to be excessive and the patient may crave food, even when the stomach is full. Hunger comes on for days before a feverish attack. Nausea is a common symptom, notwithstanding the hunger, and there is a sensation as though the stomach is hanging down relaxed; a similar feeling is experienced in the abdomen The patient desires bread or milk, or fluid food, and has a craving for stimulants and tobacco, but he is wore from the least food or drink. Griping, twisting pains occur here and there in the abdomen, mostly in the region of the umbilicus, and are due to incarcerated flatus, which, when passed smells of sulphuretted hydrogen. Diarrhoea is brought on from drinking cold water, from eating and from indignation or anger. Haemorrhoids, when occurring, are so sensitive that the patient will not allow them to be touched; they often co-exist with enlarged prostrate.
Urine.- Staphisagria causes burning in the urethra during and after urination; it is burning when not urinating that is characteristic. After urination there is still urging with a sensation of the bladder being unemptied, due in most cases to enlargement of the prostate.
Circulation.- The heart palpitates from the least excitement or motion, and there are frequently stitching pains is the cardiac region.
Back and Limbs.- Staphisagria produces all sorts of pains in the back and extremities; a pain in the small of the back as if broken, which is worse at night, when at rest, and in the morning; tearing, drawing pains in the limbs, jerking and tearing in the muscles of the thumbs and fingers, worse at the end of the fingers, which are numb. Nodosities occur on the fingers and in the finger joints, there are pains in all the bones and the limbs feel as if bruised and semi-paralysed. Itching occurs in any part of the skin, which burns after scratching.
Sleep.- The patient is sleepy by day and wakeful at night, with tired aching of the whole body; he has amorous dreams with emissions.
Chill, Heat, &c.- It is not known that Staphisagria causes any fever, but the patients are predominantly chilly, may be hot at night and have profuse sweat, which smells like rotten eggs.
The above symptoms will define the conditions for which staphisagria is likely to be successfully prescribed. The peculiar hyperaesthesia of the mind and the associated similar condition of the nerves of special sense and of the rest of the body will always be the determining factors in the symptom- complex for which it should be given. In most cases this is the result of pent-up feelings that have been aroused by injury of the patient’s amour-propre and which he has nursed by silent brooding. It may also be caused by sexual excesses and masturbation, and staphisagria is an important remedy for that habit and for spermatorrhoea induced by it.
It should be thought of in such mental diseases as psychasthenia, dementia praecox with much auto-erotism, repressed sexual complexes connected with instinct of self-abasement paramount, with delusions of persecution and sexual obsessional states.
Staphisagria is indicated in chronic prostatitis and enlarged prostate, when a pain may run from the anus forward along the urethra, micturition is difficult and the bladder imperfectly emptied; also for inflamed testicles, which are very sensitive and accompanied by shooting and drawing pains in the spermatic cords.
In women it is very useful to allay the mental distress, the local hyperaesthesia and the constant desire to pass water that sometimes occur in the newly married. it is a remedy for pruritus of the female genitals and for nymphomania. It is also useful for urinary difficulties following labour and for various pelvic pains after operations on the generative organs. Indeed, staphisagria is, on account of the hypersensitiveness to pain it produces, a good remedy for pain after all wounds, especially if they are clean cut.
Digestion.- It is the remedy for colic and diarrhoea brought on by anger (coloc.) and for stomach disorders arising from the same cause. it is useful in the vomiting of pregnancy.
Toothache, when the teeth are decaying and have black streaks in them and the gums bleed and are tender, is cured by staphisagria, as also toothache occurring in pregnancy, when the teeth, without being decayed, are more painful from the touch of food or drink, from cold drink and from drawing cold air into the mouth, but biting and chewing do not increase the pain.
It is a valuable remedy for tic douloureux when the lips and mouth are extremely extremely sensitive, especially to the contact of a metallic fork or spoon, so that the patient has to put into his mouth with his fingers and proper mastication is impossible.
It is a remedy for sea-sickness when associated with vertigo and should be taken immediately nausea and vertigo commence; it is also useful for the ill-effects of tobacco smoking, such as sore tongue and gastralgia.
Eyes.- It is a valuable remedy for affections of the eyelids, especially the upper lids, it cures the styes and meibomian cysts that appear in that region.
Skin.-Staphisagria is useful for porrigo of the scalp and perhaps owes its virtue here partly to its power as an insecticide; for this purpose it has gained the only recommendation it has received from the orthodox school, viz., as an external application for phthiriasis. It is used in the form of an oil made from the seeds or of a lotion consisting of one part of the tincture to four of water. In these forms it destroys both Pediculus capitis and Phthirius pubis.
It has proved useful for dry, seedy warts, mainly when they occur on the genitals.
Bones.- It has been used successfully for gouty nodosities of the fingers and other parts, for exostoses, periostitis and mercurial bone diseases.
(1) Extreme hypersensitiveness of mind and body.
(2) Ailments from suppressed emotions, especially from indignation and anger.
(3) Ailments from sexual excesses and perversions; from letting the mind dwell unduly on sexual subjects.
(4) Aggravation of pains from touch and pressure.
(5) Peevishness, apathy, brooding over insults and annoyances.
(6) Weakness of the whole body,especially of the knees while walking.
(7) Tired aching in the bones, felt most at night.
(8) Sweat smells like rotten eggs (sulph.).
(9) Pains following injuries by sharp cutting instruments, from stretching of sphincters.
(10) Fig warts, pediculated; after abuse of mercury.
From anger and indignation, coitus, touch, pressure, motion, food and drink (intestinal tract), cold drinks, drawing cold air into the mouth (toothache), evening till morning, after urinating (urethral pain).
From rest (but rest aggravates pain in the back).