This section is from the book "A Practitioner's Handbook Of Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Thos. S. Blair. Also available from Amazon: A Practitioner's handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
Pulsatilla, Wind Flower. This very valuable drug has been badly used by the regulars.
For many years it has been very highly esteemed by the sectarians, who established it in popular favor. It finally became official, but the tincture was made of the dried herb. although it was well known that its active principle, anemonin, is very volatile and is quickly dissipated by drying. Frankly, a tincture of hay or cornhusks would exercise about the same influence as did most of the tincture of pulsatilla. Naturally, it disappointed the profession, since it was usually almost inert. Since it is no longer official, and individual initiative, rather than official standards, is followed, some houses are making fairly active preparations of the drug. On the other hand, physicians who were sent the mother tincture by wholesalers who were out of stock and sent to a homeopathic pharmacy for a supply, gave the drug, very unwittingly, in vastly excessive doses, and got bad results. Botanically, it is closely allied to aconite, and in large doses is a dangerous and highly irritating drug, depressing the circulation and temperature. It paralyzes the nerves and induces coma. The best pulsatilla grows in Germany, and both the imported mother tincture and the German tincture are about identical and are thoroughly reliable. The ec. tr. is much more concentrated, and is very active. I employ it when using pulsatilla in moderate doses, but prefer the imported tincture or the first decimal dilution when using small doses. All tinctures of pulsatilla deteriorate in time, and should be purchased in small quantities. Aneman in is readily decomposed by alkalies and metallic salts. and hence pulsatilla should not be combined with such agents. In moderate doses (ec. tr., I I.; @, 5 or 6 I.) it is of value in diseases of the reproductive organs caused by deficient or defective innervation, and also, inversely, in hysterical, melancholic, and spasmodic manifestations induced by sexual derangements. Amenorrhea with mental perturbation, spermatorrhea, menstrual disorders with headache, chilliness, languor, nausea, water-brash, and nervousness, as well as some cases of hysterical convulsions and the urinary irregularities of pregnancy, all respond nicely to this drug if properly pushed, but it is not a remedy for pain except incidentally as it relieves spasm. Homeopathists assert that pulsatilla exercises a greater influence over women than over men, and more particularly women of lax fibre, of mild and yielding disposition. Probably that is true. We know the susceptibility of blonde women to belladonna. At all events, it is probable smaller doses will suffice than with women of the opposite type.
In small doses (@, 1/2 to I I, or even the first dilution) it exercises an influence upon the circulation partaking somewhat of the natures of both aconite and cactus, reducing inflammation in mucous membranes and equalizing the circulation. It differs from aconite in that it is more antispasmodic in small doses, and it influences the catarrhal stage of congestions and inflammations rather than the initial stage. For this reason, it frequently should follow aconite and sometimes alternate with it. Pulsatilla, like a great many other remedies, should seldom be used in combination. We get most of our best results from the single drug. This is the single drug directed to catarrhal congestions, and it is a wide field. The thick, bland, and yellow or yellowish-green discharge is most affected. Potassium dichromate affects the thick, tenacious, and ropy discharge; arsenic and iodide of arsenic the irritating discharge. One may alternate with any of these when demanded, or give different ones during different stages of congestion, or full doses of ammonium chloride to liquefy or establish discharge, but pulsatilla, more than any of the others, can be depended upon in catarrhal disturbances of an acute character.
The following will simply suggest its range in this direction: Temporal neuralgia with lachrymation of affected side, otorrhea, catarrhal otitis, styes, agglutinated eyelids, ophthalmia neonatorium, subacute conjunctivitis, effects of "colds" upon eyes and ears, coryza with yellow discharge, toothache relieved by cold and due to acute congestion, catarrhal states of gastro-intestinal tract, creamy leucorrhea, catarrhal stage of gonorrhea, orchitis, acute prostatitis, greenish expectoration with cough, catarrhal symptoms of measles, and in fevers when patient seeks the open air. One teaspoonful of the tincture to a quart of water is an excellent application in many of these conditions, especially to the eyelids. Understand, pulsatilla is not here indicated as an exclusive remedy in these cases. It does overcome these symptoms of catarrh, but general systemic and local treatment should not be neglected. The sectarians have worked out a great many useful things, such as the indications for pulsatilla, but we have more resources for the deep underlying pathology than these small doses of drugs with an evanescent effect. On the other hand, in 6070 of our cases there is no especial pathology, and by relieving the symptoms nature completes the cure. We may just as well not impede nature in these cases with massive doses of drugs. Our patients will appreciate the small dose.