I deem it my duty to make known to the profession the experiments made with this plant in Cuba, so that every one of the homoeopathic physicians in this country may have the benefits of this new agent whatever they may be.
The Guao is a plant, peculiar to the tropics, and grows wild everywhere in Cuba. It reaches, as a general thing, from about eight to ten feet in height; its leaves are oval and the edges sharp and pointed.
The juice of this plant applied to the skin has different effects, according to the constitution of the person. On some, it produces only a black spot, and children often use it to mark their faces and hands; but for some persons, especially those coming from a cold climate, its use is very dangerous. It produces inflammation in the part touched with it, general malaise, fever and headache; after a few days these general symptoms disappear, leaving only inflammation of the part, with deep, hard edged ulcers, which discharge a thick, purulent, greenish yellow matter having a very peculiar fetid smell, the parts becoming in appearance similar to a piece of raw decayed meat, while the surrounding skin is covered with small shining scales. These local effects are generally cured by frequent applications of fresh lard, holding the part as close to the fire as possible. This treatment is generally sufficient, and after a few weeks the patient is well.
Some persons are so easily affected by this poison that merely passing by the tree, when the sun shines, and being of course in its shadow, produces swelling of the whole body, with high fever and stupefying, throbbing headache.
I have seen some cases where children inoculated with this juice, for the purpose of having spotted hands as they say, have been so intensely affected by it, that, the suppuration and other local symptoms having subsided, they suffered constitutionally for some time. I have seen a case, among others of a boy, who was subject to occasional burning eruptions on the skin for some years after the inoculation.
On seeing these effects, one of our homoeopathic physicians was induced to use the Guao at his earliest opportunity. He prepared it according to the rules of our pharmacy, and I am happy to publish the following cases in which this new drug was used successfully, among others of which I did not take notes.
1. Pedro, a negro belonging to a sugar plantation, 32 years old, robust constitution, enjoying very good health otherwise, had an old indolent ulcer on the lower third of the right leg, extending from about half an inch from the external malleolus about an inch and a half in length, irregular shape, hard edges. The ulcer was deep and discharged a thick, sanious and fetid pus; it had lasted for six years, and after the catalogue of common remedies had been exhausted, Pedro's master decided to try Homoeopathy. Dozens of bottles of Leroy's Emeto-cathartic, Sarsaparillas, Mercury, and Iod. of potass. had been taken internally; numberless local applications were made, from the simplest Linseed poultice to the Nitrate of silver, Nitric acid and even actual Cautery. The homoeopathic doctor was called on the 3d of May, 1862. He ordered not to use any local application except dry lint to wipe the secretions, and gave a dose of Sulph.20, allowing it to act for a week. On the 11th, he gave Guao15, four pellets every morning for three days, waited for six days and then repeated Guao20, one dose. The patient got well in four weeks after the first dose of Guao.
2. Dolores Perez, a mulatto woman, 26 years of age, married and mother of three children, was taken, on the 6th of April, 1861, with inflammation of the left leg and foot, violent fever accompanying the inflammation. The swelling grew to an incredible size, when the fever subsided. An allopathic physician was called, who treated her for eight months with several local applications and internal medicines. The skin became white, and all covered with small shining scales. Three months afterwards several cracks appeared, through which a thin white watery liquid exuded. The doctor then became alarmed and called in consultation with him two physicians, who pronounced the case to be Elephantiasis. The patient was given up as incurable and treated secretly by old women, etc., for about two months; the disease in the meantime progressing rapidly and the general health becoming affected, of course. On the 24th of May, they decided to try Homoeopathy. One dose of Sulph.20 was administered, and after five days a dose of four drops of the tincture of Guao, sixth dilution, was ordered to be taken twice a day for a week; then for some suspicions of sycosis existing in the patient, a dose of Thuja occidentalis20 was given. After one week began again with Guao, a little higher preparation for six days. This treatment was continued, stopping the medicine whenever an amelioration was noticed and repeating it when this was over. About the middle of July 1 left there, leaving the patient very much improved and gaining rapidly. In October I heard from the doctor, stating that the patient was entirely well, so that the cure was effected in about four months.
3. Magdalena Rodriguez, a young girl, about 16 years of age, presented the following symptoms: left side of the face swollen; ear larger than the right one; all cracked and losing a substance very similar to finely pulverized starch. A consultation was held and the case was pronounced commencing malignant lepra (Enfermedad de San Lazaro). The father was advised by the doctors to take necessary steps to have his daughter removed to the “Hospital de Lazarinos,” a kind of Lazaretto, where they confine for life, without regard to position, wealth or birth, the unfortunate victims of this terrible disease, so fatal and contagious, especially in warm climates. Under these afflicting circumstances the parents resorted to Homoeopathy. The cure was effected in five weeks by the use of Guao in different potencies.
4. The fourth case was a sloughing ulcer on the right breast of a lady, 38 years of age. The family physician and two others, called in consultation, had decided to perform an amputation. This case was entirely cured in six weeks by the use of Guao alone.
These four cases I took notes of, for they came under my personal observation, but the medical gentleman I have mentioned, assured me that he had performed other cures, such as “herpes, ozena, chronic ulceration of the throat, anthrax, etc., etc.”
I submit these observations to the medical profession so that they will be able to draw whatever conclusions they may think proper. I do not know that any provings have been made with this plant, but I think it is worth a trial as it might prove a very efficient and powerful remedial agent.
REMARKS. — The Guao of which so interesting an account is given above is undoubtedly the “Comocladia dentata,” belonging to the same family as the Rhus toxicodendron and venenata, and the Anacardium occidentale or Cashewtree. Lindley describes 'it as follows, Flora, Medica, page 289, § 598:
“Anacardiaceoe. Comocladia dentata (Guao). St. Domingo and Cuba. A tree. Stem erect, not much branched. Leaves pinnated, shining and green above; with a round rachis six inches long; leaflets six to ten on each side, with an odd one, oblong, accuminate, spring-toothed, veiny and somewhat downy at the back. Juice milky, glutinous, becoming black by exposure to the air, staining the linen or the skin of the same color, only coming off with the skin itself and not removable from linen by washing even if repeated for many years successively. It is supposed by the natives of Cuba, that it is death to sleep beneath its shade, especially for persons of a sanguine or fat habit of body. This is firmly believed and there can be no doubt that it is the most dangerous plant upon the island.”
An interesting article upon the “Comocladia dentata (Guao),” by J. G. Houard, M.D., Philadelphia, comprising contributions towards a proving of this plant and some symptoms removed by its administration, was published in the Philadelphia Journal of Homoeopathy, Vol. IV (No. 2), page 73 et seq., May, 1854.
It seems not irrelevant to call attention to the fact that the Guao (Comocladia dentata) may possibly, from the similarity of the names, be confounded with the Guaco (Mikania guaco) a totally different plant.
The Guaco (Mikania guaco) is a climbing plant used in Central and South America as an antidote to the poison of serpents. It is incidentally alluded to by Humboldt (Travels, Bohn's edition, Vol. II, p. 364): “The liana called vejuco de guaco (Mikania), which M. Mutro has rendered so celebrated, and which is the most certain remedy for the bite of venomous serpents.”
“Forster, Schomburgh, Poppig and Tschudi, agree that in South America the Mikania guaco is the best remedy for the bite of venomous serpents, and that it has in innumerable instances demonstrated its specific curative power. The freshly expressed juice of this creeping plant is dropped into the somewhat dilated wound, the surrounding parts are repeatedly rubbed and covered with the bruised leaves, and the juice at the same time also internally taken. It is efficacious against the bites of the most venomous serpents. It is also used as a prophalytic.” (Hom. Vierteljahrschrift, 4, 391 — 92.)
Turchetti states that Guaco locally applied destroys the specific property of the pus from a chancre, and prevents the production of a second chancre by inoculation. He also claims for it positive curative powers in syphilis. (Schmidt's Jahrbuch, Bd. 101, p. 168.)
Lindley speaks of the Guaco as follows (Flora Med., page 344, § 915): “Aristolochiaceae (Guaco). The Guaco of the Caraccas, reported to be a powerful remedy for the bites of serpents, is said by Dr. Hancock to be some plant of this genus.”
In the Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung, Vol. I, page 128, December 1832, in a letter from Bordeaux it is stated, “A Mexican physician has sent hither a plant Houacou” (evidently the same as Guaco), “which has proved very curative, in Mexico, in certain very severe maladies possessing great similarity to cholera. Our physicians have made successful experiments with it; out of eight patients to whom it was given, six were cured. * * A few drops administered on a lump of sugar restored a distinct pulse to a patient who had already become quite pulseless.”
In the Allg. Hom. Zeitung (Vol. LIV, page 6, 1857), reference is made to an article by Dr. J. G. Houard, of Philadelphia, in the N. A. Jour, of Homoeopathy (Vol. II, page 16). This article is a translation of a Spanish pamphlet on Guaco in cholera. It gives no other name than Guaco to the remedy used and no description of the plant from which it was derived, but refers to an article on the subject by Dr. Chalmers, an Allopathist, in the Diario of Havana.
In the Zeitschrift fur Homoeopathische Klinik (first series Vol. III, page 94, June, 1854), it is stated that Guaco was recommended in cholera by Dr. W. Valentin. It had already been recommended in 1853 by Otto, of Copenhagen, for gout, asthma, rheuma; by Chabert, in Mexico, for cholera, and in 1836 had been used with good effect in cholera, by Czeterkyn, in Poland. In 1840, Jobst published a pamphlet on the subject giving communications from the then President of Venezuela, Dr. Vargas of Caraccas. According to the latter Guaco (in form of tincture) is used in Caraccas in the following diseases; it cures the bites of poisonous snakes, of the scorpions; prevents hydrophobia; antidotes poisons; is useful in relieving pain from wounds resulting from falls or floggings (it would be valuable in boarding schools and on the plantation); favors menstrual flow and removes constipation; is efficacious against affections of the liver, obstinate ulcers; is said to prevent and cure cancer; has a happy effect in spasm of the stomach and consumption, when the latter depends upon menstrual disturbances; cures asthma; cures tertian and all fevers complicated with chill; is a powerful anthelmintic; restores the functions of the stomach in feeble persons, and stimulates the circulation; cures megrim radically; alleviates toothache. ( Dierbach Neue Entdeckung, in Mat. Med., I, II. — Jobst “Ueber Guaco. Stuttgart, 1840. Wien. Wochenschrift, 44”) a goodly list of virtues!
Dr. Elb refers to this in an article on “Spinal Diseases” (Allg. Hom. Zeit. 61, 22 and 23), of which we hope soon to present a notice to the reader, in the course of which he gives the pathogenesis of Guaco in so far as it relates to symptoms of the spinal nervous system. Dunham.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 09, 1863, pages 420-426
|Notes on Guao
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