Angina Pectoris – what is it?
Angina Pectoris is a symptomatology that in 2009 affected an estimate of 30 000 to 40 000 people per 1 million of the European population , and approximately 9.8 million people in America, with tendency rising .
It is a syndrome that is characterized by precordial discomfort; pressure, squeezing, burning or fullness located centrally about the chest. This is frequently accompanied by pain extending through to the back, or into the shoulder and arm, and may radiate to the throat and jaw, the upper abdomen and at times the right arm . The onset of symptoms is usually due to physical exertion or stress , heavy meals or extreme heat .
The etiology of Angina Pectoris is commonly an underlying condition called myocardial ischemia . Myocarial ischemia refers to a reduction of the volume of blood passing through the arteries, as a consequence of which the amount of oxygen transported to the heart is also decreased . This is usually due to yet another underlying more severe issue, namely coronary heart disease, where the coronary arteries are obstructed as in the case of atherosclerosis . Other causes of myocardial ischemia are spasms of the coronary arteries, or an embolism caused by the plaque formation of artheriosclerosis that then ruptures and forms a clot that blocks an artery .
Attacks of Angina Pectoris commonly subside after a few minutes and are relieved by rest . The most important element in the treatment of Angina Pectoris is the removal of the causative factors, at least the prevention of further progression of the underlying condition .
First aid treatment, and the most common prescriptions in Angina Pectoris, are drugs containing nitroglycerine . Nitroglycerin dilates the arteries and as such permits an increased volume of blood to flow through the vessles .
Nitroglycerine – an explosive drug!
In 1846 the Italian chemist Asciano Sobrero sought to create a new kind of substance that had blasting power. He synthezised Nitroglycerin by combining nitric and sulphuric acid [6, 7]. In 1867 then Alfred Nobel, the scientist and initiator of the Nobel prize, patented Nitroglycerin as a explosive .
The first physician to suggest nitroglycerin as a treatment for Angina Pectoris was British born William Murrell (1853 – 1912) in 1879 [7, 8]. He and few of his colleagues dared to experiment with Nitroglycerin, and trialed this explosive substance in highly diluted form on themselves. Murrell had taken Nitroglycerin 30 to 40 times before using it in the treatment of patients .
From experiential reports and his own findings, Murrell identified Nitroglycerin to be an instantly acting substance. The ingestion of a tiny quantity sufficed to induce a sensation of fullness about the neck, slight nausea, mental confusion and drowsiness. A rushing noise in the ears was described, a heaviness in the stomach and frequently a tensive headache that was felt over the eyes and could extend to the nose and ears [8, 9].
Murrell prescribed Nitroglycerin for patients that experienced symptoms of sudden onset of intense pain about the chest that was triggered by slightest physical exertion or emotional excitement. Patients described a sensation of heat and burning in the chest that was succeeded by an acute, painful pressue. This pain could radiate to the back, between the shoulders, and along the inner side of the arm down to the elbow. Murrell points out that this pain only rarely passed below the elbow towards or into the fingers. Shortness of breath, an increased pulsation, and a sensation of coldness in an attack were also described .
These attacks commonly lasted no longer than 3 to 4 minutes, and the administration of Nitroglycerin cut an attack short. Murrell exclaimed that “the action of the medicine seems to commence the moment it is swallowed” [8, p.43]. Unfortunately the ingestion of Nitroglycerin almost always produced a throbbing sensation across the forehead, at the height of the hairline, a sensation of pulsation experienced throughout the body, and a noise like running water in the ears . This concomitant symptomatology of Nitroglycerin is one that for most patients still accompanies an ingestion of the drug.
Murrell further noted of Nitroglycerin that the susceptibility to its action was more pronounced in weaker individuals and women. He stressed that a physiological effect could be excited by merely handling it, and pointed out that following an administration of the drug patients would experience “an immediate, irresistible need for sleep” [8, p.29].
The homeopathic origin of nitroglycerin as a healing agent
In 1848, long before the conventional medical sphere took note of the healing potential of nitroglycerin the German Homeopath Constantin Hering (1800 – 1880) had recognized its value as a homeopathically produced remedy for throbbing and congestive headaches.
Hering never considered Glonoinum, homeopathic Nitroglycerine, for Angina Pectoris , but it has found its way into the homeopathic Materia Medica as a remedy for many symptoms, including those of the symptomatology of Angina Pectoris. As such it is, amongst others, indicated for the following key symptoms:
– Surging of blood to the head and heart [10, 11].
– Violent palpitation, laborious action of the heart [10, 11].
– Throbbing and pulsating headache in forehead and between temples .
– Throbbing in front of the head , that becomes worse by exertion .
– Pressure and throbbing in the temples .
– Pulsation experienced throughout the body. Pulsating pains , felt as if the head would burst .
– Paleness of the face .
– Adverse effects from being in the sun, sunstroke .
– Confusion, heaviness about the head .
– Can bear no heat about the head .
Perhaps it was due to the skepticism of the homeopathic doctrine that the conventional medical sphere took 30 years to investigate the therapeutic potential of Nitroglycerin , but only due to these previous investigations did Nitroglycerin at all become a successful medicinal agent. As such Nitroglycerin was considered by some as the “ first breakthrough, on a large scale, of homeopathic remedies into allopathic practice” [6, p.25]. Until today it is a reliable treatment agent for managing Angina Pectoris, both as a highly diluted conventional drug, and as a highly diluted and succussed homeopathic remedy.
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