Schwabe News Volume 2 | Issue 4 | August 2011
Guaiacum, also called Guajacum, is a drug prepared from the resin obtained from the wood of the Guaiacum officinale and G. sanctum Linn. which are native of tropical America. It has rounded or ovoid peas, frequently covered with a dull green powder or large blocks, the latter being usually firm. It breaks easily, with a clear, glassy fracture, thin pieces being transparent and exhibiting a colour varying from yellowish green to reddish brown; powder grey but becoming green on exposure to light and air; odour aromatic when warmed; taste slightly acrid, readily but not always completely soluble in alcohol. It is obtained by extraction with alcohol or by heating the wood.1
It is officially covered by Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of India.2 It was proved and introduced by Hahnemann himself in Materia Medica Pura, Vol. I, 619 and also covered by T. F. Allen in Encyclopaedia of Pure Materia Medica, Vol. IV, 515 and J. H. Clarke in Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, Vol. I, 852.
Main sphere of action
Its chief action on fibrous tissue, rheumatism, and tonsillitis is established. It is especially adapted to the arthritic diathesis. Many authors support for its use in cases of stiffness, dryness of the throat, follicular tonsillitis, rheumatic pharyngitis, acute and chronic rheumatism of the upper extremities, lumbago when there is a stiffness of the parts, other joint pains with swelling, tenderness, heat and pressure intolerance and secondary syphilis. It is a very valuable remedy in acute rheumatism. There is a dribbling of saliva. Unclean odour from whole body is one of the key general symptoms. It promotes suppuration of abscesses. In rheumatism, contraction of limbs, stiffness and immobility are seen.3,4
Its usefulness in throat complaints was reported in 1857 itself by an English physician, Dr. Brinton and recorded in the Lancet. Then in 1881, Dr. Morris also made use of it in crude doses three times a day and found the inflammation quickly disappeared. Ozanam had tried this remedy in 1st decimal, 2nd and 3rd centesimal with the same success, but without unnecessary symptoms found in the usage of crude substance.5 It has since been used. It is in demand even today. Schwabe India makes its mother tincture and dilutions up to 1M.
Ozanam illustrates a case of sore throat and swollen tonsils. Mrs. X., 58 years of age, a servant, came to consult him in July, 1882, for a severe sore throat. The tonsils were much swollen, the uvula infiltrated, all the adjoining portions of the throat were almost in contact with each other, thus making deglutition most difficult; the mucous membrane was very red, speech was painful and the pulse was up to 120. He hesitated between two remedies; Belladonna, because of the redness, Apis because of the infiltration. Finally he thought of Guaiacum, due its the unfailing efficacy he had seen in similar cases. Therefore he gave Guaiacum 1st decimal, 5 granules in a glass of water, a teaspoonful to be taken every hour. The following day he visited the patient, who was much better, pulse 100, throat less swollen but still very red; same remedy continued. On the third day the patient was cured; pulse 76; the inflammation in the throat had entirely subsided, there was no pain, and only a slight redness remained. 5
In 1883, in the month of July, the same person had a third relapse. When she visited, the swelling was considerable. This time she was given Guaiacum 2nd dilution in granules, and the doctor had seen the cure complete on the third day again. In another case visited in February, 1884, of sore throat, there was increasing pain with entire throat became swollen; the uvula, the soft palate, and the pillars of the fauces became oedematous, and their increased size interfered with respiration, caused great oppression and attacks of suffocation. Pulse was 110. The doctor prescribed Guaiacum 1st centesimal dilution, a teaspoonful every hour. The patient, being uneasy about her condition, took the remedy carefully; from the following day the amelioration was marked, and two days more of treatment with Guaiacum 1st decimal, completed the cure.5 Clinically the drug is used for infections of throat and urinary tract by many though unreported.
J. H. Clarke has also illustrated a case of gouty inflammation of knees, which was treated by Verwey. It was a lady who for several years had a frequently recurring gouty inflammation of the knees. Guaiacum 30 was given (after Chi. 30 had failed to relieve) without obvious benefit. Then Guaiacum 1 was given and after a few hours the swelling broke and the pains quickly subsided. A short time after, the same patient accidentally injured the same knee. Under Guaiacum 1 the swelling soon broke and the pain was relieved. But an abscess formed at the same time on the upper thigh. The pain became unbearable and the patient’s husband “begged for more of the drops that had twice before made the swelling break.” It was again given and in six hours the abscess evacuated. On two later occasions Dr. Verwey saw Guaiacum act in the same way on scrofulous and gouty abscesses.6
Another case was presented in the Homoeopathic Links, Autumn 1999 issue by Enna Stallinga. It was a case of arthrosis of a seventy year old lady. She had presented history of pains caused by arthrosis of the left hip and arthrosis (according to the specialist’s diagnosis) around the left eye. The stitching pains around the left eye are better with cold applications. The patient also had pains located in the left side of her chest, near the ninth rib. These pains are mean and tearing. The pains were worse touch, worse lying, better stretching. And she had a tearing pain in her left arm. In 1989, after some gymnastics, a lower lumbar pain arose. An X-ray showed spondylolisthesis. An operation was proposed, but not carried out as the odds for success were small. Another complaint she presented was about difficulty swallowing. The patient always had the sensation of something lodged in her throat. She expectorated green or brown ball-shaped mucous, after which the swallowing complaints were relieved for a few days. In general, the patient was very cold. She even wore a bonnet in the house. She was aggravated by wind, cold and wet weather. She had had sunstroke. While eliciting past history it showed that she had chilblains on hands and feet when she was younger. All the complaints she had were on the left side. She had profuse perspiration at night with frequent waking and flushes. She had desire to smoked meat (salty), fruit, apples and fish and aversion to sweet and salt. She was aggravated by sour, wine and tea in general. There was a kind of brown film on tongue and salivation at night. Her nails were brittle. She also had other complaints like involuntary urination and stool (only slightly, but regularly), herpes labialis, slow healing of wounds and heartburn. In the past, she had kidney stones because of the use of, as reported, diclofenac in double dose, because a lesser amount didn’t alleviate the pain. Role of diclofenac was not established.
The author had tried several remedies (Causticum, Coccus cacti, Psorinum and Ranunculus bulbosis) before the right remedy Guajacum loomed before her. The author says, “the desire for apples should have tipped me off, but wasn’t a very strong feature. The amelioration by cold applications support the choice for Guajacum. And this remedy is complementary to Causticum, my first choice.” After Guajacum, all the pains with the exception of the pain in the left hip lessened considerably. The patient can now walk further than before. She feels much better, is happier and has more energy. She has taken the remedy in increasing potencies from 1995 to 1997 with good results.7
A case of throbbing headache relieved from walking was reported in The Homoeopathician. Mr. W., aged forty-five was suffering from periodical throbbing pain. The conversation of the author with the patient went as follows, which lead to prescribe this drug. The conversation between the physician and the patient was “Why don’t you sit down?” “I cannot, I must walk to get relief.” This symptom is mentioned in the 1st edition of Kent’s Repertory, p. 225. Other rubrics included are head pulsating, amel. walking: Ars., eup.-per., guaj.; aggr. pressure with hands, guaj. Based on this Guaiacum Q few drops in water was given, which had speedily cured the case.8
The above few cases lead to the spectrum of the application of the drug.
- P. N. Varma, Indu Vaid, Encyclopedia of Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia.
- Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of India, published by Government of India.
- A. L. Blackwood, A Manual of Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacology
- W. Boericke, Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica
- C. Ozanam, Note on the efficacy of Guaiacum in acute angina of the tonsils, Homoeopathic Recorder, 1887, N° 11
- J. H. Clarke, Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica
- Enna stallinga, the Netherlands, Cases, Guiacum officinale, Homoeopathic Links, Autumn, 1999
- The Homoeopathician (The Journal of Pure Homoeopathy), 1913