Last modified on January 10th, 2019

A.C. Cowperthwaite

Symptoms of the homeopathic medicine OPIUM from A Text Book of Materia Medica and Therapeutics by A.C. Cowperthwaite. Find all the symptoms of OPIUM

      Synonym – Papaver Somniferum. Natural order – Papaveraceae. Common names – Opium. White Poppy. Habitat – A plant native of Asia, extensively cultivated. Preparation – Tincture from inspissated juice.


Acts upon the cerebro-spinal and the sympathetic nervous system, producing brief excitation, rapidly followed by depression and paralysis of all functional activity. As a result there is a general torpidity of the entire system. The cerebral powers are overcome and stupor ensues; motion and sensation are destroyed; the secretions of the mucous membranes are diminished, and the mucous surfaces become dry and congested; the breathing becomes slow, sighing and irregular; the heart’s action is retarded, and these evidences of cerebro-spinal paralysis continuing, death results; or, passing off, leave deranged digestion, headache, sleeplessness and constipation.

The leading feature of Opium is its depression of the cerebral functions, indicated by great drowsiness and stupor, with stertorous breathing, in which condition it is the true homoeopathic remedy. Its universal use as a palliative to diminish reflex irritability and destroy the consciousness of suffering pain cannot be too strongly condemned. Such palliation is only admissible in hopelessly fatal cases, or possibly under other very exceptional circumstances, but is not in any sense homoeopathic.


Mind. Complete loss of consciousness (Belladonna, Hyoscyamus, Laur.), with slow stertorous breathing; insensibility to external impressions. Delirious; eyes wide open; glistening, face red, puffed up; sees frightful and distressing visions (Absinth., Belladonna, Hyoscyamus, Stram). Drunkenness with stupor, as from smoke in the brain; eyes burning, hot and dry (Belladonna). Dull and stupid, as if drunk (Nux moschata). Imbecility. Confusion. Fear of impending death. Anxiety. Vivid imaginations, exaltation of the mind (Can. ind.). Fretful, nervous and irritable; easily frightened (Nux v.).

Head Great confusion, dullness and heaviness of the head, making thought and writing difficult (Nux v.). Sensation like that following a debauch. Vertigo, as from intoxication (Cinchona, Coccul., Nux moschata, Nux v., Pulsatilla). Congestion of blood to the head, with pulsation in it (Belladonna). Aching above right frontal eminence when reading, with heat, then pinching in right temple. Pressing pains in the temples. Cold sweat on forehead (Veratrum alb.).

Eyes. Pupils dilated and insensible to light (Belladonna). Pupils contracted (Mercurius cor., Phosphorus, Phytolacca, Physos.). Eyes glassy, protruded, immovable (Amyl., Belladonna, Hyoscyamus, Stramonium). Eyes half- closed, red, burning, hot and dry (Belladonna). Sensation of dust in the eyes. Lids hang down as if paralyzed (Causticum, Coni., Gelsemium).

Ears. Violent roaring in the ears (Aconite, Belladonna, Cinchona). Acuteness of hearing (Coffea, Coca.).

Face Face bloated, dark-red and hot (Aconite, Belladonna, Hyoscyamus, Stramonium); flushed; pale; earthy. The face of a suckling was like that of an old man. Features distorted (Cicuta, Cuprum). The lower lip and jaw hang down (Lycopodium). Twitching in the corners of the mouth (Ignatia).

Tongue Paralysis of the tongue, and difficult articulation (Causticum, Dulcamara, Nux moschata, Nux v., Hyoscyamus, Gelsemium). Tongue: purple; black (Phosphorus); white (Arsenicum, Bryonia, Nux v., Pulsatilla, Sulphur). Dryness of the mouth (Arsenicum Bryonia, Dulcamara, Nux moschata, Pulsatilla). Constriction in pharynx.

Throat Dryness of the throat (Apis, Arsenicum, Nux m). Inability to swallow from paralysis (Nux moschata).

Stomach Loss of appetite (Alumina, Arsenicum, Cinchona, Natr. mur., Phosphorus, Sulphur). Violent thirst (Aconite, Arsenicum, Bryonia, Nitr. ac., Sulphur). Hiccough; vomiting of food; of green substance (Iris, Podo); of blood (Hamamelis, Nux v., Podophyllum, Stan); of faecal matter; with violent cutting colic and convulsions. Heaviness and pressure in the stomach (Arsenicum, Bryonia). Violent pain in the stomach; increased by pressure. Constriction in stomach; with constipation.

Abdomen. Inactivity of the digestive organs (Alumina). Intestines sluggish, strongest purgatives lose their power. Abdomen hard, distended and sensitive to touch (Aconite, Bell). Distension, but no power to expel contents. Accumulation of much flatus, with rumbling in abdomen (Carb. v., Lycopodium). Tension in hypogastrium, with pain on touch. Incarcerated umbilical and inguinal hernia; faecal vomit. Violent griping and cutting in the abdomen (Coloc.). Pressive pain in the abdomen, as if the intestines would be cut to pieces.

Stool and Anus. Anus spasmodically closed during the colic, with difficult emission of flatus. Involuntary stool (Arnica, Carb. v., Hyoscyamus, Rhus tox.); offensive (Arsenicum); after fright (Gels). Diarrhoeic stools, whitish pasty, frothy, causing burning in anus (Aloe, Arsenicum, Sulphur); black, foetid (Arsenicum, Lept.). Constipation from inactivity of the bowels (Alumina, Camph., Plumb.); from spasmodic retention in small intestines. Stool composed of hard, round, black balls (Alumina, Kali carb., Plumb.); gray; crumbling. Cholera infantum, with stupor, snoring, convulsions.

Urinary Organs Involuntary micturition (Belladonna, Hyoscyamus). Retention of urine from paralysis of fundus of bladder; from spasm of sphincter; from nursing after passion of nurse.

37 Desire to urinate, but inability; only after long exertion. Urine scanty, red, dark-brown, cloudy (Cantharis).

Male Organs. Increased sexual desire, with frequent erections and pollutions (Phosphorus, Nux v.).

Respiratory Organs. Dry cough, with tickling and scraping in the larynx (Rumex); better from drink of water, with gaping drowsiness (Ant. tart.), yet cannot sleep. Deep snoring respiration, with open mouth. Frequent involuntary deep breathing; long and sighing respiration. Respiration irregular, slow and stertorous. Laryngismus stridulus. Cough, with scanty, tenacious expectoration and rattling in the chest. Cough, with dyspnoea and blue face. Cough, with profuse sweat on the whole body.

Pulse. Full and slow (Digit.), with snoring; slow and soft; small and weak (Ferrum); beat of heart and pulse cannot be felt; irregular.

Back. Spasmodically curved, like an arch (Cicuta).

Limbs Trembling of all the limbs, especially arms and hands after fright. Numbness and sensation of swelling in hands and forearms. Spasmodic jerkings and numbness of limbs. Convulsive movements of limbs (Cicuta, Belladonna, Hyos). Coldness of the extremities (Camph., Veratrum alb.)

Generalities. Twitching, trembling of head, arms and hands; now and then jerks of flexors body cold; inclination to stupor; motion of body and uncovering of head relieves. Tetanic spasms; opisthotonos; begin with loud screams, foam at mouth, trembling of limbs, eyes half open, pupils dilated and insensible to light; face dark-red and hot (Hyos); from fright and anger, etc. General insensibility of the nervous system; no reaction (Carb. v.). Sensation diminished; afterwards reflex irritability. Paralysis after apoplexia; in drunkards; in old people. Bed feels so hot she cannot lie on it. Emaciation and debility.

Sleep. Great drowsiness, can hardly keep awake (Nux moschata). Unrefreshing, soporous sleep (Arnica, Laur., Physos.), with eyes half open and snoring (Sulphur). Sleepy, but cannot go to sleep (Chamomilla, Belladonna, Lachesis). Restless, uneasy sleep; full of visions and imaginations. Whining in sleep. Sleeplessness (Cimic., Coffea), with acuteness of hearing; clocks striking and cocks crowing at a great distance keep her awake.

Fever. Body cool, hear warm. Cold limbs. Head hot, cheeks red and burning. Whole body burning, even when bathed in sweat; wants to uncover; complains that bed is too hot. Cold perspiration over whole body, especially on the head and forehead.

Aggravation From heat; from brandy, wine; while perspiring; during and after sleep.

Amelioration From vomiting ; from coffee, all symptoms except trembling, but they soon return.

Conditions Especially suitable for children and old persons; for drunkards.

Compare Aconite, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Bryonia, Camph., Can. ind., Carb. v., Coffea, Digit., Gelsemium, Hyoscyamus, Lycopodium, Mercurius, Nux v., PUls., Rhus tox., Secale c., Stramonium, Sulphur, Veratrum alb.

Antidote. Belladonna, Coffea, Coni., Camph., Ipecac., Mercurius, Nux v., Plumb., Vinum. To large doses: very strong Coffee; Camph., Belladonna, Emetics; warm baths.

Opium Antidotes. Ant. tart., Belladonna, Digit., Lachesis, Mercurius, Nux v., Strych., Plumb., Stramonium, Charcoal Vapors.


A valuable remedy for ailments from fright (Aconite, Gelsemium), or emotion after fright, fear of the fright still remaining-after- effects. An extremely valuable remedy in apoplexia, the symptoms agreeing, especially in drunkards. Paralysis of the brain. Cerebral haemorrhage. Delirium tremens, especially old and oft- repeated cases, worse from the least quantity of liquor. Convulsions, as described in symptoms; especially from fright or anger; particularly in infants, especially after nurse has been frightened or very angry. Epilepsy. Lock jaw. Puerperal convulsions with coma, etc. paralysis of tongue. Paralysis of pharynx. Colic, with great tympanitis, belching without relief, constipation. Intestinal obstruction, colicky pains, faecal vomiting. A most valuable remedy in constipation resulting from inertia of the rectum and the entire intestinal tract; no inclination for stool; impacted faeces and incarcerated flatus; often after long-lasting and debilitating diseases from long continued and habitual use of enemas. Ailments from lead in paints, pipes and otherwise; lead colic. According to Allen, Opium “has cured chronic catarrh and ulceration of the ileocaecal region, with persistent discharge of enormous quantities of flakes of mucus, constipation, faecal stools completely enveloped in mucus, the indication being complete atony of the lower bowels and the accumulation of hard balls of faeces.” Cholera infantum, especially after discharges have been suppressed, with stupor, snoring and convulsions. Has been found useful for retention of urine, especially when resulting from fright, or after parturition. Aphonia from fright. Laryngismus stridulus. Threatening paralysis of lungs. Bronchial catarrh. Haemoptysis, especially in drunkards, chest hot, limbs cold, drowsy, with cough. Suppuration of the lungs, especially in drunkards; rattling and snoring respiration, blue face, etc. Amenorrhoea from fright. Threatening abortion from fright. Suppressed lochia from fright. Has been used in diphtheria, with characteristic respiration, etc. Sometimes indicated in typhoid types of fever, stupor, can scarcely be aroused; speechless; eyes half open; mild delirium or loud talking, fury, singing, desire t escape; the darker-red the face, the more it is indicated; impending cerebral paralysis from profound congestion. Puerperal fever, with stupor, etc.; offensive discharges. Intermittent fever, cold stage predominates; fever, with heat of the head and great drowsiness, the body burning hot even with a profuse sweat, which does not relieve the heat or drowsiness. Congestive chills with characteristic stupor, snoring respiration, hot sweat without relief, etc. Said to be useful in ailments from charcoal vapors.

About the author

A.C. Cowperthwaite

A.C. Cowperthwaite

A.C. (Allen Corson) Cowperthwaite 1848-1926.
ALLEN CORSON COWPERTHWAITE was born at Cape May, New Jersey, May 3, 1848, son of Joseph C. and Deborah (Godfrey) Cowperthwaite. He attended medical lectures at the University of Iowa in 1867-1868, and was graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia in 1869. He practiced his profession first in Illinois, and then in Nebraska. In 1877 he became Dean and Professor of Materia Medica in the recently organized Homeopathic Department of the State University of Iowa, holding the position till 1892. In 1884 he accepted the chair of Materia Medica, Pharmacology, and Clinical Medicine in the Homeopathic Medical College of the University of Michigan. He removed to Chicago in 1892, and became Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the Chicago Homeopathic Medical College. From 1901 he also served as president of that College. He is the author of various works, notably "Insanity in its Medico-Legal Relations" (1876), "A Textbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics" (1880), of "Gynecology" (1888), and of "The Practice of Medicine " (1901).

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