Cactus Grandiflorus – Homeopathic Remedy – Materia Medica Viva George Vithoulkas
Night-blooming Cereus. (Mexico and the West Indies.) N.O. Cactaceae.
Tincture of youngest and tenderest stems and flowers collected in summer.
The essential features
Cactus grandiflorus is a remedy that has a special relationship to heart conditions, whether functional or severely pathological, and in particular to cardiac infarction and angina pectoris. The reason for this is that Cactus possesses in its pathogenesis the main characteristics of cardiac pathology. I have seen beneficial effects from the use of Cactus in cases of pulmonary oedema, myocardial infarction, and pericarditis, though additional remedies were necessary to complete the cure. Although Cactus can cure the case on its own, this is rare. It, of course, only acts curatively, if the symptoms agree, and especially if they include the keynote ‘constrictive sensation about heart,’ discussed below. Indiscriminately prescribing Cactus ‘for heart disease’ without individualisation will usually lead to unsatisfactory results. Some examples from my experience, are:
A woman in the initial stages of pulmonary oedema, with fever exhaustion, arrhythmia and dyspnoea, needed Veratrum album as her first remedy. After considerable improvement, severe constrictive pains developed. Cactus immediately relieved the symptoms, though Calcarea carbonica was still needed to complete the cure.
In a case of endocarditis, after the initial remedy, Arsenicum, the symptoms changed to Cactus. The case needed another two remedies thereafter to complete the cure.
In a case of cardiac infarction, Cactus was the first remedy needed. It was followed by Lycopodium and eventually Sulphur before the patient was out of danger.
Functional and pathological heart disorders
Some physiological actions triggered by Cactus grandiflorus are: the blood clots easily
the arteries and the heart contract excessively and painfully
the blood stream congests selectively on one organ or another (heart, vagina etc.) the heart palpitates violently
In functional heart disorder the Cactus patient suffers from irregularities of the heartbeat with strong, and many times, violent palpitations and constricting pains, especially, but not exclusively, in the heart or thorax. Kent provides us with a description of the constriction:
‘Around the attachment of the diaphragm feeling as if a cord was tied tighter and tighter; round the lower part of the chest. This is a strange symptom; it clutches him so tightly around the waist line that it takes his breath away and he struggles for breath, and wants to do something. It clutches him tighter and tighter.’
The patient experiences occasional attacks of palpitations, at times very severe. Any unusual physical or mental exertion can induce an attack.
Palpitations might arise on rapid motion, upon stooping, turning around, etc. The palpitations of the heart are aggravated when walking or when lying on the left side. They are also reported to come on in sleep, and are often connected with fright or anxiety from dreams. There is also a fluttering sensation in the heart, like a bird’s wing. Concomitant symptoms can be an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of the stomach, a feeling as if fainting, or a suffocating constriction of the throat, with throbbing carotids.
In the pathological picture Cactus displays much graver conditions like valvular diseases of the heart, pulmonary oedema, myocarditis, endocarditis, pericarditis, etc., with all the attendant symptoms. In a typical Cactus heart case we observe the patient complaining of a constant sense of constriction in the region of the heart and epigastrium, as if the heart is grasped and compressed by an iron hand. This is the most common description, but in practice the descriptions vary. We find a good many examples of patients describing the same symptom in different ways : as if the heart were ‘bound down’; as if it ‘had not room enough to beat’; ‘as if bolts were holding it’; ‘as if it were constricted by an iron band that prevents its normal movement’; ‘as if it were twisted in wires’; ‘as if it were compressed, squeezed and released alternately by an iron hand’; ‘as if compressed violently and violently struggling to burst its bands’; etc.
This sensation is often accompanied by great soreness and aching, soreness to the touch. An example quoted by Hering is: ‘Great pressure at heart, going around under left axilla to left back like a belt of pain; like a hand grasping the heart, with soreness and aching, and soreness to touch in all the affected region.’
It is obvious from the symptoms mentioned so far that it is easy to confuse Cactus with Lachesis. In both remedies these sensations are very distressing, causing the patient to worry a lot.
A condition resembling angina pectoris may be induced by sudden shocks, such as a misstep in crossing the street or a jarring sensation when riding in a car. Physical exertion, such as stretching the arms above the head, may also cause this condition, or it may come on from sitting down low without taking care. The constrictive sensations around the heart are much increased by muscular exertion, by shocks, by jars, by reading aloud and by loud talking, by any emotion, any strong excitement, and also by lying on the left side at night.
Cactus also exhibits the typical sore pain extending in the left arm down to the elbow that we see so frequently in Latrodectus mactans. The heart pains may be accompanied by numbness of the left arm and in particular by oedema of the hands, or even only the left one. They are mainly of a constrictive character (there are also stitches, etc.), as are all the pains in other regions of the body, and they are so violent as to force the patient to scream.
With the pain there is dyspnoea and a death-like feeling in the heart region. Hering states that in such cases the breath sometimes stops altogether for some moments, while the skin gets colder. Violent gasping and palpitation follow. Kent describes that when a patient holds his breath, his heart beats so fast it feels as if it would fly to pieces. This condition is most often found in conditions of toxic goitre with heart involvement. Clarke relates that a case of angina pectoris where Cactus acted had the following strange sensation: as though a swarm of hornets were going to the heart. During and after an attack of angina pectoris, great anxiety is also typically observed: a fear that there is some organic lesion of the heart that will cause sudden death.
If the heart condition becomes a great deal worse, the patient may arrive at a state of acute pulmonary oedema. In really severe conditions there may be violent palpitation, distressing dyspnoea, disorder of the valves, mitral regurgitation, and congestion of the lungs. The breathing becomes very laboured, and it is impossible for the patient to lie down. Oedema occurs in the extremities, especially in the hands, and the face is bloated and swollen. Eventually the whole body becomes oedematous. The urine is scanty and high coloured, breath is short, the heart labours very hard, and the patient is unable to make the slightest motion.
During this progressed pathological state you may no longer see the constricting pains that are the main keynote of the remedy.
We homeopaths do not frequently see full-fledged cases because the whole of such symptomatology is typically masked by allopathic drugging.
Allopathic medicine has at its disposal a lot of drugs to suppress these symptoms, while the real disease progresses and the patients condition worsens in spite of not feeling the pains. When allopathic suppression has taken place, it is often difficult to recognise the symptoms. For example, it is possible, for the patient to exhibit a slow and feeble pulse instead of intense palpitations. In such cases the practitioner should go back and study the initial pathology of the case to see if Cactus is appropriate.
I have tried to separate the functional from the pathological states, but in reality they cannot be so clearly demarcated. The student should use his imagination to perceive how a patient under the influence of this remedy might feel, and to grasp the idea of the pattern behind the symptoms.
Constrictive pain and irregular congestion
The first and most prevalent keynote of the remedy is the constrictive pain that is often so intense that the patient is forced to cry out. The sensation of tightness and constriction is not only to be found in the heart but is a general characteristic of the remedy. You may find it in various other places, like the oesophagus, the bladder, the vagina, the uterus, the chest (sometimes marking the attachments of the diaphragm), all over the abdomen, etc. A spasmodic constriction of the vagina upon introduction of the penis (vaginismus) is an indication of the remedy. The tightness is such that it not only prevents any movement, but inhibits the withdrawal of the penis. The sensation the woman has is as if an iron ring squeezes her vagina immediately after the intromission of the penis and gives her such severe pain that she can go into convulsions. Her partner feels as if a string were tightly drawn around his penis. This trouble typically occurs only in the beginning of coitus. However, in severe cases, it can prevent it altogether, except for during menses and one or two days before, when the vagina does not exhibit this tendency to spasm. In a German Journal (Archiv für Homöopathic, 1993) there is a report about a mare that could not be covered by a stallion because she always got vaginal convulsions in this situation, whereas there was no problem with the veterinary vaginal examination. Cactus 30c helped immediately.
The second characteristic of the remedy is its congestion which is totally irregular. It seems that the distribution of blood is capricious. There is, for instance, congestion in the head with coldness of the extremities. In a German proving conducted in the 1930’s (Hans Ritter) the prover observed as the most prominent symptom ‘a gradually increasing headache, very intense in the final stage, increasing and decreasing, worse from sudden movements, with heat in the head, feeling of congestion, like a pressure out of both ears, with striking redness of face’. Here the face was mentioned, but there may be congestion of blood in any organ, in the chest or the heart, in the vagina, in the uterus. The circulation of blood is never equal throughout the body.
The above two dominant symptoms can occur separately, as well as together. Constrictive pains and sensations in various parts of the body are very often accompanied by violent congestion of blood in the affected part. Kent describes this combination perfectly: ‘Suppose you should tie a tape round a violently congested organ and tie it tighter and tighter. It seems to me that is about the kind of suffering the patient has with that constriction of a congested organ.’
For example, the most violent cramps are produced in the uterus. Painful constriction is felt in the uterine region, as if the uterus were grasped and held tightly, like a spasm. This takes place in conjunction with a rush of blood to the part, with violent congestion and insupportable pulsating pain. The rush of blood comes on suddenly, and the spasms are so violent and intense that the woman screams from pain and fear. Therefore, the remedy is indicated in dysmenorrhoea with the most horrible pains where the characteristics of violent congestion and constrictive cramping pain are present. In the case of dysmenorrhoea, the flow of the menses ceases upon lying down. Often the dysmenorrhoea is complicated with heart symptoms, or is connected with rheumatism of the joints.
Farrington describes a characteristic form that the constrictive feeling can assume: ‘as if her whole body was in a wire cage, and that each wire was being twisted tighter and tighter.’ Lilienthal gives the following description from a clinical case: ‘Pains everywhere – head, arms, legs, back, chest, heart; darting, springing like chain-lightning, terminating with a sharp, vice-like grip, only to commence again a moment afterward, with restlessness and groaning.’
Constrictive spasms of this sort and congestion may also be encountered during labour, where extremely strong pain or even suppression of labour may occur. Constriction is also to be seen at the neck of the bladder and can be so severe as to prevent the passage of urine.
As apparent from the above, the combination of congestion and constriction is a very characteristic feature of Cactus. Its congestive violence resembles Belladonna or Aconitum. In both Cactus and Acon., the pains are unendurable and force the patient to scream. However, you cannot confuse Acon. with this remedy, because the tremendous agony and fear of death that Acon. experiences are lacking in Cactus. Though Cactus people can be extremely anxious about their condition they do not show it that much and even try to hide it. The practitioner perceives their anxiety because of frequent telephone calls and the detailed descriptions of all the pain and suffering. He may perceive it as hypochondriacal anxiety, but it does not resemble the intense fear of death that the Aconite patient expresses. In addition, the Acon. pains are not as clearly constrictive as the Cactus pains.
One might say that Acon. is indicated in ‘pseudo’ angina cases where the patient experiences a real fear of death.
Cactus can be differentiated from Belladonna in that it does not produce the amount of heat produced in Bell., nor will Bell. typically have a constrictive pain quality, but rather a throbbing one.
In Cactus cases you often see a severely sick person whose heart is in a precarious situation and whose valves are affected. There may be oedema of the extremities, no appetite, restless sleep, and emaciation. If this is discussed with the patient, he confesses that he is despondent, has no hope, feels that he will not recover, and weeps copiously and easily. This might even take the form of a feeling that he is dying and will not live till the next morning. However, the patients despair is definitely not accompanied by an excessive fear of death. We see nothing violent in his suffering, as is the case with Aconite or Belladonna.
Cactus also shares a certain similarity with Arsenicum. The Cactus patient may be almost as full of fears and have the exact sensation of tightness around the chest as Ars., but it may occur without cyanosis, which is a marked distinguishing feature of Ars. The Cactus patient is also more silent and much less restless than Ars., as movement worsens his condition.
Some other forms of pathology that fit the remedy are:
Complaints that recur with marked periodicity, such as: intermittent fever with a predominant chill that returns every day at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m. The fever may be accompanied by bleeding, especially from the bowel, and by convulsions. Paroxysms may be followed immediately by cold sweat, with terrible anguish;
periodic neuralgia: headaches, especially right side and vertex, often provoked by missing a meal. Chronic trigeminal neuralgia, right-sided, brought on by wine, music, strong light or missing a meal at the usual hour; worse with least exertion but cannot lie still in bed either. Periodic attacks of suffocation, with fainting, cold perspiration on the face and a very weak, scarcely perceptible pulse.
Rheumatic conditions that look like Rhus toxicodendron, but Rhus. does not hold and eventually the heart gets involved. A typical case (Journal of Homeopathic Clinics, 1870): ‘Rheumatism affecting all the joints of the extremities with a great deal of pain, stiffness and swelling; worse in the evening and again in the morning on first rising; aggravation while at rest, on beginning to move, and from a change of weather, especially if the change be a cold, damp one. Amelioration from continued but gentle motion.’ Ultimately the heart gets involved and the characteristic constrictive pains that require Cactus ensue. Such a case can look like Rhus-toxicodendron or Tuberculinum, but the final involvement of the heart is the determining factor in favour of Cactus.
When the organism is exhausted from a severe infectious disease and eventually the heart shows symptoms of failing. A feeling as if the heart will stop beating every time the head is raised from the pillow is characteristic.
Cardiac asthma, when the patient cannot lie down on account of the oppression and the excessive secretion of mucus. The attention of the patient is focused on the heart symptoms, of which he constantly complains. He has rattling of mucus with dyspnoea, which causes him great anxiety. He has a raw feeling and a sensation of constriction in his chest as if it gets tighter and tighter until he cannot take a breath. There may be no cyanosis and no great restlessness. There is also a possibility of hypostatic congestion of the lungs due to cardiac weakness. The patient is unable to lie down and must sit up in bed. ‘Could only breathe with shoulders elevated and lying on the back.’ (Hering)
Cactus may congest the brain in such a way as to create a situation simulating a brain stroke, most probably brought on by a constriction of a vessel in the brain. While this is happening the patient loses the ability to move. A partial blindness and difficulty in speaking may ensue, and his walking becomes unsteady. His face becomes red simultaneously with a sensation of constriction about the heart.
Cactus is also a haemorrhagic remedy. It has bleeding from vascular relaxation accompanying cardiac and vascular conditions and also from violent congestion of a part. The bleedings may come from the nose, the lungs, the rectum, the bladder or the stomach. However, as the blood flows it quickly forms large clots which cause blockages in the organs.
The mental picture
The mental symptoms produced correspond to those found when there are heart disorders with sadness (Aurum iodatum). Patients are in a sad, anxious and weeping mood. They are melancholy, without being able to find any reason for it. There may be an irresistible inclination to cry. This is particularly strong in women before and during the menses. There is also hysterical behaviour during the menses.
The patient is taciturn, disinclined to speak or answer questions, and generally ill-humoured. He loves solitude and avoids those around him who wish to comfort him (Nat-m.). This depressive mood is coupled with feelings of self-reproach. The provings give us the following symptoms: ‘Feeling of semi-remorse at having done something wrong.’ ‘Feeling of having done violence to myself.’ Extraordinary irritability has been observed; the least contrariety puts him into a passion. In Schoeler’s proving, there was a tendency to develop a quarrelsome mood, sometimes over the most trivial things, and later the irritability increased even more, with the prover flying into fits of rage. The Cactus person is sensitive to noise, the sound of talking and music, and also to strong light.
In heart diseases like angina pectoris, the patient becomes really hypochondriacal, calling the physician frequently and describing in detail how he feels. The intensity of the suffering causes him great distress. The patient is an easily frightened person who screams and shrieks with the pain and who may even lose consciousness. A fear of death may manifest, but the patient does not make a big point of this. He tries to hide it and accepts it as natural to think this way because he has a heart problem. When the pains become severe he believes that he will not survive until the next day and that his condition is incurable, but all this is explained as a logical conclusion of the pains and suffering.
The indescribable fear that something terrible will happen to him is a symptom that is also found in other remedies. In those cases where the patients mind readily focuses on his heart, he can develop the fear that he has a severe heart disease. Cactus differs from these remedies in that while it is one of the main remedies for the fear of heart disease, the fears are grounded in reality.
Night is a difficult time for Cactus patients, because in heart conditions lying down aggravates and in cardiac asthma they fear they will suffocate at night.
The patient feels very anxious on waking up. Cactus has morning aggravation like most heart conditions and remedies (Lach.), but in him it is mostly the anxiety that bothers him. The anxiety manifests in the morning. As the day progresses it goes away, only to return in the evening. There are also delirious states that manifest at night and upon waking. Rubini’s proving produced the symptom ‘Talking nonsense while asleep at night; on awaking, he talks unconnectedly.’ And Hering lists the symptom ‘Felt much alarmed on waking, but could not tell cause of alarm.’
Another peculiarity of this remedy are the impulses to do something facetious, even bordering on the grotesque. This ‘irregularity’ in the mental sphere may be compared with the unbalanced circulation system and its tendency to produce erratic congestion of blood.
Concerning the intellect, we see a slowing of the mental processes, a certain dullness and stupidity. The slowness is especially exhibited when the patient tries to arrive at conclusions. He ‘felt a considerable degree of difficulty in fixing upon anything settled or fixed in what he was pursuing; when conclusions were arrived at, however, they were to the mind quite satisfactory.’ Hering also observed a ‘difficulty in finding the right expression when writing symptoms down.’
Constriction, contraction, congestion and haemorrhage are the main points of Cactus.
In addition to the above mentioned symptoms, there may be low blood pressure from weakness of the heart and high blood pressure from arteriosclerosis.
We find general weakness with sadness and bad humour. Weakness and prostration with low blood pressure and coldness of the extremities.
The constrictive sensations can also be induced by touching the affected part, which provokes a twitching of the muscles.
Kent comments on the constrictive pain sensations: ‘When pains occur in the intestines they are constricting, but when the pains are in the long muscles they are not the constricting pains, for it is not the circular fibres then but the long fibres that contract and we call them cramps. Cactus produces some spasmodic conditions in long muscles, but not to any great extent.’
He also provides a description of the congestive states: ‘Violent congestion and he grows stupid under it. Congestion of the brain, first with very red face, then darker from the venous stasis and then stupor. He grows sluggish under the cerebral congestion.’
The Cactus patient can also experience sharp pains in the diaphragm and girdle pain round its attachment together with indigestion.
Causation: Symptoms are brought on by any emotion, excitement, irregularities of breathing, a disappointment in love, from exertion; or attacks may come on during sleep and are connected with fright or anxiety in the dreams. Lying down, especially on the left side, may also provoke symptoms.
Worse: Many symptoms are worse from lying down, lying on the left side, 11 a.m. or 11 p.m., at night, from going upstairs, from the sun, from damp and from noise. Many of the complaints of Cactus are aggravated or induced by irregularities of breathing.
Better: from continued but gentle motion; from the open air; vertex headache better by pressure on the vertex.
Vertigo from congestion: face red, bloated; pulsation in the brain; mental imbalance, anxiety. Unsteadiness of gait, amounting almost to staggering, and a reeling sensation.
Vertigo brought on by physical exertion, turning in bed, stooping, rising from a recumbent position or from deep inspiration.
The headaches often come on from congestion of the head or brain. They are, therefore, violent and accompanied by intense heat in the head. Heat in the head from mental exertion is a strong symptom. The headaches often have a constricting or pressing quality.
Heavy pain, like a weight, on the vertex. This pain is diminished by pressure. It is made worse by the sound of talking, by any noise, or by strong light. The sound of voices seems to go through the head, and the brain is so sensitive that the sound feels like a material substance hurled at the brain, much like in Theridion. The pressure may feel as if the top of the head will be crushed in, or like a pressure that is pushing outward (‘out of both ears’, as expressed by the German prover Ritter). The pressive headaches in the vertex may develop as a result of menorrhagia or at the time of menopause in women (Lippe).
There can be a feeling as if the head were compressed in a vice and will burst open from the severity of the pain.
We also find headaches in the form of a tightness across the vertex, as if the scalp is tightening upon the skull.
There is also a pulsating headache. Right-sided headache and neuralgia which are periodic, pulsating, throbbing, and of an extreme type.
Spells of pain in the right temple, caused by drinking a glass of wine, attending the opera, or after eating evening meal at too late an hour; It begins in the morning, increases during the day, with vomiting; and a nose that is extremely dry; The patient must lie perfectly still; is worse from staying awake, from noise, light, and exertion.
Pulsating pain, with a sensation of heaviness in the right side of the head, continuing day and night, so severe as to make him cry out loudly.
Sensation as if something is whirling up from the chest to the brain, and all the arteries seem to throb; the patient feels as if he is dying. Kent describes: ‘It has been recommended for threatened apoplexy, when the congestion is so violent and the face is flushed and purple, or very red and the pulsation is felt in the brain and all over. Feels as if the head would expand from the pressure of blood in the head, but without any great rise of temperature. It has fever, but it has these without fever. Heat in the head from mental exertion is a strong symptom of Cactus. This symptom is found in persons who are trying to break off from coffee and Cactus is often the remedy.’
Dimness or weakness of sight, recurring periodically; objects appear as if clouded or obscured; does not recognise a friend at a short distance. Momentary loss of sight; circles of red light appear before the eyes, which dim the sight.
Sensitivity to light, especially during headache.
Eyes bloodshot; cerebral congestion even to coma, when perspiration fails (in intermittent fever). Acute rheumatic ophthalmia; exophthalmic goitre.
Pulsations in the ears, with buzzing, singing or ringing.
Otitis from checked perspiration.
Profuse epistaxis which ends after a short time. This haemorrhage is caused by the violent rush of blood to the head mentioned above. Constant dry nose during headache.
Dry coryza, must breathe during the night with his mouth open. Fluent and very acrid coryza, which makes the nostrils sore.
The face looks red and bloated, with a pulsating pain in the head.
Flushes of heat in the face, with a feeling of suffocation.
Alternately, there is a paleness of the face, coupled with emaciation.
During chill and with weakness of the heart, we can see a blue face, with purplish or mottled lips.
Prosopalgia, right-sided, chronic, worse from the slightest exertion, tolerable only when lying still in bed. It is brought on by wine, music, strong light or the missing of a meal at the usual hour.
Loss of taste for food, with nausea.
Foetid breath in the morning.
Tongue purple, with thick, brown sordes on the teeth. Prickling in the point of the tongue.
Suffocative constriction at the throat, with full, throbbing carotids.
Constriction of the oesophagus which prevents swallowing; must drink a large quantity of water to force anything down into the stomach. Choking, with a feeling as if there were a tight collar around the neck.
Globus hystericus, like a ball coming up into the throat, with constant swallowing and choking, even cramps and numbness of the left arm.
Respiration and cough
Difficulty breathing; continued oppression and uneasiness as if the chest were constricted by an iron band and cannot expand for normal respiration. Breathing oppressed, as from a great weight on the chest.
The breathing becomes more and more laboured, so that the patient cannot lie down flat and becomes acutely anxious. Breathing may only be possible by lying on the back with the shoulders elevated.
Suffocative attacks, with turbulent action of the heart; worse at 11 p.m.
Chronic bronchitis, with rattling of mucus, which becomes acute after a cold and causes great anxiety and suffocation.
Chronic bronchitis, with rattling of mucus which is continuous day and night; oppression of breathing on going upstairs, with an inability to lie flat in bed.
Bronchitis, with palpitation of the heart and bronchial catarrh, from overexertion of the heart.
Periodic attacks of suffocation, with fainting, cold sweat on the face and loss of pulse.
‘Sometimes the breath stops altogether for half a minute, but without unconsciousness, skin gets colder; afterwards gasping.’ ‘When breath stops, there is violent gasping and palpitation.’ (Hering)
Abnormal respiratory murmur and bronchial respiration.
Frequent attacks of asthma, with a stricture around the chest, like a band of iron.
During asthma attacks, every year, a sensation of a hoop around the throat, another around the heart, and another around the diaphragm. Inspiring fresh air is very reviving.
Various kinds of cough, due to cardiac disorders.
Catarrhal cough, with much viscid expectoration.
Haemoptysis, with marked arterial excitement and a convulsive cough. Cough, with thick expectoration, like boiled starch, and very yellow.
Excessive secretion of mucus, with oppression, when attempting to lie do; the heart feels as if it is clutched; the face and limbs become cold.
Painful sensation of constriction in the lower portion of the chest, as if a cord were tightly bound around the false ribs, along with obstruction of the breathing.
Sensation of great constriction in the middle of the sternum, as if the parts were compressed by iron pincers.
Feeling of constriction in the chest, preventing free speech; when forced to speak, voice is weak and hoarse.
Sudden and violent congestion of blood to the chest with awful dyspnoea and constriction of the heart; the patient is unable to lie down; the attack passes away without causing inflammation.
The chest complaints often come on or are exaggerated at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m.
Inflammation of the lungs; pneumonia with hepatisation of the lungs; the first stage of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Gripping pain behind the sternum.
Pains from the lower part of chest through to the shoulder blades. Rheumatism of the chest muscles.
‘Cactus is also a remedy for hypostatic congestion of the lungs. He cannot lie down, must sit up in bed, and there is a dullness of the lower part of each lung, gradually growing higher from an effusion of serum into the lower portion of the lungs. This hypostatic congestion is due to a cardiac weakness. Cactus will often relieve this a few times when it occurs in old broken down cases towards the end of Bright’s disease, and at the end of dropsical conditions and heart troubles. It will postpone death.’ (Kent)
Constant pain in the region of the heart, with a sensation as if the heart were ‘bound down’, or ‘had not room enough to beat,’ or ‘as if bolts were holding it.’ The heart feels as if it is compressed, squeezed and released alternately by an iron hand.
Dull, heavy pain in the heart, aggravated by pressure; suffocating respiration; face blue; oedema, especially of the left hand and of the legs to the knees; feet icy cold; pulse intermittent. Heart disease, with oedema of the left hand only.
Great pressure at the heart, going around under the left axilla to the left side of the back, like a belt of pain; like a hand grasping the heart, with soreness and aching, and sore to the touch in all the affected region; also, sore aching in the left arm down to elbow; the cardiac pain ultimately causes dyspnoea.
Very acute pain, and such painful stitches in the heart as to cause him to weep and to cry out loudly, with distressing palpitations, faintness and dyspnoea.
Paroxysms of violent stitching pain in the heart, with icy coldness of the limbs.
Lancinating pain in the heart when perspiration fails (in intermittent fever).
Endocarditis with mitral insufficiency together with violent and rapid action of the heart, pressure and heaviness.
Acute inflammatory disorder of the heart, idiopathic or from rheumatism.
Mitral regurgitation; angina pectoris; valvular derangement and dilatation of the right ventricle; insufficiency of the aortic valve; valvular diseases, with the second beat of the heart being replaced by a harsh murmur. Endocardial murmurs; excessive impulse; increased praecordial dullness.
Aneurysm of the heart and the large arteries.
Functional disorder of the heart, from emotions or mental excitement. The palpitation of the heart consists of small, irregular beats, with the necessity for deep inspiration; slight excitement or a deep thought is sufficient to produce this condition.
Nervous palpitation of the heart, augmented gradually on the occurrence of menses.
Irregular and intermittent action of the heart. Violent, turbulent action; it beats violently for a short time, then ceases entirely.
Palpitation of long standing, caused by an unfortunate love affair.
Palpitations continuing day and night which are brought on from slight excitement, from walking or at night when lying on the left side. Palpitations with vertigo, dyspnoea and flatulence.
Strange sensations: as if the heart has turned over; as if it were grasped firmly by someone and whirled around. The pulse is feeble, intermittent, or entirely missing.
Dyspepsia with heart symptoms, palpitation and constriction.
Constriction, pulsation or heaviness in the stomach with an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of the stomach, as if falling.
Continuous and annoying pulsation in the stomach; also violent burning. Very troublesome pulsation of the coeliac artery, after evening meal, corresponding with the pulsation of the right temporal artery.
Rumbling in the stomach precedes the palpitations.
Violent vomiting when perspiration fails (in intermittent fever). Copious vomiting of blood.
Nausea in the morning which continues all day.
The appetite is lost, or else the appetite is good, but the digestion is weak. No desire for meat, which he previously used to enjoy. If he does eat, then there is weight and distress in the stomach.
Acrid acid in the stomach, which rises into the throat and mouth, making everything he attempts to eat acid. Sharp neuralgic pains in the cardia, causing the patient to weep and cry loudly.
Acute or chronic engorgement of the liver due to heart disease.
In a case of rheumatism of the diaphragm, cured by Farrington with Cactus, he observed a constriction around the lower portion of the chest as from a cord, the constriction marking the periphery of the diaphragm; jerking breathing; sharp pains shooting through the body, towards the back and upwards into the chest, with the sensation of a rush of blood to the chest.
Insupportable heat in the abdomen, as though something is burning him internally. The abdominal walls, when touched with the hand, impart a burning sensation, and are much hotter than the rest of the body.
Beating of the abdomen, in connection with palpitations.
Pain in the lower portion of the abdomen and a bearing-down sensation, at times quite severe. Peritonitis; severe gastro-enteritis; gastric fever.
Sensation of great weight in the anus and a strong desire to evacuate a great quantity, but nothing passes.
Pricking pains in the anus, ceasing upon slight friction.
Anal fistula with violent palpitation and oppression of the heart.
Swollen haemorrhoids that cause much pain. Bleeding piles, with heart symptoms.
Copious haemorrhage from the anus; also in malarial fevers, with heart symptoms.
Constipation, as if from haemorrhoidal congestion, very troublesome.
Morning diarrhoea of very loose faeces, preceded by great pain; diarrhoea with heart disorders.
Stools scanty, resembling dirty water, occurring on the average as often as every hour (in a low fever).
Constriction of the neck of the bladder which prevents the passage of urine. There is not only retention of urine but also suppression of urine, from congestion of blood in the kidneys.
Paralytic weakness of the bladder, with retention of urine.
We also find a strong inclination to haematuria, haemorrhagia from the bladder. The tendency of Cactus to rapidly coagulate the blood leads to the formation of clots that may block up the way of the urine: bleeding into the bladder with retention of urine by clots; bleeding into the vagina, causing pressure on the urethra with an inability to pass urine.
Suppression of urine and pains in the bladder during the onset of fever when perspiration fails (in intermittent fever)
Frequent desire to urinate, with an abundant flow of urine each time, during the night. Very profuse urine of a straw colour or reddish and turbid. Alternately: Urine passed in drops, with much burning. Urine scanty, not very frequent, yet burning and scalding. Insupportable irritation in the urethra as if he needs to urinate constantly.
Prostatic disorders: weight in the anus; constriction of the bladder; desire to pass water, unable to pass it for a time, but finally succeeds; irritation as if he needs to pass water all the time.
Menstruation with horrible pains, causing her to cry aloud and weep.
‘Before the flow starts, or just at the beginning, there is a violent spasm. The circular fibres clutch; and she describes it accurately as if a tape were tied around her sore and congested uterus. The uterus fills with blood clots and the spasm to expel that blood is like a labour-pain making her scream again. It is some time before the flow becomes free enough to give relief.’ (Kent, emphasis GV).
The pains are often coupled with suffocative attacks and constriction of the heart; they are worse in the evening. Menses scanty, and ceasing when she remains lying down.
Menses too soon; black, pitchy blood; rather abundant.
Painful constriction around the pelvis, extending gradually towards the stomach, causing a sensation as of a great blow in the region of the kidneys, making her cry out.
Pulsating pain in the uterus and ovarian region, like an internal tumour suppurating; pain extending down the thighs, returning at the same time each day. Constriction of the vagina preventing coitus (vaginismus). Spasmodic constriction in the uterus and vagina, often from the least touch, coming on suddenly and going off in a few minutes.
Suppressed labour. Metritis.
Inflammation of the mammae; sensation of fullness in the chest; oversensitive to cold air.
Neck and back
Exophthalmic goitre, with characteristic heart symptoms.
Rheumatic pain in the region of the heart and small of the back.
Lumbar muscles tender on pressure and stiff, especially on first moving after resting.
Oedema of the left hand in heart disease. Oedema of the legs up to the knees; skin shining, pits on pressure, impressions are long-lasting. Numbness of the left arm. Formication and weight in the arms, worse in the left.
Pain in the apex of the heart shooting down the left arm to the ends of the fingers.
Rheumatic pains, in the shoulders, upper and lower arms, in the hips down to the feet; not better by rest, motion or assuming any position.
Insomnia on account of the pulsations in different parts of the body or from pain. Restless sleep with many dreams; frightful, lascivious or dreams of falling. Wakes up in a fright.
Intermittent fever, with derangement of the stomach. Intermittent fever, with congestion to the head; flushes in the face; suppressed urine; pains in the bladder; lancinating in the heart; violent vomiting; sweat does not appear after exposure to sun. Intermittent fever where perspiration fails.
Quotidian intermittent fever recurring every day at the same hour; at 11 a.m., with great coldness for two hours, then burning heat, with great dyspnoea, violent pain in the head, coma, stupefaction, insensibility until midnight, then unquenchable thirst and sweat.
Fever with paroxysms of chill, regularly at 11 a.m. and/or 11 p.m.; accompanied by bleeding, especially from the bowel; coldness predominates; followed by cold sweat and anguish.
Fever from exposure to the sun’s rays.
Inflammatory fevers; simple rheumatic fevers.
Coldness in the back and icy-cold hands.
General chill, so severe as to make his teeth chatter; not relieved by covering.
Burning heat at night after a chill, with headache, shortness of breath and inability to remain lying in bed.
Dry, scaly herpes, without itching, at the outside of the elbows and at the inside of the ankles. Violent itching at the tibia and ankles.
Every evening very annoying itching, like flea-bites, without eruption, on the chest and abdomen, compelling the patient to rub the area; is relieved on going to bed and is not felt during the day.
Aneurysm. Angina pectoris. Apoplexy. Atheroma of Arteries. Asthma. Bladder, paralysis of. Congestion of Brain. Bronchitis. Rheumatism of Diaphragm.
Dropsy. Inflammation of Ear. Fistula. Goitre, exophthalmic.
Haematuria. Haemorrhages. Headache. Disorders of the Heart and hypertrophy of the Heart. Indigestion. Intermittent fevers. Haemorrhage from Lungs. Melancholy. Menstruation painful. Miliaria. Neuralgia. Otitis. Ovaritis. Pneumonia. Disorders of the Prostate. Rheumatism. Effects of the Sun. Sunstroke. Traumatic fever. Vaginismus.
Compare: Dig.; Spig.; Conv.: Kalm.: Naja.: Magnol. Antidotes: Acon.; Camph.; Chin.