Cuprum metallicum and Cuprum aceticum are used interchangeably by many physicians as having the same symptomatology. The original idea of those who proposed the substitution of the latter for the former was based on the supposition that the acetate of copper is soluble, while the metallic copper is not. This applies, of course, to
the crude drug, but not to the potentized preparations.
Copper has for its complement Calcarea ostrearum. It is antidoted
by sugar and albumen. Hepar, as a general antidote to the metals,
comes into play as a dynamic antidote, as do also Belladonna and
Copper possesses considerable interest as a prophylactic in disease. Workers in copper seldom contract Asiatic cholera. Here it resembles Sulphur. Unlike Sulphur, however, it is a remedy for the symptoms of cholera. It is indicated for the following symptoms:
intense coldness of the surface of the body, blueness of the skin, cramps of the muscles, the muscles of the calves and thighs are drawn up into knots. There is considerable distress, referred by the patient to the epigastrium, and this is associated with most intense dyspnoea. So intense is the dyspnoea that the patient cannot bear his handkerchief approached to his face; it takes away his breath. Now, this picture of Cuprum seems to place it between Camphor and Argentum nitricum.
There is another condition in which Cuprum may be used, and that is in the uraemia or ursemic convulsions following cholera. The character of these convulsions will appear in a few minutes when I speak of the nervous symptoms of the remedy.
We find Cuprum indicated in chlorosis, after the abuse of iron. The symptoms are worse in hot weather.
We also find it indicated in fever with marked tendency to frequent relapses; hence, in a sort of relapsing fever. It is not the specific relapsing fever, but rather a fever in which the relapses are the result of defective reaction.
Cuprum, when taken in large doses, produces an inflammatory colic, presenting a combination of neurotic with inflammatory symptoms; these are gastro-enteric. We find the abdomen as hard as a stone; the bowels are, at first, obstinately constipated, the constipation being succeeded at times by bloody, greenish, watery stools. The vomiting is
terrific and is spasmodic in its character. It seems to be relieved by a drink of cold water.
Hence it is very different from Arsenicum, Veratrum and other remedies. Now, what takes place in this group of symptoms ?
In the first place, Cuprum not only acts on the bowels, inflaming them, but it acts upon the nerves, causing constriction of fibre, particularly of the involuntary muscular fibres, as in the blood- vessels, and with this we have direct irritation producing inflammation.
Now, to clearly understand the character of Cuprum, you must remember the other side to this picture.
This condition is soon followed by collapse with great prostration, from which it is exceedingly difficult for the patient to rally. Thus, we have as a remote symptom of
Cuprum, and one, too, which has been greatly neglected, lack of reaction.
Cuprum is the remedy, a tendency of all the symptoms to relapse. Especially is it an indication when this lack of reaction occurs in persons who are thoroughly run down ” by overtaxing both body and mind.
I know of a case in which Cuprum prevented paralysis of both legs, and this was the
indication; deciding its choice was the fact that the disease was caused by overtaxing of both brain and body.
So, too, in pneumonia, we may have to use Cuprum to bring about reaction before the appropriate remedy will cure. It is indicated by sudden suffocative attacks, with coldness of the surface of the body, with great prostration and dyspnoea disproportionate to the amount of solidification. The body is covered with a cold viscid sweat.
The main action of Cuprum and that which will call for its most frequent use in practice, is on the nervous system. We find it indicated, for instance, in spasms with affections of the brain, as in meningitis.
No remedy in the materia medica excels it, and very few equal it, in this direction. We find it indicated when there has been an eruption suppressed, whether that be scarlatina, measles or erysipelas.
The symptoms which call for it are these: delirium of a violent character very much like that of Belladonna; the patient bites the offered tumbler, loquacious delirium on awaking from sleep, or on becoming conscious he appears frightened. Here it is the exact counterpart of Stramonium. But it is a far deeper-acting remedy than Stramonium.
The convulsions usually start from the brain with blueness of the face and lips, the eyeballs are rotated and there are frothing at the mouth and violent convulsive symptoms, especially of the flexor muscles. The convulsion is followed by deep sleep. . Now this spasm, especially if epileptic, may be ushered in by a violent shriek or cry. There is grinding of the teeth.
Cuprum is not very frequently indicated in neuralgia, but it may sometimes be used in sudden attacks of neuralgia with active congestion affecting the nervous supply of the involuntary muscles.
Cuprum arsenicosum I have used in the third potency, on the recommendation of Dr. J. H. Marsden, for neuralgia of the abdominal viscera. I have prescribed it in cases in which no other remedy seemed to be indicated, and I believe with excellent success.
Ref: Farrington: Clinical Materia Medica.