Viewed through Proving: Digitalis, not just heart disease…

not just a pretty/dangerous flower

not just a pretty/dangerous flower

13 suicidal men?
Becher ; Dr. Franz ; Dr. Gross ; Hornburg ; Jahr. ; Dr. Langhammer ; J. Lehmann ; Meyer ; Piepers ; Dr. Rueckert ; Medical Counselor – Dr. Stapf ; Teuthorn ; Dr. Trinks.

These are the names of the provers who worked with Hahnemann in the proving of Digitalis. Apparently they weren’t worried about “catching” heart disease from the remedy.

It is common for homoeopaths – especially students or beginners – to ignore Digitalis when it shows up in repertorisation, as the internal censor kicks in with  “that’s irrelevant, the patient doesn’t have heart disease”.

There is a hesitation, almost a fear amongst many in prescribing Digitalis – “what if the patient aggravates?  what happens then?”

True, the plant itself is highly toxic.  But then so are many other remedies in our Materia Medica…and the best way to safely harness the full therapeutic range of this plant is through dilutions, and through homoeopathic prescription.

Not just a pretty flower.

Digitalis is probably one of the more under-prescribed remedies to be found in the materia medica. In our culturally brainwashed minds, it is inevitably bound up with two concepts: poison (many “whodunnits” use it) and heart disease.

True it does have the symptoms that one would expect in a case of heart disease, including many chest and heartbeat symptoms, pain in the left arm etc.
524 Heaviness in the left arm, observable also when at rest.
525 Paralytic weakness in the left arm ; he could hardly raise it, nor double up the fist, without pain. [Hbg.].
526 On the upper arm, in its lower part, needle-pricks, continuing even when moving it.

But these are several symptoms amongst many others – whether vision, digestive, urinary, mental impairment, headaches, misery, anxiety and more, 601 symptoms in the proving to be found in Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases. (substantial, although not 702 as appears in the text due to a numbering issue.)

Clarke’s dictionary brings the following case examples:

“Malcolm Macfarlan (H. P., xiii. 490) reports Digit. having produced severe urethritis, phimosis, and strangury. He has cured with it many cases of gonorrhœa.

Ballard cured a man of headache and dizziness originating probably in gonorrhœa suppressed several years before. He complained of feeling bad about the head after drinking, and this keynote symptom was elicited: “after drinking cold water the pain would seat itself in the forehead and extend down the nose.”

…The use of Digitalis as a remedy for pneumonia in the old school is well known. It has proved a very dangerous remedy, but it has been used by homœopaths with very good effect in senile pneumonia (E. V. Ross., H. P., xvii. 177). Ross regards the indications as being: “Dry cough with mucous râles and no expectoration or only ‘prune-juice’ expectoration; cyanosis, cold extremities; feeble, intermittent pulse deathly nausea or gone sensation at epigastrium.”

Before its modern isolation as a heart medication, the foxglove had many broader uses in herbal healing – which had nothing to do with its modern uses. It was used for falls, scrofula (in ointment form), and for cleansing old sores and ulcers. The Belgian healer Rembert Dodoens, in his Cruydeboeck (1554) described its use boiled in wine, as an expectorant.

Nicholas Culpeper, in his Comlete Herbal of 1653) says Digitalis has: “a gentle, cleansing nature and withal very friendly to nature. The Herb is familiarly and frequently used by the Italians to heal any fresh or green wound, the leaves being but bruised and bound thereon and the juice thereof is also used in old sores, to cleanse, dry and heal them. It has been found by experience to be available for the King’s evil*, the herb bruised and applied, or an ointment made with the juice thereof, and so used…. I am confident that an ointment of it is one of the best remedies for a scabby head that is.”

So next time Digitalis shows up, it’s worthwhile taking a closer look.

Not just a pretty flower.

*  *  *  *  *  *
* From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
king’s evil,  scrofula, or struma, a tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands, once popularly supposed to be curable by the touch of royalty. The custom of touching was first adopted in England by Edward the Confessor and in France by Philip I. In England the practice was attended with great ceremony; and from the time of Henry VII sufferers were presented with especially touched coins to be worn as amulets or charms. The custom reached its zenith during the Restoration: Charles II is said to have touched more than 90,000 victims between 1660 and 1682. The last royal healer in England was Queen Anne, who touched 200 victims in 1712. In France the ceremony persisted for another century and was even briefly revived by Charles X between 1824 and 1830.

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