Ambra Grisea

by James Tyler Kent

Premature old age: On looking over this remedy as a whole it will appear to you that you have been studying the characteristics of one prematurely old.

You will often see symptoms coming on in one at fifty years of age that should appear at eighty, and after studying this remedy you will see that the same aspect is presented, a premature old age.

We recognize trembling and a peculiar kind of feebleness that cannot be described by any expression but senility; it is not the confusion of mind belonging to sickness, but the peculiar state we recognize in old people, in declining life; trembling and tottering and a dreamy state of mind with forgetfulness.

He goes on from one subject to another, asking a question, and, without waiting for it to be answered, asking another.

And so he jumps about from one topic to another. It can hardly be said to be confusion, it is a dreamy state of mind, a state of senility.

This remedy is useful when such a state is found in young persons, when the mind is not insane and yet it is weak. Especially is it indicated in those persons who manifest a momentary, fleeting inquisitiveness, jumping from one subject to another.

Often a patient asks me one question after another, never waiting to have the first one answered, a flitting, flighty talker, who does not seem to realize that I have not answered his questions; that patient, I say to myself, needs Ambra grisea.

That state of mind belongs to modern society women in such great frequency that you will be astonished to note it on all hands.

A modern society belle that could not darn the heel of her stocking to save her soul will in a few years get into just that state, and even Ambra will not cure her.

But there is a kind of nervous sickness manifested by these symptoms that Ambra grisea will cure. Alternation of depression of spirits with vehemence of temper is an other feature. That naturally belongs to old age.

A period of greatest excitability is often followed by depression, a state of indifference to all things, to joy, to grief, to people etc., treating with indifference things that would naturally break the heart of a well-balanced person.

He does not even wonder why he is not excited over these wonderful things, so decided is the state of indifference. Many of the complaints are worse in the morning.

He gets up with confusion and dullness of mind and is in a dreamy state and towards evening he takes on symptoms of insanity.

Vertigo: Ambra is one of the most frequently indicated medicines in simple, nondescript vertigo of old men.

So dizzy that they cannot go out on the street; so dizzy upon getting up in the morning that they must wait a while until they can get a-round on their feet. It is the dizziness belonging to senility and to premature old age.

Mind: Now, when this man undertakes to meditate upon something his ideas are whisked away. It is a sort of confusion with vanishing of ideas.

He has to make an unusual effort a few times to bring his thoughts back to the place before he can concentrate the mind to meditate upon some idea.

But while concentration of the mind is difficult, he is compelled to sit and dwell upon the most disagreeable things that force themselves upon him and he cannot get rid of them.

It is somewhat analogous to Natrum mur., but the peculiar feature of the Natr. mur. is that she delights to dwell upon past unpleasant occurrences and lies awake at night thinking about them.

Ambra grisea is forced to dwell upon such things. Images, false faces, hideous imaginations, fancies and visions annoy him and keep him awake.

In the semi-dreamy state he is kept holding up before his mind these grimaces. Such a state of mind may come on from business embarrassments with vertigo, congestion to the head and brain fag.

One thing running through this remedy is that the presence of other persons aggravates the symptoms; also the marked aggravation from conversation.

A woman, when attended by a nurse, is unable to have a stool without sending the nurse into another room. In spite of much straining she can do nothing unless alone.

It is said in Natr. mur. that the patient cannot urinate in the presence of other persons.

The urine will not start when anyone is around. That is a port of general feature of this remedy. Confusion of mind and embarrassment in the presence of other persons. Embarrassment in company. As soon as he goes into company there is flushing, trembling, nervous excitement and the thoughts vanish.

With these symptoms the patient imagines that he is going out of his mind, and finally he settles down into a state of melancholy, sadness and despair, and does not want to live. He loathes his life and wants to die.

“Great sadness.”

“Melancholy, sits for days weeping.”

Such is the mental state of this prematurely old patient with broken down constitution. It is a picture of a wreck and the question will arise when you find a patient that looks and acts in this way whether you have received him in time to cure him.

You readily see you have before you one who is going down hill and going into insanity of one form or another. A physician sees the forerunner of a great breakdown when he sees an Ambra grisea patient with the nervous mental state, the quivering, trembling and excitement in one who was once a strong, vigorous man.

Some great business or domestic shock has come upon this patient. It is not the aspect you see when phthisis is coming on; you do not we the cachectic condition, but it is a prostration of the nervous system, a mental prostration.

A man goes through the trial of one death after another in the family and there seems to be nothing remaining; he cannot look at it philosophically; he has lost his business and his friends and then he takes on dreaminess and wonders whether life is worthing living.

Then it is you get the Ambra grisea aspect.

Modalities: Many of the complaints come on in the morning and many come on after eating.

“Vertigo with feeling of weight on vertex; worse after sleep,” but especially in the morning.

It is not mentioned in the text, but it is also worse after eating.

“Had to lie down on account of vertigo and feeling of weakness in stomach.”

Running through the nervous symptoms we have music is intolerable; music makes him tremble, aggravates his mental symptoms and gives him pain in the back as from a hammer.

A number of physical symptoms are brought out by listening to music. The tones seem as if they were a material substance taking hold of him.

Complaints are often one-sided; perspiration on one side of the body or perspiration on the affected side.

“On right side of head, a spot where hair when touched pains as if sore.”

The same sensation is in the skip, oversensitive to touch.

“Scalp feels sore in the morning when awaking; this is followed by a sensation of numbness.”

The word numbness you will find running through the complaints.

You will find a peculiar kind of numbness, such as belongs to old people. Diminished sensibility of the parts; feeble circulation.

Eyes: Again, we find under the eye symptoms,

“Dullness of vision as if from looking through a mist.”

There is dimness of vision coming on without any condition in the eye that would justify it. It is a nervous dimness of vision, a senile paralysis coming on.

“Itching on eyelid as if a sty was forming.”

Itching is felt all over the body; itching in all the little openings.

Among the symptoms that, are not in the text and that are decided symptoms belonging to this remedy are,

“Pressing headache starting from both temples, drawing and tearing in the head, to and fro. Shooting through the head, lancinating, cutting pains, worse on exertion, better from quiet and lying. Headache when blowing nose.

Pressing pain in the left frontal eminence and in the eye. Burning in the right eye and in the eye-lids. Tearing in short streaks in and upon the right eye, pressure on the left eye-brow, shooting, aggravated after eating; lachrymation.”

These are in the original provings, but not in the text; they have been left out. This is the case all through the Guiding Symptoms; important symptoms were left out because it was necessary to cut down the work.


“Hearing decreases.”

Dullness of hearing without any organic affection of the ear. So perverted is his ability to hear that music aggravates his symptoms, that is through the nerves of hearing.

“Listening to music brings on congestion to head.”

Music aggravates his cough. Think of one commencing to cough simply because he hears music! What a strange thing that is! Calcarea has such sensitiveness that the stroke of the piano is painful in parts, especially in the larynx.

Bleeding: This remedy is full of bleeding.

Copious bleeding from the nose in the morning. There we get the morning aggravation again. We get the idea of the feeble circulation because of the easy oozings from mucous membranes.

“Copious nose bleed early in bed.”

“Dried blood gathered’ in nose.”

“Long continued dryness of the nose, frequent irritation as from sneezing.”

In the nose an old, dry catarrh with atrophic condition of the mucous membrane. The nose inside becomes shiny and withered.

Mouth and throat: Dryness of the mouth without thirst.

Biting pain in the throat between the acts of swallowing. Rawness in the throat. The throat complaints are worse in the morning. Complaints are worse after eating and worse from warm drinks, especially from warm milk.

“After eating, cough and gagging.”

There is a peculiar combination of symptoms about the throat. Dryness and accumulation of mucus in the throat which he tries to expel, and, when making an effort to cough out the mucus he gags and sometimes vomits.

Stomach and abdomen: Vomiting from cough. Weakness at the pit of the stomach; after every evacuation; in “all-gone” feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Pressure deep in the region of the liver; worse in the morning; worse after eating; worse after stool. Distension of the abdomen with great flatulence, especially after eating.

Some symptoms are worse after drinking. Sometimes these complaints come on in the middle of the night, rousing him up with rumbling and cutting in the bowels.

The abdomen is cold; it feels as if the whole inside of the abdomen were cold. At other times the coldness seems to be on one side of the abdomen.

Inveterate constipation in old persons, and especially when it is impossible to have anyone near at the time, of stool.

“Frequent ineffectual desire for stool; this makes her very anxious; at this time presence of other persons becomes unbearable.”

After the normal stool there is pressure in the abdomen or a sense of emptiness and weakness in the abdomen which is better after passing flatus or eructation.

Urines: Bloody urine with red sediment in the urine.

Urine when emitted is clouded, yellowish-brown and deposits a brownish sediment.

“Sour smelling urine.” The urine is copious.

“During urination burning, smarting, itching and titillation in the urethra and vulva.”

“Sore rawness between the thighs.”

“Voluptuous itching on scrotum.”

“Violent morning erections without desire,” with numbness of the genitals.

The symptoms are most erratic, as much so, as in Ignatia and Natr. mur. Taken as a whole they can be reconciled, but taken a few at a time they seem wonderfully inconsistent. You must get the whole remedy in order to comprehend it.

Female: Copious discharge of blood between the menstrual periods.

“Discharge of blood between periods at every little accident.”

Discharge of blood from the vagina from pressing at hard stool; even from a walk that is a little too long or from too great exertion.

“During menses left leg becomes quite blue from distended varices, with pressive pain in leg.”

“Lying down aggravates uterine symptoms,” quite an unexpected thing.

Menses too early and too profuse.

“Menses appear seven days before time,” and then comes that horrible itching of the genitals;

“soreness and itching with swelling of labia.”

Asthma: Another marked feature of this remedy that you might expect with all this nervous excitement and prostration is dyspnoea with cardiac symptoms, difficult breathing, a sort of asthma. It comes on from any little exertion.

Asthma on attempting coition,

“Itching, scraping and soreness in larynx and trachea.”

“Titillation in throat, larynx and trachea.”

Everywhere there is itching, and the itching is very often a form of crawling.

“Asthma of old people and children,” in feeble, tremulous, weakly ones.

“Whistling chest during breathing.”

“Spasmodic cough.”

Violent spasmodic cough with frequent eructations and hoarseness,”

A good deal of this cough is of nervous origin. It is a cough with excitement, with nervousness, with trembling, which would make one of considerable experience wonder if that patient did not have brain and spinal cord trouble.

Nervous cough, such as occurs often, in spinal irritation. Cough from constriction of the larynx followed by copious flow of white mucus.

This is a paroxysmal cough, much like whooping cough. Asthmatic dyspnoea from any little exertion, from music, from excitement. Cough with congestion of blood to the head. Cough from thinking and from anxiety.

It is not very long after these symptoms show themselves before this patient will emaciate and wither. until the skin looks like dried beef. With all he is a tremulous and shaky patient.

He complains a great deal of tearing pressure deep in the left side of the chest. Sensation of rawness in the chest and itching in the chest. Titillation and itching, moving about here and there if he tries to touch the place and scratch it.

You will not be surprised to know that this patient suffers from palpitation of the heart upon slight exertion, from excitement, from music, from any effort to put the mind on anything, with trembling and quivering.

And this palpitation he notices even to the extremities; he throbs all over. His extremities pulsate. He is conscious of his arteries everywhere and the palpitation of his heart causes oppression of breathing.

The limbs easily become numb; pressed upon in the slightest manner they go to sleep; go to sleep on being crossed. Coldness, trembling and stiffness of the extremities. The finger nails become brittle and are shriveled.

The arms go to sleep when lying down.

“Sore and raw between the thighs and in hollow of knees.”

Heaviness of lower limbs, Paralytic weakness; the patient is growing old; senility is coming on.

This remedy has cured the premature trembling that comes on in middle-aged persons.

It has cured the “going to sleep” and numbness and feeble circulation with loss of muscular power. It is very suitable in children who are excitable and nervous and weak.

“In lean persons.” “Old persons and children.