St. Ignatius’ Bean. Its name is attributed to the Jesuits, who named it in honor of its virtues. Though chemically and botanically similar to Nux vomica, Ignatia differs materially from that remedy in symptomatically, and this, too, despite strong family resemblances.
It was proved by Samuel Hahnemann himself, who compared the reactions of Nux vomica with it. He felt that while it was similar in many ways, yet it “was not appropriate for those who experienced anger or violence, but that it would do service to anyone who reacted with rapid changes of mood from gaiety to weepiness, and who internalised and dwelt upon their loss.”
Clarke was astonished himself once by curing rapidly with Ign. (prescribed at first as an intercurrent remedy) a severe case of rheumatic fever, which had been making no progress under Bryonia, &c. The mental symptoms called for Ign., and along with these the inflammation of the joints, as well as the fever, disappeared under its action.
Honigberger relates that it was a common plan when plague was raging in Constantinople for people to wear a bean attached to a string as a prophylactic; he administered “minute doses” of it to patients affected with plague with the best success. Later on he himself caught the disease in India, and cured himself with the same remedy (H. W., xxxiii. 51). In intermittent fever it is the only remedy that will cure certain cases.
Ignatia we find, then, to be useful for the ill-effects of grief, and also, by reason of this great sensitiveness to external impressions which it produces, greater even than that of Nux vomica, we find it indicated in hysteria, especially when the patient alternately laughs and cries, or, in other words, exhibits a changeable mood. The face flushes at every emotion. Sometimes the laughing becomes spasmodic and ends in screams and even spasms of the chest with blueness of the face. We have also globus hystericus or feeling as if a ball were rising in the throat. This is often relieved by belching, while drinking water causes an aggravation of the convulsive action in the throat.
The patient may fall into a half unconscious state, with clenched thumbs and blue face, as we find under Cuprum. Finally a sigh and a long-drawn breath announces the return to consciousness.
The headache of Ignatia is usually situated in one spot in the head, just as though a nail were being driven into the skull at that point.
Any little mental work, or in fact any work that is irksome or more severe than usual, any strong odor, whether pleasant or otherwise, any emotion which would be borne without trouble by one whose nervous system was in a natural state, may bring on this headache. The attack often ends with vomiting. These headaches are often periodical, returning every two days. They often terminate with a copious flow of pale, limpid urine.
Ignatia may be indicated in headache, when the head feels heavy, as if from congestion, and yet the pain is better from leaning forward; sometimes aggravation occurs from stooping, thus giving us what Hahnemann calls an alternate effect. The Ignatia headaches are aggravated by talking or listening intently, and by coffee.
The power of Ignatia to produce increased excitability renders it useful in spasms, not only of hysterical origin, but also in those occurring in delicate women who are not hysterical, and in children. The spasms are excited by emotions, such as fright or fear. For example, the child has a convulsion after being punished. Afterward, when the child goes to sleep, there is whimpering in the sleep. Ignatia is especially indicated when the convulsions have appeared after grief, fright, or some violent emotion.
Nervous women in labor may require Ignatia for spasms.
There is a sore throat curable by Ignatia. The patient complains of a sensation as though there were a plug in the throat, worse when
not swallowing. Examining the tonsils, you find them studded with small superficial ulcers having a yellowish-white color. There is a
constricted feeling about the throat, with a great deal of nervousness and insomnia.
The cough of Ignatia arises from constriction of the larynx, or from a sensation as of a feather there. The more the patient coughs, the
worse does the tickling become.
Ignatia may be used in chills and fever when there is thirst during the chill, and when the warmth of the stove or other artificial heat relieves the chill.
It is indicated in dysmenorrhcea, associated with what is termed menstrual colic; that is, when there is a great deal of bearing down in the hypogastric region. The patient exhibits hysterical symptoms. The pains are labor-like in character, and are seemingly relieved by pressure, by lying down, and by change of position. The menses are dark, frequent and copious.
In disorders of digestion Ignatia is useful when the patient complains of bitter or sour-tasting mucus in the mouth and copious salivation. There is fanciful aversion to certain foods. He asks for a certain food, but after tasting, refuses it. Food may be regurgitated. Gastralgia is present. He has hiccough, aggravated by eating and smoking, and, especially in children, by emotions.
There is an empty, gone feeling at the epigastrium, with qualmishness. In some cases there is empty retching, relieved by eating. The patient vomits at night the food taken in the evening. The bowels are disordered.
Ignatia is useful in prolapsus ani, which may or may not be accompanied by haemorrhoids. Sharp stabbing pains shooting up into the rectum. This prolapsus ani may annoy the patient, even if there is soft stool. There is distressing constriction at the anus, aggravated after stool, and better while sitting. Itching and creeping at the anus as from ascarides, in which condition Ignatia is sometimes an excellent remedy.