Senega is an old lung tonic, and I suspect it has been an ingredient in most of the lung medicines for the last one hundred years. It has been only partially proved, and needs further proving to bring out its particulars. When a medicine has been fully proved, it can be said of it that its symptoms are so well known that they can be examined as an image, i.e., the drug has affected all portions of man in such a manner as to stamp itself upon all of his natural actions and functions in a way peculiar to itself. This remedy has done some wonderful things, and these results in many instances can be only attributed to mere guesswork. This is about all that can be said in favor of careless and loose prescribing.
Senega is more especially a chest medicine. It is full of chest symptoms, and its relation to the air passages makes it worthy of consideration, although many of the individualizing symptoms have not yet been brought out. From its most striking action on the mucous membrane of the air passages, its chief use has been in chest complaints, asthmatic complaints, in various forms of dyspnea, cardiac and asthmatic.
There are violent pains in the chest, especially like those of pleurisy. It has also symptoms like pneumonia; one of its most useful spheres is in pleuro-pneumonia. The pleuro-pneumonia of cattle has almost found its specific in Senega. The finding of specifics is more likely to be true of animals than of human beings, as a remedy that is only partially indicated may cure an animal, but it requires much finer discrimination among remedies in dealing with human beings. A violent attack of pleurisy associated with pneumonia, too deep and too vicious for Bryonia, often finds its remedy in Senega. Senega is a sort of cross between Bryonia and Rhus tox. The violent symptoms are those of Bryonia, yet it is worse from rest, unlike Bryonia. The symptoms of Senega are not so much like Rhus tox., but it has an amelioration like that of Rhus tox., better from motion, the pains being worse when at rest. The chest pains, rheumatic pains and inflammatory pains are worse during rest, but the cough is made worse from motion and the asthmatic troubles are made worse from the slightest motion. The Senega patient cannot walk uphill; he cannot walk against the wind, because it bring on chest symptoms and dyspnea.
The rattling in the chest is as marked as in Antimonium tartaricum; the tenacious mucus is as copious, as gluey and stringy as in Kali bichromicum, so much is this the case that he can get it only part way up, and with a spasmodic effort he swallows it, like Spongia and Causticum. ÄSenega is a remedy of deep action, as well as an acute remedy. It is filled with sharp and acute sufferings, sufferings that come on with rapidity, from taking cold, or from a cold that involves the whole chest.
There are some eye symptoms in the text that are worthy of attention. "Paralysis of the muscles of the eyes." "Iritis and specks upon the cornea." "Paresis of the superior oblique." "Aching over the orbits." "Eyes pain as if pressed out:" "Blepharitis." It has cured opacity of the vitreous humor.
Of the larynx the text says, "Aphonia from severe cold or excessive use of the voice." "Constant tickling and burning in the larynx leaving the patient not a moment’s rest and preventing him from lying down; fear of suffocation. When Senega is indicated there is a dryness in the mouth and throat, and the cough is incessant; there is a constant metallic coppery taste in the mouth and throat, as if he were coughing up pulverized copper. A very little of this medicine in proving will produce such a dryness and metallic taste in the mouth, and such a tickling at the root of the tongue, the pharynx and larynx, and it will finally end in a copious, thick, gluey discharge. "Grippe, with stitches in right eye when coughing." "Laryngeal phthisis." "Copious accumulation of tough mucus in air-tubes, which causes the greatest, often ineffectual, efforts at coughing and hawking for its expulsion." This thick, tough mucus will lead most routine prescribers to give such medicines as Kali bichromicum, Lachesis and Mercurius corrosivus, entirely overlooking the usefulness of Senega.
It is a remedy of very wide range in complaints of the chest, larynx and trachea, in the severe "colds" that settle in these parts, especially when associated with tenacious mucus, so tenacious that he cannot cough it up; it seems at times that he will strangle; he will cough and vomit in the effort to expel the mucus, but it seems to disappear and he does not know where it goes.
"Sensation as if the chest were too narrow." "Most violent suffocation with asthma." "Short breathing and oppression of chest when going up stairs." "Dyspnea especially during rest."
"Dry cough with aphonia; worse in cold air and from walking," is like Phosphorus and Rumex. Those two remedies cause a cough, which commences when he first goes into the air. Senega has another feature like Phosphorus, in that the cough. is so violent that it makes him shake from head to foot; it brings on a tremulous feeling all over the body. He coughs from inhaling cold air; the cough is violent and the expectoration most difficult. In old, chronic catarrh of the chest, for the earlier stages of which Bryonia was the most similar remedy, with this thick, tough, ropy mucus; Senega is most suitable, and even when the patient is in the last stages of consumption. The symptoms become most troublesome, the gagging and coughing and effort to expectorate because of the thick, ropy, mucus, are very distressing. He breaks out in a cold sweat, especially on the upper part of the body. The chest is full of coarse rales from the tough mucus which he cannot expectorate. We think in such a case of remedies like Ant-t., Pyrogen," Kali-bi., etc., but this remedy is just as suitable, especially when there is a great amount of dryness in the throat and larynx, dryness in the throat during sleep and observed on waking, and inability to expectorate the tough ropy mucus. "Shaking cough," i.e., the cough is so violent that it shakes the whole frame. The concussion from the cough causes discharge of urine involuntarily, and causes violent pains in the head and over the eyes. Senega is called for especially in those cases where the pleura has been involved at one stage or the other. The pains are increased and it seems as if the chest would be torn on coughing. "Walls of the chest sensitive or painful when touched." "Profuse secretion of mucus in lungs of old people." Senega is one of the leading remedies for the tough mucus and coarse rales in old people without any other symptoms. It very often clears the throat and helps to patch up an old man when he is breaking down. "Great rattling of mucus in chest and flying pains in chest."
It has sometimes cured pleuro-pneumonia where there was the extreme exhaustion of Phosphorus and Arsenicum. In such cases Senega has caused reaction; it has such weakness. Especially is it suited in the advanced cases of phthisis, when those symptoms that I have mentioned are present. It acts as a palliative. It does excellent patch work without serious aggravations, as it relates more especially to superficial conditions. It is not as deep acting as Sulphur and Silica. We give such remedies only when we have a reasonable assurance that we can cure, when the patient is yet curable. But when we have given up all hope, then we pay more attention to the most painful parts; we pay more attention to the local symptoms, to the group which causes the most suffering and attempt to do patch work. If the sufferings in the chest and the exhaustion become most severe it is true that Arsenicum will patch him up a little and make him feel more like life, and he will go on to the end with more comfort. If the pains in the chest are most severe such medicines as Senega or Bryonia will help him; if he is sore and feels as if bruised and he must move from side to side Arnica will relieve; but these are not the remedies to go deep into the life and eradicate a deep-seated disease like phthisis. Yet with these one may take a consumptive patient in comfort to the very grave, by simply patching him up and prescribing for his immediate sufferings. Homeopathic remedies give these incurable sufferers much greater comfort than sprays and anodynes.
The pains of the chest are worse during rest and on inspiring. Stitching pains in the chest when lying on the right side. Great soreness in the walls of the chest. Pain under right scapula when coughing. The chest pains are better while walking in the open air.