Baptisia is a member of the pea family, and like its close relation, Astragalus, it was used to keep people well. A native American plant, historically it was the go to remedy for many kinds of infectious disease, prior to the age of antibiotics. It was especially used in the many types of digestive infections that claimed the lives of a lot of settlers. Though the past indicates it could be used in infectious disease, my research reveals it MAY be another plant that stimulates the whole body to increased health. It was used to increase resistance to epidemic disease AND to strengthen the body to survive epidemic disease.
When I am reviewing a plant for its capacity to stimulate the bodies’ own healing capacity, I look to see if it was used to speed skin healing. In my experience, if it can cause broken skin to heal itself faster, it very may have the capacity to inspire heightened healing in the whole body.
This is kind of a forgotten remedy and one that needs some contemporary investigation.
Chapter from My PhD Thesis
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians
Chapter from My PhD Thesis
Part used: Root
Chemical Constituents: Significant phytochemicals include baptisine, baptisol, biochanin-A, genistein, pseudobaptigenin, and tectorigenin. (13)
Commonly known as wild indigo, Baptisia tinctoria is a shrubby perennial found growing throughout the United States . It thrives in dry, poor soils in woods, on hills, and in meadows. In New England the tender young shoots were eaten like asparagus and poke. However, like Poke, once the shoots have become tough they are cathartic. The name Baptisia comes from the Greek bapto or baptizo (to dye, to colour). The plant was previously used as a substitute for Indigo.
Baptisia was mentioned early in the 19 th century by Dr. James Thacher as a topical application in gangrenous and other ill-conditioned sores. It was specifically recommended when the sores were due to debilitated conditions of the body. The drug was little known or used until the Eclectic physicians adopted it. In the Western Medical Reformer (1846) Professor John King highly recommended it as an alterative and antiseptic. Early in the Eclectic movement the drug was used in diarrhoea with offensive discharges, typhoid fever, scarlatina maligna, and putrid sore throat. As the Eclectic movement progressed, so did its field of use.
Eclectic uses (1–10)
Purgative, emetic, stimulant, astringent, antiseptic, antizymotic, alterative, emmenagogue, powerfully stimulates glandular and nervous systems, increases glandular secretions, arouses liver function, increases biliary secretion, stimulates glandular secretion of gastrointestinal tract glands, corrects infections in the blood, fortifies intestinal glandular structures against the toxin of typhoid fever, cough and cold prevention.
“The indications will be found to be fullness of tissue, with dusky, leaden, purplish, or livid discoloration; tendency to ulceration and decay; sepsis; typhoid conditions; enfeebled capillary circulation; color of skin effaced by pressure and returns slowly; patient’s face swollen and bluish, appearing like one having been frozen, or long exposed to cold, fetid discharges, with atony, and gangrene.” (9)
Scarlatina, typhus, tendency to putrescency, low stage of typhus, typhoid fever, typhoid conditions in general, typhoid malarial fevers, malaria, tuberculosis, systemic tuberculosis, diphtheria with swollen, enfeebled mucous membranes with dusky or livid discoloration, blanched in appearance and a tendency to ulceration and sloughing, diphtheria, diptheric laryngitis, septic fever from retention of blood coagula or placenta, diseases of zymotic or septic origin, prune juice like discharges from the mucous membranes, phagedenic tendencies attending any chronic form of acute disease, malignant scarlet fever, variola, cerebro-spinal meningitis, remittent and continued fevers, exanthemata (small pox).
Sore mouth, sore throat, sore throat due to enfeebled capillary circulation and a tendency to ulceration, atony with a tendency to molecular death and decomposition, stomatitis ulcerata, enerum orris, cynanche maligna, sore throat of scarlatina maligna, sore mouth due to ulceration of the Peyer’s patches in typhoid fever, putrescency with a tendency to softening and breaking down of tissue in typhoid fever, typhoid dysentery, alvine, gangrenous discharges of typhoid fever, gangrenous rectal cellulitis, acute inflammatory conditions of the alimentary canal attended with depravity of tissue, sore throat of variola, malignant tonsillitis, diptheric laryngitis.
Fetid leucorrhea, malignant and fetid ulceration of the cervix uteri.
Atonic forms of rheumatism, atonic forms of acute rheumatism.
Fetid discharges from the ears, mania, dementia, melancholia, stupor associated with typhoid states.
Atonic forms of pneumonia, gangrenous pneumonia, pneumonia, coughs, gangrenous discharges of typhoid pneumonia, putrid ulceration of the nasal mucous membranes.
All species of ulcers, malignant ulcerous sore mouth, mercurial sore mouth, scrofulous opthalmia, syphilitic opthalmia, ulcers of erysipelas, gangrenous ulcers, sore nipples, tumours, inflammations tending to gangrene, tumours and swellings of the female breast resembling scirrhous.
The drug from Selye’s perspective
State of Resistance
The drug was used to raise resistance to streptococcal infection (scarlet fever), typhoid infection (low stage of typhus, typhoid conditions in general), diphtheria, ulcerative diphtheria, septic fever due to retained placenta, typho-malarial fever, malaria, variola, cerebrospinal meningitis, exanthemata (small pox), zymotic or septic disease, remittent and intermittent fevers, rheumatism, and tuberculosis.
State of Exhaustion
The drug was used when resistance failed and State of Exhaustion set it. State of Exhaustion caused by either chronic infection or severe acute infection. Signs of State of Exhaustion, treated by this drug, included atonic joint complaints, tendency to putrescency, phagedenic tendencies, enfeebled capillary circulation, tendency to ulceration, atony with a tendency to molecular death and decomposition (i.e. gangrenous rectitis, gangrenous pneumonia, ulcers, malignant ulcers, ulcerous sore mouth, scrofulous opthalmia, syphilitic opthalmia, gangrenous ulcers, etc.).
From Selye’s perspective, the drug augmented the GAS, which suggests it increased adaptation energy. Evidence to this effect includes the following. The Eclectics used Baptisia to prolong resistance to acute or chronic infection. Indeed, the drug was seen as one of the best for raising resistance against serious infection. It was used to treat patients who had lapsed into State of Exhaustion . The drug was used topically to speed healing of wounds and to prevent infection.
Brekhman’s Adaptogen Criterion
An adaptogen should be innocuous and cause minimal disorders in the physiological functions of an organism.
The drug is reported to be innocuous in both Eclectic and contemporary literature. (1–13)
The action of an adaptogen should be non-specific i.e. it should increase resistance to adverse influences of a wide range of factors of physical, chemical, and biological nature.
Clinically the drug was used to raise resistance to bacterial, viral, and protozoon infection. It was used to raise resistance to acute infections, and their sequelae.
Most specifically, it was used to raise resistance to the endotoxins produced by infecting organisms. When bacterial endotoxins were overwhelming the system, causing widespread tissue breakdown, the drug was used to raise resistance to this phenomena. (1–10)
“It probably serves to fortify the mucous membrane of the small intestine against the structural changes liable to be inducted by the effects of typhoid fever, and it is a good plan to administer it from beginning to end in this disease, as it is likely to shorten the duration of the affection and lessen the amount of breaking down, thus providing against probability of perforation.” (5) It was also used to raise resistance to chronic infections.
Experimentally, Baptisia has been shown to act as an immune stimulant, stimulating production and activity of both phagocytes and lymphocytes. (11,12.)
The drug contains compounds which have been shown to increase resistance to cancer, tumours, mutagenicity, ischemia, bacterial, viral (HIV, polio, herpes), and fungal infection, free radical damage, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, liver damage, and hypoglycaemia. (13)
An adaptogen may possess normalising action irrespective of the direction of the foregoing pathological changes.
Clinically the drug was used to normalise the physiological abnormalities associated with stage of exhaustion. Signs and symptoms of State of Exhaustion corrected with Baptisia tinctoria included temperature abnormalities, membrane permeability abnormalities, capillary abnormalities, ulceration of the skin and mucous membrane, and immune dysfunction. (1–10)
Experimentally, compounds found in the drug have been shown to normalise water retention, prostaglandin abnormalities, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, allergies, dermatitis, poor bile secretion, blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, inflammatory abnormalities, and blood sugar levels. (13)
The drug exhibits properties consistent with Brekhman’s definition of an adaptogen. The drug is innocuous; it raises resistance to a collection of stressors, and normalises a variety of physiological abnormalities.
What sets this tonic drug apart from others is its use in raising resistance to bacterial endotoxin intoxication. Clinically, it was used when the endotoxins produced by typhus, streptococcus, and diphtheria were threatening well being.
Potential clinical applications
The drug may have a role in raising resistance to infection. More specifically, a role in raising resistance to those infections associated with endotoxin intoxication. For a time, antibiotic resistance meant that infections were cleared before such intoxications became a problem. However, with antibiotic resistance and biological warfare a current reality, bacterial endotoxin intoxication may again become a pressing health concern. Baptisia may have a role in conditions such as these.
• Baptisia tinctoria and its effects on the GAS. The drug should be tested out in the animal model to determine its specific effects on the GAS.
• Baptisia tinctoria and its effect on bacterial infection. The drug was used to raise resistance to bacterial infection. Experiments have demonstrated it acts as an immune stimulant and that it contains both polysaccharides and glycoproteins with immune stimulatory action. Its role in increasing resistance to bacterial infection should be examined.
• Baptisia tinctoria and cancer. Clinically, the drug was used to stimulate immune activity. Experimentally, it has demonstrated immune stimulating activity. In addition, the drug contains compounds with anticancer activity. These facts suggest its role in raising resistance to cancer should be examined.
• Baptisia tinctoria and Helicobacter pylori infection. Helicobacter pylori are known to cause certain types of ulcers and are currently treated with antibiotics. Despite treatment, some patients develop relapses of the infection. Baptisia tinctoria, having been used clinically to raise resistance to digestive infections, should be examined for its role in raising resistance to this infection.
• Baptisia tinctoria and bacterial endotoxin poisoning. Clinically, the drug was used to raise resistance to bacterial endotoxin poisoning. In the contemporary age, organisms that produce dangerous endotoxins (botulism, anthracites, etc.) are likely to be used in a terrorist attack. Its role in increasing resistance to this specific type of infection should be examined.
The drug is abundant in the wild and is readily grown.
• King, John. The American Eclectic Dispensatory. Moore , Wilstach, and Keys. Cincinnati . 1854. P. 272.
• Scudder, J. M. Specific Medication and Specific Medicines. Revised. Fifth Edition. Wilstach, Baldwin and Company. Cincinnati . 1874. P. 92.
• Kilgour, JC. Symptomatic Indications Verified by the Author. Published by the Author. New Richmond , Ohio . 1887. P. 24.
• Watkins, Lyman. An Eclectic Compendium of the Practice of Medicine. John M.Scudder’s Sons. Cincinnati . 1895. P. 426.
• Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practice of Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Webster Medical Publishing Company. Oakland . Second Edition. 1898. (Antiseptics) (Digestive). P. 60, 126, 331.
• Felter, Harvey. Syllabus of Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Compiled from notes taken from the lectures of F.J.Locke. Edited with pharmacological additions by H.W.Felter. Second edition, with appendix. Scudder Brothers Company. Cincinnati.1901. P. 402.
• Peterson, F.J. Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Los Olivos , California . 1905. P. 54.
• Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati . 1898. P. 1105.
• Fyfe, John William. Pocket Essentials of Modern Materia Medica and Therapeutics. The Scudder Brothers Company. 1911. P. 58.
• Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy. Ellingwood’s Therapeutist. Chicago . 1919. P. 367.
• Beuscher N et al. Immunologically active glycoproteins of Baptisia tinctoria. Planta Medica 1989 Aug; 55(4): 358–63. From PubMed abstracts.
• Wagner H et al. Immunostimulating action of polysaccharides (heteroglycans) from higher plants. Arzneimittelforschung 1985; 35(7): 1069–75. From PubMed abstracts.
• Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service. USDA.
• Lloyd Brothers. Dosebook of Specific Medicines. Lloyd Brothers. Cincinatti. 1930.
Notes from the Eclectic Physician’s
1854: JOHN KING
Properties and Uses – Purgative, emetic, stimulant, astingent and antiseptic. Principally used on account of its antiseptic virtues. a decoction of the bark of the root is an excellent application as a wash or gargle to all species of ulcers, as malignant ulcerous sore mouth and throat, mercurial sore mouth, scrofulous, or syphilitic opthalmia, erysipelatous ulcers, gangrenous ulcers, sore nipples, etc; or it may be made into an ointment for external application. As a poultice or fomentation it is highly useful in all ulcers, tumors, or inflammations tending to gangrene. In fetid leucorrhea, fetid discharges from the ears, etc, the decoction will be found efficient, if injected into the parts with a suitable syringe. The leaves applied in fomentations, have discussed tumors and swelling of the female breat, resembling scirrhus.
Internally, it may be sued in the form of decoction or syrup, in scarlatina, typhus, and all cases where there is a tendency to putrescency. It act powerfully on the glandular and nervous systems, increasing all the glandular secretions, and arousing the liver especially to a normal action; and is very efficient in the atonic varieties of acute rheumatism and pneumonia.
I make much use of the dried alcoholic extract of the root bark in the low stage of typhoid, and typhoid conditions generally in conjunction with leptandrin, and have used it extensively for the last ten years, and with very excellent effect in all diseases of a tuberculous characer. I take pleasure in introducing to the profession, the active principle of this plant. Baptisin, prepared similarly to Alertin, or it may be precipitated by an acid, or by acetate of lead from the saturated tincture; I have found it to exert a powerful influence on the glandular system in doses of from one-fourth to one half a grain; if given in large does it produces a very disagreeable prostration of the whole system. It is also an excellent application to gangrenous and erysipelatous ulcerations. malignant and fetid ulcerations of the cervic uteri. Combined with leptandrin, podophyllin, quinia, or cimicifugin, in diseases where these agents are indicated, it will be found valuable in typhus and typhoid fevers, and all diseases of a typhoid character, when administered internally.
Baptisin is a of a yellowish-brown color, a strong odor, similar to that of the powdered root, and of a rather bitter, not very disagreeable taste, persistent in its character. It is insoluble in water, ether, the mineral acids, acetic acid, also in volatile oils, oil of turpentine, and chloroform, floating on the surface of this last. Ammonia added to it in water, causes it to be nearly completely dissolved, and gives a dense, light bluish-yellow solution. Liquor potassa, likewise causes it to imperfectly dissolve in water, giving a dark-yellow precipitate, and light yellow saponaceous solution. It is partially soluble in alcohol, and on the addition of ammonia becomes entirely dissolved, but gives a precipiate on standing. Sulphuric acid turns it a dark yellowish-red color; nitric acid yellowish-green; and muriatric acid affects no change in its color.
Dose, of the decoction, made by boiling one ounce of the powdered bark in two pints of water, down to one pint – one tablespoonful every 1, 2, or 4 hours as required – if it purge, produce nausea, or a disagreeable relaxation of the nervous system, lessen the dose, or omit its use entirely, for a time; of the hydro-alcoholic extract, I to 4 grains every 2, 3 or 4 hours.
Preparation – The Baptisia has been principally employed in infusion, and I am well satisfied that this is the best preparation for general use. Still, as it wil be inconvenient in many cases, I would recommend in addition, a tincture by percolation, using 3viij. of the ground bark to Oj. of Alcohol of 76degree. Of an infusion of 3j. to 3iv. of boiling water, the dose is one teaspoonful; of the tincture as named, 3ij. to Water, eiv., dise, a teaspoonful.
With some of the Baptisia has been a favorite remedy for sore mouth and sore throat, using it locally, and for this purpose it is one of the most valuable remedies we have. I judge, however, that if you should ask, in what particular variety of sore mouth or throat it was found best? you would have difficulty in getting an answer.
It is in those cases in which there is enfeebled capillary circulation, and tendencuy to ulceration, that it is specific. That is, the condition is one of atony, with tendency to nolecular death and decomposition. The remedy is, therefore, stimulant and antiseptic.
It may be employed with the greatest certainty in any form of sore mouth or throat presenting the characteristics named. Especially in stomatitis ulcerata, or eanerum orris, in cynanche maligna, and in the sore throat of scarlatina maligna; but it is not only a good local applicaton in these cases, but a most valuable internal remedy.
It is specific to the condition upon which such sore mouth and throat is based, whether it is manifested in this way, or in ulceration of Peyer’s follicles in typhoid fever. Thus I have employed it with very marked advantage, in all cases showing putresceney, and tendency to softening and breaking down of tissue.
It is not a remedy for acute infalmmation, whether erythematous or deep seated, and in ordinary stomatitis or cynanche, it is not a remedy. In diphtheria presenting acute inflammatory symptoms, it is worse than useless. But in diphtheria with swollen and enfeebled mucous membranes, dusky or livid discoloration, or blanched appearance, with tendency to ulceration and sloughing, there is no remedy more certain.
I have successfully employed the Baptisia in typhoid dysenter, as have others. But as will be seen, this is but the condition named above for its specific action. So long as there is an acute inflammation, with stools of blood or pure mucus, this is not beneficial, but when the discharges resemble “prune juice, the washing of meat, or are muco-purulent,” with general symptoms of an analogous character, then it becomes one of our most certain remedies.
1887: J.C. Kilgour, M.D.:
The symptoms demanding this remedy are a large tongue, very thick in the center with a solid smooth grey colored coating except near the sides where the organ is bare and has a dark purple color. The breath is very offensive, with a sickening odour as of spoiled meat. The face generally has a dark sombre tint. This condition is often seen in Pneumonia, Typhoid Fever, and Septic Fever from decomposition of blood coagula or fragments of retained placenta after abortion or miscarriage, and in fact any disease of Septic or Zymotie origin my present these symptoms. The remedy is doubly indicated if there is looseness of the bowels with the above train of symptoms. The Baptisia patient will most always lie constantly on his back. Another very characteristic indication for it is that the patient imagines himself in pieces and tosses about to get himself together.’ (Hughes.) The temperature ranges high, with a slight depression in the early morning. The pulse is full and soft. The remedy should be given by mixing 10 drops with four ounces of water and administering a teaspoonful every hour till the temperature is reduced to the normal degree.
spmed: tongue and mucous membrane full and purplish in color, papillae enlarged, moist and pasty fur on tongue, breath sweat, sickening and offensive, face and lips dusky or purple as though exposed to cold, pulse frequent and oppressed. ten drops to one ounce in four ounces of water;teaspoonful every two hours.
1898; Webster; (Antiseptics, Antizymotics, Correctives)
Wild indigo is one of the most valuable dynamical antiseptics or antizymotics known. It is not chemically an antiseptic, but its influence, when introduced into the circulation in certain depraved states of the fluids, is most happily corrective.
In Eastern Ohio thirty years or more ago, a severe and fatal epidemic of typhoid fever raged for several years, and the most successful practitioner in the whole country was an Eclectic, Dr. B-, located in Lordstown, a little village where I, years afterward, began the practice of medicine. Dr. B-’s fame for his success in this epidemic still lingered about the place, though he had long before departed to pastures new. But during the visitation of the fever he had ridden many miles every way over the territory of neighboring physicians, and been almost universally successful where others were losing nearly all their cases. One of his old patrons becoming in time a patient of the writer, volunteered upon one occasion to show him where the plant grew with which Dr. B- cured so many cases of typhoid fever; for, said the informant, I have dug the root for him many a time. Accordingly the spot was visited and the successful herb found to be, as the writer expected in advance baptisia tinctoria. A simple infusion of the root of this plant constituted the sum total of the successful treatment, combined with good nursing.
I have believed for years, and have taught, that baptisia specifically influences the intestinal glandular structures in such a manner as to fortify them against the devitalizing influence of the changes liable to be wrought there by typhoid fever; but outside this influence there is the best of evidence that it is a stimulating corrector of septic changes in the blood in many cases. Epidemic influences are corrected by it so that even coughs may find it the promptest curative when prescribed during the season that it is the remedy, though it can hardly be considered a pulmonary agent as a rule.
Outside of epidemic influences, which may or may not depend upon depravation of the fluids, the remedy has a valuable application in the treatment of gangrenous tendencies. Prune-juice discharges from the mucous membranes have been designated by Scudder as indicating it then. These may be in the form of expectoration in typhoid pneumonia, or in the alvine evacuations in typhoid dysentery. They are the effect of putrescent tendencies – breaking down of tissue from gangrenous states, and find the best corrective baptisia.
Malignant sore throat manifesting such tendency, or sore mouth, in fact, phagedenic tendencies accompanying any form of acute disease would suggest the remedy.
In the May number of the ninth volume of the California Medical Journal is a report made by myself, of a severe case of ischio-rectal cellulitis complicated with gangrene and severe systemic poisoning, successfully treated. In this treatment baptisia figured prominently throughout – in fact, with rhus tox, constituted the principal medication.
Form for Administration . – The specific medicine, as prepared by Lloyd Brothers, of Cincinnati .
Dose . – Add from ten to twenty drops four ounces of water, and give a teaspoonful every hour.
1898: Webster: (digestive)
Baptisia is an excellent remedy for all acute inflammatory conditions of the alimentary canal attended by depravity of tissue as the result, and showing a tendency to breaking down of structure. The characteristic indications for its use are purplish or dusky discoloration of the mucous membrane, when this can be seen, as in the throat, with sloughy appearance and prune-juice exudation.
Its principal use will be in the treatment of malignant sore throat, typhoid dysentery and typhoid fever. Where-ever there are marked evidences of prostration of the nervous system attending such cases, with tendency to drowsiness and stupor, with the local condition suggested by prune-juice discharges and purplish or dusky mucous membranes, with fetor of the breath or secretions, baptisia should be the first remedy prescribed and should be the leading remedy throughout the treatment.
It probably serves to fortify the mucous membrane of the small intestine against the structural changes liable to be inducted by the effects of typhoid fever, and it is a good plan to administer it from beginning to end in this disease, as it is likely to shorten the duration of the affection and lessen the amount of breaking down, thus providing against probability of perforation.
It is said to possess marked sedative properties and this might be considered an additional argument in favor of its use here, especially as it combines with this property that of a blood corrective-antiseptic or antizymotic.
It is particularly valuable as a remedy in typhoid affections which occur epidemically. A few remedies seem adapted to the correction of epidemic influences, and baptisia is one of the leading agents of this class. It has proven one of the best agents in the materia medica in many epidemics of typhoid dysentery, as well as of typhoid fever.
Form for Administration -The specific medicine.
Dose- Add from ten to fifteen drops to half a glass (four ounces) of water and give a teaspoonful every one or two hours.
1901 : Harvey W Felter (Antiseptics)
BOTANICAL ORIGIN- The root of Baptisia tinctoria , Robert Brown; Nat. Ord., Leguminosae . North America .
This is a native plant found generally throughout the United States . It flowers in July and August and later bears a small pod. The bark of the root is the part used, and may be prepared with alcohol or water. It is antiseptic, stimulant, and astringent. In large doses it is emetic and cathartic. It possesses some alternative properties. Baptisia is valuable as an antiseptic wash. In ulceration of the mucous surfaces, with a tendency to putrescence, use the infusion locally several times a day.
It is a good remedy in malignant scarlet fever for its influence on the throat and also on the general system. Add from ten to twenty drops to four ounces of water; give teaspoonful doses. It is a good remedy for typhoid fever, having a great controlling influence over the poison of the disease. Use it when there is a tendency to putrescence, offensive breath, and fetid evacuations. Often failures result from the administration of this drug, and such failures are generally due to the fact that the remedy is not properly administered. If any benefit is to be expected from Baptisia it must be given very early.
Use Baptisia in dysentery with dark, prune-juice discharges. In diptheria it is a good drug when there is swellingof the mucous membrane and tendency to sloughing. Use it both locally and internally. It makes a good wash in ulcerative stomatitis or aphthous sore mouth. In ulceration of the cervix or or uteri, attended with a leucorrhoeal discharge, its influence is good. Use it in all cases where there is enfeebled capillary circulation, the tissues showing a tendency to slough. No remedy acts more specifically on Peyer’s glands. Of the specific use from ten drops to one drachm to four ounces of water; teaspoonful doses. Of the infusion, made of the strength of one ounce to one pint of boiling water, any convenient amount, as a wineglassful, may be given.
It is antiseptic, stimulant, and astringent. In large doses it is emetic and cathartic. It posses some alterative properties. Baptisia is valuable as an antiseptic wash. In ulceration of he mucous surfaces, with a tendency to putrescence, use the infusion locally several times a day.
It is a good remedy in malignant scarlet fever for its influence of the throat and also on the general system. Add from ten to twenty drops to four ounces of water: give teaspoonful doses. It is a good remedy in typhoid fever, having a great controlling influence over the poison of the disease. Use it when there is a tendency to putrescence, offensive breath, and fetid evacuations. Often failures result from the administration of this drug, and such failures are fenerally due to the fact that the remedy is not properly administered. If any benefit is to be expected from baptisia, it must be given early.
Use baptisia in dysentery with dark, prune juice dishcarges. In diptheria it is a good drug when there is swelling of the mucous membranes and tendency to sloughing. Use it both locally and internally. It makes a good wash in ulcerative stomatitis or aphthous sore mouth. In ulceration of the cervix or os uteri, attended with leucorheal discharges, its influence is good. Use it in all cases where there is enfeebled capillary circulation, the tissues showing a tendency to slough. No remedy acts more specifically on peyers glands. Of the specific use from ten drops to one drachm to four ounces of water;teaspoonful doses. of the infusion, made of the strength of one ounce to one pint of boiling water, any conveniant amount, as a wineglassful, may be given.
Part used: Part,root and leaves.
Properties: Antiseptic, stimulant, astringent.
Physiological action: Very large doses will cause severe purging and vomiting. Respiration and reflexes are over stimulated, resulting in asphyxia from paralysis of the reflex centers and death.
Indications: Dusky, purplish full face, dark or purplis tongue, lips and mucous membrane.
Use: We think of it in thyphoid fever and other diseases showing typhoidal symptoms. In delirium of thyphoid or of thyphoid nature; diptheria, diptherietic larungitis; dysenetery with offensive breath and fetid discharge of a darke prune juice character. Useful in tonsilitis if indicated. As baptisia is not a very powerful antiseptic it will be found to be of great advantage in most cases to associate it with echinaceae.
1909: Felter and Lloyd
History – Wild indigo is an indigenous perennial, having the appearance of a shrub, growing all over the United States in woods and on hillsides. It thrives best on dry, poor soils, being seldom met with an alluviums and rich, loamy soils. In New England the young shoots, like asparagus and poke, are eaten for greens, and like the latter, if too far advanced in growth, act as a drastic cathartic. The plant blooms from June to September, and yields a blue dye, not unlike, but inferior, to indigo. Baptisia is familiarly known as wild indigo, indigo weed, horsefly weed, yellow broom, clower broom, rattle bush, an dyellow indigo. The name baptisia is derived from the Greek bapto or Baptizo (to dye, to color), the plant having formerly been used as a coloring agent.
Owing to the great number of antiseptic remedies that have been presented to the profession within the last few years, wild indigo, the favorite drug of this class with the early Eclectics, has fallen into unmerited neglect. Baptisia was mentioned early in the present century by Dr. James Thacher, in his Dispensatory, as a local remedy for gangrenous an dother ill-conditioned sores due to debilitated conditions of the body. Still it received but little attention until the “Eclectic fathers,” in their studies of indigenous plants, pronounced it a valuable drug. In the Western Medical Reformer for 1846, Prof. John King highly recommended it for its alterative and antiseptic properties. Prior to this (1837) it was used by Eclectic physicians in diarrhoea with offensive discharges and typhus (?) fever, scarlatina maligna and putrid sore throat.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage – To the taste baptisia is somewhat bitter, subacrid, and subastringent. It increases the secretions of the glandular apparatus of the gastro-intestinal tract. Large doses are dangerous, acting as an emeto-cathartic. Sometimes this action is so violent as to produce gastro-enteritis. Large doss have caused an excessive flow of viscid saliva, ulceration of the pharynx, insomnia, restlessness, and ocular disturbances. It produces soft, mushy stools, accompanied by a sensation of soreness of the whole body. Small doses act as a laxative. Baptisia is an active and efficient hepatic, stimulating the liver and causing an increased biliary secretion. It loses much of its activity when dried or boiled. It is asserted that baptitoxine increases the respiratory movements, and in toxic doses kills by asphyxiation through paralysis of the respiratory centers.
Therapeutically baptisia is indicated in pathological conditions characterized by feeble vitality with tendency to disintegration of tissue. The keynote of this drug is sepsis, accompanied by dark or purplish discoloration of skin an dmucous membranes. The appearance of the face is swollen, dusky, and expressionless – has the appearance of having been long exposed to cold. It is not the remedy for acute disease characterized by great activity, but rather for cases showing marked capillary feebleness, with tendency to ulceration – a condition of atony.
Baptisia was first employed as a dressing for all kinds of ulcerations, malignant ulcers, sore mouth, mercurial or otherwise, especially when accompanied by foul breath, loss of appetite, and general gastric disturbance. Sore nipples, erysipelatous, scrofulous, and syphilitic ulcers were treated with a decoction of wild indigo. The greater the tendency to mortification, the more highly the remedy was valued. It controls irritable an dpainful ulcers, lessens their fould discharges, and overcomes putrescency.
Baptisia is of marked value in many forms of malignant sore throat. The dusky, leaden-colored, faucial ulcerations of scarlatina and tonsilitis point to this drug. Diphtheria, with swollen and enfeebled mucous membranes, with free secretion, appearing either dusky or blanched, and accompanied by sloughing, calls for baptisia. While the infusion is undoubtedly the best preparation of baptisia, it can not always be employed, for the dried plant is almost worthless, and the fresh herb not always easily procured. We depend upon specific baptisia, giving it internally in small doses, and applying it locally, diluted with water. Putrid ulcerations of the mucous membranes of the nasal passages are benefited by baptisia. The offensive breath, with turgidity of tissue, will indicate the drug.
All typhoid conditions, marked by the dusky appearance of skin an dmucous tissues, are promptly benefited by this agent. Typhoid dysentery, with stools like “prune juice or meat washings,” or dark, tar-like, fetid discharges, mixed with decomposed blood, yields to its kindly action. Typhoid fever with persistent diarrhoea, typhoid pneumonia, typho-malarial fever, as well as common continued fever, with the usual indications, call for bapitsia. It is said to be valuable in variola and cerebro-spinal meningitis. In the sore throat of variola it is of great utility. Septicaemia following retained gragments of placenta after abortion has been promptly checked by this drug. In fetid leucorrhoea an dulceration of cervix uteri, especially with muco-purulent discharges, a douche of baptisia will be found beneficial. It acts as a gentle excitant and local tonic to the vessels implicated in the ulcerative process. It has been employed with good results in atonic varieties of acute rheumatism. In fetid discharges from the ears, etc., the infusion will be found efficient, if injected into the parts with a suitable syringe. The leaves applied in fomentations have discussed tumors and swelling of the female breast, resembling scirrhus. Webster suggests baptisia in mania, dementia, and melancholia, with stupor, in conditions characterized by drowsiness in typhoid states. Baptisia is an old and tried remedy, but will still repay further study.
Dose of the decoction – made by boiling 1 ounce of the powdered bark in 2 pints of water down to 1 pint – 1 tablespoonful every 1, 2 or 4 huors, as required; if it purge, produce nausea, or a disagreeable relaxation of the nervous system lessen the dose, or omit its use entirely for a time; of the alcoholic extract 1 to 4 grains every 2, 3 or 4 hours. The usual form of administration is as follows: R Specific baptisia, gtt. xx; aqua, fl3iv. Mix. Sig.: Teaspoonful every 1/2 or 1 hour. Indicated remedies may be given with or alternated with the above. Locally an infusion of the recent plant; or, R Specific baptisia, fl3ss; aqua, Oi. Mix. Sig.: Apply 2 or 3 times daily. An ointment: R Specific baptisia, fl3i; vaseline, 3i.
Mix. Sig.: Apply locally to inflamed tumors, chancres, buboes, and ulcers.
Specific Indications an dUses – The indications will be found to be fulness of tissue, with dusky, leaden, purplish, or livid discoloration; tendency to ulceration and decay; sepsis; typhoid conditions; enfeebled capillary circulation; color of skin effaced by pressure and returns slowly; patient’s face swollen and bluish, appearing like one having been frozen, or long exposed to cold, fetid discharges, with atony, and gangrene.
Dusky coloration of th tongue and mucous membrane, full and purplish face, like one who has bee long exposed to severe cold, in typhoid conditions with a continued mosit, pasty coating on a tongue of natural redness, slick tongue, looking much like raw beef, stools looking like prune juice or meat washings, dark, tar like fetid discharges, mixed with decoposed blood, livid or blanched mucous membranes, putrid secretions.
Indications for baptisia are frequently seen in continued and remittent fevers, scarlet fever, dysentery, diarhea, and in many other abnormal conditions. It is one of our most useful remedies.
Baptisia is antiseptic, tonic, stimulant, alterative, and emmenagogue. In very large doses it is cathartic and emetic.
Synonym – Wild Indigo.
Constituents – Baptisin (a bitter glucoside), baptin (a purgative glucoside), baptitoxin (a poisonous alkaloid), resin, fixed oil.
Preparations – Extractum Baptisiae Alcoholicum, Alcoholic Extract of Baptisia. Dose, from one to four grains.
Specific Medicine Baptisia. Dose, from one-fourth to ten minims.
Physiological Action – When fresh and taken in a sufficiently large dose Baptisia causes violent vomiting and purging. In poisonous doses there is an acceleration of respiration and reflex activity followed by death from central paralytic asphyxia.
The agent has a bitter, somewhat acrid and astringent taste. In large doses it is somewhat violent in its influence upon the gastro-intestinal tract, producing increased intestinal secretion of the entire glandular apparatus. It especially influences the liver. In overdoses it is emetic and cathartic, in some cases causing an excessive flow of viscid saliva. It is laxative in small doses, producing soft, unformed stools. It increases the biliary secretion, sometimes most excessively. It exercises its influence more satisfactorily in asthenic fevers than in sthenic fevers.
Specific Symptomatology – It is especially indicated where, with suppressed secretion and marked evidence of sepsis, there is ulceration of the mucous membranes of the mouth, or intestinal ulceration.
In low fevers with dark or purplish mucous membranes of the mouth, tongue dry and thin, with a dark coating, face dusky and suffused, circulation feeble.
Fyfe gives as its specific indications those much the same as were given in the previous writing on this remedy – dusky discoloration of the tongue and mucous membranes; full and purplish face, like one who has long been exposed to the cold; protracted typhoid conditions, with continued moist, pasty coating on the tongue; sleek tongue, looking much like raw beef; dark, tar-like fetid discharges from the bowels – prune juice discharges; general putrid secretions.
Dr. Fearn called attention tot he indication of a dusky, purplish color often distinctly marked in typhoid patients upon one side of the face.
Ten or fifteen drops of baptisia in water during twenty-four hours has corrected that condition quickly for him, improving the patient.
The indications for baptisia are often present in infectious exanthema such as smallpox or scarlet fever.
These indications resemble those also which call for acids. Selections should be made between hydrochloric, nitric, hydrobromic, or hydriodic acid, to be given in conjunction as required.
Therapy – With the above indications the agent has been widely used for many years by our practitioners in the treatment of typhoid conditions, and has established its position as an important remedy.
It has an apparent dynamic influence upon the glandular structure of the intestinal canal, directly antagonizing disease influences here, and re-enforcing the character of the blood, prevents the destruction of the red corpuscles, and carries off waste material. In malignant tonsilitis and diphtheritic laryngitis it has been long used with excellent results. In phagedena with gangrenous tendencies wherever located, it has exercised a markedly curative influence.
It is useful in dysentery where there is offensive breath and fetid discharge of a dark prune juice character.
In scarlet fever, with its specific indications, it is a useful remedy. Large doses are not necessary but it should be employed early and the use persisted in.
In the treatment of low fevers this agent is said to exercise marked sedative power over the fever. Homeopathic physicians prescribe it to control the fever. There is no doubt that in proportion as the cause of the fever is destroyed, the temperature abates. Any inhibitory influence directly upon the heart and circulation cannot be attributed to it, yet it soothes cerebral excitement to a certain extent, having a beneficial influence upon delirium.
It is advised in all diseases of the glandular system, and in hepatic derangements especially, with symptoms of this character. In the various forms of stomatitis, putrid sore throat and scarlatina maligna; in inflammation of the bowels, where there is a tendency to typhoid conditions, especially ulcerative inflammation of any of the internal organs; in dyspepsia, with great irritability and offensive decomposition of food; in scrofula an din cutaneous infections, the agent should be long continued. In the long protracted and sluggish forms of fevers, with great depression of the vital forces; in ulceration of the nipples or mammary glands, or of the cervix uteri, it is spoken highly of.
There is dynamic influence exercised by baptisia upon the entire glandular structure of the body when adynamia is present, more particularly upon the intestinal glands. This influence directly reinforces the blood in its effort to throw off the disease, and restore normal conditions. It is because of this influence that it is of value in typhoid.
Dr. Hainey says that in whatever condition the patient complains of difficult respiration, where the lungs feel compressed, where the patient cannot lie down because of fear of suffocation, if he sleeps, he has found baptisia in small doses every hour positively curative. He got this suggestion from a homeopathist, and he has proven it to be reliable.
Others have found typhoid cases with the characteristic symptoms, where the brain seems to be overwhelmed with toxines, where the patient has times where the breathing is rapid or panting, alternated with slow respiration, in which this remedy is very prompt. The condition may also be present in diphthria, an din the so-called black measles or other highly infectious disorders.
Fyfe advises it in all diseases of the glandular system, and in hepatic derangements especially with symptoms of this character, in the various forms of stomatitis, putrid sore throat and scarlatina maligna, and in inflammation of the bowels, where there is a tendency to typhoid conditions, especially ulcerative inflammation of any of the internal organs. In dyspepsia, with great irritability and offensive decomposition of food. In scrofula and in cutaneous infections the agent should be long continued. In the long protracted and sluggish forms of fevers, with great depression of the vital forces, in ulceration of the nipples or mammary glands, or of the cervix uteris, it is spoken highly of.
It will thus be seen that the agent is properly classed among th ealteratives, as its alterative properties stand first, but its pronounced tonic influence will be quickly observed. It overcomes weariness, “that tired feeling,” produces a sense of vigor and general improved tone and well-being.
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