Bittersweet / Woody Nightshade
The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is prepared using the fresh green leaves and stems of the bittersweet plant, which is also known as the bitter nightshade, and used to treat a host of ailments, especially joint problems, skin conditions and complaints that have an influence on the mucus membranes.
Bittersweet is a partially woody herb-like vine that grows perennially. This plant moves quickly over other plants and has the ability to reach a height of 4 meters provided adequate support is available. However, in other conditions, this plant generally grows to a length of one to two meters. This vine produces leaves that are anything between 4 cm and 12 cm in length. The leaves of bittersweet resemble an arrowhead to a certain extent and are usually parted at the base. The flowers of this perennial vine appear in loose bunches, each containing around three to 20 blooms. The flowers are generally 1 cm to 1.5 cm in diameter and shaped like stars having five purple petals and yellow stamens, while the style of the flower points frontward.
The fruit of bittersweet is red oval-shaped berry that is approximately 1 cm in length. The fruit or berry of the plant is supple and luscious and edible for birds, which actually help in dispersing the seeds of the plant far and wide. Initially, the raw berries have a green hue, but they change to orange and eventually to vivid red when ripened. The plant produces the berries continuously in different series all through the summer and early part of autumn. In fact, some of the fruits have been found to continue to be on the plant even after it has shed all its leaves. This vine produces copious fruits and seeds. In effect, each fruit or berry may enclose as many as 30 seeds.
Both naturopathy and herbal medicine have used the bittersweet vine traditionally to treat several health conditions. As aforementioned, the primary use of this herbaceous plant is for treating health conditions that influence the skin, mucous membranes as well as the synovial membrane present around the joints. Some people consider the bittersweet to be an herbal medication for curing allergies as well as herpes (any ailment caused by herpes virus and distinguished by eruption of blisters on the skin or mucous membranes). While the use of bittersweet does not generally result in life-threatening toxicity to humans, quite a number of such cases have been recorded in the past. Solanine is considered to be the toxic substance enclosed by bittersweet vine.
The therapeutic properties of nightshade or the bittersweet vine was even known to people in the ancient times and since the Roman age it has been used to treat several and dissimilar health conditions. In effect, one use of the plant in treating an abscesses on the fingertips called ‘felons' motivated people to also name the plant as felonwort. As early as in the 18th century, Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus recommended the use of the bittersweet vine to treat fever as well as other infections that resulted in inflammations. However, it was Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of the alternative stream of medication homeopathy, who proved the effectiveness of nightshade as a homeopathic remedy in 1811.
Traditionally dulcamara is related to individuals who are very prone to moist and chills. Dulcamara is usually prescribed for people who are susceptible to humidity and colds accompanied by quickly changing body temperatures in chilly or damp weather conditions. They are also susceptible to infections of the respiratory tract that usually cause dense, yellowish mucus. In addition to commonly developing ailments like hay fever as well as other allergic reactions, such individuals may also often suffer from eczema, diarrhea and joint pains.
In effect, the physical symptoms of people who require the homeopathic remedy dulcamara most prevail over the psychological attributes, but it may be noted that such people also suffer from some type of uncertainty, edginess, tetchiness and even restiveness. All these psychological characteristics are very much obvious among people who respond best to the homeopathic remedy dulcamara and they are probably with a dominant attitude mainly toward the family members.
The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is prepared with the freshly obtained green leaves and stems of the bittersweet or nightshade plant - a perennially growing vine. It needs to be remembered that collecting the stems and leaves of the vine ought to be done before the plant begins to blossom. Subsequently, the green leaves and stems of bittersweet are chopped into fine pieces and macerated or marinated in alcohol for a period of time. The resultant solution is filtered and diluted to desired levels giving us the useful homeopathic remedy dulcamara. As in the case of any other homeopathic medication, dulcamara does not retain even the slightest trace or any toxicity of the bittersweet vine and is safe for human use.
In homeopathy, the remedy dulcamara is very much comparable to other medications, such as capsicum, belladonna, stramonium and hyoscyamus. While this homeopathic remedy is used to treat a number of health conditions, it has been primarily used to cure jaundice, pneumonia, psoriasis, eczema, cramps, and lack of menstruation, asthma and phlegm. In other words it is an effective medication for treating conditions which have an impact on the mucous membranes, joint pains as well as skin conditions.
In addition, dulcamara is highly effective in treating health conditions caused by exposure to chilly and humid weather conditions or abrupt changes in temperature or becoming chilly very soon following profuse sweating. It has been found that individuals who require the homeopathic remedy dulcamara are generally dominating, possessive as well as very determined in nature. At the same time, such people are very susceptible of humid and cold weather, very sensitive to colds that may result in other diseases, for instance, a wheezy cough, cystitis, conjunctivitis or even diarrhea. Turning to dulcamara not only helps to cure these ailments, but also alleviate the associated symptoms.
In addition to treating the health conditions mentioned above, the homeopathic remedy dulcamara is also effective in curing a number of skin disorders, including, ringworm, hives (any of the numerous eruptions on the skin, such as urticaria), and scratchy, scabby eruptions on the face and scalp. A brief discussion on the other condition-specific uses of this homeopathic remedy is presented below.
- Skin conditions
- The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is an effective medication for treating skin complaints, such as congealed, crispy, itchy skin, especially on the scalp, which results in blood loss when scratched. In addition, in homeopathy, dulcamara is an appropriate medication for treating hives caused by profuse perspiration in moist or soggy conditions, ringworms that are generally found on the scalp of small children, as well as warts, particularly on the palms of the hands.
- Hay fever and asthma
- People suffering from hay fever and/ or asthma generally experience symptoms like nose blockade accompanied by copious, watery discharge from the eyes as well as breathing troubles. Their symptoms are likely to worsen when these patients are exposed to grass pollen, animal fur, dust mites as well as any other allergen making their condition severe. In such cases, turning to the homeopathic medication dulcamara helps to cure the main condition - hay fever and asthma, while providing quick relief from the associated symptoms.
- Colds and coughs
- In homeopathy, dulcamara is an effective remedy for aching throat accompanied by a dense, yellowish discharge from the nose as well as the eyes. The formation and discharge of the mucus is possibly caused by sinusitis and also owing to an excruciating pressure and blockade in the head. The patient may frequently suffer from firm neck possibly accompanied by pain in the back as well as the limbs. Such colds and coughs may result in other conditions, such as a clattering cough, conjunctivitis, pneumonia and bronchitis if the patient does not seek medical aid soon after the appearance of the symptoms. In such cases, turning to the homeopathic remedy dulcamara helps not only to cure the cough and colds, but also prevent and alleviate the other accompanying problems.
- Joint pain
- Dulcamara is an excellent homeopathic remedy for treating stiff joints and joint pains. Precisely speaking, this medication works on the synovial membrane present around the joints to alleviate the rheumatic pains. Usually, these conditions worsen when the patient is in damp or humid conditions.
- Head and facial pain
- The homeopathic medication dulcamara is effective in treating pains in specific areas of the head or headaches accompanied by a feeling of heaviness, queasiness and/ or perplexity. In addition, this remedy may also be useful in curing neuralgic face pain (face pain due to nerve disorders), possibly a result of Bell's palsy (usually a temporary paralysis of the muscles of the face on one side). Dulcamara has also been found to be effective in healing pains caused by sinusitis.
- In homeopathy, dulcamara is an effective medication to treat diarrhea, especially those having slippery, yellowish or green stools possibly accompanied by tinges of blood. Patients suffering from this type of diarrhea may also experience nausea as well as pain prior to passing stools. Such symptoms may be set off in young children during teething. Using dulcamara in such conditions cures the main ailments as well as provides relief from the associated symptoms.
The nightshade or bittersweet vine, which forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy dulcamara, belongs to the potato genus Solanum and plant family Solanaceae. Although this perennially growing vine is indigenous to Asia and Europe, presently it has been neutralized almost everywhere, especially North America. In North America, people consider this plant to be an invasive and problematic weed that often destroys crops and other vegetation. The bittersweet vines are found growing naturally in an assortment of locations ranging from the forests to scrubland, hedges and even in marshy lands.