"I believe [the leaf of cabbages] to be of incomparable effectiveness against  facial ... and dental neuralgias."
Dr. Anselme Blanc MD

On 7 October 1875, Brother Pancaire of the Écoles Chrétiennes in La Tour-du-Pin (a French commune in southeastern France) asked Dr Blanc for advice regarding his father superior, 50-year-old Brother Osimond who since 22 years had been suffering with neuralgia on the right side of his face.

Apart from the neuralgia (and a bout with intestinal inflammation he had suffered eighteen years earlier), Brother Osimond had always been healthy, and even his teeth were in perfect condition.

His neuralgic attacks would occur in episodes, each of which lasted a long time, with the pain-free intervals shortening and the intensity of his pain increasing over the years.

When Dr Blanc was contacted, the newest episode had already been lasting for a month. The patient was in bed, not daring to move even ever so slightly. As always, the pain affected his temple, cheek, eyebrow, side of the nose, lips, teeth, and soft palate on the right side and nothing he was trying brought any relief. If a spoon or glass as much as touched his lips or his teeth, the pain doubled in intensity.

Since it was feared that he would succumb to his pain and the weakness resulting from his inability to properly eat, he was given the last rites.

During his 22 years of neuralgia, Brother Osimond had tried a number of medications and treatments including quinine sulfate (both in pill and liquid form), morphine salts subcutaneously, Laudanum (an opium tincture compounded by English physician Thomas Sydenham), opium as well as belladonna extracts, arsenic préparations, homeopathic remedies, a thermal course of treatment in Néris-les-Bains, etc.

After another round of fruitless attempts, the option of surgical removal of the affected nerve was discussed. But since the decision was difficult, the pain affected several areas and the patient showed no eagerness to submit to the operation, the surgery was postponed.

In July 1875, Brother Osimond was prescribed the pilules antinévralgiques de Crosnier (roughly: Crosnier's anti-neuralgia pills, a preparation containing quinine and likely some narcotic) which he took into the first week of August and which kept him pain-free into the first September week.

Then the pain returned in spite of the pills and in the degree of intensity described above.

As soon as Dr Blanc had received the letter asking for help, he sent Brother Pancaire a copy of his book[1]. Emboldened by previous successes obtained in the treatment of other painful conditions, Dr Blanc urged him to give cabbage leaf poultices a try.

In a follow-up letter dated 25 October, Brother Pancaire (who had by then applied the packs for fifteen to sixteen days) stated: "I have followed your brochure's instructions... since applying the leaves daily, the pain episodes have strongly diminished; they still occur every day but only in the daytime; at night, the patient rests."

Being able to eat again, the patient quickly recovered his strength. On 30 October, twenty days into the treatment, Brother Osimond in fact came to see Dr Blanc in person in the hospital where he worked.

Under Dr Blanc's supervision, Osimond's neuralgia continued to be treated with the leaves in the hospital. A complication set in - he developed some gastro-intestinal irritation which was successfully addressed with a number of other simple naturopathic measures including diet.

Finally healed (not only of his stomach upset), Brother Osimond left the hospital on 15 November 1875. The only reminder of his former neuralgia were occasional small "flashes" of pain at the side of his nose and his upper lip.

As he stated in a letter of 23 June 1876, he still got these flashes several times every day, but oh how insignificant they were, he wrote, compared to his previous pain!

Dr Blanc writes that "given this amazing success obtained in Brother Osimond's case, one would like to hope that every facial [trigeminal] neuralgia would yield to cabbage leaves. Alas, it isn't so since it failed to provide any [permanent] help to the Reverend Father Berne, oblate of Marie Immaculée in Notre-Dame-de-Losier."

His violent neuralgia of many years' standing had resisted all known medications and the patient, in hopes of healing, had even submitted to having 22 teeth extracted but without obtaining the slightest relief.

In the summer of 1875, the Reverend Father Berne self-applied cabbage leaves on the sides of his face (as Dr Blanc notes, "with more or less exactitude" - the poultices have to be done according to certain rules).

An improvement followed which lasted for a while. Everyone started to believe in his imminent healing when the illness returned in full force. Shortly thereafter, the patient submitted to surgery in which several nerve branches were resected.

Cabbage leaf packs did obtain another full success in the treatment of the neuralgia of 21-year-old Rosalie Rochat. By February 1877, she had been suffering for two months with a violent pain at her temple which appeared every day at 5 pm and lasted throughout the night.

Dr Blanc advised cabbage leaf applications on the temple, reserving quinine as a fallback should the cabbage leaves fail to help. Following the first applications, the patient already felt some relief. Her neuralgia was fully healed after thirteen days of cabbage leaf poultices on the temple and two days on her legs (as Dr Blanc points out, cabbage leaves application on the legs in this case sped up the healing).

In his summary of diseases where he found cabbage leaves of great assistance, Dr Blanc writes that they are souvereign against stitches, intercostal neuralgia, unclear nerve-related pain in the chest, lower back, arms and legs and especially the joints.

Other remedies for trigeminal neuralgia

See The cure for trigeminal neuralgia? (several dramatic examples of actual permanent healing of this most serious affliction) and Help for trigeminal neuralgia: St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum).

Footnotes

1 "Notice sur les propriétés médicinales de la feuille de chou et sur son mode d'emploi" [approx.: On the medicinal properties of the cabbage leaf and how to apply it] by Dr. Anselme Blanc, 4th expanded edition, 1883. If you wish to buy this book, please do so via this site's Amazon links.

2 Information on the ancient practice of healing with cabbage leaf packs at Medicinal cabbage leaf poultices Dr. Blanc: background on the therapeutic topical application of Brassica oleracea, Tumors healed thanks to cabbage leaf poultices and ... unconditional love. and Medicinal cabbage leaf poultices Dr. Blanc: tumors cured (1).

If you search this site (use the search box in the upper right-hand corner) for the term "cabbage", you will find a number of references to how this humble plant can be used for dental benefits.

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