[ First printed in Stapfs Archives in 1845. Translated by C.B. Knerr].
CONSTANTINE HERING, M.D.
Sanguinaria, commonly called the bloodroot, belongs to the Papaveraceae family. It is a spring flower growing from Canada to Florida, in hilly localities where rich loose soil is found. It avoids high pine woods, swamps and the sea coast. It flowers as early as April, and so becomes a harbinger of spring in North America. The charm of its leaf and flower, and its graceful unfolding, no pencil or brush has been able to portray to the satisfaction of those who know the plant. It resembles somewhat the Hepatica; its delicate green leaves suggest the Chelidonium (Celandine); its blossoms are perishable, like those of the poppy, but its growth is scarcely a hand high.
The permanent root is of the length and thickness of a finger, knotty, fleshy and end bitten. Root, stem and leaves contain a yellowish-red juice, similar to the Chelidonium, which, however, is pure yellow, and to the poppy, which is pure white. In this manner these close relations are separated by signatura rerum. The leaves continue to grow after blossoming time, and when the seeds ripen, they take on a more common appearance, something like the Asarum. This is supposed to be the best time to dig the root, which alone is used, since the leaves, and more particularly the seeds, are believed to be poisonous.
The use of this root as a medicine, like most other American plants, was first learned from the Indians.
As long as the physicians of this country sought fame in studying the natural history of their most important medicines, found here in great abundance, they sought to master these precious adjuncts to their materia medica. Those were the days in which young students, about to become doctors, wrote their dissertations upon native plants the days of Bigelow and Barton. It is not so now. Surgeons got the upper hand; professors of botany were dismissed as useless promoters of studies for girls, and the botanical gardens of science were laid waste or turned into cafes and picnic grounds.
But science has been avenged. She is a live entity and will not suffer ruthless amputation without languishing, as do cripples. Since this branch of science was treated with contempt, and natural science shouted down and suppressed, botany was brought into disrepute and those who wished to keep in good standing had a march deep in the mire to keep up with the procession. Ignorance, like a dry rot, spread through the other science, and a lack of acquaintance with these naturally extended to physiology, and it is easy to imagine what pathology and dietetics were like. The history of the former might be written upon one side of a visiting card, that of the latter upon the other.
Through history, too, science was avenged. The misguided younger generation, armed with knives between teeth, and scissors between fingers, knew nothing but cutting, curetting and cauterizing to resort to in the treatment of their unlucky patients; to savagely rage with quackish quicksilver was deemed heroic; hellstone was pushed into every orifice in the body with the purpose of curing, at least what came within reach, while in city and country recipes containing morphine, quinine, strychnine and veratrum came into fashion. Into others, who had luckily escaped from iodine, the bromides were shot.
While all this was going on, the herb doctors trooped together and formed an organization of a kind possible in a free country. A blacksmith, by the name of Thompson, headed the column; the farce of a medical college was inaugurated, even a caricature of a textbook was produced. Whilst Thompson took up with the herbs, he constituted himself a second Galen by reducing the contradictory theories of his time to a single one, which made its appeal, won public favor, and spread, like a prairie fire, over the land.
Between these two parties, the “regulars” and the “Thompsonians”, stand we, the homoeopaths. Even our enemies must admit that we have grown, though often not happily, in which we are reminded of Falstaffs words in “King Henry the Fourth, Act 4, Scene 2, “Food for powder, food for powder; theyll fill a pit as well as better.” Yet, our opponents must admit that we number hundreds of the better kind in our ranks. But we conquer with mild might (die milde macht ist gross), healing body and soul, as well as the St. Vitus dance of fashion. We are bound to spread, with that irresistible power, which inheres in all steadfast things. We swell like peas, sprouting in the ground, even the wormy ones swell, so pressing asunder the old skull, separating its sutures gently but surely, resolving it into its original vertebrae.
A few from that better generation are still alive. There is, for example, a Dr. Ivies, living in New Haven, whose invaluable observation on typhoid pneumonia will thrive in our soil, growing blessings for many to come. Here, young men are fast growing up, tall and strong, like the trees of this country, with a talent for observation scarcely to be found in any other nation, gifted with luck of the kind which enables its possessor to pick a four leaf clover wherever he may stoop to find it. When these become better acquainted with homoeopathy, even in its primitive, imperfect, meagre form, the form of 1796, then, after all the time will return in which young Americans will write dissertations upon the plants of their country. Then Sanguinaria, as well as Senega and other peacefully obtained conquests, like colonizations from foreign parts, will be established here and raised to the rank of influential cities.
Sanguinaria was introduced by Dr. George Bute, of Bath, Pa. His provings were made with the first centesimal potency, prepared from the tincture, and also with higher potencies.
Other contributions are from Freitag, Huseman, Helfrich, Jeanes, and a few from F.G. Earlier experiments were made by Downey (Inaugural Dissertation) 1803, and by Tully, American Medical Recorder, 1828.
I have thought proper to make extracts from the writings of local physicians, thus sending observations from the old school ahead of the new, which should be done with all remedies; small as the value of these observations may be, they will be of some use. Strong shadows render conspicuous the light.
To be exact, as far as clinical observations are concerned, these should be reported chronologically, which would enable us to see how one author copies from another, and how technical terms, words in fashion, every now and then are replaced by others more seasonable, in accord with the spirit of the times.
For the symptomatology of Sanguinaria canadensis the reader is referred to Herings Guiding Symptoms, Vol. IX, and to his Condensed Materia Medica. The guiding symptoms of greater importance are to be found under:.
Head: Headache beginning in the occiput, spreading upward and settling over the right eye. Sick and rheumatic forms of headache, with nausea and vomiting of food or bile, the so-called American sick headaches.
Eyes: neuralgia in and over the right eye. Catarrhal ophthalmia.
Ears: Earache with throat affections involving the Eustachian tubes and inner ear; acute otitis; burning and redness of ears.
Nose: Loss of smell with loss of taste; fluent acrid coryza; influenza; rose cold with asthma; sick and faint from the odor of flowers. Nasal polypi.
Face: Unusually red cheeks, with burning in ears; cough. Facial neuralgia, particularly over right eye.
Teeth: Toothache from picking teeth, or in hollow teeth when touched by food. Spongy, bleeding gums.
Taste and Tongue: Loss of taste, with burnt feeling in tongue. Red streak through middle of tongue. Tongue sore, paining like a boil.
Mouth: Roof of mouth sore, uvula sore and burning.
Throat: Very dry with tickling cough; tonsillitis with great dryness of throat; burning in pharynx and oesophagus.
Appetite: Loss of appetite; craving for he knows not what; aversion to butter.
Stomach: Nausea, with burning in stomach, with much spitting; vomiting which does not improve; vomiting sour and bitter, mostly with headache; gone feeling; dyspepsia; chronic gastritis with burning and nausea.
Liver: Torpid, skin yellow; colic. Affections of liver with cough.
Stool and Rectum: Alternate diarrhoea and constipation. Haemorrhoids.
Urinary Organs: Dark yellow urine with icterus.
Sexual Organs, Male: Gleet, old cases.
Sexual Organs, Female: Os uteri ulcerated; foetid, corrosive leucorrhoea. Flatulent discharges from vagina. Metrorrhagia with sick headache; discharge offensive, dark in color. Climacteric disorders, especially flashes of heart and leucorrhoea.
Throat, Heart and Lungs: Tonsillitis and pharyngitis with dry, harsh cough, particularly in liver affections. Acute catarrhal laryngitis. Likewise chronic laryngitis, with dryness and cough. Chronic bronchitis with hepatic symptoms. Severe coughs after whooping-cough, worse at night; cough distressing, dry, spasmodic, especially in children.
Pneumonia with tough rust-colored sputum.
Haemoptysis in phthisis pulmonalis.
Irregular pulse; weak feeling about heart; very weak pulse. Metastasis of rheumatism to heart.
Chest: Rheumatic pains in chest, spasmodic, cramp-like. Dyspnoea; asthma.
Neck and Back: Rheumatic pains in nape of neck, shoulders and arms. Pain in sacrum, from lifting, or from rheumatism; lumbago.
Limbs: Rheumatic pains in right arm and shoulder; worse at night, on turning in bed; cannot raise arm. Pain in top of right shoulder. Burning in soles of feet, worse in bed. Rheumatism in all joints as well as muscles, with stiffness; acute inflammatory and arthritis affections.
Nerves: Neuritis, particularly of right arm, with lameness. Lassitude, torpor, languor, worse in damp weather.
Fever: Flushes of heat; qualmish feeling, lassitude. Burning heat, rapidly alternating with chill and shivering; afternoon fever with circumscribed red cheeks; burning of palms of hands and soles of feet. Cold sweat, copious. Fevers with pulmonary, hepatic or gastric inflammation; nervous fevers; marsh, hectic or scarlet fevers, after Belladonna.
Relations: It antidotes Opium, the dynamic effects. Precedes or follows well Belladonna, particularly in scarletina. Similar to Iris versicolor, Belladonna, Paullinia and Melilotus in headaches. Compare Ant. tart., Chel., Phos., Sulph. and Veratrum viride in pneumonia.