Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington
Zincum metallicum is the zinc preparation we most frequently use. You will notice the very peculiar fact that two preparations containing strychnia, NUX VOMICA and IGNATIA, hold opposite relations to Zinc. IGNATIA follows Zinc well, and may even act as an antidote to its effects on the nervous system. NUX VOMICA tends rather to increase the effects of Zinc, in fact is inimical to it. HEPAR also antidotes Zinc, as it does every other metal. It is a safe remedy to fall back on in cases of metallic poisoning when the symptoms point to no special antidote.
I have had mapped out on the board something of the sphere of action of Zinc. I wish to impress on you all that this is not placed here as an exhaustive analysis of the remedy, nor is it intended to teach you that you are to use Zinc only in the diseases here named. This table is only for convenience sake, to give a sort of starting point around which you may group the symptoms of the remedy.
In poisonous doses the salts of Zinc cause formication, that is, a sensation as of ants creeping over the body. This creeping or tingling is relieved by rubbing or by pressure. There is even a tremulous vibration all through the body. This is experienced by the patient, and is noticed, too, by the observer. Later, there appear fainting spells, with a great deal of numbness and deathly nausea. As soon as water touches the stomach, it is vomited. This is increased by acids, so, if any one should give the patient vinegar or lemon-juice, it only adds to his torment by increasing the nausea. With all this, there is vertigo. The head reels, the eyes feel as if they were being drawn together, and there is hard heavy pressure at the root of the nose. These symptoms are followed by convulsions and stupor, and finally, if the poison cannot be antidoted, by death. I would warn you, too, if you meet with such a case of poisoning, do not give wine or other stimulants, for every symptom of Zinc from head to foot is made worse by wine.
Other remedies having aggravation from drinking wine are RHODODENDRON, GLONOIN, NUX VOMICA, SELENIUM, LEDUM, FLUORIC ACID, ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM and PULSATILLA.
GLONOIN has congestive headache, made worse by wine.
LEDUM is indicated in drawing pains in the joints, made worse by drinking wine.
FLUORIC ACID has aggravation from red wines.
ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM is suited to the bad effects of Rhenish sour wines.
Workers in Zinc, after ten or twelve years' exposure, suffer from the following symptoms: Pains in the back; sensitiveness of the soles of the feet; formication, numbness and coldness of the legs; sensation as of a band around the abdomen ; cramps and twitching of the muscles. Reflex excitability is increased so that irritation in one part of the body will produce violent jerking in another. Muscular sensibility is lessened, hence the patient staggers when his eyes are closed, or when he is in the dark. There are muscular tremors which almost simulate those of shaking palsy. Still later, the gait becomes stiff, motions are spasmodic. From involvement of the sympathetic nervous system there are anaemia and progressive and general emaciation.
In studying Zinc as a remedy, we are to remember, then, that it is a medicine which acts prominently on the nervous system. This influence, which it has on the nervous tissue, is one rather of depression than stimulation. It weakens the cerebro-spinal nerves, and also those of the sympathetic, or ganglionic nerves more accurately called. It is, therefore, to be used in those diseases in which there is weakness of the nervous system. One very useful condition in which we may employ this drug comes under the second heading, undeveloped disease from enervation. By that I mean that Zinc is an invaluable drug when the patient is nervously too weak to develop a disease, and hence he suffers all the consequences of hidden disease, or disease spending its force on the internal organs. To give you an illustration of this in exanthematous diseases, we find Zinc called for in scarlatina, or in measles when the eruption remains undeveloped. As a result of the non-development of the disease, the brain suffers, as we shall see presently.
Now, as another evidence of this nervous condition of non-reaction, we find pains in the ovaries which are relieved during the menstrual flow. Occasionally you will find Zincum indicated in catarrhal asthma. This asthma is accompanied by great constriction of the chest (CADMIUM SULPH., KALI CHLOR. and CACTUS G.), and is relieved as soon as the patient can expectorate. So, too, in the male organs there is a local irritation which may be the result of spinal irritation, or self-abuse. This irritation is relieved by a seminal discharge.
Again, during dentition, from failure to develop the teeth, the child has slow pulse, seeming to come in long waves; it is drowsy, and lies with the back of the head pressed deeply into the pillow, with the eyes half-closed and squinting, the face pale and rather cool, or alternately red and pale. The child gives forth loud cries, not exactly the cri encephalique, but something akin to it, with trembling all over, boring the fingers into the nose (as you find under CINA, ARUM, TRIPHYLLUM, VERATRUM and a few other remedies), or pulling nervously at the dry, parched lips. That will remind you of Arum triphyllum, too. There will be automatic motion of different parts of the body, usually the arms and hands, and, particularly, restless, fidgety movements of the feet. That last is a very strong indication for Zincum. If still conscious enough to take water, he drinks it hastily. In extreme cases the abdomen is hot and sunken, and the stools and urine involuntary. In milder brain symptoms we find the child delirious, as if frightened on awaking. It seems to know no one. It rolls the head from side to side. It may have convulsions, with anxious screams and springing up out of bed, gnashing the teeth and rolling the eyes. The child is exceedingly cross and irritable before the attack, with hot body and great restlessness, particularly at night.
Zincum may be indicated in chorea or St. Vitus's dance, when caused by fright or suppressed eruptions, especially when the general health suffers very much. There are great depression of spirits, and irritability.
Still another form of cerebral trouble calling for Zinc is meningitis. Here it is indicated when, in the beginning either of a case of rheumatism, or in fact from any cause, you find these sharp, lancinating pains through the head; they are worse from wine, or from anything that stimulates. There are, also, pressing, tearing pains in the occiput, particularly about the base of the brain ; and these pains seem to shoot through the eyes, and, sympathetically, into the teeth. There is a very distressing, cramplike pain at the root of the nose, just as we found in the poisoning symptoms. Now these symptoms will suggest Zinc to you in quite a variety of ailments, but especially in meningitis arising from the non-development of an eruption.
So you find Zincum indicated in scarlatina with the brain symptoms that I have mentioned, and with the following additional symptoms: The eruption is imperfectly developed; the skin is rather livid; the child is restless and delirious, or else quiet and unconscious; even in the smooth or Sydenham scarlatina, Zinc may supplant Belladonna by reason of this enervation of the child. A still worse case than this may occur, and still Zincum be indicated, and that is, where the skin is bluish and cold, the body is heavy, and the pulse is almost thread-like, it is so weak and volumeless. Let us now compare Zincum with other remedies.
CUPRUM has cerebral symptoms, convulsions with screaming out, clenching of the thumb into the palm of the hand, boring of the head into the pillow, and predominant spasm of the flexor muscles; the face is usually red, or even purple ; the teeth are clenched; the child foams at the mouth; it awakens from its sleep frightened, and does not know anybody about it, just as in ZINCUM and STRAMONIUM. All these symptoms in Cuprum are the result of a suppressed eruption. In the Zinc they are due to an undeveloped eruption. The symptoms are more violent under Cuprum; they are more like those of active inflammation.
In the BELLADONNA scarlatina the case is different. Belladonna is indicated in the smooth variety of scarlatina, in the early stages. The vomiting is violent, and the cerebral symptoms prominent. There are screaming out, wild look about the eyes, and redness of the face. The throat is bright red and swollen, and the tongue covered with elevated papillae; the patient springs up from sleep screaming, and clings to those about it. Suppose, however, this case goes on, and the rash does not come out; the child becomes pale and livid ; it rolls its head in the pillow, grinds its teeth, and screams out whenever you move it, and the feet are restless; then Belladonna, Cuprum, or Lachesis will do no good ; no remedy but Zinc will.
If the case goes on in spite of Zinc, and the skin becomes livid and cold, the pulse filiform, CAMPHOR may still bring about reaction, especially if there is cold sweat.
In some cases VERATRUM ALBUM will come in.
In still others, I would have you remember HYDROCYANIC ACID.
CALCAREA OSTREARUM is often forgotten in scarlatina. It is to be placed alongside of Zinc, particularly in scrofulous children, when the rash is either undeveloped, or else recedes leaving the face unnaturally pale and bloated.
Zincum is indicated in several forms of headache. One of them is a stinging, tearing headache, worse in the side of the head, greatly increased by wine; this headache is also worse after dinner. Sometimes, you will find Zinc indicated in obstinate pain in the head, obstinate in its persistence, yet intermittent in its quality, now very severe, and now fading away, but continually returning. It is also indicated for pressure on the top of the head, increased after dinner.
You will also find Zincum indicated in hydrocephaloid, following cholera infantum. The child rolls its head ; it awakens from sleep as if frightened, and looks around the room terrified; the occiput is apt to be hot and the forehead rather cool; there is grinding of the teeth ; the eyes are sensitive to the light, and are fixed and staring; the face is sunken and pale, or alternately red and pale; the nose is dry; there is jerking of the muscles during sleep; and last, but not least, there is constant fidgety motion of the feet. In hydrocephaloid, Zincum is closely allied to CALCAREA PHOS.
Next, I would like to speak of the action of Zincum on the spine. Zinc is a good remedy in diseases of the spine of a functional character, especially in spinal irritation. The symptoms which call for it are these: First and foremost, dull, aching pain about the last dorsal or first lumbar vertebra, and this is worse when the patient is sitting than it is when he walks. That symptom, I can assure you, is a good indication for Zinc. I think that very nearly the same symptom is found under SEPIA. It is not situated in the same locality, however, but has the same aggravation. It is also found characteristically under KOBALT. This backache under Zincum is associated with burning along the spine, which burning I believe to be purely subjective and not congestive in character. We also find under Zinc, trembling of the limbs, with a feeling as if they were about to be paralyzed; sudden spasmodic bursting sensation about the heart; the heart seems to be beating regularly, when it suddenly seems as if it would burst through the chest; constriction of the chest causing shortness of breath ; the pulse is slow, or weak and irregular; weakness or goneness in the stomach at 11 A.M. This last symptom you will also find under PHOSPHORUS, NATRUM CARB., SULPHUR, and INDIUM.
Zincum is also indicated in paralysis from softening of the brain, following suppressed foot-sweat, with vertigo, trembling, numbness and formication. These symptoms are relieved by friction, and greatly aggravated by wine. There may be marked ptosis with this paralysis.
In these paralytic affections Zincum is similar to PHOSPHORUS and PLUMBUM. It is similar to Phosphorus in that both remedies suitcases of enervation and of softening of the brain with the accompanying trembling. Phosphorus has not the aggravation from wine nor the ptosis.
PLUMBUM has nearly the same symptoms as Zinc, but there is added to these, impaired nutrition, or atrophy of the paralyzed part. There will be pains in the atrophied limbs, alternating with colic.
Now a word or two as to some local effects of Zinc, and we will have done with the remedy. First of all, we find it indicated in some affections of the eyes; for instance, in amblyopia which is accompanied by severe headache, which is probably dependent upon some organic change in the brain or its meninges, and with severe pain at the root of the nose. The pains are particularly worse at the inner canthus of each eye. The pupils are contracted.
We may also use Zinc for opacities of the cornea, following repeated and long-lasting attacks of inflammation of that membrane. The best preparation here is ZINCUM SULPHURICUM.
Pterygium may be removed by Zinc, particularly if there are smarting and stinging pains at the inner canthus.
Zincum is also useful for granular lids. Zincum sulphuricum is here preferable to the metallicum.
It is also indicated in prosopalgia when the pains are severe and are accompanied by blueness of the eyelids.
Zincum has marked gastric and hepatic symptoms. It produces bitter taste, which is referred by the patient to the fauces. As soon as a spoonful of water reaches the stomach it is ejected. Heartburn is present, and this is increased by wine and also during pregnancy. When occurring during pregnancy it is apt to be accompanied by varicose veins of the legs. Hunger is particularly manifested towards noon. Zincum also affects the liver. You will find recorded in the original provings a symptom, the exact language of which I have forgotten, but which is in substance this: There is a feeling as of a hard tumor in the neighborhood of the umbilicus, and this is accompanied by griping pains. This symptom has led to the use of the drug in enlargement of the liver.
Zincum affects the abdomen something like Plumbum, producing griping pains about the navel, with most obstinate constipation. This is accompanied by a great deal of pressure backwards, as though the abdomen was being drawn back toward the spine. Now in almost all cases in which Zincum is useful you will find that the predominant pressure is on the sides of the abdomen ; so it must affect principally the ascending and the descending colon. The urine often contains blood; it is sometimes turbid and loam-colored, and has a yellowish sediment. The patient cannot pass urine unless he sits cross-legged, and that, too, though the bladder be full.
The cough of Zinc is spasmodic, as if it would draw the chest in pieces. The sputum may be bloody. This is particularly noticed just before or during a menstrual period. It is also aggravated by eating sweet things. You will sometimes find Zincum helping in children, who, every time they cough, put their hands on the genital organs.
In its action on the male genital organs Zincum is similar to CONIUM. It is indicated in spermatorrhoea following long-lasting abuse of the genital organs, with great hypochondriasis. The face is pale and sunken, with blue rings around the eyes. There is great local irritation. The testes are drawn firmly up against the external ring. It differs from CONIUM in that the latter remedy lacks the excessive irritability.
Zincum is also useful in diseases of the female organs, especially for irregularity in the menstrual function, particularly when it is associated with ulceration of the cervix uteri and boring pain in the left ovarian region. All the symptoms improve at the onset of the menstrual flow.