Asa foetida – Devil’s Dung

Asa foetida – Devil’s Dung

The mother tincture is prepared from the dried gum-resin from various species of Ferula, such as Ferula assa foetida L., Ferula foetida (Bunge) Regel. N.O. Umbellif- erae.

The tincture, prepared as above, has an unpleasant, obtrusive odour and taste. It was formerly used allopathically in various nervous illness.

Important indications are bone problems and ulcers, which are best treated with medium and high potencies, whilst in nervous problems and in digestive complaints with distension, lower potencies are rather indicated. (“Full of wind, flatulence with eructations, everything pressing upwards, but nothing downwards.” Nash.)

Mental and physical hypersensitivity and irritability are present, with a tendency to hypochondria, hysteria and nervousness, especially when normal discharges have been suppressed. (Retoxic phases.)

In chronic paronychia, according to Fellenberg-Ziegler, Asa foetida acts even when other remedies fail.

Asa foetida is indicated in syphilitic iritis, and after abuse of mercury, such as was formerly common in treatment of syphilis; especially when burning, pulsating pains predominate in the bones of the eye-socket. The characteristic pains of Asa foetida proceed from within outwards, and are stabbing, tearing, pulsating, intermittent, and may change into other kinds of complaint on being touched, often linked with a sensation of numbness.

A further Asa foetida symptom is a chronic discharge of pus from the ear (perfo- ration), possibly linked with hearing impairment. Particularly characteristic however is the “globus hystericus”, with gastric and oesophageal cramps and the feeling of an object rising in the gullet. This may be accompanied by a feeling of emptiness in the stomach, rancid eructations, burning in the gullet and a greasy taste.

The colicky distension, as if everything would burst and as if there were reversed peristalsis in the intestines, is especially prominent when discharges have previously been suppressed, or uterine problems of various kinds have been retoxically treated, or also if the milk suddenly dries up during lactation in hypersensitive women.

In such cases, Asa foetida is said to bring in the milk again.

Nash emphasises especially that all the discharges are offensive, and that there is great sensitivity to touch, which may be a prominent symptom in osteitis or caries of the bones with violent nocturnal symptoms.

Complaints are aggravated in a room, at night, by touch and at rest, and are ame- liorated by pressure, rubbing and movement in the open air.

The symptom-picture of Asa foetida is characterised by numerous objective changes on the physical level, but also by further symptoms of a nervous kind such as bad moods, work-shyness, irritation and hastiness, restless sleep with sleepiness in the daytime, twitching in individual muscle-groups, headaches and vertigo, as if light-headed and depraved. There are spasmodic twitchings of the eyelids, possible ringing in the ears, and a dulling of the acuity of hearing. There may also be pressure on the heart, shuddering with hot flushes, feeling of constriction with coughing, tenesmus at defaecation with reversed peristalsis, everything pushing upwards, but also ulceration of soft parts and in bone-tissue with viscous or thin offensive pus and a general physical and mental hypersensitivity.

Summing up the main symptoms of Asa foetida, we have the following typical picture of the remedy:

  1. Globus hystericus with spasmodic contractions of the oesophagus, as though a foreign body were rising and falling or being swallowed.
  2. Lack of appetite. Rancid or greasy eructations. Retching. Distension with flatus pressing upwards and offensive flatulence.
  3. Hot flushes with surges of blood, light-headedness and vertigo.
  4. Offensive secretions from ulcers, also from the skin.
  5. Osteitis, periostitis and caries of the bones with violent pains at night, better from pressure and rubbing.
  6. Milk dries up during lactation.
  7. Chronic otitis media with purulent discharge and hearing impairment. Chronic paronychia and iritis.

The German Monograph-Preparation Commission for the Homoeopathic Field of Therapy has, under the Preparation-Monograph for Asa foetida, published the fol- lowing indication(s) in the German Bundesanzeiger (German Federal Gazette) for asa foetida: chronic inflammations of the respiratory passages; nervous disorders of the alimentary tract; bone diseases; varicose veins; skin ulceration and development of fistulas; dysfunction in normal milk flow; headaches; various nervous disorders.

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