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Materia Medica

The study of zoology and homoeopathy is vast. To understand the nature of the animal remedies we must study the nature of the animal sources and habitats. Farrington offers us a clue to the animal character in his Comparative Materia Medica, in Lachesis and other Allied Remedies.
“Medicines derived from the animal kingdom act energetically and rapidly. They vary in intensity from the fatal snakebite to coral, sponges, etc., which are more or less modified by their mineral constituents”
The animal remedies reflect energetic and rapidly moving states yet each remedy is modified by its mineral constituents. A perfect example is Calcarea which is often listed as a mineral remedy although its natural environment is the marine habitat. Each animal species demonstrates a homogeneous group of symptoms.
“All the Ophidians affect the throat and cause constriction, dryness, impeded deglutition, hoarseness, sensitive larynx, dyspnoea, cough, blood-spitting, oppression of the chest and palpitation of the heart with anxiety.”
Also he writes;
“Anxiety and apprehensiveness are symptoms of many animal poisons especially the Ophidians. In the latter, exciting reading may be the cause. It is also precordial in Lachesis, Crotalus and Naja”.
Snake poisons are very useful in virulent acute miasms like scarlatina, yellow fever, meningitis, diphtheria and typhoid. This represents the violent action and crisis inherent to the acute actions of the animal poisons. In the chronic sphere the snake remedies reflect degeneration, senility, idiocy, apoplexy and drunkenness. The snake family demonstrates a homogeneous portrait which contains many differential symptoms. The most commonly used snake remedies are Lachesis, Naja and Crotalus. They have similar actions on the mind and sensorium and produce similar exalted states, a peculiar loquacity, with forgetfulness.
All the snake remedies share ecstasy, moral confusion, vivid imaginations, loquacity, suspicion, jealousy, envy, pride and sadness mixed with anxiety. They must loosen their clothes, and are worse < on sleep and on awaking. Lachesis is the most recognizable polychrest snake poison and is well known for its aggressiveness, vivacity, loquacity and rambling and frequent jumps from one subject to another or repeating the same thing other and other. Naja is gloomier and less aggressive then Lachesis, and has fluttering of the heart and spinal pains. Crotalus has a weeping mood and loquacity with desire to escape. Cenchris is angry in the evenings, has sighing, and delusions they are in two places at one time. Elaps has fear of rain, of being alone least the ‘rowdies’ break in, and a faint feeling in the pit of the stomach. Vipera has hypochondriac mood in the day and merriness in the evening, desires to go home, tears open their clothes, and has chest pains with chilliness and difficult breathing. The Indian Cobra passively coils in a stand as a warning whereas the Bushmaster snake attacks immediately. The Rattlesnake makes loud noises before striking. Such images are reflected in similar human temperaments.
In considering the remedies derived from the animal kingdom, first which comes to mind of the large family, formally called OPHIDIANS, or snakes proper.
Ophidia comes under Class Reptilia, which comes under Phylum Chordata, under metazoa. Of those we use in medicine, we have first the LACHESIS TRIGONOCEPHALUS. This was proved by Dr.Hering, sixty years ago. Next we have the CROTALUS HORRIDUS. There is also a South American species, proved by Dr. Muir, the CROTALUS CASCAVELLA. This has a few symptoms which will not yield to the administration of the other species. Then there are the NAJA TRIPUDIANS, one variety of the cobra, and the ELAPS CORALLINUS, so called from the shape of the scales on the back, which have something the appearance of coral. Lastly there is the BOTHROPS LANCEOLATUS. It causes symptoms similar to that peculiar condition known as aphasia. Of these poisons, the first four are commonly used in medicine.
To get an idea of a class of medicines derived from one source or similar sources, it is well to study them in a group, and see what symptoms they have in common. The poison of the snake is generally held in a little sac behind the fangs. On the under surface of the fangs is a small groove, into which empties a little tube that conveys the poison from the gland. When they are not in use, they lie back on the roof of the mouth. If the animal is excited, it opens its mouth, the fangs are pushed forwards, and at the same time, by muscular action, etc., a drop of the poison runs down the canal, and into the punctured wound. Now, what follows? That depends on various causes. The poison is more potent at some times than at others. The angrier the serpent is, the more active is its venom. If, in inflicting the wound, the fang passes through the clothing, some of the poison may thus be absorbed. Again, the power of resistance of the individual has some effect.
You may divide the effects of the snake-poison into three sorts:
First, that which may be compared to the action of a stroke of lightning or a dose of Prussic acid. Immediately after the bite, the patient starts up with a look of anguish on his face, and then drops dead. This represents the full, unmodified, lightning rapidity of the poison. In the second form, commonly, the part bitten swells and turns, not a bright red, but rapidly to a dark purplish colour, the blood becomes fluid, and the patient exhibits symptoms like those characteristic of septicaemia. The heart-beat increases in rapidity, but lessens in tone and strength. The patient becomes prostrated, and covered with a cold, clammy sweat. Dark spots appear on the body, where the blood settles into ecchymosis; the patient becomes depressed from weakness of the nervous system, or from poverty of the blood, and then sinks into a typhoid state, and dies. Or there follow nervous phenomena. The patient is seized with vertigo. Dark spots appear before the eyes; blindness; a peculiar tremor all over the body; face besotted; dyspnoea. Or it may assume a slower form. After the vertigo or trembling, the patient remains weak, and the place of poisoning becomes dark or gangrenous. All the discharges, the sweat, the urine and the faeces, are offensive. Dysenteric symptoms of a typhoid character show themselves. The patient goes into a low state, and finally dies. These are all phases of one action of the drug, the power of the drug to affect the blood and the nerves. A small dose of LACHESIS may make the prover feel as if he could study without fatigue. He grows loquacious, jumping from subject to subject. There is nervous excitement. A story, for instance, excites him unduly. ‘Anecdotes move him to tears. Quickly the opposite state appears. The nervous symptoms change to prostration, or even complete paralysis. Nerves especially affected by the snake-poisons seem to be the pneumogastric and spinal accessory; consequently, you expect to find, as eminently characteristic, symptoms of the larynx, of the respiration, and of the heart. All of the Ophidiacause choking, constrictive sensation coming from irritation of the pneumogastric. All of them have dyspnoea and heart-symptoms.
It has been found that the snake-poisons coagulate the blood; but soon the blood is so far decomposed that it has no longer the power to thicken. It becomes liquid, dark, and oozes from every orifice of the body. Thus are haemorrhages produced, which are characteristic. They are most noted under LACHESIS and CROTALUS ; less in MAPS, least in NAJA. You already see in what class of diseases you will find these poisons curative; in low grades of inflammation, in carbuncle, gangrene, adynamic states, fevers of typhoid type, etc.
They produce a staining of the skin yellow. This is not jaundice, and must not be confused with that affection. It comes from the blood, and is due to the decomposition of that fluid, and not to the staining of the skin with bile. This is most marked in the Crotalus. Again, you may find that the skin is dry and harsh, as if there was no vitality in it, or it may be clammy, more characteristic of Lachesis. The discharges are foetid, even the formed fecal stools of Lachesis are horribly offensive. As the heart is weakened by all, we find as characteristic, running through them all, weak heart, cold feet, and trembling—not the trembling of mere nervousness, it is the trembling of weakness from blood-poisoning. The cold feet are not indicative of congestion, as you find under Belladonna. They are attendants upon a weakened heart.
The heart symptoms of NAJA greatly resemble those of Lachesis, but its cardiac symptoms point more markedly to the remote effects of cardiac valvular-lesions; those of LACHESIS more to the incipiency of rheumatic disease of the heart. In Naja, there is a well marked frontal and temporal headache with the cardiac symptoms; the heart beats tumultuously. The patient awakes gasping for breath. Naja causes more nervous phenomena than any of the snake-poisons.
Under Belladonna the head is hot, and the feet are cold, because the blood is surged toward thehead. Under the snake-poisons, the feet are cold, because the heart is too weak to force the blood to the periphery.
All of the snake-poisons cause inflammation of the cellular tissue. Accordingly, we find them valuable, when cellulitis arises in the course of typhoid fever, diphtheria, etc.
In diphtheria, CROTALUS has had more clinical experience in the persistent epistaxis.
ELAPS claims attention in cases of haemoptysis, when the blood discharged is dark in color, especially when the right lung is affected.
Antidotes for these poisons are numerous. There is no doubt that alcohol is a powerful antagonist to the snake-venom. It is remarkable how much alcohol can be swallowed by persons bitten by serpents, without the manifestation of the usual physiological effects. Whiskey or brandy can be used and in large quantities, until it produces its own effects. Dr.Hering recommends radiating heat as an antidote. The part bitten should be held close to a hot fire. Ammonia and permanganate of potash have been recommended as antidotes, and cures have been claimed for each.
Common Characteristics of Ophidia
I. Paralysis
Features of typical bulbar paralysis occur in Naja.
The paralysis of Ophidia group occur in right side as well as left side.
Right side
(1) Crotalus horridus
(2) Crotalus cascavella right sided hemiplegia. It is complementary to Lachesis as it completes the curative action.)
(3) Elaps corallinus
(4) Bothrops– hemiplegia with aphonia
Left Side
(1) Lachesis has left sided paralysis especially from apoplexy.
There will be extensive paralysis
Naja: Bulbar paralysis, sphincter control will be lost.
Vipera: Paraplegia of lower extremities, resembling acute ascending paralysis of Landry.
Bangarus fasciatus: Acute polioencephalitis and myelitis.
II. Constriction of throat – larynx & sphincters
(i)Lachesis: Constriction of throat, larynx and abdomen, with intolerance to least touch or pressure, especially on neck. There’ll be constriction in rectum. Anus will feel tight. There will be dysphagia for liquids as in Bothrops.
(ii) Cenchris contortrix: There’ll be constriction as in Lachesis with the necessity for having the clothes loose. There will be vivid dreams. Like Arsenic alb, there’ll be dyspnoea; Mental and physical restlessness; Thirst for small quantities of water.
(iii) Elaps: There’ll be constriction of pharynx. Food and drinks are suddenly arrested and “ fall heavily into stomach.”
(iv) Crotalus horridus: There’ll be spasms the patient is not able to swallow any solid substances. There’ll be an intolerance to clothing around stomach.
(v) Vipera: Tears his clothes open due to violent congestion in chest. There’ll be “Cardiac anguish with violent, chest pains.”
(vi) Naja: Grasping throat with a sense of choking. There will be asthmatic constriction in evening.
(vii) Bothrops– There will be constriction in throat with difficulty in swallowing, especially towards liquids.
III. Haemorrhages of dark, non-coagulable decomposed black blood oozing from all orifices of the body with ecchymosed.
(i) Lachesis: Oozing of dark, decomposed blood, purpura with intense prostration, epistaxis, bleeding gums. There will be haemorrhages from bowels like charred straw, black particles. There will be a general relief by menstrual flow.
(ii) Crotalus horridus: Dark non-coagulating blood; haemorrhagic diathesis; retinal haemorrhages. Blood oozes from ears. There’ll be epistaxis where the blood will be black and stringy: persistent haemorrhages; intestinal haemorrhage; bloody urine; purpurahaemorrhagica; bloody sweat.
(iii) Elaps: Epistaxis; Haemorrhages from lungs as black ink. Watery haemorrhage with pain in the apex of right lung. There will be cough with expectoration of black blood. Menstrual bleeding is black In typhoid fevers when ulcers have eaten into tissues, there’ll be the discharge of black blood.
(iv) Bothrops: Haemcirrhages from all orifices, b leading to hemiplegia aphasia and dysarthria; conjunctival and retinal haemorrage; bloody stools.
(v) Vipera-Persistent epistaxis; affects especially the veins.
IV. Inflammations and fevers of low destructive type
Eg: gangrene, cellulitis, malignant ulcerations, diphtherIa and typhoid etc.
(i) Lachesis; Septic states, diphtheria and other low forms of diseases with pro found prostration. There’ll be boils, carbuncles and ulcers with bluish purple surroundings; pyaemia, dissecting wounds,bedsore with black edges. bluish or baickish swellings.
(ii) Crotalus horridus: Low septic states; carbuncles; malignant scarlatina; yellow fever, plague, cholera etc. Boils, carbuncles and eruptions are surrounded by purplish, mottled skin, and oedema; lymphangitis; septicaemia.
(iii) Bothrops: Cold, swollen skin with haemorrhagic infiltrations; gangrene; lymphatics swollen; Anthrax; m erysipelas.
(iv) Vipera: Lymphangioma, boils, carbuncles with burning sensation, relieved by elevating parts Skin peels off in large plaques.
(v).Nerves, specially affected by snake poisons
(I) Vagus nerve
(ii) Spinal accessory nerve: So, characteristically we get symptoms of larynx, respiration and heart.
Ophidia medicines cause choking constrictive sensation due to pneumogastric nerve irritation.
Weak heart, cold feet and trembling.
All the medicines have dyspnoea and cardiac symptoms
VI. Yellow staining or colour of skin
Most marked in Cortalus horridus, less in Lachesis and Vipera communis and Vipera torva.
VII. Action on heart-Produce palpitation, dyspnoea and valvular lesions.
(i) Naja: Heart rhythm is regular, but the force of contraction indicated  remote effects of advanced valvular lesions. There’s a well marked frontal and temporal headache with the cardiac_symptoms. Patient is always gasping for breath.
(ii) Lachesis: Indicated in the of rheumatic heart diseases. Palpitation with fainting spells especially during the clirnacteric period; Cyanosis.
(iii) Crotalus horridus: Palpitation,especially during menses. Heart’s actions feeble.
(iv) Vipera-Cardiac dropsy
VIII. Appearance of face
Sickly, pale, anxious, bloated swollen, dark red or bluish, especially in Lachesis, Bothrops, Vipera. The face is yellow in Lachesis and Crotalus.
IX. Alteration of spinal reflexes
Dimness of vision, excitability of brain or spinal cord resulting in mental restless ness and physical sensitiveness
Torpidity, numbness twitching and formication.
X. Initial anxiety, mental excitability and over sensitiveness
Hallucinations and fear, followed by nervous depression which varies from debility to confusion, stupor, delirium and paralysis.
XI. Periodicity
Vipera : Symptoms return anually for years
Thxicophis: Pain and fever return annually, sometimes changing location with disappearance of the first symp toms.
Lachesis: Complaints, especially the intermittent fever, returning in every spring.
XII. Swelling
(i) Clothoarictans: Excessive swelling is the characteristic feature
(ii) Toxicophis: Oedematous swelling
(iii) Naja: No haemorrhage; only oedema.
XIII Climacteric ailments
(1) Lachesis: Haemorrhages, haemorrhoids; hot flushes, hot per spiration; burning in vertex, headache at or after menopause.
(ii) Crotalushorridus: Intense flushings and drenching perspiration. Profound anaemia. Prolonged metrorrhagia; dark offensive fluid; faintness and sinking at stomach.
(iii) Vipera: Climacteric ailments.
XIV. Mental Symptoms:
(i) Fear of rain: Elaps, Naja
(ii) Dreams of dead persons: Elaps, Crotalushorridus, Crotaluscascavella
(iii) Dreads to be left alone: Elaps, Naja
XV. Action on liver
Hepatomegaly and Jaundice
(i) Lachesis– Liver regions sensitive. Can’t tolerate clothing around waist
(ii) Crotalus- Haemolytic jaundice; yellow conjunctiva and skin
(iii) Vipera: Violent pain. Enlarged liver with jaundice and fever pains extend to shoulder and hip
XVI. Sleep aggravation
(i) Lachesis: As soon as the patient falls asleep, breathing stops
(ii) Croralus horridus: Sleeps into his symptoms
(iii) Naja: Suffocative spells after sleeping
XVII. Dysarthria
(i) Bothrops: Hemiplegia with aphasia; in ability to articulate without any affect tion to tongue.
(ii) Vipera: Speech is difficult
(iii) Naja: Blurred speech (bulbar paralysis)
Snake poisons are very useful in virulent acute miasms like scarlatina, yellow fever, meningitis, diphtheria and typhoid. This represents the violent action and crisis inherent to the acute actions of the animal poisons. In the chronic sphere the snake remedies reflect degeneration, senility, idiocy, apoplexy and drunkenness. The snake family demonstrates a homogeneous portrait which contains many differential symptoms. The most commonly used snake remedies are Lachesis, Naja and Crotalus. They have similar actions on the mind and sensorium and produce similar exalted states, a peculiar loquacity, with forgetfulness.
To conclude, the Zoological field is a wonderful area of research which brings humanity closer to their animal relatives. By recognizing the group characteristics of the species we have the key to the zoological polychrest and their relationships to the lesser known animal remedies.
Now let us discuss a case of Allergic Dermatitis treated successfully with Lachesis using the Constitutional Approach.
A female patient, XYZ, married, 34yrs., came to my clinic on 16/04/2016 complaining of severe itching around the neck since 6 months. She was a teacher by profession. Itching<night, 1=”” also=”” before=”” cold=”” complained=”” hot=”” of=”” p=”” she=”” since=”” water.=”” weakness=””>
Present complaints
Patient had complaint of itching around neck since 6 months.





Skin- Neck
Itching < night
< before menses
< hot weather
< cold water bath
General Weakness    

History of Present Complaints
Patient got itching around the neck since last 6 months. She had taken all types of treatment even homoeopathic also. But she had no improvement. The complaints got aggravated in night, in hot weather. Her skin of neck became black. Her sleep was disturbed due to complaints.
Past history   
No major illness in past
Family history
Mother:   healthy
Father:    healthy
Personal history
Appetite                       Normal
Thirst                           NAD
Desires                         cold food, Ice creams, juice.
Aversions                      A/F vegetables green leafy,
Perspiration                  on face.
BOWEL                       NAD
Urine                           NAD
Sleep &Dreams: disturbed due  to itching.
Thermals hot
Menstrual history
Menarche at the age of 14yrs. Regular bleeding. 28-30-days cycle, duration for 5days, black in colour, with clots.
She was very loquacious. She had became very suspicious and irritable towards her husband. She was very dominating.
Vital data
General Examination: Temp:  Afebrile               Pulse: 77\min                 BP: 120\80 mm of Hg
Systemic Examination:
CVS: NAD                 RS: NAD             CNS: NAD
P\A: Soft, non tender; no organomegaly.
Physical make up     
Lean, dark complexion, weak looking,
Investigation :
Hb% – 11.2g/dl
Diagnosis: Allergic dermatitis
Miasmatic background
Psora-sycotic – Allergic condition comes under characteristics of psora.
Analysis of symptoms
1.      suspicious                              Mental general characteristic ( emotion)
2.      loquacity                                 Mental general characteristic ( will)
3.      irritable                                   Mental general characteristic ( emotion)
4.      menses black                          particular characteristic
5.      itching of skin                        physical general characteristic
6.      itching before menses            particular characteristic
7.      weakness                               physical general characteristic
Evaluation of symptoms
1.      suspicious
2.      loquacity
3.      irritable
4.      menses black
5.      itching of skin
6.      itching before menses
7.      weakness
Thermal: Hot patient
Lean, dark complexion, weak looking,
Hot weather aggravated
Totality of symptom: 
1.      Environment – hot, weather, agg.
2.      Mind – suspicious, mistrustful
3.      Mind – talking, general – excessive, loquacity
4.      Mind – irritability, general – menses, during – before
5.      Female – menses, general – black
6.      Skin – itching – menses, during – before
7.      Skin – discoloration, skin – blackish
8.      Constitutions – weak, constitutions
Remedial differential diagnosis
Lach                7/19
Sulph               6/12
Cocc                6/10
Puls                 5/12
Final remedy
Lach 30 single dose followed by S.L for 1 week
Follow up summary






1           24/04/16
Increased weakness, complaints aggravated. S.L for 7 days. Considering it as a homoeopathic aggravation.
2 02/05/16
Itching complaints better,menses were scanty, not black, irritability better. S.L for 1 month.
As improvement is there S.L given.
3 05/06/16
No further improvement. Lach 200 single dose followed by S.L for 15 days. As no further improvement seen same drug in higher dose is given.
4           19/06/16
Skin condition better S.L FOR 15 days.
As improvement is there S.L contd.
5. 07/07/16 Skin condition better, weakness much better S.L FOR 15 days.
As improvement is there S.L contd.
6. 25/07/16 Skin condition better, weakness much better S.L FOR 15 days.
As improvement is there S.L contd.
7. 12/08/16 Slight itching+. No weakness Lach 200 single dose followed by S.L for 15 days. As RECURRENCE  seen same drug  is repeated.
8. 03/09/16 Better itching much less. S.L FOR 15 days.
As improvement is there S.L contd.
9. 20/09/16 No itching. Stop treatment. S.L T.D.S for 1 month As improvement is there S.L contd.

After analyzing the case and considering the patient’s mental and physical traits, it was found that patient had nervous temperament and she belonged to carbo-nitrogenoid constitution After analyzing the case and considering these facts and repertorial totality, Lachesis was selected as constitutional remedy. Patient responded very well and improved almost completely.
This shows that a when a remedy is selected on symptom-similarity taking in to mind the complete totality of symptoms and giving importance to the constitution of the patient, it does wonders. What is important in such cases is sound and complete knowledge of Materia Medica, constitution, group remedies & Repertory.
1) International Academy of Classical Homoeopathy- Dr. George Vithoulkas-    www.vithoulkas.com
2) Clinical MateriaMedica-E.A. Farrington
3) Comparative MateriaMedica-E.A. Farrington
4) Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia media-William Boericke
5) Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica-JH Clarke

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