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NAT. ORD., Leguminosae.
COMMON NAMES, "Loco" Weed. Rattle Weed.
PREPARATION.--The whole plant without the root is macerated in two times
its weight of alcohol.
(The following proving of the "loco weed" was conducted
by the late Dr. W. S. Gee, of Chicago, in 1887):
OXYTROPIS LAMBERTI, Pursh.--Commonly taller, as well as larger, than
other varieties (the scapes often a foot or more high); silky,--and
mostly silvery-pubescent, sometimes glabrate in age; leaflets from
oblong-lanceolate to linear (4 to 16 inches long); spike, sometimes
short-oblong and densely flowered, at least when young; often
elongated and sparsely flowered; flowers mostly large (often an inch
long, but sometimes much smaller), variously colored; pod, either
narrowly or broadly oblong, sericeous pubescent, firm-coriaceous,
half-inch or more long, imperfectly two-celled. Includes O.
Campestris of Hook, Fl. Bor. Am., in part. Common along the Great
Plains from Saskatchewan and Minnesota to New Mexico, Texas, etc., and
in the foot-hills.--From Coulter's Manual of the Botany of the Rocky
It is one of the poisonous members of that family. It is found in
California and New Mexico.
It is a perennial plant, with herbaceous or slightly shrubby stems, the
foliage remaining green during winter when grass is scarce, and so
attracting animals that would otherwise probably instinctively shun it.
The plants do not appear to be equally poisonous at all seasons or in
all localities, and it has been doubted whether the active properties
they possess are due to a normal constituent of the plant. No medical
use has ever been made of these plants, although their poisonous
character has often led to the suggestion that they might be found
valuable. No physiological study has been made of the action of the
poison, and no complete chemical analysis has as yet appeared.
The stockmen speak of it as causing intoxication in the animals which
eat it, and a prominent symptom is the "loco" condition, in which the
power of co-ordination is lost or greatly limited. They cannot readily
readjust for changes in gait, etc. A horse travels on level ground, but
finds great difficulty in changing to pass over an elevation or
depression, or, when going up hill, he has great difficulty in starting
down hill; it is difficult, when he is still, to impress him that he
must go, and as difficult to stop him when desired. The same rule
applies to eating and other necessaries. Such a horse is said to be
"locoed." Professor Hawkes procured specimens from which Boericke &
Tafel made a tincture. To further test the merits of the remedy, the
students of the class at Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago kindly
participated in a proving.
Professor Hawkes received some reports from his group, but has mislaid
his papers, and he is unable to give in detail the symptoms produced. He
stated, however, that the principal action corroborated that given
During 1886-'87 term I made another attempt, and a few reports were
received. The remedy was given by number, that the prover should not
know what he took, nor the strength of it. Some were given the [Greek:
theta], others 1x^d, 2x^d, 3x^d, 12x powders, 30x powders, and some
A few reported "no effect" from the [Greek: theta]. The following
includes the report from five persons:
1. (Mr. S. P. F., 10 drops of [Greek: theta].) 2. (Mrs. W., 10 drops of
3x^d repeated.) 3. (Mr. G. H. A., 15 drops of 3x^d.) 4. (Mrs. P.,
powders of 12x repeated.) 5. (Mrs. L., powders of 30x.) 6. (Mrs. L.,
powders of 12x.)
Mind.--Great mental depression,^1,^3. Cannot think or concentrate his
thoughts,^1,^3. Very forgetful of familiar words and names,^3. No
life,^1. Disinclination to talk or study,^3. Wants to be alone,^3. Is
better satisfied to sit down and do nothing,^3. Feels perfectly
despondent,^3. A feeling as if I would lose consciousness,^3. All
symptoms worse when thinking of them,^1,^3.
Sensorium.--Strange sensation about the head,^4. A feeling as if I
would lose consciousness, or as if I would fall when standing,^5. Sense
of fulness of the head, and of instability, when standing or sitting,^6.
Head.--The head has a feeling of great pressure, especially on moving
the eyeballs,^4. Head hot,^6. Was unable to move around on account of
this strange, uncertain feeling of numbness, with prickling sensation in
left arm and hand,^4. Full, uncomfortable feeling in the head,^5. Slight
headache in vertex and occiput in forenoon, over the eyeballs about
noon,^1. Pain in the helix of the ear for two or three minutes, then
pain commenced between the eyes and went in a straight line up over the
head and down to the base of the brain,^2. Pain across the base of the
brain,^2 ("gone in a minute or two"). Dulness in frontal region, must
lie down,^4. Pain in occipital region is constant since 1 P.M.; heavy
ache, as if a weight were attached to the lower edge, pulling it back,
but pain does not extend down the back,^2; all stop at 3 P.M.,^2. A
pressing headache from 2 to 5 P.M.,^3 (on 2d day). Awoke with slight
pressing pain in forehead, which increased gradually until about 2 P.M.,
and then gradually decreased,^3. Pain, dull and heavy, in the head, with
sense of pressure,^4. Head very sensitive, < on the side on
which I lie,^3. Pressure upon the head disappearing after sleep,^4.
Dull, heavy feeling in the head, with uncertain gait and walk, so that
she was obliged to lie down, when she fell into a deep sleep and woke up
with the metallic taste.
Eyes.--Feel dull and heavy, blurred, pupils dilated,^3,^4. When
reading, it seems as if a light were reflected from a bright copper
plate seen at the left side, as if the light were at the end of the
room,^6. Pain in the eyeball,^4. Pain over the right eye,^6.
Ears.--Roaring sound in the ears,^3.
Nose.--Very dry; scabs form in the nose,^3. Frequent violent sneezing,
with fluent coryza in the evening,^1. Nose feels as if sunburnt; red and
shining, especially on alae,^1. Feeling of pressure over the bridge of
the nose,^1. Fluent coryza, somewhat bloody,^1.
Mouth.--Very dry, especially in the morning,^3. Metallic taste in the
mouth, strongly marked,^1. Gumboil on left lower maxillary; profuse
saliva,^1. Pain in left lower maxillary,^1. Tenderness of all the
Throat.--Slight inflammation of the pharynx, a "husky" feeling,^1. Dry
Eating and Drinking.--Appetite gradually increasing,^1.
Appetite good; symptoms, < after eating, > after an hour,^2. Loss of
Nausea and Vomiting.--Eructations, as after taking soda-water (after
each powder), with colicky pains,^5, and looseness of the bowels
(constipated before taking the remedy),^5. Eructations, empty,
frequent,^1. Slight nausea, all day at intervals,^2 (first day). A very
tired, languid feeling all forenoon, accompanied by nausea on lying
down, passing away on getting up, and returning on lying down again (not
Stomach.--Tenderness in the epigastric region,^1. A kind of pressing
soreness,^3. Cold during the chill,^2.
Abdomen.--Sharp, lancinating pains all through the abdomen, early in
the evening,^5 (observed but once). Sharp pain, running from right to
left across the bowels, for several minutes, followed by a very strong
desire to go to stool; entire relief after stool; slight griping pain in
the region of the umbilicus, working down at 8 P.M., followed at 10 P.M.
by discharge of flatus; full feeling in abdomen, causing short breathing
after lying down in bed,^1.
Stool.--Symptoms marked and constant. Faeces of the consistency of
mush, which slips through the sphincters in little lumps, very similar
to lumps of jelly,^3. Stools dark brown, or like jelly,^3. Urgent desire
for stool, sometimes removed by passing wind; quantity normal,^3. Sore
feeling in the rectum,^3. Crawling sensation in rectum as if little
worms were there,^3. Stool inclined to be hard; unsatisfied feeling, as
though not done,^1. Stool solid at first, then diarrhoea,^1. Movement
of the bowels at an unusual time,^2 (6:30 P.M., had moved the morning of
same day). Sharp pain from right to left across the bowels, followed by
very strong desire for stool,^2. Stool, first hard, then loose,^2.
Entire relief from pain after stool,^2.
Urine.--Symptoms very marked,^3. Characterized from the first by a
very profuse flow of clear, or almost colorless urine, nearly the color
of water,^3. Three to four times the normal quantity,^3,^1,^4,^2. When
thinking of urinating I had to go at once,^3. No sediment
whatever,^3,^1. Pain in the kidneys, hardest in right, with some
tenderness,^1. At the expiration of every two or three hours after
stopping the remedy, there was an enormous flow of pale, straw-colored
urine, and with this would gradually disappear the metallic taste which
was so marked,^4. Free urination, dark in color, no distress,^2. Urine
scanty, and looked like that of a child troubled with worms, light
red-colored stain on bottom of vessel,^2 (second day). Awoke with a
heavy pain in the kidneys,^2 (third day). Urine clear on passing, but
becomes as above described on standing,^2 (third day). During day urine
scanty, with considerable irritation, as if the muscles of the bladder
were contracting, > moving about,^2.
Male Sexual Organs.--From being naturally of a passionate nature, the
desire and ability diminished to impotence,^3. No sexual desire or
ability,^3. Bruised feeling in the testicles, beginning in the right and
extending to the left--came on after going to bed,^1. Occasional pain,
of short duration, in glans penis,^1. Pain in testicles, worse with
extension along spermatic cord and down thighs,^1 (third day).
Sexual Organs, Female.--At 1.30 P.M., felt a pain in left ovary, like
something grasping or holding tightly for about an hour, then
Larynx.--Slight accumulation of mucus in the larynx, hard to cough it
Breathing.--Short and quick breathing from the full feeling in the
abdomen,^1. Hard breathing, as though lungs and bronchi were closing as
the chill passes off.
Cough.--A dry cough, from any little exercise,^3 (eleventh day). A
short, hacking cough, with tightness across the chest,^2 (third day).
Lungs.--Oppression at 9 P.M.,^1 (first day).
Heart and Pulse.--Palpitation after lying down at night, for 15 to 20
minutes,^1 (seventh day). On going to bed, pain, like a wave, over the
heart,^2 (second day), < lying down. Pulse 84, intermittent,^2
(2 P.M. of third day).
Outer Chest.--A warm, tingling sensation over left chest, just under
the skin,^2 (lasted five minutes).
Neck and Back.--Neck pains. Pain and stiffness of the muscles of the
back of the neck.
Upper Extremities.--Stitching pain in right wrist for half an hour,
leaving a tired feeling in joint,^2. At 12:30, a sharp, cutting pain
running from point of shoulder down front of chest to point of hip bone,
going suddenly,^2. Flesh feels as though she had taken a heavy cold,^2.
Sharp pain, with coldness, from left shoulder-joint extending down the
arm < in shoulder-joint, > sleep; goes away gradually,^4. Prickling
sensation in left arm and hand,^4.
Lower Extremities.--Stitching pain in right leg and knee-joint for
half an hour, leaving a tired feeling in the joint,^2. Hard pain in the
left big toe-joint,^2. Pain inside of left leg from the groin to the
Extremities in General.--Flesh on under side of limbs sore,^2. Sore
feeling of all the muscles of the right side of the body,^2. All the
pains come and go quickly, but the muscles remain sore and stiff,^2.
Frequent fine pains all over the body until 3 P.M., when all disappeared
and felt as well as usual,^2.
Position.--All pains better when moving about and when in the cool
air,^2. Nausea, heart symptoms and breathing, < lying down,^1,^2.
Nerves.--At 10 A.M. a very sick, exhausted feeling appeared,^2.
Sleep.--Not very sound,^3. Dreams of a pleasant or lascivious
character,^3. Wakes often,^2. On rising feels sad, weary, despondent,^3.
Twitching of the muscles on falling asleep roused him,^3 (once three or
four nights). Dreamed of spiders, bugs,^2 (first night), of swimming in
water,^2 (second night--am not in the habit of dreaming).
Chill.--Chill at 11:40 A.M., beginning in back between shoulders,
down over body to feet; stomach feels cold; pains all over body during
chill; a peculiar sensation of crawling or contraction of the abdominal
muscles, hardest about the navel, lasted about half an hour,^2. As the
chill passes off a smarting in the throat and a feeling as though the
lungs and bronchi would close up, making breathing very difficult; chill
lasted until 1 P.M., followed by perspiration of palms of the hands and
soles of the feet; the changeable pains remained until 3 P.M., when all
disappeared,^2. No thirst in either stage,^2. Felt badly for three days
at same hour as chill,^2. For four weeks on every seventh day had a
chill with all the above symptoms; the coldness of the spine was
continuous for eight weeks, and was then removed by Gelsemium,^2.
(Dr. W. D. Gentry, while at Las Vegas, New Mexico, made
the following summary of the action of the remedy.
Homoeopathic Recorder, 1895):
For the present I will only give a few of the leading symptoms produced
by the Loco weed:
Brain and Mind: Stimulation of mind; pleasant intoxicated feeling.
Satisfied indifference to all influences and interests.
Head: Full, warm feeling about the head.
Eyes: Strange feeling of fullness about the eyes, with sight obscured,
so that it appears that one is looking through clear water which
produces about all of the seven prismatic colors, red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, purple and violet.
Paralysis of nerves, and muscles of the eyes, producing amblyopia.
Pupils contracted and do not respond to light.
Eyesight lost with feeling as if in consequence of long exposure to
strong, arc-electric lights.
Neck and Back: Numb, pithy or woody feeling about and in the spine.
Lower Extremities: Loss of power to control movements of body or limbs.
Swaying, staggering gait.
Reflex action of tendon-patella lost.
General: Weakness and insecurity of all powers of locomotion.
Feeling of intoxication, with almost entire loss of vision.
Amblyopia: sense of touch greatly weakened.
(From the Kansas City Star.)
The loco weed of the Western plains is to vegetation what the
rattlesnake is to animal life. The name comes from the Spanish and
signifies insanity. It is a dusky green and grows in small bunches or
handfuls and scatters itself in a sparse and meagre way about the
country. It is in short a vegetable nomad and travels about not a
little. Localities where it this season flourishes in abundance may not
see any of it next year, nor indeed for a number of years to come.
The prime property of the loco is to induce insanity in men or animals
who partake of it. Animals--mules, horses, sheep and cattle--avoid it
naturally, and under ordinary circumstances never touch it. But in the
winter, when an inch or two of snow has covered the grass, these green
bunches of loco standing clear and above the snow are tempting bits to
animals which are going about half starved at the best. Even then it is
not common for them to eat it. Still, some do and it at once creates an
appetite in the victim similar in its intense force to the alcohol habit
Once started on the downward path of loco a mule will abandon all other
forms of food and look for it. In a short time its effects become
perfectly apparent. You will see a locoed mule standing out on the
shadowless plain with not a living, moving thing in his vicinity. His
head is drooping and his eyes are half closed. On the instant he will
kick and thresh out his heels in the most warlike way. Under the
influence of loco he sees himself surrounded by multitudes of
threatening ghosts and is repelling them.
The mind of the animal is completely gone. He cannot be driven or worked
because of his utter lack of reason. He will go right or left or turn
around in the harness in spite of bits or whip, or will fail to start or
stop, and all in a vacant, idiotic way devoid of malice. The victim
becomes as thin physically as mentally, and after retrograding four or
five months at last dies, the most complete wreck on record. Many
gruesome tales are furnished of cruel Spanish and Mexican ladies who, in
a jealous fit, have locoed their American admirers through the medium of
loco tea. Two or three cases in kind are reported in the Texas lunatic
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