This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
This must vary, according to the cause of the disease. If it arises from worms, the treatment recommended under that head must be employed: if from teething, the gums must be lanced, the bowels kept open by gentle purgatives, such as Cathartics, No. 2 or 3, according to the age of the patient, and the feet should be bathed in hot water. When the fits arise from disordered digestion, the remedies recommended under the head of Dyspepsia must be used.
If Epilepsy appears to proceed from the stoppage of any discharge, in particular, such as bleeding Piles, leeches should be applied to the fundament, followed by warm fomentations. When it arises from scanty or painful menstruation, and the fits take place at the regular monthly periods, the patient should take a warm bath daily, fomentations should be applied to the bottom of the belly, and the following Pills may be taken, two, three times a day:-
Take Powdered Gum Myrrh..................30 Grains.
Sulphate of Iron.................................20 Grains.
Carbonate of Soda...............................15 Grains.
Compound Extract of Colocynth............20 Grains.
Oil of Carraway..................................10 Drops.
Mix, and divide into twenty-four pills.
When Epilepsy attacks children of a costive habit, and seems to be caused merely by a foulness of the bowels, active purgatives should be given; the Cathartic Powders, No. 2 and 3, may be given.
It is a well known fact, that in some instances the disease has been found to continue from custom alone, after the original cause had long ceased to act. In such cases our endeavours should be exerted to make nature discontinue this custom. When an attack can be foreseen, no medicine, perhaps, will be more likely to prevent an Epileptic fit than an emetic, given about an hour before the fit is expected.
If the predisposition to the disease has arisen from a plethoric state of the system, or from an over-fulness of the blood-vessels of the head, which may be known by the patient complaining of headache, giddiness or stupor, during the interval between the fits; and where the disease is recent, and occurs in adults, or young persons of a robust habit, this must be attacked by bleeding from the arm, and it may often be necessary to repeat the operation before the tendency to accumulate blood about the head can be thoroughly subdued. If the patient is advanced in life, or of a delicate constitution, instead of bleeding from the arm, blood may be taken from the back of the neck or between the shoulders, by cupping; which may be followed by a blister. For children, the best way of abstracting blood will be, by applying leeches to the temples. In some cases, much benefit has been derived from inserting a seton in the neck.
When the predisposition to Epilepsy is owing to a state of debility, as is sometimes the case, we must endeavour to prevent the attacks by improving the state of the system, and this must be accomplished by good living; by proper air and exercise; and by taking Tonics and Antispasmodics. The following will be found useful:
Tincture of Cascarilla.........................One Ounce.
Ammoniated Tincture of Valerian.........One Ounce.
Tincture of Henbane..........................Half an Ounce.
Water sufficient to make.....................Half a Pint.
Take a tablespoonful three times a day.
Two of the Cathartic and Tonic Pills, No. 5, may be taken every night at bedtime.
The Mistletoe was formerly much used in the cure of Epilepsy, but it has gone out of favour; being considered now of little value. In cases where tonics are advisable, the Citrate of Iron and Quinine, in 5 grain doses (for an adult, and in proportion for younger ages) will be of service; or if the patient is a female, she may take the Compound Mixture of Iron, (Mist. Ferri. Comp. P.L.)
The Salts of Copper; the Oxyde and Sulphate of Zinc; Arsenic and Mercury have all been used in the treatment of Epilepsy.
The Nitrate of Silver, (Lunar Caustic,) has been found to be one of the most valuable medicines in the treatment of Epilepsy, even when the disease has been of many years standing, and had resisted the powers of other medicines. It may be given in doses of a quarter of a grain, (for an adult), three times a day. The dose may be increased, by degrees, to a grain or a grain and a half. It should be taken in the form of a pill, mixed with crumb of bread.
In some of the worst cases of Epilepsy, in which the fits were long and violent, as well as frequent throughout the course of the day, electricity has been found to render them weaker, and to reduce their number very materially in a short space of time.
The diet in Epilepsy should consist of such things as are light, nutritive, and easy of digestion, taking care to avoid whatever is apt to prove flatulent. Animal food should be taken sparingly, and spirituous and fermented liquors altogether abstained from. The hair should be cut short, and cold applications applied to the head whenever the skin feels hot. The patient should keep himself as cheerful and tranquil as possible, carefully guarding against all violent passions; and he should take care never to put himself in a hazardous situation, lest a fit should happen to attack him at that time. He should take gentle exercise, and go to bed early,
When the fit is present, care must be taken to prevent his bruising himself in his struggles, and to see that he does not get his tongue between his teeth. .Rubbing the nose, temples, and pit of the stomach with Ether, may possibly help to shorten the fit.
In giving Nitrate of Silver for Epilepsy, we must watch the operation of the medicine narrowly, and, if possible, stop in-time; but it sometimes happens that, with all our care, the mischief is not discovered till too late. Therefore the patient, or the friends of the patient, should always be warned of the possible consequences.
The fact that Nitrate of Silver would discolour the skin appears to have been first noticed by Swediaur, who relates the case of a Protestant clergyman, near Hamburg, who took, by the advice of an empiric, some Nitrate of Silver for an obstruction of the liver. After continuing the use of it for some months, his skin began to change gradually, until at last it became almost black. This colour continued for several years, and then began, as is stated, to diminish. Dr. Albers, a distinguished physician of Bremen, gave the following account of a case which fell under his notice. A woman, aged thirty years, who was attacked with Epileptic Fits, was put upon the use of Nitrate of Silver, in the form of pills, night and morning. By the use of this remedy the disease was completely arrested; but, without the knowledge of Dr. Albers, she continued the use of the pills for nearly three years and a half. Towards the end of the last year, a change of complexion became observable, and particularly in the face. The tinge was at first bluish, it then grew gradually darker, till at last it became, as it remained afterwards, quite dark and almost black. The blue colour spread all over the body. It was most intense on the face, on the fore part of the neck, as far as the middle of the bosom, and on the hands and nails. Various remedies were used to remove the discoloration, but all to no purpose, and at the time when Dr. Albers gives the account, it had remained in this state for ten years.
Dr. Roget, of London, relates another case of a similar kind. The subject was a lady, twenty-five years of age, who was attacked with Epilepsy, and to whom the remedy was given for four or five months. In this case the blackness did not show itself until some months after the discontinuance of the remedy.. The tongue and fauces first became black, as if stained with ink, and gradually the whole skin became affected. The patient was cured of the Epilepsy; but, after the lapse of twelve years, the discoloration remained unchanged. In 1818, Dr. Badeley published a case in which a young man was cured of Epilepsy by the Nitrate of Silver, taken in doses of from a grain to a grain and a half, three times daily for a year and half. In this case, besides the skin, the roof of the mouth, the inside of the cheeks, and back part of the tongue were discolored. Dr. Vetch relates a case of a lady, who, after a long continued use of this article, became discolored in the upper part of the body, while the colour of the lower was unchanged; and, in both eyes, the iris, which was naturally of a black or deep brown, was changed to a light blue colour.
Similar cases have also been reported by Dr. Paris; by Bertini, of Geneva; by Bayer, Lelut, Wedemyer, and numerous others. Where the, consequences are so serious, particularly to females, every other remedy should be tried first, and the Nitrate of Silver only resorted to when everything else has failed.
Bromide of Ammonia has lately been much recommended in cases of Epilepsy; it may be taken in doses of 2 to 10 grains, three times a day, according to the age of the patient.