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Spiritus Glandium Quercus

NAT. ORD.--Cupuliferae.

COMMON NAME--European or English oak.

PREPARATION.--The spirit is destilled from the tincture prepared by
macerating the acorn kernals from the Quercus robur, in five times their
weight of dilute alcohol.

(The following, from Rademacher, is quoted and translated
by Dr. J. C. Burnett in his Diseases of the Spleen).

I became acquainted with this remedy in a wonderful way. Many years ago
(I do not remember the exact time) a working carpenter, who had
previously lived at Crefeld, came to seek my advice for his bellyache,
which was of long standing. According to his own statement, he had long
been under Sanitary Councillor Schneider in Crefeld, who was not able to
help him, and so sent him to Professor Guenther in Duisberg. Ten journeys
thither were likewise in vain.

I tried my usual remedies for seemingly such cases, but to no good; and
as I noticed he was a good cabinetmaker, and dabbled a bit in
upholstery, I told him it would be a good plan if he were to hire
himself out to a country squire as joiner, thinking that the food of the
servants' hall would suit his sick stomach better than the beans, black
bread, and potatoes of the master carpenter. The good fellow followed my
advice, and lived with a squire for many years; and I heard nothing more
about him. Finally, he married the parlormaid, and settled here in this
town as a joiner. One day when visiting his sick wife I remembered the
old story of his bellyache, and wanted to know how it then was. "All
right," said he, "I have not had it for years." It seems that a local
surgeon, being one day at the squire's, told him to get some acorns, and
scrape them with a knife, and then put the scrapings into brandy and
leave them to draw for a day, and then to drink a small glass of this
spirit several times a day. He did as he was advised, and was forthwith
relieved, and very soon entirely freed from his old trouble.

From what I knew of the surgeon, I was very sure he could not give me
any intelligent reason for his prescription. I should only have heard
that acorn scrapings in brandy were good for the bellyache, or, at the
most, I may have ascertained from what doctor, or peasant, or old wife
he had got the tip.

But this would have done me but poor service; and as I had in the
meantime become much more cunning, I questioned the joiner himself
afresh as to the kind of his old pain, particularly as to the part of
the belly where the pain was last felt when he had had a bad attack.
He was in no doubt about it, but at once pointed to the part of the
belly nearest the left hypochondrium. So I very shrewdly suspected that
the abdominal pains were really owing to a primary affection of the
spleen, in which notion I was strengthened by remembering that the best
pain-killing hepatic and enteric remedies had done him no good.

To get as soon as possible to the bottom of the thing, I set about
preparing a tincture of acorns, and gave a teaspoonful five times a day
in water to an old brandy drunkard, who was sick unto death, and of whom
I knew that he had suffered from the spleen for a very long time, the
spleen being from time to time painful. He had likewise ascites, and his
legs were dropsical as far as the knees. It occurred to me that if the
acorn tincture were to act curatively on the spleen the consensual
kidney affection and its dependent dropsy would mend. I soon saw that I
had reckoned rightly. The urinary secretion was at once augmented, but
the patient complained that each time after taking the medicine he felt
a constriction of the chest. I ascribed this to the astringent matter of
the acorns, and thinking the really curative principle thereof would
most likely be volatile I caused the tincture to be distilled. This
acorn spirit caused no further constriction, and the urinary secretion
was still more markedly increased, the tension in the praecordia became
less and less, and this hopelessly incurable drunkard got quite well,
much to the surprise of all who knew him, and, honestly speaking, much
to my own surprise also.

Having thus put the spirit of acorns to such a severe test, and that in
a case that I already knew so well, in which it was impossible to make a
mistake as to the primary affection, I went further, and used it by
degrees in all sorts of spleen affections, and that not only in painful
ones, but in painless ones, in the evident ones, and in those of a more
problematical kind. Gradually I became convinced that it is a remedy,
the place of which no other can take. More particularly is it of great,
nay, of inestimable value in spleen-dropsy. Later on, I found that the
volatile curative principle of acorns may be still better extracted with
water with the addition of alcohol. [The aqua glandium is thus
prepared:--One pound of peeled and crushed acorns to the pound of
distillate.] Perhaps water alone might extract the healing principle,
but it would not keep thus, and so the cures would be uncertain, not to
mention the fact that such-like decaying medicines are a great trouble
to the chemists. The dose of the spirituous acorn-water (the only
preparation I have used of late years) is half a tablespoonful in water
four times a day. It has not much taste; some would even say it has
none, but the doubter may make a solution of alcohol and water in the
same proportions, and he will soon find that it has quite a taste of its

I must make mention of two of its peculiar effects. Certain people feel,
as soon as they have taken it, a peculiar sensation in the head, lasting
hardly a minute or two, which they say is like being drunk.

With a few people, particularly with those who have suffered from old
spleen engorgements, diarrhoea sets in after using it for two or three
weeks that makes them feel better. It seldom lasts more than a day, and
is not weakening, but moderate. Hence it is not needful either to stop
the acorn water or to lessen the dose.

I could add many instructive cases of spleen-dropsies and other spleen
affections in which the volatile principle of acorns proved curative,
but as I have so much more to say on other subjects I dare not be too
discursive on this one point; besides, what I have already said will
suffice for common-sense physicians. Still I cannot forbear noticing a
few bagatelles. For instance, I have found that the acute spleen fevers
that occur intercurrently with epidemic liver fevers are best cured with
aqua glandium--at least that is my experience.

Furthermore, I am of opinion that the three splenics of which I have
made mention are curative of three different morbid states of the
spleen, and I know well from my own experience that acorns are indicated
in the most common spleen affections; and, finally, I am not acquainted
with any positive signs whereby those three separate morbid states of
spleen can with certainty be differentiated from one another.

(In a later work, Gout and its Cure, by Burnett, the
remedy is again brought up as follows:)

For some years past I have been acquainted with a remedy that antidotes
the effect of alcohol very prettily, as I will show. I enter upon the
subject in this place, because it deserves to be widely known, and also
because in the treatment of gout, the alcoholism not infrequently bars
the way. The remedy I refer to is the distilled spirit of
acorns--Spiritus glandium quercus. My first account will be found in
my "Diseases of the Spleen," where Spiritus glandium quercus is dealt
with as a spleen medicine. I speak of set purpose of the homoeopathic
antidote, because alcoholism is a disease, and as such must be met by
specific medication.

Some of Rademacher's patients complained to him that while taking his
acorn medicine they felt in their heads somewhat as if they were drunk;
but as Rademacher did not believe in the law of similars--indeed, knew
but little about it--their complaint had no ulterior significance to
him, but still it struck him as worthy of record. "A few, but not many,
of those who take it immediately feel a peculiar sensation in the head,
which they say is like they feel when they are drunk, the sensation
lasting only a minute or two." Now, in the light of the homoeopathic
law, this symptom is eminently suggestive, but whether any one beside
myself has ever noticed this symptom I am not aware. Rademacher had
previously related the following brilliant cure. * * * He says that in
order to get a clear idea of the action of the remedy he caused to be
prepared a tincture of acorns, of which he gave a teaspoonful in water
five times a day to an almost moribund brandy toper, who had long been
suffering from a spleen affection that at times caused him a good deal
of pain, and who, at the time in question, had severe ascites and whose
lower extremities were dropsical up as far as the knees. Our author was
of opinion that the affection was a primary disease of the spleen, and
reasoned that if the tincture of acorns cured the spleen the kidneys
would duly resume work and the ascitic and anasarcous state would
disappear. He soon found he was right; patient at once began to pass
more urine, but he complained that every time he took a dose of the
medicine he got a constriction about the chest, and this Rademacher
ascribed to the astringent quality of the acorns, and to avoid this he
had the tincture of acorns distilled. The administration of this
distilled preparation was not followed by any unpleasant symptom, and
the quantity of urine passed increased still more, the tension on the
praecordia slowly lessened and this inveterate drunkard got quite well,
much to the amazement of everybody, Rademacher included, for he did not
at all expect him to recover.

Now, it must be admitted that a remedy that can cure an old drunkard of
general dropsy and restore him to health deserves closer acquaintance,
and when we first regard it from the pathogenetic side as producing, of
course, contingently, a cephalic state, resembling alcoholic
intoxication, and then from the clinical side as having cured an
abandoned drunkard, it looks very much as if we had a remedy
homoeopathic to alcoholism. I may add that Rademacher nowhere hints
that the Spiritus glandium quercus stands in any relation to
alcoholism; he regards it merely as a spleen medicine, specially
indicated in dropsy due to a primary spleen affection. At first I
regarded it merely in the same light, but when I really gripped the
significance of the pathogenetic symptoms just quoted I thought we might
find in our common acorns a notable homoeopathic anti-alcoholic.

(It is not fair to quote further from Burnett, but we may add that in
his book, Gout and Its Cure, there are given a number of clinical
cases in which the remedy acted brilliantly in those addicted to
tippling, or drinking hard. It is not so much that the remedy extirpates
the habit, but it enables those afflicted to easily control their
appetite and drink "like other people," without that insatiable craving.
The dose is about ten drops in water three to four times a day.)

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