by James Tyler Kent
Generalities: Before Aethusa was known a certain class of cases of cholera infantum, and vomiting and diarrhea in children, all resulted fatally, because there was no remedy that looked like such serious cases.
Death is stamped on the face from the beginning, and if there are any remedies in the book that save life this is one of them.
It applies to the cases that come on very suddenly in hot weather in infancy, with extreme prostration.
The mother does not suspect the child is sick until she takes it from the crib; only a few hours before it was well; but when cholera infantum is prevalent in hot weather, this little one fills its stomach with milk and almost before it has had time to coagulate or form into curds the milk comes up partly in curds and partly liquid, and accompanying the vomiting there is a thin, yellow greenish, slimy stool.
The child has the appearance as if it were dying, pale Hippocratic face, there is a whitish-blue pallor around the lips, the eyes are sunken and there is a sunken condition around the nose. The mother is astonished and sends for the doctor hurriedly. The child sinks into an exhausted sleep.
It wakes up and again fills the stomach with milk which comes up again in a few minutes, partly in curd and partly liquid, and again there is the awful exhaustion, deathly appearance and prolonged sleep.
Without Aethusa, in two or three days the undertaker gets that child. That is pretty nearly the whole story of Aethusa.
It has delirium, it has excitement, it has mental disturbances of various kinds, but they are acute and accompany the brain troubles.
A certain class of infants come down sick in the hot weather, in the hot nights, and they get brain trouble, and from that time the stomach quits business, the bowels become relaxed, and everything put into the stomach either comes up or goes right through.
This occurs especially in those infants that have been fed as the ordinary everyday mother feeds her baby and how is that?
Every time it cries she puts it to the breast or feeds it. Well, now; let us think a bit. Every doctor ought to think a little, once in a while. Now meditate a trifle as to whether that is a wise or foolish thing to do.
It takes about two hours or two hours and a half for the ordinary baby’s stomach to transact good wholesome business in digesting the milk taken, and it ought to have a rest of half an hour or so, and when we get up to three hours and the baby cries then it is probably hungry and will be glad to take some more and digest it.
Any shorter interval of feeding than that is bad practice, it would be just the same thing if the child should take half teacupful of milk and let it partly digest, and in a little while take little more, and then later add a little more.
It commences to spit up its food and it is sour, and the very first spell of hot weather that comes brings on head trouble. Only the toughest children will stand this bad method.
I have watched these children and seen them stand it until the summer. The doctor must put his foot down, and put it down violently, and make them see he means it.
The old woman comes in and says:
“That doctor does not know anything” and the baby must be fed.
Now Aethusa suits improperly fed babies. It is at the head of the list of medicines for that condition; that is, when digestion has absolutely ceased from brain trouble.
Stomach and digestion: So far as busy doctors have discovered the call for this remedy, it has been mostly among babies, but adults sometimes take on an Aethusa state, when digestion has absolutely ceased from brain trouble and from excitement.
It has cured dyspepsia from constant feeding, in those nibblers, those hungry fellows who are always eating, always nibbling, always taking crackers in their pockets until there comes a time when the stomach ceases to act.
It also suits cases of indigestion from head troubles, with hot head, vomiting, exhaustion, sweat and long sleep.
Convulsions: Aethusa has convulsions in children.
Sometimes the brain trouble does not affect the stomach, but the child goes into convulsions, with clammy hands, deathly countenance, and the sweat, exhaustion and sleep.
“Convulsions, great weakness and prostration, with sleepiness. Dosing of the child after vomiting and after stool, with convulsions.”
In the Aethusa patient there is much in the face and aspect to indicate a remedy; so much can be seen and comes within the observation, and so little questioning is necessary, that a sort of snap-shot prescribing can be done, but it is not to be recommended.
A busy physician, one who really and truly studies his Materia Medica, learned the principles, will in time do a great deal of what seems to be snap-shot prescribing, but he really does not do so, because he puts together many things that outsiders would not think of.
Aethusa then shows itself upon the surface, whereas in many remedies there is nothing seen upon the surface because they manifest themselves in any or deeper sensations.
Let me lay a case before you to illustrate this. For instance, take a robust looking fellow, who declares himself fairly well, out to lunch with you.
You have noticed for some time that his nose is all the time peeling off at once there is a star.
He never talks about his health.
Pretty soon, while lunching, the door slams and he jumps. That is the second point. Then he tells you how much he eats, how well it affects him, how good he feels after eating, and you have noticed yourself that he eats a good deal.
You have not said one word about his health to him. You have not asked him to tell you any symptoms. Finally you shove the pitcher of milk over to him, and he says:
“Oh, I can’t drink milk; if I take milk it gives me diarrhoea; I never think of taking it.”
Who could not prescribe for that fellow without taking him into the office?
Who would think of anything but Natrum carb. for such a case?
Sometimes you can find out the whole story by getting a stubborn patient to go and dine with you.