Viewed through proving: Veratrum Album – delusions of grandeur

Veratrum Album – delusions of grandeurNapoleon

How many of us have an indelible image of the would-be messianic Veratrum Album suffering from delusions of grandeur, carved into our memories, perhaps with a dash of forehead perspiration to give some physical back-up to a less common prescription?  And let’s face it, how many would-be messiahs are there to prescribe for?

This symptom from the proving is perhaps one of the main culprits:
672.  He pretends he is a prince and gives himself airs accordingly. [GREDING, l. c., p. 43.]

Greding did much work on Veratrum.   More about Greding’s work with Veratrum Album can be found in Woodville’s Medical Botany, quoted in Ralph Griffith’s The Monthly Review, 1794.  If you have a taste for Olde English and can handle “s” written as “∫”, you can read the article here.   In fact the book itself is fascinating but I cannot promise that you will escape with your “s”s unfcathed…

For those who don’t want to take that risk, here’s the quote:

“…But the fullest trial to have been lately made of the efficacy of Veratrum is by Greding, who employed it in a great number of cases, (twenty-eight) of the maniacal and melancholic kind; the majority of these, as might be expected, derived no permanent benefit; several however were relieved and five completely cured by this medicine…In almost every case which he relates, the medicine acted more or less upon all the excretions: vomiting and purging were very generally produced, and the matter thrown off the stomach was constantly mixed with bile…”

So Greding’s symptoms are clinical, and many, if not most of the “old school” symptoms reflect extreme mental disturbance.  Hahnemann found these symptoms valuable enough to include within the proving, but it’s instructive to note the symptoms that are not from the “old school”.   These symptoms present a picture of depression, anxiety and despair, from a bad conscience or from anticipation of misfortune.  This person lives under threat, does not talk about it, is critical, fault-finding and oversensitive.  And he’s always better when he’s busy or working, even if he is ill.

We won’t often come across the “would-be saviours and deluded Napoleons” – but the behaviours in these other symptoms also present a clear picture which we have all seen, both in patients and in our own social or familial circles.

I’ve presented the non-“old school” symptoms below:

684.   Restlessness of disposition, oppression, and anxiety (aft. 1 h.). [Bch.]
685.   Despondency, despair.
686.   Melancholy, with chilliness, as if he were sprinkled with cold water, and frequent inclination to vomit.
687.   Gloominess, dejection, sadness, with involuntary weeping and flow of tears from the eyes and inclination to vomit.
688.   She is inconsolable about an imaginary misfortune, runs about the room howling and crying out, with her looks directed to the ground, or sits absorbed in thought in a corner, lamenting and weeping inconsolably; worst in the evening; sleeps only till 2 o’clock.
689.   He groans, is besides himself, does not know how to calm himself (aft. 2, 3 h.).
690.   Anxiety as from a bad conscience, as if he had done something bad.
691.   Anxiety as though he anticipated misfortune, as if threatened with some calamity.
692.   A feeling in his whole being as if he must gradually come to an end, but with calmness.
693.   Soft, sad humour even to weeping (aft. 24 h.).
696.   Fear.
700.   Taciturnity.
701.   He does not talk unless excited to do so, then he scolds.
702.   Taciturnity: he is reluctant to say a word, talking is repugnant to him, he speaks low and with a weak voice. [Stf.]
704.   Crossness when cause is given (aft. 4 h.).
705.   He gets very cross, every trifle excites him (aft. 1 h.). [Stf.]
706.   He searches for faults in others (and taunts then with them.)
707.   Cross at the slightest cause and at the same time anxiety with rapid audible respiration. [Bch.]
708.   Over-sensitiveness; increased mental power.
709.   He is too lively, excentric, extravagant.
711.   When he is occupied is head is cheerful, but when he has nothing to do he is as if dazed, cannot think properly, is quiet and absorbed in himself (aft. 2, 15 h.). [Fz.]
712.   Busy restlessness.
713.   Busy restlessness; he undertakes many things, but becomes always tired of them, nothing succeeds with him. [Stf.]
714.   Activity and mobility, with diminution of the pains and passions.
715.   Inclination to and pleasure in work.
716.   All day a kind of indifference, so that he often rubbed his forehead in order to come to himself and to collect his thoughts. [Bch.]


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