Last modified on January 9th, 2019


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

      Synonym. Physostigma Venenosum. Natural order. Leguminosae. Common name. Calabar Bean. Habitat. A perennial plant growing near the mouths of the Niger and Old Calabar river on the Gulf of Guinea. Preparation. Tincture from the pulverized bean.


Through the spinal cord, Physostigma produces general paralysis and loss of sensibility, death resulting from paralysis of respiration, or from diminished heart’s action, due to paralysis of the exciting ganglia of the heart, in all cases the sense of touch and consciousness remaining unimpaired to the last. It fist causes contraction foe smaller blood vessels, and afterward dilatation of the same, and both internally and externally applied, produces strong contracted pupils, due to its convulsive action upon the muscular substances of he iris, which it causes to contract by small, rapid jerks or twitches. It also in a like manner acts on the accommodation in the approximation of both the far and near point of vision Fibrillary muscular twitching occurs very persistently, due to local irritation caused by paralysis of the motor nerve termini. the same cause produces a tetanic condition of he involuntary muscles, resulting in frequent discharges from the bladder, stomach and bowels, the latter often being twisted up in knots. All secretions are somewhat increased, especially the tears and saliva. The most important feature in the action of this drug is its effect upon the eye, in causing contraction of he pupil and disturbed accommodation, myosis being only caused by Physostigma and Opium.


Mind. Uncommon mental activity (Cinchona, Coffea c.). Difficult thinking; cannot concentrate the mind (Gelsemium). Nothing right; too many thing in the room; continually counting them.

Head. Confusion and dizziness; dull, heavy, stupid feeling. Dull, heavy, oppressive headache. Intolerable pain over both eyes (Cinchona, China Sulph.). Severe, dull frontal headache, especially in the morning (Kali bichromicum, Natr. mur., Nux v.). Sensation of rush of blood to frontal and temporal regions (Belladonna, Gloninum). Sharp, shooting pains in temples. Throbbing of temporal and carotid arteries (Belladonna). Intense, painful pressure in vertex and both temples, the pressure in vertex and both temples, the pressure in vertex extending over to occiput; must lie down.

Eyes. Inflamed, first right, then left; sclerotic dry, red and swollen; eyeballs pains, and drawing. twisting sensation in the eyes. Eyes sore and painful when moved from side to side (Bryonia, spig.). Pain deep in over top of eyeball, running up from inner canthus to right frontal eminence, then down obliquely outward into temple. The muscularis internus seems not to do its work rightly, and the axis of he eyes differs in each;l eyes feel weak, with lachrymation. Sight blurred hazy or misty (Causticum, Phosphorus,Mercurius), film over eyes and between the eyes. Muscae volitantes (Agaricus), both black and white. Aching in posterior part of orbit, extending back into the brain; work on reading, causing nausea. Lids heavy (Coni., Causticum(; cannot bear to raise them; twitching of the lids (Agaricus). Contraction of the pupil (Mercurius cor., Opium Phosphorus, Phytolacca). Eyes sensitive to light (Aconite, Belladonna, Sulphur). Disturbed accommodation; approximation of far point (myopia), and also of near point (the accommodation recovers before the pupil). Vision abnormally acute; double; dim and indistinct; blurred, hazy, misty.

Ears. Sharp, shooting pains in the ears. Hissing, buzzing, ringing in the ears.

Nose. Fluent coryza, sneezing; burning, smarting,itching and tingling of nostrils; nose stuffed and hot. Twitchings in nose and involuntary expansion of nostrils.

Face. Face pale; flushings of he face (Ferrum). Neuralgic pain in right side of face. Sensation of contraction of left side of face.

Mouth. Tongue sore on tip, and tough. Smarting of end of tongue; feels as if burnt (Iris). Tongue coated, more heavily at root. Numbness and tingling of tongue and lips, with constant desire to moisten them. Bad taste in mouth. Profuse salivation; thick, leathery saliva. Difficult speech (Causticum, Coni., Gelsemium, Hyoscyamus). Power of speech retained long after inability to swallow.

Throat. Sore throat, painful swallowing tonsils and soft palate dark- red; burning, scraping, raw feeling; elongated uvula; small ulcers, with yellow centers in pharynx. Pain extending rom throat to left ear when swallowing (Phyt). Feelings if a ball were coming up in throat (Asafoetida, Lycopodium). Submaxillary gland tender and tumefied.

Stomach. No appetite, disgust for food, tobacco and coffee, and especially for cold drinks. Tasteless eructations. Nausea and vomiting. In stomach; prickling, sharp pains; heaviness and weight, as from undigested food; griping; emptiness and weakness sensation of nervousness and trembling. Soreness in region of stomach.

Abdomen. Lancinating pains in hypochondria. Hard, sore pain in splenic in splenic region. Pain and soreness in umbilical region. Stitches in left side of abdomen. Much rumbling and distention in abdomen, with discharge of large quantities of flatus (Aloe., Lycopodium). Colicky pains, with feeling as if diarrhoea would occur (Aloe). Sharp, cutting pains in lower part of abdomen. Dull pain in groins.

Stool and Anus. Sphincter ani swollen and rigid; evacuation painful; rectum protruding, swollen and very sensitive;l piles hard, protruding, painful and very sensitive. Tenesmus and burning, with diarrhoea; also tenesmus of bladder (Mercurius cor.). Stools: copious; soft, thin; watery; yellowish; bilious; brown, black like tar; lumpy; dark and offensive. Constipation.

Urinary Organs. Bruised , sore feeling in region of kidneys. Bladder feels distended. Frequent and copious urination (Phosphorus ac.) Urine yellow: high-colored; strong smell; clear; muddy.

Female Organs. Leucorrhoea; metrorrhagia. Pain as if menses were coming on. Irregular. Menstruation, with palpitation; congestion of the eyes, with tonic spasms, rigidity, sighing respiration, consciousness retained.

Respiratory Organs. Cough, from tickling in throat. Labored, sighing respiration yawning. Stitching in the chest.

Heart and Pulse. Dull pain, uneasiness and distress about the heart (Digit). Violent palpitation of he heat (Aconite, Cact.), with feeling of pulsation through whole body. Heart’s action irregular and tumultuous (Digit.), when lying on left side, better when lying on the back. Pulse variable; accelerated; small, frequent, slow,feeble, intermittent.

Neck and Back. Stiffness in neck. Drawing on turning the head. rheumatic pains in neck. Back very weak, unable to stand erect. Dull pain in back. Creeping numbness from back of head down the spine. Cramp; like stitches up and down the spine. Pain under right shoulder blade (chel.). Dull, heavy pain in lumbar region; also over left hip, extending to back. Pain in sacral region, worse on motion.

Limbs. Limbs feel weary, as after great fatigue (Calcarea c., cinch.). Numbness and paralytic feeling in all the limbs (Aconite). Neuralgic pains in the limbs. Stiffness or bruised feeling in the joints. Staggering gait. Unsteadiness from knee downward when walking, especially with the eyes shut.

Generalities. Great sense of fatigue and weariness weakness (Arsenicum, Cinchona) Convulsive twitchings (Agaricus, Cicuta, Stramonium). Violent trembling all over the body (Ant. tart.(. Great prostration of the muscular system. Omits both on account of horror for cold water. Sore and stiff all over, as from a cold. Severe, sharp pains in various parts of the body.

Sleep. Irresistible desire to sleep; soporific sleep (Opium) Restless sleep, with dreams.

Fever. Creeping, chilly sensation in back. Hands and feet cold (Silicea, Veratrum alb.). Cold,clammy skin. Heat in head and face: flushed and hot. Dry, burning heat in hands. Perspires very easily. cold sweat in drops over whole body. Strong-smelling sweat around the genitals.

Aggravation. Mostly in morning; from exercise; from mental activity.

Amelioration. In open air and from walking; closing the eyes; from quiet; in warm room; from, inhaling Camphor; from Arnica.

Compare. Agaricus, Atrop., Gelsemium, Jabor., Nux v., Opium, Stramonium, Tabac.


Physostigma has been used with some success in paralysis, traumatic tetanus, chorea, progressive locomotor ataxia, general paralysis of he insane; paralysis agitans and progressive muscular atrophy. Congestion of the spinal cord. with tetanic spasms. Numerous cases of tetanus in horses. Its chief homoeopathic application has been in eye trouble, such as myopia, astigmatism, spasms of the ciliary muscles; torpor of the retina. Staphyloma; glaucoma; prolapsed iris; opacity of cornea ;ulcers; keratitis, etc. On account of its extraordinary power to contracted the pupils it has been used to tear up adhesions of the iris, especially when complicated with ulceration of the cornea at the margin. Allen.

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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