OUR greatest use for Silicea, so far as digestive drugs are concerned, is probably in children; but sometimes there are indications for it in adults-in two different types of condition.
The first is the patient who has had a prolonged period of stress, is worn out nervously and suffering from nervous indigestion. This may show itself as a complete loss of appetite. Or it may take the form of a feeling of hunger on starting a meal, which is replaced by a sensation of extreme fullness after taking only a few mouthfuls of food.
Associated with a very definite aversion to anything in the way of hot food and hot drinks, a feeling as if the digestion just stopped, and a desire for everything cold-cold meat, ice- cream-such a condition very often responds, in these tired-out patients, to Silicea.
They mostly suffer from a good deal of flatulence, a feeling of general abdominal distension, a very acute feeling of fullness after meals (when their clothing feels too tight) and an certain amount of general abdominal tenderness.
They nearly always suffer from constipation and it is a great effort for them to get the bowels to act, straining at stool often makes them very hot and sweaty, and there is always a feeling as if the stool were partially expelled and then receded. They pass small constipated stools, and always feel that they have not nearly completed the action.
The other is the patient who has had a prolonged period of unsatisfactory physical conditions-bad feeling or unhealthy conditions generally-and who suffers from chronic diarrhoea.
These patients are in very much the same sort of tired-out state as those in the first group. Their diarrhoea is liable to be aggravated by milk. They are liable to suffer from troublesome sick headaches, which are made much worse by any mental exertion and are aggravated by any noise. These are relieved by warm applications to the head, and also by pressure.
They are very much aggravated by any physical exertion, particularly stooping or the effort of talking. They usually start in the occipital region and spread right through the head, with the right eye as a centre. As a rule, they start some time after the patients gets up, usually during the forenoon; and they tend to get worse toward evening, as the patient tires.
Practically all these patients with chronic diarrhoea develop an acute aversion to meat. Most of them suffer from very troublesome sweaty feet.
Now for children. Silicea is one of the great standbys for those who suffer from a milk intolerance. This particularly in the child with a somewhat enlarged abdomen, probably some enlarged abdominal glands, a rather indefinite general abdominal tenderness and a history of alternate attacks of very obstinate constipation and very troublesome diarrhoea.
All these Silicea patients, whether old or young, are very chilly, but they are far more sensitive to damp cold than dry cold-in fact, most of them are better in a dry, fresh, cold atmosphere. They are all rather tired-out-nervously, physically, or both-and the condition produced is a very unpleasant feeling of inadequacy and a constant dread of making a mess of things. In actual fact, Silicea patients are really quite efficient.
The conditions which give rise to the Silicea state are very different from those which respond so well to Nux. Nux patients are fretted by dealing with a hundred and one irritations. Silicea patients, on the contrary, are tired out by period of prolonged mental or physical stress which has worn them down.
Silicea patients tend to be rather timid, retiring and somewhat shy. When forced to do anything, or disturbed, they are apt to be irritable and snappish. In children, this is common; if they are left alone, they are quite peaceful; when disturbed, they are cross, and often cry and fight to get away.
Silicea patients with digestive disturbances tend to get exceedingly troublesome dry lips. The lips crack and very often develop deep, sensitive fissures at the angle of the mouth.
Most of these patients complain of cold, damp feet, very often with offensive perspiration. Under any stress, the head becomes extremely hot and perspires; if it gets chilled at this time, the result is liable to be a very acute headache. In summer, a similar headache is very likely to be produced by exposure to the sun. The head becomes very hot and extremely painful, and the pain persists for hours after exposure.