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Blatta Orientalis

SYNONYM, Indian cockroach.

CLASS, Insecta.

ORDER, Orthoptera.

COMMON NAME (Indian), Talapoka.

PREPARATION.--Triturate in the usual way.

(These two papers are by Dr. D. N. Ray, of Calcutta,

India, and were originally published in the

Homoeopathic Recorder in the years 1890 and 1891. A

number of papers from
American physicians could be added

confirming what Dr. Ray says of the drug.)

The Blatta orientalis is a common insect in India, where it is found

abundantly in the dwelling houses. It has rather a flat body, from an

inch to a couple of inches in length; deep brown color. It can fly a

short distance. The wings reach beyond the body and cover it completely;

the feet have several segments and are provided with prickles.

Preparation.--The live animal is crushed and triturated as under class

IX of American Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, a tincture can be

prepared as under class IV of the same Pharmacopoeia.

This new unknown remedy has a curious anecdote connected with it. I call

it new because it has not been mentioned in any of our medical works,

although the use of Blatta Americana (American cockroach) as a remedy

for dropsy has been mentioned in journals. The Indian cockroach is used

not in cases of dropsy but in cases of Asthma, a most obstinate

disease to deal with. In asthma it acts almost specifically. Before I

further proceed to give an account of this new, invaluable drug I shall

narrate here a short story how it came into use.

Some years ago an elderly gentleman had long been suffering from asthma;

for over twenty years. He took all measures and tried different methods

of both recognized and unrecognized medical treatments, but

unfortunately all proved in vain. At last he gave up all treatment and

was getting fits daily. He was brought to such a deplorable condition

that he was left to suffer. He was in the habit of taking tea. One

afternoon as usual he drank his cup of tea--afterwards he noticed that

his oppression in the chest was much less and that he was feeling

unusually better, so much so that he felt himself a different being.

This led him and his friends to inquire into the cause of it. He

immediately inferred that the relief was due to the drinking of the

tea, although he habitually drank the same tea but never before had

experienced any such changes. So this change he attributed to something

in the tea. The servant who prepared the tea was sent for and

questioned. His reply was that he made the tea as usual and there was

nothing new in it. The residue of the teacup was carefully examined,

nothing was found there, but on examining the tea-pot a dead cockroach

was discovered. So it was concluded that this infusion of cockroach

did the gentleman a world of good. The very day he drank that cup of

tea he had hardly any fit of asthma at night, and in a few days he got

entirely well to his and his friends' surprise.

The accounts of his Providential recovery were communicated to some of

his friends--one of them, not a medical man, but quite an enterprising

gentleman, took this into his head and resolved to try whether cockroach

does any good to other asthmatic patients. For this purpose he got a lot

of cockroaches, put them alive into a quantity of boiling water and

mixed it after filtering the water when cool with almost the same

quantity of the rectified spirit of wine, so that it might last for some

time without getting soured. This new mixture (or tincture) he began to

try in each and every case of asthma that he came across. The dose was a

drop each time, 3 or 4 doses daily, and more frequently during the fits

of asthma. Within a short time he made some such wonderful cures that

people began to flock from different parts of the country to his door.

Soon the number of attendants was so great that he had to manufacture

the medicine by pounds and all this medicine he distributed to patients

without any charge. He has records of some of the cases.

Some two years ago a patient of mine asked me whether we make any use of

Talapoka (cockroach) in our Pharmacopoeia. My reply was that we use

many loathsome insects as our remedial agents. I told him also that

Blatta Americana (American cockroach), I had heard, had been used in

cases of dropsy, but I had no practical experience with it. He then said

the Indian cockroach is used in cases of asthma and he knew several

cases had been cured with it. This struck me and I determined to try

this in cases of asthma whenever next opportunity occurred. For this

purpose I got a lot of live cockroaches, killed them and pounded to a

fine pulp and triturated according to class IX of American

Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, that is, two parts by weight of the

substance and nine parts by weight of sugar of milk, giving 1x

trituration. Thus I prepare up to 3x trituration and I also make an

alcoholic solution--a few live cockroaches were crushed and five parts

by weight of alcohol poured over them--it was allowed to remain eight

days in a dark, cool place, being shaken twice daily. After the

expiration of that period the alcoholic solution was poured off,

strained and filtered, when it was ready for use.

I began to try both the preparations--drop doses of the tincture and

grain doses of 1x, 2x and sometimes 3x, 3 or 4 times daily when there

was no fit and almost every fifteen minutes or half hourly during the

severity of a fit. Both preparations began to answer well and I was

getting daily more and more encouraged about the efficacy of this new

drug. I had the opportunity of trying quite a number of cases of asthma

within this short time, the reports of which I wish to publish in the

future, but for the present I am glad to say in many cases it acted

almost specifically, that is, the whole trouble cleared away within a

fortnight or so without recurrence. In some cases the severity of the

paroxysm was lessened and the recurrence of the fits took place at a

longer interval; in others again only temporary benefit was observed.

This failure to benefit all cases alike I attribute to many

circumstances. Some people did not, rather could not, take the medicine

regularly according to my directions owing to their untoward

circumstances; some persons were suffering from other complications

along with asthma; some again got temporary relief and in the meantime

discontinued the medicine and came back again when there was a

recurrence of the fits, that is, they did not continue the drug for

sufficient length of time. Some cases again, not having derived

immediate benefit, got impatient and discontinued the medicine without

proper trial.

Besides all these, I think individual idiosyncrasy has a great deal to

do. The season of the year has some influence. It is usually observed in

this country that those who are subject to periodical attacks of

asthmatic fits are more prone to an attack either during the full or the

new moon, or at both the times. I believe if it is properly watched this

fact will be evident all over the world. Same is true of some other

diseases, as chronic cough, chronic fevers, rheumatism, either acute or

chronic, gout, elephantiasis, other glandular enlargements, etc., get

aggravated or are prone to aggravation during such changes of the moon.

Then some people get more severe and frequent fits during the winter

than the summer and the others more during the summer than the winter.

Let me here tell you that the Indian summer is very different from

either the English or the American. Some part of the Indian summer

season is quite rainy and the atmosphere is saturated with moisture and

other irritating ingredients, consequently a class of asthmatic people

suffer more during this season. I noticed to this class of cases Blatta

orientalis will prove most efficacious. I have used it in bronchial and

nervous asthma with better success than the stomachae.


I have of late tried Blatta orientalis indiscriminately in almost all

cases of asthma that have come under my treatment, and I am glad to say

I have received good results in most cases, as the reports of some of

the clinical cases will show. I have not come to any definite use of

this drug yet, but I shall only mention a few facts that I have observed

during its use. It acts better in low potency and repeated doses during

an attack of asthma; when the spasm subsides, the terminal asthmatic

cough with wheezing and slight dyspnoea, etc., is better relieved with

higher potencies; the low potency, if continued after the spasmodic

period is over, will make the cough more troublesome and harassing to

the patient and the expectoration tenacious, thick and very difficult to

raise, but this will not be the case if the potency is changed. I had

this difficulty in a few cases when I was less acquainted with the

action of the drug, but now I manage my cases better. In four patients

who continued the drug for some time in the low potency, during the

paroxysm and after it was over, the cough became dry and hacking with

little or no expectoration, the streaks of blood appeared in the sputa,

which the patients had never observed in the course of their long

illness. This appearance of blood in their sputa was the cause of a

great anxiety to them and made them hurry over to my office. On inquiry

I learned from two of them--one a lady and the other a young man--that

while taking this remedy they felt a sensation all over the body, for

four or five days previous to the appearance of the blood, as if heat

were radiating from the ears, eyes, nose, top of the head, palms of the

hands and soles of the feet. They attributed this sensation of heat all

over the body and the appearance of the blood in the expectoration to

the drug. I directed them to stop the medicine at once; this they did,

and with the discontinuance of it the blood disappeared from the sputa

as well as the sensation of heat, but to me it was an open question

whether this appearance of blood in the expectoration was due to

overdrugging, although I must say that the presence of the streaks of

blood in the sputa of asthmatic patients is not an uncommon phenomenon.

I resolved to give the same potency to the same patients after the

lapse of some days. I did so, and to my surprise the blood-streaked

sputa again appeared after they had taken the remedy ix, one grain four

times daily. From this the patients understood it was the same medicine

that had been given to them on the last occasion and begged me not to

give it again, as the appearance of blood in the sputum frightened them,

in spite of all my assurance. No more strong doses of the drug were

given to them and they did not notice any more blood in the sputum. I

have heard other patients complain of this peculiar sensation of heat

whenever strong doses were given to them for some time. It acts better

on stout and corpulent than on thin and emaciated persons. The asthmatic

patients subject to repeated attacks of malaria derive less permanent

benefit from the use of the drug. So, it seems to me, that in haemic

asthma, which is due to the abnormal condition of the blood, it is

efficacious. I have also used this drug in troublesome cough with

dyspnoea of phthisical patients with good result.


CASE I. Baln R. M., aged fifty-five, thin, emaciated and irritable

temperament, has been suffering from hereditary asthma for the last

twenty-five years. For the last six or seven years he suffered from

asthmatic fits almost nightly and a troublesome cough with a good deal

of frothy expectoration. He said he had not known what sleep was for the

last six or seven years, in fact, he could not lie down in bed, as that

would immediately bring on a violent fit of coughing which would not

cease until he sat up, so the recumbent posture for him was almost

impracticable, and he used to sit up during the night and doze on a pile

of pillows. He passed his days comparatively better, but the approach of

the night was a horror to him, his struggle, commencing at 9 or 10 P.M.,

would last till the morning. He was the father of many children and was

well taken care of, but his suffering was so great that he had no

ambition to live any longer. He tried almost all systems of medicine

without much good. For the last ten years he took opium, which afforded

him slight relief at the beginning, using as high as forty-eight grains

of opium in twenty-four hours. Owing to the constant sitting posture he

became stooped, and the back of his neck stiff and painful. In April,

1889, he was suddenly taken ill with fever. The fever became protracted.

After an illness of over a month his condition became so bad that all

hope of his recovery was given up. During this illness he was treated by

an old school physician of some repute, but his condition daily grew

worse, the asthmatic attacks became very violent and almost incessant,

and the difficulty of breathing very great. He became so feeble that he

had not strength enough to enable him to bring up the expectoration; his

chest was full of it; fever was less; there was general anasarca. He was

sitting with head bent forward, almost touching the bed, as that was the

only position possible to him day and night. He had become almost

speechless, when I was sent for, at about 3 P.M. on the 23d of May,

1889. When I was entering the patient's room a medical man came out and

hinted that there was no use of my going in as the patient was just

expiring. I found the patient breathing hard; unconscious; jaws were

locked and saliva dribbling from the corners of his mouth; body cold;

cold, clammy perspiration on forehead; eyes partially opened; in fact,

to all appearance, he looked as if he were dead, except for the

respiratory movements. I felt his pulse and found it was not so bad as

the patient was looking. I examined the back of his chest, as that was

the only portion easily accessible, and noticed that the bronchial

spasms were going on with loud mucous rale. From the character of his

pulse I thought that the present state of the patient was probably due

to the continued violent struggle and not deep coma, and that he had

become so exhausted that he was motionless, speechless and completely

unconscious. His bed was surrounded by many friends and relations, who

had come to bid him a last farewell; and it was with surprise that they

all looked at me when I proposed to administer medicine to a patient

whose death was expected every minute and for whose cremation

preparations were being made.

I got a big phial full of water and put in it Blatta orientalis 1x

trit. a few grains and tried two or three times to give him a spoonful

of it, but in vain; the jaws were locked and I could not make him

swallow any of that medicine; then I put some powder dry in the hollow

of his lips and asked the attendants to try to give him the medicine I

left in the bottle. I was asked whether there was any hope of his

recovery, of course my answer was "no," and I also said he could only

live a few hours. I left the patient's house with the idea of not

visiting it again, but at 9 P.M. a messenger came with the report that

the patient was slightly better, he could swallow medicine and two doses

of it had been given. I was asked to see the patient again. I could

hardly believe what he said, however, I went to see the patient again. I

noticed there was a slight change for the better, the pulse was steady,

the jaws were unlocked, there was mobility of the limbs, he could

swallow liquid with ease and was expectorating freely, the breathing

though still difficult was slightly improved. There was the winking of

the eyelids. On the whole he was looking less lifeless, but still I

entertained no hope of his recovery. I left instructions to repeat the

same medicine once or twice during the night, if required, at the same

time to give milk repeatedly, one or two spoonfuls at a time, and to

inform me next morning if he had survived the night. Next morning I

really grew anxious to know what had become of my patient who had shown

symptoms slightly better with this new remedy. A messenger came with the

report that the patient passed a good night. I was requested to see him

again. When I arrived at his place at 8 A.M. I was surprised to see him

so much better, he had not only regained his consciousness, but was

sitting quietly in his bed, could speak slowly, the difficulty of

breathing was completely gone, but the cough occasionally troubled him

and a good deal of expectoration of frothy white or sometimes of big

yellowish lumps of mucus came up. He was given three doses of the same

medicine 2x trit. during the day. He passed a fair day, but at night his

difficulty of breathing again appeared in somewhat milder form. He had

to take two doses of the medicine. Thus the medicine was continued for a

week and his trouble daily became less and less until after the

expiration of a week he was able to sleep at night for the first time in

the last six or seven years. I treated him over a month, and his health

improved so rapidly that he not only got rid of the asthmatic trouble,

but was soon able to go out and even attend his business. The stooped

condition of his neck with slight pain and slight chronic bronchitis did

not leave him altogether. Besides Blatta orientalis, I also prescribed

for him Arsenicum alb. 6 and 12, Naja tri. 6, Ipecac 3, and

Antim. tart. 3, as they were indicated. He continued well for over a

year, but in August, 1890, he had slight reappearance of the asthmatic

trouble. He again took Blatta orientalis and got well.

CASE II. Mrs. Nundy, a thin lady, aged twenty-three, mother of three

children, came from a village for the treatment of asthma, from which

she had been suffering for the last eight years. For the first two or

three years she used to get two or three attacks in the year, but

gradually they were repeated more frequently, though the character of

the attack remained the same throughout. It would last two days and two

nights, whether any medicine was given to her or not. Nothing would

alleviate her suffering during an attack--too much interference would

increase her sufferings and prolong the duration of the attack, so,

practically speaking, almost nothing was given to her during an attack.

The great oppression of breathing, restlessness, profuse perspiration,

inability to move or lie down and loud wheezing would be the most

prominent symptoms in each attack. These would remain almost with equal

violence for nearly forty hours, when the spasms would cease with slight

cough and expectoration, and she would be perfectly at ease as ever,

and there would be no trace of disease left, except slight wheezing

sound on auscultation. But latterly these attacks were very frequent,

almost every week or ten days. In August, 1890, she was brought here for

treatment. It is worth while to mention that she took both allopathic

and native drugs during the interval of attacks to prevent their

recurrence, but without any effect. I saw her first on the morning of

the 5th of August, during an attack. I prescribed Blatta Orientalis IX

trit., one grain every two hours. It was to their surprise that this

attack subsided unlike all others by the evening; that is, it

disappeared within twenty hours. This encouraged the lady and her

husband so much that she wanted to have regular course of treatment

under me. I put her under tincture of Blatta Orientalis IX, one drop

per dose, twice daily. She continued this medicine till the time of the

next attack was over; that is, for ten days. After the expiration of

this period she began to complain of a sensation of heat all over her

body, so I changed it to 3x, one drop morning and evening. She kept

well, and after a month she went home thinking she got well. A month

after her going home she had an attack of asthma at night and took

Blatta Orientalis IX as before, and by the next morning she was well.

This was in October, and after two months of the last attack. She had

another attack in winter and none since.

CASE III. A young man, aged thirty-four, had been suffering from asthma

for some years. He was invariably worse during the rains and the winter,

and a chronic bronchitis was almost a constant accompaniment. He tried

allopathic and lots of patent drugs, with only temporary amelioration of

the trouble. At last, in November, 1888, he came to my office. On

examination of his chest I found there was a chronic bronchitis. He said

that slight difficulty of breathing with hacking cough used to trouble

him every night, besides a cold would be followed by a severe attack of

asthma, so its periodicity of recurrence was irregular. I treated him

with Ipecac, Arsenicum alb., etc. The first-named medicine did him

the most good, but he never got entirely well. So in July, 1889, I put

him under tincture Blatta orientalis 3X, drop doses, three or four

times daily. Under its use he began to improve steadily, and had only

two or three attacks of asthmatic fits since he used this drug, which

were promptly relieved by the same drug in 1x potency. Euphrasia off.

was prescribed for his cold whenever he had it. He is free from all

trouble for the last year and a half. His general condition is so much

changed that there is no apprehension of the recurrence of his former


CASE IV. Baln Bose, an old, corpulent gentleman, aged sixty-two, has

been suffering from asthmatic attacks for some years. He never took any

allopathic medicine, but had always been under treatment of native

kabiraj (medical men), under whose treatment he was sometimes better and

worse at others. Latterly he became very bad and passed several

sleepless nights. He used to pass his days comparatively better, and it

was at night and in the morning he used to be worse. On the 24th of

July, 1890, at 9 A.M. I saw him first--there was a slight touch of

asthma even then. I made him try to lie down in bed; this he could not

do, owing to the coughing fit it excited while in that posture. On

examination the chest revealed chronic bronchial catarrh, and there was

also a harassing cough, with very little expectoration after repeated

exertion. I prescribed Blatta orientalis IX trit., one grain every two

hours. He passed the night without an attack, and the next morning when

I saw him he complained that only the cough was troublesome last night

and no fit of asthma. The cough was somewhat troublesome even when I saw

him in the morning. I gave him tincture Blatta ori. 3x, one drop dose

every two hours. He passed the day and night well. He continued the

treatment for a fortnight and then went home, where he has been keeping

good health, with the exception of an occasional bronchial catarrh.

CASE V. A shoemaker, aged forty-two, robust constitution, has been

suffering with asthma for three or four years. He came to my office on

the 6th of November, 1890. He had been getting asthmatic fits almost

every night since October last. During the day troublesome cough, with

slight expectoration and hurried breathing made him unable to attend his

business. Tincture Blatta orientalis IX, one drop doses, six times

daily, was given. The very first day he perceived the good effect of the

medicine and continued the same for a month, when he got well and

discontinued the medicine. He has been keeping well ever since.

CASE VI. Mr. G., aged forty, healthy constitution, had an asthmatic fit

on the 4th of August, 1890, preceded by a violent attack of cold, from

which he frequently used to suffer. He had this severe cold in the

morning, and in the afternoon he began to experience a great difficulty

of breathing and slight oppression and lightness of the chest--this, by

9 P.M., developed into a regular fit of asthma. I was sent for. On my

arrival, at 10 P.M., I found he was sitting before a pile of pillows

with elbows supported on them, and struggling for breath. There was also

a great tightness in the chest, occasional cough, and inability to

speak. I at once put him under Blatta orientalis IX trit., one grain

every fifteen minutes, and less frequently afterwards if he felt better.

On my visit next morning I found him much better, but he said his

trouble at night continued, more or less, till 2 A.M., after which he

got some rest. Now, there was a troublesome cough, slight oppression of

the chest and great apprehension of a second attack in the night. The

same medicine, 3x trit., was given to him during the day, and a few

powders of 1x were left with him in case he was to get an attack at

night. There was a slight aggravation of those symptoms at night, and he

had occasion to take only two powders of 1x. The next morning he was

every way better, except the cough, for which four powders of 3x were

given daily. In four or five days he got entirely well and had no


CASE VII. Mrs. D., aged twenty, a healthy, stout lady, mother of one

child, had been always enjoying good health, was suddenly attacked with

a violent fit of asthma on the 8th of August, 1890. This was the first

occasion she had a fit of asthma, the result of a severe cold. At about

2 A.M. she was suddenly seized with difficulty of breathing and a great

oppression in the chest. She could not lie down any longer in bed and

had to sit up, being supported on a pile of pillows. In the morning at 8

A.M. I saw her first. I noticed she was in great agony and almost

speechless. On examination I could not detect much loud wheezing--the

characteristic of an asthmatic attack--though the rapid movements of the

walls of the chest were even quite visible to the bystanders. The

patient was feeling almost choked up, and could not express what was

going on. She only pointed out a point, a little over the pit of the

stomach most painful. There was no cough--perspiration was pouring over

her body. I could not at once make out whether it was a case of pure

asthma, especially as she never had it before. However, I made up my

mind to give her Blatta orientalis IX trit., a grain dose every

fifteen minutes, and watch the effect myself. Three doses of it were

given without much change for the better. I left a few more doses to be

repeated half hourly and promised to see her again within a couple of

hours. On my return I found her in a much better condition, and she had

taken only one of those powders I had left, and they were not repeated,

as she felt better. Now I thought it must have been an attack of asthma,

and I continued the medicine unhesitatingly. There was no aggravation at

night, but on the next morning she was better, and the usual asthmatic

cough began with slight expectoration. There was pain in the chest and

head with each coughing fit. Blatta orientalis 3x trit., four to six

doses, was continued for a few days, when she got well. Again in

November she had a slight tendency to an asthmatic fit, took two or

three doses of the same medicine and got well. Since then she had not

been troubled again.

CASE VIII. A gentleman, the keeper of a common shop, aged forty-four,

belonging to a village, had been suffering from asthma for the last

eight years and had always been under treatment of native kabiraj

(medical men). In June, he came to the city, and I was called to see him

on the 14th of June, to treat him for his asthma. The day previous he

had an attack, for which he took no medicine. Each of his attacks

usually lasted four or five days. I gave him Blatta orientalis IX

trit., one grain every two hours, and left him six such powders to be

taken during the day. He took them and felt better the next day. He

stayed here two or three days more, and when well he wanted to proceed

home, which was some couple of hundred miles. He took with him two

two-drachm phials of Blatta orientalis, one of IX and the other of 3x

trit. He continued the 3x, one grain doses, two or three times daily,

for a month, and discontinued afterward. He had no more asthmatic fits.

In January last, 1891, I had a letter from him, thanking me for his

recovery and asking for some of the same medicine for a friend of his,

who had been suffering from asthma. The friend of his who used the same

drug, Blatta orientalis, was equally benefited.

CASE IX. Mrs. Dalta, a thin lady, aged thirty-eight, mother of several

children, had been exposed to cold, which brought on an attack of

bronchitis with fever. This, in the course of a fortnight, developed

into a regular fit of asthma. She was all this time treated by an

old-school physician, but when the husband of the lady saw that she was

daily getting worse, and a new disease crept in, he made up his mind to

change the treatment. I was called to see her in the morning of the 8th

of June, 1890. She became very much emaciated, could not take any food,

had fever with acute bronchitis, hurried respiration, difficulty of

breathing; this she was complaining of bitterly, owing to which she

could not lie down in bed, but had to sit up day and night. There was a

prolonged fit of spasmodic cough at short intervals, with slight

expectoration, but these coughing fits would make her almost breathless.

This was the first time I prescribed Blatta orientalis IX in a case

of asthma with fever and acute bronchitis. It answered my purpose well.

She had only ten powders during the day and passed a comparatively

better night. Next morning when I saw her she was better, except the

coughing fits, which were continuing as before. The same medicine was

repeated. On the 10th of June she had no asthmatic trouble at night, but

there was not much improvement in her cough--Anti. tart. and Bryonia

were needed to complete the cure.