Clarke says: For though by no means a specific in all cases of cancer, it is in cancer cases that Hydrastis has won its chief fame; and I think it may fairly be said that more cases of cancer have been cured with it than with any other single remedy.
Thanks to the excellent provings that have been made by homeopaths and the careful observations of able practitioners, we are in a position to use the remedy with much greater precision than formerly. In very many cancer cases there is what has been termed a “pre-cancerous stage,” a period of undefined ill-health without any discernible new growth. This stage is generally marked by symptoms of dyspepsia, and this frequently takes the Hydrastis type, which has been well described by A. C. Clifton.
The facial expression is dull, heavy, sodden-looking; yellowish-white in colour. The tongue is large, flabby and slimy-looking; bluish-white under the fur (which is yellow, slimy, and sticky), and indented by the teeth. Eructations generally sour, at times putrid. Appetite bad, the power of digesting bread and vegetables especially weak and causing eructations. Weight at stomach, with fulness, empty aching “gone” feeling (this is a grand characteristic of Hydrast., and it is constant, not occurring at special times like that of Sul., &c.). < After a meal. The action of the bowels is either infrequent and constipated, or frequent with loose, soft, light-coloured stools. Clifton found this type of dyspepsia occur frequently in phthisical families, and often cured it; and even in cases of actual phthisis this type is not uncommon, the loss of appetite and "goneness" being especially prominent. In dyspepsia Clifton found the tincture and lower attenuations answer best; in catarrh of nose and fauces the higher were better. Catarrh of almost all mucous surfaces is caused by Hydrastis─nasal catarrh, pharyngeal, bronchial, gastric, duodenal, intestinal, urethral (gonorrhœa, gleet), vaginal. The characteristic catarrh is yellow (the leading colour of the drug) or white; tough and stringy. A remedy most valuable in catarrhal inflammations of the nasopharyngeal and gastrointestinal tracts. One strong, characteristic and guiding symptom is found in the tenacious, tough, yellowish nature of the discharges which are, in addition, sometimes bloody and usually thick. With these conditions in mind, Hydrastis will be found useful in dull, frontal catarrhal headaches, with thick, stringy yellow, lumpy nasal and postnasal mucous discharge. Likewise is the remedy indicated in watery excoriating coryzas, with much rawness in the throat and chest, and frequent sneezing. The eyes are inflamed, with similar thick yellow tenacious discharges; catarrhal ophthalmia or blepharitis will at times need this remedy; also otorrheas following middle ear inflammation. Stomatitis in children or in nursing women, particularly when chlorate of potash or mercury has been used injudiciously, will need Hydrastis when the characteristic yellow, tenacious mucous discharge is present, together with foul odor to the breath and thickly coated yellow tongue, which often is flabby and swollen, taking the imprint of the teeth. Small aphthae are found upon the buccal mucous membrane and small ulcers are frequently to be seen upon the tonsils and in the pharynx generally. Constipation is a marked symptom of the Hydrastis patient, who has little or no desire for stool, but complains of a peculiar faint, empty or gone sensation at the pit of the stomach. The remedy is often useful under these circumstances and when purgatives have been abused. Gastroduodenal catarrh, as well as chronic catarrhal enteritis, will need Hydrastis very frequently. The stools are bloody or at least blood-streaked and consist of the characteristic tenacious yellow mucus. The later stage of gonorrhea will require Hydrastis when the discharge is sticky, yellowish and tenacious. The same description applies to the leucorrheas for which this remedy is indicated and in these cases, ulceration of the cervix uteri and of the vagina, will be present. In the gastric or bilious complaints for which Hydrastis is indicated, the tongue will be found coated yellow in the centre with red, clean edges.