I found that for weeks he had been under the pressure of more than usual amount of business, been complaining of general lassitude : a tired feeling from which he could not get rested.
When I called he had taken to his bed, and now there was superadded a headache, general aching and restless, temperature of 103° and pulse quickened correspondingly. Thinking I had a case of La Grippe on hand, and that these symptoms pointed so far as clearly to Gelsemium as I could judge, it was given. But the next day there was no improvement apparent and he complained of his mouth feeling sore.
There was some dryness of the tongue, but not much ; while the buccal cavity seemed sore and inclined to be slimy. There was not much thirst. Another symptom now came out in great prominence, viz., great desire for cold air, especially when lying down ; must be propped up in bed, and, although it was cold winter weather, they had to leave the windows wide open. He wanted the wind right in his face. The nurse had to wear her wraps, as though out of doors.
Now Pulsatilla was given with confidence, but brought no relief, and the mouth and breath had become horribly offensive from the ulcerated condition that had developed. There was no cough and the respiratory murmur was distinct in the lungs. The urine was dark and offensive, but there was no trouble with the abdomen or bowels as yet. Still thinking the Pulsatilla ought to be good I interpolated a dose of Sulphur and continued it (the Puls.) a day longer. The mouth made me think of Baptisia and then I called to mind that in the old provings of Burt that opposition of breathing was markedly present in the case of Dr. J. S. Douglas (the prover).
I went down into the office and read it in “Allen’s Encyclopædia of Pure Materia Medica” as follows : “Awoke with great difficulty of breathing, the lungs felt tight and compressed. Could not get a full breath ; felt obliged to open the window to get his face to fresh air … (Symptom 232. Again, Symp. 234). On lying down difficulty of breathing, in half an hour becoming so great that he was obliged to rise, etc.”
That looked so like my patient ; and the condition of the mouth, prostration, etc., corresponding, I gave Baptisia 200th in water (Alpha Sigma preparation).
The effect was magical. The breathing became easy and all the other symptoms promptly subsided without any other medicine. Of course, it took some days to recover from the weakness.
The above symptoms quoted from Allen are starred. So it seems that some one else had already verified them, though this was the first time I had done so. What is the lesson ?
1st. That this symptom is again verified.
2nd. That although only one out of twelve provers had recorded it, it was genuine and the clinical test proved it.
Our Materia Medica has often been called a mass of rubbish by those who have no patience nor skill in using it. While it is undoubtedly true that there are many symptoms there that are not reliable, we shall never know which they are until clinical experimentation settles it.
Hering called Agaricus, Lycopodium and Thuja “over proved drugs.” I am not so sure of it ; and many years with Lycopodium has gone far to convince me to the contrary.
Now proving and re-proving is the cry of many in our school, and while I would not offer one objection to this, I would suggest that the work of verification of provings already made, or partly made, go on with redoubled diligence, for I have in difficult cases repeatedly found among the symptoms not as yet verified in our Materia Medica the key to the remedy for the whole case.
A case from the clinic of Dr. Nash