This is a little remedy and will be a relief after the study of so many difficult ones. With fuller proving it will doubtless show itself a deep-acting constitutional remedy.
Although it has cured some deep-seated chronic troubles, it has been used chiefly in acute affections. This is only because of our lack of knowledge concerning the scantiness of its provings and it in a general way. Very few mental symptoms have been brought out.
Its use, so far as demonstrated, is mostly in catarrhal conditions of the air passages, and whooping cough, with copious, ropy, jelly-like mucus. Great quantities of this mucus form in the nose, in the throat, in the air passages generally, and in the vagina. The routine practitioner, whenever he sees thick, ropy, gelatinous mucus, thinks only of Kali bi. That comes from the study of key-notes. But it must be remembered that other remedies besides Kali bi. have this.
Spasmodic cough; whooping cough; the cough of drunkards. The chronic catarrhal state of the Coccus cacti patient comes on especially in the winter. It comes on when the cold weather begins and lasts till the warm weather comes. The patient is cold, and his complaints come on in cold weather. He is sensitive to cold, easily takes cold. But you must distinguish between the patient himself and his complaints, because they are entirely opposite to each other. When he once becomes sick from exposure to cold, he is always worse in a warm room and better in the cold air. His cough is brought on in a warm room; from being too warm in bed; from drinking warm things. It is better from drinking cold things and in a cold room; worse from exertion; from getting heated up; from becoming warm; that is, after the complaint has once set in, it reverses itself.
This is not unlike many other remedies. I have received many letters from doctors, saying: “Why is it that in your repertory and in Boenninghausen’s, certain remedies are put down as better from cold and worse from cold? They certainly cannot have both.” But they do have both, sometimes under different conditions and sometimes under the same conditions. Sometimes these are primary, sometimes they are secondary symptoms. A remedy must be examined to ascertain how it is that these circumstances can be the very opposite of each other. But commonly Boenninghausen registers both those things that belong to particulars and those things that belong to generals, and if the symptoms, in his judgment, is strikingly worse by a certain circumstance, even if it is the very opposite of the general, he has that symptom in boldfaced type. Phos. is a good illustration of what we have been talking about. If you make a careful study of Phos. you will see that the complaints of the chest are all worse from cold, from cold air and from being cold. He catches cold and it settles in the chest, and the cough and irritation in the chest are worse from cold and being exposed to cold air. But he wants cold things in the stomach. His stomach feels better from cold things. Let him have head trouble and his head is better from cold, be wants cold things in his stomach. If be has stomach trouble, it is made worse by anything hot; he wants cold water to drink, and as soon as it gets warm he vomits it up. You see Phos. is worse from cold and worse from heat. The pains in the extremities are better from heat.
The chronic cough, as has been said, is likely to begin with cold weather and last all winter, with a copious formation of mucus in the chest. It is a spasmodic cough, forcing the patient into the most violent efforts. The face becomes purple. Finally lie retches and vomits long strings of tough, ropy mucus, filling the mouth and throat and causing him to choke. This is due to the fact that the mucus is so tenacious that it cannot be ejected from the pharynx in the usual way, therefore he must vomit. Now, there is a striking feature of this remedy. Anything coming in contact with the pharynx, the inside of the mouth, or even the gums, produces gagging and retching and will bring on the cough. We find this in the chronic states of sensitive persons, who are unable to brush the teeth or rinse the mouth without gagging and sometimes vomiting.
There is a general hyperaesthesia of the skin and mucous membranes. Sensitive to the pressure of the clothing.
With the chest troubles there is much dyspnoea. He cannot walk without bringing on difficult breathing. He cannot ascend a height without suffocation. After the quantities of mucus are cleared out the cough is better and he goes on for two, three or four hours, when another one of these awful attacks conies on. They are apt to be worse at night when he becomes warm in bed. If he can lie in a cool room without much covering he will go longer without coughing.
The whooping cough is of a similar character. You will see the child lying in bed with the covers off. It wants the room cold, and the mother will tell you that if she can get to it quickly enough with a drink of cold water she can ward off the paroxysm. The chest fills up with mucus until respiration cannot be carried on any longer and it must be cleared out, yet the child will resist and hold its breath to prevent coughing. You will be astonished to see how speedily Coccus cacti will change the character of that cough. One of the earliest signs of improvement will be observed in the earlier respiration. The cough becomes less violent, the retching passes away, and in a week or ten days the cough will go, too. Cough worse after eating, worse on waking, worse in a warm room.
In the early stages of whooping cough Carbo veg. will develop and bring out the symptoms and furnish a good picture for a second prescription, even if it does not cure.
Discharge of thick yellow mucus from the nose; nose stopped up, with inclination to sneeze. Great dryness of the nose. The air passages burn after the mucus has been cleared away. The chest burns from the mere exhaling of air, Sore throat with redness. Tickling in the throat. Sensation of a hair or crumb lodged in the throat behind the larynx. Fauces very sensitive. Arch of palate and fauces, as far as visible, very red. Burning in the throat < in the warmth, especially when warmed up in bed, < from warm drinks, though hot drinks are not so bad. Better from cold drinks. If the patient gets warm in bed or the room gets warm he commences to clutch the larynx and cough. The slightest touch on the palate or even the gums in examination of the throat will cause gagging sometimes when the parts look normal. He cannot hawk without gagging. On swallowing food sometimes it will come right back again and cause gagging and retching.
Great thirst; wants water often and in large quantities. Nauseous taste in the mouth; never rid of it. Nausea in the throat. Vomiting of white, bitter tasting froth. Toothache; sudden drawing pains in the teeth, worse from cold and from touch.
The mental symptoms are chiefly depression and anxiety. Great sadness; a cloud seems to hang over everything. Apprehensiveness. Sadness, with desire to commit suicide. This is worse after sleep, and especially 2 to 4 A. M. This state may alternate with loquacity and liveliness, like Lachesis. There are other symptoms worse after sleep; wakes in the morning with basilar headache, or with headache in the forehead; < mental exertion; after lying down; sometimes > from slow motion; < on coughing and from exertion; < after sleep.
A strong feature is its action on the kidneys, resembling acute parenchymatous nephritis. Albumen in the urine. Dark red sediment in the urine. Pain shooting from the kidney to the bladder and down the legs; < from motion. Renal colic. Urging to urinate, but inability to pass urine until a large clot of blood has been passed. In Coccus cacti the right side of the heart is affected, the vessels become friable and there is haemorrhage, oozing of blood, forming great black clots. The above symptom suggests a woman with uterine haemorrhage. There are haemorrhages of the uterus where the blood flows freely, coagulates slowly and does not form much of any clot in the vagina. But in this remedy the clots form very rapidly and the vagina becomes packed, and the bladder cannot be emptied until the clot is expelled. Uterine haemorrhage is a strong feature of this remedy. Copious, frequent, prolonged menstrual flow. Large, hard, black dots fill the uterus, are expelled by labor-like pains, and form again. Inflammation of uterus and vagina, with copious, thick, white, jelly-like ropy mucus. Soreness of the vulva; cannot bear the pressure of the clothing.
Haemoptysis, dark, dotted; < from exertion.
In the male there is impotence with dull pain in the loins. Dull pains in the region of the kidneys, with albuminuria; heavy sediment in the urine, etc., just such a state as you would find in a child that had taken cold after scarlet fever.
Written by James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) and published first in his book "Materia Medica" (1905) James Tyler Kent was an American physician best remembered as a forefather of modern homeopathy.