Viewed through repertory: Senega


There are often remedies which show up in repertorization which we overlook – remedies which we aren’t familiar with, have never used and are just not part of our prescribing “vocabulary”.

Senega is such a remedy.  I have never prescribed it, but I do see it showing up on occasion in repertorization.

Polygala Senega, or snake root is of North American origin. From Wikipedia:
This plant had many uses among Native Americans. The Cherokee used it as an expectorant and a diuretic, and for inflammation, croup, and common cold. The Chippewa used preparations of the root to treat convulsions and bleeding wounds. The Cree chewed the root for sore throat and toothache.[5] According to Canadian botanist Frère Marie-Victorin, the Seneca may have been inspired to use the tortuous root to treat snakebite by its resemblance to the tail of a rattlesnake. It’s still in use for treatment of pneumonia.

Senega was proved by Massie in 1803. More detailed results of the proving can be found, among other sources, in Hughes’ Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy. The following are some examples from the proving:

1. Dr. MASSIE took 10 dr. of gum dissolved in water.
In 5 minutes sensation in esophagus as if membrane had been abraded, lasted 1 hour.
Pulse, 84 before experiment, at 15 minutes was 78, 20 minutes 73, 30 minutes 70, 35 minutes 68, thence gradually rising to 76.
He then took 20 gr.
Irritation in esophagus was again felt, with some nausea; the drug also operated slightly as a purgative. (Inaug. Thesis, Penns. Univ., 1803; from ALLEN.)

2. Mr. L. took 20 gr. of powdered root. In 10 minutes burning sensation in esophagus with considerable discharge of mucus from trachea (still continuing in slight degree 1 1/2 hour later).
Pulse, 65 before experiment, in 10 minutes was 70 and fuller; later 72, whence it fell again. (Ibid.)

3. Mr. L – took same.Had similar feeling in esophagus, with much hawking of mucus.
In 30 minutes nausea, which increased up to 40 minutes.
Pulse, 65 before experiment, gradually rose in 5 – 40 minutes up to 90, and was still 80 – 86 after 1 – 2 hours.
In 1 1/2 hour skin became very hot; in 1 3/4 hour profuse perspiration set in, and disagreeable symptoms were quite removed. (Ibid.)

4. Mr. W. took same. Same irritation in esophagus; pulse, 68, was 80 at 30 – 40 minutes, and only returned to its starting-point in 2 1/2 hours (Ibid.)

So what does Seneca look like in the repertory?

Seneca appears in four points in the following rubrics. However, it takes its place among many other remedies, and does not appear in four points in any rubric with less than 50 remedies.

What about rubrics with less remedies?  Seneca is prominent in the following, and appears in three points:

So far this gives us a picture of a remedy state where the patient has a tendency to dryness, lack of perspiration and to an increased production of mucus in the larynx and trachea. There is very clear aggravation from mortification in this remedy state, and also relaxation of the body (pathological) and very deep sleep. In its appearance in three points in “Mortification” Senega is accompanied by Chamomile and Phosphoric Acid, with Colocynthis, Ignatia, Natrum-Muriaticum and Staphysagria in four points.

Where does Senega stand in terms of relationships with other remedies? For this I’ve done a search of its position in the Concordances section.

From this search we see Senega is noted as an antidote to Arnica and Bryonia, as having some connection in terms of modalities with Angustura, Crocus Sativus, Kali Carbonicum, Kali Nitricum and Rhododendron Chrysanthum. In Generalities we find it in concordance with Aurum, Caladium, Carbo Vegetabilis, Causticum and Digitalis. The only remedy where we see Senega appearing twice is in Kali Nitricum, in modalities and in body parts.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be learned about a remedy through searching through the repertory. I did one last search, to see where Senega appeared in any grade, in rubrics with 10 remedies or less, and got the following result:

Senega’s only partner in the symptom Amelioration from Chewing is Bryonia. Its only partner in the symptom of Imaginary Odors resembling Pus is Sulphur.

In the concordance symptoms and in this last search, for the most part Senega appears in one point, indicating that Boenninghausen did not have much clinical experience with the remedy for these symptoms. However, its appearance in the TPB means it has definite significance in such cases, where it matches the totality of the disease state.


One response to “Viewed through repertory: Senega

  1. Hi Vera
    Great to read about a rare remedy and different analytical criteria.
    Are able to put this review in a more simpler way as I would like to learn and understand the significance of the concordance and use to this remedy.


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