Veronica Virginica. Black Root. Culver’s Physic. Tall Speedwell (U.S.A.).
Leptandra in the form of the resinoid Leptandrin has been the subject of an heroic proving by Burt. As one of the grand characteristics of its relative Digitalis is white stools, so the grand characteristic of Lept. is black stools.
The following experience of Dr. Burt fairly epitomises the drug’s action: “For the last two hours” (i.e., six hours after the second dose on the fourth day of proving) “have been in awful pain and distress in umbilical and hypogastric region; drinking cold water < the pain very much; dull, aching, burning distress in region of gall bladder, with frequent chilliness along spine; great distress in hypogastrium with great desire for stool. A very profuse black stool, about the consistence of cream, with undigested potatoes in it, gave >, but was followed by great distress in region of liver extending to spine; for the last four hours there has been constant distress, with pains in whole abdomen, but for the last half-hour the pains in umbilicus and hypogastrium have been awful to endure, with rumbling and great desire for stool; a very profuse black, fetid stool, that ran a stream from my bowels, and could not be retained for a moment, gave great > but did not stop the pain altogether.” There were great varieties of this stool, and in the later stages of the proving it became dysenteric and mixed with shreds. There was also constipation with hard black stool, followed by softer. And with the liver symptoms there was dull, heavy, frontal headache. These symptoms confirm the use of the drug by eclectics as a kind of “vegetable calomel.”
But though black stools are the chief characteristic, they are not the only kind that Lept. causes. Hale gives the following as the order in which the different kinds of stools occur in the time of the proving. (1) Black, thick, tar-like, fetid. (2) Thinner, brownish, often fetid. (3) Stool of mixed mucus, flocculent and watery matter, with yellow bile or blood. (4) Mucous bloody stool mixed with shred-like substances, often pure blood. Hale says it is only in cases of dysentery which have developed in this way that Lept. is curative; not in cases primarily dysenteric. Cases due to sudden climatic changes have been cured by it.
Farrington further characterises the liver action of Lept.:
Dull aching in right hypochondrium, gall-bladder, and back of liver, accompanied by soreness. Burning distress in and about liver after spreading to stomach and bowels. With this there is drowsiness and despondency. Bilious and typhoid fevers with the black, tarry stools. Neidhard observed a periodicity in cases cured by him: Periodical, occurring every two or three months; yellow-coated tongue; constant nausea with vomiting of bile shooting or aching pains in region of liver; loss of appetite; urine brownish, or, at any rate, very dark; often pain in transverse colon giddiness.
But the most characteristic symptom is very dark, almost black stools. In cases of disease of any kind when these characteristic black stools are present Lept. must be thought of. Like Euphras., Lept. has a number of eye symptoms. Lept. is a right-side medicine; has chilly sensation along spine and down right arm; pains in right shoulder and arm. The symptoms are < by motion: rising = nausea and faintness. Weakness is so great he is hardly able to stand. < From exposure to wet weather. < Drinking cold water. A peculiar sensation is, "Feeling as if something was passing out of rectum." Like Dig. and Tabac. it has sinking at the pit of the stomach. Reference: A DICTIONARY OF PRACTICAL MATERIA MEDICA By John Henry CLARKE, M.D.