[ Read by title before the Bureau of Materia Medica, I.H.A., June 21. 1951].
EUGENE UNDERHILL, JR., M.D.
This remedy is indicated so frequently in cases of advanced pathology that its value in functional disorders is often over- looked. All disease begins in the functional plane and, unless checked, progresses toward structural change and incurability.
The homoeopathic remedy is truly life saving and health restoring in the early stages of chronic disease. In terminal conditions we can only hope for palliation. The majority of patients apply for treatment somewhere between these two extremes.
We read in the Materia Medica that Carbo animals “is indicated in the aged when there is a general enfeebled atonic condition with venous engorgement.” “Diseases of elderly persons with marked venous plethora. Complaints in broken down, anemic individuals with glandular infiltrations and much hardness and induration.” “Circulation feeble, stagnated and vital heat sinking to a minimum. Deficient reaction in elderly people”.
Still stressing pathology, we note that “Carbo animalis is frequently the remedy in chronic ulcers and fistulous openings where the walls tend to become hard and the discharge acrid. Swollen, painful, indurated glands in neck, axilla, groin and breast. This remedy has been one of the most suitable for old, stubborn, cancerous affections”.
All of the above sounds very much like a case for the undertaker, but Carbo animalis has a wide field in case where there are not indurations, infiltrations, ulcerations or observable pathology. Like any other remedy it may become indicated at any time of life.
This medicine has some very characteristic and reliable symptoms. The first is exhaustion, weakness, enervation and general aggravation from apparently slight causes and small depletions. A mild case of diarrhoea appears to sap the patients vitality out of all proportion. A slight leucorrhoea is described as terribly weakening. A moderate menstrual flow is so depleting that it requires the next two weeks for the patient to get her strength back. Breast feeding becomes impossible, it wears her down and no hysteria about it. A man of thirty-two actually dreaded the sexual act because of the utter exhaustion which continued for days afterwards.
While night sweats in tuberculous subjects are often exhausting, a non-tuberculous individual requiring Carbo animalis may complain that a very moderate amount of perspiration actually drains away his strength. Incidentally, the sweat of this remedy produces a very pronounced yellow stain.
Easily strained from lifting even small weights is a well verified symptom and one that is perfectly true to form. slight straining or over0lifting causes dyspnoea, constriction of the chest and a feeling of debility out of all proportion to the apparent cause. Objects seem much heavier than they are. The ankles are easily sprained and turned while walking. Has to watch every step.
Carbo animalis patients become slaves to their own routine. Any change may upset them, especially if it involves any extra effort, whether mental, physical, respiratory or digestive, whether conscious or unconscious. A change of altitude, climate or seasons may aggravate. Any abrupt change in the daily routine may disturb the digestion or otherwise aggravate.
An outstanding characteristic of this wonderful remedy is aversion to and aggravation from exposure to a very dry, cold atmosphere. A dry, cold wind which put pep into lots of people causes the Carbo animalis patient much discomfort. It makes him feel sluggish and aggravates him in general. Note that it is both the coldness and the dryness. He thrives best in a relatively moist atmosphere. Markedly worse in a heated room, if the air is dry. A close, poorly ventilated room will aggravate.
Feels the need of plenty of fresh air to breathe at night. Wants windows wide open but the head and neck must be well protected from the least draft. Some of these patients will sleep with a scarf or towel wrapped around the head and yet will complain at even a suggestion about closing the windows. However, they seldom, if ever, desire to be fanned, as is so characteristic of the vegetable carbon.
“Hearing confused, cannot tell from what direction a sound comes.” This is well proven symptom. a number of people talking in a group is most annoying. Shuns group conversations as much as possible. This confusion of sounds and difficult orientation of hearing has been observed in cases with only slight auditory impairment. It is probably of circulatory origin and on the venous side. Head noises may or may not be associated with this condition.
Mentally Carbo animalis is retiring, anti-social and introverted. Aversion to company is often marked. Definitely not a mixer but may enjoy the company of one or two good friends. Not inclined to seek out new acquaintances. This is one of the most nostalgic remedies of the Materia Medica. Never contented, never at ease away from home and the farther away he is, the worse he feels.
Nostalgia with a “mournful feeling of isolation.” Anxiety and apprehension when far from home. It is not necessarily homesickness for family and friends. Home means a place, a local to a greater degree than with some remedies. The wife of a Carbo animalis patient put it this way, “When we are on a trip my husband never feels contented until we are well on our way back home”.
Sluggishness and lethargy are two words that apply to the Carbo animalis patient. He lacks the energy and consequently the ambition to undertake activity of any ind. It is hard to get him started and he resents being prodded or hurried. After a hearty meal there is a feeling of congestion to the head and neck with drowsiness and loss of interest. This is relieved by dozing off while sitting in an easy chair. Lying down may aggravate rather than relieve. Only after the process of digestion is fairly well advanced does the patient resume his reading or other interest. Associated with the above symptoms an uncomfortable sensation of abdominal distension is common.
If awakened during the night, a vague feeling of anxiety and apprehension prevents easy return to sleep. Sometimes there is vertigo and with this a mild suffocative sensation. These symptoms are relieved by lying on a firm, rather high pillow, with the head and neck well protected from cold or draft and with an abundance of fresh air. All of which is indicative of a passive venous stasis, and inadequate venous drainage from the head and neck.
Coldness of the nose is often a very annoying symptom at night and may interfere with sleep during the winter season. Holds nose and tries to breathe through the mouth so the nose will warm and yet will not resort to the simple remedy of closing the windows because it would make him feel stifled and cause air hunger.
In the Materia Medica we find the following, “repugnance to fat and tobacco smoke.” The latter we have verified many times. Tobacco smoke makes breathing difficult, but it also causes nausea, so that many Carbo animalis patients find it necessary to give up smoking. However, in the experience of the write, aversion to and aggravation from fat has not been observed, but rather the opposite, desire for fat and it agrees.
This is one of the remedies to consider along with Carbo vegetabilis, other antipsorics and the nosodes for deficient reaction following some exhausting and debilitating illness-never well since a severe typhoid, pneumonia or a bad influenzal attack; pleurisy, whether pneumonic or tuberculous, where there is a remaining stitch which fails to clear under the apparently indicated remedy. It often requires the deepest acting remedies to completely overcome a persistent disease hangover.
Tuberculous subjects, whether young or old, may require this medicine, especially cases of tuberculous cervical adenitis where the glands take on a coppery or purple color and become hard and indurated, the typically sluggish type of case.
Carbo animalis is suited to many cases of syphilis in the later stages of the disease. It has all the glandular indurations and infiltrations of this disease and the copper copper colored eruptions as well as the night aggravation. However, it will do nothing in absence of the grand characteristics of this wonderful medicine.
Returning for a moment to the terminal indications for this remedy, a woman ninety-four years of age was expected to die within the next day or so. She lived with two of her nieces, one very devoted and the other just waiting. The little veins all over the body showed punctate haemorrhages with several small areas of necrosis which were as black as coal. The patient was recumbent, almost helpless, incontinent, dull, apathetic and apparently almost lifeless.
The mere effort of eating (she had to be fed) was too much for her. She wanted fresh air but did not want to be fanned. She could not breathe, she said, if anyone lit a cigarette in the room, would complain about it immediately. Carbo animalis actually put her on her feet again. That was several months ago and, as this is written, she is still living. the niece who was doing the waiting said to her sister, “I dont think a doctor has the right to bring a person back when they are as far gone as Auntie was!”.