Iris Versicolor in Psoriasis.

Botanical name: 

(Written for the Illinois State Eclectic Medical Society.)


It is not my purpose to write upon the well known indications for this well known old remedy but to relate to you one—to me—very interesting case.

While this old remedy has some very positive specific indications it has fallen somewhat into disuse, largely I believe because most of us have prescribed it for its goitre indications, and because in many cases of this malady, it works very slow and many cases have received no benefit from its use. Most patients suffering with this disease are very impatient, and indeed one can not blame them, and if they can not soon see that the gland is decreasing in size in three or four weeks, or at least two months, they abandon the treatment for pastures new.

Miss L. W., a school teacher in the public schools, presented herself for treatment for a long continued attack of psoriasis. Soon after she was vaccinated, some fifteen years before my seeing the case, the disease made its appearance. She had suffered much, and had suffered long from the disease and also from the different treatments, for she had been treated by many physicians, but still had the disease. She knew nothing in regard to the different kinds of medicines, ointments, washes, and dear knows what else had been used during those fifteen years, but knew well that she still had the disease. She informed me that the last and best treatment she had used was a long course of X-ray for three or four months. Then she wintered in the South, but her pet disease still remained.

When I saw the case, the disease extended all over the body, legs and arms some, but the worst condition was her scalp, and her face was next in order. I commenced with general tonic treatment with the static breeze, followed with the X-ray until her hair began to come out rapidly and I had to discontinue them, but the scalp and face seemed to heal perfectly, but the other parts of her person did not heal from their use. I used many kinds of internal remedies and many kinds of local applications to but little purpose. The remedies internally were the best remedies I could think of or read of, but the ones that seemed to do the most good in a general way were the tissue remedies and the yellow sulphide of arsenic. None of the local applications were successful except to relieve for a short time. I then used the therapeutic lamp, both the incandescent 100 c. p., and the arc lamp, with the violet rays, and also the incandescent violet rays with negative results.

I decided to give her all round orificial surgery, which I well knew was excellent treatment in some of these cases of chronic skin diseases, and for that matter most all other kind of chronic diseases, where it is needed. I took her to the hospital, unhooded an adhered clitoris, removed some feruncule from the meatus urinarius, dilated the urethra, dilated the cervix uteri and curetted the uterus and packed it, removed a part of each labia majora, dilated the rectum and removed some pappillae and pockets, and some small hemorrhoids. She rapidly recovered from the operation and was soon apparently well of her psoriasis. Her skin became smooth and healthy looking and for some months she was seemingly well of her ailment, but like the proverbial cat—it came back, and much worse than she had ever been and along with it came succeeding crops of boils and small abscesses, having thirty or forty on her person at one time. None of the reputed remedies had any appreciable effect in relieving them, but the treatment used seemed to build up the patient and she gained in weight and appearance except the skin trouble which did not improve but grew worse all the while until she was a fearful object to behold, covered all over with boils, abscesses and psoriasis until there was not a spot as large as a silver dollar that was not covered.

At this juncture I took the patient to Chicago and consulted Dr. E. H. Pratt, the father of the orificial thought, and left her with him for a month. He again put her on the operating table and went over the same ground that I did, but somewhat more extensive, and when she returned home she was free from her boils and abscesses, but the psoriasis was not improved. He used internal medication and used the vaunted 500 c. p. therapeutic lamp, together with mercurial antiseptics as a germicidal wash and heated it in with the lamp.

When she returned to me I observed that the boils had disappeared but psoriasis was very much worse than it had ever been.

I then began the use of iris versicolor (Lloyd's) full strength, using a mop of absorbent cotton to apply it with, and I had to apply it to all parts of the body, from the roots of the hair to the feet, and then used the therapeutic lamp 100 c. p. to heat it in with, and each treatment took about an hour. This was used three times each week. I also gave her five drops of the same medicine every three hours, and almost like magic the psoriasis disappeared. She taught school all winter and is feeling fine, the skin clear except an occasional pimple on different parts of the body.

This was the worst case I have ever seen, and Dr. Pratt, with his long and varied experiences, said that he had never seen a case that even approached it. There were several other local remedies used with the therapeutic lamp, before I commenced the iris, but none seemed to affect the disease in the least. If any of my hearers have had experiences with iris in skin diseases, used locally, I will be glad to hear from them.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.