By C. W. RODECKER, M. S., M. D., Wonewoc, Wisconsin.
The therapeutics of passiflora are as yet very imperfectly known. It has been experimented with, no doubt, very considerably, and the consensus of opinion places the remedy in the list of nerve sedatives first, and secondarily in the list of nerve tonics. Again, it is a glandular stimulant, consequently, an alterative of no mean value; it is undoubtedly hypnotic, and acts as such in insomnia.
The remedy in its liquid form is of a grass-green color; not a bright green, but a dark, dirty colored green. The taste is similar to that left after chewing grass—a flat, greasy taste, which does not remain in the mouth any length of time, and is not pungent. The taste is more alkaline than acid.
Passion flower is a native of the southern parts of the United States, where it grows in abundance, and is cultivated for the beauty of its flower. It had been passed by as a plant having no particular virtue, until, by accident, its extraordinary virtues and power as a remedial agent in a certain class of diseases were discovered.
The specific has been found, and, like Cascara, we wonder how we could get along without it.
In insomnia, the tincture in teaspoonful doses has proved wonderfully effective.
In simple neuroses of children, in worm fever accompanied by spasms, it is a specific; also in teething.
We have a class of children in which there is a hyperaemia of the vaso-motor system, as in teething, worms, cholera infantum, etc., that have, no doubt, caused the physician many anxious hours. Passiflora robs these cases of the fear of impending crises. In megrim, another form of nervous disorder, it has proved a Godsend, and in neuralgias from whatever cause, it will bring the right result every time. In neuralgia of the stomach or bowels, in palpitation of the heart, and in all nervous disorders, it has many times astonished me in its results. In tetanus, caused by a rusty nail penetrating the foot, the tincture in teaspoonful doses every hour had a very happy effect. In that dreaded traumatism it proved itself a blessing to the beast as well as to man.
In hysteric eclampsia, passiflora is fine in results. In the epileptic form of convulsions of children, it has proved wonderfully efficacious in my hands.
Its application to irritable ulcers has proven of decided benefit.
In spinal irritation in the lying-in woman, or in cases where she is troubled with those twisting or grinding pains, it will give prompt relief without in the least deranging the stomach, also in the after-pains of child-birth it is excellent.
In threatened abortion or miscarriage, from whatever cause, passiflora given in one and two drachm doses, has proven a splendid adjuvant to treatment. It acts slowly, but lastingly, and without any narcotism or derangement of the digestive system. I will endeavor to classify the diseases in which passiflora acts well, if not decidedly and promptly.
Insomnia, acute meningitis, cerebro-spinal meningitis, delirium tremens, dipsomania, hyperemia, neuralgia of whatever kind, tic douloureux, cervical and occipital neuralgia, spasms, convulsions, cramps, chorea, hysteria, tetanus, acute eclampsia, trismus neonatorium, epilepsy, catalepsy, sunstroke.
I think I have given points enough here to lead you to interest yourself in this wonderful remedy, and hope by a more thorough experimentation to give its secondary effect if any, as well as a more extended account of its medicinal virtues. It is my candid opinion that, with perhaps one or two exceptions, no remedy has been discovered in this century, that gives more universal satisfaction in the treatment of a large class of diseases that has perplexed the physician, and the treatment of which has proven so very unsatisfactory until passiflora came into use and proved so effective. One very remarkable thing in regard to the drug is, that in all its active medicinal results it makes no difference in the size of the dose, there does not appear any narcotism, and in all my readings I find no one speaks of the poisonous effects of the medicine.
Dr. Spees in the Medical Gleaner says: Passiflora is a specific in toothache when associated with an irritability of the nervous system.
Dr. Euri in the Medical Age claims that it relieves diarrhea when accompanied with much pain, and that it is a valuable remedy in the restlessness of fever. It is also valuable in the spasms of poisoning by strychnia, and is prompt in its action in hysterical convulsions. He further says, that in confinement, when labor becomes tedious and pains ineffectual, irregular, spasmodic, and excessively severe, and the patient is nervous and fretful, it is the remedy to use. It relaxes the muscles and relieves nervousness, regulates the pains, and increases their effectiveness.
In reflex troubles peculiar to the diseases of women it is useful; relieving vomiting and morning sickness.
It is beneficial in asthma and whooping cough, and in the spasms of spinal meningitis, as well as in the restlessness and sleeplessness of children cutting teeth.
I frequently use it in nervous chills of old age; it always relieves in twenty or thirty minutes.
It is a grand remedy and will make many friends on account of its action being so expeditious. One peculiarity, however, is that while it is a soporific, it cannot be depended on to act as such on two successive nights with the same patient.
Dr. Ellingwood in the Chicago Medical Times recommended passiflora in spasmodic incontinence of urine.
The Homeopathic News says that in delirium tremens passiflora is unexcelled, also in the nervousness of those addicted to the morphine habit. In dysentery, it relieves the pain and griping tendency of the bowels.
In the Medical Age, Dr. F. J. Boulin states that in persistent wakefulness he has used passion flower tincture in thirty drop doses, repeated every half hour as necessary, with great satisfaction. Usually but two doses are required and on the second night the repetition demands a smaller quantity which is contrary to the rule for the employment of such drugs; on one occasion, he himself being wakeful during the night took 190 drops between 10 p. m. and 4 a. m., without any unpleasant effects whatever.
I have read of hundreds of cases in the medical journals to which I have had access, and find in all the same general opinion; that in all diseases of a nervous origin accompanied by pain or convulsions of a spasmodic character, that passiflora always acts promptly and satisfactorily, leaving no bad results.
Dr. Jos. Adolphus in the Courier of Medicine, (St. Louis), February, 1895, says regarding passiflora incarnata, May pop, "Its value as a therapeutic agent is known to only a few members of the profession. I was one of the first who wrote and published papers on this medicine. I have used it extensively, and experimented largely with it on lower animals, and in general practice. In 1874 I was in Macon, Ga., and while there I treated a horse which was in extreme suffering from lock jaw. A strong decoction was made from the root; this was administered in large doses in the intervals of the spasms, by drenching the animal. About two and one-half gallons were given and he was left to himself during the night (for it was an evening in May); no one believed the poor beast would recover. Early the next morning the owner and myself visited him, and to our surprise we found him grazing in the pasture, and all signs of lock jaw entirely gone. The use of the May pop as a cure for lockjaw was afterward well known in the various localities of the south."
It is a decided sedative to the nerve centers; its action is most pronounced in the diseases of women and children, particularly the convulsive and neuralgic kinds. In these troubles I have used it extensively.
I have treated a few cases of after-pains with this remedy quite to my own and the patient's satisfaction. I think it deserves confidence in these cases.
I have also used it with success in the delirium of fevers of all kinds, especially in the low muttering kind. One of its marked beneficial effects is to produce sleep. Some cases of delirium are manifestly the result of sleeplessness and restlessness. I recall one case in particular; the patient was exceedingly restless and sleepless for five days and nights. I regarded it as probably a fatal case. As a last resort, I gave the patient tincture passiflora in twenty-drop doses every two hours; the last two doses were larger, a half teaspoonful, repeated at intervals of half an hour. Sleep came in half an hour after the last dose, and lasted five hours. It was a refreshing and restful sleep. The remedy was repeated in twenty-drop doses every four hours during the next two days, to provide against any probable return of the restlessness. The case went on steadily to convalescence.
I have used the medicament in nearly every case I have had in recent years of pelvic engorgement attended with severe pain.
Such cases I used to treat with gelsemium, giving it in large doses progressively increased, with fair success; some of the annoying drawbacks in the action of this drug were double vision, blindness, drooping of the eyelids, and in insane cases, an almost complete abolition of power over the muscles. These conditions often caused considerable alarm to the patients and their friends, and caused them in many instances, to severely censure the medical attendant. Passiflora causes none of these symptoms or inconveniences.
Recently I have used the medicament in two cases of pain in the stomach, coming on about an hour or two after taking food. One case was markedly severe; the pain at times was so agonizing that an eminent medical man was consulted in regard to it, and diagnosed it malignant disease of the stomach. My remedy was passiflora in twenty-drop doses, every two hours, during the day. In brief, the treatment was successful after being continued a week; but occasional doses were taken during the day for a month longer.
The cause of the trouble was, I presume, hyperesthesia of the gastric mucous membrane. Wherever I have found hyperesthesia, in the mucous membrane, I have treated it with passiflora incarnata.
Its beneficent influence on the mucous surfaces, whether painful, catarrhal, or what not, is often markedly efficient and pleasant.
I am confident that this remedy has a kindly influence on the vaso-motor and cardiac centers, and on the sensory roots of the spinal nerves. It is used successfully in anemic headaches, while some physicians claim that it is equally serviceable in the congestive variety.
A year ago I treated with success one of the most unpromising cases of so-called spinal irritation, with passiflora and viburnum prunifolium. At first I used the viburnum in ten-drop doses, and the result was unexpectedly good. To test the value of passiflora in the case, I dropped the viburnum altogether and gave passiflora; the improvement continued and I did not again resort to viburnum; nevertheless I must acknowledge the good influence of viburnum on the disease.
Passiflora is the remedy for over-excited reflexes; hyperesthesia of highly excitable surfaces, especially mucous membranes, and is also a good remedy in functional cardiac troubles.
In closing I will take occasion to remark, that from clinical experience I believe the dose usually given is too small; on this account the value of the medicament is discredited. I often give it in teaspoonful doses with excellent results. However, in occasional cases it causes dark urine. When this occurs stop the remedy awhile.
In twenty drop doses repeated every two hours it relieves palpitation.
Dr. Merson in the Medical Age, recopied from the Homeopathic News, says that, "for great nervous excitement and restlessness, I give teaspoonful doses of tincture passiflora incarnata, every three hours. After the second dose, if there is no evidence of sleep, I double the dose, both as to time and frequency, thereby securing the desired effect."
I could continue piling up evidence for passiflora, but trust I have already made clear the medical virtues of one of the best remedies discovered in the nineteenth century.
Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association, Vol. XXIII, 1895-96, edited by W. E. Kinnett.