Quite early in my practice I was impressed that labor as is usually seen by the practising physician, was influenced by abnormal conditions, existing at that time in the patient. I concluded if this was the case that there should be some one remedy or remedies that would correct these conditions and would put the patient into a normal condition, and permit of a much easier labor at least, than those usually observed.
Learning of the action of mitchella as having then been observed in a few cases, I began the use of this remedy and have continued it up to the present time. I purpose giving a report which, however, is not as specific as I would like to have it, but which is to a certain extent convincing, that this remedy will change abnormal conditions or rather will restore normal conditions, and will materially promote the health of the patient, the health of the child, and will conduce to an easy, uncomplicated labor, with no unpleasant after results to detract from the patient's future health.
This remedy is commonly known as partridgeberry, or squaw vine. The whole plant is used for medicine. It grows throughout the United States. The remedy was used by the Indian women previous to labor, and had a reputation for accomplishing exactly that which I use it for. But few writers have enlarged upon its virtues, but those who have used it for any length of time have become enthusiastic concerning its action and depend upon it with much positiveness.
It not only removes complications, but improves the general condition of the nervous system, especially in its influence over the reproductive function. It removes erratic pains and unsatisfied longings, corrects hysterical conditions and reflex symptoms, and causes the function of the urinary apparatus to be properly performed. The bowels become regular, faulty digestion is corrected, the appetite becomes natural, the digestion is improved, and there is a general, normal nourishing not only of the mother, but also of the child.
I cannot state the exact number of cases that I have treated with mitchella, but I am sure that I am speaking very conservatively when I say that I have treated five hundred patients with this remedy. I think that all of the patients who have taken the remedy have been benefited by it. Certain it is that none of them have ever seen an unpleasant influence from the medicine. Almost every lady to whom I have given the remedy once, during a pregnancy, has insisted upon taking it again, and almost invariably, if they have removed from my locality, and have occasion to use the remedy, they have insisted on obtaining it, that they might use it on that occasion. Those who have had children without this treatment are quick to see the benefits from its use, and do not hesitate to demand it during subsequent pregnancies.
It is also impossible for me to state whether there are not some few cases that would have done as well without it as with it, as there are occasionally cases who have a hard time with the first labor, and an easy time in subsequent labors.
I have used this remedy alone, that is why I feel competent to report on its action: I not only do not give other remedies in conjunction with it for similar influence, but I do not advise hot baths, or oiling with sweet oil, or other auxiliary measures that are considered by many of much importance.
Neither do I pay any attention to the diet of the patient, unless there has previously been considerable digestive disturbance, or some long standing derangement of the stomach, or intestinal tract. I believe the sympathetic disturbances of the stomach and bowels are corrected by this remedy.
I believe also that the remedy has a beneficial influence on the growth, nutrition and development of the child. I have never seen other than a healthy child where the mother has taken this treatment. In no case has there been a monstrosity or a malformed child, or a child with a nevus, or a child that was mentally deficient, or in any way imperfect. If, as I believe, this remedy has had an influence in the perfect development of the child, it is certainly a marvelous remedy and should be used for this purpose if for no other. Still, I believe it possible that a physician might have five hundred confinements without having an imperfect child.
Furthermore I have never had a case of postpartum hemorrhage, or kidney trouble or puerperal eclampsia, where I have used this remedy. Neither have I had a case of uterine sub-involution or chronic nephritis immediately following labor. There is no question whatever, in my mind, that those who take the treatment get up after labor much better than those who do not.
Where I have symptoms which threaten a complication of the kidneys of almost any kind, during pregnancy, in addition to the mitchella I give ten or fifteen drops of the fluid extract of "queen of the meadow," after meals. This is a simple remedy, in its action on the kidneys, which soothes irritation, overcomes faults of blood pressure, and regulates the functional action of these organs.
In preparing my patients for labor with mitchella I generally begin about six weeks in advance, and watch them closely, up to the end of the term. The following prescription has become quite a routine method with me. I do not know as the ptelea and pepsin mixture are always essential, but they are beneficial and do no harm. When constipation is pronounced I use cascara in some palatable form in place of this preparation. I have found cascara cordial especially desirable. It must be adjusted to each patient. My formula is as follows: Fluid extract of mitchella repens, four ounces; glycerole of ptelea and pepsin, three ounces; essence of gaultheria, one ounce, mix. Take a teaspoonful before each meal.
Of course this plan may be varied to suit the different patients, but I have accomplished all that I could have desired by giving the remedy as above described. I have used this treatment for fifteen years, and I do not know of any other physician who has depended upon this course. I am quite enthusiastic about it, and have frequently mentioned it to others, and have described to them my entire plan, but I have not learned that others have taken it up so fully as I have. I shall be glad to hear from others.
COMMENT:—For ten years I have been treating pregnant women with mitchella. Having heard of Dr. Quigg's successes, I wrote him, asking for his experiences and did not in any way inform him of any observations I had made with the remedy. I did this in order to see whether or not his experiences would coincide with my own. I am highly gratified to know that they not only prove all the observations I have made, but confirm some hopes I have had concerning the action of this important remedy.
Prior to using mitchella, I learned to depend upon dieting, hot baths, the use of sweet oil, and other auxiliaries, as well as the medicine. The doctor has used nothing but the medicine. I am confident that dieting can very readily be overdone. A remarkable feature of the action of mitchella is that deformed or imperfect children are not seen when the remedy is used through the larger portion of the pregnant period. Also that the patient is entirely devoid of female disorders after labor, which materially interferes with future health.
Sterility after the first child is a much more common condition than is generally supposed. A preparatory course of treatment will positively prevent such a condition. I am expecting in the near future to write a small book on the care of the pregnant female and on the preparation for labor. I am so confident that we have among our remedies, those which will make every labor except those of deformed mothers, an easy one, that I have long intended in this work to give the results of my observations to the profession. If any of our physycians are making similar observations, I shall esteem it most highly if they will write to me, if no more than a postal card, notifying me of the fact, that I may, in my book, give them credit for the observations they have made, as I shall do Dr. Quigg.
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.