Artemesia Abrotanum : Old Man Tree : Boy’s Love : Lad’s Love

In Abrotanum we have a valuable remedy of marasmic children.

It has many symptoms in common with Aethusa cynapium, and many others that sharply differentiate the two drugs. In both we find extreme weakness; inability to stand, or even to hold the head erect.

But the Abrotanum child, instead of being unable to take milk, craves bread boiled in milk, to satisfy its gnawing hunger.

Both drugs have, « Thinking difficult ; loss of comprehension. But the mental symptoms of Aethusa and Abrotanum help to distinguish between them. In Aethusa,” Fools’ Parsley « , there is confusion, inability to think, almost idiocy. Abrotanum has also incapacity for thought ; but may be extremely irritable, cross, ill-natured : even violent and inhuman : would like to do something cruel. No humanity.

Our idea of Abrotanum, « Lad’s Love », is a grayish-green shrubby plant, growing just inside the garden gate of country cottages. In passing in or out one instinctively crushes what Culpepper describes as  » its numerous leaves divided into many fine bristly segments, of a fine pale green color « , in order to retain on one’s fingers its charming scent.

This, no doubt, gained it the name of Lad’s Love : for in all the centuries it must have been plucked by our lads for shy presentation to the maidens of their choice ; doubtless to be pressed and sacredly preserved in many an ancient Bible, after the manner of our country-folk, to rekindle, throughout life, its sweet memories of youth and courtship.

Abrotanum is one of our old English herbal remedies. In Culpepper’s English Physician (its Preface is dated 1653), we read in regard to Abrotanum: « The seed bruised, heated in warm water, and drank, helps those that are troubled with cramps or convulsions of the sinews, and sciatica, and bringing down women’s courses. The same taken in wine is an antidote against all poisons. The backbone anointed with the oil cures the ague, it removes inflammations in the eyes, if part of a roasted quince and a few crumbs of bread be boiled and added. Boiled with barley-meal, it removes pimples and wheals from the face, or other parts of the body.
The seed and the dried herb kills worms in children ; the herb bruised and applied draws out splinters and thorns from the flesh. The ashes mingled with old salad oil, helps those that are bald, causing the hair to grow again on the head or beard. A strong decoction of the leaves is a good worm medicine, but is disagreeable and nauseous. The leaves are a good ingredient in fomentations for easing pain, dispersing swellings, or stopping the progress of gangrenes. »

He speaks of its fine pale green colour, and pleasant smell.

Black Letter Symptoms

  • Great weakness and prostration with a kind of hectic fever : with children, after influenza.
  • Itching chilblains (compare Nux, Agaricus).
  • Painful, inflammatory rheumatism before the swelling commences.
  • Gout.
  • Painful and inflamed wrists and ankle joints.

And Some Notable Symptoms

  • Sensation of creeping chills along convolutions of brain.
  • Appetite very great ; ravenous, while emaciating (or, loss of appetite.)
  • Sensation as if stomach were hanging, or swimming in water, with a peculiar feeling of coldness and dullness to all irritants.
  • After sudden checking of diarrhea, rheumatism.
  • Piles appeared and became worse as rheumatic pains abated.
  • Frequent desire for stool, but little but blood passed.
  • Destroys worms, especially ascarides.
  • Twitching, ovarian regions ; pains extend to back.
  • Suppressed menses.
  • In pleurisy (after Acon. and Bry.) when a pressing sensation remains in affected side, impeding free breathing.
  • Hectic fever, very weakening (marasmus).
  • Contraction of the limbs from cramps, or following colic.
  • In marasmus, the skin is flabby and hangs loose.

Nash mentions Abrotanum six times in his Leaders. Its chief uses, for him, are summed up as :

Marasmus, most pronounced in lower extremities, from malnutrition. Diarrhea. Diarrhea alternating with rheumatism.

We will quote these passages because they give very definite indications as regards the uses of the remedy, and what is so important, his useful comparisons with other remedies of like conditions or symptoms.

In regard to marasmus, he points out that, whereas Sanicula, Natrum mur. and Lycopodium emaciate from above downwards, Abrotanum emaciates from below, upwards.
Of Nat. mur. he says, « no remedy is more hungry, yet he loses flesh while eating well (Acet. a., Abrotanum, Iodine, Sanicula and Tuberculinum). »

In Nat. mur. emaciation is most noticeable in the neck : Abrotanum in the legs. .

In the marasmus of children we have to choose among remedies such as Bar. carb., Silica, Abrotanum, Nat. m., Sulfur, Calc. and Iod. Under all these remedies we may find emaciation of the rest of the body, while the abdomen is greatly enlarged. Again, under every one of them, the child may have a voracious appetite ; eat enough, but grow poor all the time. It is a defective assimilation.

Certain remedies alternate symptoms, as Kali bi. where rheumatic and dysenteric symptoms alternate. Also Abrotanum. Abrotanum has ravenous hunger : losing flesh while eating well (Iod., Nat. m., Sanic., Tub.). Marasmus of the lower limbs only. Abrotanum is also a remedy of boils, of rheumatism : of gout ; especially of wrists and ankle joints (Ruta). It has a reputation for hydrocele in children: this we have rapidly cured, before now, with Rhododendron.

By far the best picture of Abrotanum is to be found in Allen’s Keynotes.

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