“The constant straining and desire for a stool are caused by inflammation of the large intestine, and not by the presence of faeces as in a healthy person; this disease is not, as commonly believed, diarrhea, but just the reverse, it is constipation.”
C Hering, The Homeopathic Domestic Physician
The dysentery is painful, intensive and dangerous disease. It is a bowel infection, caused by pathogenic dysentery bacteria, mostly Shigella, or by parasites. Dysentery is mostly acute but it may also become chronic.
This disease is particularly violent in warm climates. It may be caused by indigestible food, eating with dirty hands, contaminated water, from flies carrying the infection, errors in diet, unripe or decayed fruit. Summertime is the most favorable for it, because of the hot weather. It is not unusual for people to take cold showers after being overheated and perspired. When the perspiration is suddenly suppressed that way, we create in our body susceptibility to developing this disease. It spreads amongst large groups of people, mostly in the latter part of the late summer, early autumn, and fall, and is particularly severe in damp regions with poor sanitary conditions. Best prevention is the utmost personal and domestic hygiene.
The dysentery is often mistaken for diarrhea but there is a distinct difference. It is possible that the dysentery is preceded by diarrhea or by rheumatic pains. It is also possible for acute diarrhea to turn to dysentery. The disease begins with fever, headache, nausea, vomiting; later, rather frequent (10-20 times a day) urging for stool and every time the discharge consists from mucus and blood, without real faeces; the evacuations are accompanied by straining and tenesmus; before stool there is violent griping, cutting and colic pains in the bowels. When faeces begin to appear in the stools, this is a good sign; it shows that the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bowels is beginning to subside.
Contemporary allopathic medicine treats the dysentery only in hospital, because of the high risk from dehydration, extreme weakness, convulsions and utmost exhaustion of the organism; especially when the diseased are young children. Homeopathy on the other hand, offers mild and quick, and very effective response to the disease, interrupting the acute stage and restoring the sick completely; but one should never undertake self prescribing.
Following are three groups of the most prominent homeopathic remedies for treatment of dysentery.
Inflammatory Stage | Aconitum napellus, Chamomilla vulgaris & Pulsatilla pratensis
Aconitum is indicated at the beginning of the disease, in particular to cases of young people and children. The pulse is full and hard, the abdomen is tense with pains on touch and usually concentrated on one spot. This remedy is also indicated when the dysentery had followed rheumatic pains in different parts of the body. The patients are very thirsty. If Aconitum has no effect, and there is still great thirst and heat all over the body, restlessness and constant desire to move about, then Chamomilla follows well.
Chamomilla is notorious remedy for ailments from anger, especially in children. Another characteristic is that, like Aconitum, this remedy is indicated in the commencement of the inflammation, before the frequent painful strains. Usually dysentery had followed after sudden cooling from overheated state of perspiration. The tongue is dirty, the taste in the mouth is bitter and the child evacuates bile.
Pulsatilla resembles the state of Chamomilla but the evacuations are only mucus streaked with blood. There are signs of stomach disturbance, possibly nausea from rich fat food. The remedy is also of use in the stage before tenesmus occur, but diarrhea had developed with greenish watery stools mixed with mucus. It is of use mostly in cases of children and young people. The disease is attended with rheumatic pains and chills but great desire for fresh air and no thirst.
Violent Spasms | Mercurial Remedies & Colocynthis
Mercurius corrosivus is the first choice for a dysenteric remedy, when the disease attacks in the fall. The sick suffer from severe colic and cutting pains; the stools are of pure bright blood mixed with mucus, or in the beginning patient evacuates only bile and later – blood with mucus. The usual symptoms are intensified, and the strength of the patient is failing. The stools are scanty, consist chiefly of blood and mucus and contains shred of intestinal mucous membrane. The tenesmus in the intestines is constant, horrible and not relieved by passage of the stool. There is also tormenting constrictive pain in the bladder, accompanied by scanty urine and burning in the urethra. With cold face, cold hands and trembling of the extremities, Mercurius corrosivus patient is in pitiful condition. If this remedy cannot overwhelm the dysentery to final convalescence, it may be well resembled by Colocynthis.
Colocynthis is indicated when the bowel pain is so intensive, as if the intestines were pressed between stones. The patients must double their body to alleviate the pain, and cannot stay easy on one place (so much like Arsenicum). The abdomen is much distended, like China and Carbo vegetabilis, and there are violent shudders which begin in the abdomen and spread through the entire body. When the disease had followed some strong emotional disturbances, like anger or feeling of humiliation, Colocynthis is very probable choice for treatment.
Mercurius vivus (solubilis) is quite well known remedy for intestinal troubles. It will be indicated when acute diarrhea cases tend to turn to dysentery. These are milder cases. The pain is less intensive than it is in the case of Mercurius corrosivus, and the prominent symprom of Merc., to feel as if ‘it’s not yet done’ after stool, is present.
Extreme Weakness | Arsenicum album, Veratrum album, Carbo vegetabilis & China rubra
Veratrum is indicated when the stools are watery, with bloody mucus and flakes swimming in it. Veratrum case would also be attended by vomiting of sour masses, strong thirst and severe cutting pains in the bowels. The face is pale, sunken and anxious and the patient feels coldness and is very weak. Possibly there are drawing pains in the calves.
Arsenicum has same great weakness; but the discharges from the rectum are dark, slimy and bloody and smell of putrid. Arsenicum patient may pass the stools involuntarily, he becomes indifferent, his urine – offensive, his breath – smelling bad and quite cool. Red or blue spots appear in different places on the skin. The patient is frightened, in agony, cannot find rest, tossing in bed; thinks that will die. The stools are blackish, and horribly offensive.
Carbo vegetabilis may be alternated with Arsenicum, when with the above described symptoms Arsenicum doesn’t bring amelioration. This will be particularly the case when the dysentery has been caused by cold drinks, ice-water, rich food, milk and fruit. Carbo vegetabilis is indicated after satiation with rich food, milk and liquor drinks, while Arsenicum – after spoiled fruits and icy cold water, and alcoholic excess. The marked symptom of Carbo vegetabilis is the distended abdomen and the burning pains (which are also characteristic for Arsenicum) in the abdomen. Though very chilly, the patient will crave for air and will insist for a fan or air conditioner. The evacuations from the bowels are watery, brown, awfully offensive, and the pulse is very week.
China is important remedy for loss of body fluids. It may be indicated after Carbo vegetabilis, when the breath is still foul and the evacuations from rectum still have putrid smell. China will be the case when the body is cold and face is pale and sunken; the movements from the bowels are provoked by the least attempt to eat or drink. It is valuable when the disease is returning periodically, and the patients are pale and weak; in times of floods, in marshy regions, when the epidemic is threatening. China has marked periodicity. It will be indicated if the patient aggravates and ameliorated at certain periods, like every other day.
Bibliography: C. Hering, The Homeopathic Domestic Physician, A.L. Blackwood, The Food Tract, E. Guernsey, Homeopathic Domestic Practice