This drug is known only to the homeopathist, at least under this name. What is it?
Hahnemann directed it to be prepared as follows:
Take a piece of recently prepared quicklime weighing about two pounds, immerse it for a minute in a vessel full of distilled water, and then lay it in a dry cup, where it soon becomes pulverized, giving out much heat and a peculiar odor called the vapor of lime. Of this fine powder you take two ounces, place it in a mortar which had been previously warmed, and then mix it with a solution of two ounces of the bisulphate of potash in two ounces of boiling-hot water, the potash before being dissolved having been exposed to a red heat, melted, cooled again and then pulverized.
This thickish preparation is inserted into a retort, to the open end of which the receiver— which ought to be dipped in water to half its height — is hermetically fastened. The liquid is distilled over by gradually approaching a coal fire to the retort, and until the preparation is perfectly dry. The liquid in the receiver is about one ounce and a half, as clear as water, and containing the Causticum in a concentrated form. It smells like the lye obtained from potash, and has an astringent and burning taste on the back part of the tongue. Its freezing point is below that of water; it promotes the putrefaction of animal substances that are placed in it; with the salts of baryta it gives out no trace of sulphuric acid, nor any trace of lime-earth with the oxalate of ammonium.
Dr. Black had several specimens analyzed, and believes Causticum to be a weak solution of potassic hydrate. Others deny any virtue to it, and reject it from the materia medica; but to this proposition we oppose the physiological and the pathological tests.
The symptoms ascribed to Causticum are very many. Instead of giving a resume of all, I will call your attention to certain groups, of which the value has been abundantly established by clinical experience.
FACE. Pains in the malar bones, zygomatic arch and maxillae; drawing pains which extend into the cheek and ear, and are most apt to occur on the right side. Burning; the pains produce spasm of the muscles, a sensation of numbness on the side of the face as if asleep.
These symptoms have led to the use of Causticum in prosopalgia and in facial paralysis. In general, hemiplegia of the right side.
Wart on the nose.
DIGESTION. Burning and water-brash. Constipation.
URINE. Constant ineffectual desire to urinate; frequent evacuation of only a few drops, with spasms in the rectum and constipation. Evacuation of blood with the urine or instead of it; with great pain; all the sensations worse at night. (Morgan's case.)
Burning in the urethra during micturition.
Involuntary micturition when coughing, sneezing or walking.
Nocturnal incontinence; not conscious of it. (Different from Kreosote and Plantago major.)
Larynx and trachea, aphonia.
Hoarseness toward evening, with dry tickling cough.
Cough, with a sensation as if the prover could not cough low enough to start the mucus, produced by tickling, accompanied by rawness.
Backache, especially in the coccyx.
LIMBS. Twitchings and clonic spasms.
Rheumatic aching in the shoulder; paralysis of the deltoid; cannot raise the hand to the head; subject to pains, worse at night, causing continued motion. The same in the hips and knees; constant tearing and piercing pains, compelling constant motion, which, however, does NOT relieve (as under Rhus) ; always coming on at evening, and diminished in the morning. Useful in rheumatism when the fever has abated.