Rhus Toxicodendron a Specific in Erysipelas.

Art. IX.—
—By John M. Shutt, M. D., Melbern, Ohio.

Erysipelas undoubtedly belongs to the class of zymotic diseases. This disease is caused by a peculiar specific poison. What this peculiar poison is we do not know, nor how it is generated. The peculiar poison, whatever it may be, germ, animalculae, or fungi, has the property of contaminating the blood, and destroying its haematine, when there is rapid waste of tissue and imperfect excretion. After the inhalation of the miasm, there is a period of incubation, varying from three to seven days, during which time all the symptoms of absorption of a deleterious poison are manifested : pain in the head, chilliness, rigors, sore throat, etc. Occasionally, in the course of two or three days, the epidermis is loosened and distended, with a yellowish serum forming bullae, of larger or smaller size, and these rupturing, pour out their secretion, and sometimes become covered with their incrustations. The redness usually fades, and the inflammation commences to disappear by the fifth or sixth day, leaving the epidermis wrinkled and yellowish, and at last it desquamates over the entire surface. The danger to be apprehended from erysipelas is of the idiopathic, which might produce inflammation of the brain, or its membranes, or the fauces.

Diagnosis—The peculiar redness of the skin, with swelling, and the burning heat that attends it, is characteristic. Associated with this is the marked constitutional disturbance, rendering the diagnosis certain.

Prognosis—Usually we will have but little difficulty in controlling the local and general disease, and the following remedies will give satisfaction. Some cases will be quite intractable, but upon the whole, the mortality will be small.

Treatment.—My treatment for erysipelas of late has given the best satisfaction both to my patients and myself. A few illustrations may not be out of place. Was called to see Miss B., aged 22, October 1st, at 9 a.m. Found the skin very red and swollen; pulse 115. temperature 100°. Gave:

Rx Aconite, gtts. x.
Water, ℥iv.

Dose, a teaspoonful every two hours, with:

Rx Gelseminum, gtts. xxx.
Tinct. Asclepias, gtts. xx.
Water, ʒiv. M.

Dose, a teaspoonful every two hours, alternated with the Aconite.

Called at 7 p.m., and found my patient was growing worse; eyes had swollen shut; temperature 105°; pulse 130, with a severe pain in the orbit of the right eye. I then for the first time thought of the Rhus Toxicodendron that Prof. Scudder, in his Specific Medication, recommends for zymotic poison and erysipelas, or erysipeloid disease. I then prescribed:

Rx Rhus Toxicodendron, gtts. xx.
Water, ℥iv.

Rx Fld. Ext. Belladonna, gtts. x.
Water, ℥iv.

Dose. a teaspoonful alternately with the Rhus every hour.

Called Oct. 2d, 8 a.m., and to my surprise found my patient sitting up in the rocking chair. The swelling had nearly all gone out of her face; her eyes were opened; temperature 99°; pulse 90. Prescribed

Rx Rhus Toxicodendron, gtts. xv.
Water, ℥iv. M.

Dose, a teaspoonful every hour, this being sufficient for a recovery.

CASE II.—Called to see a young woman, October 7th, aged 17, of the encephalo-lymphatic temperament. She was not confined to her bed altogether, but had been for three days feeling badly, with impaired appetite; tongue of a reddish brown color; face considerably swollen and very red. prescribed:

Rx Rhus Toxicodendron, gtts. xx.
Water, ℥iv. M.

Dose, a teaspoonful once every hour.

This was sufficient for convalescence, with the addition of my tonic powders.

Rx Iron Ferrocyanuret, grs. xii.
Quinine, grs. x.
Piperine, grs. iv.
Podophyllin, grs. iv. M.

S. Make into fifteen pills. One every two hours.

With this treatment I have had the very best success in my practice.

I have found the Rhus Toxicodendron to be specific for deep, lancinating pain in the orbit of the eye. I now prescribe it in every case of headache, with a brownish red tongue, and generally have good success. I ask my brethren to give the Rhus a good trial, and then if it does not prove to be good, criticise me as you did Brother Jones, if that will be of any account to you.

The Eclectic Medical Journal, Vol. XXXIV, 1874, was edited by John M. Scudder, M.D.