Kreosote, a product of the distillation of pyroligneous acid and of tar, the preservative principle of the smoke, used for smoking meats and fish, was discovered by Reichenbach, a Moravian chemist, early in the nineteenth century. The second edition of his work, published in 1835, supplies many of our data, but independently Kre, has been well proved.
Its name, derived from the Greek, means “flesh-preserver”; and Teste includes it with Arsen., Merc. cor., Plumb., Stan., Nit. ac., Sul. ac., Crocus, and Arg. met., in his Merc. Sol. group. He remarks that several members of this group, whilst preserving dead organic matter from decomposition, have just the opposite effect on living tissues. The entire group have these characters: Suppressed or more frequently increased secretions with putridity. Foul breath. Bloating. Caries of teeth and bones. Cadaverous coldness. Predominant left-sidedness. Deep, nervous and mental derangement. Violent oscillation of symptoms-ravenous hunger to anorexia, &c. All favour the production of intestinal parasites and all are therefore anthelmintic. Excessive indulgence in smoked meats and fish is very injurious to the health.
The principal observed effects are: Scorbutic condition of gums, falling out and decay of teeth, foul breath, costiveness, malaise. (Salt, another great preservative, also produces scurvy.) Kermes, of Weinsberg, has collected 135 cases in which death has occurred apparently from eating smoked foods. The leading symptoms in all were: Burning pain at epigastrium, bloody vomiting, meteorism, violent colic with constipation, slow breathing, sinking of pulse and dilatation of pupils. (Teste.)
Reichenbach not only discovered Kre., he also introduced it into medical practice, and there was, as usual, a rush for the new remedy, which for a short time was a panacea; and then, except among homœopaths, fell into neglect.
Teste observed that it acted particularly well on infants in the cradle, and congenital syphilis was a very strong indication for it. The marked action of Kre. on the teeth and dentition confirms this.
[Cooper cured with Kre. 30 a case of auditory vertigo in a patient with pegged teeth. No other medicine would touch the case.] But it is also frequently called for in acquired syphilis, especially in the skin manifestations.
Nash confirms the action on children and especially during dentition. The teeth decay almost as soon as they appear. Gums dark red or blue and very painful; incessant vomiting; cadaverous-smelling stools. The urinary symptoms are also marked, and Kre. is one of the most important remedies in enuresis.
The chief urinary features are:
(1) Copious pale urine.
(2) Sudden; great urging; the patient cannot go quick enough.
(3) The child wets the bed during the first sleep which is very profound.
J. Meredith (“Agricola”) proved on himself (H. W., xxviii. 84) “the first heavy distillate from hard green wood,” obtained at charcoal works, in the 4x attenuation. The symptoms observed were so like those of pure Kre. that I do not think they need be separated. Among them were: Great thirst in evening. Enormous appetite. Stabbings here and there. Eyes feel as if in a woody smoke. Sneezing. Spleen pain. Nasal pus. [Teste emphasises a discharge “of fetid pus from nostrils.”] At 7 a.m. sitting up in bed, pain and stiffness across hips and sacrum, which continued during the day. Prostate and bladder irritation, during night frequently rises to pass a very little urine, coming away like spray. It cured at the same time constipation of ten to twelve days’ duration. Meredith cured with it a girl, æt. 17, of intense urethral scalding after urination (H. W., xxx. 83). Kre. is no less suited to women than it is to children; and especially to the leucophlegmatic temperament.
Grauvogl cured with Kre. 3x a girl of 20 of suppression of menses, with a concomitant state of imbecility. (In another woman who had suppressed menses with tertian intermittent fever, the intermittent was cured with Chi. sul., one grain four times a day, and then Grauvogl, hearing for the first time of the suppression of the menses, gave Kre. 3x, with the result that the fever returned in full force. Quinine was again given, and the fever again disappeared. Before the next period, as the patient was of the Nux type, that remedy was given and the period was re-established.
According to Grauvogl Kre. has a short period of action, one or two days, Chi. sul. having two or three weeks; and he quotes the case to illustrate the law of incompatibility; in intermittents Chi. may be given after Kre., but not Kre. after Chi.)
Guernsey summarises the action of Kre. on women thus: “Lencorrhœa putrid, with accompanying complaints., leucorrhœa in general, especially if very fetid and exhausting. Female genitals in general. Complaints after menstruation; of females at change of life.” According to the same authority Kre. affects especially the inner temples, external ears and lobe of the ear. It is suited to very severe old neuralgias with tearing pains sensations affecting upper jaw; upper teeth; inner navel region shoulder-blades. Dry-peeling lips are a characteristic: and Kre. has cured a tumour of lower lip, supposed to be epithelioma, with dry, cracked skin. In my own experience Kre. (3 and 30) meets a very large proportion of toothache cases where the teeth are decayed, especially if the gums are scorbutic. Its nearest rivals are Staphisagria with blackened teeth, and Mercurius with suppurating gumboil.
The scapular pain is illustrated by a case of Lutze‘s. A lady had a pain under left scapula, by pressure, by lying with that shoulder on something hard, and by warmth. A long succession of homœopathic remedies was given in vain. Then the old school had a trial with Antipyrine and Morphia, with no better success. Long after, Lutze met the patient casually, and she mentioned that she had pains in the left thumb. This led him to Kre., under which he found the other symptoms of the case. He asked the patient to let him give her one other dose. She consented. Kre. 200 was given and completely cured the patient, who had become nervous and worn out by the suffering she had endured (J. of Homœopathics, May, 1890).
In the same number of the same journal a case is recorded by Jean. I. Mackay in which Kre. 45m., twice repeated at long intervals, wrought a cure: Mrs. L., 28, fair, nervous. Has one child, æt. 9. Six years before Mackay saw her had an abortion and since then health had been failing. Her chief complaint was of hæmorrhage from the uterus, brought on by lifting, over-exertion, and always followed coitus. No pain during coitus. Menses regular but profuse and clotted. Constant dull aching pain in back. The day after the flow has a terrible left-sided headache > by hot water applied to head. Annoying itching in genitals at times. Os eroded, speculum soon filling with clotted blood. “Coitus followed by flow of blood the next day” is a keynote for Kre. W. P. Wesselhœft (Hahn. Ad., xxxviii. 23) confirms these symptoms: Coarse, red elevated acne pimples, especially in blonde women. Nocturnal enuresis from too profound sleep; child cannot be awakened when taken up. Giving out of knee-joint with annoying cracking (in a large, fat blonde woman). Large purulent blisters on concha of both ears, with a red base, like small-pox pustules. Chronic headache accompanied with great drowsiness, during which the patient would sleep most of the time, and groan in his sleep. Relief was followed by the appearance of a great number of small warts on scalp. [Hering mentions these constitutions as suited to Kre: Dark complexion, slight, lean. Complexion livid, disposition sad, irritable. Old women. Torpid, leuco-phlegmatic temperament. Old-looking children, hard to awaken. Blondes.] The following case of coccygodynia was reported in Amer. Hom. Miss A. complains of unbearable burning pains in sacrum extending down to coccyx, with feeling there when sitting as if an electric battery were attached with needles which were pricking through the skin. > Rising from seat. Attended with milky leucorrhœa. Kre. cured in three days.
James H. Freer (N. A. J. H., xliv. 489) cured a lady over 80 who suffered from incontinence of urine on the occurrence of a bronchial attack which compelled her to keep her bed. Villers has reported a case of incontinence sitting, . General > from warmth. by sneezing. Coughing = involuntary micturition. Drawing in limbs alternates with sufferings in the eyes.