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Henbane,Stinking nightshade or Black henbane,

Hyocyamus disturbs the nervous system profoundly. It is as if some diabolical force took possession of the brain and prevented its functions. It causes a perfect picture of mania of a quarrelsome and obscene character. Inclined to be unseemly and immodest in acts, gestures and expressions. Very talkative, and persists in stripping herself, or uncovering genitals. Is jealous, afraid of being poisoned, etc. Its symptoms also point to weakness and nervous agitation; hence typhoid and other infections with coma vigil. Tremulous weakness and twitching of tendons. Subsultus tendinum. Muscular twitchings, spasmodic affections, generally with delirium. Non-inflammatory cerebral activity. Toxic gastritis.

Hyoscyamus (“Hog-bean”) is nearly allied to Belladonna botanically, and in pathogenetic action the two drugs are much alike in their main features. But when examined closely, their differences are sufficiently well marked to render their distinction easy. Though sometimes growing near rivers, Bell. flourishes best in a chalky soil. Hyo. is found growing on old rubbish heaps, near ruins, on roadsides, and sometimes by the seashore. The flower of Bell. is of a dull, purplish brown; of Hyo. a dirty yellow, with claret-coloured streaks. Bell. is a smooth plant, whilst Hyo. is densely covered with thickly woven hairs, and by a sticky, heavy-smelling exudation.

A case of poisoning by Hyoscyamus seeds, put into soup instead of celery seeds, communicated to the Times (May 14, 1892), by Mr. F. Mackarness, one of the sufferers, gives a good general idea of the drug’s action. “About ten minutes after taking the soup I began to feel quite dizzy, and could hardly swallow the food I was eating, which tasted as if it was nothing but dust and ashes. At the same time my wife became so faint that she asked me to help her up to her room at once. This I did with some difficulty, having to hold on to the bannister with one hand while I supported her with the other. At the same time, also, our sight became blurred, our mouths and throats parched, and we began to feel cold. I tried in vain to get warm by sitting over the drawing-room fire, but only felt intensely drowsy. . . . When Dr. Martin arrived I had great difficulty not only in getting up to receive him, but in making him understand what had happened, so indistinct was my articulation. However, from the dilatation of our eyes, the parched condition of our tongues, and the state of our pulse (my wife’s having gone up to 140), he, of course, saw that we had been badly poisoned, and prescribed drastic remedies which saved us probably from very serious consequences; for even the next day our sight was still defective, and my wife’s hands were slightly paralysed.” Dr. W. S. Mills communicated to N. A. J. H., November, 1899, an experience of his own. A patient had objected to the taste of water in which Hyo. Ø had been mixed, so Dr. Mills took a teaspoonful just to taste it. “A few moments later I found that it produced a queer feeling throughout the body. I felt as though without weight, as though I walked through and on air. My head felt light. I had an insane desire to laugh and shout. It was only by the utmost use of my will-power that I could keep myself from doing something ridiculous. Even when I forced myself to think of my position of responsibility as medical attendant on this very sick man, and the absolute necessity of keeping my wits about me, it was hard for me to restrain my hilarity. I can liken the condition only to one of mild hilarious intoxication─a “funny drunk.” I knew I was silly, but I could not help it. To keep myself from losing my dignity before the nurses and the family, I locked myself in the bathroom for a few minutes and made faces at myself in the mirror.” The condition passed off in half an hour. These two experiences, brief as they were, cover a large share of the ground occupied by Hyo. The delirium of Hyo. is more of the low, muttering type, whilst that of Bell. tends to be violent and furious. Hyo. also has fits of ungovernable rage, but the violence is not so sustained as that of Bell. The face of Bell. is red, of Hyo. pale or bluish. Hyo. corresponds to a greater variety of cases of melancholia than Bell., and here one great characteristic is “suspicion,” so frequently met with in cases of insanity or of those on the borderland.

A patient of mine, a clever lawyer, suffering from nervous breakdown, had had to abandon his business entirely some time before he came under my care. He had improved considerably, when I heard from his wife in the country that he had had a kind of a fit, and became cold and senseless, his face working much. After that he fell asleep, and had another attack an hour and a half later. After this he was suspicious, and said that his wife was poisoning him. I sent a single dose of Hyo. 1m, to be given in food or in drink without his knowing. It was repeated once a week. He began to improve forthwith, and in a few months was perfectly restored to health; though some other medicines were given later on. In this case there was an additional indication for Hyo. in the working of the muscles of the face. Twitching is one of the grand characteristics of Hyo. “Every muscle in the body twitches, from the eyes to the toes,” clonic spasms: twitching of groups of muscles; spasms in general; with unconsciousness. Another feature of the Hyo. insanity is uncovering. This is not because the patient feels too warm (for Hyo., like the other Solanids, is a chilly remedy), but because they will not remain covered: nymphomania; lascivious mania; lies naked in bed and chatters. There are violent outbreaks in the delirium of Hyo., but they cannot be kept up (as are those of Bell.), on account of the weakness. Hyo. corresponds to the typhoid state: tongue dry and unwieldy, sensorium so clouded that if the patient be aroused to answer he falls back into a stupor again. The sight is disordered; sees things too large or too near and grasps at them; picks the bed-clothes and mutters. Twitchings, subsultus tendinum, and picking at the bed-clothes. Teeth covered with sordes. Involuntary passage of urine and fæces. When influenza takes the typhoid form it often finds its remedy in Hyo, (I rapidly cured a boy in whom influenza attacked the meninges of the brain with pains in the head, especially forehead, piercing to the brain.) Parotitis with metastasis to brain. Hyo. is suited to many pulmonary conditions. The characteristic cough is < on lying down, almost completely removed by sitting up, < at night, < after eating, drinking or talking. Cough from elongated uvula. The drowsiness of Hyo. has another side in restlessness. The patient lies awake for hours; children twitch in sleep, cry out, tremble, and awake frightened. Hyo. is one of our best remedies in toothache, having well-defined symptoms. Hyo. 30 is one of the most useful remedies in restlessness and sleeplessness. Hyo. is suited to nervous, irritable, excitable, sanguine people; to light-haired people. The symptoms of Hyo. are < by touch; the abdomen is sore to touch; < evening and night < lying, down; < from cold and cold air. > From sitting up; motion; walking; warmth. < From mental affections; jealousy unhappy love; approaching menstruation; commencing menstruation; during menstruation. Reference: A DICTIONARY OF PRACTICAL MATERIA MEDICA By John Henry CLARKE, M.D. Homeopathic Material Medica by Dr. William Boericke.

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