NAT. ORD., Leguminosae.
COMMON NAMES, Wild Vetch. Chick pea.
PREPARATION.--Trituration of the dried pea.
(Dr. W. A. Dewey contributed the following paper
concerning this remedy to the Medical Century, 1899):
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF EFFECTS,
The Lathyrus is a vetch, and a member of the leguminosae family growing
This remedy, which produces a perfect picture of certain spinal
affections, has been known for over a century. In Christison's
Toxicology it is stated that it causes paraplegia, dragging gait,
turning-in of the toes, stiffness and semi-flexion of the knee-joints.
The attention of the homoeopathic profession was directed to the drug
as a possible remedy in paraplegia, in the British Journal of
Homoeopathy, Vol. III. Here is found an account of a wheat famine in
India, where the peas of the plant were substituted for wheat and used
as a food. Those who subsisted on it were taken, even during sleep,
with sudden paralysis of the lower limbs; this occurred without
warning, in young men more than in young women, and was never recovered
from. Another observer records fifty cases who had eaten the Lathyrus
bread and all stated that they became paralytic during the wet season of
the country, that they went to bed quite well and awoke with stiff legs,
unsteady gait, and aching, but no severe pain. The upper extremities
Another who saw the disease in Algeria and described the symptoms found
in ten cases observed that they came on suddenly, in damp weather, with
some pains in the loins, trembling, motor paralysis and exaggerated
reflexes. He attributed these phenomena to an acute transverse myelitis
with degenerative changes in the cord.
A German writer states that the drug produces disturbances of nutrition
of the muscles of the lower extremities, paresis, and that the muscles
of the trunk and neck and face remain unaffected. Sensation remains
normal. It seems to produce a sclerosis of the pyramidal tracts of the
In animals the same condition is found; namely, paralysis of the hind
legs. Pigs drag their hind legs and horses give out.
From all the sources which I have been able to find, the following seem
to be the symptoms caused by the drug:
Sudden loss of power in the lower extremities, from the waist down.
Tremulous, tottering gait.
Great exaggeration of the reflexes.
Stiffness and lameness of the ankles and knees.
Excessive rigidity of the legs; flexion difficult; spastic gait, the
legs becoming interlocked, and walking is difficult or impossible.
Sudden onset of the trouble, and apparent aggravation in cold and damp
Emaciation of the gluteal muscles also observed.
Those having taken it walked on the metatarso-phalangeal articulation,
the heel not touching the ground.
Impossible to stand steady; swayed from side to side, but closing the
eyes had no effect. This with the exaggerated reflexes would exclude its
use in locomotor ataxia.
Debility and tremors of the legs.
Rigidity of the adductors of the thighs.
Staggering gait, with eyes fixed on the floor.
Could not extend or cross the legs when sitting.
CORRESPONDENCE TO SPINAL DISORDERS.
From these symptoms it will be seen that the effects of the drug
correspond to many spinal symptoms, but more especially to what is known
as spastic paraplegia. Indeed, Struempel asserts that it produces a
perfect picture of this disease.
It is not so often that such a perfect picture of a disease can be had
as in this instance. The disease itself is easily recognized by the
stiff, spastic gait; the spasm of the adductors, causing the knees to
strike each other, or to become locked, causing the patient to fall; the
shuffling of the feet; the excessive muscular rigidity and the other
well-known symptoms of paraplegia.
Therefore, reasoning from our law we would expect the drug to be of
service in such cases, and although our pathogenesis of it is coarse we
may be permitted to apply it to a disease whose symptomatology is of the
coarse order; for it is often difficult to elicit any fine and
characteristic symptoms in diseases like ataxic and spastic paraplegia.
It has been recognized as a remedy by but few of our writers on nervous
diseases. O'Connor finds that marked benefit follows its use in old
cases of myelitis with marked spastic symptoms. Bartlett, in Goodno's
Practice, recommends it in excessive knee-jerk and rigidity. Hart
speaks of it as a remedy in locomotor ataxia, but the absence of sensory
symptoms and the presence of exaggerated reflexes would seem to
contra-indicate it in this disease. He also speaks of it in spinal
anemia, giving as symptoms: "Numbness, followed by pain in the lower
extremities; sensation of a band around the body; unable to step or
distinguish one limb from another"--symptoms which I am unable to find
that the remedy produced. Elliott also speaks of it.
The clinical record of Lathyrus, though very meagre, gives great hope
that it may prove useful in numerous cases of bed-ridden paraplegiacs
and in infantile spinal paralysis, as well as in certain forms of
The following is a resume of all that I can find published:
I. Case of spinal paraplegia, relieved.
II. A case of multiple sclerosis in a young man of twenty-eight who had
been ill seven years and unable to walk for six years was greatly
benefited by Lathyrus [Latin: ezh]x.
III. Case of paraplegia, could walk after taking the remedy for some
IV. Case of paraplegia, no improvement.
V. Rheumatic paralysis, with stiff knees, could walk after use of
Lathyrus. (Clark Homoeopathic World.)
VI. In a case of a clerk with loss of power of the lower limbs, reflexes
exaggerated, knee-jerk violent, locomotion difficult and unsteady,
probably a case of transverse myelitis, Lathyrus [Latin: ezh]x, night
and morning, gave most satisfactory results. The patient could walk a
mile without assistance. (Simpson, Homoeopathic Review.)
VII. In a man aged fifty-two who had been unable to walk for six years,
the paraplegia coming on after a "stroke" from exposure to wet,
Lathyrus [Latin: ezh]x practically cured in eight months. He had been
tied to a chair for six, and at the time he stopped treatment he was
walking four miles daily. (Blake, Homoeopathic Review.)
From the fact that the Lathyrus disease occurs frequently in certain
mountainous regions of Asia it has been remarked that it is akin to
Beri-Beri, which has been traced to eating the Lathyrus bread.