Nux vomica is a member of the Loganiaceae family. The medicine is prepared from dried seeds of the plant. Nux vomica contains as active principles two alkaloids known as Strychnia and Brucia.
Strychnia being a poison causes restlessness, trembling of the limbs, stiffness of the neck and jaws constriction of the throat and tetanic convulsions with opisthotonos. These Strychnia convulsions are re-excited by impressions made on the senses, particularly by the slightest touch, and the patient is conscious throughout the attack. In Nux vomica, as Strychnia is its principal ingredient, we will find running all through its symptomatology this over-impressibility; that is, everything impresses the patient excessively. External impressions such as sounds, odors and noises excite him, and this symptom is characteristic of the drug.
Nux vomica is one of the best remedies with which to commence treatment of cases that have been drugged by various medicines to counteract those chronic effects. Nux vomica is a polycrest remedy with the bulk of symptoms corresponding in similarity with the most common diseases of our modern era. Nux vomica is useful for those persons who lead a sedentary life, doing much mental work, or those who remain under stress from prolonged office work and business worries.
Dr. Hahnemann said “Nux vomica is chiefly successful with persons of an ardent character; of an irritable, impatient temperament, disposed to anger, spite or deception.” Nux vomica is best adapted to the thin, spare patient with an irritable and nervous temperament who is prone to indigestion and hemorrhoids.
The Nux vomica individual is very impatient, competitive and ambitious. The major focus of his life is his work and achievement. This person is compulsive with his work. People of such temperament have a focused nature and often have strong, aggressive personalities. This anger is very characteristic of Nux vomica. The patient can be irritable, at first only sporadically, but as he becomes more pathological the irritability becomes anger, then rage, then frank violence. He becomes infuriated at the slowness and insufficiency of his co-workers. Even an inanimate object can anger the patient: he may tear his shirt if the button doesn’t come out easily.
Nux vomica patient is very competitive in all aspects of his life. He must win even at the cost of his own health. A Nux vomica patient finds it difficult to accept the limitations of anything and he cannot resign himself to circumstances. To keep up with work pressures, he uses various stimulants like coffee, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, or even sex. From all this come the bad effects of stimulants as initially they may help him to cope , but later on, toxicity develops and the entire nervous system becomes overwhelmed and oversensitive. Such patients are easily subject states of collapse from over work or abuse of substances or from indulgence and excess. The Nux patient is also very fastidious and becomes angry if objects are not in their proper place.
Nux vomica has a characteristic peculiarity of waking in the morning, falling back to sleep, then waking again feeling worse. He has a bitter taste in his mouth and his tongue is coated. There is a dull headache and he is constipated. All this happens because of inappropriate sleep or we can say sleeplessness. His mind is so wrought up that his thoughts run around and don’t let him sleep. There is a typical morning aggravation with waking at 4 a.m.
The Nux patient is very chilly and has a repugnance to cold and cold air. He feels cold from the least movement or from uncovering. He must be covered in every stage of fever, chill, heat and sweat.
On the physical plane, Nux vomica pathology centers largely on the gastrointestinal tract. There is marked craving for spicy and fatty food, alcohol, bear and stimulants. Hiccough; from overeating . Eructations are sour, bitter; nausea and vomiting especially in the morning and after eating. The patient feels “I would be better, if I could vomit”. Stomach pain worse after anger; worse from tight clothing and better by warmth. Soreness of abdominal wall, worse after eating. Peptic ulcers and gastritis in workaholic patients. Uneasy, fitful and fruitless urging for bowels to act; > stool. Constipation, inactive peristalsis. Strains hard at stool; feels as if a part remains unexpelled.
The nervous system seems bound up and works against itself. This is described best by Kent: “Another state running through Nux is that actions are turned in opposite directions. When the stomach is sick, it will empty its contents with no great effort ordinarily, but in Nux there is retching and straining as if the action were going the wrong way, as if it would force the abdomen open; a reversed action; retches, gags, and strains and after a prolonged effort he finally empties the stomach.“
– The same condition is found in the bladder.
– He must strain to urinate.
– There is tenesmus, urging.
– The bladder is full and the urine dribbles away, yet when he strains it ceases to dribble.
In regard to the bowels, though the patient strains much, he passes but a scanty stool. With diarrhoea at times, when he sits on the commode in a perfectly passive way, there will be a little squirt of stool, and then comes on tenesmus so that he cannot stop straining, and when he does strain there comes on the sensation of forcing back; the stool seems to go back; a kind of anti-peristalsis.
Nux vomica also has its action on the liver. There is hypertrophy and swelling of the liver caused by high living, debauchery, and drunkenness. A region of the liver is so sore, that the patient constantly loosens his clothing to relieve the oppression.
Nux vomica is also a very good remedy for colds. In the first stages of coryza the nose feels dry and obstructed, despite an acrid watery discharge and frequent sneezing . The catarrh is fluent in the morning but dry at the night time. It is worse in a warm room but better in the open air. Catarrh is frequently associated with headache, heat in the face and chilliness. The nostrils feel sore as if ulcerated.
Nux vomica affects very strongly the nervous system. Initially there are many twitchings and jerking, similar to Hyoscymus and Agaricus. There are severe neuralgic pains, particularly of the head.
On the physical level of the Nux vomica image, a general impression is that Nux primarily creates functional difficulties. It does not have the deep degenerations that are characteristic for example, in Arsenic, which has deep spreading ulcerations and gangrenous putrefactions.
In this article I have tried to provide a broader image of the Nux vomica patient, because in practice, we should match the image of the patient with the image of the medicine, not merely with the separate symptoms.