This remedy in olden times was frequently abused for man and beast. Our grandfathers supposed it was a protection against disease, and hence they used it in the stables. Lumps of “foety,” as they called it, were put in the corn for the horse, to keep off distemper. What it has accomplished I am unable to say, but it is certain that these farmers looked upon Asafoetida as a great protective against disease. It has been used also by the laity as a medicine for fainting, for hysteria, and all sorts of nervous symptoms and complaints. This use is justified by the proving. These things are scarcely worthy of note, but it shows the general use among the people, as a domestic medicine, in crude form. It has been used more extensively in this form than in professional practice in a legitimate way.
There is one class of patients you will find who will trouble you. Those cases that come into your office with puffed, venous, purple faces; they have an appearance of plethora; the face looks puffed, bloated and dropsical at times; it is a dark red, dusky face; such a face we shall cure sometimes with Asafoetida. Carbo an., Aurum, Carbo veg. and Pulsatilla are also related to this kind of face, but it is a very troublesome face, it shows more or less cardiac disturbance and venous stasis. The venous side of the heart will often be involved, or be about to be involved, when you have this kind of face. I never like to see them come into my office, for they are hard cases to manage. They have deep-seated troubles, with bleeding, they are subject to sudden inflammations, and they do not rally quickly. In this constitution we have ulcerations; a little place will ulcerate and suppurate, and the ulceration will burrow; this is just what this remedy does. Another thing this kind of constitution will do is to set up an inflammatory condition of the periosteum with swelling, periostitis of the tibia for instance, where the circulation is not very active; inflammation of cartilages with tumefaction and purple skin, stitching pains and dropsy, ulcerations and fistulous openings. This medicine is good for just such states. “Ulcers with extreme sensitiveness.”
Patients often say, “I get no sympathy when I am sick because I look so well;” fat, flabby and purple. This remedy will seldom be thought of in lean persons; they seem to be free from complaints like those of Asafoetida, but in fat, flabby persons, extremely nervous, extremely sensitive to pain, full of hysteria. Purple when out in the cold, purple when excited. In other words, you see before you the venous constitution, and these people get the worst kind of hysteria; they go off accost from no cause into fainting; from a close room, from excitement, from any disturbance; sometimes cramps come on, but more especially fainting. They are subject to stitching pains from the bone to the surface; that is, from within out. The periosteum becomes irritated, and glands become swollen. Syphilis sometimes produces this kind of condition. Vascular disturbances in the body; periostitis, necrosis, induration of glands, nerve syphilis and head pains. In old syphilitics with this kind of venous face, subject to bleeding, ulcers turn black or become purple. In this there is a similarity to Lachesis. Old scars turn purple, threaten to suppurate, take on a venous aspect, become painful and turn black. Ulcers form at the site of old scars in old syphilitic patients and sometimes in psoric patients. Most complaints come on during rest and are better by slow motion.
There is another grand feature running through this remedy; it is full of discharges, catarrhal discharges, discharges from ulcers, watery discharges from different places, and even watery stool; and all these discharges are horribly offensive and ichorous. Deep, flat ulcers from bone and periosteal affections give out a watery, bloody discharge that is horribly offensive, with pains shooting outwards. Get the idea of the venous stasis well fixed in your mind and with this syphilitic state added to it.
There are many pains running through the remedy and they are night pains like those of syphilis, nightly bone pains, and pains in the periosteum. The ulcers are deep, with bluish edges. Varicose veins surround the ulcers. Inflammation of the bone and periosteum, with blueness all around the ulcers. When there has been an inflammatory condition of the periosteum, somewhat passive in character, the skin adheres to the bone, glues down to it by adhesion. It is too feeble to ulcerate, it does not get up a lively inflammation, but only a passive state. The glands all over the body are hot and throbbing, with shooting, jerking pains, in syphilis or old psoric and scrofulous complaints.
The bone pains that are felt in the head are sometimes very distressing. Old syphilitic bone pains in the head, stitching, penetrating. It seems where there are lumps and nodules, about the head, this medicine seems to hurry things. Shooting, stitching, tearing pains under left frontal eminence. This stitching pain is sometimes described as if a nail or plug were driven into the head. These nervous headaches are syphilitic, hysterical or scrofulous; hysterical pains described as rending, tearing, sticking. All over the head there is stitching pain, but in the frontal eminence, in the temples, there is a sensation as if a nail or plug were driven in, and most of the pains seem to bore, as if they extended from the bone to the surface, and hence are said to be from within out.
It is useful in old syphilitics who are subject to eye complaints, ulcers on the eyeball, ulcers on the cornea, ameliorated in the open air, with a sensation of numbness in the eyes; inflammation of the iris, with ragged appearance of the iris; they are subject also to severe, sharp stitching pains that come from within out. The remedy is full of burning, and so the eyeballs burn, better in the open air. Iritis, but the inflammation sometimes involves the choroid, the retina, and mucous membrane, making a general inflammatory condition of syphilitic character. There are tearing pains in various places around the eyes; sticking, stitching pains, worse at night. Ulcers, with stitching pains, worse at night. Burning, stitching in the eyes with dryness, so that the lids stick to the balls of the eyes, pain worse at night. There is a misty appearance before the eyes, dullness as if looking through a fog. It also seems as if the atmosphere were filled with little floating black flies. “Muscae voliantes.” You have looked into the air and seen little gnats and mosquitoes; well it appears to these patients as if these were there when they are not there. The discharge from the eyes is ichorous, bloody and often offensive.
This same syphilitic miasm may attack the ear and the bones of the ear. These bones may decay and the hearing be lost. “Burning in the ear with discharge of foetid pus.” Stitching pains in the ears front within out.
A horribly offensive discharge comes from the nose; ulcers high up in the nose; caries of the bones of the nose; syphilitic ozaena. Putrid old catarrhs. “Feeling as if the nose stopped high up, as if he could not breathe through it, with fullness of the head, when riding in a carriage.” (Aurum, Aurum mur.)
Numbness is a great feature of this remedy, numbness of the scalp, or deep in the head; numbness here and there; numb, dead feeling associated with the pain; numbness after pain; often numbness after sleep. Other nervous manifestations occur besides those that are hysterical. It has choreic motions. You would expect such a peculiar nervous constitution to have almost everything among its nervous symptoms. “Constantly chewing and working frothy slime out of mouth, with swollen tongue.” “Speech unintelligible.” “Grinding of teeth; starting at night.” Swelling of the lips, and of the whole buccal mucous membrane, especially the lower lip, with burning in the mouth.
There are syphilitic symptoms in the throat, attended with the usual burning, darting, stitching in ulcers pain when swallowing; a sensation of a ball rising in the throat, such as occurs in globus hystericus; choking, must constantly swallow. Hysterical and choreic affections of the Esophagus and trachea. Spasms of the Esophagus. This lump in the throat, or suffocation, is a sort of hysterical spasm of the Esophagus. “Dryness and burning in the Esophagus.”
In the stomach troubles, if you have ever seen a typical case of Asafoetida, you will wonder where all the air comes from; it comes up in volumes. “Hiccough-like contractions of the diaphragm.” Choreic jerkings of the diaphragm, with expulsion of wind like the sound of a pop-gun going off almost every second. It is a condition that the patient has no control over. It is like the shooting off of little guns forcing loud belching, loud eructations of wind from the stomach. There are a few symptoms mentioned in the text just here that are worthy of note. “Pulsation in pit of stomach; perceptible to sight and touch.” “Pressing, cutting, stitching pains.” A queer observation has been made that flatus was not passed downward, but all upwards. “Eructations; smelling like garlic; tasting rancid, sharp or putrid.” Always horribly offensive. Offensiveness is a characteristic of the remedy. And then there is a “gone empty feeling in the pit of the stomach,” not a pain. “Pulsations after eating.” “Meteorism of the stomach.” The remedy has many gastric and abdominal complaints; full of bellyache; stitching pains, colic. The diarrhoea is more or less troublesome. These patients are afflicted with diarrhoea from the slighest indigestion, after any indiscretion in diet, a painful, watery diarrhoea. “Liquid stools of most disgusting smell.” “Blackish-brown papescent offensive stools, which relieve.”
“Bearing down in genitals, worse when riding in a carriage.” “Uterine ulcer sensitive and painful.” This medicine has been very useful in palliating uterine cancer in such constitutions as described; those with purple faces, never the very pallid ones. Women of feeble, flabby, venous constitutions are subject to haemorrhages and miscarriages. Women who are not pregnant sometimes have the breasts fill up with milk, a wonderfully annoying thing, and ‘but few remedies have it; this is one of the few. It has also deficiency of milk. “Ten days after delivery milk diminished.”
These patients sometimes get hysterical asthma; all sorts of disturbance in breathing, dyspnoea. “Asthmatic feeling in trachea.” “Asthmatic attacks at least once a day all her life, brought on by every bodily exertion, coition, especially by every satisfying meal.” Attacks of dyspnoea after coition, like Ambra. “Obstinate titillating cough at night.” Many of these complaints are worse at night; nightly aggravations. Syphilitic complaints are commonly worse at night and such antisyphilitic remedies as Mercurius, Staphisagria, Hepar, Nitric acid, etc., are all worse at night. Among the other chest complaints, I will read a few of those that are marked here prominently and are striking ones. “Pressure and burning under the sternum.” “Compression of chest as from a heavy weight.” “Stitches in chest.” “Single, violent stitches from within outward, at short intervals.”
This remedy is full of rheumatism and gouty symptoms; gouty affections in general, in nervous constitutions. When such a nervous constitution finally produces gouty formations, the nervousness often disappears, for it has been relieved by the deposit in the joints; a transformation scene has taken place.