When trains were initially introduced as means of travel and transportation this innovative creation gave rise to much excitement, critique and a new type of fear disorder. A new era began. Travel became different, louder, faster, and the numbers of people transported with just one trip could be increased drastically. This was different to all that had been there before, and much was that new that effects and consequences could not be foreseen or estimated.
Passengers’ reaction to the noise of the steam engine, the motion of carriages, jolts of starting and breaking to a halt, and the accidents that occurred could developed into a disorder that was soon termed the ‘Railway Spine’. Collision accidents aside of fatalities and physically injured, generated patients that expressed a specific symptom complex. These eyewitnesses and victims could feel physically weakened, with numbness and pain spreading across their limbs. They could complain of spinal pain and stiffness, headaches and neuralgia. They could be anxious and irritable, could suffer of disturbed sleep, memory impairment and lack the ability to concentrate.
While this disorder was very common at the time, today, it plays little to no role as a health disorder. Trains have become safer and travel much more comfortable. However, the symptom complex described has remained one prevalent today. It can be seen in car accidents, in what is termed ‘whiplash’, in victims of terror attacks, and in traumata of army service personnel that were engaged in warfare. The specific cluster of similar symptoms expressed in such traumatic and anxiety disorders has been labeled ‘Post-traumatic-stress-disorder’.
In an exchange with John Benneth (Thank you!) on my Blog-post ‘Must have … Bellis perennis’, I was pointed to the possible connection of PTSD to Bellis Perennis on account of its description for the ‘Railway Spine’ by J.H. Clarke in his ‘Dictionary of practical Materia Medica’.
According to Clarke, Bellis perennis is a remedy closely matching the clinical symptomatology of ‘Railway Spine’, strongly recommending it for use in disorders of PTSD. However, the Materia Medica of Bellis perennis otherwise demonstrates little to no specification for related symptoms in the proving details, and no other Materia Medica sources were found supporting this finding. Furthermore, having investigated remedies for the treatment of PTSD I have found no reference to Bellis perennis for the use in such trauma disorders.
None-the-less such finds are pearls of homeopathic wisdom that should be noted for later reference. One never knows if not in the future a patient stepping into our practice or clinic may need a prescription of exactly this remedy for his or her presenting state of health.
Express Medicals Ltd. (2017) Railway Spine: a medical condition extinct or evolved. Personal contact.
Purtle, J. (2017) Railway spine? Soldier’s heart? Try PTSD, Available at: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/public_health/Railway-spine-Soldiers-heart-Try-PTSD.html (Accessed: October 2017).
Clarke, J. (1994) A Dictionary of practical materia medica New Delhi: B.Jain publishers Ltd.