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Gelsemium Sempervirens.

Other tomes: Felter - Ellingwood - Potter - BPC - Sayre - King's

Syn.—Gelsemium; Yellow Jasmine.
P. E.—Green root.
N. O.—Loganiaceae.
N. H.—Southern States, U. S. A.

Properties: Sedative, febrifuge, antispasmodic, narcotic.

Physiological action: In large doses it causes drooping of the eyelids; this is the first manifestation of its physiological action, being caused by paralysis of the levator palpaebrae superioris. This is followed by vertigo, staggering gait, double vision, drooping of the lower jaw, dilated pupils; heart's action becomes feeble, temperature lowered, breathing difficult, pulse weak and intermittent and death results from paralysis of the respiratory muscles and those of the diaphragm; consciousness remaining until carbon dioxide narcosis sets in. Its influence seems to be on the base of the brain, spinal cord and the splanchnic nerves. In large doses it paralyzes both motor and sensory nerves; the effect on the latter appearing later. Relaxes sphincters by inhibiting the nerve force of the visceral organs. In medicinal doses it prevents the determination of blood to the head and brain. For this reason it is indicated where there is flushed face, contracted pupils, restlessness and exalted nerve force. Gelsemium is a vaso-motor depressant. It is readily eliminated from the system.

Indications: In nervous and arterial tension and exaltation of both motor and sensory functions; indicated by nervous phenomena, such as excitability, flushed face, bright eyes, contracted pupils, rapid, full, vibratile pulse, nervous twitching, showing determination of blood to the brain. It removes high nerve and arterial tension by suppressing excessive activity of the nerve centers.

Use: In fevers it has a direct action on the cerebrospinal centers, slows the heart's action, reduces temperature and quiets respiration; in fact is a relaxant. We think of it in spinal and cerebral inflammation, neuralgia, in reflex and spasmodic coughs and whooping cough. In influenza, hay fever, rhinitis, intercostal neuralgia; otitis media, acute nephritis, spasmodic stricture, dysmenorrhea ovarian neuralgia; in after pains, puerperal fever and convulsions, chorea, spasms and convulsions. Gelsemium acts on the kidneys, is readily eliminated, and must therefore be given often to be effective. Of value in some forms of hysteria. We find it indicated very often where there is sharp pain in the back and loins; also in arterial throbbing in which pulsation is distinct and painful; pain sharp and restless, exalted sensibility. Although the general dose of gelsemium is about x to xxx drops in 4 ounces of water, teaspoonful every 1 to 3 hours, in cases where there is a marked indication for it, and in emergencies we have to use much larger doses. In otitis media to abort rupture of the ear drum, as much as 5 to 10 drops may be given every hour until relieved, then in smaller doses at longer intervals. In this condition it is well to associate bryonia with it and also large doses of echinacea. These remedies may be alternated to advantage with kali mur 3x. In spasms and convulsions as much as 1/4 to 1/2 drachm may be given as a dose to relax; that is, if there are marked indications for the remedy. In all these emergencies the action should be carefully watched so as not to carry it to the danger point. In puerperal fever and convulsions and chorea it may also be given in large doses if indicated. In many inflammatory conditions it is well to combine it with large doses of echinacea, as in this way it will make its action more effective and less depressing; this will also prevent exudation and if exudation has taken place it favors absorption.


The Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics, 1905, was written by Fred J. Petersen, M.D.



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