Brief Contributed Articles.

Botanical name: 

Lycopus Virginica in the Treatment of Dysentery and Enterocolitis.


Twenty-five years ago I saw an article in The Medical World on the treatment of dysentery by the faithful use of lycopus virginicus. At that time I had a number of cases of this disease on hand that did not do as well as I wished with the treatment I employed at that time. Accordingly, I commenced the use of lycopus with all of my dysentery patients.

To the adults I gave a teaspoonful of the fluid extract of lycopus, every three hours. It did not make any difference whether it was of the acute or chronic form. All got the lycopus in the same manner, although I usually began the treatment by giving the patient a mild evacuant, such as castor oil or magnesium sulphate, and put them on a strict diet.

I remember one case, especially, a severe chronic case of several years standing, which had been under the care of several physicians without benefit. This patient improved from the first and got entirely well with one month's use of this remedy. The results in all cases were satisfactory.

After this there was no return of this disease in our locality for several years, hence lycopus was almost entirely forgotten. I had a few sporadic cases during that time, especially in hot weather, probably due to errors of diet. These readily yielded to a simple evacuant, or I gave a prescription containing one grain of Podophyllum, two grains of ipecac, and ten grains of powdered opium, triturated with sugar of milk, divided into twenty powders of which one was given every two hours. With this treatment these simple cases recovered at once. In none of these cases was there the least tendency evident of the disease becoming epidemic.

During the past months of October and November I have had twelve cases of dysentery or enterocolitis of a most severe form to deal with. I began the treatment of these cases after the usual method. I evacuated the bowels freely and flushed them, using the high rectal tube and the normal salt solution freely. Afterwards introducing an antiseptic solution of thymol. Internally I gave aconite, ipecac, the salicylate of bismuth and the sulphocarbolates, but did not get good results.

Finally, there came to my memory the good results I had obtained twenty-five years ago, in treating dysentery with lycopus. Accordingly, I commenced giving this remedy at once. I began with a three year old patient giving her ten drop doses every three hours. In two days the improvement was a decided one. The lycopus was continued until the case was cured.

Enterocolitis as an acute inflammatory condition may involve the larger portion of the alimentary canal, and as its symptoms are similar to ptomaine poisoning, I believe that it is caused by a ptomaine. The authorized treatment is to wash out the colon with a rectal tube and to cleanse the small intestine with the use of simple evacuants. Of the ten cases above referred to, treated with this remedy, I had difficulty with the diet, as milk could not be given. Even malted milk proved injurious to some of them, and milk per rectum was injected. I depended largely on beef tea by the mouth.

Of all the remedies tried in this case, among which were ipecac, bryonia and colocynth, none acted as well as lycopus. This remedy seemed to exercise an anodyne influence, similar to that of opium, inducing a soothing and generally quieting influence, apparent after each dose. One of the first symptoms of improvement which I observed was the free discharge of gases after the use of this remedy. Other symptoms abated uniformly and steadily until the cure was complete. In conclusion, I wish the readers of this journal would try this remedy in dysentery and enterocolitis. If they have not used it for this purpose, I believe it would be well for them to report their cases through this journal.

COMMENT.—I believe this is the first article I have seen recommending this important remedy in the treatment of the above named disease. With the writer of the article, I sincerely hope that any one who has had any experience with the use of the remedy as above suggested will report it. The American Dispensatory calls attention to its influence in improving the action of the stomach and increasing the appetite, and mentions that it has been used in dysentery and diarrhea with advantage, and that it allays irritation and inflammation in gastritis and enteritis, but does not in any way emphasize the statements.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 3, 1909, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.