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Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington



SILICA

(sil)

SILICA or SILICEA in its crude state is inert. It is insoluble, and hence has very little effect on the system. When potentized according to the formula of Hahnemann it becomes one of the most valuable drugs in our materia medica. It is a grand illustration of the efficacy of potentization.

The great and important effect of Silica lies in the nutritive changes which are made by it. As nutritive changes are more evident in the growing child than in the adult you will find Silicea symptoms appearing mostly in children from infancy up, not that it is contraindicated in the adult, but its use is shown more evidently in the young. The child then is imperfectly nourished, not from defective quality of nourishment, but from defective assimilation. The head is disproportionately large; the fontanelles, especially the anterior, are open ; the body is small and emaciated, with the exception of the abdomen which is round and plump, as is often the case in scrofulous children. The head, including the scalp, neck and face, is covered with an offensive sweat. The face is pale, waxen, earthy, or yellowish. The bones are poorly developed, as are also the muscles, consequently the child is slow in learning to walk. Silicea is especially adapted to rachitic children. The fibrous parts of the joints are inflamed, swollen or ulcerated. This gives the joints, especially the knees, a knob-like appearance.

Silicea is complementary to THUJA, especially in nervous affections and for the bad effects of vaccination. Whatever we may say in favor of the necessity of vaccination we do know that this operation may be followed by unhappy symptoms, and that, too, when the purest of virus has been used. Hence at times you have to counteract the bad effects that may follow the operation. We know that in Paris some 30,000 or 40,000 children were vaccinated after each were given a dose of Sulphur, which prevented the outbreak of any other disease than the vaccinia itself. If such bad effects as erysipelas, convulsions or diarrhoea should follow, then you will give Silicea, which will cure the case. THUJA itself is complementary here, and comes in very well for diarrhoea following vaccination, and also when the vaccination fever is high. Pustules like those of small-pox, together with a rash, appear all over body.

You notice that, to the right on the board, I have placed Mercurius, prefixed by a "crescendo" mark. That means that Mercurius does not follow well after Silicea. Their symptomatologies are seemingly similar, and yet they do not seem to agree, although Silicea will antidote some of the effects of mercury, but, as potentized medicines, they do not follow each other well, hence you must be careful in deciding between the two drugs.

FLUORIC ACID antidotes the overuse of Silicea in bone affections.

HEPAR also antidotes some of the effects of Silica.

We are now ready to take up the effects of the drug. First, on cellular tissue. Silicea has long been known as a valuable drug because of its affinity for cellular tissue. It produces inflammation of this vast tissue of the body, an inflammation which progresses to suppuration and suppuration, too, which is rather indolent or sluggish in type, not necessarily malignant but tending rather to perpetuate itself and become chronic. The case tends rather towards chronicity than towards resolution. The termination of the Silicea cellulitis then is in suppuration which is persistent, in ulceration which is also persistent, or in induration. You may have it indicated in any one of these forms. I have already illustrated this in the application of Silicea to the tonsils, when these glands suppurate and refuse to heal. You will see it also in the treatment of boils or furuncles, furuncles which recur in crops and which do not heal readily, but continue to discharge a rather thin watery and even ichorous pus, usually having a foul odor, or even thick pus. Silicea may frequently be suggested as a remedy to prevent boils, on account of its tendency to produce inflammation of the connective tissue.

So, too, it would be suggested in that dread disease, carbuncle, particularly when it is situated between the shoulder and nape of the neck, a common site for carbuncle.

Silicea may also be used for induration. For instance, following the treatment of boils and abscesses, or other inflammations of the kind involving the parenchyma of an organ, you may have plastic exudation, giving you inflammation with induration. This induration tends to be absorbed under Silicea.

 

This effect places Silicea alongside of GRAPHITES, Graphites being a drug you will remember which tends to absorb indurated surfaces, even going so far as to effect the obliteration of cicatrices.

The same has been said of PHYTOLACCA, but I think that this lacks confirmation. It certainly lacks the confirmation that Graphites has had.

Sometimes you will find that Silicea is unsuccessful in these indurations. Then a dose of SULPHUR, interpolated, makes' the Silicea act better.

In ulceration we find Silicea useful. In fact it may be given with good result in all forms of ulcers, both benign and malignant. Its distinctive features are ulcers from bone diseases, as caries or necrosis, scrofulous ulcers which appear about joints, ulcers which appear in the back from vertebral caries, and ulcers which appear about the hip in hip-disease, particularly if connecting with fistulae. The pus is thin and offensive, and often mixed with blood and sometimes with little particles looking like cheese. There is very little tendency to heal spontaneously. These ulcers are relieved by warm and aggravated by cold applications.

Silicea acts upon the bones. We find it indicated in scrofulous children where the bones are curved ; where spinal curvature is present. Not only is it indicated in lateral curvature, but where there is caries of the vertebral column itself.

It may also be indicated in disease of the hip- or knee-joint, when the discharges are thin and offensive, and when there are fistulous tracks opening into the joint. The patient is of a scrofulous diathesis, and presents the constitutional characteristics that I have already mention as belonging to the Silicea patient. In addition to the symptoms there enumerated, the Silicea patient may have an offensive foot sweat, and this tends to make the toes sore and even raw. Sometimes there may be an offensive axillary sweat. I believe that the best remedy for axillary sweat is PETROLEUM. The child also has tendency to swelling of the glands which suppurate. Now with these symptoms there is marked aggravation from touch, a peculiar susceptibility to touch, in fact. I would here compare it with LACHESIS. The patient does not want you to touch him. I dwell on this symptom for two reasons; one is that it helps you to differentiate from the closely allied lime salts, and the other, because it illustrates a property of Silicea which you will see when we come to speak of its action on the nerves.

Let us now stop to compare Silicea with its related remedies. ASAFOETIDA has offensive discharges from the bones. It is distinguished, however, by the intolerable soreness around the ulcer. For instance, in caries of the tibia, with an external outlet and discharging pus, the parts around the ulcer are so sore and tender to the touch that the patient cannot bear the dressing.

PHOSPHORUS is very similar to Silicea in bone disease. It resembles it in abscess, particularly in mammary abscess, with fistulous openings. It is similar, too, in the caries of bone, particularly in necrosis. Phosphorus, like Silicea, has this over-excitability of the nervous system.

PLATINUM MUR. is also a valuable drug in caries of the bones.

Another is ANGUSTURA, which is particularly useful in caries of the long bones, as the humerus, tibia, femur, etc.

STRONTIANA CARBONIEA is especially useful in caries of the femur with coexisting watery diarrhoea.

GETTYSBURG SALT is rich in carbonate of lithium, and is very useful for symptoms precisely like those of Silicea, namely, carious ulcers or ulcers about joints, such as occur in hip-disease or in caries of the vertebrae. The discharge is acrid and excoriating.

SULPHUR, CALCAREA, and LYCOPODIUM are similar to Silicea in the scrofulous diseases of children. The distinction between Calcarea and Silicea is as follows : The CALCAREA head sweat is confined to the scalp, and is sour rather than offensive. The feet also are damp from sweat, but the sweat does not, as in Silicea, make the feet sore or raw. Calcarea lacks the sensitiveness to touch of Silicea.

In this sweating of the head, the body being dry, Silicea is exactly opposite to RHUS TOX., which has sweating of the body, the head being dry.

The mucous membranes do not escape the action of Silicea. We have otorrhcea, the discharge from the ear being offensive, watery, and curdy; that is, you find whey-like curds in it. Often you find the membrana tympani perforated with discharge of pus thence, containing little pieces of bone, the result of involvement of the mastoid process by the disease.

There is keratitis, especially with tendency to the formation of sloughing ulcers. These ulcers slough and perforate the cornea like those of NITRIC ACID. These in the Silicea child are not vascular, so there is not much infiltration of the surrounding tissues. Hypopyon is present. The lids are swollen and covered with suppurating styes.

The nose is affected. Silicea is especially useful in nasal catarrh when ulcers exist on the mucous membranes, and these discharge a thin, bloody excoriating matter; or they may be dry, and then there is annoying dryness of the nose. It is also useful when the catarrhal process extends backwards and involves the outlets of the Eustachian tubes, producing an intolerable itching and tingling in this locality.

We also find Silicea indicated in some forms of hay-asthma, especially that which begins with itching and tingling in the nose and violent sneezing and excoriating discharge from the nose.

Silicea has also an action on the lungs. It produces hoarseness and roughness and dryness, with a tickling cough which seems to come from the supra-sternal fossa. RUMEX CRISPUS also has this cough.) There is also a feeling as if a hair were lying in the throat, larynx or trachea. The cough is excited by cold drinks, as under RHUS TOX., by the very act of speaking, as in PHOSPHORUS, RUMEX, AMBRA GRISEA, etc., and worse at night when lying down, just like RUMEX, PHOSPHORUS, and LYCOPODIUM. Sometimes it ends in the vomiting of mucus.

Silicea is useful in the suppurative stage of tuberculosis, when the cough, at first dry, becomes loose, with the expectoration of offensive muco-pus. You will find it of great service in the phthisis mucosa of old people. After great exertion the patient expectorates nasty pus, which is horribly offensive. Silicea will not cure these cases. It can only palliate.

PHELLANDRIUM AQUATICUM is an excellent remedy in the last stages of phthisis when the expectoration is terribly offensive.

I would advise you to remember CAPSICUM for bronchial catarrh when the breath is not offensive except during the cough. You know that the Capsicum patient is of lax fibre and cannot get up the expectoration ; so some of it lies there and undergoes decomposition. The air of ordinary expiration is not offensive, but as soon as the patient brings that from the very depths of the lungs, the offensive odor becomes quite marked.

In tonsillitis, Silicea is indicated when the tonsils have suppurated and discharged and refuse to heal. Especially is it indicated when this condition occurs in rachitic children.

In the Silicea diarrhoea the stools are offensive and usually painless and lienteric. The child vomits its food. These symptoms are associated with the characteristic skin lesions and constitutional peculiarities which go to make up the Silicea child.

The constipation of Silicea is of this character. Stool partially escapes from the rectum and then seems to slip back. I think that this symptom is easily explained. There is defective expulsive power on the part of the rectum. With a great deal of straining the stool is partly pushed down. When the bearing down ceases then it slips back. Next you have to remember the action of Silicea on the nervous system. It has here a very peculiar effect, which was pointed out first by Dr. Dunham. It causes a tendency to paralysis and paralytic weakness. Here, too, the trouble seems to be due to defective nutrition of the nerves themselves, both in the brain and spinal cord. Then you will have to remember it as a remedy in paralytic weakness accompanying disease of the spinal column. Often, with this condition, there is the peculiar constipation I have just described. With all these paralytic troubles there is an over-susceptibility to nervous stimuli. The senses are morbidly keen. The brain and spine cannot bear even an ordinary concussion or vibration. The surface of the body is tender and sensitive to the touch. Cold aggravates the symptoms and heat relieves.

Silicea may be given in convulsions of an epileptic character, with well-marked aura, when it starts from the solar plexus, as in BUFO and NUX VOMICA. The attacks are also said to come in certain phases of the moon. The patients are worse from any overstrain of the mind or emotions.

The headache of Silicea is of a nervous character. It is provoked by any excessive mental exertion. Then it is usually supraorbital and is generally worse over the right eye. It is worse from any noise, motion or concussion, and better from wrapping the head up warmly. It is not the pressure, but the warmth, that relieves. Sharp, tearing pains rise from the spine into the head. At the height of the paroxysm there is apt to be nausea and vomiting from sympathetic involvement of the stomach.

You should here compare MENYANTHES, PARIS QUADRIFOLIA and MAGNESIA MUR. Menyanthes was first confirmed by Dr. Dunham. It has a peculiar headache coming from the nape of the neck, over the head. There is a bursting pain, as if the membranes of the brain were tense and were pushing the skull open. This is relieved by pressure rather than by warmth.

PARIS QUADRIFOLIA has headache of spinal origin, which arises from the nape of the neck and produces a feeling as though the head were immensely large.

STRONTIANA CARB. produces headache coming up from the nape of the neck and spreading thence over the head. It is just exactly like the headache of Silicea. You will have to distinguish by the collateral symptoms.

There are other nervous symptoms produced by Silicea. The patient has vertigo, which, like the pains, seems to rise from the spine into the head. It also causes difficulty in balancing. He has a fear that he will fall and always to the left. Speech is somewhat confused. He finds it difficult to grasp the exact expression he wishes, and this even in ordinary conversation. Sluggishness is a contraindication of Silicea in nervous conditions. You cannot use it in torpid, flabby, nerveless persons. Remember that exactly the opposite is the case with disease of the lower tissues.

Silicea acts just as powerfully on the spine as it does on the brain, causing general motor weakness. Here, too, it is attended with the same irritability. The neck is stiff, causing headache. This stiffness of the neck is not from cold, not from rheumatism of the various muscles, but from spinal irritation. The small of the back aches as if beaten or pounded. The patient complains of pains about the coccyx, and cramps such as one experiences after sitting a long time or after riding a long time over a rough road. The legs tremble. They weary when one moves, particularly in the morning. Loss of animal fluids particularly aggravates the symptoms. For instance, seminal emission or coitus causes, or is followed by, bruised aching all over the body. There may also be symptoms of the spine which indicate locomotor ataxia. The fingers feel stiff, with loss of power in, them. The part of the body on which he lies, goes to sleep.

Silicea is useful in chronic rheumatism. It is one of the remedies on which to depend in treating hereditary rheumatism. Particularly are these pains in the shoulders and in the joints, all of which are worse at night and worse when uncovering.

A related remedy here is LEDUM, which has exactly the opposite aggravation to Silicea. The patient is worse from covering up. The symptoms usually extend from the feet upwards.