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Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington
Today we begin our study of Natrum muriaticum or common table-salt. This has always been held up to us as an opprobrium against medicine, and as a confirmation of the fallacies of homeopathy. A physician once said to me : "What! will you use a substance which is used in almost every food and call it a medicine, and say that you obtain good effects from it ?" I can assure you, gentlemen, as I assured him, that Natrum mur. is a medicine, and I can assure you, too, that that very man afterwards became a warm advocate of the medicinal virtues of Natrum muriaticum. I tell you that when you potentize a drug you will find that you no longer have to depend upon the ordinary laws of dietetics, hygiene or chemistry, but you step into a realm which is distinct from the laws of chemistry and of physics. Medicines are then no longer subject to the coarser laws.
Natrum mur. was reproved by the Austrian provers, a company of physicians who made heroic provings of some drugs, some of them dying from the effects of their provings, so large and powerful were the doses of the medicines they took. One of the provers, whose name I have forgotten, said, when he published his provings of Natrum mur., that the higher potencies of the drug produced the most symptoms, and these symptoms, moreover, were more valuable than those produced by the low. It is true of Natrum mur. as of most other drugs, that the high potencies act best.
You will notice on the board that I have placed ARGENTUM NITRICUM and APIS as complementary to Natrum mur. ARGENTUM NITRICUM holds a complementary relation to Natrum mur. It also, at times, antidotes. It acts as a chemical or as a dynamic antidote according to the quantity of the drug taken. The relation between APIS and Natrum mur. is particularly evident in the treatment of chills and fever, and skin affections. Salt is one of the substances used to antidote the poisonous effects of bee-stings.
When Natrum mur. has been abused as a condiment, SWEET SPIRITS OF NITRE may be used as a successful antidote. Some other effects of Natrum mur. are antidoted by ARSENICUM, and still others by PHOSPHORUS. I do not now recall any remedy inimical to Natrum mur.
Natrum muriaticum or Chloride of Sodium may be considered first in its physiological relations, so that we may learn something of its value as a medicine. It enters into every tissue of the body, even into the enamel of the teeth. Speaking now physiologically, it is regarded as a stimulant to the various tissues into which it enters. It exists in quite considerable quantities in the various humors of the eye, particularly in the aqueous humor and crystalline lens, and also in the vitreous humor. It has been said that its function here is to preserve the transparency of the respective tissues. Virchow, in his PATHOLOGY, quotes an authority who gave Chloride of Sodium to dogs until he produced opacity of the crystalline lens. Hence, cataract may be produced by Natrum mur.
Chloride of Sodium in the stomach stimulates digestion and this, too, within the bounds of physiology. It stimulates digestion in various ways. First, it promotes the flavor of food. We all know how insipid certain articles of diet are unless salted. We know from physiology that if a substance has its taste enhanced, its digestibility is also increased. That which is agreeable, digests more readily than that which is unsavory. Salt also acts on the stomach itself by favoring the secretion of gastric juice. Salt acts on the glands producing an increase in the glandular secretions. Thus we find it acting on the sudorific glands and also on the mucous glands.
Schussler argues that salt is excreted through the mucus. That is true. Therefore he says that as salt has a function here, it must be the remedy for all catarrhs. That is too sweeping a conclusion for so limited a premise. It is true that if you examine healthy mucus you will find that it contains considerable salt. It is true also that Chloride of Sodium produces an excessive flow of normally constituted mucus, From this you may take a useful hint. Wherever you find a catarrh with a copious secretion of clear normal mucus, there Natrum mur. can come in as a remedy. We find it acting also on the sebaceous glands. These little glands are quite numerous in certain parts of the body, particularly around the wings of the nose and the cheeks. Their function is to lubricate the skin. Natrum mur. stimulates these. The skin becomes oily in appearance. We notice this particularly in the face, in the scalp, and more than likely, in other parts of the body.
Salt also has a stimulating effect on the nervous system, keeping up its tone. Muscular tone is also favored by the presence of salt within the tissues of the muscles. This brings me to hint to you that common salt may be used as an external application in weaknesses of the muscles and nerves that favor deformities of the limbs. When you first notice that a child is walking on the side of its feet, or when you meet with a case of post-diphtheritic paralysis, you may use friction with salt to great advantage. I do not mean to say that it will cure all deformities, for some arise from inflammation of the anterior gray cornua of the cord. Chloride of Sodium cannot cure then, for this trouble is due to organic disease.
Again, we may frequently use salt in the form of the sitz bath, for obstinate amenorrhoea.
We shall frequently find Natrum mur. indicated when the blood is impoverished. The nutrition of the whole system therefore suffers. We find it indicated in anaemia, particularly in anaemia provoked by loss of fluids, hence often with women who suffer from menstrual disease and with men who suffer from loss of semen. We shall often find it indicated in scorbutic states of the system when the patient suffers more or less from scurvy. It is quite likely that the prolonged use of salt meat is a common cause of scurvy. In these cases, the mouth becomes sore, ulcers form on the tongue and on the gums, and the breath has a foetid odor. The tongue presents a mapped appearance. This symptom we find in other remedies, as ARSENICUM, RHUS TOX., KALI BICHROMICUM and TARAXACUM.
Again, as a result of this impoverishment of the blood, we find the nervous system suffering secondarily.
Natrum mur. may be given for the following symptomatic indications : The patient is emaciated, and this emaciation is very marked. The skin is rather harsh and dry and of a yellowish hue. The patient feels greatly exhausted from any little exertion of mind or body. On account of the anaemia, we have the circulation readily excited so that every little exertion produces throbbing all over the body. The patient suffers frequently from palpitation of the heart, and this, too, is excited by every emotion. It is often described by the patient as a sensation as though a bird's wing were fluttering in the left chest.
Mentally, we find these patients sad and tearful. You will seldom find Natrum mur. indicated in chronic affections unless there is this low-spirited condition of the mind. The patient seems to be made worse by any attempt at condolence. Consolation may even make her angry. This tearful condition is accompanied by palpitation of the heart and intermittent pulse. Now, this intermittent pulse does not necessarily imply organic disease of the heart, but simply a nervously weak heart.
At other times, you will find the patient decidedly hypochondriacal, just as we have already found with NATRUM CARB. This hypochondriasis is directly associated with indigestion, as in Natrum carb. But there is this difference:. With Natrum mur., the remedy under consideration, this hypochondriasis keeps step with the degree of constipation, not alone with the indigestion, as in the other.
In addition to this melancholy mood we also have irritability developed by Natrum mur. The patient becomes angry at every little trifle. He stores up in his mind every little real or imaginary offence. He wakes up at night with palpitation of the heart and can not go to sleep again, because past unpleasant events occupy his mind.
Now in these mental symptoms, Natrum mur. runs against several drugs. One of these is PULSATILLA, which is the most lachrymose remedy of our materia medica. But Pulsatilla has rather a tender, yielding disposition, that likes consolation. The more you console her, the better she likes it.
SEPIA is more similar to Natrum mur. than is Pulsatilla, in that both remedies have this low-spiritedness and vehement angry disposition combined. Both have Indian-like hatred of those who have injured them. In fact these remedies are complementary to each other. The Sepia patient, however, has marked indifference to her household affairs.
The patients who suffer from these mental symptoms calling for Natrum mur. are generally chlorotic. They suffer from leucocythaemia. The menses are often late and scanty or else cease altogether. When the menses have not entirely ceased and are scanty, they are accompanied by such marked symptoms as these : Decided increase of the sadness before menses; palpitation of heart which, too, is apt to be of this fluttering variety, and throbbing headache, which headache continues persistently after the menstrual period. The Natrum mur. patient frequently suffers too from uterine displacements. She has quite characteristically prolapsus uteri, which is particularly induced when she gets up in the morning. The symptom reads, "When she gets up in the morning, she must sit down to prevent prolapsus." This is a functional disease altogether. There is no organic change in the uterus, but there is great relaxation in the ligaments which support that organ. As she arises in the morning, relaxed instead of refreshed after her night's sleep, the uterus falls and she has to sit down to prevent this dragging. You will find these uterine symptoms accompanied by backache and decided spinal irritation, which is greatly relieved by lying flat on the back or by pressing a pillow firmly against the back. That I have confirmed over and over again for Natrum mur. In addition, you will have a characteristic symptom of the bladder that is just as often present as is the prolapsus itself, and that is, cutting in the urethra after urination. That symptom, I have seen successfully applied many times. Backache and morning aggravation are symptoms which will aid you in the selection of Natrum mur.
Natrum mur. produces a headache, worse from any use of the mind. In the morning on awaking, there is throbbing, mostly in the forehead, as if from many little hammers beating in the head. This, too, is worse from any use of the mind. The pain is so severe at times as to make the patient almost maniacal. With this kind of headache, the tongue is dry and almost clings to the roof of the mouth, although it may look moist when put out. There is great thirst. The pulse is almost always intermittent. This helps you to distinguish it from its complement, SEPIA, which has a similar symptom. I do not want you to forget that sharp headache of Sepia, that sharp pain in the lower part of the brain, apparently in the meninges, shooting upwards. The patient can bear neither light nor noise. The pain is usually attended with nausea and vomiting as a secondary symptom.
Natrum mur. also produces a headache simulating that of BRYONIA; sharp stitching about the head and sore bruised feeling about the eyeballs, especially when the eyes are moved. I may say that these headaches of Natrum mur. are particularly common in school children at the age of ten or eleven.
CALCAREA OSTREARUM is also a good remedy here.
You may have occasion to use Natrum mur. in ciliary neuralgia, especially when the pains are periodical, returning from sunrise to sunset, being worse at mid-day.
SPIGELIA is a drug which also has headache or ciliary neuralgia, coming and going with the sun and worse at mid-day.
GELSEMIUM and GLONOIN have not so much neuralgia as throbbing in the head, which grows worse and worse with the sun.
Natrum mur. also causes headache with partial blindness; here it resembles KALI BICHROMICUM, IRIS and CAUSTICUM.
Natrum mur. has a very powerful influence on the various portions of the eyes. Now, all over the body, the drug produces weakness of the muscles. This is especially manifest in the muscles of the eyes. The muscles of the lids feel stiff when moving them. Letters blur and run together when looking steadily at them, as in reading. You see that there is marked asthenopia. Natrum mur. is especially indicated when the internal recti muscles are affected. These asthenopic symptoms depend upon a general break-down. The spine is weak and irritated, digestion is slow and imperfect, and nutrition is not as rapid or as complete as it should be.
Another form of eye disease in which Natrum mur. is indicated, is scrofulous ophthalmia. You will be called upon to use the drug in such cases when nitrate of silver has been abused. There are smarting and burning pains and a feeling as of sand beneath the lids. The tears are acrid and there is very marked spasmodic closure of the eyelids. You can hardly force the lids apart. Ulcers form on the cornea. The eyelids themselves are inflamed and agglutinated in the morning. In addition to these eye symptoms, these scrofulous children suffer from eruptions particularly marked at the border of the hair. Scabs form on the scalp and from these there oozes a corrosive matter. There are moist scabs in the angles of the lips and wings of the nose, and with these, emaciation.
In scrofulous ophthalmia you should compare with Natrum mur., ARGENTUM NITRICUM, ARSENICUM and GRAPHITES.
For scabs in the corners of the mouth and wings of the nose, compare ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM, GRAPHITES and CAUSTICUM.
Natrum mur. also causes half-sight. Here you should compare AURUM, LITHIUM CARB., LYCOPODIUM and TITANIUM.
Natrum mur. acts on the mucous membranes. We find it indicated in catarrh with mucous secretions abnormal in quantity rather than in quality. This hypersecretion of mucus is accompanied by paroxysms of sneezing. Fluent alternates with dry coryza. Every exposure to fresh air gives the patient cold. The wings of the nose are apt to be sore and sensitive. There is almost always in the Natrum mur. catarrh, loss of smell. Natrum mur. is one of the best remedies for hawking of mucus from the throat in the morning, when the symptoms call for no other remedy.
The tonsils are often very red. The uvula is elongated, probably from relaxation of its muscles. There is a constant feeling as of a plug in the throat. The patient chokes easily when swallowing. The tongue is coated in insular patches.
The cough arises from the accumulation of clear mucus in the posterior nares, pharynx and larynx. Of course, there is hoarseness. Another form of cough calling for Natrum mur. is cough arising from tickling in the throat or at the pit of the stomach. This kind of cough is accompanied by bursting headache, here reminding one of BRYONIA, and sometimes by involuntary spurting of urine as we find under SCILLA and CAUSTICUM, and often, too, by stitches in the liver.
Natrum mur. has marked action on the male genital organs. It causes great weakness of these, giving rise to seminal emissions during sleep. These are followed by debility and great weakness. The genital organs are greatly relaxed. Wet dreams may even occur after coitus. That may seem to you an anomalous symptom, but it is not. During the act of coitus, erections are not strong and the ejaculation of semen is weak or even absent. The consequence is, there is not an entire emptying of the seminal vesicles. There is still irritation remaining there. When the man goes to sleep, this irritation, by reflex action, excites lascivious dreams. As consequences of the excessive seminal loss, we find backache, night-sweat, weakness of the legs and the melancholy which is characteristic of the remedy. Natrum mur. is not alone among the soda salts in this class of ailments. NATRUM PHOS. was proved by gentlemen in this college. They had seminal emissions every night. At first, there seemed to be erethism with lascivious dreams but, later, emissions took place, one or two in a night, without any sensation whatever. These were followed by weakness of the back and by trembling of the knees, which felt as though they would give way.
You will find, too, that gonorrhoea is curable by Natrum mur., especially when chronic. The discharge is usually clear (it may be sometimes yellowish). There is well-marked cutting in the urethra after urination.
Nutrition is greatly impaired under Natrum mur. as I have already told you. Emaciation is marked in almost every case in which it is the similimum. We may make use of this fact in children who suffer from marasmus from defective nourishment. They are thin, particularly about the neck. They have a ravenous appetite, and despite this, they grow thin, at least they do not grow fat. Here you find it comparable with IODINE, but the peculiar emaciation of the neck disproportionate to that of the body is sufficient to distinguish it from that drug. In addition to this you may have, at times, well-marked thirst. The child craves water all the time. This is what the laity term inward fever. There is constant heat and dryness of the mouth and throat which the water relieves. If there is constipation when Natrum mur. is the remedy, there is a very characteristic stool, hard, difficult to expel, Assuring the anus, and as a consequence there is bleeding with the stool. Of course, smarting and soreness is the result of this laceration of the anus.
Natrum mui\, like the other salts of soda, is a first-class remedy in the treatment of dyspepsia. We find it indicated when farinaceous food, particularly bread, disagrees. The symptom reads, "He is averse to bread of which he was once fond." On the other hand, there is craving for oysters, fish and salty food or for bitter things. After eating, the patient is very thirsty. There is a distressed indescribable feeling at the pit of the stomach. This is relieved by tightening the clothing, just the opposite to LACHESIS and HEPAR, and precisely the same as FLUORIC ACID. The constipation which I have described causes hypochondriasis. The patient is low-spirited and ill-humored, and this mental condition seems to keep pace with the degree of constipation. When the bowels are moved, the mind is relieved. You must use this symptom rationally. Those who have been accustomed to taking purgative medicines will almost always feel badly if their bowels remain costive longer than the usual time. They have dull headache, nasty taste in the mouth, etc., and when the bowels move, they feel better. Here NUX VOMICA is the remedy. It is not often that undisturbed constipation produces this condition of mind, but when it does, Natrum mur. is the remedy.
We find Natrum mur. indicated in affections of the coarser tissues, for instance, of the skin. I have already told you how it affects the sebaceous glands. We find that it produces urticaria. The itching is very annoying. It occurs about the joints, particularly about the ankles. Wheals form on different parts of the body and these itch, smart and burn. Especially do we find Natrum mur. indicated when these symptoms accompany intermittent fever, or occur after exposure to damp cold, especially at the seaside. Exercise makes this nettle-rash intolerably worse. Just here we find Natrum mur. complementary to Apis.
APIS is an excellent remedy in the treatment of urticaria, but it is not so good, I have found, in the treatment of the chronic form of the disease. Here we have to use other drugs, as Natrum mur., and above all CALCAREA OSTREARUM.
There is another form of eruption yet to be thought of for Natrum mur., and that is herpetic eruptions. Thus, we find particularly characteristic of Natrum mur., what are called hydroa-labialis. They are little blisters which form on the borders of the lips and which accompany every marked case of chills and fever indicating Natrum mur. . They are akin to what are commonly known as fever blisters. HEPAR, NATRUM MUR. and RHUS TOX., are the remedies which have this symptom most marked. ARSENICUM also has it. In the very beginning of these cold sores, the application of camphor will stop the trouble. If, however, they are well advanced, HEPAR relieves them and prevents their return. Camphor is not a curative remedy, but Hepar is.
Herpes circinatus, a variety of ring-worm, calls for Natrum mur. Other remedies for this trouble are SEPIA, BARYTA CARB., and TELLURIUM.
Another form of eruption calling for Natrum mur., is eczema, which appears in thick scabs, oozing pus, and matting the hair together, a crusta lactea in fact.
Lastly, I come to speak of the well-known application of Natrum mur. to intermittent fever. There it shares the honors long accorded to Cinchona and Arsenic. Natrum mur. is to be considered when the chill comes characteristically between ten and eleven A.M. The chill begins in the small of the back or in the feet. It is accompanied sometimes by thirst, and by aching pains all over the body. Sometimes, urticaria complicates the case. Fever is usually violent. Thirst increases with the heat. The headache becomes more and more throbbing. So severe is this cerebral congestion at times, that the patient becomes delirious. By and by, sweat breaks out quite copiously and it relieves the headache and also the other symptoms. This is the chill curable by Natrum mur.
When chill occurs at 10 A.M., as a result of hectic fever or phthisis, STANNUM is to be used and not NATRUM MUR.