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Materia Medica by Kent



NATRUM SULPHURICUM AND SYCOSIS

(xx)

As its name indicates, it is the chemical combination of Natrum and Sulphur, Glauber's salts, Sulphate of soda. It partakes of the wonderful properties of both Sodium and Sulphur, and some day will become a very frequently indicated remedy. It is a remedy which typically corresponds to many of the complaints of a bilious climate. Natrum sulphuricum combines, in a measure, the wonderful effects of Natrum muriaticum and of Sulphur in the Western climate, as an active malarial agent. Malarial climates are all more or less bilious. Of course, I do not mean every man or every woman that comes to you and says: "Doctor, I am bilious." We never know What that means. It means more or less liver; it means more or less stomach; a general derangement of the system. Any kind of sickness may be called biliousness, but where the liver and stomach combine to effect disorders, we have true biliousness.

 

It is a most wonderful combination in its symptoms, because it not only pertains to muscular debility and disturbances of the general structures of the body, but also combines that which gives it consideration mentally. Its complaints are those that are brought on from living in damp houses, living in basements, and in cellars. They are generally worse in rainy, wet weather; hence it was called, primarily, by Grauvogl, one of his hydrogenoid remedies. It produces a profound impression upon the system in a general way like sycosis and a deep-seated or suppressed sycotic disease. Therefore, it is one of the grandest remedies underlying asthma, asthmatic and inherited complaints. In fact, Natrum Sulphuricum is one of the best, one of the clear-cut indicated remedies for those constitutional conditions in children that result in chest catarrhs and asthmatic complaints. This shows you only one of its hereditary features. Now, if we take into consideration the sycotic nature, the hydrogenoid condition of the constitution—always worse in wet weather— and this heredity, we have one of the grand features of this medicine.

 

Its next grand sphere is its action upon the liver and stomach, producing a bilious disturbance. We have, corresponding with this liver excitement a long list of mental symptoms marked with irritability, anxiety, desire to die, aversion to life and to things in life that would generally make people pleasant and comfortable. Now, if I begin on this mental state and go down through it, we will see more of it.

 

A good wife goes to her husband and says: "If you only knew what restraint I have to use to keep from shooting myself you would appreciate my condition!" It is attended with wildness and irritability. No remedy has that symptom like Natrum sulphuricum. You may examine the various remedies in our drug pathogenesy and you will find almost every kind of mental symptom, but here is one that stands by itself—this wonderful restraint to prevent doing herself bodily harm, is characteristic of Natrum sulphuricum. The satiety of life, aversion to life; the great sadness, the great despondency, coupled with the irritability and dread of music—music makes her weep, makes her sad, makes her melancholy—this symptom runs through the Natrums which it receives from the Natrum side of its family; Natrum carbonate, Natrum muriaticum, Natrum sulphuricum, all have it. Anything like melancholic strains aggravate her complaints; mild music, gentle light, mellow light that pours through church windows, these little glimmers of light that come through the colored glass, all these make her sad. Now, such are the mental characteristics of Natrum sulphuricum.

 

With the constitutional troubles there are important head symptoms—mental symptoms from injuries of the head. A young man in St. Louis was hurled from a truck in the fire department. He struck on his head. Following this for five or six months he had fits; I do not know what kind of fits he had; some said epilepsy. Some said one thing and some another, and some said he would have to be trephined. He was an Allopathist, of course, as these firemen all are, for it is hardly ever that you can get one to go outside of Allopathy and try something else. He was a good, well-bred Irishman; so he had to have some good stout physic. Some of his friends prevailed upon him to stay in the country for a while. He did so, but he did not get better; he was irritable; he wanted to die. His wife said she could hardly stand it with him; always wanted to die; did not want to live. His fits drove him to distraction. He did not know when he was going to have one, they were epileptiform in character. Well, in the country he ran across a homeopathic doctor, because he had one of these attacks and the handiest doctor at the time was a Homoeopath. That Homoeopath told him that he had better come back to St. Louis and place himself under my care. He did so. At that time it had been about six months that he had been having these fits. When he walked into my office he staggered; his eyes were nearly bloodshot; he could hardly see, and he wore a shade over his eyes—so much was he distressed about the light —such a photophobia. He had constant pain in his head. He had injured himself by falling upon the back of his head, and he had with this all the irritability that I have described. There was nothing in his fits that was distinctive of a remedy, and the first thing that came into my head was Arnica; that is what everybody would have thought. Arnica, however, would not have been the best remedy for him. Had I known no other or better remedy, Arnica would have perhaps been the best. As soon as he had finished his description, and I had given the case more thought, I found that Natrum sulphuricum was the best indicated remedy for injuries about the head, and I have been in the habit of giving it. So I gave it in this case. The first dose of Natrum sulphuricum cured this young man. He has never had any pain about the head since. He has never had any mental trouble since, never another fit. That one prescription cleared up the entire case. If you will just remember the chronic effects from injuries upon the skull—not fractures, but simple concussions that have resulted from a considerable shock and injuries without organic affections—then Natrum sulphuricum should be your first remedy. Now, that may not be worth remembering, but when you have relieved as many heads as I have with Natrum sulphuricum you will be glad to have been informed of this circumstance. Ordinarily, Arnica for injuries and the results of injuries, especially the neuralgic pains and the troubles from old scars; but in mental troubles coming on from a jar or a knock on the head or a fall or injury about the head, do not forget this medicine, because if you do many patients may suffer where they might have been cured had you made use of this remedy. It has violent head pains, and especially so in the base of the brain; violent pains in the back of the neck; violent crushing pains as if the base of the brain were crushed in a vice, or as if a dog were gnawing at the base of the brain. These symptoms have led me to prescribe this medicine. In the spinal meningitis of today, if all the remedies in the Materia Medica were taken away from me and I were to have but one with which to treat that disease, I would take Natrum sulphuricum, because it will modify and save life in the majority of cases. It cuts short the disease surprisingly when it is the truly indicated remedy. In relation to the symptoms that you are likely to find in spinal meningitis, there is a drawing back of the neck and spasms of the back, together with air the mental irritability and delirium already described. The violent determination of blood to the head we find in this disease, clinically, is readly relieved.

 

The next most important feature is in relation to the eyes. That is characteristic, and is equaled only by one other remedy in chronic diseases where there is an aversion to life with photophobia, and that is Graphites. You take these cases of chronic conjunctivitis, with granular lids, green pus, terrible photophobia, so much so that he can hardly open his eyes; the light of the room brings on headache, distress and many pains. Here Natrum sulphuricum should be compared with Graphites, because Graphites has also an extreme aggravation from light in eye effections. Of course, this classes it entirely away from Belladonna and the other remedies that have acute photophobia, of acute determination of blood to the brain, because it gives you a chronic state and condition that you must study.

 

Natrum sulphuricum produces a stuffing up of the nose, red tongue, irritable mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, and ears, with great dryness and burning in the nose. Pus becomes green upon exposure to the light.

 

The mouth always tastes bad. The patient says: "Doctor, my mouth is always full of slime." That is a common expression of the patient when he comes to you. And the provers, all of them, said that they were troubled with a slimy mouth. Thick, tenacious, white mucus in the mouth. Always hawking up mucus; it wells up from the stomach; mucus from the oesophagus; mucus by belching; mucus coughed up from the trachea, and it is always foul and slimy.

 

There is a distended feeling in the stomach; a sense of a weight in the stomach; almost constant nausea; vomiting of slime, bitter and sour. These are the characteristics: bitter and sour.

 

A sensation of weight in the right hypochondrium, in the region of the liver; aching pains; sometimes cutting pains, and a great amount of distress in the region of the liver. Engorgement in the region of the liver. He can only lie on his right side, his complaints are aggravated from lying on his left side. When lying on the left side, the congested liver seems to pull and draw; the great weight increases the pain and uneasiness and he is compelled to turn back on the right side. Now, it is from these symptoms, whenever a patient comes into my office and says, "Doctor, my mouth is so slimy and tastes so bad, and I think I am bilious," that he always gets Natrum sulphuricum.

 

Natrum sulphuricum produces great flatulence, distention of the abdomen, cutting pains in the abdomen, associated with congestion of the liver. In this tympanitic condition of the liver that sometimes comes on in the inflammatory conditions in bilious fever, you will find Natrum sulphuricum your remedy.

 

I began the use of this remedy with Schussler's remedies some years ago, and find the indications well carried out by the higher and highest potencies. Bell says that if the thirtieth potency of Arsenic is equal to a complete knowledge of the drug, crude Arsenic would be equal to complete ignorance.

 

There is a condition of the chest that is characteristic, and that is in relation to the cough. It has a cough with a sensation of "all-goneness" in the chest. In this it competes with Bryonia; both hold the chest when coughing. Bryonia holds the chest because he feels as if it would fly to pieces; there is such a soreness that he feels the necssity of steadying his chest. The complaints of Bryonia are relieved by pressure. Natrum sulphuricum has this same desire to hold the chest; but in Natrum sulphuricum the muco-pus that is expectorated is thick, ropy and yellowish green, looking like pus—purulent—and there is an "all-gone," empty feeling in the chest. He feels a sense of weakness there; that his lungs are all gone, that he must die in a few days with consumption or some other failing like that, and that it is coming on in a short time.

 

Bryonia corresponds more to the irritable states with the cough, where there is great rawness, great constriction, great sense of tearing in the chest; burning in the chest; while Natrum sulphuricum corresponds to a case that has been going on for perhaps a week; every cough brings up a mouthful of purulent sputa with a desire to press upon the chest to relieve the weakness; Natrum sulphuricum is then your remedy.

 

Another condition is that of humid asthma. If a child has asthma, give Natrum sulphuricum as the first remedy. Asthma, when hereditary, is one of the sycotic complaints of Hahnemann. You will not find that in your text-books, so do not look for it, but it may be an observation worth knowing. I have cured a very large number of such cases of asthma, although the text-books would discourage you if you should read them under asthma, because they will tell you that cases of asthma are incurable. For years I was puzzled with the management of asthma. When a person came to me and asked: "Doctor, can you cure asthma?" I would say, "No." But now I am beginning to get quite liberal on asthma, since I have learned that asthma is a sycotic disease, and since I have made judicious application of anti-sycotics I have been able to relieve or cure a great number of such cases. You will find in the history of medicine that wherever asthma was cured, it has been by anti-sycotic remedies. That is one of the first things I observed, that outside of sycotics you will seldom find a cure for asthma. There is that peculiarity that runs through sycosis which gives you a hereditary disease, and asthma corresponds to that disease. Hence it is that Silicea is one of the greatest cures for asthma; it does not cure every case, but when Silicea corresponds to the symptoms, you will be surprised to note how quickly it will eradicate it. While Ipecac, Spongia, and Arsenicum will correspond just as clearly to the supervening symptoms and to everything that you can find about the case, yet what do they do? They palliate; they repress the symptoms; but your asthma is no better off, your patient is not cured. Arsenic is one of the most frequently indicated remedies for the relief of asthma; so also are Bryonia, Ipecac, Spongia and Carbo veg., but they do not cure; though they relieve surprisingly at times. Where a patient is sitting up, covered with a cold sweat, wants to be fanned by somebody on either side of the bed, dyspnoea is so distressing that it seems almost impossible for the patient to live longer, to get another breath, then Carbo veg. comes in and gives immediate relief and the patient will lie down and get a very good night's rest. But what is the result? On comes the asthma again the very next cold. Natrum sulphuricum goes down to the bottom of this kind of a case. If it is hereditary, that is, not long-lived, if it is in a growing subject, Natrum sulphuricum goes down to the bottom of such a case and will cure when its symptoms are present; and the symptoms will so often be present. It is because of this deep seated anti-sycotic nature, we find in the combination of Natrum and Sulphur, that we have a new state and combination running into the life. When the chest is filling up with mucus, rattling of mucus, expectoration of large quantities of white mucus, with asthmatic breathing in young subjects, this remedy must be thought of.

 

In relation to the genito-urinary organs, we have some very valuable symptoms. In chronic gonorrhcea, with greenish or yellowish-green discharges. Instead of gonorrhoea running off into white, gleety discharge, it keeps up a yellowish, thick, greenish discharge. It competes here with Thuja and Mercurius, both of which are anti-sycotics. When Natrum sulphuricum is indicated there is generally very little pain, it is almost painless. There is chronic loss of sensibility in the part.

 

The urine is loaded with bile, is of a pinkish or yellowish color, with a "corn-meal" sediment, or it looks like stale beer and is extremely offensive. Offensive urine is (not in the text.

 

Like sulphur, it has burning of the soles of the feet at night, and the burning extends to the knees; burning from the knees down. It has also, like sulphur, great burning in the top of the head; it has tearing, rending, cutting pains from the hips down to the knees; worse at night. The stomach symptoms are worse in the morning, and so also with the mental symptoms, they are generally worse in the morning.

 

Now, upon the skin we have some eruptions; we have those cases of so called itch, scabies or vesicular eruptions, vesicular eczema, with a thin, watery discharge exuding from the fingers, and the fingers are swollen stiff and stand out stiffened by the swelling; they are swollen so stiff they can hardly be gotten together. (Baker's itch and barber's itch come under this head). Natrum sulphuricum cures where the palms of the hands are raw and sore and exude a watery fluid. Also vesicular eruptions around the mouth and chin and various parts of the body; little, fine water blisters, very much like Natrum muriaticum and very much also like Natrum carb. So you see it runs into the Natrums. The other disease that I incidentally mentioned a moment ago—the barber's itch—is a sycotic disease, a sycosis menti, a disease of the hair follicles. It is sometimes even contagious. It is one of the highest types of sycosis; the next highest type of sycosis is the venereal wart known as the gonorrhoeal warts. This medicine corresponds to this state and condition of the body.

 

Now, we have said considerable about sycosis. We know in sycosis, which is a constitutional miasm, that we have venereal warts or gonorrhoeal warts; that we have another sycotic state that comes upon the female in cauli-flower excresences. We have also hereditary asthma, a constitutional disease that depends upon sycosis, and this peculiar barber's itch is one of the highest types of sycosis; they are all due to one cause, and some day this cause will be demonstrated to be latent sycosis. Gonorrhoea will will some day be known to be the true offspring of this sycosis. It is the contagious part of the sycosis. It is the means by which the disease is handed from generation to generation. This thing you will not find in the books, and it is, perhaps, only a private opinion and, therefore, worthless. But some day you will remember that I told you this. I have seen things in my observation that astonished me. I believe I have solved what Hahnemann called sycosis, though he has never described it. To me it is very clear from the cases I have cured, with this theory in view or this doctrine in view. The cases I have cured lead me to believe that I am on the right track.

 

Now, I say that gonorrhoea and all of these latent conditions of the body are one and the same thing; that primarily they date back to one and the same source. Of course, the books will tell you that gonorrhoea is not a constitutional disease; but when gonorrhoea will produce warts, and gonorrhoeal rheumatism, and will last throughout life, and children be brought into the world with the same disease, how are you going to get around it? There was & young man in the St. Louis City Hospital who had been there many months, and who was so sore in the bottoms of his feet that he could not get around; he had to leave his business, he was a baker. Finally his old employer came to me and wanted to know if I could do anything for that young man. I did not know anything about the nature of his disease. I told him to bring the young man to me. He was brought, and I learned from his history that years before he had had gonorrhoea; that it had been suppressed with injections. I put him under such constitutional treatment as these theories that I have just mentioned guided me to, and I cured him. In our city I have cured twenty-five or thirty cases of this peculiar kind of sycosis that dated back to a latent gonorrhoea. Symptoms of a latent gonorrhoea are unknown to the books. You will find nothing of it. It is known only to such observers as have been able to make two out of two times one—by putting things together. By and by I shall have a complete chain of evidence to show that gonorrhoea is a constitutional disease and can be handed down from father to son, as can syphilis. It is one of the chronic miasms, and one about which very little is known. If this be true, it is as dangerous to suppress a gonorrhoeal discharge before its time, as it is to suppress a syphilitic chancre before its time. You will never know if you go on treating these constitutional miasms by suppressing the primary manifestations—you will never know the harm you are doing.

 

The most of these are calculated by the process of evolution to wear themselves out, to roll out, or to evolve themselves into symptoms that are so depleting to the disease that they leave of themselves, or leave the patient very nearly free from the disease. Such is the calculation of Nature in a gonorrhoeal discharge, and such has been the intention of Nature in the chancres that appear upon the genitalia. But poor ignorant man, believing he must do something, has made it his first business to cauterize these chancres—to dry up these discharges—and he does not know how much harm he is doing. But this is only a private opinion. I have observed this, that there are two kinds of gonorrhoea—one is a simple urethral discharge, which when stopped by injection, will not produce a constitutional taint, because that is not sycosis; and the other form is the sycotic gonorrheoea, which, if suppressed with injections, will appear in constitutional symptoms. Now, it is for you to live and think for yourselves. If you can make anything out of what I have told you, and it ever helps anybody, I shall be amply repaid. You will most naturally see that all these thoughts are in furtherance of Hahnemann's teaching, based upon the facts observed by him and his faithful followers. Unless guided by the light of the dynamic doctrine of disease and cure, these things would scarcely be observed. For the study of this sycosis I might have taken up Thuja, but knowing how well the master has performed his work, I have taken a remedy that is scarcely second in importance to bring out as well the use of a remedy as a miasm in relation to it.