Veratrum album (verat.)
The Veratrum influence is constant activity. This is not s much violence or aggressiveness, except in the most extreme state. It is rather a driven, ceaseless energy compelling the patient to be busy all the time. It is likely to be activity for its own sake, without purpose – constantly stacking books or chairs, endless cleaning. In the hyperactive child, it is unceasing drawing, painting, singing, playing, but unlike Stramonium, it is not breaking things or destructive. Such a person may be a pest, demanding attention by sheer energy, but not actually destructive.
The Veratrum patient has a profound confusion about his identity. He thinks he is Christ or John the Baptist, or a chosen person to save the world. This is the street corner preacher who, day in and day out, exhorts people to repent, repeating over and over the same righteous message, often at the top of his lungs. Unlike Stramonium, the actual physical strength is not increased, but rather there is surprising stamina. The person seems never to run out of steam. In Stramonium, we see an eruption of the unconscious about what is happening to him. In Veratrum, the person does not SEE delusions so much a she has a mistaken idea of his own identity. He is convinced of who he is, and no-one can talk him out of it. It is as if the organism side-tracked the energy rising from the unconscious into a relatively more harmless confusion of identity.
In the most early stages, the ceaseless activity, singing, doing repetitive tasks etc. may be difficult to distinguish from other remedies. The Veratrum quality becomes clear a little later, when the person exhibits righteousness. This may not yet have religious content to it, but the person will believe himself to be superior to those around him. He may become overly critical, censorious. In the Repertory, we see Veratrum is in bold type under the rubric HAUGHTY. As this tendency grows, the person becomes less in touch with the discrepancy between his reality and others; he may believe himself to be the only one who is sane, all the others being insane. Finally, this develops the full religious righteousness. The active state may alternate with a melancholy state – as in some manic depressive psychoses. The patient may brood or sulk, despairing over his own state of over the state of the world. In particular, there is despair over his own salvation. In young girls, just before the menses, there may be a deep despair, particularly if there is dysmenorrhoea with coldness, prostration, sweating, vomiting and/or diarrhoea. This despair, over the years, may progress into a full-fledged insanity of the Veratrum type.
Some of the general characteristics of Veratrum are distinctive, and helpful in prescribing. Veratrum has great thirst for cold drinks, even for ice. It also desires fruit, particularly acid fruit. There is a great desire for salt. And throughout the Veratrum state there is severe coldness.
The acute state of Veratrum shows the activity in exaggerated form once again, both mentally and physically. The excessive vomiting and diarrhoea is very active, sudden, explosive. The classic Veratrum state is one of severe illness, even shock. The best description is found in Kent’s Materia Medica; “Profuse watery” discharges. These conditions occur without apparent provocation. In cholera or cholera morbus, it seems that the fluids are forced out of the body. Lies in bed, relaxed prostrated, cold to the fingertips, with corresponding blueness, fairly purple; lips cold and blue, countenance pinched and shrunken; great sensation of coldness as if the blood were ice-water; scalp cold; forehead covered with cold sweat; headache and exhaustion; coldness in spots over the body; extremities cold as death. Full of cramps; looks as if he would die. This state comes out during the menses, during colic with nausea, with mania and violent delirium, with headache, with violent inflammations.
In the muscles, there is much twitching (like Hyoscyamus and Agaricus).
Physically, other than the gastrointestinal and menstrual symptoms, there are severe neuralgic pains which drive the person to mania. There are severe neuralgic pains in the head, as well as congestive pains in the head. In the extremities and joints, there are severe neuralgic and rheumatic pains, again causing mania, coldness, and sweat.
In comparison, Veratrum is highly active like Stramonium and Tarentula more so than Hyoscyamus. It is not so violent or so threatening as are Stramonium or Tarentula. Of course, in the most extreme states, it can be violent, but this is not characteristic of the full course of the illness. It is more religious, righteous, censorious, and haughty than the other remedies.