Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Belladonna December 2015

Belladonna--the name sounds so innocent, literally meaning "Beautiful lady". The purple flowers hand languidly from arched stems, seeming to mind their own business, offering up unassuming beauty to passersby.  However, the foliage and enticing berries which the flowers give way to in Autumn are extremely poisonous, giving the plant it's other common name: deadly nightshade.

The berries are mild tasting and many children have died by eating them. Women used to use a mild tincture of this plant to make their pupils dilate, which was thought to be beautiful. Too much of this tincture or eating the berries of this plant could result in any one of these symptoms:

  • hallucinations
  • high fever
  • cramping pain in the abdomen, particularly along the transverse colon
  • pounding headache, with so much pressure the eyes feel as though they will pop out. Headache is worse with coughing, light in the eyes, noise, mar, motion, stooping.
  • sinus pain (frontal or maxillary), better with hard pressure, worse from stooping forward
  • severe ear pain, throbbing
  • tonsillitis with severe pain and exudate (white spots). Air passing over the tonsils makes it hurt worse
  • constipation
  • cold hands and feet but hot face
All of these symptoms fit a flu that has been going around.  The interesting thing about the Belladonna flu is that is is typically short lived. There are two flus that have been going around whose symptoms seem to last longer than a day or two. See my previous post regarding Bryonia and Hepar sulph.  If Hepar sulph doesn't seem to fit because there is not a lot of mucous, try Belladonna for dry sinus congestion/inflammation.

People with Belladonna symptoms over the last two weeks, though, have had sudden recurring bouts of abdominal pain across the transverse colon, hot flushes/fever, nausea, and feeling sick. These symptoms will get somewhat better, then return in a day or two. Usually Belladonna flus don't have a remitting/recurring style, but this year it seems to. Belladonna has worked very well for treating the abdominal cramping and fever lately.  Three patients so far have had intense cramping resembling a gall stone attack. Imaging has shown no stones and one patient did have a gall bladder polyp. Belladonna is a cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation) remedy. So far over the last two weeks it has worked better than colocynthis and chelidonium which are more often used for gall bladder symptoms and cramping abdominal pain in the epigastrium.  Also Nux vomica, which is typically used during holiday time for over indulgence in rich foods, has not been working well for indigestion this year.

Belladonna is the best pick right now for fevers or abdominal pain that come on suddenly (within minutes to hours). Typically, the person with the flu will feel hot and a little "out-of it"--be it weird dreams or waking delirium at night. Their eyes will look glassy and the pupils will be dilated. These are the hallucinogenic effect typical of a belladonna flu, likely caused by a very high fever. Pregnant women should take care not to let their fever go too high (over 102 F). Taking Belladonna early in the flu onset can prevent this. 

Because a Belladonna flu comes on so suddenly, it is advisable to have some on hand in the medicine cabinet. Luckily, most natural health grocery stores will carry homeopathic Belladonna.  A 30c dose will treat most people, young and old. If you happen to have a 200c dose on hand, that will also work, but take only one dose daily as needed. Babies or young children can probably get away with a 12c or 6c dose, given as needed for symptoms.

And remember: DON'T EAT THE BERRIES!