[ Thesis presented to the Faculty of Hahnemann College of Science in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science.].
ITS FLUORESCENT AND MEDICINAL PROPERTIES.
JOHN BENTON EGEE, M.D.
Lignum nephriticum is a wood which was known as early as the fifteenth century. It continued to be celebrated throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and the early part of the eighteenth centuries. At the present there is hardly a piece of the wood to be found in any museum or a mention made of it in any book of pharmacology. This seems quite strange, for in those early times the wood was well known for its remarkable medicinal and fluorescent properties.
It was first introduced into the old world by explorers of the country known then as New Spain. Its introduction was made in the form of cups which, when water was put in them, turned the water a deep blue color. These cups were sent by the explorers to the royal sponsors of their investigations into the New World. They, the cups, were used extensively at the banquets of the royalty until it was noted that on prolonged use, those who attended the feasts and partook of the water and wine served in these same cups, suffered subsequently from rheumatic pains, a general feeling of malaise, and excessive urination. For this reason the custom of serving water and wine in them was abandoned.
As to its medicinal properties, a Spanish physician, Monardes, wrote:.
They also bring from New Spain a wood resembling that of a pear tree. It has been in use for many years in these parts for disease of the kidneys and of the liver. The first person I saw use it was a pilot, twenty years ago, who was afflicted with urinary and kidney trouble, and who after using it recovered his health and was very well.
This was written in 1965.
Also it seems to have been used as a prophylactic in New Spain for fowls. The cause for this preventive measure is vaguely referred to as “an epidemic with which fowls of that country are afflicted.” Its prophylactic properties were utilized by hewing out the center of the trees to form a trough and allowing the fowls to drink of the water put in these troughs.
In these early investigations there was no order or system at all. There was no thought as to source or classification. It seems that there were two distinct general of wood, both having fluorescent properties, but only one having marked medicinal properties. One is described as being from a tree so large that a door may be made from it in one piece. This same species also is described as appearing similar to pear wood in that it was white, dense, and without knots.
On the other hand there is on record a wood fluorescing in water. This comes from a small tree or shrub with a heart wood of very dark color and with an outer wood of lighter or a yellowish color. both of these were reputed to have come from the region now known as Mexico and along the northern border of South America. The former wood seems to have had the more marked medicinal value.
The proper classification and origin of this wood has remained obscure until W.E. Safford, of the U.S.Department of Agriculture, investigated the matter. His work was published in 1915. He found that the former wood, described above, is from the Philippine Islands. The latter is native to that area bounded on the north by Texas and Arizona and on the south by Guatemala.
The confusion in those older times was due largely to the ignorance of its source. They were both thought to grow in the same country, namely, New Spain. This was because they were both shipped from the country. Upon looking back now, the reason for this confusion is explained Islands to the Old World was through the country now known as Mexico and the region of the present Panama Canal. Thus the cargoes were carried over the land to the Atlantic Ocean, and then shipped to the Old World. So, while they were being carried across the land, the wood was freely distributed and widely known. In this way the assumption was made that both woods were native to the same country without a sound reason and scientific investigation. The wood growing in the American countries is the one with which this paper is primarily concerned.
The genus of the wood coming from the Philippine Islands is the Pterocarpus. I will drop this genus with a word that a wood of this genus is also found in the South American countries and Mexico. It is of no particular importance in that it does not show any fluorescent or medicinal properties as does the Philippine variety. It grows in swampy places and reaches a height of forty to sixty feet. It is a soft, dirty white wood useful only as a fuel.
The other genus of wood described in the old books as Lignum nephriticum is the Eysenhardtia. Of this there are several valid varieties which have medicinal and fluorescent properties. Of these there is the Eysenhardtia polystachya, Eysenhardtia texana, and Eysenhardtia orthocarpa. These can be distinguished by the height of the plant, the fruit, and the leaves.
The particular specimen with which the following experiments were made was obtained from Panama. It was sent as a section from the trunk of the tree. It is exceedingly hard and heavy. The section is three and one-quarter inches in diameter including the bark. The center of the piece is of a dark brown color and has a diameter of two inches. Around this dark center is a light ring, one-half inch in width, which has a yellowish color. The bark is rather thin and looks not unlike that of a pear tree. On the whole the Eysenhardtiae are shrubs, when they do come under the category of threes for they never seem to exceed a height of six meters.
In all future references of Lignum nephriticum I shall have in mind the Eysenhardtia adenostylis Baillon. On investigating the fluorescent attributes of Lignum i found a slight difference in the reaction of Lignum and Eysenhardtia polystachya. I pick out the latter drug because what little experimentation has been done, has been on this particular species.
The work done on this species of the drug was done with the thought in mind that an indicator might be found that would be of great use in liquids of a dark color in which ordinary indicators are of no use. The thought was to detect the neutral point by the loss or appearance of the fluorescence. This work was done by Dr. Lyman Briggs of the Bureau of Plant Industry. He found the fluorescence was lost in acids other than acetic acid. Another disadvantage that was noticed was that the neutral point was nearer the acid side of the scale than was convenient. The fluorescence remained or appeared in all alkaline solutions.
In working with Lignum I have found that the fluorescence disappeared with all acid including acetic acid. Also, when the infusion was made in water which boiled for one hour, the solution took on a clear, deep brown color with no evidence of any fluorescence. This was contrary to Dr. Briggs findings with EYSENHARDTIA polystachya. When i simply had warm tap water, in the course of a few minutes after putting the finely divided in the course of a few minutes after putting the finely divided chips in said water, a fluorescent liquid was produced.
This solution when held to shine through the liquid obliquely to the eye, the cobalt blue color was seen. Also this blue color was seen when the tube was held to a dark background. On using distilled water in the above experiment the fluorescent phenomenon was not seen. This also was true of Dr. Briggs experiment with Eysenhardtia polystachya. With both species of the drug it was noticed that the blue color appeared in the distilled water infusion when as alkali, such as potassium carbonate, was added.
Both species of the drug lost their fluorescence in alcoholic solutions. The alcoholic solution of Lignum is a clear dark brown color quite similar to the infusion which boiled for one hour. The purpose of comparison is for differentiation between the two often confused species.
In investigating the medicinal properties of Lignum nephriticum I used the tincture made in the following manner:.
Grain alcohol (95 percent) 280 c.c.
Distilled water 50 c.c.
Finely divided chips of the bark and center wood 50 grams.
This mixture was allowed to stand in a corked bottle for two weeks. It was then run through a gauze and filter and run up to the sixth potency of the decimal scale.
In presenting these provings it is with the realization that they are by no means complete or even entirely reliable. This is due largely to the fact that the provers were men who could not truly valuate and recognize their symptoms. In discussion their symptoms with them I continually noticed that they passed over those that were rather obscure with the idea that they were of no importance. I had them write down those obscure symptoms whenever the provers mentioned them, but there was no way of knowing of those that they missed altogether. Some of the fault was also in my own inexperience, in that I did not think it advisable to ask too many questions, fearing that they might be put in such a manner as to be too leading to the provers.
The first three provings were in tincture doses, five drops every two hours.
The first dose was taken at one p.m. Six hours later a dryness in the throat was noticed. At eleven p.m., after bathing, a burning and itching was noticed on the inner thighs.
On awakening the next morning a slight headache was noticed. an intense desire for water was noticed throughout the day with more frequent urinations of larger quantities than normal. The headache left at six p.m. and returned at ten p.m.
During the third day the headache was intermittent. The thirst and increased urinations continued.
On the fourth day the headache was present only in the afternoon. the thirst left but there was a continued polyuria. Also a slight drowsiness was noticed in the afternoon and evening.
On the fifth day there was a headache on awakening which left in the afternoon. Continued polyuria and drowsiness in the afternoon and evening.
The sixth day was characterized by loss of headache. On awakening there was a stiff neck which continued through the day along with the polyuria and drowsiness.
The seventh day was as the sixth.
The drug was stopped on the eighth and symptoms disappeared entirely by the tenth day.
The drug was first taken at twelve noon. by eleven p.m. a very tired feeling was noted. There was associated a sleepiness and yawning. Also a slight headache which could not be described.
On the second day the tired feeling continued, as did the excessive yawning. (The prover yawned continually while he was talking to me). In the evening the appetite was decreased and a feeling was described as though he were just getting over a bad cold. The prover felt weak, with no ability to concentrate. The face was warmer and flushed. The open cool air improved the condition. A polyuria was noticed.
on the third day nothing was noted on arising. The polyuria continued throughout the day with the tired feeling.
On the fourth day the medicine was discontinued because of the tired feeling in the evening. The symptoms were lost after the fifth day.
The drug was first taken at four p.m. Late that evening there was a dull headache present which could no be localized. There forehead seemed moist but on touching the forehead there was not dampness present. The uvula was red and elongated. The whole throat was dry. The stool seemed to be watery but on examination they were of normal consistency and color. There seemed to be a slight rise in temperature. The prover went to sleep immediately although not exceptionally tired.
On awakening on the second day the headache was present as on the previous evening. At noon the headache localized itself in the frontal region just over the eyes it was an effort to open them. The bowels were very easily moved with the same sensation of diarrhoea, which was not present. The stools were more frequent although no change in eating habits was made. The urge to urinate was very definite once but there was great difficulty in starting the elimination which was very scanty. The limbs seemed very heavy. When walking the sluggishness was similar to that experienced when changing from leather heels to rubber heels. The steps seemed clumsily made.
The headache was present as on the previous days. The stools were still frequent with the peculiar sensation of diarrhoea. The urine elimination was noticeably decreased, with difficult in starting. The extremities were so heavy that it was an effort to walk. There was a sleepy feeling all through the day and markedly so in the evening. The eyeballs were still sore and the lids were also heavy as on the previous day. The slightly feverish conditions still persisted.
On the fourth day the headache, stools, and limbs felt as on the previous days. The urine elimination was markedly decreased, at no time was elimination more than a few c.c. This desire for urination was more frequent. The feverish condition remained, with the addition of chills. The prover continually went to sleep throughout the afternoon.
On the fifth day the symptoms were identical to the fourth day.
Except for the chilliness disappearing and the sleepiness subsiding the sixth day was the previous two.
The seventh day was the same as the previous one. This day the prover took large quantities of water to note the urine elimination. The urge was exceedingly frequent but the voiding of small quantities with difficulty remained the same.
On the eighth day the symptoms were as on the previous day with the return of the sleepiness throughout the day.
This continued for the next two days when the prover stopped taking the drug. The symptoms disappeared entirely in two days.
The prover noted than on the day after taking the drug he had trouble with a tooth that had bothered him six months previously. The dentist told him then that the tooth would have to come our some time. After taking the drug the jaw became swollen and sore. The tooth was extracted and found to be abscessed. Whether the drug caused the abscess, and otherwise precipitated affairs is a question of controversial nature.
The next two provings were made with the 3x potency, five drops every two hours.
The first dose was taken at taken at one p.m. The prover went to bed at five a.m. During the day there was a decrease in output of urine. A slight soreness was noticed in the right hip. Even though a late hour was kept there was no tired or drowsy feeling noted. In fact the prover felt active.
On the second day there was still an active feeling and a desire to work. The drug seemed to taste different; the taste was described as being oily and bitter. The foods did not taste this way. There was noticed a difficulty in starting urine elimination. A stuffy feeling was noted in the chest with an increase in respiratory rate. The right hip was much worse in the early evening. (The hip as here used in the words of the prover means over the kidney). After much walking the pain caused a limp. After resting the pain was worse. The left kidney region was a little sore at this time. Even though the prover went to bed at one a.m. he did not feel sleepy.
On the third day there was a dryness in the throat. The pain in the kidney region continued and was worse again the early evening. No pain was felt over the left kidney except after resting after exercise. Again the prover did not feel the lest bit tires. He went to bed at two a.m. The urine was still noticeably decreased.
On the fourth day the mind seemed still exceptionally active. In the morning a watery discharge was noticed from the nose. The pain was slightly decreased as the urine output approached normal. The prover went to bed at three a.m.
During the fifth day he was restless and the mind seemed to lack the power of concentration. The watery discharge continued, being worse in the morning. It was associated with sneezing. The pain over the hip disappeared and the urine output continued normal.
On the sixth day the discharge continued, with the sneezing being more marked in the morning and evening. The still hyperacidity continued throughout the day and he went to bed at one a.m.
As to the watery discharge the prover explained that he did not have the usual thick headed feeling as with a cold. The voice was deeper and he puts this to the stuffed up nose.
The drug was discontinued on the seventh day. The watery discharge continued as did the sneezing, it being again worse in the morning. The feeling of activity was not quite so marked and the prover went to bed at one a.m. and went directly to sleep.
The symptoms disappeared entirely by the ninth day.
This prover had a history of bowel obstruction five years before this time. He is continually continually constipated and must take mineral oil regularly. This explanation assumes interest after this very scanty proving is read.
The drug was taken at one p.m. At ten p.m. that night the throat felt dry about the uvula.
On the morning of the second day the dry throat was gone. During the day a bowel movement was made without any difficulty. At six p.m. an indescribable headache was noticed. At eight p.m. the dry throat again appeared.
The prover felt well on the morning of the third day. Again an easy bowel movement was noticed; no oil had been taken that day. In the evening the dry throat and headache again appeared.
On the fourth the same experience as the previous day was noted.
The dry throat did not appear in the evening of the fifth day but the headache did. It seemed to center itself about the eyes. An easy bowel movement was again experienced without oil.
The sixth day was as the fifth.
On the seventh day the drug was discontinued because of the severe headaches over the eyes. The bowel movement was again easy. The symptoms were present to a lesser degree on the eighth day. The headache was gone entirely on the ninth day. Neither was there a bowel movement. The prover resorted to oil again for the bowel movements.
The last two provings were made in the 6x potency, five drops every two hours.
This record was not kept daily. It was given as a whole after the drug was stopped. Four outstanding symptoms were noted as follows:.
A dull throbbing headache came on in the late afternoon and evening. It seemed generalized and could not be located in any one region.
After eating, a constricting pain was noticed in the gastric region. This feeling continued to appear several days after the drug was discontinued. This was to be the most outstanding symptoms.
A pain in the joints was noted. This was located mostly in the knee. Motion aggravated the condition. The time of the day made no difference as to the appearance or seriousness of the pains. There was a slight associated pain over the kidneys.
A feeling of intense drowsiness was noticed. With this was a general feeling of tiredness which was worse in the late afternoon and evening. The prover did not have any power of concentration and wanted to sleep continually while taking the drug.
There was no listing of this record in to different days, it is given simply as a whole after the drug was taken. After the drug was taken, on the second day a dullness over the eyes with a heaviness in the upper lids was experienced. There was a drowsy feeling with frequently yawning. The feeling was described as giving an intoxicated sensation. A dull, numb feeling was felt in the cheeks and the lower jaw. The stools were easily made and were of a watery consistency. The drug was continued for five days and the above symptoms were present at all times. They disappeared the day after the drug was stopped.
In this proving the drug was given to a person not connected at all with medical work and one with whom I am in quite close contact. This choice was made in the attempt to get a proving with one that I could watch closely and note every minute detail. the choice was most fortunate for I obtained quite a good clinical proving.
Even though I said that I was in close contact with this person there was some personal and physical conditions of which i was not aware. These were, that this prover, in the evening, would sit down and in a short time feel so drowsy that he could not seem to stay awake. Also there was a history of a hydrocele seven years previous which had been operated upon. In the past two years there had been a dull aching feeling in the region of the incision which was worse on prolonged walking. Also under these same conditions a pain over the kidneys was noticed. At all times there seemed to be a lack of control of urine. He had suffered for a year or so of a continual dribbling of the urine. Also there was a desire for frequent urination with a passage of small amounts.
After giving the prover five drops of the tincture every two hours for one day, he left no change whatever. On the evening of the second day he was quite surprised to note that there was nod drowsy sensation. On the third day the prover had an occasion to walk for the greater part of the day. On reporting that evening he stated that there was no pain in the region over the kidneys and that the aching in the region of the incision on the hydrocele was also absent. He seemed to think that there was also less dribbling of the urine during the day. This condition got progressively better until in five days his urine elimination was quite normal.
From that time on he has had none of his previous complaints. He is capable of walking any distance without any distress and he is as jolly and active in the evening as anyone could wish to be.
From the result obtained in these few limited provings I think it is quite obvious that no drastic action is to be found in this drug. Also the diuretic properties are not as outstanding as I had hoped. In all the provings the action has been quite prompt but withal very mild. [ we suggest proving the higher potencies].
Whether the diuretic properties would be more prominent in an infusion of the drug or not, I am not prepared to say. I am led to understand though, that this is the manner in which the drug is utilized in the South American countries.
Further discussion as to the different actions and reasons why they shown, I am not, in this stage of my medical career, able to go into. These are the results obtained, and they are offered with the hope that further research of more practical use, will be done one these two fluorescent geni of plants.