Apathy, heaviness and relaxation characterize this drug; there is loss of muscular power, causing sensations of weight and weakness, particularly in the eyelids and lower limbs; as well as in the sphincters, so that on any unusual excitement there may be involuntary evacuations of stool, urine or semen; this state may go on to functional paralysis, one form of which is like post-diphtheritic paralysis, for which it is so successfully used. The Gelsemium patient looks as though he were under the influence of a mild narcotic intoxicant.
Another phase of this semi-pare tic state is the tremulous movement of the patient; his chin quivers and when he reaches out to grasp an object his hand trembles, the so-called intention tremor, so characteristic of certain nervous diseases, but because a Gelsemium patient does this you must not conclude that the symptom always calls for this remedy, for a number of others have it, notably, Anacardium, Rhus toxicodendron and Secale cornutum.
It is one of the medicines you will need in those who abuse tobacco in any form or work therein; many of the symptoms are quite similar to nicotine poisoning; in these cases the vertigo, impotence, seminal losses, etc., will be fully controlled. Another very similar state occurs in persons who are poisoned by working in benzine and gasoline, which give rise to a very peculiar intoxication very similar to Gelsemium in its effects.
When the weather first turns warm in the spring time and induces weariness, relaxation, weakness, spring colds, etc., it is the first remedy to be thought of; its pathogenesis corresponds closely with states induced by the first oncoming of warm weather.
Gelsemium is our standby in the type of colds so common in this country, with physical relaxation and a bunged-up feeling; there is a great deal of sneezing, much dizziness, mental dullness and cloudiness, with a disposition to lie down and keep quiet.
It is very useful in neuralgias and headaches with pains which ascend from the nape and settle over the eyes; often double vision or extreme vertigo, as if drunk, accompanies these attacks; they often pass off with a profuse flow of urine and are ameliorated by lying in a half-reclining position.
In grippe it remains one of the foremost remedies; the eyeballs are usually sore and pain when moved; there is general muscular soreness combined with a feeling of extreme lassitude and vertigo.
Farrington speaks of its probable usefulness in cerebro-spinal meningitis; since his utterance hundreds of cases have been shorn of every dangerous symptom, practically aborted and cured; in some epidemics it is the only medicine needed; even many allopaths have had this experience.
It is one of the great trio of thirstless remedies, the others being Ipecac and Pulsatilla; it is rare to find thirst present when it is indicated.
In all kinds of fevers, bilious, remitted, intermittent, typhoid, and particularly in cerebro-spinal types, it is of the greatest efficacy in our climate; as a usual thing in all these cases the patient is thirstless.
The Gelsemium Patient wants to be held in order that he may not shake so; this is quite like Sepia, which also has the weakness in the knees and heavy eyelids.
It is indicated in some cases of labor when the pains go back ward or upward, or both, and the labor makes no progress; the parts may be soft and flabby or the so may be rigid and unyielding; in the latter case you will choose between it and Belladonna, the latter having more dryness and heat of the vagina and a general excited state with an active, bounding circulation, while under Gelsemium the pulse acts i n harmony with the general state, and is, therefore, soft and flowing, allowing the blood to stagnate in the various organs, thus giving rise to passive congestion; the heart muscle also weakens, gibing the patient a sensation as though it would stop if she did not move about and keep it stirred up.
The chills usually go up the back and the extremities become cold while the trunk remains hot; the face may even show a dusky, congested state; marked periodicity is present.
Sudden darting pains, making one start and leaving a soreness behind, remind you of neuritis, in some forms of which it is very useful, here touching hands with Rhus Toxicodendron.
Like Borax it has fear of falling, presumably from a sense of muscular inefficiency, although there must be a mental element in the case, for I once cured a young babe of this distress; its mother had required Gelsemium for a general line of symptoms during her pregnancy.
Once in a while you will see a case of chorea of the eyeball, generally all of us think of Agaricus first, but Gelsemium has the lateral oscillation as well, and the other symptoms agreeing you will not forget its possible usefulness.
The remedies most similar to Gelsemium are Agaricus, Conium, Hellebore, Physostigma and Tabacum, all of which act as motor depressants in one way or another; under Hellebore Particularly do the muscles refuse to obey the will unless the mind is strongly concentrated on them; the mind is also clouded; its action is also more profound, only ending in effusion into the nerve centers and death.
To recapitulate we then have:
- Relaxation, as shown by heavy eyelids, double vision, weakness in the knees, involuntary stools, languor and vertigo.
- Thirstlessnes, even during fevers.
- Aggravation when the weather turns warm; in the spring time; from emotions, fright, etc.
C.M. Boger, M.D.