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Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington



Coffea is extensively used as a beverage. Its active principle is CAFFEINE, which is identical chemically with several others, as THEINE, the active principle of tea, and GUARANINE, the active principle of PAULLINIA SORBILIS. This Caffeine has been found to retard waste of tissue as shown by the diminution of the amount of urea excreted. It is more than likely then that Caffeine is useful when there is an extra drain on the system, particularly after one has been working hard 'in hot weather at which time we have two sources of loss of vitality, one the heat and the other the fatigue from labor. Then a cup of coffee is a very good thing. So too it may be used after loss of sleep when waste is greater than it is after labor. Other things being equal, coffee is not so useful for the young as for the old. Take a man in active business life or one who works hard all day, or an elderly man in whom waste is out of proportion to repair, coffee is a remedy to retard the waste. This is the reason, I doubt not, why it is almost instinctive on the part of workmen to fall back on coffee as a beverage, because it gives them what their food will not, a certain amount of strength and an antidote to the wear and tear of labor.

What are the effects of Caffeine on the system ? These bear a certain resemblance to Strychnia, for it seems to excite reflex action and if persistently given, tetanus as well. It produces sudden starting from the slightest touch of the surface of the body (just like Strychnia), and increased susceptibility to all external impressions. This increased "excito-motor" action explains many of its symptoms. Violent emotions, whether of pleasure or of pain, produce symptoms. Patients experience sudden joy and they are at once sick from the excitement. They awaken at night, without any desire whatever to return to sleep.

Coffee also produces an ecstatic state of mind. Here it finds a concordant remedy in CYPRIPEDIUM. Especially is the latter remedy indicated in children who awaken at night from sleep and are unnaturally bright and playful, and evince no desire to go to sleep again. Such symptoms are often preliminary to some brain affection, which the timely use of Cypripedium may avert.

Apoplectic congestion may be cured by Coffea, particularly if an excited state of the mind has been the cause of the excessive fulness of the cerebral bloodvessels. So too, an animated conversation in which the party interested becomes greatly warmed up and has cerebral congestion, will call for Coffea. This remedy is only of value, however, in the beginning of these cases, when it is all-sufficient. But if the trouble goes on to effusion (not inflammatory effusion, but effusion of serum by oozing through the distended capillaries), then you must have recourse to BELLADONNA, BRYONIA or some remedy more adapted to effusion than is Coffea.

Then too we have in Coffea, a remedy in eruptive diseases, when the eruption keeps the patient awake on account of the excessive itching and burning of the skin ; the patient scratches even until the parts bleed. This symptom is due, in the Coffea case, to the hypersensitiveness of the skin.

Then too we may notice a fear of death, allying Coffea with ACONITE, this fear of death being usually present with the severe pains. All pain in the Coffea patient is intolerable. He cannot bear even a slight pain, which causes great complaint and crying and whining.

Coffea is often indicated in the toothache of children and of nervous people. Sometimes, you will be led to give Chamomilla in these cases. You find the mental symptoms indicating that drug, yet it does no good or it affords but partial relief. You may give Chamomilla when the face is red, when the child cannot bear the least pain and is cross and irritable, and when cold water in the mouth relieves for an instant. But if cold water relieves permanently, Coffea is the remedy.

The senses are all too acute under Coffea, not only the sense of touch but that of sight also. Under the stimulating influence of this remedy the patient may see a fine print with a degree of distinctness altogether unnatural. Distant noises seem to be magnified.

But there is an opposite to this condition produced by Coffea and this opposite embraces those symptoms coming from its secondary action or one of depression. We find it acting on the circulation in this way: At first, it seems to increase the frequency of the pulse, showing that there is increased action of the heart. Now, it must be remembered that this increased frequency of the pulse is not attended with an increase of force as under ACONITE, BRYONIA and BAPTISIA. So you see that the stimulation is not genuine. On the contrary, it weakens the heart muscle. So that after awhile, if this drug be given long enough or if coffee be indulged in as a beverage to excess, the heart exhibits a tendency to dilate.

We find Coffea also indicated in diarrhoea, particularly that occurring among housewives, those who have a great deal of care and trouble in the management of the household.

Then remember also the use of Coffea for fatigue arising from long journeys and especially during a heated term.

And this reminds me to speak to you of the similarity between the effects of Aconite and fhose of protracted heat. The effect on the circulation is nearly the same in either case. At first the pulse is increased and finally the heart muscle weakens. At last, there are languor, drowsiness and even stupor.

As analogous to Coffea, I would like to mention two or three other drugs that have recently been proved. PIPER METHYSTICUM, also called KAVAKAVA and AWASAMOA, is largely used in Polynesia as a beverage. It has also been proved as a medicine. Its effects seem to be something like those of coffee, as it produces at first a feeling of buoyancy or tension, as though every nerve were "strung-up" to its highest pitch. The prover feels that he can work hard without fatigue. If these effects reach their extremes, there is a feeling of mental tension as though the head were large, almost full to bursting. There is dizziness also, dizziness on closing the eyes or on directing the attention to any object. The vessels of the brain and particularly those about the base of the brain feel full as if ligated (that is the symptom given in the language of the prover). Thus far you see it is something similar to Coffea. But the reverse effects quickly follow the use of Piper, and this reverse is characterized by what we may call brain-fag. The brain feels tired on awakening, as though one had been out late at night and had lost considerable sleep or as one feels after a hard night's study. There is heavy dull aching in the head which is worse from either reading, thinking or any other use of the mind. The mental symptoms, be they those of excitement or of depression, are relieved by diversion of the mind. Further than this, Piper seems to produce convulsions, and it has cured them. The spasms simulate those of catalepsy. The mind is tired and yields to the least pressure. There is over-sensitiveness to all external impressions.