Archive for the ‘BHA Charity’ Category

The case for Vanadium

A sensitive little boy with asthma and a dairy intolerance led Caragh Morrish to prescribe a medicine she hadn’t used before

I first saw Billy in January 2002 when he was referred to me by his GP for treatment of asthma. Nearly seven years old, he was too shy to shake my hand but smiled at me. He was very slender with dark hair, large dark eyes, thin lips and dark skin tone. He seemed lively, quick in speech and action.

His mother told me that he had been diagnosed with asthma when he was three, shortly after he’d started playgroup; she thought it was separation anxiety initially as he’d always been a clingy child. It first manifested as a persistent cough but by age four was becoming progressively worse and he would often vomit up phlegm at the end of a coughing bout. His mother looked up a homeopathic book and tried him on Arsenicum album, which made him symptom-free for a few months but then stopped working.

Encouraged, she took him to a homeopath who prescribed Phosphorus. This brought about an even longer improvement, which lasted for a year, but from last summer he had ceased to respond to the medicine. Since then his asthma worsened, reaching an all-time low shortly before Christmas 2001 when he needed antibiotics, oral steroids and a salbutamol inhaler. His mother suspects the deterioration was due to an increase in dairy products. She had always suspected a milk sensitivity as he had a lot of problems with regurgitating feeds as a baby.

Health history
When I asked about Billy’s health in the past his mother told me he had “stopped growing” when she was 34 weeks pregnant, but was born later at a reasonable weight of 5lb 7oz. He brought back his feeds and so lost weight and was re­admitted to hospital at six weeks old. He settled on infant Gaviscon. He had an episode of ill-health in primary one, thought to be viral, when he collapsed, vomiting with a fever and headache. He is prone to diarrhoea and vomiting episodes. He has teeth that decay easily and has had fillings and abscesses.

He has a good appetite apart from breakfast and when he found out where bacon originates he would no longer eat meat. His favourite foods are chocolate, cream eggs and caramels. He prefers cold drinks but has to be reminded to drink. (I notice that Billy is very chatty with his mum and playing with an abacus.) Mother says he’s always shouting that his feet are cold and wants his blanket, and the fire on all the time. Although he loves outdoors he gets so cold he can’t stay out for long. He has sweaty feet with verrucas and sweats easily on exertion.

He sleeps better since he has a bedside light on as he’s scared of the dark and will come downstairs to his parents. He sleeps on his tummy and always keeps his covers on and has his window shut (“I keep thinking there’s noises and owls will come into my bed and peck me”). He wants his mother to say goodnight and likes to fall asleep on her knee. His mother says he has recurrent dreams of lions and dogs. He would like to have a rabbit but is wary of touching them. He’s also frightened of heights and won’t even go into the top bunk to sleep. (He was very active but well behaved in the consulting room smiling a lot but communicating mainly with his mother.)

His mother continues, telling me that Billy is top of his class although one of the younger ones, and is a year ahead in maths. He’s well behaved in class and has a thirst for knowledge. His mother thinks he’s been taunted and bullied because of this, and says he’s a very sensitive child. (At this point he reels off dates of famous inventions and tells me he knows his times tables up to 15). His teacher thinks he is oversensitive. He becomes upset easily if he sees people dying on the TV news and he likes to mother people. He prefers the company of girls as he doesn’t like the fights the boys engage in, although he will play with younger boys. He’s fidgety in new situations and apprehensive, for example when given instructions for golf “I didn’t join in the first time but did the second time”. He’s reluctant to try something he doesn’t know he’s good at but is really confident if it is something he’s done before. At birthday parties he sits with the parents and watches the activities and he had some panic attacks with staff changes at school. He gets bored easily, and likes a fast pace of work. 

Billy lives with both parents; his father’s a teacher and mother’s a full-time mum. He’s the eldest of four boys and one brother’s skin reacts to cats, but there’s no other family member with asthma. The brothers are very competitive with each other.

I had wondered about Veratrum album or Arsenicum album as he’s thin, nervous, chilly and prone to digestive upsets. However I knew he’d only had a temporary response to Arsenicum so studied his case further. I could see why he’d been given Phosphorus but he didn’t have the easy sociability of the Phosphorus child. I gave him Vanadium 30c, three powders over one day and to repeat if his cough returned again. He would also cut down on dairy products.

Six weeks later he returned. He was very emotional on the day after the remedy and on the second evening developed a night cough, which continued for four nights then disappeared. Since then he’s not been puffed on exertion and is less nervous. He settles more easily at night. His sweet tooth had increased, wanting chocolates and liquorice. His skin though is less clammy and sweaty when he’s hot. He’s more confident but still says other children don’t understand him and it hurts his heart. His mother’s friend had died recently but he didn’t over-react, his mother said, as he would in the past.

His bowels have been far less loose although this could have been from eating less dairy products. His mother was very pleased with the effect of the Vanadium and he had only needed the three initial doses. I asked her to now wait and only repeat the Vanadium 30c, should Billy’s asthma relapse.

Follow up
Three months later Billy returned to the clinic. His mother said Billy had been all keyed up to tell me himself, but he sat shyly by his mum at first. He had been very well until six weeks previously when his cough returned. He told his mother he didn’t want his inhaler, he wanted Vanadium! The Vanadium cleared the cough rapidly. His mother thinks the relapse may have been caused by him worrying about being placed in a composite class with younger children next term, as he thought he was being kept back “and I work really hard”. Before this set-back he had started to play with the boys at football and his teacher had commented on his increased confidence. When he started to worry his mother noticed his sweet tooth increasing and his fears at night returning. He’d also had a growth spurt recently.

When Billy returned to the clinic three months later, he had been free from cough until a few days ago after a football match. He had started regular training two weeks previously but this was his first real game. He took Vanadium 30c last night. He’s still anxious at night, thinking there are crocodiles under the bed and he sits outside his parents’ bedroom. Mum says she was the same as a child. He’s fine in the day though and doing well socially. His sugar craving is much reduced. I suggested Vanadium 200c if the cough doesn’t settle with the 30c in the next day or so. Billy then asked me if I would take a photo of him and his mum. This was quite out of the blue with no camera around to have suggested the idea to him.

Eight months later, Billy returned to the clinic. He’s only needed one dose of Vanadium when his cough returned soon after moving house and exposed to a lot of dust, and it cleared quickly. He hadn’t wanted to move but in fact sleeps better now, as “this house isn’t haunted”. He remains more confident but wants to change school as all the boys except one are into fighting games all the time. He can still feel some chest tightness in a football match but doesn’t need to use his inhaler. His sweet craving has gone and he can eat yoghurts now without it bringing back the cough.

I rang his mother some months later and all was well. Billy had been moved to a more academic school, which was suiting him a lot better. Six months later I rang his mother. She told me things were going very well for Billy. He experienced some bullying at his new school but amazingly his cough didn’t return – any change or anxiety in the past was enough to bring it on. She said that although a little upset, he coped well with the situation. He’s a good runner now and not the slowest anymore, having more stamina and not getting breathless. He’s not had Vanadium now for nine months when he had struggled a little on preliminary sports day runs. “I gave him the medicine in preparation,” his mother said with a smile, “and he was brilliant on the day!”

This is a medicine that can be thought of as having some similarities to Arsenicum album and Phophorus. However, I had never prescribed it before and did some further reading about it. In Argentina, Vanadium was added to pigs’ feed and it increased their appetite and made them gain weight faster. Humans need Vanadium in small quantities for various essential bodily functions and it seems to prevent tooth caries.

Vanadium is added to steel to strengthen it and workers exposed to vanadium acid salts experience irritation of the respiratory passages, digestive system and it can cause emotional disturbances.

Emotional/mental symptoms:

  • attach a lot of importance to achievement with a great need to succeed in their tasks, but they often hesitate to put their abilities into practice;
  • are nervous, docile and lack self-confidence – the need to succeed often has to do with social acceptance;
  • are kind and gentle and try to please others.

Physical symptoms:

  • chilly with cold hands and feet;
  • dry, irritating paroxysmal coughs, although can cough up mucus at times;
  • breathlessness and a sense of anxiety with a feeling of pressure on the chest;
  • problems with fully utilising their food, therefore can have retarded growth and also have early tooth decay;
  • pains experienced in the heart region (Billy, when feeling misunderstood by the other children, described his distress as a “pain in my heart”).

Billy’s desire to have a photo taken of himself and his mother could fit with the Vanadium symptom: attaches importance to appearance. It is interesting that soon after starting the Vanadium he had a growth spurt and, although it could have been coincidence, I have often noticed this effect with other remedies, where for some reason growth has been sub-­optimal.

The picture of the remedy seemed to fit Billy well and he showed a response on the physical and emotional levels. 



by David Lilley

The Cosmic Tree
Ever since the human imagination began to evolve images and myths to explain the enigma of physical existence, the tree has provided an essential and supreme, primordial symbol of ascent, regenera­tion, immortality and salvation. The concept of a mighty tree, the Tree of Life, penetrating and uniting the three levels of the invisible and visible cosmos, took symbolic shape: a vast pillar or central axis, its roots immersed in the soil and waters of the underworld (the uncon­scious), its trunk and lower branches passing through Earth (the conscious) and its topmost boughs reaching up to the light of the heavens (the super-con­scious). In this imagery, the Tree of Life, Cosmic Tree, was perceived as a conduit for celestial energy flowing from a divine source and permeating the creation. Hence, the symbol often appears inverted, with its foliage on Earth and its roots in heaven, drawing down spiritual nourish­ment from above. Particularly majestic trees and those that bear valued fruit were held to be sacred by some cultures.

The immortal, incorruptible conifer
Deciduous trees “die” and shed their golden-brown leaves in autumn and are “reborn” in their fresh-green raiment of spring, suggesting in this cycle the eternal, cosmic processes of germination, growth, proliferation, death and regeneration. But even more sublime is the image of the ceaseless, inexhaustible life-process encompassed by the Cosmic Tree, synon-ymous with incorruptibility, immortal­ity and the concept of “life without death”, which represents “absolute real­ity”. This higher symbolism belongs to the evergreens: the conifers (the pine, fir, spruce, cedar, cypress, juniper etc) and their relatives. Their primacy is also inherent in their antiquity, dating back to the close of the Palaeozoic era. Indeed, the most majestic trees of all, the giant sequoia and its cousin the coastal red­wood, are both conifers. Yet, it is a seem­ingly humbler member of the order that has had the exalted designation, Tree of Life, bestowed upon it: thuja occi­dentalis, the northern white-cedar, and homeopathic provings and cures have substantiated this entitlement. Like Lachesis, which of all snakes has proved the very embodiment of the snake arche­type, among trees, Thuja is the supreme healer, even the lordly oak having to yield precedence.

The sycotic archetype
Synchronicity and the intuitive, inquir­ing mind of Hahnemann provided us with this remarkable remedy very early in the development of the homeopathic materia medica. A young clergyman sought Hahnemann’s advice regarding an irritating, greenish, urethral discharge with inflammation and swelling of the genitals. On questioning, he stoutly denied any sexual contact that could have accounted for his affliction. Respecting his honesty, Hahnemann refrained from prescribing and asked him to report again in three days. On his return, all symptoms had passed away and he confessed to an unusual feeling of wellbeing. He then recalled that whilst sauntering through a garden he had broken off and chewed a sprig of Arbor vitae (Tree of Life); the discharge had commenced shortly afterwards. This episode led to provings, which confirmed that Thuja was capable of producing phenomena identical to gonorrhoea, including its chronic consequences, and was the pre-eminent remedy for the gon­orrhoea-related sycotic constitution (sycosis). In his introduction to the symptom picture of the remedy, Hahne­mann wrote: “… the pure effects of this uncommonly powerful medicinal sub­stance will be regarded by the homoeopathic practitioner as a great addition to his medicinal treasury, and he will not fail to make a useful application of it in some of the most serious diseases of mankind, for which hitherto there has been no remedy”. He did not exaggerate!

Sexual abuse
Thuja is one of our greatest remedies for the ills caused by humanity’s efforts to escape the stress of a troubled world through wine, women and song. It has proved invaluable in the treatment of addiction to alcohol, tobacco, recre­ational drugs (especially cannabis) and even the excess consumption of tea, coffee, sweets and salt. It is often called for in sexually transmitted diseases and to assist the victims of sexual abuse. Both predator and prey may need it. When a person feels deep self-contempt, Thuja should be considered. Sufferers from gonorrhoea, like the victims of rape, experience shame and a sense of being soiled or stained. This creates self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. It is a sense of being a pariah, an object for contempt, different and inferior to others. They feel they have something reprehensible and unwholesome to hide. Thuja may indulge in compulsive hand washing in an unconscious attempt to cleanse or absolve themselves. It has the delusion: “thinks his blood is dirty or poisoned”. Thuja will often compensate for this perceived inferiority by culti­vating an image of excellence and immaculate perfection.

The Tree of Life and Death
From the beginning a duality was dis­cerned in the mythology of the Tree of Life. Genesis reveals the presence of two sacred trees in Eden: the Tree of Life par­alleled by a Tree of Death. Through the Tree of Life, humanity ascends from its lower nature to spiritual realisation, sal­vation and release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth; through the Tree of Knowledge, comes the “fall”, the descent into materialism and bondage to intellect and the flesh. However, though they stand in contention, the two trees are one, being representations of the same idea of spiritual struggle and transformation, since it is only by death of the mortal (the ego-personality) that the immortal (the soul) can truly live. This is the terrain of Thuja.

Resonating duality
A homeopathic remedy being in dynamic form, touches the collective unconscious, which is the realm of myth, and in a sen­sitive subject will give vent to often deeply repressed images through dreams and imagination. Remedy, archetype, myth, universal consciousness, the per­sonal psyche and disease dance together in timeless patterns choreographed in eternity. Thuja elicits a sense of being double, split in two, on waking of being unable to tell which part he has posses­sion of, that mind and body are separ­ated and, most significantly, that the soul is separated from the body or that the body is too small for the soul. In step with the cosmic dance, the pathogen, Neisseria gonorrhoea, is a diplococcus, comprising two kidney-shaped cocci within a single membrane: a symbol of duality and the collision and conflict of the sacred and the profane. This “war” is also the terrain of Thuja.

The serpent and the tree
Long before Genesis was written, the serpent or dragon had become inextri-cably entwined in the metaphor of the Tree of Life. It was synonymous with the animating force that coursed through the tree and also the guardian of its fruit or treasure. In images of the Great God­dess in every culture, the serpent is never far away, standing behind her, eating from her hand, wreathed round her tree, or even presenting in the shape of the goddess herself. In the Neolithic period the serpent was the Lord of Rebirth, inspiring and presiding over the shed­ding of the lower self, but in Judaeo-Christian tradition, the serpent in Eden has transformed into his evil shadow, a tempter towards the “fall”, the insti­gator of (spiritual) death, with whom Eve, the fallen goddess, is in league. In this patriarchal allegory we are per­suaded that human nature, especially when feminine, is inherently inclined to corrupt and betray all that is sacred within it. This falling from grace (although not gender-related) is often the plight of both Thuja and Lachesis. Thuja even dreams of falling and of being overwhelmingly heavy. There is much of the snake in the picture of Thuja: ailments are predominantly left-sided (the feminine side) and often worse on waking; a sense of being double; jeal­ousy, suspicion, secretiveness, deceit; rapid talkativeness; but most signifi­cantly the war between the higher and lower selves leading to religious despair. Two powerful elements in both arche­types are mysticism and sensuality. Sexual fantasy and feelings clash with religious aspiration and tear them apart.

The etymology of Thuja
The derivation of the word Thuja comes from the Greek word thyra meaning to sacrifice or thusia a burnt offering for the gods. Thuias (plural: thuiades) means raving woman, a generic name for a maenad(bacchante) who worshipped the orgiastic god, Dionysos (Bacchus), god of wine, who was also the lord of trees. Thrysus was a wand or staff con­sisting originally of a fennel stalk, but later, a vine- or ivy-twined fir-branch tipped with a pine-cone: the emblem of Dionysos, frequently brandished by his votaries in their wild processions and sensual dances. The cone itself is a phal­lic symbol of masculine, generative power. The mythical counterparts of the maenads were the satyrs (sileni), part-human and part-animal. They loved to sing and dance, drink wine and chase maenads whilst in a state of perpetual sexual arousal. The religious congrega­tion of the fanatical and frequently fren­zied followers of Dionysos was known as the holy thiasus. All these corre­spondences pertain to Thuja.

Resistance to incarnation
The Dionysian religion was charac­terised by ecstatic, spiritual release through music and dance, the posses­sion of the devotees by the god, the rend­ing apart of sacrificial animals and the eating of their raw flesh in an act of ritual communion. Festivals of Dionysos were often characterised by ritual licence and drunken revelry, transvestism, obscene and wanton behaviour. These religious orgies were an attempt to escape, or at least temporarily annihi­late, the human state, fraught with pain and suffering and limited by time and moral convention, and to enter a divine dimension – timeless, blessed, bound­less and free. Some of the sileni were older and wiser, but none the less las­civious and addicted to wine. One, in a state of inebriation, gave voice to typical Greek pessimism by philosophis­ing that the best fate for human beings was not to be born at all and the next best was to die as soon as possible after birth. This is the unconscious conviction of the Thuja archetype, which creates a reality that may well have to be lived out. It commences with infertility, early abortion, foetal abnormalities, failure of the placenta, premature birth or post-maturity uterine inertia, mal-presenta­tion, prolonged labour, birth trauma (cord strangulation and head injury), incubation, cot death, autism and men­tal retardation. In those who survive, there is a deep anger, manifested in terrible tantrums, an aversion to touch and being spoken to or even approached, fear of strangers, social phobia, fear of misfortune and evil and a fear as if they were in a strange, alien place. They develop a loathing of life and a desire for death (Aurum). For the Thuja(sycotic) child, birth is a descent into Hades and the blame for this is laid at the feet of the mother, harboured as an unconscious resentment and hatred, and expressed as disruptive, oppositional, defiant, manipulative and revengeful behaviour. Thuja is the only remedy in the rubric: “aversion to mother”.

Dionysos: the god of wine and revelry
As detailed in Aurum, in ancient times, the hallowed shrine at Delphi was both the oracle of Apollo and Dionysos. During the winter months, Apollo departed to the mystical land of the Hyperboreans, leaving his half-brother to rule as presiding divinity. Dionysos had affinities that were the very antithesis of those of Apollo, who always stood for order, balance, restraint, rectitude, moderation in all things and idealised masculinity. Dionysos, in contrast, was the god of ecstasy and intoxication, a beautiful, radiant, androgynous being, perceived as elusively ambivalent: both divine and mortal, human and animal, male and effeminate, young and mature, powerful yet vulnerable, mysterious, unfathomable yet flamboyant and rev­elatory – a compendium of opposites. He was the most manifest god of all, seen riding great felines (Thuja: dreams of cats), sailing the sea and even bear­ing wings (Thuja: her body is borne on wings), yet he remained enigmatic, com­posed and distant: a figure of power and majesty (the light side of Thuja). Although he represented intoxication, sensuality, passion, excess, frenzy, mad­ness and destruction, his iconography never depicts him in a state of lust, nor is he ever seen imbibing his own gift. Unlike that of his divine uncles and brothers, his mythology is devoid of male dominance and rape. He is revealed as the rescuer of the victim of abuse and tragedy (the healing power of Thuja). Ariadne, the forsaken companion of Theseus, became his eternal love, whom he raised to heaven that she might always be by his side. His dark side, close to that of Thuja, emerges in his myths and rit­uals and is concerned with murder and mutilation, madness and violence, per­secution and flight and gender hostility.

The risen god
The myth of the birth and infancy of Dionysos is complex and replete with psychological, philosophical and reli­gious metaphor. Zeus (the perverted, incestuous father) violated his young daughter Kore (later Persephone). She bore him a son, Dionysos. The child was in great jeopardy from the moment Hera, the alert and ever suspicious wife of Zeus, discovered the betrayal. She roused the Titans to attack the child. These monstrous beings set upon him as he was gazing at his reflection in a mirror (Argentum). They cut him to pieces with knives and after the murder devoured the dismembered corpse. But the heart (Aurum) of the infant god was saved and brought to Zeus. Acting swiftly, Zeus swallowed the heart, which contained the godling’s essence. Soon after, Zeus, disguised as a mortal, seduced Semele, the daughter of King Cadmus of Thebes and Dionysos was again conceived. Unfortunately, noth­ing escaped the eagle eye of Hera. Her jealousy and hatred were implacable (sycosis). When Semele was six months with child, Hera, assuming the guise of a trusted maidservant, prompted her to insist that Zeus reveal himself to her in his true form. Having previously prom­ised to grant her any request, he reluc­tantly complied, and she was consumed by his fiery radiance. Semele, like so many Thuja lovers, was the sacrificial victim of her own passion. Zeus saved the unborn baby by cutting open his thigh and implanting the foetus there. When the time for Dionysos’s second birth came, Hermes (Mercury) acted as surgeon and midwife (caesarian section). Thus, Dionysos was called: “twice born” or the “risen-god”. Foster parents appointed by Persephone reared him. Fearing the continued wrath of Hera, Persephone advised them to keep him in the women’s quarters disguised as a girl; this probably contributed to his androgy­nous nature. Thuja is often indicated for effeminate males and masculine females, men who are not confident of their mas­culinity and become homophobic and men who fear emasculation by the women in their lives.

The androgynous god
When Dionysos reached maturity, he descended into the realm of the dead in search of his mortal mother’s shade. He gave Persephone, his divine mother, now queen of the dead, a myrtle as a gift for the release of Semele. Together, they ascended to Olympus where he intro­duced her as Thyone (a name with the same etymology as Thuja). The resur­rected Semele became immortal and identified with the moon-goddess, Selene, confirming the feminine and lunar predominance of Thuja and the remedy’s close relationship to Argentum. Significantly, the emotional problems of Thuja are worse during the increasing moon. Thuja’s closeness to Aurum is just as profound: it was Dionysos who blessed and cursed King Midas with the gift that all he touched should turn to gold. Dionysos is the shadow, feminine aspect of Apollo, just as Thuja is often the shadow, feminine aspect of Aurum. Another connection is between Thuja and Ferrum. When Dionysos reached manhood, Hera, despite his effeminacy, recognised him, and cursed him with madness. Accompanied by a wild army of satyrs and maenads he set off towards the east on a mission of warfare and con­quest. His campaign was marked by the savage tearing to pieces of those who opposed his divinity and failed to pay him due honour. Dionysos is the energy that shatters inhibitions, repressions and regressions. In the evolution of the Thuja archetype, a gradual unfolding is rarely seen, usually a shock is required. To this day, Thuja, a tree shaped like a spear, dreams of war, battles and contest, of great danger, of death, dying, murder and dead bodies. The dreams are worse when lying on the left (feminine) side. They also have a sense of being fragile and brittle, made of glass, and of being fragmented and scattered about (“body parts in danger of coming in pieces” and “the continuity of body parts will be dis­solved”).

The perfect imperfect
Further insights into the nature of this remarkable remedy may be gleaned from a study of the tree. Thuja is an elegant, tall, erect, evergreen. Its natural habitat is swampy ground and waterlogged areas along the banks of rivers, where it often forms “cedar swamps”. This affin­ity for water confirms Thuja’s relation­ship to the sycotic constitution, which is characteristically worse from expo­sure to cold, wet weather and damp con­ditions. Its regular spear-shaped conical form, and precise lines, as if groomed or clipped, has made it popular as an orna­mental tree in many formal gardens and cemetries. The archetype is fastidiously immaculate, a perfectionist in every aspect of their lives: their appearance, hygiene, dress, environment, diction, handwriting, manners and the work they produce (Arsenicum). This does not extend to their morality. Their true feel­ings are often concealed beneath a charming, polished veneer. Planted close together and cropped, the trees produce a dense, impenetrable, high hedge. They branch from the very base and the foliage, a profusion of flat, fleshy fronds or sprays, is thick and dark green, deny­ing all approach. Similarly, the arche­type’s perfectionism and politeness provide a mask concealing the real per­son. This extends to their use of words, their command of language providing a barrier with which to keep others at bay. They are deep, closed, bottled-up, private and secretive. Their twisted, Dionysian energy lies hidden behind a sophisticated and cultured façade. Belying their piety, self-righteousness and fanatical religiosity is a prurient fascination with the perverse and the deviant, which they may secretly indulge. Beneath the tree’s neat, clean appear­ance, an untidy profusion of dry, fallen bark, twigs and leaves thickly litter the ground: the botanical counterpart of dry, lifeless, falling hair and the shedding of dry skin in dandruff and scales, or pos­sibly the detritus of moral decay.

The Tree of Resurrection
Thuja is one of homeopathy’s greatest gifts to mankind and to medicine. It is a remedy for all seasons, but especially when, often through suffering and tragedy, the personal gulf between human and divine widen and trust and joy in the life-experience weaken or are lost, replaced by addiction to materialism; by futile attempts to saturate the senses with pleasure and distraction; by trying to bring sterile order, control and inhibi­tion into a life perceived to be random and out of control; and by repressing or abusing the feminine. Such escapist and oppositional behaviour increases dual­ity and fails to honour the lord of the trees; symbolically the offender will be emotionally torn to pieces. Thuja, being one with the Cosmic Tree, bridges dimen­sions and, like Dionysos, can descend into the personal underworld, resurrect the repressed energies of generations and bring homeopathic salvation.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


Thuja occidentalis

Recurrent sinusitis was the presenting condition but, describes Marysia Kratimenos, underlying symptoms indicated a constitutional remedy of Thuja occidentalis

Susan was 23 when she first came to see me. Every cold led to a very nasty infection in her sinuses, with severe pain along the cheekbones, a green nasal discharge and high fever. She also had a cough every time she lay down, due to a post­nasal drip and had noticed a small polyp in her left nostril. She was having repeated courses of antibiotics every winter, which upset her stomach and bowels. Her doctor was talking about sending her for a sinus washout, and the thought of this terrified her. This was the reason for her consultation, to try to avoid surgery. She was also very concerned about taking time off work for these infections, and tended to struggle into work when she was far from well, so as not to let the company down. She felt guilty every time she was forced to take a day’s sick leave.

The sinusitis recurred every autumn and winter, whenever the weather turned cold and damp. Susan began to dread the end of summer. The cold alone didn’t affect her as she was fine on skiing holidays. She was aware that humidity upset her, and would eagerly await storms to clear the air. She avoided saunas as she would always faint, but dry heat suited her. She loved hot sunny days. She wasn’t keen on strong winds, but was very clear that it was the combination of cold and damp that affected her most.

The recurrent bouts of sinusitis would make her depressed, although she was loath to admit it. Her moods did fluctuate considerably, and she could swing from a happy state into “the blues” quickly. The infections often brought this about and she blamed the antibiotics. On closer questioning she admitted her moods changed with her menstrual cycle and also the moon phases. She loved the full moon and found it energised her and lifted her mood. She was reluctant to talk much about the depression and I did not pursue the matter.

As a child she had been healthy, although always prone to colds and coughs. She would frequently have green nasal discharges, but not full-blown sinusitis until the age of about 18. After finishing her exams, she went with a group of friends back-packing around India before starting university. She had a fever and swollen arm immediately following the inoculations before departure. After a few days she returned to her GP, who prescribed antibiotics for an infection in the vaccination site. A few weeks later, the injection site broke open and green pus poured out. Eventually it settled down, but a scar remained on the left upper arm. It was quite unsightly and was frequently sore.

After the trip she started university, and in her first term was admitted to hospital with a kidney infection. She was treated with antibiotics in high doses through a drip. The x-rays did not show any damage to the kidneys, nor any abnormality in the urinary system. Unfortunately, she then became very prone to kidney infections, having attacks every couple of months, until she was put on prophylactic antibiotics for a whole year. It was shortly after this that the attacks of sinusitis began.

The frequent courses of antibiotics had led to constipation and bloating of the stomach. Susan noticed that certain foods upset her, in particular spicy food and onions. She ate a good healthy diet and craved chocolate before her periods. She was thirsty and loved drinking tea, having eight mugs or more a day.

She was prone to headaches, particularly in the left temple, which she described as stabbing in nature. The headaches came on before her periods or when she was over-tired. Overall her energy was good when she didn’t have an infection, but she was prone to feeling tired mid-afternoon. She usually slept well, and had pleasant dreams. Her father had died in his early 50’s of a heart attack, and heart disease ran in his family. Her mother and younger sister were in good health.

Susan described herself as a hard worker and “a bit of a perfectionist”. She detested taking time off work when she was ill and this upset her deeply. She regarded it as a sign of weakness. It was important to Susan to give her work 100 per cent, and she would stay very late at the office to ensure her work was done to her satisfaction. She was neatly dressed and beautifully made up. She was friendly and easy to talk to, but I detected a certain reserve especially where emotional matters were concerned.

Susan’s case clearly demonstrates the difficulty in prescribing Thuja on a constitutional level. It is the most frequently prescribed remedy for warts and “ailments after vaccination” and the constitutional picture is often missed. It is very common to see outbreaks of warts and verrucas in children starting school. It is often blamed on unclean swimming pools, but many of the children swam in the same pools before school without problems. The pre­school vaccination often throws these children into a sycotic state and so they become susceptible to the wart virus. (Sycosis is a term used to describe a state where the body reacts to stimuli in an excessive way. The sycotic remedies are characterised by a sensitivity to cold and damp, green discharges and warts. There is frequently a family or personal history of early heart disease and high cholesterol levels, as well as diabetes.)

In Susan’s case history the onset of her health problems was shortly after the vaccines for her trip abroad. The first illness was a kidney infection, which is highly characteristic of the sycotic group of remedies, as were the following attacks of sinusitis with the green nasal discharge and post-nasal drip. The sensitivity to cold and damp is again characteristic of this remedy group.

It was the reservation and the depression that led me to the constitutional prescription of Thuja. George Vithoulkas describes the essence of Thuja as “ugliness”. This is applicable on the physical level with the warts, verrucas and the cysts that are prone to infection because of a greasy skin. It also is evident on a deeper emotional level. Although patients will not frequently admit it, at least before treatment, they often consider themselves ugly and unlovable. They cover this up by being perfect in their appearance, work, social life, everything. They fear criticism and this motivates them to create a situation whereby they are above reproach.

People sensitive to Thuja are prone to deep depression and can have suicidal thoughts, although this was not the case with Susan. The mood swings can be very rapid. In a depressed state there is great guilt and loss of self-confidence, which is shaky even in health. After treatment Susan told me that when she was “low” she felt hollow inside, as though her body was an empty shell. The books describe the “delusions” of Thuja as a sense of fragility and of feeling brittle, as though the person could shatter and break.

Immediately after the prescription of Thuja 30c, 30c and 200c over three days mid-cycle, Susan noticed a burst of energy. “No more wilting at 3pm – before I could almost set my watch by it!”

Next she noticed a sense of deep wellbeing. “I couldn’t stop smiling – everyone at work thought I’d fallen in love!” It was only then that she was able to tell me how she had felt so unattractive that “no one in their right minds could possibly want me”.

Over the next few weeks, she noticed a great reduction in her sensitivity to the cold and damp. Her cough went and the polyp in her nose slowly reduced in size. The scar on her arm also started to heal and she felt sufficiently confident to wear sleeveless tops and dresses again. Overall her confidence and self-esteem had improved and she worried far less about what others thought.

Before treatment, she was very concerned about this and would frequently go out of her way to please friends, co-workers and family. Thuja patients can often struggle with identity issues, in that they are so keen to maintain others’ happiness that they can sacrifice their own needs, wants and even their ego.

In the past year Susan has not required any further doses of Thuja. She has not had any attacks of sinusitis, thus avoiding the surgeon’s knife, much to her delight. She has stopped working so late and is enjoying a busy social life. Her energy remains high and the low moods have disappeared. A course of Acidophilus and a three month yeast and sugar-free diet sorted out the antibiotic induced bowel problems.

Susan’s story shows how deep acting a remedy Thuja can be. It was not readily apparent from the initial consultation how she felt about herself. She projected a friendly, cheerful image, which gave no indication of how poor her self image was. Thuja was a very reasonable prescription on a physical level, covering all her symptoms. On a constitutional level it had a very profound effect on her emotional well being.

Remedy profile
Thuja occidentalis is an evergreen tree, native to North American and Canadian wetlands. It is known as the Tree of Life.  The wood was burnt at sacrifices and the Egyptians are said to have used it for embalming. Long before Hahnemann introduced it to homeopathy, the North American natives had discovered its medicinal qualities.

The tree is beautiful, growing slowly to a height of some fifty feet. It has a fragrant aroma. The stems are covered in tiny nodules, that look like warts and they are concealed by the lush green of the leaves. It is almost as though the tree itself is trying to conceal its ugly side.

The homeopathic remedy is prepared from the fresh twigs and leaves. The tree contains an essential oil which is used for the treatment of wart infections.

As can be seen in Susan’s case history, it is a very deep acting remedy, particularly in higher potencies, and should therefore be treated with the respect it deserves. Bill Gray describes Thuja as the “Great Masquerader”. As a result of the fragile sense of identity, it can be easy to confuse the remedy with several others. The secrecy about the “shadow side” combined with the need to please, can make it difficult to see the full remedy picture. Often it is the physical symptoms that underlie the prescription.

Marysia Kratimenos trained in general surgery after qualifying as a doctor at Guys. She was introduced to homeopathy when her son was very ill and she saw at first hand how it worked for him and how it also eased her mother’s condition before she died of cancer. In 1995 Dr Kratimenos joined the the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, pediatrics and neuro-linguistic programming.

Tarentula hispanica

A creature that inspires fear in many people becomes, homeopathically, a powerful remedy, writes Marysia Kratimenos

There are few creatures that can reduce normally rational people into nervous wrecks within seconds. Even a humble house spider can have people screaming hysterically in no time – a totally irrational reaction to a harmless creature. Snakes rate equally highly on the phobia scale, but as many are deadly there is some logic to the fear.

Filmmakers use this mass phobia to its full potential. Arachnophobia made millions. Harrison Ford was covered in tarantulas for Raiders of the Lost Ark, though apparently it was the snake pit scene that truly terrified him.

In England there are no indigenous venomous spiders. It is a very different story in other countries. Poisonous spiders are occasionally found in fruit imported from more tropical climes. In Northern Spain and Italy there lives a small venomous spider misleadingly named the tarantula. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to the monster South American variety. In fact it is smaller than most garden spiders. Legend has it that after being bitten by the spider, women develop a dancing mania. There is even a city named in honour of it, Tarentum.

The remedies
Tarentula hispanica was the first spider venom to be potentised and since then many other venomous spiders have been investigated and used as homeopathic remedies.

In the 19th century the search for new remedies was on and homeopaths travelled far and wide to collect new specimens. On a trip to Cuba, a specimen of the local venomous spider was collected and placed in a pot of formalin to be shipped back to England for further study. Unfortunately, due to a bad storm, the container shattered leaving the spider badly decomposed. In the adventurous spirit of the age, the homeopaths were not deterred and produced a wonderful remedy, Tarentula cubensis, which is fabulous for septic conditions!

Tarentula hispanica remains the most commonly known of the spider remedies, but thanks to the work of such brilliant homeopaths as Massimo Mangialavori the remedy pictures of the lesser known spiders are now coming to light.

Black widow, which has a heart shaped red mark on its front, is very useful in certain types of heart disease; Aranea diadema can be used in arthritis and Mygale for conditions where there is a lot of scarring and damage to nervous tissue. As the venoms of these spiders share common chemical constituents there are similarities in the drug pictures. There are also unique qualities to each remedy and these may be very subtle. I believe that it is important to regard Tarentula hispanica as the prototype of the spider remedies, just as Lachesis mutans is the mother of all snakes. Before prescribing Tarentula, I always mentally check the other smaller spider remedies.

The remedy picture
In Greek mythology Arachne was a Lydian girl who was exceptionally skilled at weaving. In her arrogance, she challenged the goddess Athena to a competition and then proceeded to mock the gods in the design of her woven cloth. The gods sought vengeance by turning her into a spider so she could weave to her heart’s content. The species of spiders has been termed arachnid in honour of this myth. It is interesting to note that the story itself gives clues to the remedy picture. People responding to spider remedies are notoriously industrious, workaholics. The women are often exceptionally good at knitting, weaving, tapestry and similar crafts. The men often pursue rock climbing. Some can be very boastful and often have a vengeful streak. Revenge comes easily to a spider!

Other cultures regard the spider as a sign of change. It is said to be the primal symbol of fear, which is interesting as those needing spider remedies are often fearful, not just of spiders. The North Americans use dream catchers to aid spiritual guidance from the dream world. Clairvoyance is common in these remedies, though usually in a “gut feeling” sense rather than the true visions of clairvoyance seen in the snake remedies.

As with most remedy descriptions the focus has always been on the shadow side, that part of the character of which we are least proud. It is time to redress the balance of all this bad press. Just imagine a world without spiders…. flies everywhere!

Charlotte’s Web by E. M. White is an utterly delightful children’s book, which paints a very different picture of the spider. Charlotte, a large grey spider, befriends Wilbur, a pig who is destined for slaughter. The character of Charlotte is a far cry from the cruel blood sucking creature that Wilbur expects and their friendship blossoms. Ultimately Charlotte saves Wilbur’s life by ingeniously weaving words into her web above the sty that proclaim Wilbur’s brilliance. Everyone thinks that Wilbur must be really special as a result and only one little girl realises the genius of Charlotte.

The remedy descriptions of the spiders claim they are highly manipulative. Charlotte certainly was, but she used her powers of persuasion for the benefit of her friend. There are two sides to every story.

The Black widow is famed for eating her mate after sex and women responding to the remedy have a reputation as the femme fatale. In reality the female so much likes her own space that she only eats her mate if he hangs around too long and bugs her. It could be that she mistakes him for lunch, as spiders are notoriously short sighted!

Tarentula hispanica is the most dramatic of the spider remedies. All the spiders show restlessness and can be used for certain anxiety states and hyperactivity. In some cases there may be twitching of the muscles or even epilepsy. Keeping busy calms the person, hence the high-energy lifestyles. Often there are great fears, especially of death. Fear may underlie some of the aggression, which may be almost maniacal. There is a destructive quality to the anger. The women that slash their ex’s clothes may well need spider remedies.

Unlike the snake remedies, which are notoriously jealous, the spiders are not particularly suspicious or jealous. Nor are they as chatty as the snakes. Both have the animal magnetism, but the spiders are less overtly sexual. Music elicits very different responses. The snakes are almost mesmerised by it, whereas the spiders are energised. Spot the Tarentula woman at the nightclub, dancing on the speakers! The rhythm is all-important.

Spiders drink the blood of their prey, and hence there is thirst and lack of appetite. In extreme cases this may develop into anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Just as Charlotte felt bad about her victims, I have often found there is a reluctance to eat meat based on the suffering of animals. There is also often a sense of guilt about the victims of their anger outbursts. Spider bites often lead to nasty skin infections and hence boils and acne are common symptoms.

Colour is important to Tarentula. There can be a love or aversion to black, red and green.   

Spiders are solitary creatures. The mothers lay the eggs and die before they hatch. Spiders are free spirits by nature.

The spider remedies are extremely useful in homeopathy. They are deep acting and so should only be taken as prescribed by a qualified professional. Our knowledge of this fascinating species is increasing as more remedies are proved.

Case study
Tim’s story demonstrates the Tarentula picture perfectly. His main complaint was hay fever, which had come on a couple of years previously. Each summer he would have a perpetually dripping nose and streaming eyes. The anti-histamines would dry up the secretions but left him drowsy. He worked as a drummer in an up and coming rock band and had a day job as a computer designer. He desperately wanted to find something else that would help him, as the anti­histamines meant an alcohol ban, which hardly fitted with his lifestyle. He was a hard drinker and smoked a lot in the evenings. Sometimes he’d stop for a while, when he got worried about his health.

Tim was tall and very lean, dressed all in black, his preferred colour for clothes. He was very restless, his legs constantly moving. He had a real presence, something characteristic of the animal remedies in general. His health was good apart from the hay fever and occasional coughs. In the past he had suffered with acne, with large painful boils which had cleared with a course of antibiotics.

His father suffered with mild asthma, but apart from that the rest of the family was healthy. His parents had divorced when he was in his early teens and he was very resentful of his father for leaving the family. When talking of this he showed his temper, which by his own admission was volcanic. He could and would explode with anger with little provocation and would fantasise about getting his own back when he was “provoked”.

He was a very energetic person, almost “manic” as he called it. He detested being bored, “a fate worse than death”. He loved the rhythm of hard rock and music with a strong beat. He thrived on the hard work of combining a day job with his music career and found the music energised him. The physical activity of drumming made him very thirsty, and he didn’t have much of an appetite anyway. He drank huge quantities of water on stage to combat the dehydration. He loved fruit especially those with a sharp taste. He disliked meat.

He had a partner, but didn’t live with her, as he needed his own space. He had a high sex drive. He didn’t need much sleep, enjoying the tranquillity of early morning as much as the late nights. He often dreamed of flying which he loved.

He was sensitive to the weather, disliking cold, damp conditions. He preferred hot weather. He also was sensitive to atmospheres between people and the politics of the band, which he played to his advantage. He admitted he could be moody at times and found doing something energetic could lift his mood. He had a very quick mind able to juggle many tasks at once.

Although hay fever is not a classical symptom of Tarentula hispanica, the overall picture of the remedy was so clear that I prescribed it on a constitutional level, 30c, 30c and 200c on the next three days. The effect was dramatic. His hay fever cleared within days and his craving for tobacco reduced. He felt calmer in himself and reduced his dependency on high-energy drinks, alcohol and coffee. His appetite increased and he began to eat more, still avoiding meat as it stuck in his throat. He also felt an abhorrence of eating dead animals. His energy remained high, but he lost the almost self-destructive urge to live hard (and die young!). He needed a repeat dose of the remedy a year or so later and has remained well since.

In 1995 Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) MFHom joined the staff of the RLHH, where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neuro-linguistic programming.


Hurry, hurry, hurry…

A young man’s impatience and a cluster of diverse symptoms led Keith Souter to prescribe Sulphuric acid

People choose homeopathic treatment for different reasons. Some are brought up on homeopathy and would rarely consider any other approach in the first instance. Some are converts to the method after witnessing a friend or relative’s recovery, or after experiencing a dramatic improvement in their own health after taking some remedy or other. Yet others approach it with cynicism, having perhaps been down several therapeutic avenues in search of a solution to their problem.

When Tom came to see me he belonged, by his own admission, to the last group. Indeed, his opening salvo was a direct challenge: “I’m not sure that I believe in homeopathy. I can’t see the logic in it. I expect my problems will be too difficult to sort out, because no one has managed to help before. I really don’t want to waste your time.”

As it happened, Tom had been seen by several medical professionals, including his GP, his dentist, a physician, a neurologist, an immunologist, and several other complementary practitioners. The range of practitioners involved reflected the diversity of his complaints, the most pressing of which were: mouth ulceration, migrainous headaches, general anxiety and continual fatigue.

The consultation
After the initial pleasantries I explained a little about my perception of homeopathy and the way that homeopathy might be able to help him. But already, before we had really started on the problem, Tom was giving me clues about himself. He talked in a curious staccato fashion. It was as if the words tumbled out in a rapid burst once he had taken time to think out what he was to say, rather than immediately translating thoughts into words.

And he clearly felt that time was important. Although he said he did not wish to waste my time, what he really meant was that he did not want to waste his own time. This had been emphasised by him arriving early for his appointment, then pacing fairly noisily up and down in the hall outside my consulting room until the appointed time. He was clearly a young man in a hurry.

Tom was a tall, fair-haired, 24-year-old man, an associate solicitor in a local law firm. He was dressed in a fashionably smart and professional manner. He was pale with dark rings under his eyes.

“I thought it would save time if I typed out the facts of my case,” he said, almost leaping out of his chair and presenting me with a set of meticulous records.

So, time again. And one really couldn’t help but notice the speed at which he moved.

Tom’s problems had begun some years previously at school, when he had started to develop migraine. The attacks had gradually become more frequent and more severe. They had been fully investigated and formally diagnosed as migraine, which responded to conventional prophylactic treatment.

Later, at university, he began to experience troublesome mouth ulcers, which failed to respond to any treatment, either medical or dental. He also started to experience problems with heartburn and dyspepsia, for which he was referred to a physician, because it was suspected that he could have an ulcer. All investigations proved to be normal.

In his final year he became quite anxious, experiencing frequent nightmares.

“They were horrible,” he told me, “I was always racing about, being chased with axes or swords. I often woke up and had to rush to the bathroom to be sick.”

And after university he became aware of fatigue. Nothing dramatic at first, just a feeling of tiredness at the end of the day, but gradually feeling so tired that he simply could not be bothered doing the things he had to do.

“That really worried me. I had so many projects on the go. Always reading four or five books at a time, having a full diary. I just couldn’t be bothered. I just felt ill with headaches, stomach upsets or had zero energy. At times it’s been a struggle to get up to work.”

It was then that he started on a round of health practitioners. Over a couple of years various diagnoses such as ME, irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis and food allergies were postulated, focused upon and treated.

“I just react to all sorts of things,” he told me, indicating several pages of allergy testings done in different ways at different centres. “Cigarette smoke, ink, petrol fumes and oranges give me a migraine without fail,” he volunteered, “and wheat upsets my stomach.”

“What about alcohol?” I asked.

An emphatic shake of the head. “Never a problem. I know wine is supposed to give you migraine, but I love it.”

Throughout that first consultation Tom had repeatedly fidgeted and looked at his watch. I mentioned this and the fact that time seemed important to him. He laughed self­-consciously and admitted that he was always in a hurry.

“With everything,” he continued. “I walk fast and hate being held up. A nightmare for me is being in a crowd so that I can’t get on. I hate people dithering ahead of me. And I eat fast, eat too quickly I suppose, which won’t help my digestion, but I can’t help it.”

I asked if he thought quickly, too.

He looked pensive. “Yes and no. If I’m writing, my thoughts go faster than my hand, so my writing is illegible. That’s why I type everything. When I’m talking I find that my thoughts sometimes get jumbled and I mix my words up. I hate that if I’m with a client.”

I asked Tom if he thought that the word “hurry” applied to him.

He smiled. “Actually, I’m more hurry, hurry, hurry.”

The remedy
One can get the impression when one reads a case study that a remedy jumps out at the homeopath from the case history and the accompanying medical examination. In fact, there are many different approaches that can be used. Does one, for example, focus on a local problem, such as Tom’s mouth ulceration, or try to work out the constitutional remedy? Is the constitutional remedy appropriate at any one time, or should one consider the totality of the case which includes the current cluster of problems? Whole books have been written about this thorny issue of what one should treat.

Sometimes, of course, there is something striking about the individual’s case. Something which seems to run like a thread through every aspect of the individual’s being. In Tom’s case, the word “hurry” comes back again and again.

We have many remedies in the materia medica, which have this characteristic. One has to think of Sulphuric acid, Lachesis, Arsenicum album, Tarentula, Medorrhinum, Sulphur and Lilium tigrinum, among a lot of other well-known remedies. But of them all, Sulphuric acid is characterised by this pressure, this hurry in virtually all aspects of life.

This hurry is the thread, which criss-crosses to produce a framework on which to build our tapestry. When we look more closely at the problems Tom was most concerned with, we find that confirmatory pictures slowly start to emerge.

The headaches that Tom suffered from were quite characteristic. They were usually left sided and he described an occasional feeling as if his brain was a bit loose.

He was hardly free of his mouth ulcers, which were painful, like acid burns inside his mouth. He was also very concerned about halitosis.

The anxiety and the nightmares are common features of this remedy. Tom considered deadlines to be sacrosanct, so anything which might make him late or fail to meet a deadline would make him feel extremely anxious.

The sensitivity to various fumes is interesting, as is the history of food sensitivity. Indeed, patients in need of Sulphuric acid have very often travelled extensively down the food allergy trail.

The tiredness is also interesting, because all of our “acids” in homeopathy have this feature. With Sulphuric acid it is present, but not usually so debilitating as to be a major issue. Indeed, Tom struggled with it, but always managed to keep working.

And finally, a neat little confirmatory feature, his liking for wine.

The follow-up
As might be expected, Tom was in a hurry to try out his homeopathic remedy, to see whether there really could be something in this method of treatment. I duly explained what we were striving to achieve and gave him a prescription for Sulphuric acid 1M, three doses to be taken over 24 hours.

When I saw him for his follow up consultation he was, of course, just as hurried as usual, but with some major differences. This time he was keen to volunteer information about how he had been. He still spoke quickly, but he himself felt that his thoughts and speech were much more in harmony, that he could verbalise his thoughts much clearer than before.

After a brief two-day period when he had an aggravation of his headaches and a transient feeling of nausea, he started to feel much calmer. The pressure to do everything at once, to put pressure on himself at work and play began to reduce. The mouth ulceration and halitosis cleared up within the next week and he felt a gradual improvement in his energy levels.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “Three little powders, it doesn’t make sense. It must be a placebo effect.”

“Healthy scepticism is acceptable,” I told him. “Just make your assessment on results.”

No further treatment was given, merely a follow-up arranged for two months thence. At that appointment Tom said that he had continued to feel well, but that the headaches had started to return, as had halitosis, though not the mouth ulceration. He thought that pressure of work had something to do with it, since he had started to have unpleasant dreams once again.

Sulphuric acid 1M was again prescribed; three doses over 24 hours.

On the subsequent follow-up Tom declared himself to be amazed by homeopathy, since his headaches, nightmares and anxiety had all gone, as had his halitosis. He had not felt so well for several years, especially since many of the things he had seemed to react to in the past no longer seemed to bother him. He declared himself to be a complete convert to the method. And so he has remained over the following years.

Sulphuric acid is present in the environment, in exhaust fumes and acid rain. People in need of it homeopathically often suffer from migraine, food allergies and environmental illness. They generally also experience the tiredness of all acids, and often may have problems of “hyperacidity”, affecting the stomach to produce indigestion, dyspepsia, heartburn and classic mouth ulcers. But the most common feature of all, in Tom’s words is “Hurry, hurry, hurry.”

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed, DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a medical author and newspaper columnist. His interests in elderly medicine and emotional problems are reflected in two of his books – Homoeopathy for the Third Age and Homoeopathy: Heart & Soul.



by David Lilley

Sulphur, the most ancient archetype in the history of our planet, can be equated with Adam. It has a predominantly male energy.

Our planet Earth was at first an incandescent globe which gradually cooled over millions of years. This early period of earth’s evolution was dominated by tremendous volcanic activity. The element most associated with volcanism is Sulphur or brimstone. The fumes emanating from volcanoes owe their offensiveness to the presence of Sulphur.

Sulphur symbolises first man, like a child, venturing forth into an entrancing, exciting new world, his mind filled with curiosity, inquisitiveness and wonder. He is a pioneer, a man of the earth, close to nature, the hunter-gatherer, handy, inventive and adventurous. Soon he is bewitched by the material world and worships its many idols, including himself. He swaggers through the portals of Eden, puffed with pride and ego, brash and bold.

Sulphur is forthright and open. What you see is what you get ­whether you like it or not. In keeping with its pungent vapours, the type is intrusive, unaware or uncaring of social niceties, and in the words of Dickens – “free from any drawback of delicacy”.

The Sulphur character

The first symbol of Sulphur is a powerful one – the volcano! The image is explosive and fiery. A nature given to explosive wrath which erupts suddenly and intensely in response to the slightest irritation, offence or frustration. This anger may quickly subside, often followed by remorse, or smoulder with sullen fury. There is passion in the volcano, and in Sulphur. It can be manifested in all facets of his life – be it sport, politics, science, philosophy or religion.

Fire symbolises intellectual, creative and artistic flair. Filled with curiosity and an adventurous spirit, possessed of a burning desire to investigate and analyse all things, be it a toy or the universe, he may become the inventive genius, the inspired visionary, the mad professor or the religious fanatic.

If art is his passion its form is most often innovative and “off-beat”. When unsuccessful they cannot understand why their talent is unappreciated. They believe they are at the cutting edge of whatever they do.

Fire is furthermore symbolic of the ego. A volcanic ego must be very big indeed. Too big for its own good and very selfish. They take things for granted, think everything is their due and show a lack of consideration, appreciation and gratitude. He is an Andy Capp. An ardent chauvinist who believes that women are destined to be at the beck and call of the man of the house. In this role he is invariably critical, irritable and intolerant. It is possibly one of the least introspective of archetypes, always believing that its possessions and performances are the best. Often shrewd about others and hypercritical, he remains uninformed about himself and very self-tolerant.

Some Sulphurs can come across as being unpleasantly haughty and arrogant. He is characteristically self-opinionated, impatient, headstrong and domineering. Pride comes before a fall, and this is often the lot of the puffed up Sulphur.

The expulsive power of the volcano is compelling. It reveals the remarkable ability of Sulphur to drive toxins and internal disease outwards onto the surface. It can counteract the suppression of emotional or physical symptoms, even when due to drug therapy. It can reverse the direction of disease flow and restore resistance. The reappearance of an old eruption on the skin is invariably a good sign when Sulphur has been prescribed.

The discharges of Sulphur are usually offensive and acrid, burning the surrounding tissues over which they flow.  Any of the openings of the body may appear red and inflamed. The lips of a Sulphur subject are often very red, as are the ears. Their breath, sweat and flatus will frequently be offensive, and it is not unusual for even a young child to suffer from a strong or offensive body odour.

There is also extreme heat and burning in the image of the volcano. The Sulphur patient is hot-blooded and intolerant of heat and of becoming overheated, as by overexertion. They suffer from burning pains and itching of the skin, which are worse from heat. The hands are hot and sweaty, and the soles of the feet burn so much that they cannot tolerate having them covered at night, and must stick them out from under the sheets. At the menopause, Sulphur women are troubled by hot flushes and sweats. Like the volcano in eruption and then in extinction, they may be overheated one minute and chilly the next, or they may experience excess of heat in one part and coldness in another.

In our comparison with the volcano we must not forget that volcanoes are not always active, they may even be extinct. The laziness and indolence of Sulphur are proverbial. Although the children may possess a quick and perceptive intelligence, due to laziness and procrastination, they are often underachievers. He has an aversion to anything which resembles work. He can be the typical couch potato, or an armchair philosopher, who has an answer for all the world’s problems, but never lifts a finger to help.

“Hellfire and Brimstone” conjures up an image of the impassioned evangelist denouncing the wicked and the unbeliever. Often a fundamentalist and highly superstitious, even when religious he is usually selfish, preoccupied with his own salvation, rather than that of his fellow man. He is intolerant of other religions.

The Sulphur child

The wild and wilful Sulphur child has been immortalised in the character of Dennis the Menace. They are in perpetual motion; mercilessly tease their siblings; are always into everything and at the centre of any mischief; extremely high spirited; naughty; forever getting into trouble and into fights; disobedient; unheeding and defiant of reprimand. Something must always be happening; they need plenty of action, stimulation and excitement..

No child can become dirtier or more dishevelled in shorter time than Sulphur, or prove so difficult to clean. Water is inimical to fire, and these fire children are averse to any serious use of water, as in washing, bathing and brushing teeth, but delight in using it to make mud, drench things and do irreparable damage. Their hair is in keeping with their volcanic nature. Unless wet and clinging to the scalp, it is wild and unmanageable, standing up at all angles, more like a hedgehog than a human. Its texture is unhealthy, coarse and brittle and it lacks lustre.

They also have unpleasant habits. They are inclined to chronic catarrhal discharges from the nose, ears and eyes. These are conveniently smeared off on their sleeves. They are forever digging around in their noses and eating the gleanings. Sulphurs are great nose pickers.

Coarseness and roughness are common characteristics of the lower Sulphur. Many a rough diamond is a Sulphur. This roughness is also to be seen in their lack of refinement and sensitivity. They are not shy and do not suffer from self-consciousness, nor are they easily embarrassed. They can be painfully blunt and forthright, often lacking in tact.

The Teenage Sulphur

Sulphur is possibly the teenager remedy, for its picture is replete with all the classic characteristics of that time of life: the complexes, prejudices, dissatisfaction, paranoia, selfishness, resentment of authority, rebelliousness, arrogance, insolence, sulkniness, laziness, untidiness, lack of hygiene, bad posture, bad skin, the love of the torn and the ugly, procrastination, lack of manners, lack of discipline, love of play and parties, irresponsibility, love of loud strident music, love of speed, high sex drive, late retiring – late rising, love of alcohol and of recreational drugs. Always looking for the short cut, the quick fix, they even try to gate-crash heaven by taking mind altering substances. There are many damaged Sulphur adolescents. 

The colours of Sulphur 

The language of nature is frequently expressed in colours.

When heated to its boiling point Sulphur becomes a sullen, dark, red, mobile liquid. Red is the colour of anger and passion. Sulphur is competitive and aggressive by nature. When hearing a Sulphur holding sway, boastful, self-opinionated and domineering, one may visualise archaic homo sapiens beating his chest and proclaiming his territory.  

Sulphur occurs in the most vivid, yellow crystals. Yellow symbolises characteristics which are essentially left cerebral: analytical, materialistic, logical, reductionist and scientific; showing a strongly male-type bias towards values and life. Sulphur generally represents control through the intellect.

Yellow is bright, the brightest and most penetrating colour in the spectrum; it catches the attention and insists upon being the centre of focus. Yellow has clarity, sharpness and agility and so too has the mind of Sulphur. It will leave no stone unturned in its quest for knowledge. Yellow is the colour of the scientific mind, dispassionately analytical, devoid of idealism, romanticism and reverence. Everything must have a concrete reason for existing, everything must add up, be weighed and measured. This focus upon reason can make him seem lacking in compassion – cold, calculating and even callous. Brilliant though they may be, many a Sulphur seems to lack soul.

Yellow is information, as in the yellow pages. Sulphur may set great store by general knowledge. He is a mine of information and collects facts like the Sulphur child collects bits and pieces. Both are human magpies. The value of what is collected is often only apparent to a fellow Sulphur. Both the quiz master and the whiz kid may be a Sulphur.

This curious mind is easily captivated by anything novel. They love new ideas and fresh angles on things. They always want the latest high-tech gadgets. Many Sulphurs never grow up, remaining overgrown schoolboys. Yellow is a play colour and Sulphurs love to play and to have toys. As they get older these toys become ever more expensive and sophisticated. Sulphur cannot bear to part with anything. His garage is filled with old junk and useless bits and pieces which he refuses to throw away, in case they should someday come in handy. The more discerning Sulphur becomes a serious collector of coins, stamps, art works, books or wine.

From an early age they have a remarkably well-developed sense of monetary value and soon develop an aptitude for business and a talent for making money. Keeping it may be more difficult. 

From childhood they are good with their hands and love constructing things. They are fascinated by anything mechanical and electrical, and seem to possess an instinctive knowledge of how they work. They are people who like to get their hands dirty or greasy. Either as a profession or a hobby, they enjoy building, restoring and doing maintenance work. Likewise, gardening and farming appeal to them. They have “green fingers”. They love nature and animals, and yet also love hunting, and are unable to perceive the contradiction in this.

Yellow captures the eye, it communicates, and may even intrude into our awareness. Sulphur is a good communicator. He dominates and monopolises conversations, loves the sound of his own voice, claims centre stage as his right and from this vantage point pontificates to one and all. Often they are highly entertaining, being consummate raconteurs, who enjoy an amazing vocabulary, a wonderful skill with languages and are blessed with a prodigious memory. They are often involved in the media as journalists, announcers, commentators, critics or entertainers.

Sulphur burns with a blue flame indicating an affinity for the venous system and the venous circulation. It is a remedy for haemorrhoids and varicose veins. The inflamed tissues and mucus membranes of the Sulphur case are bluish in colour and not red as in most other remedies.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.


Dracula – a portrait of Stramonium

The vampire story is the substance of nightmares, writes Marysia Kratimenos, and as such is a perfect description of the homeopathic remedy, Stramonium

Bram Stoker claimed the inspiration for this gothic horror came to him in a dream. Although many other authors, including Arthur Conan Doyle, wrote of vampires, Stoker’s novel is still regarded as the archetypical description of the human vampire. It has been made into numerous films, some more accur­ate to the original text than others. None, in my opinion, can compete with the sheer terror experienced while read­ing the book on a cold autumn evening as Hallowe’en approaches – the night when all spirits and demons are said to be free to roam the earth. The season is perfect for vivid imaginings.

Bram Stoker was born in Ireland. He worked as manager of the Lyceum theatre in the Strand, London and was in close contact with the celebrities of the day, including Oscar Wilde and Dr Charcot, a famous neurologist and proponent of hypnotism. His love of literature and the theatre is evident in the text. His brother was a famous surgeon, who assisted Bram with the relevant medical descriptions. Although Bram Stoker wrote many books, he will always be remembered for just one novel, namely Dracula, which was published in 1897.

The novel and the remedy
Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula was a historical figure, a Wallachian prince, who fought against the Ottoman Empire. He was renowned for his brutality to­wards his opponents, although this is somewhat glossed over by many Roman­ians who regard him as a national hero. Dracula was added to his name at a later stage – dracul meaning dark power. Stoker took his name and created the wonderful prince of darkness, the per­sonification of Stramonium.

The story is related in the form of extracts taken from the diaries of the leading characters, a clever device as it allows the reader to experience the story-line from a series of different perspec­tives. It opens with the diary of Jonathan Harker, a solicitor, describing his journey to Transylvania, Romania and his sub­sequent stay with the Count. Even as the book opens we are introduced to the homeopathic Stramonium state: “an awful nightmare”. Harker finds himself “paralysed with fear” at the sight of a “ring of wolves with white teeth and lolling red tongues… a hundred times more terrible in the grim silence which held them than ever when they howled.”

Stramonium is a remedy of intense fear which paralyses the victim. There is a close association with wolves, Dracula’s “children of the night”. The herb was used by the Berserkers, ancient Nordic warriors, to induce a state of near madness prior to battle. The men would drape themselves in wolf coats, a shamanic ritual to embody the power of the creature.

The remedy Lac caninum (dog’s milk) is a related remedy to Stramonium; both are used for the intense fear and anger that follow abuse. The inter-rela­tionship between these two remedies is further emphasised by the presence of hairs in the centre of Dracula’s palms, his canine teeth and his ability to shape-shift into a dog at will.

Dracula is dressed all in black – a colour favoured by those who require the remedy. He has a dread of mirrors and shining things, again a trait of the Stramonium state. The sight of Harker’s crucifix infuriates him and he is repelled by it. The herb stramonium was demon­ised by the Catholic Church, who feared the wise women herbalists, accusing them of witchcraft and burning them. Henceforth stramonium was known as the devil’s apple. Dracula uses the pseudonym Count De Ville in London.

Dracula forces Harker to stay in his castle, although the “nocturnal exist­ence” makes him fear for his sanity. There are beautiful descriptions of the intensity of his terror… “I start at my own shadow, and am full of all sorts of horrible imaginings.” In the Stramonium state of intense fear, the imagination runs wild. Fear of ghosts, vampires, the dark, graveyards, the dead and dogs, especially black ones, predominate and the fears are worse at night. The nightmares of the Stramonium state are horrific and the person wakes screaming with terror, eyes wide and glistening, the pulse racing and the skin flushed.

Although Dracula warns him to sleep only in a particular room, Harker takes “pleasure in disobeying”. Stramonium can be used for certain types of hyperactivity, especially those children who have coexisting oppositional defiant behaviour. Traditionally Native Americans used the herb to “control unruly children”.

Harker falls asleep and three female vampires appear; voluptuous creatures who would seduce him. The vampires remind us of the three witches in Macbeth, again emphasising the dark side of the remedy and its association with witchcraft. Harker is enthralled, aroused by them, but just as he is find­ing the strength of character not to betray his love, Mina, in virtuous Victor­ian fashion, Dracula storms in, claiming Harker as his own. “Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit” is a glorious descrip­tion of the intensity of Stramonium’s anger. Those requiring homeopathic Stramonium may exhibit the fear one moment, and the intense fury the next.

Although Stramonium is a plant remedy, it is as sexually charged as many of the animal remedies. The herb was reputed to be an aphrodisiac. Indian prostitutes used it in higher doses to sub­due their clients, inducing dreams that were indistinguishable from reality. It was used as “a tool of brothel keep­ers, wicked seducers of girls, depraved courtesans and shameless lechers”1 because of its ability to induce submis­sion and amnesia – possibly the first date-rape drug. It is thus used homeo­pathically for severe trauma, often of a sexual nature.

The book Dracula is indeed a Freud­ian fantasy. The attempted seduction of Harker by the vamps, Dracula’s erotic biting of the women and the interming­ling of his blood with theirs: this all alludes to the darker side of Stramon­ium, a remedy used extensively by professional homeopaths for cases of child-hood sexual abuse and rape.

Nightmares and sleep-walking are often tell-tale signs of trauma and Stram­onium deals efficiently with them, as well as the shell-shocked traumatic state, which Harker enters into following his escape from Castle Dracula. When Van Helsing reads his diaries and tells Harker that he believes him, Harker states that “You have cured me already”, emphasis­ing the need for the victim to be believed.

Harker is so confused by the exper­iences in Transylvania that he is unable to differentiate between imagination and reality: “I do not know what to trust, even the evidence of my own senses.” Little wonder Freud was misled by victims of abuse to produce the theories of the Oedipus and Elektra complexes; it was easier than accepting the unacceptable. If only he had had some homeopathic Stramonium to hand!

Stramonium induces a “psychomim­etic” state; users are unable to differ­entiate between reality and the effects of the drug. Unlike other hallucinogens, which only induce visual hallucinations, every sensation is affected. It is like a living nightmare, and the effects may last days. Some users experience flash­backs, hence its use for “bad trips” and flashbacks in homeopathy.

Lucy, one of Dracula’s victims, is sub­ject to sleepwalking and horrific night­mares. She is a perfect victim for the evil vampire, “of too supersensitive a nature to go through life without trouble”, in other words a typical Phosphorus. Her tubercular nature is evident in her pallor and weakness, even prior to the attacks. She is morally corrupted by him: “the sweetness changed to adamantine, heart­less cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness”, again a sign of sexual inter­ference at a tender age.

In death she regains her beauty, but her vampire status soon manifests as she begins to prey on young children. Victim has become abuser, the “curse of immor­tality: they cannot die, but go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world”. The stramonium seed pod echoes this theme of immort­ality: seeds stored for 39 years still had a germination rate of over 90 per cent.

Mina’s reaction to Dracula’s attack is somewhat different, she declares her­self “unclean”. She is a marked woman – the burn of the Holy Host is on her forehead, an analogy to the mark of Cain. This reaction to trauma is com­mon in the Lac caninum state. The vic­tims are riddled with shame and guilt that they should have somehow pre­vented the attack on their honour. She did not resist further attacks, saying she “did not want to hinder him. I suppose it is part of the terrible curse, that such is when his touch is on his victim.” She is even able to find compassion for her abuser, but fears sleep lest he return. Those needing Lac caninum for trau­matic events often see the face of their abuser just as they start to fall asleep.

As Dracula has forced Mina to drink his blood, she is able, in hypnotic trance, to merge her spirit with his and lead the heroes to him. Stramonium can induce such a deep trance that it is also known in Haiti as the Zombie’s Cucumber, and so can be used for severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder where the vic­tim is almost left catatonic.

Stramonium belongs to the botani­cal family Solanaceae, the nightshade family. It is found world-wide, although it is believed it originated in the area around the Caspian Sea. It is reputed that gypsies spread the seeds. Dracula is helped throughout the book by Szygany, Eastern European gypsies.

Some of the Solanaceae are benefi­cial to man, like potato, tomato, auber­gine, and capsicum pepper. Others are deadly poisons, such as Belladonna, Stramonium and Hyoscymus. Their tox­icity is related to the presence of atropine and related compounds which have a powerful effect on the nervous system, blocking the actions of the neurotrans­mitters (chemicals which allow for nerve transmission).

The effect of stramonium is that one becomes “as blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as a beet, hot as a hare, dry as a bone, the bowel and bladder lose their tone, and the heart runs alone”2 – all signs of an adrenaline rush that may occur with terror or violent anger.

Despite this, stramonium has medic­inal uses. The refined chemicals are still used today in orthodox medicine to dilate pupils for eye examinations and operations, to prevent vomiting fol­lowing opiate painkillers and chemo­therapy, to stimulate the heart, and to treat sarin and nerve gas poisoning. In the past it was also used for asthma.

The concentration of the chemicals varies considerably – the plants are more potent in the night, hence Dracula’s noc­turnal existence, and in cloudy, dark autumnal weather, again perfect vam­pire conditions. The white trumpet shaped flowers open in the twilight, hence the nickname Moonflower. The term lunatic is derived from the belief that insanity was associated with the moon.

Stramonium toxicity is well docu­mented, and it has been used by the inju­dicious as a recreational drug. In ancient times it was honoured as a powerful shamanic plant; the Oracle of Delphi was reputed to gain her prophetic powers from a concoction of the herb.

The drug was used by certain Native North American tribes in shamanic rituals, marking the passage into adult­hood. The chosen men were kept apart from the tribe and given stramonium regularly, until all traces of immaturity and memories of boyhood were eradi­cated. The stramonium drove them to the brink of insanity in order to free their souls.

This is clearly demonstrated by the character of Renfield, the “homicidal maniac”, who becomes Dracula’s ser­vant. He is clearly psychotic, with parox­ysms of rage and violence, totally delusional and yet an educated articu­late man in his sane moments. Stramon­ium can be used in mania and psychosis, obviously by professional medical hom­eopaths and in conjunction with con­ventional medical treatment. There is often an alternation between profound delusional behaviour and total normality in those requiring the remedy.

Stramonium can induce inappropri­ate behaviour, often comical. The film “Dracula: Dead and Loving it” is a delicious spoof of Dracula and surpris­ingly accurate to the spirit of the text, though obviously artistic liberties were taken to enhance the humour. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” takes the sexual undercurrents alluded to in the book to a whole new dimension of hilarity.

The chemicals are powerful hallu­cinogens and as such stramonium was a powerful ingredient in flying oint­ments. Dracula is able to fly by shape-shifting into a bat; Stoker cleverly blends fantasy with reality. Vampire bats exist, predominately in South America, and spread rabies – the theme of hydropho­bia is strong in the Solanaceae family.

Stramonium plants act as a “toxin sponge, leaching heavy metal elements from polluted soils”. Heavy metals, such as arsenic and mercury, were used in medicine to cure syphilis. The disease was endemic in Victorian society, despite their puritanical morals and led to mad­ness with intense cruelty, typified by Dracula, both the fictional character and the historical, again a theme witnessed in those requiring homeopathic Stramon­ium. It is a deligthful irony that Goths, who typify the appearance of Stramon­ium, with their black clothes and flam­boyant silver crucifixes, have such a love of heavy metal music.

Stramonium is an immensely pow­erful homeopathic remedy, perfectly personified in Dracula. The match is so close one wonders if Stoker’s nightmare was in fact induced by a cup of stramo­nium tea. He would not have been the first, or indeed the last, to use hallu­cinogens in the pursuit of art!

1. Prisma Franz Vermulen quotes an “indignant German writer” no doubt from their equivalent of Tunbridge Wells.
2. Datura stramonium on Wikepedia, the free internet encyclopaedia.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice. 




by David Lilley

Silicea stands close to Sulphur in the volcanic phase of planetary evolution, but as life evolved in the oceans it showed its relationship to Calc carb. Both archetypes share a fear of life, which they perceive as hostile and threatening. The molluscs express this fear in the development of a protective shell fashioned of Calc carb. The sponges use pure Silicea to produce their exquisitely designed skeletons. This artistry reaches the height of perfection in the skeleton of the deep-sea glass sponge, known as Venus’ Flower Basket. It is a fragile cathedral of Silicea spicules, executed in six axes with a delicacy, grace, and refinement of form, which perfectly expresses the spirit of this sublime substance.

In the carboniferous period Silicea showed its close relationship with Lycopodium. Alongside the regal Lycopods, those mighty forbears of the humble club-moss, stood the almost as impressive, silica-rich Sphenopsids, the ancestors of the horsetails – Equisetum. As weather conditions changed and rainfall diminished, they too had to undergo a drastic reduction in size in order to survive, and also contributed to the vegetable material, which produced the extensive coal deposits, which millions of years later fired the Industrial Revolution. This falling off and loss of stature has ever since afflicted both archetypes with a sense of diffidence and inferiority. Both however possess minds which have boosted the technological and scientific explosion of the modern world.

The world of the mind is the world of the Silicea type – it is his haven – safe and secure. Silicea types become scientists, astro-physicists, cosmologists, astronomers, paleo-anthropologists, archaeologists, mathematicians, computer-analysts, information-technologists. However unlike Sulphur and Lycopodium, they usually possess a wonderful balance between right and left cerebral activity and, like Isaac Newton, one of the last of the mystic scientists, they are able to perceive the majesty of the creation, in all its scientific detail, and still retain a reverence for God and belief in the spiritual destiny of man.


Silicon is situated in the carbon group of the periodic table of elements, next to the element carbon. This transitional point is of great significance to man because it is from here that the first unicellular organism and subsequently all life came into being, and the majesty of our earthly landscape, which forms the stage and backdrop for life’s unfolding, took shape. Whereas carbon is the key element in the evolution of all organic life, silicon is the planetary architect and sculptor whose genius and artistry create mountain and valley, crag and ravine. With infinite virtuosity the giant molecules of these two elements bring into being either a wonderful diversity of life forms, or the magical splendour of the crystal world.

Silicea is a compound of the two most abundant elements of the earth’s crust – oxygen and silicon – and makes up 60 per cent of its mass, being the main component of more than 95 per cent of the earth’s rocks. The exceptions are the carbonate formations – limestone and dolomite. Many varieties of quartz are vibrantly coloured due to the presence of other elements as impurities: amethyst – purple violet; sapphire – indigo-blue; onyx – black to white; jasper – red; opal – iridescent, due to small inclusions of calcium carbonate.

The word crystal derives from krystallos, the Greek word for ice, which is also the Greek name for quartz. Crystal is now the generic term for all solid particles in which the atomic or molecular constituents are arranged according to strict, regularly repeated, geometrical design. Hence Silicea, quartz, or rock crystal, has become the very symbol of crystallisation and form, and truly the sphere of Silicea is a domain of myriad shapes and exquisite colours. Any substance that crystallises and attains form is shaped from within and closed off from without, and it is these two contending forces, a creative force and a formative force, which reside within Silicea – the crystal – the remedy – and the archetype. The crystal has an infinite capacity to grow by accretion, continually adding to itself, but whilst the creative force urges growth and expansion, it is rigidly constrained and conformed by a strict geometrical design imposed by the formative force, which always achieves the pyramid that finally crowns the crystal – the eternal symbol of spiritual evolution and attainment.

This inner contention between seemingly opposing forces – between extraversion and introversion, creativity and reserve, obstinacy and acquiescence, the desire to achieve and fear of failure, ambition and hesitant timidity, a brilliant mind and a delicate body – is fundamental to the Silicea personality. Silicea presents a paradox – the urge to develop and expand being ever opposed by the need to comply and conform.

Leonardo da Vinci captured this shaping from within and the struggle it involves when he wrote – “By the law of the Almighty the body is the work of the soul which fashions its outward appearance by hammering it from within, like a goldsmith embossing his material.”

The body is both the symbol and the tabernacle of the soul. The shape and form of this tabernacle often indicates the aptitudes, tendencies and aspirations animating it. This is particularly true of Silicea.

The first symbol of Silicea is the molten magma, which pours forth onto the earth’s crust from deep subterranean chambers under the violent impulse of volcanic activity. Here we see the close relationship that exists between Sulphur and Silicea. Sulphur is the externalising energy, ever working from within outwards, just as it does in its healing action; Silicea is the fluid material, which, as it solidifies, gives shape and substance to the surface of the earth. This powerful external layer or skeleton, largely a vast accumulation of quartz crystals, is in relationship to the planet as a whole, only a thin crust – the earth’s skin. Below this skin the liquid silicates flow and seethe, penetrating the surface through volcanoes, which open up like boils, sinuses and fistulae, building up excess material on the outside. Silicea has a particular affinity for the skin and its appendages – the hair and nails; the formative sheath of the bones – the periosteum; the inner matrix of the bones into which calcium and phosphorus are deposited; and it suits skin lesions which simulate volcanic activity. From these correspondences we realise the aptness of Silicea in the treatment of: unhealthy skin which festers from the least injury; boils, acne, fistulae; splinters; thickened scars; weak, brittle, or thickened and unsightly nails; thin hair which splits, breaks and falls; loss of bone density ­osteoporosis; infections of bone – osteitis and osteomyelitis; overgrowth of bone – exostoses, osteophytes and osteoarthritis.

The second and most revealing symbol of Silicea is glass. Although man has been manufacturing glass ever since it was invented in Mesopotamia about 5000 years ago, nature has been forming glass through volcanic activity for millions of years. This volcanic glass, the most common form of which is obsidian, is created when hot larva rapidly cools after oozing onto the earth’s surface. The main constituent of glass is Silicea and the special qualities of this remarkable material are shared by the Silicea being.

To divine these qualities fully it is necessary to observe the skilled artistry of the glass blower and the behaviour of the material he is working with. The molten glass is fluid, clear, malleable, yielding and pliant, conforming to every whim of the artist, yet when it sets it is strong, rigid and inflexible, but also transparent, delicate, brittle and fragile. The slightest blow sharply delivered at a critical point, or a sound wave of critical frequency can shatter it, whilst it has the strength and resilience to resist tremendous forces and sustain a symphony of sound. Such is the paradoxical nature of Silicea.

The silicea adult

In character they are clear and transparent – guileless, honest, sincere and open. Often initially timid, hesitant, indecisive, naïve and impressionable, they are easily influenced and persuaded by others, but as they develop and mature, constantly learning from experience, forming their own beliefs, opinions, morals and values, ever building their crystal structure, they are imbued with strength and resolve. Once established their convictions are steadfast, invulnerable to persuasion or seduction. On matters of principle they can be extremely obstinate and unyielding. This inner strength is often belied by a physically refined and delicate appearance, and an exquisite sensitivity of disposition, which is easily moved to compassion and tears, but also renders them susceptible to every sensory impression, jarring their nervous system, and leaving them debilitated. Great strength of will and intellect are often coupled to a limiting weakness of constitution.

Glass is surely the most versatile of materials; it can be as imposing and sophisticated as the giant telescope mirrors and lenses used for penetrating the secrets of the cosmos, or as small and simple as a child’s marble. The mind of Silicea is similarly versatile, able to encompass and master concepts of universal scope and be at ease with the finest detail, and give both the same attention. One of their charms is that even the great remain free from conceit and pretension. Within the mature may be found the innocence, enthusiasm and playfulness of a child, and within the child may be found the wisdom of a sage.

Glass restores our failing eyesight and projects our vision with clarity to the world about us – and also to the world within us, because as the first mirror after water it permits us to view the hidden aspects of our inner nature etched into our features by the workings of the soul. The lens of our eye is largely a Silicea organ. As such Silicea is our window to life, and also the window of our souls. Silicea bestows both sight and insight, giving its archetype not only an intuitive sense of the motives and traits of others, but also the blessing of self-awareness and self-knowledge. They are true unto themselves. They are capable of seeing the evil in good and the good in evil.

In our everyday lives, glass secludes, insulates and protects us whilst maintaining our visual union and communication with the world about us – it does not sever or isolate. The advanced Silicea is in this world, but not of it. They know that this life is but a stage for the schooling of the soul, and that behind it lies the reality from which we have come and to which we shall return. Whilst assisting, inspiring and caring for others, they are capable of dispassion and detachment. They can distance themselves without dissociating.

The lens of the telescope displays the macrocosm; the lens of the microscope and the technology of glass fibre optics reveal the world of the infinitely small – the microcosm. The same technology permits the human mind to project itself through sound and visual signals across the planet. It has extended our powers of communication and the dissemination of knowledge. In the silicon chip the mineral world vies with the organic world in memory and intelligence, and tiny quartz crystals provide us with the quintessential timekeeper, precise and accurate regardless of temperature or position. All of this relates to Silicea, and its archetype.

The Silicea mind is fascinated by the infinite and the infinitesimal, by the distant past and the remote future, by painstaking observation, exactitude and accuracy. It is a Silicea who can spend hours, days and months fine chiselling and brushing a fragment of fossilised bone out of its encasing rock with infinite patience and loving care. Fixity of purpose, and devotion to the finest detail is a characteristic of Silicea. The passion of Silicea is often a cerebral passion. They may compensate for lack of physical prowess and stamina by developing their mental abilities and knowledge, earning their laurels through intellectual feats. Many a “nerd” and “boffin” is a Silicea. Though reserved and lacking self-confidence they are determined and focused. They study, and they over-study, building an intellectual edifice which will be admired and give them confidence.

Glass also embodies colour, light, art and music. The glass prism reveals the hidden wonders of the spectrum; glass art is as versatile as the material it uses, producing works of great beauty, elegance and delicacy; a glass musician can make glass emit celestial music – like hearing angels sing. All of this is inherent in the archetype, for Silicea is artistic, imaginative and creative, or possesses a strong aesthetic awareness and appreciation. Silicea may be the artist or author with self-doubt, daunted by the empty canvas or page, or the creator who is never quite done, always adding a further detail, always embellishing or changing a word. A dose of Silicea in potency will unlock their confidence and their creativity, and permit them to put down their tools when the work is completed.

Nor may we forget
“the crystal ball” which enhances psychic powers, the eye through which the fortune-teller or prophetess peers into the halls of other dimensions. Just as glass fibre optics extends our means of communication over vast distances on the earthly plane, so the sensitivity of Silicea extends beyond the merely physical, accessing the vibrations of unseen realms by means of love, empathetic perception, intuition, telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance states, astral-projection and hypnosis. Quartz crystals possess healing power and since they have power to split light into its component colours, their healing influence can touch all levels of disease manifestation, all the chakras and hence all the systems and organs of the body. Healing in its various forms is often the vocation or natural gift of the Silicea archetype.

A third symbol of Silicea is sand. Sea sand is quartz in the almost pure state. Sand is grit, and grit is determination, perseverance and courage. When the Silicea energy in a constitution is low there will often be a lack of these grit qualities, physically and morally, and hence a lack of energy, resistance and confidence. It is a state of weakness, doubt and self-consciousness, and a fear of standing up for their rights, which persuades them to comply, yield and give up. They frequently suffer from dread of failure, despite great natural ability, and will avoid challenges rather than risk defeat. By homeopathic potentisation, medicinally inert sand is transformed into Silicea energy, which in susceptible subjects bestows fortitude and tenacity upon the vulnerable and the timid.

In others the Silicea energy is too high. Once committed to a task these individuals do not know when enough is enough, or when to stop. With immense strength and determination of will, often against all odds, and even when exhausted by their endeavours, they struggle on, even to the point of burnout.

The silicea child

Sand can wear away rock, and sand children know this. Despite their shyness and timidity they possess a determination to get what they want.

The Silicea child can nag continuously. Once they have made up their minds they will persist until their demands are met, wearing down their parent’s resistance with pleas and beseeching. If denied, there is great anger with floods of tears, and then a stubborn sulkiness, which does not easily yield to parental supplication or reasoning. Whilst Calc carb is stubborn in its fears, Silicea is stubborn in its sulks and its tears.

Walk on the beach and feel the soft, yielding sand beneath your feet. It is comforting and soothing, but let a wind strike up, whipping those selfsame grains against your face, and feel their bite and their sting. Such may be the nature of the seemingly placid and forgiving Silicea. Able to withstand persistent provocation with admirable constraint, a trifle may arouse an uncharacteristic and even violent anger. Contradiction is the most frequent cause.

As it spiritually evolves the Silicea archetype, ever aspiring to perfection, striving always to achieve its crowning pyramid, unites its conflicting polarities and finds a stability, serenity and capacity for unconditional love which is manifested in its final symbol, the rare heart-shaped twinning of the quartz crystal – an image of the heart and love of Silicea.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica. 




…proved to be a first choice remedy for a young woman presenting with various symptoms including enlarged glands and blisters, explains Roger Neville-Smith

I saw Susan, who was 18 years old, at the request of her GP because she had not been well for the preceding four years. Before this she had suffered a glandular fever type of illness. The GP had already referred her to an endocrinologist where the investigations found no abnormality and she had been prescribed antidepressants (but stopped them after two months). She was complaining of sore throats, recurring blisters on her lips, throat and inside her cheeks, as well as persistently enlarged glands in the neck.

Susan attended with her mum who was a warm, rounded person; the daughter, in comparison, was slight, with lean features, blond haired, being rather timid but attentive. She told me that she was tired all the time, felt withdrawn, tended to make mistakes when talking, had difficulty getting up in the mornings and was missing school. Her appetite was reduced and she had lost some weight. At night she would wake with hot sweats and complained of vivid dreams. She agreed that any stress worsened her symptoms. She also suffered from indigestion with bloating and burping.

In her early life she had been a forceps birth and when aged four years old had been disturbed by a house move. She appeared to have settled well after this until getting ill a few years ago. Other than the acute infection mentioned above there did not appear to be any other stress factor, which had made her ill.

She had a certain ambivalence to friends and company. She enjoyed gymnastics and disco dancing as well as club activities. She is sociable but never makes the first move. She enjoys her friends and is better when she is in their company.

However at school she pushes herself hard, is desperately conscientious, serious and sensitive. She feels insecure and needs to feel in control. She hates doing presentations. Although she is sympathetic to others in trouble she is shy and reserved about her problems.

She had two specific fears; firstly of being trapped and drowned and secondly of needles, loathing immunisations. She told me that as a child her brother had held her under water in the swimming pool so, I think, this is not a surprising fear. Not many patients claim to like needles and injections but her fear seemed to be extreme.

She was a chilly individual with very cold feet. Recently she had started needing fresh air, which is a change for her. She has a variable appetite with changing fads and fancies, recently loving curries. She dislikes ice cream and coffee and is quite thirsty, drinking two litres daily.

I wondered about a number of medicines including Calc carb because of her persistently enlarged glands, withdrawn nature, hard work, and infections. I considered Tuberculinum because of her recurring infections, desire for fresh air and night sweats.

However, I chose Silicea based on her lean figure, porcelain-like skin, recurring infections, enlarged glands, sweatiness as well as her temperament; lack of confidence, conscientiousness, anxiety when presenting things in class, and fear of needles. A funny selection of features, you might think, but I thought she matches the drug picture well. I prescribed Silicea 200c one tablet daily for three days.

I next saw her seven weeks later. In most respects she made improvement over the first two weeks, which was sustained until about two weeks before this appointment. Sadly her sweats, indigestion, sleep and tiredness had all got worse again. Her mum attended again with her and agreed that she had been significantly better. I was encouraged that she had responded to the Silicea so repeated exactly the same prescription. I asked her to repeat this as and when she felt it was needed.

I did not see her for another 14 weeks but she had continued to make good progress. This time she attended without her mother. I hoped this was a measure of her increased energy and self-confidence. She declared that her energy was nearly 90 per cent of her previous level, her sleep was now refreshing. She had no digestive problems; she looked well and had started a job. She said that she had taken Silicea on three occasions and quite quickly she felt improvement. I suggested that she continue the same plan.

I did not see her again so wrote to check on progress after another six months. She had been well but continued to take occasional Silicea if she felt the need.

In summary, this girl who has always been nervous and conscientious, particularly with her schoolwork became ill following a significant acute infection, probably glandular fever. It seems that her inner vitality was reduced so much that she could not get properly better even over about four years. In this case a mixture of her local pathological symptoms and her emotional features lead me to the medicine. Some of the reactions, for example recurring infections and enlarged glands, are shared by many other medicines; other features such as fear of sharp objects is not shared by so many.

This time my first choice did well. This good result from a first choice is not always the case and sometimes the main features of the illness change as time proceeds leading me ultimately to a more successful prescription.

The remedy
Silicea (silica dioxide) is a mineral from which much of the Earth is made, the source in homeopathy being pure flint and, so far as I am aware, it is not used in other systems of medicine. Not only is it found throughout the Earth’s crust, it is also found in many sea creatures and most plants. Indeed it is the silica in the stem of straw that makes it rigid.

The materia medica for Silica is very long so I will only mention a few interesting features which are characteristic. They tend to be mentally indecisive, “lacking grit”, dreading failure. Useful when suffering from mental exhaustion from studying, referred to in some books as “brain fag”. The face can have a silky, anaemic, waxy and tired appearance, rather like porcelain.

Specific actions attributed to Silicea include helping excess foot sweat, clearing abscesses, which are slow to discharge. The constipation described is that which requires much straining and if the movement is not successful it will return inside the anus, described in some books as the “bashful stool”. Patients do not need all the features of the remedy to have a successful prescription but a number of keynotes may be enough to indicate this.

Dr Roger Neville-Smith MB ChB DRCOG MFHom works part time in general practice in Saltburn where he prescribes homeopathic medicines when appropriate. He has an NHS clinic running two sessions per month locally and undertakes some private work. Currently he is the convener of the Members’ Committee of the Faculty of Homeopathy and sits on the Faculty Council.


by David Lilley

In the second article of this series we considered Calcarea carbonica, which is prepared from the oyster, Ostrea edulis, a primitive mollusc and bivalve, which produces a shell to protect its soft, defenceless and highly vulnerable body from the many dangers lurking in its environment. In this study we considered the correspondences that exist between the natural history of this creature and the body type, emotional makeup and life experience of the individual who will benefit from it as a remedy. Nature is the great creator of symbol and metaphor and gives these objective shape in the appearance, structure, functions and behaviour of the life forms she evolves. Within these visible aspects of the archetype, inscribed in cryptic code, are clues to the peculiarities of human nature, emotions and behaviour, and also therapeutic guidelines for the selection of the most similar remedy. These become apparent when we explore the evolution of the mollusc from the immobile, cloistered oyster to the extroverted, active cuttlefish.

The mantle, which in the majority of molluscs has a passive role and merely contains the internal organs (viscera) and secretes the shell, has become powerfully muscular and involved in locomotion. Its contraction and expansion draws water into the mantle cavity and can then expel it as a powerful jet through a narrow tube-like funnel. On being alarmed or attacked the animal can dart violently backwards by using its jet propulsion.

The cuttlefish of the homeopathic materia medica is the common European cuttlefish, Sepia officianalis, a mollusc of the class Cephalopoda, hence, a close relative of the squid and the octopus. Our remedy is prepared by trituration from the dried liquid contained in the ink sac.

Sepia officinalis

Like an owl, the cuttlefish is a most endearing animal, with huge eyes in relationship to its body size, and a wonderful ability to hover as if weightless in the water, its balance maintained by a frill-like extension of its mantle, which undulates continuously, supporting it as if on a magic carpet. Gone is the restricting, confining shell of the Bivalves and the Gastropods (snails), gone is the soft, flaccid, toneless tissues of the oyster, gone is the passive, wait-and-see attitude of a creature anchored to its environment; all replaced by a highly active, muscular body, ideally fashioned for its role as an ocean predator, equipped with five pairs of arms which encircle a mouth furnished with powerful mandibles, a parrot-like beak and a rasp-like tongue, and strengthened by the now­internalised shell, which has become the cuttlebone, a light, flexible structure which provides the cuttlefish with neutral buoyancy. One pair of arms, or tentacles, are specialised for capturing prey – mainly crustaceans and small fish. These are longer than the rest, and when within striking distance of a prawn, which Sepia will have carefully stalked, they shoot out with lightning speed and accuracy, like a pair of tongs, and then drag the captured prey within the circle of shorter arms, by which it is held as it is dismembered. 
A remarkable and significant, physical characteristic of most of the Cephalopods is the possession of an “ink” sac. The ink can be forcibly discharged when the animal is threatened, the dark cloud which forms in the water serving as a means of escape from enemies. It acts as a “dummy” to engage the attention of the enemy, while the cuttlefish changes its colour so that it is almost transparent, and darts off in another direction.

In addition to this means of evading danger, the cuttlefish is the master of colour camouflage. No other creature can match its virtuosity. Besides the permanent colour of the skin, which shows blackish-brown zebra stripes, ideal for hiding against a background of kelp, chameleon-like, they are able to camouflage themselves by choosing appropriate colour shades to mimic those of their surroundings. This phenomenon also serves as an expression of certain emotions. They can change colour as fluidly as a neon sign, showing reactions like aggression, fear or sexual excitement.

Like other members of the Cephalopods, cuttlefish have the most highly developed brains of the invertebrate world and are capable of remarkably complex behaviour. The brain contains a large number of neurones, concentrated in one centralised, integrated organ of which the uppermost lobes function like the human cerebral cortex, permitting learned behaviour. Contributing to their relative intelligence are their large, complex, so-called camera eyes, which, like a vertebrate’s eye, have high resolving power. To focus, it changes the shape of the entire eyeball, moving the lens closer or farther away from the retina.

They are largely nocturnal, shy, independent and solitary, but inquisitively attracted by bright colours. During the breeding season the female swims at the surface at night, emitting a bright luminescence. The males dart after her like luminous arrows. At that time of the year, fisherman may profit from this instinct by towing a female Sepia behind their boats in order to catch the males, which invariably pursue her. The eggs, which are pear-shaped, are deposited in clusters on fragments of coral, the tubes of marine worms and the stems of plants. Unlike octopuses, female cuttlefish do not guard their clutch of eggs. On emerging from the egg the first instinct of a newborn is to hide – under rocks, in kelp beds or under the sand. The predation rate is extreme, hence vast numbers of eggs are laid, but the survivors grow into one of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures.

The Sepia woman

When we study Sepia we can have no doubt that we are in the presence of a major archetype. The symbol is pre-eminently, though not exclusively, feminine. It has emerged from the essentially female image of the oyster in seeming rebellion against the confined, protected and largely passive femininity, which Calc carb represents. The oyster is tethered to its rock and lives a restricted life; the cuttlefish is a free-swimming creature with no boundaries. Calc carb is comfortable in a patriarchal society, in which the role of the woman remains the stereotyped one of diligent, committed housekeeper, caring, nurturing mother, and dutiful, self-effacing wife. Sepia needs to liberate herself from this traditional mould and express herself in her own unique way, unrestricted by male chauvinism, customs and taboos. Housekeeping, raising children, and always playing second fiddle to the men in her life are not sufficiently fulfilling for her, and leave her feeling frustrated and resentful.

In circumstances where her freedom is restricted or suppressed, Sepia’s health will suffer. Ailments develop in situations of long continued domination, often at the hands of dictatorial parents who attempt to mould the young Sepia into the image that they and society expect of a typical girl. Often the relationship with the father is critical. A rigid, dominating father or husband who does not give her the opportunity to develop her initiative, independence and identity will be instrumental in imprinting the Sepia image upon a vulnerable constitution. Domination and restricted freedom represents for Sepia the experience of being forced back into her shell. So many marriages involve this kind of emotional abuse, marriages in which the wife has little say, few rights, and the husband is king of his castle. If we consider the immense energy which evolution has invested in the cuttlefish’s escape from the shell, we can understand the damaging effect this forced regression has upon such an archetype. However, as more and more women move out of the home and assume active and leading roles in previously male-dominated spheres of life, the extroverted Sepia archetype is becoming far more common, and powerful.

Our classic picture of Sepia describes the cuttlefish still trapped in her shell. In her extreme form she is the broken down, worn out, overworked, unappreciated, frustrated and resentful housewife, who has changed, through life’s wear and tear, from a once lovely girl into a drudge and a drab. The beautiful countenance, shapely figure and erect posture have long since faded. Everywhere the power of gravity is in evidence, exaggerated by the effects of prolonged breast-feeding, childbearing, increased weight, lack of exercise, a sluggish metabolism, and a depressed, sour spirit. She is now a plump, rounded, flabby woman with ample breasts, buttocks and thighs and a protruding belly. Here there is a surfeit of female form. Everything drags and sags, both within and without. Her organs, especially her uterus, yield to their weight and lack of support. Even her lids appear heavy, veiling eyes that were once her most striking attribute. Her features have become blurred, soft, unrefined and slack, with down-turned mouth and hanging jowls. The expression upon this downcast face is one of apathy, indifference, suffering and sadness. She looks care-worn, dispirited and “browned off”.

They are pre-occupied with their perceived misery and dismal lot in life, and resent consolation, which angers them and causes them to weep. What they want is not consolation, but sympathy. Tears are never far below the surface. They cannot talk about their problems without crying. The ink of the cuttlefish is black and Sepia, true to type, is prone to black moods. Everything is seen in a negative, pessimistic light. They always feel unfortunate and neglected. Although they are generally very closed and private, like the cuttlefish they are unable to hide their feelings, which play freely across their countenance, or settle into glowering gloominess. They cannot dissimulate even for the sake of appearances.

The ink contains a high percentage of calcium, and the cuttlefish has evolved from the closed, bivalvular form of the mollusc, therefore, like Calc carb, we can expect that certain Sepia types, when in distress and faced with the tribulations of life, regress towards an introverted state. Even their means of propulsion is backwards and the ink is used as a pretence or decoy to confuse the enemy whilst Sepia escapes. Retiring, masking and hiding are the emotional reactions of an introverted personality. In Sepia, more than in others, this is a transgression against nature. This type is shut into their own hidden emotions, their fears, suspicions, jealousies, envy, resentment and hatred, removed even from those they love best, their husband, children and friends, not caring for their appearance, their environment or their occupation and responsibilities. They become indifferent to those things that previously brought them their greatest pride and joy. Such is their estrangement and withdrawal from themselves and others that they can no longer access and feel the love they know they have for their family. Their sexual drive and responses are lost. Despite a suppressed need for company, they prefer to be alone and shun society. Yet, such is the evolutionary imprinting, that if they can be induced, often against their will, to come out of their shell, to socialise and indulge in exercise or activity, they experience huge benefit.   

Sepia is a creature whose vitality and response to life are witnessed through colour. Just like birds long in captivity lose the full magnificence of their plumage, so the unhappy, hormonally perturbed Sepia loses her healthy colour, becoming pallid and sallow with dark circles about her eyes. Across the bridge of her nose and on her cheeks, or on her brow or upper lip, brownish stains may develop, often prompted by excess exposure to the sun, pregnancy or taking the contraceptive pill. In sad parody of her ocean cousin, she unconsciously expresses her discouragement, depression and despair, by donning subdued autumn colours, often browns or even black. Their emotional state, especially their irritability and depression, are worse before and during their menstruation, during pregnancy, after childbirth and during the menopause.

The rebellious challenge of the Sepia archetype is against the quiet, passive, submissive and dependent qualities, which are the hallmark of traditional woman. This revolt requires the overthrow of deeply imprinted, primordial, cultural and gender-related, unconscious patterns of behaviour, which can only be achieved by repression of the feminine and projection of the masculine. Known as the animus, this male energy form exists within all women, just as its counterpart, the anima, exists within all men. Biologically the repression of the feminine image distorts the physiology of the body and expresses itself in physical changes. The effect impacts most powerfully upon the endocrine or hormone producing glands, especially the adrenal glands and the ovaries.

Thus another Sepia type emerges. She is a tall, slim woman with small, flat breasts and narrow hips. The voluptuous curves of ripe womanhood fail to develop. Like young boys, they remain straight up and down. She is not well built for a woman, or for childbearing. The face of these thin types is usually lean, angular and hard. The lips are also thin, especially the upper lip, which gives an impression of hardness or even meanness. They are often troubled by fine, dark hair above the upper lip, which may appear as a distinct moustache. They may have excess hair on other parts of the body, showing a general tendency to hirsutism. Here there is a surfeit of male form.

These women often dislike men, even despise them, and seem to invite arguments and confrontation. They are conscious of male vulnerabilities and delight in mocking or goading the men they come in contact with. They can be spiteful and shrewish, and have a way with words, which can be as sharp and destructive as the razor beak and tongue of their namesake. They pride themselves on their forthrightness, which can be brutal, untempered by sensitivity. Often they are feminists, conscious and defensive of their gender rights and insistent upon political correctness. Irritable and sensitive they are angered by the least contradiction and are intolerant of criticism. The most innocent remark may offend them and will neither be forgiven nor forgotten, for they are inclined to bear grievance and brood over old hurts. Despite being so sensitive to criticism, they are forever scolding, finding fault, being reproachful, and subjecting others, especially men and ineffectual females, to criticism and withering sarcasm. They lack the gentleness of female energy.                

The cuttlefish is a beautiful creature, highly intelligent, possessing remarkable eyes, a supple muscular body, a grace of movement and an unparalleled feeling for colour and its use. The respiratory pigment of its blood, haemocyanin, contains, as its central atom, copper. The alchemists intuitively perceived copper as possessing the attributes of Aphrodite, the goddess of feminine beauty and love. Thus there exists yet another Sepia, and she is magnificent. She is the dancer, the athlete, and the aerobic instructress, lithe, well muscled, supple, poised, graceful and dynamic. She is the actress, the artist and the musician; she is the college graduate, the executive and the barrister; she is free, independent and assured, a denizen of the modern world, her male and female energies in wonderful balance. She is luminescent, irresistible, her beauty and intelligence set off by unforgettable eyes. Tonight she may dance with wild abandon and make passionate love, tomorrow she walks the passages of power, elegant in her pencil-slim skirt and high heels and holding her leather brief case.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.



Rhus tox

Tom Whitmarsh profiles this commonly used remedy

Rhus tox is produced from the plant commonly known as poison ivy which grows as a shrub or a woody vine, spreading all over the countryside as a weed in the Eastern USA and Canada. The remedy was introduced into homeopathy by Hahnemann, who performed a proving which he published in the second volume of his Materia Medica Pura. The proper botanical name is now toxicodendron pubescens, but homeopaths will stick to the well known name and its abbreviation until all the anomalies in the naming of homeopathic remedies (and there are many) can be ironed out. It is a member of the anacardiaceae or sumach family of plants. Anacardium is really the only other commonly used member of this family in homeopathy, although there are quite a few others in the materia medica which are not so well known.

A cardinal feature of many of the sumachs is their production of sticky oils, which dry on contact with air to a black lacquer. In Anacardium, this gives the name “marking nut”, as it is produced from the ink-like substance just below the rind of the covering of the nut which has been used to mark clothes for laundry. In Rhus tox, the lacquering oil induces allergic skin reactions in previously sensitised individuals. Up to 50 per cent of the population of the USA, where poison ivy is endemic, is sensitive to the oil and much advice is available (for example on the internet) about avoiding rhus poisoning.

The oil, which binds to skin after even the slightest contact (even stroking a dog that has brushed past a poison ivy plant is enough) is called urushiol, after the Japanese word for lacquer. In Japan, another toxicodendron tree produces a lacquer used, for example, under applications of gold leaf to the Golden Temple in Kyoto. The oil is extremely potent, with only a nanogram needed to induce reaction in an individual, so just a quarter of an ounce would be enough to cause itching in every person on Earth! It is normal for the oil to stay fully active for five years even from dead plants. Samples of urushiol several centuries old have been found to cause at least an itch in some people.

Most people do not have a skin reaction to first exposure. In those who do, it can take seven to ten days to develop. Subsequent exposure, after this initial priming of the immune system to “recognise” the oil, induces a strong skin reaction within half a day to two days. There is inflammation, intense blistering and intolerable itching of the skin which continues for several days before healing and resolving.

Burning the plant releases urushiol into the air and can induce severe reactions in the lungs and eyes, so firefighters at bush fires can be at serious risk without protective equipment in regions where rhus is common. Notice that urushiol itself is not actually poisonous, except insofar as it induces an allergic response. The damage is done by the sufferer’s own immune system!

Rhus tox is a very “big” homeopathic remedy. By this I mean that it has many symptoms recorded in the homeopathic literature (repertories and materiae medicae). Out of 1600 remedies described in a large repertory – The Complete Millennium – Rhus tox is at number 11 when the remedies are listed by number of symptoms described, with 11,400 entries. The areas which stand out for the remedy in the repertory are concerned with the limbs, with disturbed sleep, with fevers and with the skin.

Describing the plant and its oil leads on to the ideas or themes in the illnesses that the remedy made from it might be homeopathically used to treat. The plant spreads rapidly across uncovered ground and up supports such as trees, via long stems and aerial rootlets. It takes many different forms, as a vine, a shrub or a bush and even produces different forms of stem and leaf from the same root-stock. Dr Gibson, in his Studies of Homeopathic Materia Medica describes Rhus tox as a “restless plant”. This shows a major characteristic theme of the remedy; it is one of the most restless of remedies.

People who might be helped by Rhus tox for example, have joint pains which have to be relieved by very regular movements. They cannot sit in the chair in the consulting room for more than a few minutes before getting up for a short walk and a stretch. They toss and turn all night, unable to find one position comfortable for long. When they are still for a while and do get some sleep, waking up is very painful as the relative immobility of the night has quickly rendered them extremely stiff. Thus the first few minutes of the day are spent “limbering up”. Once a little flexibility is restored to the joints, the pain lessens considerably and they can continue their restless search for comfort through the day – the right balance of action and rest.

There is a particular kind of restlessness caused by a stiffness of the neck which can only be relieved by stretching it and moving the head about. There may be accompanying headache relieved by the stretching. Pains in general are better for heat (eg a hot bath or shower) and worse for cold and damp. Similar modalities apply to the severe lower back pain experienced by some who are helped by Rhus tox. This also has the characteristic of being better from lying on a hard surface.

As a “general” symptom, this restlessness can feature in areas other than the purely physical. If a constant need for motion suggests an external restlessness, so we can talk of the restless mind that just can’t settle, there is an internal restlessness. Part of the picture in someone helped by Rhus tox might be restless dreams of great exertions like swimming or rowing, or of working hard in their occupation or of “roaming over fields”. Sleep is interrupted too by pains and by anxieties or illogical apprehensions that something bad is going to happen. Anxiety might drive someone out of bed and there may even be fear of going to sleep. In fact all symptoms are worse at night, another important general feature. This must in some part be responsible for the recorded moroseness at night, when bad things from the past come back to haunt the sufferer.

The restlessness can be seen in tossing and turning during fevers. Rhus tox is disproportionately highly represented in the sections of the repertory that deal with chills, fevers and perspiration (which mostly date from the pre-antibiotic days when the exact pattern of fever was an important observation to make in a sick person). It should be thought of when restless states with a high fever particularly worsen at night, for example in ’flu.

A few moments reflection on the nature of the poison ivy oil might help to explain the very well known joint and muscular stiffness associated with illnesses which are helped by Rhus tox. On contact with air and with the skin, a lacquer is produced. A lacquer is an inflexible, shiny, stiff film. One could image a joint coated in a lacquer being very difficult to get moving at first, but becoming freer with repeated movements. This is exactly the Rhus tox situation. Whenever initial movement is difficult, stiff and painful, but continued movement eases, Rhus tox is likely to be helpful.

In arthritis, this easing will often be followed (perhaps later in the day) by a worsening again as tiredness begins to take its toll. Rhus tox pain is classically worse in the cold and especially the damp and better for warmth. This sounds like an awful lot of sufferers’ arthritis and so Rhus tox is very widely successful in joint problems. It has often been said that it is too easy to give Rhus tox in arthritis. The detail is the important thing. Careful attention to the story might show most of these features, but actually the pain is better immediately on movement, rather than there being an initial aggravation before relief. The remedy Rhododendron might turn out to be more appropriate in this situation. Really extreme damp sensitivity in the joints (“I can predict the rain the day before it comes”) could well be best helped by Dulcamara.

If we go on to think about what the general characteristic of “stiffness” might mean on a mental plane, we can see that some people who do well with Rhus tox can be emotionally unbending, with a tendency to hold feelings back; they find it difficult to respond to others. In the end, when they are worn out by all the pains, this can turn into fixed ideas and superstition.

A very frequent use of Rhus tox is to help blistering skin diseases. The analogy is with the itchy, painful rash produced by contact of the plant sap with the skin of a sensitive individual. Thus, it is a major remedy to help the pain of shingles, which is caused by a herpes virus. Many homeopathically trained GPs use Rhus tox as their first line treatment for cold sores around the lips, also herpetic in origin, but any inflamed, intensely itchy rash, especially if there are fluid-filled blisters (like some forms of eczema) can benefit. The itch is often better from bathing with scalding hot water.

There are other features which are hard to fit into this analogical approach (looking at the characteristics of the way the remedy substance fits into the natural world and comparing it with the way a disease fits into a human life). A feature of Rhus tox is said to be that there may be a bright red tip to the tongue. On the food desires front, there can be a craving for cold drinks and especially cold milk.

Tom Whitmarsh MA MBBS FRCP FFHom is full-time Consultant Physician at the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital.



by David Lilley MBChB FFHom LLCO

Pulsatilla is so intimately connected with the archetypal patterns of our collective unconscious that its image has been invested with mythological and symbolic meaning. These are significant to our understanding of the remedy’s dynamic influence.

The myth of Adonis the beautiful young man beloved of both Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love, and Persephone, goddess of the underworld, who bitterly contended with each other for his company and love, provides a triangle of possessive and obsessive love, jealousy, seduction, selfishness, guile, vindictiveness – two amorous, insatiable women and a compliant, dependent, effeminate toy boy. The muse Calliope who was called upon to arbitrate in this sensitive matter decreed that Adonis should spend one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third with Persephone and, in order to recuperate, the rest by himself. Aphrodite however did not play fair and won the day (and night) by constantly wearing her irresistible magic girdle, causing Adonis to give not only his third of the year to her, but also Persephone’s. The myth ends with Adonis being gored to death, whilst out hunting. His attacker was Aphrodite’s enraged lover Ares (Mars), the god of war, in the guise of a wild boar. It was a scheming, green-eyed Persephone who had told Ares of Aphrodite’s infidelity. From the earth soaked with Adonis’ blood, anemones sprang to life. However there are those who say that they sprang from the tears of the goddess of love herself, when she witnessed his death.

This legend is replete with Pulsatilla emotions, behaviour and situations, So many young girls of the Pulsatilla type fall precociously under the power of the goddess of love, become sexually active at an early age, easily persuaded and lead by beautiful young men (Adonis) or by the macho, swaggering male (Ares), and are such easy victims for seduction, abuse and date rape. Remember that even in modern idiom Pulsatilla is from Venus, her lover is from Mars. The male Pulsatilla is often an Adonis, beautiful rather than handsome, of a gentle, timid, sweet disposition, easily lead and persuaded, with a rather immature, girlish, androgynous appearance.

So much of Pulsatilla’s nature and disposition can be predicted in the appearance and growth habits of this small plant which prefers growing on sunny hillsides, usually in great numbers or at least in small clusters, rarely solitary. Here it is exposed to the winds, and the rich carpet of gently hanging flowers yields to the slightest breath of air, which passes through it like a rippling wave, changing direction continuously with the vagaries of the wind. In this attractive scene we are made aware of a small, uncertain ego, uneasy when alone, needing the support of others and the confidence this can bring; an indecisive, fickle nature bending to the whims of circumstance, opinion and demand, but also a temperament both supple and guileful, able to compromise, yield and go with the flow.

The common names of a plant are often valuable, revealing the impression it made upon the community, or giving us information about how it was used, medicinally or otherwise. The Greek name anemone is derived from anemos, the wind, and Pulsatilla comes from the Latin pulsare to pulsate, as indeed the carpet of flowers does, to the rhythm of the wind. The folk name “windflower” describes the same characteristic. Its love of windy hillsides emphasises the type’s strong need for fresh open air and dislike of stuffy, close conditions that intensify both the emotional and physical symptoms. The preference for a sunny aspect reveals sensitivity to the cold, which is often forgotten in Pulsatilla. “Chilly but craves the open air.” This chilliness is increased if they are unwell or in pain.

The bell-shaped flower has deep purple petals and a rich golden centre. Before it opens fully, it inclines its head gently and bashfully, as if in timid submissiveness and resignation. Another folk name for the plant is “shamefaced maiden”. These are strong characteristics of the Pulsatilla child and young woman. The temperament is mild, gentle, shy and reserved. They are reluctant to speak up for themselves or express an opinion. Often they are very attractive and know all too well how to use their natural assets in subtle and seductive ways to captivate and influence others, and to fulfil their desires, through the solicitation of tears, coyness, flirtation and appealing helplessness. Invariably Pulsatilla gives that she may receive. The entire plant is seductive, its stem, branches, leaves and even the inflorescence being covered with fine hairs which give it a fluffy, cuddly appearance which invites contact and cherishing. In human terms Pulsatilla is soft, sensual, inviting and tactile – a true daughter of Aphrodite.

Habitat can also furnish us with clues and even reveal medicinal relationships. Pulsatilla generally grows best in sandy soil, which provides good drainage. This favours the plant because it requires very little water. Homeopathically Silicea, sand, is Pulsatilla’s closest relation. They follow each other well and Silicea children often develop infections or conditions that respond to treatment with Pulsatilla. It is interesting to note that the Pulsatilla patient is rarely thirsty, even when suffering from fever. But as we have seen in its response to the wind, Pulsatilla is fickle and changeable by nature, and some species prefer a lime rich soil, showing the plant’s close relationship to Calc carb.

This beautiful, purple and gold anemone bears a mysterious affinity for the immature, vulnerable and dependent state of the human psyche. As such it is one of the most fundamental remedies of the materia medica, frequently indicated in homeopathic paediatric practice. As a species homo sapiens are completely helpless and unable to fend for themselves at birth, our lives being characterised by a prolonged period of dependency, even extending into the third decade of life, a highly developed interdependent social structure, and frequently closing with a period of enforced dependency in old age. Dependency runs like a thread through the Pulsatilla mental picture revealing itself as a need for support, security, shelter, sympathy and love, motivating the behaviour and even influencing physical development and hormonal function.

Blood and tears are related to Pulsatilla. Sometimes it is the remedy for the blood and tears of life experience, so often in the role of victim; sometimes it is simply for those who are naturally weepy and possibly anaemic, with scanty, pale menstruations that are unnaturally delayed. Both copper and iron are essential for blood formation. Cuprum like Pulsatilla is a remedy for severe cramping pains at the menstrual period, and also for the ill effects of suppressed or delayed menstruation, which can occur due to swimming in cold water or getting the feet wet. Both remedies are indicated for the persisting anaemia and detrimental effects resulting from excess iron tonics ­that is, for the abuse of iron, and by symbolic extension for the abuse of the chauvinist or misogynist Mars – for the abuse of the lover, father, brother, son, be the abuse emotional, physical or sexual.

The Pulsatilla adult

The changeableness of the plant
, and therefore also of the remedy and the patient, is made even more apparent when we consider the great number of naturally occurring subspecies there are, and the vast array of colours that are represented. There is no doubt that changeability and capriciousness are as important Pulsatilla traits as is dependency. Pulsatilla must always be thought of when symptoms are always changing and unpredictable. Likewise their emotions and moods are unstable and swing from one extreme to the other, even during the course of a day. They may appear mild and pleasant, and then after a while, seemingly without reason, become irritable, peevish and tearful. In matters of friendship and romance they may prove fickle, going where they think they will benefit most rather than being influenced by loyalty and commitment. They are also extremely indecisive, wavering and uncertain, quite dependent on the opinion, advice or support of others. The physical symptoms reveal the same variableness – when one set of symptoms comes on another vanishes, discharges are forever changing their colour, consistency and amount, no two headaches, no two periods, and in diarrhoea no two stools, are the same. Pains, especially joint pains, are not fixed, tending to wander from one part to another.

The inflorescence broadcasts a strong message through its vivid colours – purple and gold. The purple petals point to a powerful influence upon the venous system. The veins of the hands, forearms, feet and legs are full and prominent. It is a remedy for varicose veins, piles and inflammation of the veins – phlebitis. Venous drainage from the legs is sluggish. Symptoms are worse from permitting the limbs to hang down. In hot weather and when travelling, especially during flights, the legs tend to swell and deep venous thrombosis (DVT) can be a threat. Chilblains are common, but even without such definite lesions, the extremities may appear reddish-purple, inflamed and swollen in cold weather. Heat aggravates the chilblains causing them to itch and burn. Inflamed parts tend to take on a bluish or purple hue rather than appearing red.

The striking contrast between the colour of the petals and the gold of the reproductive organs indicates a marked affinity for the generative sphere and hormonal function of both male and female. Many problems develop at puberty, during pregnancy, after childbirth or at the menopause, and pre-menstrual aggravation of the emotional or physical condition is common. Yellow and yellow-gold show Pulsatilla’s connection to the third or solar plexus chakra and therefore with the stomach, gall bladder, liver, pancreas, and spleen. These patients often complain of being liverish. They feel much worse after eating, and suffer all manner of indigestion, heartburn, flatulence, distension and heaviness, especially after rich foods, fatty food, ice cream, pastries, pork and eggs. The combination of purple and gold, and therefore of veins and liver, indicates a remedial action upon the portal circulation.

Pulsatilla sprang to life from blood and the central core element of haemoglobin, the respiratory pigment of blood, is iron. Small wonder that in her weakness, “anaemia”, she longs for Adonis/Mars, “iron”, that to attain him she is manipulative and seductive and that when she wins him her love is dependent, desperate, obsessive, smothering, possessive and jealous and that when she loses him she weeps inconsolably and declares that she cannot live without him. But she is also the windflower, able to sway and yield to life’s gusts and buffeting without snapping. Soon she will shift her dependency to the arm of another. She is a survivor!

The Pulsatilla child

The development
of the Pulsatilla dependency state may be precipitated by various early life experiences. These may even be prenatal. Rejection or separation from parental love are potent causes and may give rise to life long feelings of being forsaken or abandoned. It may commence whilst still in the uterus due to the mother’s conscious or unconscious rejection of the pregnancy. Much to the disappointment of the parents the baby may be the wrong sex. Many other reasons for lack of bonding and separation may play a role – incubation, failure to breast-feed, post-natal depression, infant or maternal ill health, adoption, working mother, divorce and parental death. Such a child is likely to develop recurrent Pulsatilla infections. They become high care children, constantly weeping, whining, whimpering and wailing, demanding attention and nurturing, wanting to be carried, cuddled and held close and intolerant of being left alone or losing contact. They suffer separation fear.    

Excessive parental care, love and protection may be a cause. The Pulsatilla child becomes addicted to the warmth and security of such intense parental love. Often the mother herself is a Pulsatilla, dependent on the emotional and sentimental satisfaction of lavishing love on her dependent infant. She may encourage and prolong the period of dependency by delaying weaning, persisting with inappropriate baby talk, dressing the child in clothes too young for its age. A state of infantilism is encouraged.

Paradoxically lack of love is an equally potent cause of eliciting the Pulsatilla state. A child growing up in an environment devoid of love and care, or when such attention is qualified and dependent on behaviour acceptable to strict parents, develops a deep sense of insecurity and the belief that love and care must be bought through certain behaviour. There is often the feeling that they are not worthy, loveable or valuable, with damage to their sense of identity. They develop a desperate need for love from whatever source possible and by whatever means possible and once achieved they will cling to it desperately. They will produce whatever behaviour is necessary to win the security and affection they crave. They may become model children, unnaturally well behaved, neat and tidy, always fearing that any misdemeanour may alienate them from parental love.

These behaviour patterns persisting into adolescence and adulthood expose the archetype to manipulation and victimisation. “I’ll be whoever you want me to be – just love me!”

They are full of fears, especially of separation, rejection, betrayal, being forsaken, being alone, of the dark, dogs, ghosts, dentists and doctors, the opposite sex, people, particularly strangers, of what people will think of them, unfamiliar situations and surroundings. These fears are worse at twilight and may last a lifetime.

To the dependent child maturity and responsibility are not welcome; they are frightening. They resist taking responsibility for their lives and subconsciously resist maturation. This is more conspicuous in girls than in boys. These mild, weepy girls suffer delayed puberty, and when the periods finally begin they are often late or very irregular. Even when the menses are established they are easily suppressed.

In similar manner all the sequential functions of womanhood and motherhood may be repressed, producing celibacy, infertility, abortion, miscarriage, and, in pregnancy, malpresentation, protracted labour, uterine inertia, retained placenta, milk failure. Sometimes Aphrodite is not denied but welcomed. In response to dependent need, often lack of love at home, the Pulsatilla body buds early with sensual promise, like the flower, a siren call for love and identity. It does not matter whom they are dependent upon as long as there is just someone.

In response to the circumstances they experience, they will shift their dependency or obsession from parents, to a member of the opposite or same sex, from one relationship to another, to a marriage partner, from one marriage to another, to their own children, to some strange belief about food, anorexia, bulimia, promiscuity or celibacy, or to some cult or religion. Despite their indecisiveness and inconstant nature, once fixed upon some dependency or strange notion, they are rigid and immovable. Fanaticism is the most crystallised form of Pulsatilla dependency. It is their extreme defence against insecurity.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.

A closer look at Pulsatilla

Keith Souter describes this medicine of many uses

Pulsatilla nigricans is one of our oldest and most useful homeopathic med­icines. It was proved by Samuel Hahnemann in 1805 and was exten­sively used by him to treat many hun­dreds of patients. He said that: “this very powerful plant produces many symp­toms on the healthy, which often cor­respond to the morbid symptoms commonly met with.”

In that single sentence he describes the principle of homeopathy, which he famously summed up as “similia sim­ilibus curentur”, or “let likes be treated by likes.” Yet Hahnemann was quite clear about when homeopathy worked best. Talking specifically about Pulsatilla, he wrote that “this, like all other med­icines, is most suitably employed when not only the corporeal affections cor­respond but also when the mental and emotional alterations peculiar to the drug encounter similar states in the dis­ease to be cured, or at least in the tem­perament of the subject of treatment.”  Essentially, you get the best results when the physical, mental and emotional symptoms match those of the remedy profile. Further, the remedy profile is so distinct, that a definite Pulsatilla tem­perament can often be discerned.

The weathercock remedy
Dr William Boericke (1849­1929) studied medicine at the Vienna Medical School for one year before emigrating to Philadelphia in the USA, where he com­pleted his medical studies. He became one of the most successful homeopathic physicians of his era and was appointed as the first professor of Homoeopathic Materia Medica at the University of California, a post he held for 30 years. His main work, The Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica prob­ably rests on the desk of most profes­sional homeopaths.

Boericke begins his entry about Pulsatilla with the words: “The weather­cock among remedies”. This image is worth focusing on, for it sums up many of the attributes of this medicine. A weather­-cock or wind­-vane is an instru­ment that is usually put on the highest point of a building to show the direc­tion of the wind. The traditional design is for a cockerel, hence the name. If you observe one you will be aware that they change position with the wind, some­times being wildly changeable depend­ing upon the weather. And of course they are only of use outdoors. The key fea­tures of the Pulsatilla profile mirrors both this changeability and the need or desire to be outdoors. The changeability is as unpredictable as the wind itself.

The windflower

The homeopathic medicine Pulsatilla nigricans, usually just referred to as Pulsatilla, is made from the whole meadow anemone, also known as the pasqueflower or windflower. This per­ennial plant is a member of the Ranun­culaceae or buttercup family. It grows in clumps on sandy well­drained soil in sunny meadows, pastures and fields. It is soft and beautiful with pendulous bell­shaped flowers, purple petals and a gold heart.

The Pulsatilla profile
Pulsatilla is predominantly a female remedy. It is classically thought to suit blonde, blue­eyed females of a mild, shy and tearful disposition. Yet there is often much more to these fair types, for they are usually quite paradoxical in virtu­ally all areas of their life.

The image they project often belies what they feel inside. Although they tend to be good­natured yet they can hide their indignation about some slight they may have received. They tend to bottle things up and hold onto emotions. On the other hand they can certainly be weepy. Indeed, they will tend to weep when they describe their symptoms and their upsets, but they will also be moved to tears when listening to music, watch­ing a romantic film or even seeing distressing news on the television. They can be hopeless romantics and will prob­ably be moved to weep when shown kindness or given a present. The emotions they hold onto can also be very nega­tive ones. They can hold grudges and classically they feel peeved. They can become quite jealous, quite sorrowful, depressed and very anxious.

They can also hold firmly to their views, in that they can be deeply reli­gious, or dogmatic about things that they hold dear. Their views can be held so rigidly that any slight personal mis­demeanour, especially if of a sexual nature, can be regarded as a great sin and they hold onto guilt. And figura­tively speaking they can beat themselves up with this guilt, just as they can with any of the other negative emotions. Pulsatilla types are full of fears. They can fear the dark, illness, death, ghosts, doctors, dentists and appointments. Sympathy always helps them. A cuddle or a hug may make them weep, but it will usually help. It is that touch, that comfort that is important.

Easily upset
Pulsatilla types may often be slightly plump, which in itself is a bit of a paradox, since they are so easily upset by food, especially any food that they feel is too rich. Fatty foods such as butter and cheese upset them, as does pork. Their preference is for cold food, since hot food can also upset them.

Their environment can have a deep effect on them. They like their sur­roundings to be comfortable and homely. Yet they cannot bear a stuffy room. They will open the windows or better still, seek the open air. When they can they like to be outside in the garden, in the fields or on a walk.

Although they are chilly, cold usually makes them feel better. Yet it has to be dry cold. Wet cold upsets them. Being caught in the rain, getting their feet wet may bring on a chill, a cold, sinusitis, catarrh or even cause a flare­up of asthma. Almost certainly it will provoke chilblains.

A great polychrest
Dr Samuel Hahnemann first used the term polychrest in an essay about the medicine Nux vomica. By this he meant a medicine that had a great many uses. Pulsatilla was one of his polychrests and it remains one of the most useful medicines.

Night terrors
Jenny was a seemingly happy little six year­old when she started to experience night terrors. These were more than simple nightmares. She would wake up screaming, needing her mother to hold her tightly until she settled. These had become very frequent and Jenny had become anxious about going to sleep. She needed the light on and had to be surrounded by a mass of cuddly toys.

Strikingly, Jenny’s mother described her as always needing reassurance that she was loved. When she did sleep she always had her hands above her head, a characteristic of Pulsatilla. Accord­ingly, Pulsatilla 30c cleared the night terrors up immediately.

Grief and bereavement
Pulsatilla is one of the main medicines indicated during bereavement. The pat­tern is usually of someone who tries to bottle their emotions up, yet who is weepy and in need of consolation. They need someone to talk to, someone who will listen to them and if possible some­one who will put their arm about them.

Nancy lost her husband a week after he retired. They had been planning to spend their retirement travelling about the country in a camper van when he tragically died from a heart attack. They had no children and apart from her small dog, Nancy was alone. Walking her dog and cuddling him were the only things that helped. She had refused the offer of an antidepressant. High potency Pulsatilla made a terrific difference, she felt. Within three months she had joined a walking group and formed a close friendship with another bereaved lady.

Pulsatilla is often indicated when a woman describes being “never well since” one or other of the key times in her reproductive life.

  • Painful periods

Sally was eleven when she started her menstrual periods. She hated and dreaded them because they were so painful that she couldn’t do anything for the first day. They caused painful spasms which sent her into floods of tears. Only hugs from mum and rub­bing her tummy helped. Here again, Pulsatilla 30c on a monthly basis helped dramatically.

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMT)

I generally find that there are about a half dozen homeopathic medicines that cover most cases of PMT. The Pulsatilla pattern is characterised by shifting moods, peevishness and extreme weep­iness. Alison, a 37 year-­old secretary, had such a pattern. She also experienced premenstrual headaches that were eased by going out for a stroll at lunchtimes. This is again in keeping with the Pulsatilla profile and once again, monthly Pulsatilla helped her to deal with her problem.

The general “holding on” of Pulsatilla and the lack of thirst and perhaps slight dehydrating effect that results seem to account for the tendency to produce thick mucus discharges. These can occur anywhere that mucus membranes pro­duce a discharge. There is often a ten­dency to conjunctivitis, styes and blocked tear ducts. Similarly, catarrh and its results can be a big problem.

Laura was a 40 year­-old teacher who was plagued by recurrent sinusitis and catarrh. She would have at least three episodes per term, usually requiring a couple of courses of antibiotics for each one. A sinus washout had made no dif­ference. She described the discharges as being highly variable day to day. Sometimes they were yellow, sometimes green, but always profuse and stringy. This is a Pulsatilla feature and the remedy in 30c potency transformed her life.

Menopausal flushes
Hazel had been on HRT for ten years, but had been disappointed to find that her hot flushes returned when she finally had her HRT stopped. Her libido had always been quite good, but it disap­peared when the flushes returned. This irritated her greatly although her part­ner was very supportive. The interest­ing features about her flushes were that they were completely unpredictable in timing, intensity and sensation. Some­times she felt hot, other times cold and chilly and at other times, just clammy. Pulsatilla gave her control of her life and some return of her libido.Vaginal discharges are also common. As with the catarrhal symptoms, peo­ple in need of Pulsatilla often describe the variability in the quantity, and appearance of the discharge. It usually burns and itches quite markedly. When the overall pattern fits Pulsatilla, then help is often at hand.

Venous problems
Congestion is the keynote here. The piles feel sore, may burn, but will feel better for a cold application or compress. So too do chilblains and varicose veins. Indeed, when chilblains are bad, or vari­cose veins are troublesome, then even the heat of the bed may make them worse and the covers have to be thrown back.

Wandering pains
This is such a characteristic feature of Pulsatilla. Pains flit from joint to joint, or muscle pains wander.

Rosalind was 53 when she was diag­nosed with fibromyalgia. Her pains were never the same two days running. She was fatigued, peevish and never thirsty. Pulsatilla did not cure her, but it helped her to cope.

It is not only women
I have talked about bias in homeopathic prescribing before. It is perfectly possi­ble to practice homeopathy with a small number of the polychrest remedies. One of the old adages reduces this to the somewhat cynical view that all men are Sulphur and all women are Pulsatilla. That is clearly so simplistic and restric­tive that you would reduce your chances of success considerably. Yet there is also a tendency to be biased against the poly­chrests, since they often seem to cover so many conditions. And it is also possible to be biased against a medicine such as Pulsatilla when considering a male. To use gender as an eliminating factor is not sensible. If the overall pattern fits Pulsatilla then there is a good chance it will be the right medicine for the individual.

Pulsatilla often works well when men have a problem with their testicles. On several occasions in my career I have prescribed Pulsatilla for males with mumps orchitis, which occured in up to 40 per cent of males after puberty before the MMR vaccine was available and which could potentially cause fer­tility problems. On each occasion the condition swiftly resolved.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DepMedAc has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.


Marysia Kratimenos traces the history of this essential element and profiles the remedy

Phosphorus is found in the form of phosphates in both the animal and plant kingdoms. It is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system, the manufacture of proteins including DNA, the metabolism of foods and the release of energy (photosynthesis in plants.) It activates the vitamin B complex. Most Phosphorus in the body is in bone, as calcium phosphate, but large amounts are also present in the brain, muscles and red blood cells. Phosphate deficiency is very rare as it is widespread in foods, but can occur in certain medical conditions. It can lead to muscle weakness, loss of appetite, joint problems, a bone disease similar to rickets and problems with nerve conduction and brain function.

Phosphorus was first isolated in 1673, by Brandt, an alchemist in Hamburg, and shortly afterwards by Kunkel in Saxony. After distilling vast quantities of human urine with various chemicals, Brandt was left with a small amount of a brilliantly luminescent material, which was thought to be the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Although, it lacked the potential to create gold, Phosphorus rapidly became an integral chemical in the alchemists’ repertoire. The name Phosphorus comes from the Greek, meaning the bringer of light. In alchemic circles it was known as the Morning Star, the planet Venus. Its unique properties led to many scientific papers being published about it and its potential medicinal uses.

Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry was fascinated by Phosphorus, and his research into it brought about the separation of alchemy from the more “scientific” chemistry.

Following its discovery attempts were made to discover its medicinal properties. Kunkel made it into “luminous tablets” which were reputed to heal epilepsy and melancholia (depression). Paracelsus also used Phosphorus and Hahnemann was deeply influenced by his work.

In the 18th century Phosphorus was found to assist in the treatment of tuberculosis. Phosphorus water, a less toxic form of the element rapidly gained respectability in medical circles. In 1921 the American Medical Association recommended it for the treatment of anaemia and to facilitate new bone formation. It appeared in the British Pharmacopoeia as late as the 1950s, as treatment for nervous exhaustion, depression, pneumonia, impotence and certain eye conditions. The tonics, Sanatogen and Metatone still contain glycero-phosphates. These chemicals are responsible for the uplifting effects of these health tonics.

Friedrich Nietzche, the philosopher, developed a theory that personality is dependent on the chemicals in the body. He believed that if Phosphorus were lacking, nervous exhaustion and depression would result. Predictably, his ideas were dismissed as the rantings of a madman, but recent advances in psychological medicine are starting to validate his thoughts. The new anti­depressants act by altering brain chemistry.

The devil’s element
There is a darker side to Phosphorus, hence its reputation as the devil’s element. It is highly inflammable and thus an essential ingredient in fireworks. It is used in the manufacture of matches, originally called Lucifer sticks. Originally the more toxic white phosphorus was used, nowadays it is red phosphorus. Those working in the match-making factories were exposed to high doses of the chemical and many developed phossy jaw as a result. This horrific condition is characterised by the rotting of teeth and the jaw bones, leading to appalling pain and infection.

Phosphorus has many military uses; it was used in the First World War as a smoke screen. The billowing clouds masked troop movements. The Molotov cocktail utilises Phosphorus’ incendiary properties. In 1943 Phosphorus bombs were dropped on Hamburg, the city where it was discovered.

The nerve gases Sarin and Tabun are phosphorus compounds. They act by interfering with the body’s nervous impulses. Both were developed by German scientists looking for new fertilisers. Intensive farming leeches Phosphorus from the soil and the resulting crops suffer. The Black Death of the 14th century led to the death of a third of England’s population. It is believed that it had such a devastating effect because the people were suffering from malnutrition brought on by years of such intensive farming. Crop rotation and leaving a field fallow improves the soil and these measures were brought in after the plague.

As the population grew it became essential to find more practical methods of improving soil quality. Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles, advocated the use of bone ash, compost and manure – natural sources of essential plant nutrients, which are still used today in organic farming. Commercial farmers rely on industrially prepared phosphates.

Phosphates are major food additives, used to prolong shelf life, emulsify fats and as raising agents in baked goods. Phosphoric acid in cola drinks provides the tangy taste, and the “high”. Phosphates are used to bind fluoride in toothpaste. Recent work published in the respected medical journal, The Lancet, proves the long held belief that certain food additives exacerbate hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. Excess phosphate intake from junk foods leads to problems absorbing iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. The exclusion of additives and preservatives from the diet has a beneficial effect on many conditions, including eczema and asthma.

Phosphorus replaced Arsenic as the main ingredient in rat poison and as a consequence was used in murders. Poisoning led to liver failure and the subsequent haemorrhages, a raging thirst, the smell of garlic on the breath, diarrhoea, convulsions and kidney failure. The fact that the organs glowed in the dark led to early arrests, and Rodine was banned under the 1963 Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act.

The concept of spontaneous human combustion has fascinated people ever since Charles Dickens wrote Bleak House. Many are actually murders or accidents, but there are several cases, which defy logical explanation. It is believed that after ignition takes place, the body acts rather like the wick of a candle, so that the surrounding room is left undamaged while the person is almost completely reduced to ashes. Phosphorus has been implicated. It is used in fire-retardant fabrics especially nightwear. Treated clothing smoulders and the fire is directed towards the body.

The gut produces large amounts of phosphane gas that is highly combustible. The source of the original igniting spark in these incidents is debatable. Farmers are aware of spontaneous ignition of haystacks, again due to the accumulation of phosphane gases. It may be that something similar is occurring in spontaneous human combustion. 

“Will o’ the wisp” may also be explained by this natural phenomenon, and the “ghosts” seen in churchyards. These may be nothing more than escaping luminescent gases, which are interpreted as ghostly apparitions by those with a fertile imagination. Indeed clairvoyants and mediums of the last century used phosphorus paints to create atmospheric luminescence in séances. 

Phosphorus…the remedy 
Phosphorus was introduced into homeopathy by Hahnemann, and he performed the earliest scientific experiments on it. As like cures like, a study of the toxicology of the element rapidly reveals its curative nature. The early physicians have long identified the potential uses of red phosphorus. By using the potentised form of the element, homeopathy reaps the therapeutic benefits without the toxic dangers.

The constitutional picture of Phosphorus was described by Kent in the 19th century. Many authors have elaborated on this model and added a psychological profile of the Phosphoric type.

The Phosphoric individual is pale, anaemic, with full red lips, thin with a narrow high arched chest: the appearance typical of someone suffering with tuberculosis.

Romantic literature of the 19th century is full of Phosphoric heroines. Dumas’ La Dame aux Camelias is a notable example. Greta Garbo gave a brilliant portrayal of the consumptive heroine, Marguerite Gautier, in the Hollywood film and brought Phosphorus to life for homeopaths.

The constitutional Phosphorus is extrovert, bright, lively, with sparkling eyes and a charismatic nature. One feels invigorated in her company. She is intensely sympathetic and acutely sensitive to mood, atmosphere and all sensory impressions. She is impressionable and clairvoyant. She is imaginative and bubbly, the typical “bright young thing”.

Mia Farrow as Daisy in the film of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby demonstrates the shadow side of Phosphorus. Daisy is a social butterfly, narcissistic and highly-strung. Although she probably loves Gatsby in her way, self-preservation and self-interest take precedence. Her character is shallow and emotionally immature; she is incapable of the intensity of love that Gatsby feels. In difficult situations, she falls apart, descends into histrionics and demands intense sympathy and support from others. She needs protection from the harsh realities of life. After the drama of Gatsby’s tragic death, Daisy continues her life as though nothing had happened; the ugly events do not fit into her idealistic view of the world. It is as though Gatsby never existed.

Just as with the element there is a darker side to the personality. Being so open, the Phosphorus type is prone to fears, anxieties and the result of a vivid imagination. There is a great fear of the dark, the supernatural, fire, storms, disease and death. The element Phosphorus is unstable; it rapidly turns into the gaseous form when exposed to air. Likewise, the Phosphorus archetype lacks boundaries on every level. The intense sensitivity to “other worlds” and the fears are one expression of this lack of personal boundaries.

This tendency extends on a physical level too. There is a bleeding tendency leading to nosebleeds, bleeding gums, heavy periods, bruising, and clotting disorders, which can result in anaemia.

Just like a match, the Phosphorus personality is prone to burn out. This may be emotional, leading to depression or nervous exhaustion, or physical illness may result. A dose of Phosphorus rapidly restores the spark.

As a tubercular remedy, there is a tendency to upper respiratory complaints: sore throat, hoarseness, bronchitis, asthma and chest infections. The bleeding tendency leads to blood streaked sputum, and the pains are burning in nature. There is a deterioration of the condition as dusk approaches, and the patient becomes fearful, craving company and sympathy.

In expert medical hands Phosphorus may be used to treat serious disease, such as epilepsy, liver conditions, including hepatitis, arthritis and destructive bone diseases. Phosphorus is an immensely important remedy in homeopathy, one of our desert island remedies. It is full of contradictions, as gentle and loving as an affectionate kitten yet as dangerous and destructive as the deadliest of poisons.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) MFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neuro-linguistic programming. 

Phosphorus – The Element of Lucifer

by David Lilley

The Spirit of Night Light
On a historic Saturday night, the 15 September 1677, at the home of Robert Boyle in England, Johann Krafft of Dresden performed a unique experiment before members of the Royal Society. He demonstrated the luminescence and spontaneous combustion of a remark­able “new” element, which had been first prepared in 1669, from the residue of evaporated urine, by an alchemist, Henning Brand of Hamburg.

At the time, Boyle, himself a back-room alchemist, was already renowned for his pioneer work in the study of gases (Boyle’s Law). Intrigued by the unique properties of the substance, Boyle asked Krafft to leave a sample with him for further experimentation, or at least to explain its method of preparation. Not wishing to disclose this secret, which he had purchased from Brand, and upon which his celebrity depended, Krafft declined both requests, but could not resist giving a cryptic clue to his eminent host: “It was,” he said, “somewhat that belonged to the body of man.” For a mind like Boyle’s, this was sufficient and in 1680 he produced a scientific paper on the isolation of the glowing material, which he called aerial nocticula: “the spirit of night light”.

The light-bearer
It became known as Phosphorus, derived from the Greek, phosphoros – the light-bearer. The Latin equivalent is Lucifer. This extraordinary substance, which glowed in the dark from a source of light within itself and took fire spontaneously upon exposure to air, caught the imag­ination of the 17th century public. It seemed mysterious, magical and filled with wondrous possibilities. Some thought it must be the flammae vitae: “the vital flame of life”.

It was soon noted by those coming in frequent contact with phosphorus that unusual sexual arousal was experienced. It acquired a reputation in the treatment of TB and very dilute preparations were found to increase mental power and physical energy. Not surprisingly, phos­phorus was soon esteemed a powerful tonic and aphrodisiac.

Fear and respect for its extreme tox­icity would only come later after many poisonings and many tragedies. For all its effulgent charisma, a diabolical energy lurks behind its seductive charm.

The fall of Lucifer
In Lucifer, Judeo-Christian myth con­jures a vision of an archangel, the Prince of Light, who inflated with hubris, like the Morning Star, which at dawn out­shines both Jupiter and Saturn, but dims to extinction as the Sun ascends, aspired to raise his throne above the stars of the Most High and was cast down from the heights into the depths of the Abyss, to become the Lord of Demons. In his fall, a sacred emerald fell from Lucifer’s brow and was lost in the infernal gloom.

The light that Lucifer bore was not the light of spiritual illumination and self-realisation, but the light of ego-based intellect, logic and reason, which becomes blinding when it shines with selfish pride and seeks only in itself for wisdom, becoming its own god, altar and focus. The emerald that was forfeit and lies for­gotten in the shadows is the symbol of unconditional love, occult knowledge and the memory of our immortal, angelic state. It is the jewel of the fourth (love) chakra and thus links Phosphorus to Magnesium. The two have many clinical similarities and are paired productively in our physiology, providing energy and directing our functions, and consort destructively in our warfare (the bomb­ing of Hamburg, 1943).

Prometheus, a Titan and a demigod, was the Lucifer of the Greeks, who, like his Biblical counterpart, suffered a terri­ble fate. In the War of the Titans, he and his brother Epimetheus supported Zeus and his brothers against their father Kronos. On his triumph, Zeus became the almighty God of Olympus and the sky, yet set great store by the cunning wisdom of his Titan henchman.

A dispute arose amongst the inhab­itants of Sicyon over which portions of a sacrificial bull would be the most pleasing to the gods. Prometheus was invited to act as arbiter. His loyalty was always first towards mankind, especially if it permitted him to outwit the Olym­pians. His nature was full of mischief, trickery and opportunism. He forthwith sacrificed two bulls and filled their skins, one with all the bones artfully hidden beneath a rich layer of fat, and the other with all the flesh, but concealed beneath the stomach and other organs, which he knew to be least tempting to the divine palate. He then asked the Father of the Gods which of the two skins he would accept as an offering.

Trusting him, Zeus became the dupe of his artifice and chose the bones. In his anger at the deceit, Zeus, knowing of Prometheus’ sympathies, exacted pun­ishment by withholding fire from mankind. “Let them eat their flesh raw!” he cried out. To this day, the only remedy appearing in the homeopathic repertory of symptoms under the rubric –“desire for raw meat” – is Phosphorus!

The theft of fire
Then, Prometheus took pity on mankind. With the assistance of the goddess Athene, he gained access to Olympus, the dwelling place of the gods, and lit a torch at the fiery chariot of the Sun. He broke off a fragment of the burning charcoal and enclosed it within a stalk of giant fennel. Thus concealed, he conveyed the brand to mankind and furthermore commit­ted himself to teaching them all the arts, crafts and skills necessary to enrich their civilisation.

Zeus was enraged at this flagrant transgression and swore vengeance. He caused Hephaistos, the divine artisan and God of the Forge, to fabricate from clay the most beautiful woman ever created, the Four Winds to breath life into her, and each of the gods and god­desses to endow her with irresistible qualities, but only after he had charged Hermes, the God of Guile and Trickery, to give her a selfish, fickle, shameless mind, filled with vanity and an idle, acquisitive, deceitful nature.

Pandora’s box
Zeus named her Pandora, every-gift, and entrusted to her care a beautiful box that she was ordered to give to the man who married her. With Hermes as guide, Zeus sent her down to Prometheus – a gift from the gods! Prometheus, whose name means forethought, was sensible of the deceit, and without allowing himself to be cap­tivated by her charms, sent her away.

His brother Epimetheus, whose name means afterthought, was not possessed of the same prudence and sagacity. Soon, besotted by her beauty and deaf to his brother’s entreaties, he married Pandora. Fearing the worst, Prometheus made him vow to keep the box sealed, but it was not long before Pandora bewitched him into satisfying her cat-like curiosity by opening the forbidden box. Out flew the malicious Spites – Lust, Vice, Passion, Sickness, Strife, Insanity, Travail and Senility – which stung the foolish pair on every part of their bodies and then dispersed all over the world to beset the entire race of mortals. Only delusive Hope remained behind, able to ease the labours of humanity and to render the troubles and sorrows of life less painful.

An immortal liver
Thwarted in his revenge against the crafty and rebellious Prometheus, Zeus now took direct action against him and ordered Hermes to carry him to Mt Caucasus and there, with the help of Hephaistos, bind him with cruel chains to the rocks where he would be exposed to the eternal torment of having his liver devoured each day by a long-winged eagle. Each night his liver would regenerate, so that his anguish was without end. It is said that where the blood from his terrible wound soaked the ground the poisonous herb Aconitum sprang to life.

After 30 years had passed, the hero, Herakles, freed him from his torments by breaking his chains and killing the eagle with an arrow. The wise centaur, Cheiron, finally brought reconciliation between Zeus and the Titan and later, longing for death to put an end to his trials, he bequeathed his own immor­tality to Prometheus, who was thus able to take his place among the gods.

These interlinking myths reveal pro­found concepts laid down as patterns in the collective unconscious and require interpretation for us to be able to grasp their deeper meaning. In both the nature of Prometheus and Pandora and in the contents of the box, emotional and clin­ical characteristics of the Phosphorus archetype are revealed. On a purely phys­ical level, an ancient and remarkable intu­itive knowledge becomes evident. The toxicity of both Phosphorus and Mag­nesium impacts especially upon the liver and Aconitum is the first remedy for hep­atitis and the onset of jaundice.

The price of intellectual arrogance
Prometheus was a Titan and, like his entire race, imbued with the spirit of revolt and rebellion. Both he and Lucifer transgressed against the godhead by stealing the divine fire of reason and intellect from heaven and giving this awareness and under­standing to humanity. In both myths, the consciousness that is bestowed does not represent spiritual understanding, which employs this spark from the divine fire as a torch to light the way to spiritual attain­ment; it represents the arrogance of the egotistic intellect, which exults in its own cleverness, and uses the spark for its own self-gratification and exaltation.

The light of materialistic reasoning, scientific rationalism, arouses man from the childlike, unconscious innocence of paradise and releases him from servitude to the instinctive, animal will but also liberates him from obedience to natural law. The price is the eternal torment of Prometheus. His liver, a third chakra organ, is the target of the devouring intel­lect personified by the eagle. During the day, when the intellect holds sway, it is destroyed; during the night when the intuitive powers surface, it is restored.

The very essence of Phosphorus is light – a light that reveals itself through lumi­nescence. Luminescence is the process by which certain substances emit light while at low temperature without the production of heat. Luminescence emis­sion is therefore cold-light in contrast with the incandescence emission from very hot materials.

Every mineral, plant or animal is a symbol of something deeper, something timeless, something sacred. When un­ravelling the hidden wisdom of myth, we need to peer beyond the obscuring veil of appearances and scrutinise the essence. To understand Phosphorus, we must ponder the significance of cold-light. It evokes an image of shining and attracting without feeling, without empathy, without warmth and without love. It is a superficial or shallow light, selfish and seductive, that shines for its own gratification and glory, and to enchant, entice and ensnare. It is the alluring light of Pandora. Cold-light exposes the secret of Phosphorus: that deep to the vivacious, enchanting, cap­tivating effervescence that bubbles so seductively on the surface, lie energies which pertain to its namesake – Lucifer!

The perversity of white
Phosphorus occurs in three major forms: white, red and, rarely, black. The white, so unstable that it reddens in light, is the form that glows in the dark. It is highly toxic and ignites spontaneously to form dense, white fumes. In warfare it is used in incendiary bombs and for the gener­ation of smoke screens. In this we see a destructive trait and sense a propen­sity for the clandestine and hidden. In combination with sulphur it was used to produce the first matches. Sulphur provided the fuel, while phosphorus pro­vided the flame. These “strike any­where” matches were aptly called Lucifers. Workers in the match factories, mostly women and teenage girls, were at great risk and many developed a condition known as “phossy jaw”: an agonising, destructive process which ate into the jaw bones producing a honeycomb effect, with loosening and loss of teeth and a discharge of loathsome, putrid matter.

Red phosphorus is the stable form and reveals a relationship with the blood, spleen and haemorrhages, while emo­tionally it indicates intensity, passion and an excitable, animated disposition.

Black phosphorus, the rarest form, shows the affinity of the remedy for plumb­ing the depths of the personal abyss, the Shadow, releasing the effects of grave trauma and defusing the perverted prompt­ings of a very disturbed unconscious mind. In Phosphorus, as in Belladonna, it is the light of the ego or false-self that proves toxic; redemption lies in the murk of the repressed Shadow-self.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall!”
The Olympians repeat the miracle of Pandora whenever a Phosphorus child is born. In health they are exquisitely beautiful, whether girl or boy. We wit­ness how each of the divinities con­tributed to the perfection of their creation, from the lustrous glory of their hair, to their delicately fashioned feet. Above all, their eyes are a source of fas­cination: huge, limpid and sparkling, expressive and confiding, framed by long, sweeping eyelashes, artfully used to captivate and beguile.

Even the very young are precociously aware of their impact on admiring adults and of the power and influence this affords them. No child can pout and sim­per more provocatively. They are con­scious of their looks and love to observe themselves in a mirror even when hav­ing a tantrum, which characteristically soon passes. Like a cat, they are sensual creatures, loving physical contact and very responsive to caress and comfort­ing. They are affectionate and loving, bright and alert, curious and commu­nicative. They love the limelight and very soon show aptitude for drama and art, or music and dancing, being naturally graceful and rhythmic. Though gifted, their academic achievements do not always reflect their true potential because play is what they love most, often in a dream-world far richer than reality.

With maturity, the Phosphorus feat­ures retain their beauty, becoming refined, sculptured and aristocratic, in keeping with their elegant deportment and graceful manners. Their talents will often have blossomed, enriching society, possibly through one of the arts or crafts. Each one is a Prometheus, lighting up the world with fire stolen from heaven. But there is often a dark side, and this we need to consider.

A leaf in the wind
Phosphorus has to be kept immersed in water to prevent it igniting and vapor-ising into a nebulous, imponderable state. Its tendency is towards levitation and expansion, dissipating its energy with unrestrained abandon until wasted and spent. Its passion and intensity are transient and easily lapse into indiffer­ence, ennui and apathy.

The first researchers were not mis­taken in linking Phosphorus to the tuber­cular constitution. The consciousness of the tubercular subject reaches out into the rarefied realms of imagination, fan­tasy and psychic perception. Phosphorus lacks boundaries; its identity is poorly formed: a wafting leaf helplessly at the mercy of every gust from outer influ­ences or inner emotions. It is impres­sionable, inquisitive, ingenuous, gullible and easily persuaded.

Therefore, imprinting and condi­tioning from environment, situations and significant role models have a power­ful and often disastrous effect. For good, bad or indifferent, their identity may be fashioned by the beliefs, opinions and actions of others.

The budding narcissist
Generally, Phosphorus children are above average in intelligence, looks and talents. Their gifts may develop preco­ciously, and are proudly paraded by dot­ing parents, grandparents and teachers. Their environment may be dominated by indiscriminate love and adoration. The child is pampered and made to feel unique and exceptional. If an only child this special treatment may be even more intensely focused. Some, while certainly given to high drama and temperamen­tal outbursts, appear relatively unspoilt by this excessive adulation and remain essentially, though often ephemerally, grateful, loving and sympathetic.

Unfortunately, deep and sustained empathy is not intrinsic to the Phos­phorus nature. A sense of superiority and entitlement develops, shaped and fostered by flattery, overindulgence and favouritism. They are dependent on the constant flow of indiscriminate love, praise and even worship and therefore become demanding, envious and jeal­ous, capable of resentment and even vin­dictive hatred when they are not the focus of attention. She can be the little ballerina who must always have the lead role; he can be the young pianist who must hold centre stage. Often looming behind them is a pushy, ambitious and exacting Arsenicum mother.

Such children and teenagers develop the unrealistic and arrogant expectation that there will always be others to pro­vide for their emotional and physical wants. They have an exalted opinion of themselves and are self-absorbed, self-indulgent and insensitive to the needs and plights of others. When their sense of entitlement is not rewarded, contempt and rage will follow. [“When annoyed, fall into furious anger and malignancy” – Hering]. Always anticipating and need­ing praise, they develop a vulnerability to criticism, to being ignored, rejected, or in any way ridiculed.

Dire imprinting
Lack of parental nurturing and espe­cially emotional deprivation by an indif­ferent and spiteful mother figure are critical during the formative years. Para­doxically, many a Phosphorus survives by a remarkable, compensatory strategy: by experiencing themselves as different and special. The real self splits off from their consciousness and shelters behind a delusion of superiority and entitlement. Within the real self, unconscious feel­ings of abandonment, neglect, fear, hatred and rage are harboured.

When both parents are implicated and the child is also abused, the worst emotional disturbances may emerge. This is especially so when the abuse is sexual and the child is forced into per­verse, degrading and humiliating acts. The child is powerless to escape the clutches of those who torment her: trag­ically, so often those who should be pro­tecting her. The child’s feelings and identity are utterly crushed and in order to survive she splits herself off from the humiliating experience and creates a superior being behind which she can hide, who is special, stronger and more noble than those who torment her.

When she is older this “superior per­sonality” may seek and express power through sexuality. She will manipulate others sexually and pursue revenge through sexual dominance. By flaunt­ing her beauty and sensuality she will ensnare an entranced male, use him and then callously cast him aside. In others, a terrible rage and hatred is leashed within, which years later may explode through inexplicable acts of physical or sexual violence and murderous impulses and deeds. It is the victim who often becomes the perpetrator. Phosphorus can be both predator and prey.

The spider and the fly
“Come into my parlour,” said the Spider (Lucifer/Phosphorus) to the Fly (Pandora/ Phosphorus). Nursery rhymes, like dreams and myths, often have hidden, sometimes disturbing meanings. These beautiful children may attract the atten­tion of sexually predatory adults. Phos­phorus appears in one of the most sinister and ominous of all rubrics in the materia medica: “lewdness, obscene; man searching for little girls (or boys)”. Even at a young age, the perverted mind perceives in them a provocative, sexual allure, which invites abuse. In addition to their looks there is often a precocious sensuality, a lack of inhibition and absence of tactile defensiveness, which are interpreted by the depraved adult as a tacit overture.

The Phosphorus child is capable of sexual response at a relatively tender age and may be groomed to be a willing partner in the abuse. Anger, rage and hatred will only come later.

Revealing the lost gem
In Phosphorus we possess a remedy, which, when indicated, can create boundaries, protecting the over-impres­sionable, innocent and perilously vul­nerable child and adolescent against perverse influences. It can heal the most terrible emotional wounds and their dread consequences. It can convert cold-light into the warmest and kindest light of all – “the light that shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (St John 1:5): a sublime light illuminating the deepest recesses of the abyss, revealing the lost gem of uni­versal love that it may be restored to the brow of the fallen angel.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


Phosphoric acid

One of homeopathy’s most useful medicines for apathy and listlessness is profiled by Janet Gray

Phosphoric acid was originally produced by Hahnemann by soaking small pieces of bone in sulphuric acid for 24 hours, then diluting with brandy and filtering off the liquid. After several more steps of diluting the remaining solid material with brandy and filtering, the fluid was allowed to settle and the clear liquid decanted off, and evaporated, then heating to red heat. The resulting crystal was phosphoric acid, which had to be kept in a sealed container, as exposure to air results in it deliquescing into liquid. Today, Phosphoric acid is produced chemically from phosphate minerals such as apatite.

Pharmacologically, phosphoric acid acts on the central nervous system as a depressant and the gastro­intestinal tract as an irritant.

Remedy profile
The picture of Phosphoric acid is very unlike that of its metal, Phosphorus, which is very well known as it is one of our most useful polychrest remedies. Phosphorus is typified by a person who is extremely sensitive, both to external stimuli and to other people. They radiate sympathy and caring, being empathetic to a degree that often exhausts their emotional reserves. They are often attractive, charismatic people, with striking physical characteristics.

Less well known is the picture of Phosphoric acid but the acid remedies as a group are typified by weakness, lethargy and exhaustion, and were discussed in some detail by Jonathan Hardy in the winter 2004 edition of Health & Homeopathy in his article on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The characteristics of Phosphoric acid should logically, therefore, be a picture of Phosphorus modified by being changed chemically into an acid.

However, at first glance, Phosphoric acid is nothing at all like its constituent metal, Phosphorus. There is none of the vibrancy of Phosphorus, but rather one sees a broken-down, apathetic person. This makes more sense when we look at the extreme picture of Phosphorus – that is in a very ill patient. Here the sparkle of Phosphorus is gone and is replaced by indifference to such an extent that the picture of Phosphorus is scarcely recognised. This, then, is the part of Phosphorus that combines with the acid features to make up the materia medica of Phosphoric acid.

The picture of Phosphoric acid is one of lethargy, despair, lack of motivation, inability to cope and physical exhaustion. These symptoms have been brought on by emotional trauma and stress. So we see physical breakdown as a result of emotional shock, as opposed to Kali phos which has physical breakdown as a result of prolonged adverse physical factors. It also occurs as a result of loss of fluids, similar to China.

Bereavement, a broken relationship, homesickness and other stresses can produce symptoms that need Phosphoric acid to put them right. The typical person requiring Phosphoric acid might be a tall, gangly teenager, homesick from going off to university, or an adult emotionally crushed from a bereavement, displaying a flat effect, slow to answer, apathetic and almost lifeless.

In William Boericke’s materia medica it states that: “A congenial soil for the action of Phos acid is found in young people who grow rapidly, and who are overtaxed, mentally or physically.” Although this was written nearly 80 years ago, it is even more applicable today, with all the stresses young people have to face, from examinations to peer pressure. Add “homesickness” to this, and you get a young person who has gone up to university at the age of 18, and finds him or herself unable to cope with their new situation. They may abuse alcohol or drugs. They may become anorexic, have frequent illness or become depressed. They may also be at risk of developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Phosphoric acid is helpful in all these situations.

If you have access to a repertory, you will see that Phosphoric acid is well represented in the rubric “Ailments from”. It is in bold type (meaning that it is very important) in “Ailments from grief”, “Ailments from homesickness”, “Ailments from disappointed love” and “Ailments from fright”. It is also in “Ailments from anticipation; bad news; business failure; cares and worries; death of a child; mortification; emotional excitement; sexual excesses and disappointment generally”. So you can readily see how important Phosphoric acid is in ailments from emotional origins.

Gastro-intestinal symptoms
The symptoms produced by grief are often related to the gastro-intestinal tract, in the form of irritable bowel syndrome, with much loud rumbling, distension and discomfort about half an hour after a meal. This is so severe as to make the patient have to remove any clothing from around the waist, as any pressure cannot be tolerated. Diarrhoea often follows with embarrassing passage of flatus. There may also be nausea, loud burping and even vomiting. The appetite is completely lost, save for craving juicy fruit. Nothing tastes right and the tongue and mouth are dry.

I had a patient who had tragically lost her son in a car accident and presented to me with just such abdominal symptoms. She had completely lost her appetite, and if she did force anything down, it resulted in such huge distension that she had to change into her dressing gown, even having to take off her bra. She was highly embarrassed by loud burping that she was totally unable to control, but did relieve the distension somewhat. Her tummy rumbled loudly all the time and she had copious diarrhoea. Mentally she was just completely flat. She had lost any motivation to do anything – from being an efficient housewife, she now could not bring herself to cook the simplest meal. She just wanted to sit all day and was very cross with herself over this because she felt that she should be able to “pull herself together”. She described herself as “tense and fragile”, and was non­emotional. She was sleeping well – “disappearing into sleep”, as she described it to me. Normally she was a very caring person, but had now sunk into complete apathy and indifference.

I have to confess to trying both Ignatia and Carbo vegetabilis first (which did nothing for her) before I realised that her correct simillimum was Phosphoric acid. Indeed, there was nothing remotely ”Phosphorus-like” about her although, in retrospect, she did display the Phosphoric “indifference”. However Phosphoric acid transformed her – the distension and belching ceased, and she started getting her appetite back. She slowly picked up the threads of her life, although, of course, was still deeply grieving. This case taught me a lot about Phosphoric acid.

Other materia medica of Phosphoric acid:

The head feels heavy and muzzy, worse for noise or being shaken (like Belladonna). It may be described as a “crushing” feeling across the temples.

There may be styes on the upper lids, with swollen, heavy eyelids.

Tinnitus may be present, especially in patients suffering from CFS, often associated with some earache for which no cause can be found.

Respiratory system
There is a tendency to catch colds easily, and these may go down onto the chest. The cough is worse on contact with cold air, and also on lying down (the same as Phosphorus).

Cardiovascular system
There are frequent palpitations or irregularity of the pulse. This was the case with my patient described previously. Her own GP had investigated her with a 24­hour ECG tape, but no abnormality had been found. However the palpitations cleared with Phosphoric acid.

Genital system
In men, impotence often accompanies the general physical debility, and there may also be tender, swollen testicles.

In women, the periods are often early and heavy.

Urinary system
There may be frequency of passing urine, especially at night, with even some bed-wetting.

Musculo-skeletal system
The arms and legs feel weak, and there may be tearing pains in the joints and bones, often much worse at night. There may also be cramps in the arms. The person may be unsteady walking, and stumble easily. All these symptoms may be recognised as present in CFS.

The skin may be unhealthy with acne and there may be an unpleasant feeling of ants crawling all over the skin. The hair may fall out easily, and the patient may become prematurely grey.

There is a general improvement from heat, whether it be the limb pains, the headache or the person generally. They are tired all the time, and better from even a short nap. They generally sleep well, but wake feeling unrefreshed.

Chronic fatigue syndrome
I have made frequent references to CFS throughout this article, and it is in this sphere that I use Phosphoric acid the most. I use it a bit like a “homeopathic tonic” in low potency, and find that if the symptoms described above are present in the case, it works extremely well to lift the fatigue. In cases of grief, I tend to use higher potencies.

Although not one of the polychrest remedies, Phosphoric acid is certainly a most useful medicine, not easily recognised at first if one is looking for Phosphorus characteristics. However, if one thinks about the Phosphorus characteristic of “giving out of love and caring”, one can easily understand that the person who has exhausted their emotional reserves, needs some energy put back into their system. That energy is supplied by Phosphoric acid.

Janet Gray MA MB BCh FFHom MRCGP DRCOG, a GP for over 25 years, uses homeopathy in her Bristol practice. She lectures in homeopathy at the Bristol Teaching Centre and has a small private practice near Chippenham.

Oxygen and Ozonum

-two exciting new remedies profiled by Jonathan Hardy with case studies of Ozonum

Oxygen is the most common element on earth. Half of all matter consists of oxygen. Of the air we breathe 16 per cent consists of oxygen gas. It is surprising then that, until recently, Oxygen has been very little understood homeopathically and prescribed seldom. However in recent years we have been given many interesting insights into the homeopathic application of this gas.

Oxygen is described chemically as O2 (two oxygen atoms combined) and Ozone is O3 (three oxygen atoms com­bined). Oxygen is essential for life. Ozone is formed in the Earth’s atmosphere at altitudes of 20 to 50 kilometres (in the stratosphere) through the action of the sun’s short-wave ultraviolet radiation. The layer of ozone was an absolute necessity for the development of life on our planet and still is essential to life. Earth’s existing life forms need protect­ion from the sun’s lethal UV rays. This is why the decrease in the ozone layer and the occurrence of holes in it are cause for serious concern. Ozone is destroyed by a number of man’s activities and man-made products, including CFCs in aerosol sprays, which is why they have been banned. Air traffic and nitrogen oxides from fertilisers also decrease the ozone layer. It is fascinating then that the concept of a protective layer is the major theme in homeopathic Ozonum cases.

Oxygen is essential for life because it is part of the burning process. In meta­bolic processes in the body oxygen com­bines with a variety of substances and this burning process frees the energy which is stored there. This “oxidation” is a key process in all forms of life. It is a slow internal process; there is no actual fire to be seen of course. It is a necessary process for remaining alive but at the same time it means the end of something, a sort of death and the idea of being “used up” is a key theme in Oxygen cases.

Homeopathic themes There are other fascinating themes in relation to these remedies. Oxygen lies in the second row of the Periodic Table of elements. Row 2 has a number of themes homeopathically. The major one is to do with feelings of self-worth, value and meaning. Often people needing these remedies have very low self-esteem. Sometimes this feeling can be so extreme that the person feels simply not noticed and even invisible to others.

Another key theme in row 2 cases is that of separation. There are eight ele­ments in row 2, starting with the metal Lithium and finishing with the gas Neon. The row of eight remedies can be seen as representing the process of separation from the mother: starting with Lithium where separation is considered a com­plete impossibility and ending with Neon where separation is so complete as to feel as if one is in a cocoon.

The elements in between represent the progressive stages in this process.

Row 2 has also been seen in terms of the birth process: the elements on the left hand side of the row (Lithium, Beryllium and Boron) are still feeling psychologically as if they are in the womb and want that protective cover­ing of the mother’s womb, its warmth and security. The elements on the right side of the row (Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine) feel bound and constricted by the attachment to the mother and want freedom and release. It is interesting that homeopathic Nitrogen and nitrates have very strong feelings of claustrophobia and are pictured as if in the birth canal and experiencing constriction and suffocation. Oxygen, the next element, is of course related to the first thing we do after birth – we take a breath, and breathe in oxygen.

Knowledge of these themes aids homeo­pathic practitioners in understanding our patients and the following cases illustrate how helpful this can be. Ozone appears to be an important remedy for teenagers. A number of my teenage cases of this remedy talk about being “zoned out” or “in the zone”. It is interesting they use a word which actually has the same root as the remedy they need! In all these cases personal details have been changed for complete confidentiality.

David’s story
David came to see me a year ago when he was 18. His chief complaint was insomnia. He was unable to sleep and could not wake up in the morning and consequently was suffering with extreme tiredness. I asked him to describe how he felt.

“I don’t want to do anything. If I sit down I fall asleep. It makes me depressed. It’s like a deep sleep, like you are walk­ing around and your eyes are closed, you are not with it, you are not noticing things. It is like you are somewhere else. I’m in my own little world. It is black, there is nothing there, everything is slower. People are talking to you but you don’t take it in – like you are walking in a bubble, outside noises don’t get in.”

I asked him to elaborate.

“It is like you are in a different space to everyone else. Only really loud stuff comes in. Like you are in a balloon. Something massive could be happening but you don’t take it in.”

What is it like in the bubble? I asked.

“It is a lot quieter and a lot slower. This sounds silly but it seems warmer. It could be raining but I would not feel wet. It is like you’re daydreaming. If you were cold you would not notice. You are not really there physically or mentally.”

What would be the opposite of the bubble?

“Very aware, you would hear a pin drop. You are aware of everyone who is there, where you are; you have got eyes in the back of your head. You are aware of everything going on.”

What David is describing is the typ­ical Ozone state. It is as if they are in a bubble, shut off from the outside world. Doesn’t it sound like he is describing being in the womb? Warm, safe and cut off from other people. That is exactly what the womb is like: a warm and safe environment. We also know that the foe­tus is extremely sensitive to any stim­uli and that sounds like the “opposite” state which I asked him to describe: hyper-alert.

I spoke privately to his father who commented, “He has very low self-esteem. He says, ‘I am not any good at any­thing’, ‘I am not clever’, ‘I am not good looking’, ‘I’ve got spots and a big nose’. When he gets depressed he is dreadful, he is whingeing, moaning and negative and can’t see anything good about him­self or anyone else. He is just constantly moaning.”

So we see the row 2 theme of lack of self-esteem: feeling awful about oneself, in particular about one’s body which is another theme of row 2. Also the Oxygen theme of “used up”: it can be a feeling of just being used up as a person, a feeling of being abused and complete loss of self-worth – being a victim. This leads to the moaning and complaining.

So I prescribed Ozonum and one month later David reported that he was “really well. I am not tired. I have much more energy. Also that bubble feeling has gone.”

His father told me: “He is much more positive, my wife has noticed it too. He’s sleeping much better and thank goodness he is not complaining any­more! Mealtimes are much more posi­tive and pleasant.”

Michael’s story
Another 18 year-old, Michael, came to see me because of depression. “I never wake up fresh, I can’t concentrate,” he said. “I never seem to be ‘in the zone’. I am always half-drifting along. At its worst I am just ‘zoning out’ – I can see my teacher talking but nothing said is being absorbed, I just sit there blank and everything washes over me – I am not there mentally.”

On asking him to describe these feel­ings more fully, Michael commented, “I am drifting off into another place, nothingness. A place where there is noth­ing else but me. It is white. It’s nothing, I am just there, I am not sat on anything, I am not standing on anything, it’s kind of floating. It is just somewhere to be. It happens if I am upset, for example by an argument at home or with my girl­friend or if I have forgotten to do my homework.”

I asked him to tell me about the feel­ing of floating.

“There is something around you, but you are not on solid ground. There is no telling if it is gravity or if you are upside down.”

Again we are hearing described a womb-like state. The baby just floats peacefully in the womb without a worry in the world and under stress Michael is regressing into this womb-like state. He continued.

“Sometimes I am like Kevin the teenager! I am just going ‘life’s not fair’. I get angry, I don’t want to talk to anyone. There are times when I get upset and I really want to talk to my mother – she is my ‘attachment figure’.”

Here, he is talking about two more themes: a grumpy teenager who thinks he is a victim is an Oxygen theme and it is very interesting he talks about his mother as an “attachment figure”, because as we know separation from the mother figure is a big theme in row 2.

His mother tells me that “he makes life hell on earth! He is very isolated and totally disengages from everybody and everything. He very rarely expresses what’s the matter.” Again we see this theme of cutting off.

Naturally Michael had Ozonum and one month later he was sleeping much better. “I am much less tired, actually I am quite amazed how refreshed I am in the morning. I am zoning out much less and I am much more focused. I am feel­ing much closer to my father, I feel con­nected to him, more supportive of him.”

Here we have the opposite sensation of separation: connection.

Angela’s story
Angela, at 17, also came because of depression. Her mother said to me, “She goes into a quiet state, she still smiles but is withdrawn. She does not enter into any conversation. She is very solitary.”

Angela described her condition. “It feels floaty, it feels zoned out. I don’t want to do anything; I can’t talk. I just want to be on my own, not trying too hard. Just in my own little world. I am floating, it is like being somewhere else completely. It is like being in a big bub­ble. I don’t hear anything. There is a big wall between me and everybody, no communication.”

I asked her what the opposite of that state would be.

“Talking to everybody, wanting to be with people, being the centre of atten­tion: actually when I am in the zoned out state I really do not want to be acknowledged.”

Again, we have a beautiful descrip­tion of the womb-like state. She also touches on the issue of self-esteem and value: she does not want to be acknowl­edged when she is in the zoned out state. After taking

Ozonum the depression went and she no longer cuts herself off.

Robert’s story
With complaints of depression, tired­ness and recurrent mouth ulcers, 40 year-old Robert commented, “I am feeling so tired. At half-past eight I want to go to bed. It is strange, in the past I used to feel almost hollow, fragile, as if some­one had knocked the breath out of me. As if I could be blown over by the wind, as if there wasn’t much substance to me as a person.”

When asked to explain this more, he said he felt “as if I could be knocked out of the way, as if I would just go unno­ticed. I feel like I am not on an even keel. I feel off balance, almost dizzy. It is like I am not on solid ground, a kind of float­ing, nothing substantial. I am almost on quick-sand, no stability. It is a kind of emptiness.”

What was the opposite of that feel­ing? (This is a very useful question in homeopathy!)

“Flying, buoyant, it is like the air is beneath you – buoyancy. It is air. Support and a warmth about it. It is almost like a balloon, but more mal­leable like a plastic that supports you.”

This is what we mean by “sensation” in homeopathy. A sensation level of experience which people can describe is the experience of their remedy state com­ing directly from the source material. When he describes something “floating, empty, unnoticed, buoyant and invisi­ble” he is connecting with a very deep experiential level of the source of his remedy – the gas “sensation”: a gas is all these things – invisible, buoyant and so on.

But which gas does he need? “I think my depression is to do with relation­ships. I always feel less attached to oth­ers than they do to me. I can’t form a real close bond with other people. My attachment with people is not strong. I always feel at some time someone is going to leave me therefore I am very independent. I rarely ask for help – I do everything myself, in anticipation that people will leave me.”

Here he is describing the issue of sep­aration in row 2. Can I be connected? Do I dare to be connected? Or do I have to remain separate?

I prescribed Ozonum and as the months passed Michael felt better and better, commenting: “I feel very relaxed, solid. Very well and more grounded.” In other words the opposite of floating, invisible and insubstantial. “My voice is lower, deeper. Last year you could have pushed me over with a finger. Now I could stand up in a wind tunnel! I have no mouth ulcers. I am on my journey and I can see blue sky all the time now.” (Interesting considering where we find Oxygen and Ozone.)

In response to my question about being grounded, he replied, “Before I felt almost transparent as if people could see through me. I had no substance. Since the remedy I feel centred and solid and I have presence. Previously it was like my feet were not on the ground, I was floating.”

Again we see the themes of no self-worth, of not being noticed and also the sensation of being a gas with no solidity.

The recent developments in homeo­pathy are fascinating. They build on the solid data from provings and clinical material which we have always had but add a dimension which penetrates deep to the source of our remedies. The use of themes and looking at remedies in relation to the group or family to which they belong can increase the reliability and accuracy of our prescribing. Sensation material can add that extra degree of certainty which helps us to pre­scribe one remedy from a group of very similar looking remedies with great precision and confidence.

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeopathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoo­logy before studying medicine and this can help his understanding of animal remedies. He is a member of the Faculty of Homeopathy’s International Teaching Group and enjoys giving seminars both in the UK and abroad.


Over the top

Over-reactive, over-sensitive and always over-doing it, classic indications for Nux vom, writes Keith Souter

Few users of homeopathic medicine would doubt that Samuel Hahnemann was a genius. At a time when disease was ill-understood and the established system of medicine was at best dangerous, he developed a rational form of medicine that was gentle, logical and safe. His great book, The Organon of Medicine, written in aphorism form, falls into two sections, the first part theoretical and the second part practical. There is much in the book that doctors of any speciality would do well to include within their method of practice.

Aphorisms 84 to 104 advise about the best way of taking a case history. The essence of much of this is that the physician should allow the patient to describe his experiences, in his (or her) own language. This means noting down symptoms, subtle nuances and the patient’s literal utterances. Essentially, homeopathy is about the individual’s unique experience of their symptoms and condition, not merely the diagnostic labelling of illness or disease.

The student of homeopathy will also be aware that Hahnemann and his helpers “proved” remedies themselves. Aphorisms 105 to 145 outline how this must be done, and in Aphorism 109, Hahnemann states that he is the originator of this method of research. In these provings some of the remedies were found to have a broad spectrum of activity, and Hahnemann himself coined the term “polychrest” to describe them in his 1817 essay on Nux vomica.

So, with this in mind, let me now introduce you to Vanessa, whose case illustrates two features that Hahnemann identified in his early work. Firstly, what we can learn, often from a patient’s first literal utterances and our observations about them. And secondly, the multi-layered action of one of our oldest and most widely used polychrest remedies.

I’ve been told to see you!
Vanessa arrived early for our first consultation and she came well prepared. As I saw the preceding patient out I found her sitting in my waiting area, busily tapping away on her laptop. “Time is money, you can’t waste it,” she explained as I showed her into my consulting room, feeling a tad guilty as I had over-run with my last appointment. Tall, slim and immaculately dressed, she was every inch the businesswoman.

The mild rebuke had been delivered with a slight smile, yet her keenness to begin the consultation indicated to me that there was genuine impatience under the surface. And as she told me a little about herself – and it all tumbled out in a no-nonsense manner – it became clear that she literally meant what she said.

Vanessa is thirty­something, the financial director of a small manufacturing firm, “which is going to be really big,” she told me, matter-of-factly. She lives with her boyfriend John, a teacher in a middle school. They met at a local health club three years before and both enjoy an active sport life. And within moments she had told me about her competitiveness, her desire to win, whether at business, card games or tennis. “There’s no point in playing if you don’t want to win,” she explained. “I hate to lose!” And her facial expression emphasised that this also was true.

Marriage has been discussed in the past, but Vanessa is the one who has been reluctant to commit. She tells me that somehow she does not see herself settling down to housework, since she is used to working the hours she likes, earning the money she makes and feeling in control.

“Anyway, I’ve been told to come to see you! John says I have to get myself sorted out.” Again, no nonsense speech. “He can’t live with my PMS. He thinks I’m losing it sometimes. I just keep going over the top.”

Over the top
We talked about her temperament, which she admitted had always been fiery. But over the past year she had been aware of it being exaggerated for a week before each period. “My fuse just gets shorter and shorter,” she said. “And then I anticipate the period itself and that makes me angry, because I know it will hurt.” And indeed, her periods had become heavier, more painful, with sometimes debilitating spasms. “And the angrier I get, the more painful the periods are.”

And that was significant. She admitted to me that any symptom could get worse when she was angry.

“I just get so frustrated at times, then something snaps,” she said, describing how in the past she had broken a mobile telephone, thrown a cake that hadn’t come out right against the kitchen wall, and even once torn a new dress apart because of an annoying loose thread that “kept running instead of snapping!” All of these examples were at variance to her normal ability to deal with pressure.

Another significant feature: she could cope with the big things, but the trivial matters would be liable to make her blow her fuse.

At the emotional level she was aware that her fieriness extended to the big three emotions – love, hate and jealousy. She could love passionately, hate with a vengeance and of course, since jealousy is a mixture of love and hate, feel driven to extremes when jealous. When she felt these emotions, she expressed them forcefully.

At the physical level, she was also aware of overreacting. She felt pains intensely, they wore her out, and if troubled by constipation, which she frequently was, then it would cause her great pain and she would have to strain to pass a bowel motion.

“I don’t take well to criticism,” she volunteered. “When I’m in a mood I take everything to heart. John can’t understand that.”

And then she described how his untidiness offended her. “I’m meticulous about details in work and home. Everything has to have its place.”

At the physical level she had always been troubled with her “dodgy tummy”, which made her feel queasy for an hour or two after meals. These had to be kept small and she tended to react to a lot of rich foods, and also to excess coffee, which she admitted to craving and drinking lots of. She tended to experience spasm pains and invariably became bloated, which she disliked. “I barely eat if I’m on a business lunch because I know that my clothes will feel like a straight jacket.”

When she was a teenager she had suffered from asthma, but this had improved, except that she still felt wheezy if people wore too much perfume or aftershave near her. “I suppose I’m just over-sensitive to smells,” she said.

She told me about her headaches and the way that bright lights bothered her, as did loud music and changes in the weather. Indeed, she had once read an article about people reacting to weather changes, so she had bought herself a negative air ioniser, which had helped her headache tendency a lot.

She loves the heat and the sun, but hates the cold.

Always over-doing it
Vanessa admitted that she tends to over-do things. She is a self-proclaimed workaholic, party animal and a lover of the fast life. She drinks too much, smokes too much and has a taste for cannabis. “But I can get silly with all these things. I take too much, then I pay the penalty.”

Her pressure to do well would often eat into her social time and she would burn the midnight oil. “I work until the job is done, and if it isn’t finished I can’t sleep for worrying about it.”

Looking for the common thread
Homeopathic history taking is like producing a tapestry, an overall image of the individual’s own experience of their life and their problems. You then work backwards to tease out dominant threads, which go into the process of reportorising. But it is always worth stepping back just to see whether there are any recurring threads running through your tapestry.

In Vanessa’s case you can see that there are. They are – the tendency to over-react; to be over-sensitive to life, environment and relationships; and to generally over-do it.

There are lots of remedies in the materia medica that cover a lot of the features that Vanessa volunteered in her history, but only one that has them all. This is Nux vomica, the great polychrest remedy that Hahnemann wrote that early essay about.

Look for fieriness, fastidiousness, chilliness, over-reactivity, over-sensitivity, over-indulgence and you will have many of the indications for Nux vom one of the great healers. In days of old family chests contained Nux vom “temper powders”, and today almost everyone thinks of it as the “hangover remedy par excellence”. It has these qualities and much more. It can make life a lot more bearable when correctly applied.

The follow-up
To Vanessa the main problem was her PMS. With this in mind I prescribed Nux vom 30c, one powder to be taken twice a day for three days after her period had finished. This was to be taken over three successive cycles.

When she came for follow-up a few months later I was pleased to note that her PMS symptoms had improved greatly. Indeed, over the three cycles there had been a progressive improvement, so that when her third period arrived, she had not experienced any adverse symptoms. Indeed, she reported that, “John says it’s no longer like living on a knife edge.”

The period pains also disappeared after the first treatment, and to her delight the flow became more manageable.

Generally, she had felt better. Although still competitive and eager to do her best work, she felt more relaxed about things. And the fiery temper had not surfaced.

Her tendency to over­indulge had improved dramatically, to the point where she had stopped using cannabis, was about to beat the last cigarette or two a day, and she no longer drank (even at parties) to the point when she expected to have a hangover.

Six months after that Vanessa was enjoying life with John and feeling curiously released from the pressure that had forced her to go “over the top” with everything.

Nux vomica
Nux vomica is prepared from the seeds of the poison-nut, which contains several alkaloids, including strychnine. It is indicated if there is hypersensitivity, impatience, frustration over obstacles and when irritability is obvious to one and all. It is a great polychrest and much more than a bad temper and hangover remedy.

I leave you with Samuel Hahnemann’s own summing up: “Nux is chiefly successful with persons of an ardent character; of an irritable, impatient temperament, disposed to anger, spite or deception.”

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practise and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.


A case for Nitrogen

by Julie Geraghty

Michael aged 12 came to see me in August 2006 presenting with behavioural difficulties, recur­rent nosebleeds and ear infections. His mother described his problems.

“He’s been having trouble at school, he’s always moving, swinging around, taking his shoes off, talking, interrupt­ing, being cheeky, disturbing the other children. Then there are the physical things: he’s plagued with earache in his right ear. He’s had full-blown infections, since he was one or two, nearly every winter. Pulsatilla 30 used to help. Once he had a febrile convulsion and was admitted to hospital. He also gets nose bleeds from the right nostril.”

I asked Michael to tell me about the earache. “I wear a hat and I put a wheat bag on my ear, it’s soothing to have it warm. I quite often get earache after swimming. The pain comes and goes, it can last for a day or for two weeks.”

I pressed him for more information.

“I feel everything is too big, it’s press­ing on my ear. There is something inside that is growing, it’s as if things are try­ing to escape (makes a gesture opening his fingers out). It is as if everything is pushing, if you poked it with a pin you would get rid of it. It feels as if my ear is too small and there is a build up of pres­sure. It’s as if it ought to pop.

“It’s as if it pushes so hard that it feels it will burst. It’s really hot, thumping like a pulse. It gets to such a pitch, it feels as if it’s pushing against the drum, build­ing up the pressure. It needs to pop like a balloon, like having a puncture on a bike (makes a noise of air releasing). It would all shrink.”

His mother added, “You can see the painkillers work and then you can see them wearing off, long before he’s due another dose. All three boys get asthma in winter. However, every year his asthma is better than the previous year but the ear infections are getting worse. The nosebleeds also happen in the night, they last for 20 minutes, always the right nostril.”

Michael described his nosebleeds. “You wake up with a nosebleed. It’s worse when you’re tired, in hot weather and if I bump my nose. I had loads of nose­bleeds when my brother was in hospi­tal. He was a very bad asthmatic and my mother was in hospital with him a lot.”

I asked him what he remembered about his brother being in hospital.

“The meals were different, we were having sandwiches and baked beans. We weren’t having roast meals. It is nice to have meals with the family, everyone together. We didn’t know when my brother would be back from hospital. It wasn’t nice thinking of him feeling ill.”

His mother commented, “If I can plan out the day for him, he’s much bet­ter. If things are vague or we change plans, the tension level tends to rise. If there isn’t a routine, he won’t concen­trate on anything, he flops about, inter­fering with others, being very, very annoying. Before you know it you have a huge family row.” She left the consult­ation at this point.

“How do you feel about that?” I asked Michael.

“I feel cross with my brothers if they don’t want to do something with me, as if they can’t be bothered. Nobody cares about me, although I know that they do. They fuss about my little brother too much. I know he needs the care, but I feel as if I am nothing.”

What did he mean by “I am noth­ing”?

“My older brother is the oldest, my sister is the only girl, my younger brother is the youngest. I feel I’m in between and I am nothing.”

“What does it feel like to be noth­ing?” I asked.

“I feel quite cross, I do something that afterwards I feel sorry about. I upset the game that they’re playing, I annoy them. I have to get out of the feeling of being nothing, I play the guitar loudly, I eat sweets, something to take my mind off it. I try not to get cross, then I do something and I get into trouble. I shout or something on the spur of the moment to get a reaction out of them. If I ask them to do something and they say ‘No’, I get cross, so I annoy them or dis­tract them, I just go and do it anyway. I want them to suggest we do something together! I feel left out.”

I questioned Michael about his school, what he liked and disliked doing and his favourite foods.

“At school, someone does something and you get the blame. I’m not always listening to the teacher. I’m more hyper­active after lunch, or if I don’t under­stand something, I get cross and then I muck around, I joke. I distract every­one else.

“I love cricket, it’s such an interesting game, a team game, working together. Everyone encourages you, helps you, and gives you tips. I love to go for bike rides with my sister and brothers.

“I hate long car journeys. My brother and sister read but I get car-sick and there’s nothing for me to do. I get angry. You can’t do anything in the car and no one else has any ideas, so I distract the others. I feel as if I’m left out.”

Michael loved MacDonalds, roast dinners with gravy, meat, vegetables, but he didn’t like ham. Then I asked him about his dreams.

“I dream of something good hap­pening the next day, doing something interesting with friends, going out together. I like doing things with my family, having fun together, all going out together for a walk.

“When I’m ill, I have this funny thing of big circles getting closer, you shrink but everything gets massive. It’s like dif­ferent size shapes, squares, circles, get­ting really big, you hear wailing sounds, like sirens as they get real close to you, they come right up to your face. There are different colours, they flash, when they go back, they spin around, they’re hot. They are tiny, but they expand as they come in towards you. It is like a dot miles away and then it flashes bigger and bigger as they come towards you. It’s scary, you can’t dodge, your feet are stuck. It gets real close, then it dissolves, shrinks.”

The remedy
I prescribed Nitrogen 200c, three doses, then once weekly and to repeat when he had an earache. This is a relatively new addition to our materia medica. Although the remedies Argentum nitricum and Nitric acid are very well known, Nitro­gen itself was only described by Dutch homeopath Jan Scholten in the early 1990s. Nitrogen is a gas, forming 78 per cent of the air we breathe. It is essen­tial to life on earth as a major compon­ent of human tissue and amino acids. Nitrogen and water are essential nutri­ents for plant growth.

It is also used in explosives, like nitroglycerine, gunpowder and dyna­mite. It is a component of drugs that dilate the blood vessels. Scholten has described the homeopathic qualities of Nitrogen as the fun loving, assertive patient who wants to live life to the full and enjoy the good things. But in this high energy state tension builds up, with the need to expand, to express, to release and they feel claustrophobic when constrained or constricted, even to the point that patients say they feel they will “explode”.

I felt that Michael was full of life but was aggravated by school and family constraints. He was not free to express his energy or his need to have fun. His description of his earache is an exact metaphor for his own experience, the pressure building up behind the drum, until it pops or bursts. Even his dreams show this sensation of expanding, enlarging which scares him, and the opposite, shrinking.

Follow up September 2006
Mother said, “There were improvements initially. On the first day he was very dopey, then for the first week he was like a changed child. Each time he improves after the remedy, but he’s not as good by the end of the week.”

Follow up October 2006
“He’s had earache for the past week. He was quite poorly and is on antibiotics. Three doses of the remedy didn’t help much. Behaviour-wise, it’s helped a little. We don’t want to douse his sparkle, because he’s such a fantastic kid, but we want him to be more aware when he’s annoying people. But I do feel there’s been a change in him, he’s more rea­sonable, sensible. There are definitely more good days.”

Michael said, “At school I’ve noticed that I sat still and listened a lot easier. Some days, I’ve struggled but it’s defi­nitely easier to concentrate. I feel better at the beginning of the week, after tak­ing the remedy, then it gets harder by the end of the week.”

His mother added, “We’ve noticed that his method of getting to sleep is to bang his head on the pillow. He accompanies it by singing different songs to get himself to sleep. His head moves with the tune. He sings beautifully.”

I advised them to continue the Nitro­gen 200c once weekly.

(Subsequent follow ups are by tele­phone with the mother, as they live some distance from the clinic.)

Follow up November 2006
“The teacher said there’s definite improvement, she hasn’t had to tell him to stop fidgeting. He’s definitely calmer, but every now and then we have some difficult moments… it’s like holding a cork under water. He’s going to sleep in the car; he’s more able to relax. It’s eas­ier for him to get to sleep at night. He hasn’t had earache and only two short nosebleeds. We haven’t had any big rum­puses at home – he’s found it easier to accept when things haven’t gone his way.

“Last year things built up and built up and his behaviour just seemed to be getting worse. The remedy has definitely made a difference, I’m really encouraged. But his behaviour is definitely not as good on days six and seven. The family are asking can we give it to him sooner?”

I suggested Nitrogen 200c every five to six days. Sometimes a high potency needs to be repeated more often when the state is an intense, high energy one but this should be done under supervi­sion of a homeopath. Also note how accurately his mother describes the Nitrogen state, the “pressure building up”, “like holding a cork under water”, not wanting to “douse his sparkle”.

Follow up February 2007
“He had an ear infection, we gave him a pill and the next morning he was poorly with earache and fever, but he perked up straightaway after the second dose, which was brilliant, norm­ally it would last a week. His behaviour at school is mostly satisfactory, or very good. He’s had no unsatisfactory reports for ages. The school are really pleased; they’ve noticed a big change. Occas­ionally I give him the remedy a little before the week. Usually, we’re all ready for him to have his pill… two hours later we breathe a sigh of relief. No nosebleeds.”

Follow up April 2007
“Initially it seemed to go well and then we had two bad weeks, he was in a lot of trouble at school. He began the singing himself to sleep at night, bouncing his head on the pillow. Five days after the remedy he gets hyperactive, jigging about, and he had a couple of temper tantrums. But no earache and just two minor nose­bleeds.”

The Nitrogen state seemed to be reappearing, the 200c didn’t seem strong enough, so I increased the potency to 1M every week.

Follow up July 2007
“He’s doing very well, the remedy is working a treat. We give it every six days or longer in the holidays. The most def­inite pointer is that he starts singing him­self to sleep again. We’ve had ever so many comments that he’s much more mature. He’s finding it much easier to apply himself to things he enjoys, like playing the guitar.”

Follow up September 2007
“He settled back at school very well, but was hyped up at home in the first week of term. The school are very impressed with the improvements. He is growing tremendously fast and is a real beanpole, I think that’s why he needs the remedy once a week.”

The remedy has been effective for more than a year and has made a great difference to Michael’s quality of life, as well as that of his family. I hope to reduce the frequency of the dose as he matures, but this boy could well have ended up on Ritalin and a weekly dose of Nitrogen is a much better alternative.

Julie Geraghty MBChB MFHom DCH is a full-time homeopathic physician. She works at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital once a week and has a private practice in Bristol. She also teaches homeopathy to doctors and other health professionals both in the UK and abroad. 


Nitric acid

The case of the biased patient by Keith Souter

I have chosen this rather tantalising title, which may seem suggestive of a Sherlock Holmes story, for a definite purpose. It is not meant to be perjora­tive towards the subject of the tale, as indeed it is presented with his approval. Rather it is illustrative of some of the difficulties that we face in homeopathic medicine, both as patients and as prac­titioners, and for that reason I suppose it would be more accurate to describe it as “The case of the biased patient and his biased practitioner”. In the hope that I have whetted your appetite and your curiosity, let us see how it all unfolds.

A challenging case
Many patients come to homeopathy almost as a last resort, having tried var­ious therapies, including orthodox med­icine, but without benefit. This was not the case with Gregory. Indeed, he had used homeopathy quite extensively over the years and was, like many homeo­pathic self-users, extremely well-versed in many of the remedies of the materia medica. “I think you will find me a chal­lenge,” he said. “I have used homeo­pathy all my life and I am a strong reactor. I just need an outside help sometimes. You might spot something I have missed.”

Gregory was 43 when I first met him. He was the head of a department at a high school. He was in a second marriage and he had access to his two children from the first marriage every other week­end. He seemed to be on a myriad of committees, both connected with school and his various outside interests. He was neat, organised and always on the go.

“Arsenicum works for me a lot of the time,” he prompted. “You’ll realise that of course.” And pointing to the organised chaos of my desk and book­shelves he added: “I couldn’t work with that clutter. But obviously you can.”

His problem, as he saw it, was a dif­ficulty with a persistently discharging ear. “I have tried all sorts. My GP took a swab – he wasn’t going to until I suggested it – and that was negative. I had umpteen different ear drops, but they were no use. An ENT surgeon couldn’t help. Not that I expected him to. And I tried treating it myself with Mercurius, then Hepar sulph and Graphites. No use.”

He was also tired a lot of the time. “But I am a teacher and the head of the depart­ment. That is no wonder. Oh yes, I am really chilly, that must tell you something.”

And so it went on as I took the his­tory, with Gregory peppering it with lit­tle asides and suggested remedies. His ear canal did indeed seem raw and the skin looked excoriated.

So we agreed at last on a remedy and I prescribed Arsenicum album LM1 to be taken regularly. The LM potency scale is very gentle, as Gregory knew well.

Between the initial consultation and the next one I must have talked on the telephone several times to Gregory. Each time he gave me an update on his ear, and on how he was feeling generally. He queried the remedy, the potency and whether or not he should consider anti-doting the remedy.

At the follow-up consultation he came with a sheaf of notes of his symp­toms, his response to medication and various questions that he wanted to ask about homeopathy. He was not in a good humour. There were problems between him and his ex-wife over cer­tain financial matters. He was quite adamant that he was not going to give way, because: “It was all her fault in the first place.” In addition, he was cross with a colleague, whom he intended having words with over some profes­sional matter.

Unfortunately, his ear discharge was no better. He gave a long-suffering sigh. “Have I got to put up with this forever?”

Then he told me about his excessive perspiration. “I sometimes take Calc carb. It works for me too. I think we are way off with the Arsenicum.’

And we agreed to try Calcarea car­bonica, again in LM1 potency.

But not for long! Three days later Gregory phoned me up in quite an alarmed state and insisted on a further appointment. He had, it seemed, devel­oped irritation with his haemorrhoids. He said that it was like sitting on a bunch of needles. And he was feeling dizzy.

“Can we try a different remedy?”

Reluctantly, I let myself be persuaded and prescribed Calc arsenicum 30c for three days. Gregory had features consistent with the remedy profile of both Calcarea and Arsenicum album, so it seemed reasonable.

Heuristics and bias
Frequently when you read the descrip­tion of a case treated homeopathically it seems as if a few choice clues lead unerringly to the simillimum, the indi­cated remedy for the patient at that time. In practice, however, it may take several goes before the correct remedy is cho­sen. The thing is that homeopathy is an experiential therapy. By that I mean that the patient’s experience of their symp­toms and the way in which they perceive those symptoms is highly relevant. It is not so much the fact that someone may have a discharging ear, but the way in which the ear discharges. Is it a clear dis­charge? A smelly discharge? A purulent discharge and so on. Is it painful, and if so, is it a burning pain, a stinging pain or an aching pain?

Judgement has to be made as to what we treat. Do we treat the local problem of the ear? Do we treat the anxiety sur­rounding the problem? Do we treat the so-called constitution? These are simple examples of the many questions that we have to answer in coming to a remedy suitable for the patient.

In homeopathic practice we have sev­eral tools that we can use. We have books called repertories and, increas­ingly common nowadays, computerised repertory systems. Effectively the prac­titioner elicits several significant symp­toms and with a repertory or computer system cross references these with reme­dies that would be indicated for those symptoms. Thus a league table of indi­cated remedies comes up.

Yet judgement is never simple. Behavioural Decision research has indi­cated that when individuals are faced with a complex system and limited time to make a decision we use a number of unconscious simple rules of thumb or “heuristics”. Essentially, these are fairly successful and allow us to reach a quick answer. The problem is that the answer may well be biased.

Let me give you a couple of exam­ples of heuristics. Firstly, “the recogni­tion heuristic”. This is the “one good reason” rule of thumb. For example, you read an article in Health and Homeopathy about a remedy, Nux vomica, for exam­ple. The next day you will see several people who would benefit from it. The problem is that you will probably be right in several of the cases, but since heuristics have bias associated with them, you will tend to make some cases fit into your criteria. And of course the incorrect remedy will just not work.

My second example is “the affect heuristic”. This is a tendency to link emotions with thoughts. We uncon­sciously tag factors as being good or bad. Our subjective impressions about how we perceive people are also affected by this. In homeopathy we have a tendency to tag remedies as in Figure 1. This heuristic together with the recognition heuristic, commonly used by people with a good working knowledge of homeo­pathic remedies, is frequently used in selecting remedies for self-medication.

The remedy didn’t work!

Gregory returned and was not happy. He was losing faith in the process. So we sat down and candidly looked at a reper­torisation of his case. The remedy Nitric acid showed up clearly.

“But that can’t be me, can it? Not Nitric acid!”

After some discussion, we tried it, and with a really excellent result. The discharge and the haemorrhoid dis­comfort both cleared up very quickly. But more significantly, it helped Gregory to relax. And this was something that he realised that he had never been able to do. And over the next few months, with judicious treatment, he seemed to mellow. He became less confrontational, less anxious and, dare I say it, less hypochondriacal. Later he was able to see and agree that he had a tendency to pester, to question, to hold grudges.

Keynote features of Nitric acid
Emotionally I would say that people needing Nitric acid tend to hold grudges, they may be irritable, pestering, nega­tive, pessimistic and extremely anxious to the point of hypochondriasis. Physically, they are chilly and subject to warts, haemorrhoids, fissures, and suf­fer needle-like or splinter-like pains.

Biased patient – biased practitioner
Gregory was knowledgeable about homeopathy and had variable success with self-medication. But I suspect that he also knew that the individual’s expe­rience of their symptoms is crucial. He was aware of what I have indicated in Figure 1 to be the “nasty” Nitric acid profile. It doesn’t mean that the indi­vidual is actually nasty in any way, but that we tend to tag it as such in the unconscious “affect heuristic”. Hence, Nitric acid never came into his reckon­ing, for he was biased against it. Therefore, the information that he pre­sented to me drew me away from the indicated remedy. Yet I have to admit that I also was subject to the phenom­enon of bias, which unconsciously veered me away from prescribing this highly valuable remedy for Gregory.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul


Naja: The Royal Cobra

A remedy fit for the great queen of Egypt, writes Marysia Kratimenos

Cleopatra. The name conjures up images of untold wealth, exotic mystery and beauty. Elizabeth Taylor and her deep love-hate relationship with Richard Burton set against the excesses of Hollywood. Passion, intrigue and power, mixed with deceit and corruption. But who was the real Cleopatra? What is the truth behind the last pharaoh of Egypt?

Cleopatra has gained immortality, not least of all by the method of her death from the venom of a cobra, the sacred sign of Egyptian royalty. The snake traditionally symbolises wisdom and healing, a connection with other worlds and the power over sexuality and death. Cleopatra was the incarnation of the female royal cobra, as her life so clearly shows.

The golden age of Egypt was long dead at her birth in 69 BC. The marvels of the pyramids and Karnak temples remained as shadowy reminders of the glorious past. The Egyptian dynasties had been replaced by Macedonian Greeks.

Cleopatra VII was the third child of Ptomely Auletes, having two older sisters, Cleopatra VI and Berenice IV and three younger siblings, Arsinoe IV and the princes Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Cleopatra VI did not survive infancy, and her father later executed Berenice for treason.

Ptolemy Auletes was a weak man, who lacked the fire and wisdom of his lineage. Over the preceding two centuries Egypt had lost vast amounts of land to the rising Roman Empire, which was poised to take over as the ancient superpower. Greek tradition had diluted the Egyptian culture and tradition, and the country was set to fall into Roman hands. Ptolemy Auletes felt this was inevitable and created a pact with the Romans, paying them tribute.

On his death, he left his remaining children in the care of Pompey, the Roman leader, and willed Egypt to Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII. In accordance with Egyptian law Cleopatra was expected to have a consort to reign, and so the 18 year-old was married to her 12 year-old brother. Incestuous marriages were common practice in Ancient Egypt.

However, Cleopatra was determined to reign alone and although she went through with the political marriage, she soon began to omit Ptolemy’s name from official documents. Unlike her father, she had immense strength of character, and was motivated by duty to her country. She devoted her energy to bringing back the glory of Egypt. Of all the snake remedies, Naja has the strongest sense of duty. Rajan Sankaran, the celebrated Indian homeopath, describes the Naja character as having “ a certain quality of nobility about them, of morality, of responsibility”; qualities Cleopatra had in abundance.

The linguist
Cleopatra was very well educated and highly intelligent, the match of any man intellectually. She spoke nine languages but not Latin, perhaps showing her contempt for the Romans. Unlike her predecessors she immersed herself in the ways of Ancient Egypt, learning their language and their heritage. She celebrated their religion, and was a devotee of the cult of Isis, the goddess of healing. The snake remedies are excellent linguists, and extremely quick witted and intelligent.

She had no intention of being a vassal of the Roman Empire. She wanted to restore Egypt to a great empire. Many did not share her ambitions and backed the malleable youth, Ptolemy XIII. A power struggle ensued, with Cleopatra being forced into exile. She rallied Arab troops, determined to regain her birthright.

In the meantime her guardian, Pompey had been murdered and Julius Caesar was the rising star in the Roman Empire. He arrived in Alexandria in 48 BC with vast numbers of legionaries, to restore peace in the East. Cleopatra realised that Julius Caesar could help her reclaim the throne. She showed great courage by having herself smuggled in a carpet, through enemy lines, to the palace in Alexandria where he was staying. By the next day they were lovers, and her reign was assured.

Roman propaganda depicts Cleopatra as a harlot, but there is no evidence to support this slur on her morality. If anything she was a serial monogamist. The cobra bonds with her mate and they remain together. Cleopatra certainly used her charm and sexuality to further her ambitions, as any self-respecting snake remedy would!

Her brother was incensed by her actions, and provoked riots, which led to the burning of part of the great library of Alexandria. Caesar and Cleopatra maintained control of the lighthouse of Pharos, and thus the all-important harbour. Ptolemy XIII died trying to escape.

Arsinoe, her younger sister, had herself proclaimed queen by the Macedonian mob, a betrayal that led to her being paraded through the streets of Rome as a slave, before her execution in front of Cleopatra. Unlike many snakes, the cobra is not naturally aggressive, and will raise its hood as a warning before striking. She only attacks when provoked to the extreme.

The romantic snake
Caesar and Cleopatra were well matched. Both great intellectuals and radical thinkers. Their love was genuine, although originally motivated by mutual political ambitions. Naja is very romantic in nature. They spent two months cruising down the Nile, as Cleopatra showed off the wonders of her kingdom. Despite being married off again, this time to her youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV, Cleopatra bore Julius a son, Caesarion (Ptolemy Caesar) and it is believed that they married during their trip on the Nile. Ptolemy XIV later died and Cleopatra was blamed. There is little evidence to support this claim of fratricide, but her reputation was tarnished again by the implication. Naja has deep feelings of resentment and impulses to harm those who have inflicted the suffering.

Jealousy and suspicion
When Julius returned to Rome, Cleopatra joined him and soon became an object of hatred. The deeply conservative Romans were offended by her extravagant ways and her bigamous marriage to Caesar. She proclaimed herself the New Isis, according to Egyptian culture, and had gold statues of herself and Caesar erected in the temple of Venus. Caesarian was openly proclaimed as Caesar’s only son and heir.

Jealousy is a theme of all the snake remedies; they can be very jealous and suspicious people or evoke that emotion in others as Cleopatra undoubtedly did. There were vast differences at that time between Egyptian and Roman culture. Women had far more rights in Egypt as compared to the typical Roman matron. They were free to chose husbands and own property. As a queen and the incarnation of a god, Cleopatra was used to supreme power, fabulous wealth and luxury. In her own country, she was Isis, Venus, Aphrodite, every feminine goddess; a concept that was incomprehensible to the Roman populace. Her behaviour and bearing must have infuriated them.

Julius Caesar was assassinated by senators in 44 BC, and Rome descended into chaos. Cleopatra only just managed to escape to Alexandria with her life; such was the hatred of the Roman people.

On her return, she found her country in equal chaos. The “bread basket of the Mediterranean” was threatened with famine due to failure of the Nile floods. As pharaoh-goddess, Cleopatra was directly responsible for the fertility of her nation. It was her duty to intervene between the gods and the people. Only when she performed the correct religious rituals, would prosperity be restored. The energy of the snake as intermediary between the heavens and earth is demonstrated by this action.

The Naja venom
Rome declared a triumvirate with Mark Anthony, Lepidus and Octavian (later the Emperor Augustus Caesar) sharing power. Julius Caesar was deified in 42 BC but his will left no provision for Cleopatra and his heir.

Cleopatra was initially occupied with averting famine, but soon realised she was alone again and unprotected against the might of Rome. Octavian reigned in the Western Empire and Mark Antony the East. Being a snake, her choice was clear, as was her approach! She was in need of the strongest ally, preferably one she could manipulate using her sensual charm.

Her seduction of Mark Anthony is legendary – the ornate ship bearing her dressed as Aphrodite, goddess of love. It was an ostentatious and possibly vulgar act, but clearly demonstrated her understanding of the uncouth, womanising and heavy drinking Mark Anthony, a devotee of Dionysis / Bacchus. Subtlety would have been wasted on him. Cleopatra needed him, and he needed her wealth. Her behaviour shows her deep comprehension of human nature, which she exploited with characteristic flair. Together they had three children. Mark Anthony married her following his divorce, and legitimised all the children.

Octavian declared war on Anthony and Cleopatra, which culminated in the famous battle at Actium, off the Greek coast. Anthony was unable to engage in a land battle, which he favoured and realising the supremacy of the Roman fleet, fled to Alexandria, with Cleopatra.

Mark Anthony chose to remain at their landing point, which is still known as Cleopatra’s beach. Both knew that defeat was inevitable, as Octavian was close behind. Anthony lapsed into a deep depression and committed suicide, dying in Cleopatra’s arms.

Cleopatra’s priority was her children. She had them sent away, hoping to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, her trust was betrayed and Caesarion was murdered. Octavian spared her children by Mark Anthony, bringing them up in his own family.

Cleopatra was taken prisoner when Octavian stormed the city, and fearing the same fate as her sister Arsinoe, also took her own life. The choice of the cobra ensured a rapid death, as the venom paralyses the nervous system, leading to paralysis of the muscles of respiration. Cleopatra died as she lived, as a royal female cobra, the uraeus, the symbol of Egypt. Her servants chose to die with her, showing their faith and admiration of her.

Although sworn enemies, Octavian held her in high regard. When he took the name Augustus and was to be honored by having a calendar month named after him, he chose the eighth month, the month of Cleopatra’s death, rather than his birth month.

Egypt fell into the hands of Rome, and Alexandria fell into the sea, burying its secrets. The legend of Cleopatra lives on. Naja has truly attained immortality and her name will never be obliterated.

Naja – remedy profile
Cobra venom is used homeopathically to treat a variety of complaints. As it is a profoundly powerful remedy and reserved for serious health complaints, it is not suitable for self-prescribing and should be left to the professional homeopath to use judiciously.

Cobra venom is neuro-toxic, in other words poisonous to the nervous system. The bite mark becomes red, swollen and there is some tissue damage and infection, though not as severe as with the vipers or sea snakes. The earliest symptom is drooping of the eyelids, giddiness and weakness, followed by generalised muscle paralysis, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, vomiting and foaming round the mouth. There is some damage to the blood clotting mechanism, leading to a bleeding tendency, but this is less dramatic than with the viper family. Death results from paralysis of the muscles of respiration and heart failure. If death has not occurred within two hours, it is likely that the person will recover. Treatment is with anti-venom, which must be specific to the snake species. Resistance can build up to snake bites; those handling snakes often give themselves tiny injections of the venom to protect themselves against accidental bites. In ancient times snake charmers allowed themselves to be bitten to gain immunity – a risky business!

In view of the paralysing effects of the venom, one enterprising doctor started using tiny injections of cobra venom for polio, with excellent results. It is unlikely he realised he was applying the homeopathic principle of like cures like! The discovery of the polio vaccine put paid to this fascinating method of treatment. Homeopaths are still using the venom, but in potentised doses.

Common characteristics
The snake remedies share certain common characteristics. They all dislike extremes of temperature, and are very sensitive to changes in weather and the seasons. Naja can be terrified of rain.

Their symptoms recur at regular intervals. They feel better from movement and free flow of bodily fluids, and are worse following inactivity (including sleep). Symptoms flare up when the menstrual periods are stopped, either with the pill, pregnancy or the menopause.

Snakes shed their skin, and “snake people” often suffer with flaking skin. They are prone to nasty septic lesions, and have a tendency to bruising and bleeding. The skin often becomes discoloured, bluish or reddish-purple with infections.

A dislike of constriction, means snakes can only be safely held around the neck. 

Those requiring snake remedies are often intolerant of tight clothing, particularly around the neck. There is often a tendency to sore throats, and it is easier to eat rather than drink. 

Snakes do not have eyelids, and hypnotise their prey, and so the eyes of the patients have a mesmeric quality. They are prone to nasty eye infections. 

The gentle snake 
Naja is one of the gentle snakes and can be easily confused with Pulsatilla. There are marked mood swings, especially pre­ menstrually. They are romantic in nature, very devoted to the family and duty. When provoked, and they are very sensitive emotionally, they flare up after issuing warnings and then “go for the jugular”. Their rebukes are sarcastic and biting. They are prone to go off in a sulk in mild cases, but can become suicidally depressed. Naja can be used for the treatment of many psychological conditions including depression, manic depression and severe mood swings.
On a physical level, the main focus is on the heart. Naja is used for many serious heart diseases, including valve problems and heart failure, obviously alongside orthodox medical treatments. There is often a hacking cough associated with the heart problem. It is very useful for paralysing diseases, such as polio. In the past it was used in diptheria epidemics, with wonderful results.

Naja is one of the lesser known remedies, and used in the appropriate cases has a profound curative effect.

Marysia Kratimenos MBBS FRCS (Ed) MFHom is an associate specialist at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


Nat mur

By David Lilley

Behind the rather grand name of Natrum muriaticum, hides sodium chloride or common salt. Common it may be, but it provides the homeopathic materia medica with a remedy of profound importance in the treatment of emotional suffering: the pangs and hurts of life, which are most often hidden from others.

The main source of sodium chloride is the sea. It is rarely found as solid deposits in the earth’s crust, and then usually in saltpans where it has been left behind as a precipitate after its liquid medium has evaporated. It is a mineral with an affinity for fluids, and as it is in nature so it is in the body. It is found predominantly in the extracellular fluids, in striking contrast with the potassium salts, which are mainly intercellular. From this position, by the power of osmosis, it acts as a regulator of the transport and distribution of the body fluids. Another vital function of salt is the electrical polarisation of cell membranes enabling the transmission of nerve impulses. A substance that is largely responsible for the flow and exchange of fluids and the flow and exchange of neural signals, displays extreme sensitivity and receptivity – or awareness! This is true of the salt subject or archetype.

The relationship between Nat mur, common salt, and the ocean is immediately apparent; to a child they are as one. It was from the bosom of the ocean, in primordial times, that the first primitive and undifferentiated life forms sprang. The ocean is the mother and source of all organic life, and Natrum muriaticum is her main mineral constituent. It is likewise the main mineral constituent of man’s inner ocean of body fluids, being the most important salt of the blood plasma. Nat mur is intimately connected with the evolution of life, and the higher the life form the more significant its role becomes.

Plants contain comparatively small amounts of sodium chloride, the role of sodium as fluid regulator being performed by potassium. The higher organisms, the mammals, require sodium chloride in comparatively large amounts. It is clear that as life evolves to higher forms, and the faculties of perception and feeling unfold, the role of sodium chloride in psychological and biological functions becomes increasingly important. The active secretion of salt through the urine, sweat and tears appeared in parallel with the development of feeling and the tender emotions. The evolution of the salt metabolism has kept pace with the unfolding capacity for emotion. It is a chemical link between the ego-personality and the body, and as such is deeply associated with psychosomatic phenomena. This relationship is confirmed by the high concentrations of sodium chloride found in the organs of perception and feeling – the cerebrum, the nervous system and the vitreous fluid of the eye. When emotions are permitted to flow, both in grief or joy, tears spring to the eyes and spilling over trickle down the cheeks, where the waiting tongue finds them tasting of salt.

The proportions of the principal elements in our blood serum, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, are in the same ratio to one another as has been found in sea precipitations of the Cambrian era – a time some 600 million years ago when animal organisms first evolved in the waters of the ocean. It is therefore not far-fetched to conclude that we have within us a fluid that is analogous to the waters of that primitive ocean from which all life sprang. Mother Ocean is within us, surging and swelling with the waves and tides of our emotions. Nat mur is truly the mineral of our emotions, and when called for can heal a broken heart.

Mother Ocean is not like Mother Nature. She is not like the apple tree, which gives shade and bears fruit in abundance: a nurturing, protecting image. Walk to the point of a rocky promontory, jutting out into the ocean, and gaze down at the sea and rocks in conflict below. Cast your eyes out to sea on a windy, heavily overcast day and look into the depths of your mother. She is chill and forbidding.

Unlike Mother Nature the ocean is an aloof, impersonal and often harsh mother. She does not cosset or spoil her children; she stands back and leaves them to fend for themselves. She appears distant, cold and unfeeling and applies discipline with uncompromising strictness and severity. To spare the rod is to spoil the child. It is often the lot of the Nat mur child to be born into a family in which these qualities are valued and applied; in which emotions are not expressed, sympathy and love are not demonstrated, and a stiff upper lip is expected. The child is encouraged to achieve independence without the sheltering warmth of maternal nurturing. There is a lack of mothering. Paradoxically, this mother whose maternal instincts are so repressed, is often herself manifesting a Mother Ocean archetype – Nat mur or Sepia.

The Nat mur personality

The role of the mother figure is particularly critical in the healthy development of the Nat mur personality. There is a deep and often unfulfilled need for the security and warmth of maternal love, protection and nurturing in the Nat mur being, with an inability or unconscious reluctance to solicit, attract or accept the very sustenance they long for. The conditioning that it is weak to reveal dependency and needfulness compounds this. As a result they experience a sense of having been rejected or forsaken, left to their own fate, and therefore feel that they must be unimportant, unworthy of love and unlovable. In Nat mur this conclusion is attended by a persistent, even life-long feeling of resentment and grievance. There is no warmth in the childhood memories of mother, possibly only an awareness of indifference, criticism, harsh discipline and even neglect or abuse.

The “absence” of the mother may be experienced pre-natally if the mother emotionally rejects the baby within her, or feels great disappointment when being told the sex of the baby after a scan. A most important cause is when incubation of the baby becomes necessary. This occurs at a time when bonding with the mother is so vital. The infant perceives the mother as absent; however good the supporting care it receives, this cannot compensate or substitute for the lack of maternal nurturing, warmth and love, which is so important to the Nat mur child. Other causes of “absence” may be due to failure to breast feed, illness of the mother, such as post­partum depression, a working mother, or an indifferent mother who is too busy with her own life to lavish affection and attention upon her newborn.

Boarding school is often as important as incubation, especially when the separation from the family occurs in the primary school years. In the typical Nat mur household a child is not permitted to participate in decision-making, explanations are not given and input from the child is not invited; the child is expected to conform to parental wishes and emotionalism is frowned upon. “Big boys don’t cry.” “Children must be seen and not heard.”

The family are not only undemonstrative and unemotional; they are also often serious, conservative, proper, moral and principled. To be proper and mature, all emotions must be controlled or hidden – there may be no tears, no fears and no outer manifestations of longing, need, anger or passion. This is a breeding ground for secrecy, deceit, guilt and abuse. In such families there are often hidden and repressed emotions, which despite appearances seethe and smoulder beneath the surface. Sexual abuse, incest and rape are often the cause of severe emotional trauma in Nat mur. Their upbringing often leads to walling-up of the experience and secretiveness. They suffer alone, in silence, turning to no one for help and taking on guilt and shame, which can warp their emotional life forever.

Often there is a history of frequent quarrels and serious and traumatic fights with parents, especially at the time of puberty when the Nat mur ego is expanding and asserting itself. This may lead to grievances that are harboured for a lifetime. The death of a family member, often a beloved and supportive grandparent early in the child’s life, can leave profound effects.

In the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife did not heed the warning, not to look back, as she fled with her husband from the burning cities. She was turned into a pillar of salt. This is the personal tragedy of the salt child and the salt adult. They are constantly looking back, often unconsciously, at their past hurts, their grief and their guilt. They cannot forgive others or themselves, they cannot forget, let go or move on; their emotions and their unshed tears crystallise into a pillar of salt, sometimes hidden deep within the unconscious mind, which weighs them down and may crush them, unless they receive a dose of salt in homeopathic potency. In myths, idioms and sayings, the intuitive mind reveals its perception of these cryptic correspondences. So it is that if you wish to prevent a bird from flying away, throw salt on its tail – the bird being an emotion; if you want to freshen up and feel the pain of an old wound, rub salt in it; if you wish to spare yourself the consequences of having spilt salt – of having spilt an emotion, throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder – over and behind your heart!

Salt preserves and it retains – not only fluids, but also old emotions, and unfortunately hoards them like a miser hoards his gold (and Aurum is so similar). Like salt to the palate, Nat mur given to a salt patient restores their appetite and taste for life, and aids the digestion of life’s tribulations.

If the salt energy of the body is increased, fluid retention results, with lymphoedema, swelling of the subcutaneous tissues; panty, bra and sock lines that remain forever; rings that no longer fit and a face that is puffy in the morning; the dreaded cellulite appears; there is unwanted weight gain; sebaceous glands become overactive producing oily hair and a greasy skin with blackheads and acne; watery or milky discharges develop; the blood pressure tends to rise, especially in the presence of prolonged stress and suppressed emotions; and they may develop anaemia. Nat mur is a wonderful remedy for people who abuse the salt cellar, for those who even before tasting their food, powder it liberally with salt. Never a wise thing to do! The Nat mur subject may crave salt and take it neat. As a result they often suffer from immoderate thirst and drink prodigiously. Chocolate is another of their fancies, often used to pacify them when tense, or as a reward when they have been through some ordeal. Others simply cannot do without it, despite the fact that it increases their thirst and their catarrh, and may give them a headache.

If the salt energy is diminished they become dried out, the skin appears prematurely aged, withered, dry and scaly; the hair is dry, lustreless and falls out alarmingly; the scalp is dry and produces large amounts of dandruff; the face becomes hollowed and haggard; a crack may characteristically develop in the middle of the lower lip; the lips and corners of the mouth become dry, ulcerated and cracked; mucous membranes are dry and vaginal dryness may become a problem, especially at the menopause. In women a growth of fine, downy hair may appear along the sides of the face. They are very inclined to develop recurrent fever blisters and mouth ulcers. They progressively lose weight even though eating well, and often the weight loss is particularly about the face and neck, which becomes scrawny, and about the shoulders, arms and chest, whilst the lower body may remain rounded and full. Much to her discomfort, the Nat mur woman, may notice that her breasts have shrunk or lost their tone. They too have increased thirst, and often an excessive hunger, which is satisfied after only a few mouthfuls.

Others may show a mixed salt picture, with irregular distribution of fluids; some parts having an excess production of fluid, such as watery eyes and nose, others having a lack of fluid, such as dryness of the skin and hair, or there may be swelling of the face and extremities with dry eyes and mouth.

They are also “the salt of the earth” – often the wounded healer, unable to help themselves, but so able in counselling others. Unable to confide, others readily confide in them, and find an understanding and compassionate ear. They know what suffering is, they have experienced it themselves, and are deeply and sincerely empathetic and give good advice. They feel very responsible for the welfare of others. This sense of duty and service may extend to animals and even become a global concern for the sufferings of the world. They may sublimate their own grief by caring for others. They disguise their pain by immersing themselves in the pain of those they help. They are able to cry for others whilst finding it hard to cry for themselves.

They need to appear strong, to show no weakness, but inside they are exceedingly vulnerable and afraid of being hurt. Often there is a history of a broken relationship, a love disappointment. Since that time they have never permitted anyone to get too close to them emotionally. They will even avoid getting into a position where someone might get attached to them. It is not the attachment that they fear, but the outcome, which they anticipate with dread: the end of the relationship, the betrayal, the disappointment, the terrible loss, the grieving and the humiliation. In this we can fully understand the symbolic significance of the “fear of robbers” in the psychology of Nat mur. Their deepest fear is the violation and theft of their emotional trust and happiness; by constantly “looking back” and by hanging on to the past they seek to protect themselves from the present.

When you detect sadness in them, and imagine a tear in their eye, and when in reply to your concern they avow that there is nothing wrong, take their words with a “pinch of salt”. Schooled in self-control and the suppression of emotions, they are uncomfortable with sympathy and avoid it lest it should break down their composure and resolve. If pushed it may arouse them to anger. Yet in Nat mur there is always a silent solicitation for the love, sympathy and nurturing that they possibly never received in their childhood or in their marriage. With care and patience you may reach out and touch their wound. At first they will avoid your eyes and remain silent, possibly gazing at their hands which are tightly clenched or fiddling agitatedly with some object, and then they will look up, their eyes wide and staring, as if in shock. At that moment the floodgates of their suffering open. Suddenly their eyes are swimming with tears and their body is racked by sobs, which seem to come from the depths of their being. It is then that you may take them in your arms and comfort them.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica. 


“I’m afraid to go to sleep in case I die”: A case for Musk

Dr Raymond Sevar describes the case of a patient successfully treated with Moschus moschus

Musk is one of the oldest ingredi­ents in perfume and has been extensively traded since the 6th century. It is a secretion of the scent gland of the male Siberian musk deer, used to mark its territory and to attract females during the rutting season. Musk has a sweet, penetrating and very long lasting odour and is still used in expen­sive perfumes to give an “erotic lift.” Musk has been used for 5,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine and as an aphrodisiac. It has effects on the nervous and circulatory systems – in small doses it causes stimulation to the brain and makes the heart beat harder but not quicker.

The musk deer’s habitat is the forests and brush­land of Siberia, Mongolia, Korea and north eastern China. They have no antlers or tails but have long a harem of females. They do not migrate and are able to survive the long dark severe winter weather by living off stores of body fat.

Terrible state
The way I first prescribed this remedy is unusual. In 1994 a man came for homeo­pathic treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and angina but before he would tell me anything about himself it was “his boun­den duty to tell me about his wife who is in a terrible state. She is terrified to go to sleep because she is convinced that if she does she will die. She gets completely hysterical – just terrified – she is utterly convinced that she will die in her sleep. She sits up and drinks coffee and watches TV and of course eventually she does fall asleep and wakes up OK in the morning, but the next night she is terrified and com­pletely hysterical again.”

Practitioner response
How to respond? The patient has a very clear and strong expectation. It would take great skill to say no without producing a stand­off situation.The patient’s wife had already been seen by her GP who was satisfied that she did not have a psychiatric disorder nor merit referral to a psychiatrist. Her GP had prescribed sleeping tablets which had had no effect. This was the first and is the only time I ever prescribed a homeo­pathic medicine without a consultation. I only did so only after giving very clear instructions to the husband, written instructions for his wife on how to take the medicine, making full written clinical notes of her symptoms and the prescription, and insisted she attend for a full consultation when her husband came for his review. I prescribed Moschus moschus.

Two months later I saw her husband who told me: “She is great. My wife took the medicine and went to sleep OK the first night. She took it again two weeks later when the fear came back and she has been going to sleep easily.” She did not want or feel a need to come for a follow­up visit. Four years later she reappeared and she didn’t mention my prior prescription. Her problems were uncontrollable weeping, anxiety and tiredness. She was an overweight attractive 51 year old lady with grey hair, big soft brown eyes, flushed cheeks and greasy skin. Before I had a chance to ask her anything she just burst out crying and continued weeping for several minutes.

Hair being pulled
“I just keep bursting out crying all the time and its getting ridiculous – as soon as I start to speak I burst out crying – it happens with everyone … I don’t know why, there seems to be no rea­son …. I feel better for a while after I have cried …. If someone shows me sympathy I cry but I don’t like it … I just can’t cope with anything any more – I panic if I think there is not enough time to get something done and my thoughts keep whizzing round and round in my head and then I get dizzy and feel as if I will fall … I am eating chocolate, sweets and biscuits for comfort all the time and can’t stop

…. I feel as if my hair is being pulled
… I feel as if someone has got hold of my hair and was pulling it off my scalp

…. I don’t really feel well since I had a convulsion a year ago, my confidence has gone down … I have had epilepsy since 1969 and take Epanutin 50mg twice a day … I know it’s a small dose but any
more makes me feel awful …. The convulsions start with an odd fuzzy feel­ing in my head, then there is jerking of my hands and arms while I am conscious and then I pass out and my husband says then I jerk and spasm and after I wake up and I have been incontinent.

…. I feel OK walking on the flat but I get very puffy and short of breath on hills … I am chilly but I overheat easily … I am just tired, energy 40/100 …. I am very scared of thunderstorms I just hate them. I curl up in a ball and shudder with each flash of lightning … I get a sickly headache if I sit in the sun … I love the sea and feel better at the sea – I feel free …. I absolutely hate oysters, mussels, cockles. I forced myself to try an oyster once but I could never eat another …. I am really scared of spiders and heights and narrow closed in places – even seeing someone pot­holing on TV I start gasping for air.”

Analysis and treatment
If I had remembered prescribing her Moschus four years ago her subsequent treatment might have been simpler. Looking back at my case notes I am struck by the fact that I wrote down and put a big circle around “attractive with big soft brown eyes.” In 1998 I recog­nized a pattern of symptoms that fitted Calcarea carbonica – sensation as if hair pulled, anxiety, fears narrow, heights and thunderstorms, epilepsy, aversion oysters, overweight, comfort eating sweet carbohydrates – and prescribed 30C one dose, 200C one dose then 12C daily.

The sensation as if her hair was being pulled resolved completely as did her weepiness, anxiety and comfort eating and she remained free of convulsions. In October 2001 she returned with new problems – osteoarthritis and panic attacks.

Panic attacks
“I have been good till the last six weeks – I have been getting stiffness in the fingers of my right hand – mainly the middle and little fingers and it feels tight and stiff in the palm … worse morning when I wake but it is there all day and when I stop using my hand it stiffens up more.”

On examination: her flexor tendons are thickened and tender and there is bony and joint swelling of the end joint of both index fingers

“I have been getting panic attacks again. My husband is leaving for the north of Scotland because he has got a better job and I don’t want to go. I get panicky and can’t settle and can’t get my breath and break out in a sweat … it comes on in the evenings and gets worse till about one in the morning. I am afraid that I will go crazy. I have had to stop work … I have had to come back. I could not stand the isolation of living up there in the north coast of Scotland – it was dead, desolate, and empty. There is nothing to see but the sea and nothing to do and nobody around …. My epilepsy is still OK, no convulsions … I have become exquisitely sensitive to certain perfumes and have to leave the room.”

This last symptom is very strange, rare and peculiar and typical of Moschus.

This time, treatment with Calcarea carbonica produced no improvement in six weeks and she relapsed to her original state.

Moschus like a miracle
A month later she came to see me and told me. “I am terrified to go to sleep in case I die in my sleep. It is just like it was years ago when you gave my husband Moschus for me to take. It was wonderful, like a miracle and I have had none of this trouble for seven years …. The fear is that I am terrified to suffocate and die while I sleep – it comes upon me just before I go to bed and while I am lying there, so I can’t go to sleep and then I get the feeling that I can’t breathe.”

*Gesture – her left hand goes to protect her throat/larynx with thumb on one side of larynx and fingers on the other – it is a fast but gentle protective gesture – and her right hand and arm make a ward­off gesture – and she looks at me with those big soft open brown eyes and I “see” the deer protecting her neck from a predator.

I prescribed again Moschus moschus.

Terror of a deer
At this point of recognition there is little need for repertorisation but I did consult my repertory for the following rubrics which all list Moschus: DEATH conviction of; DELUSION, death is approaching; FEAR of suffocation while lying down; FEAR to go sleep because of suffocation; HYSTERIA with sleeplessness; WEEPING hysteri­cal and involuntary; SENSITIVE to odors; STIFFNESS rheumatic in fingers & hands in morning; and CONVUL­SIONS. In his Materia Medica, Dr James Tyler Kent (1849­1916) gives a long and memorable description of the “hysterical nature of women” in a Moschus state. His description might nowadays be described as sexist and typical of a doctor of his age, gender and time, but it does clearly describe the hyper­vigilance and terror of a deer faced with a predator.

All change
Her fear and insomnia began to settle on the second day and resolved com­pletely in six weeks. The stiffness began to settle after four weeks, and there was less thickening of her tendons at six weeks. The tendon thickening and rheu­matic pain completely resolved and her osteo­arthritis of both index fingers stopped worsening and the joints became pain free. Her comfort eating stopped, she joined a gym, became the weight she wished to be and was able to move to the north of Scotland to live with her husband.

Dr Raymond Sevar BSc, MBCh DCH MRCGP FFHom is Dean of the Faculty of Homeopathy and a Homeopathic Physician in private practice in Carlisle, Cumbria. He also teaches homeopathy to doctors and other health professionals in the UK and abroad. Website 



a remedy with unique characteristics is profiled by Jonathan Hardy

Mercury is an element which has been known to man and used in medicine for millennia. Used homeopathically it is a very deep-acting and wide-ranging medicine. As is often the case we can see fascinating parallels between the chemical nature, properties, toxicology, as well as associated mythol­ogy and psychology and the homeo­pathic application of the substance.

A member of the twelfth group of the periodic table, with zinc and cadmium, mercury is the only common metal that is liquid at ordinary temperature. The ancient Chinese and Hindus called it liquid silver (hydrargyrum). It was one of the most highly prized of all trad­ing commodities in the ancient world and is reflected in our modern words “merchandise” and “merchant”.

Mercury is the heaviest of all known liquids weighing nearly 14 times as much as an equal volume of water. Stone, iron and even lead can float on its sur­face! It has many uses including in thermometers, barometers, street light­ing and signs, and electrical apparatus, in pesticides, dental preparations, paints, batteries and mirrors.

Mercury poisoning
Highly toxic, mercury is most poisonous when inhaled but dangerous amounts can be ingested and absorbed through the skin over time. Our homeopathic knowledge of Mercury comes partly from the provings carried out by Hahne­mann and others and also from the extensive toxicological knowledge that has been built up over the centuries. The symptom picture gained is similar to many common diseases and Mercury is thus a frequently prescribed homeo­pathic medicine. Toxic amounts of mer­cury cause brain damage and nerve degeneration. There is excessive salivation, loss of teeth and muscle tremors. There is a metallic taste in the mouth, thirst and abdominal pain with vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. There are respiratory symptoms and kidney damage, emotional instability with irritability, excessive shyness and lack of confidence. Nervous system symptoms include insomnia, loss of memory, slow reflexes and numbness. There is restlessness and a sense of hurry. At its most extreme the mental state deteriorates into paranoia with a feel­ing of being attacked from behind and that everyone is an enemy.

There have been various causes of poisoning with mercury over the cen­turies. Criminals sentenced to work in quicksilver mines by the Romans had a life expectancy of only three years because of the toxicity of the mercury. In more recent times workers in the hat-making industry were poisoned by mercury because it was used to convert animal fur into felt. The intoxication was referred to as “mad hatter’s disease”. The clinical signs of poisoning included irrational fears, acute anxiety, nervous­ness, tremor and personality changes and led to the English expression “mad as a hatter”.

Pink disease or acrodynia is another disease caused by mercury poisoning. It resulted from the use of mercury in teething powders and skin ointments used for children. It was common in the first half of the twentieth century. Symptoms included excessive cavities in teeth, putrid body odour, loss of appetite and weight, followed by exhaustion. The condition usually resolved on cessation of use of the medicine and the disease itself almost disappeared after 1954 when mercury was withdrawn from teething powders.

The FDA in the United States has admitted that children have been ex­posed to unsafe levels of mercury through vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative which is 50 per cent ethyl mercury. It has also been used in influenza vaccines and a study showed that individuals who had five consecu­tive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 had a ten times higher chance of devel­oping Alzheimer’s disease. Every flu injection contained mercury and alumin­ium and the gradual build-up of these elements in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction.

In dentistry the amalgam used com­monly today in fillings is made from equal parts of mercury and an alloy con­taining silver, copper and tin. The dental profession is still divided on the safety of this material.

Ancient myths and uses
Intuitive wisdom about our natural world is contained within our myth­ologies. The ancient Romans named the metal mercury because the quick move­ments of mercury droplets on a smooth surface reminded them of the cunning and resourceful Mercury, their god of merchants, travellers and thieves. The planet Mercury probably received its name because it moves so quickly across the sky and is elusive to observe. In Greek mythology mercury was personified as Hermes – the messenger of the gods who often led men astray. He was quick to act on an idea and ready for mischief. He was represented as a young man with winged hat and winged sandals bearing a caduceus (ancient wand) and some­times a purse. Hermes epitomises the power of the spoken word; he helped the three Fates compose the alphabet. The alchemists equated mercury with concepts of fluency and transmutation. In astrology mercury was defined as “intellectual energy, fitting subtle and ingenious men, inconstant and busy fellows, poets, orators, philosophers”.

Mercury was known to the physi­cians of Ancient Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia and is one of the oldest rem­edies in medicine. In the Middle Ages a Mercurial ointment termed unguentum saracenicum was widely used in the treatment of skin diseases like scabies and leprosy. When syphilis made its entrance into 16th century Europe it was soon claimed that the sores could only be washed away with “quicksilver”. The most common technique for administering mercury was fumigation or “tubbing”, in which the patient would sit naked in a large wooden tub above a heated tray spread with mercurial compound. This would continue for up to one month. The side-effects could be drastic, includ­ing ulceration of the gums, tooth loss and deterioration of the bones. It was said that “for one night with Venus you had to spend a lifetime with Mercury”! Mercury was prescribed for so many ill­nesses that doctors became known as “Quicks” (because they were prescribers of Quicksilver). From this the word “Quack” is derived. Mercury therapy persisted until well into the 20th cen­tury, until the hazards of mercury toxicity became better understood. However, fortunately, through the genius of Hahnemann we are able to harness the powers of Mercury harmlessly. Through potentisation the healing qualities are accentuated while unwanted side-effects are eliminated. Homeopathic Mercury has already worked wonders in thousands of patients, and its continued role as a major homeopathic remedy is assured.

The remedy
Fluidity is seen in patients who require Mercury as a homeopathic remedy. There is an instability on all levels. It is interest­ing that the homeopathic literature shows 55 factors which can aggravate a Mercury patient and only seven which can ame­liorate him! Mercury is one of the main remedies which is sensitive to both heat and cold – these patients have a very narrow range of tolerance.

My first Mercury patient was actu­ally one of my first patients ever. He was a young man who was complaining of chronic fatigue. He had swollen lym­phatic glands in his neck, axillae and groin, excessive night sweats and memory loss. On examination he was trembling slightly and his tongue was coated a dirty colour and he had very bad breath! He complained of restless­ness and anxiety. The picture suggested Mercurius strongly and this remedy cured him. I remember at the time being so impressed by the dramatic improve­ment in his overall state. This was very reassuring and encouraging at the beginning of a homeopathic career! He was also very impressed by the results and asked me whether I treated animals. His chief hobby was greyhound racing and he had a dog which until recently had been very successful. Now however the dog was completing three quarters of a race but then suffering with cramp and pulling up. I suggested that he might like to try Cuprum which is one of our lead­ing cramp remedies and we were both delighted when the dog started winning his races again!

Another case which gave very satis­fying results was a 15-year-old boy brought to me with ulcerative colitis. He was suffering with chronic symptoms of diarrhoea with mucus and blood in the stool, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and fatigue. His symptoms were only partially relieved by his conventional treatments of Prednisolone and Azath­ioprine. Mercurius is one of our leading remedies for inflammatory bowel disease, but of course in any case homeopathic­ally you need to find symptoms which are peculiar to that remedy and guide to its selection. Sometimes there are only two or three such symptoms, but fortun­ately in his case there were several things that pointed to Mercurius as the remedy for him. He was very timid and shy and would blush easily in social situations. In addition, he had a marked craving for bread and butter which is a Mercurius peculiarity. This young man benefited greatly from his homeopathic treatment.

A 49-year-old man came to me with high blood pressure and a chief com­plaint of facial neuralgia. He experienced pain in the right lower jaw in the bone. The pain would spread to his face and ear. The most helpful aspect, homeo­pathically, was that the pain was much worse at night-time. Mercurius is a remedy for bone pains and right-sided face pain and a night-time aggravation is a well-known aspect of its picture. When I looked in his mouth I saw the familiar Mercurius appearance: teeth missing, broken and decayed. There were gaps between his teeth. His breath was offensive.

His personality fitted the Mercurius picture. He said he was not very social – he found it difficult to mix with people. His wife and son teased him about being “a bit of a misery”. He said he was very good at developing ideas and initiating things, but not keen on routine work. This fits with the psychology of the Mercury man as being “always on the move” – both physically and mentally. There is a restlessness which creates an internal hurriedness and an anxiety. (It is interesting to note that many of the symptoms of the Mercury proving which Hahnemann carried out were brought out by his extremely restless son, Friedrich. He was always travelling and finally went to the United States, where he disappeared without trace.)

My patient said he had become more and more introverted over the years to a point where he avoided people. This is the beginning of the Mercury state of being extremely closed and ultimately paranoid. I gave him a short course of Mercurius. When he returned he said that on the second day he had been very tired all day and experienced severe anxiety. The following day he felt a huge surge of energy and much better psychologically. After that all his symp­toms improved. His neuralgia disap­peared altogether and he was much better emotionally and much more focussed. He also said he started doing jobs in the home which he had been put­ting off for a long time – a sure sign of a good response to a remedy!

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeopathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoology before studying medicine and has a special interest in animal remedies.


Magnesium carbonate

by David Lilley

When the universe was young, the first stars were born as vast spheres of hydro­gen, which over millions of years produced helium and then carbon, neon and oxygen, each alchemical step releas­ing more and more magnesium. The first substantial, non-gaseous elements fab­ricated in the process of stellar synthe­sis were magnesium and carbon, which, if joined together by means of oxygen, form the carbonate of magnesium: the first molecule – the mother molecule! This is a natural process, for when mag­nesium, a very light, soft, silvery-white metal, is exposed to air, a protective sur­face coating of the carbonate forms, pre­venting further oxidation. By the same analogy, Magnesium carbonate (Mag carb)may also be considered the first child of the universe.

The shamanic perspective
Homeopathy is the art of unravelling mysteries and symbols, of interpreting in the light of external features of appearance and demeanour, and the lan­guage of symptoms and signs, the inner reality of the patient. The same analyt­ical process is used to unlock and under­stand the inner mystery or healing power of a remedy. The shamans of ancient and primitive cultures were weavers of myth, magic and medicine. They were aware that behind the tangible world of forms and events lies a deeper, unseen, time­less reality, embodying an absolute truth of which the manifest world is but a symbol. In contemplating an earthly object or happening, they were con­sciously in the presence of its spiritual counterpart. Similarly, homeopathic provings enable us to peer behind the veil of physical phenomena and view this higher dimension. Combining this knowledge with the insight of a medi­cine man of old, we are able to ponder the awful plight of the first, hypothetical molecule of the creation.

One alone
It is solitary, isolated and alone, exposed to an extremely hostile and unfamiliar environment. It has descended from the security and tranquillity of the oceanic field of energy from which all matter emerges. This is analogous to being cast out of a heavenly paradise, or a sensi­tive being’s experience of severance from mother at birth or, more traumatically, being snatched from the symbiotic bliss of the uterine, amniotic fluid by a pair of latex-gloved hands during Caesarean section. We can anticipate that the hold­ing environment into which the child is born is not consistently supportive, nurturing and caring. Unconsciously, the child will not feel that it can count on being protected, understood, loved and made to feel valuable. The child or adult may have a deep, inexplicable sense that they have been deserted and forsaken, or that they will be aband­oned. They may feel utterly friendless. Understandably, they often suffer from homesickness – a longing for the paradise that was. Highly significant are dreams of going on a journey; of fire burning brightly and of shrieking out with fear; of cheeks and back being burnt by a fiery light; being thrown from a moving vehicle into a grave; of going astray – of being lost in a forest, or at home; and of unsuccessful efforts to find the way in one’s own house. The cosmos is our home and each one of us is a unique expression of its oneness, but as the ego-personality develops as a compensatory defence structure to deal with the im­pingements of a seemingly unreliable, unfriendly environment, we lose our sense of immortality and oneness with the cosmos, and experience ourselves as discrete, solitary and mortal: we go astray – especially if we are a Mag carb!

Loss of basic trust
The dreams of Mag carb reveal so much about the filters of doubt and fear that obscure a life perspective due to early life experiences in an unsupportive environment: dreams of unsuccessful attempts to do various things, of mis­fortune, difficulties, danger, quarrels, fights, robbers breaking into the house and attempting to kill them, of accidents, casualties, mutilation, body parts, dead bodies of relatives, graves and funerals. They also have awful fears of pain, suffering, disease, violence, misfortune, intruders and rape. All indicative of a fearful, troubled mind, filled with neg­ativity and lack of basic trust.

What experiences could have caused such forebodings?

The forsaken one
It was Kent who first recognised the relationship between Mag carb and the deprived child. Sometimes the depriva­tion is as simple as failing to bond due to separation from mother (for example incubation) or not being breastfed, but since Kent’s observation, the remedy has won its laurels in the treatment of child­ren who have been orphaned, or who, more critically, have lost their mother; children who are illegitimate and have been adopted or fostered; and all those children, who, though neither orphaned nor adopted, are neglected, abandoned, rejected or unwanted. Mag carb is fre­quently the remedy for children born into a war zone, children of unhappy homes, of quarrelling or divorced parents. They feel, consciously or uncon­sciously, abandoned, rejected, neglected and unloved and therefore unlovable and without worth, and are haunted by the fear that the family will break apart.

The neglected one
This neglected child will often seek atten­tion in the only way it knows how: by throwing tantrums, by being naughty, destructive, disobedient, aggressive, hyperactive and noisy, and sometimes by head banging. Others, in contrast, become weepy, timid, withdrawn and sulky, and very emotional or fearful at twilight. Mag carb suits the two ex­tremes of infant behaviour: the tyrant and the wimp, and oscillations between the two. Chamomilla may often temp­orarily improve the behaviour of the tyrant and Pulsatilla that of the wimp, but it is often only after Mag carb has been given that an ongoing strengthening of the child’s ability to cope with neglect and lack of love is witnessed. Mag carb is often the fundamental remedy standing behind the presentation of the Chamomilla or Pulsatilla archetype.

These conflicting emotional pictures are predictive of an adolescent and adult tendency to swinging moods, charac­terised by periods of high energy, elation and often brilliant creativity, eventually lapsing into apathy, inertia and depres­sion. A fundamentally loving, caring, sweet nature, concerned about the wel­fare of animals, humanity and the planet, yet prone to attacks of rage or despon­dency. In the most pathological cases this may amount to a bipolar disorder and even manic-depressive psychosis. When we consider the properties of magnesium these seemingly incompati­ble contrasts become understandable. Metallic magnesium can be ignited in an ordinary, oxygen atmosphere, burning violently with a dazzling, blinding light and intense heat. It can be extremely destructive. This highly inflammable quality is symbolic of an unpredictably volatile personality given to impulsive and reactive outbursts of anger. The phenomena intrinsic to magnesium are clearly energy and light, and this is true of its most creative function upon which all aerobic life depends: its role in pho­tosynthesis. Central to the utilisation of solar, light energy lies the chlorophyll molecule and central to the chlorophyll molecule lies magnesium. Without mag­nesium there would be no chlorophyll, no oxygen-rich atmosphere, no protec­tive ozone layer and nature would not be green. The symbolic essence of green is peace, harmony, renewal, abundance, trust, joy, love and balance, the very antithesis of its obverse: instability, neg­ativity and destruction. In all cultures green is the colour of Mother Nature and of womanhood; it is universally associated with plant-life and is symbolic of planet Earth, the only green planet.

The mediator
Magnesium embodies all that green symbolises and is the element repre­senting nature’s energising, nurturing and harmonising power. It is central to the homeostasis (balanced function) of all life forms, the essential activator (catalyst) of the enzymatic reactions that maintain function and life. As a catalyst it initiates, presides over and conducts reactions, yet remains detached: a char­acteristic of those who, whilst giving advice and support, maintain an imper­sonal, objective and unprejudiced stance; those who can mediate and arbitrate without partiality, bringing justice, reconciliation and peace through a Solomon-like wisdom. Magnesium, more than any other element, displays the sup­porting, nurturing and protective, yet objective and uncompromising love of the wise mother. No mother can be more wise and caring, yet more forbidding, stern and relentless than Mother Nature. Mag carb is her material representative and as such shares her mythology.

The Eleusinian mysteries
The most sacred and solemn of all the religious ceremonies celebrated by the ancient Greeks was observed every fifth year at Eleusis in Attica. By way of their eminence, these initiatory rites were often simply referred to as “the myster­ies”. For 2000 years the Eleusinian mysteries played a pivotal role in the spiritual life of the Hellenic world. The festival was sacred to the goddess Demeter (Ceres) and her daughter Kore.

Demeter was a fertility goddess, an Earth-mother goddess, equivalent to Mother Earth herself and specifically the goddess of grain and crops. Through union with her brother Zeus, high god of Olympus, Demeter had her only daughter Kore, whom her uncle Hades, god of the underworld, desired. Hades approached Zeus for leave to marry the beautiful Kore. Zeus, reluctant to offend his brother, yet knowing that Demeter would never forgive him if he commit­ted Kore to an eternity in the under­world, deviously answered that he could neither refuse nor give his consent. Encouraged by his brother’s prevarica­tion, Hades plotted to take her by force.

Whilst Kore was picking flowers in a meadow, he lured her away from her companions by creating an exquisitely beautiful narcissus. As she stooped to pick the blossom, the ground before her was rent asunder and out of the cavern­ous depths erupted a golden chariot drawn by four magnificent, black horses. Hades snatched her up and bore her struggling and screaming down into the abyss from which he had come. The earth closed over them leaving no sign of her abduction. Only the all-seeing Helios, the personification of the sun, had wit­nessed the crime.

For nine days and nights, the an­guished Demeter sought her ravished daughter. On the tenth day, under the stern coercion of Hecate, goddess of the dark moon and the crossroads, a reluc­tant Helios divulged the truth. Filled with grief and outrage, Demeter de­manded of Zeus the return of Kore. Zeus tried to placate her, advising that she should reconcile herself to what had happened because Hades was a power­ful god and a not unworthy son-in-law. Her anger and resentment became seething fury and she continued to fran­tically wander the earth, at night light­ing her way by torches fired in the flames of mount Etna. Eventually she reached Eleusis, and there retired into a state of silent, solitary, grieving depression. She ceased to function. Famine and sterility descended upon the earth, threatening all life with extinction.

To avert disaster, Zeus was forced to capitulate and sent his messenger son Hermes (Mercury) to Hades command­ing that he restore Kore to her mother. Unknown to Kore, she could only return to the world of the living if she had not a compromise was made. Kore would spend the four months of winter with Hades as Persephone, his queen of the underworld, and the remaining eight months with her mother. In the eternal cycle of the seasons, the story of Demeter and Kore is forever re-enacted. Winter harshly denudes and freezes the Earth, bringing, especially in the most northerly climes, a sense of rejection, loneliness, abandonment, vulnerability and depres­sion: the despondency of Demeter, the pining of Kore. Spring brings the bud­ding of new life and the uplifting energy of green, bringing hope and joy and restoring the Earth to us as both mother and nurse: the return of Persephone! These are the mysteries imbedded in the psyche of Mag carb, which they so often have to live out in their life experience.

The dark father/lover
This myth is multifaceted. It explicitly exposes the selfish, manipulative, oppressive and rapacious attitude of the patriarchy towards the feminine prin­ciple. In psychological terms, Hades represents the dark aspect of Zeus: the destructive, misogynistic father. Zeus is the accomplice in Kore’s abduction and subsequent rape by his brother. By his silent passivity and his indifference to her cries for help, he condones and vicariously participates in the act. In this role he is the perverted father.

Another myth relates that Zeus, him­self, was the first to seduce and despoil partaken of the food of the dead. Whilst she pined for her mother, nothing had passed her lips, but as she approached Hermes’ chariot, the wily Hades prof­fered her some pomegranate seeds, seem­ingly as a token of goodwill. The innocent Kore accepted his offering and doomed herself to become her rapist’s bride. Demeter’s initial joy at the prospect of reunion was transformed into the deep­est despondency and despair. Yet again universal disaster threatened, until finally, his daughter, revealing himself as the incestuous father. In other myths he is depicted as an abusive father, psycho­logically cruel or, like his own father Kronos, a competitive, devouring one. This is often the partner that an arche­typal Demeter has to cope with and Kore/Persephone is often her daughter, subject to his abuse and the focal point of Demeter’s intense, nurturing and even sacrificial, maternal love. The two arche­types are frequently bonded by the powerful co-dependency of a needy or vic­tim daughter and an over-solicitous, pro­tective mother. They may be so entwined that they represent a single mother/ daughter archetype: Magnesium car­bonate. Although most often pertaining to a mother/daughter relationship, these Mag carb bonds or bondage exist essen­tially between a parent and child, irre­spective of gender.

The trials of motherhood
Mag carb is often the remedy for a young woman in whom the biological need to be a mother is an intense long­ing and a driving force. Any tardiness in falling pregnant becomes a crisis and even a tragedy in her life, plunging her into depression and despair. Even the sight of a pregnant woman can stir feel­ings of resentment and envy. Once she is blessed with children, Mag carb may become a hovering mother, overprotec­tive, always too concerned and worried about their welfare, and too involved in and vulnerable to the ups and downs of their lives. When they reach puberty, every suitor is seen as a potential Hades. Like the narcissus (the hubris of beauty), the ever dangerous and seductive pom­egranate seeds are symbolic of the emo­tions and situations, which can trap the innocent and unwary in an abusive relationship. They are the red of passion – a fatal attraction, and the fruit of passion – an unwanted pregnancy, but they may also be the spiked drink that leads to date rape. Mag carb can be the remedy for the rape victim and for her mother.

Significant dreams linking Mag carb to the myth are: “picking flowers (gath­ering fruit) in a garden” and “dreams, after midnight, of marrying one she did not like” – a wedding to the dark lord of the underworld!

The empty nest
The Mag carb mother needs her child to need her and she will foster dependency in her offspring by making herself indis­pensable to them. When her daughter is “lost” – through a relationship or mar­riage that distances her, by becoming independent, by moving away from home or living abroad – Mag carb will suffer from empty-nest syndrome. Like the goddess, she ceases to function and descends into desolation and despair, her life becoming empty and barren. Her Mag carb daughter, confined by mar­riage to a dominant, restrictive man, will pine for her mother. Her world freezes over, but the pomegranate seeds may still bind her. By erosion her love dies and so also her sexuality. If Mag carb cannot react explosively, then passive aggres­sion is her mode of response: the with­drawal of her functions, her femininity and her compliance – an indirect expres­sion of her hostility and resentment.

The exhausted mother/housewife
If the archetypal drive towards mother­hood holds sway, particularly when for­tified by religious persuasion, the Mag carb woman may go from one pregnancy to another. Mag carb, like Sepia, is a rem­edy for the worn out mother and house­wife: a grown up Cinderella at everyone’s beck and call. The ugly sisters are her entire family. This is not living, it is sur­viving, coping, striving and enduring, often without acknowledgment or appre­ciation, taken for granted, taken advan­tage of and abused. They have to sacrifice their preferences, deny and suppress their needs in the service of husband and fam­ily. This is a state of negative green: unquestioning resignation, self-abne­gation and hopelessness – the state of nature in many parts of the world.

Love and friendship
Green is the colour of the fourth or heart chakra, the spinning vortex of life energy in which the consciousness of love is seated. Green (and hence magnesium) lies at the heart or centre of the spectrum providing a bridge or gateway between blue and yellow, uniting respectively wisdom and clarity. Yellow provides the energy, will and confidence to communicate the wisdom of blue, and green applies it with skill, consideration and love. Likewise, Mag carb acts as bridge or mediator, a reconciler of opposites, able to settle fun­damental divisions and smooth the way for accord and compromise; it provides a gateway for deep and lasting friendship – and the password is love!

Mag carb stands at the interface between the conscious and the uncon­scious. The Magnesium archetype will repress, often out of memory, disturbing, intense and painful emotions. Perse­phone is the pre-eminent symbol of unconscious repression. The archetype is not at ease with its emotions and practices avoidance, maintaining a con­trolled and restrained demeanour even in situations of great adversity. This veneer of calm, unemotional composure and proud stoicism is the pseudo-har­mony of emotional stagnation, the worst state of negative green. This green is also the colour of putrefaction and decay, indicative of the erosive, destructive and even cancerous consequences of emo­tions denied or repressed. Just as there is a green of vigour and life, there is also a green of sickness and death.

Mag carb can unlock the deep and the hidden. Through its bridging effect, it mediates the release of unconsciously repressed energy into the conscious. It causes inhibited and bottled emotions to surface and opens up the dream path­ways, providing insight into the cause and foundation of our physical and psychological illness. At its highest level, Mag carb facilitates a descent into the personal underworld to set free the untapped powers that lie dormant and unrealised in the fathomless depths of the psyche. It restores a spiritual harvest which furnishes the supplicant with the most hallowed bread of all: an abiding trust that fears neither life nor death.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


A case for Club Moss

One of the many astonishing, delightful and almost incredible things about homeopathy, writes John Hughes-Games, is the fact that unlikely and sometimes completely inert substances, when prepared homeopathically, are transformed into powerful and deep acting medicines

I have an historic oak medicine chest, which belonged to relative, a Dr Clover who was a pioneer anaesthetist who devised the apparatus, which was used to give chloroform to Queen Victoria during the birth of some of her children. Inside the cabinet are rows of beautifully made glass bottles with ground glass tops and in one of them are four or five hand-rolled pills with traces of a powder. The powder almost certainly consists of the spores of Lycopodium (club moss) that was used to dust pills to stop them from sticking together.

Lycopodium is an excellent example of an unreactive substance within which are extraordinary healing properties. Although normally inert, if a powder of Lycopodium is thrown into a naked flame it explodes. The Lycopodium patient, although normally retiring and outwardly calm, is capable of sudden bursts of violent temper when things become “just too much” for him.

Reading the homeopathic textbooks, there seems to be an implication that it is almost always possible to “fit” your patient into a “constitutional” type. Unfortunately this is not true and very often one has to give the preparation which most nearly meets the case. Fortunately, this will often help a great deal but it is necessary to reassess the patient after a few weeks when quite a different medicine may now become indicated. I would like to tell you briefly about someone whom I saw at the homeopathic clinic at Sidmouth.

The patient
Mr S, a 60 year-old male (he looks considerably younger), consulted me because of headaches which started three years ago for no particular reason; there was no change in his life and he had no illnesses or stresses. He describes the headache as bursting. They would occur whenever he bent down and might last for a minute or two. They were worse if he coughed or sneezed and straining would increase the pain. Cigarette smoke, which he detested as it made him feel sick, seemed to make the pain worse. The headaches were bilateral and all the investigations were negative (including an MRI scan).

He sleeps poorly and often wakes at about four o’clock in the morning when his brain is very active. Sometimes he will drop into an uneasy sleep just before its time to get up. He is a very self-disciplined person and always makes himself get up at 7.30am. Occasionally in the night he gets very hot and he likes to throw off the bedclothes and uncover himself.

On examination
The patient is well dressed and a very good historian; he communicates well and seems quite at ease during the interview. He is articulate and co-operative.

Past history
He has always been a very healthy person but for the last few years he has suffered from time to time from attacks of labrynthitis, sometimes associated with vomiting, which were diagnosed as being due to inner ear viral infections. He had a slightly raised cholesterol (but normal blood pressure) that has responded successfully to diet. He does not suffer from indigestion.

Family history
His mother is still alive at 78 but little is known of her parents. Nothing is known of his natural father. He has a sister who is alive and well and two children, a son and a daughter, both alive and well plus two healthy grandchildren. There are no severe or recurrent illnesses in the family.

He has a moderately sweet tooth and quite enjoys well-salted dishes. He prefers his food hot rather than cold.

Weather and temperature reactions
Although he quite likes the heat, he is a warm person and is much better for cool weather. He likes being by the sea but hates to be on it as he is always seasick.

Social history
He had a very stressful and unhappy childhood. His natural father and mother were divorced when he was two years old and he had a bad time with his stepfather. He had a younger stepbrother who was always favoured and spoilt, whereas our patient was treated with severity and almost dislike. His stepfather died when Mr S was about 11 years old but our patient has never got on well with his mother even after his stepfather’s death. He disliked school intensely and didn’t do very well. He left home as soon as he could at 17 or 18 and enlisted with the RAF.

Although he denies being a worrier, in fact I think deep down there is a very real element of worry and insecurity. He is good at planning and he anticipates events. Although much involved in committees etc, he really prefers small numbers of people and is very happy with his own company. He says he is intolerant of stupidity although he very rarely loses his temper, however when he does he may blow up. He is tidy and neat and a very good planner. He quite likes speaking in public so long as he has the subject well prepared – which he always has!

(I am always interested in patients who say that they have no apprehension at all before speaking in public and that they enjoy it; it often transpires on questioning that initially they were terrified but by sheer determination, or demands made on them, overcame their fears and now rather delight in doing what used to frighten them!)

So far as his hobbies are concerned he is good at a number of ball games – all of which he has taught himself by determination rather than by a natural aptitude. He likes travel and is computer literate. He is not an animal lover. Collecting is not among his hobbies.

Although, far from having in any way a “closed personality”, I decided to give him Nat mur as I thought that the early traumas in his life might well have had an important part in the aetiology of his headaches. I also gave him Belladonna 6c to take at the first twinge of pain in the hope of aborting the attacks.

A month later
There was no improvement so I reconsidered the history.

Mr S told me that he had had occasional difficulties on the telephone when he would find it very difficult to choose the right words. He said moreover that when he was at school, which he hated, he became very easily confused by numbers and words particularly in stressful conditions; quite often he became inarticulate because of this confusion. His teachers interpreted this as stupidity. After he left home and joined the RAF he found difficulty in finding the right words when he was under pressure or stress; for instance, if addressing a senior officer. This anxiety-motivated confusion suggested Lycopodium to me. I gave him three powders of Lycopodium 30c.

I saw him a month later when there had been a slight improvement in the headaches just after taking the medication, but it only lasted a few days.

On 7 June last year, I gave him three powders of Lycopodium 1M, since when he has had no headaches even though he continues to play a number of different sports involving some bending and stooping. He feels very well.

There is a type of Lycopodium personality who forced by pressures or stresses or even by expectations of other people, learns sometimes at an early age, to surmount and cope with the sensitivities, fears and apprehensions, which are so typical of this remedy. Such people however, although able to overcome them, retain the Lycopodium anxieties and misgivings, particularly about things like public speaking and responsibilities, all their lives. These people, toughened by experiences, show great determination and often achieve eminence in many walks of life, including the arts, medicine and the forces. They are almost always basically gentle, retiring, sensitive patients who are thrust into public life by their considerable achievements and abilities.

I think that Mr S is an example of somebody who, because of the severe stresses put upon him in early childhood, was forced to overcome his natural apprehensions and fears to a very large degree and who has coped with them and almost completely subdued them. In fact he turns them to good account in that he is very sensitive to other people, good at conducting meetings and so on.

Our patient had none of the Lycopodium features, which are usually so evident. His brow was unfurrowed, he is athletic and forthcoming and is involved a number of societies and at meetings he is a good chairman (I think that the overcoming of his natural fears and anxieties makes him more inclined to undertake things than he would otherwise have done). He is not a collector (the Lycopodium personality often finds some degree of reassurance in surrounding himself with attractive, beautiful and valuable objects and Lycopodium patients are often connoisseurs of these things). He certainly isn’t in any way miserly. He doesn’t have any of the unpleasant attributes that according to some authorities are a tendency to whistle tunelessly between the teeth and to dribble a great deal in their sleep!

Lycopodium suggested itself very strongly in his mental confusion in times of stress, in his four o’clock aggravation, particularly at night when he would wake up and worry, in his becoming over-heated at night and wanting to uncover himself and in his preference for warm food. The headaches were worse for bending or stooping.

Of these things, of course, the mentals are the most important and this rather peculiar mental of confusion over words and figures, which I have found more than once in Lycopodium patients, is particularly significant. It is also most interesting that he hardly responded at all to the 30c of Lycopodium but 1M completely cured him. The Nat mur, often so useful for mitigating, lessening or undoing the ill effects of past mental trauma, may have prepared the way for the Lycopodium.

There are, I think, two interesting observations here; one is that the mentals are, as we all know, by far the most important in selecting a remedy and if one has a strong or peculiar mental, it carries a great deal of weight in deciding the prescription. The second is that potency can be extremely important.

Mr S is now thoroughly well and enjoying life without the headaches. As you might imagine, he is now a keen PR man for the homeopathic method.

A Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy and a past president, John Hughes-Games FFHom MBChB, was taught homeopathy by Margery Blackie and used it in general practice for nearly 30 years. He now lectures and examines for the Faculty as well as working privately in Bristol.

Lilium tigrinum

A tigress or a pussycat of a remedy, writes Keith Souter

The range of homeopathic remedies is vast and their study is truly fascinating. Over the years homeo­paths have gathered remedies from animal, plant and mineral kingdoms, as well as building up a huge number from other sources. If you merely learn the Latin name of a particular remedy and its profile of action then you are likely to miss the richness, colour and energy of that remedy.

My approach when looking at a remedy is to try to build up a picture of it in my mind. In order to do that, I like to get an insight into the remedy by seeing it, smelling and touching it where possible. If possible I like to build a picture of it, perhaps drawing from references in art or literature. Let’s have a look at this with Lilium tigrinum, the gorgeous tiger lily.

Doctrine of signatures
This age-old principle is a good point to start with when looking at a lot of remedies. Essentially, the doctrine of signatures was the proposition that plants with a medicinal purpose had signatures, clues on them that would indicate their use­fulness. These signatures could relate to the shape of the leaves, flowers, roots, seeds or bark, its colour, juice or way that it moved. For example, Hypericum perforatum, known as St John’s Wort (Wort comes from Old English wyrt, meaning useful plant, and generally indi­cated a medicinal use in medieval times) was thought to have healing powers because it blooms around the saint’s day. The red juice of its curiously perforated leaves (they have multiple small trans­lucencies) was thought to represent the blood of the saint and indicated its ability to cure painful, sharp wounds.

Lilium tigrinum belongs to the Liliaceae family. It is a robust plant that is native to Eastern Asia, but is now cultivated across the world. It has dis­tinctive orange flowers with six bent back petals, upon which are black mark­ings, reminiscent of tiger markings. It is a tigress of a plant.

Literary allusions
Tiger lily is a distinctive plant and two writers used aspects of the plant’s per­ceived personality in two of the great classics of English literature. J.M. Barrie introduced Tiger Lily, the Indian princess in his great book Peter Pan. He paints a picture of a beautiful, haughty, domi­neering young woman with attitude.

And Lewis Carroll describes the personality a little more in Chapter 2 of Through the Looking Glass. Here, Alice finds herself in “The Garden of Live Flowers” and comes upon a flower-bed with a border of daisies and a willow-tree growing in the middle.

“O Tiger-lily” said Alice, addressing her­self to one that was waving gracefully about in the wind, “I wish you could talk!”
“We can talk,” said the Tiger-lily, “when there’s anybody worth talking to.”
Alice was so astonished that she couldn’t speak for a minute… At length, as the Tiger-lily only went on waving about, she spoke again, in a timid voice – almost in a whisper. “And can all the flowers talk?”
“As well as you can,” said the Tiger-lily. “And a great deal louder.”

Carroll goes on to describe the interac­tions between Alice, the daisies and the willow. Tiger-lily becomes angry:

“Silence, every one of you!” cried the Tiger-lily, waving itself passionately from side to side, and trembling with excite­ment. “They know I can’t get at them!” it panted, bending its quivering head towards Alice, “or they wouldn’t dare to do it!”

In these two literary references you see a lot of Lilium tigrinum’s personality – haughty, domineering, irritable, impa­tient, and with the ability to make oth­ers cower.

But there is passion, attractiveness, and sometimes outright glamour.

The remedy
Lilium tigrinum is a second rank remedy, in that it is not as commonly prescribed as the great polychrests, yet it has immense usefulness and can transform lives, when it is the indicated remedy. The mother tincture is made from the whole flowering plant. Like the other members of the Liliaceae family it is rich in steroid saponins. It is thought that this may account for the remedy’s ability to help with symptoms related to the pelvis and heart.

Lilium tigrinum is usually thought of as being a female remedy, but don’t be misled into thinking of it as only being suitable for women. When it matches the symptom profile of the individual it can be extremely beneficial for men.

Another of its features that really stands out is its left-sidedness. It is pre­dominantly suited to problems of the left side of the body, which of course means that left-sided organs: stomach, pancreas, heart and rectum may all benefit from it, when included as part of the overall picture. Haemorrhoids, which one may, of course, think of as being a central problem will often respond to the remedy, since they are in fact a disorder of the rectum and, there­fore, a left-sided problem!

I have alluded to this above and it is a major feature of people in need of this remedy. They have rapid mood swings and are easily provoked, so that they dip into irritability with the greatest of ease. While they are often easy-going, gener­ous and sincere, they can flick into nas­tiness, anger and outright rage. This can be to the point of wanting to hurt, to hit out or slap. And they can be extremely over-sensitive, taking offence at the slightest perceived slight.

There are several remedies which have the characteristic of hurriedness. In this they feel pressured to do things quickly. They want things done at speed by them­selves and by others. They become irri­tated if events are slower than they feel they should be. They hate people dither­ing in front of them.

While some hurried remedies can be highly efficient, like Sulphuric acid and Nux vomica, the sense of hurry in Lilium tigrinum can sometimes spin out of con­trol and make them become inefficient. They try to do too many things at once, begin to get irritable, then fail to achieve any of the tasks. To use the plate-spin­ning analogy, if they spin too many, they may find that if one drops they get flus­tered and they all start dropping.

Wild and crazy feeling
As a result of the hurriedness they often feel this wild and crazy feeling at the top of the head. The thoughts come too fast, get jumbled and they feel confused. And when this happens they feel even more irritable. They can, accordingly, become quite hysterical in their reactions.

Despair, conflict and sexuality
There is often a feeling of conflicting thoughts and conflicting emotions when someone needs Lilium tigrinum. Because they frequently have a fairly rigid sense of morality they can sink into a sense of despair.
They may feel that they have committed some wrong or sin and that there is no hope of salvation for them. When they get depressed they find them­selves weeping constantly.

They also tend to become full of fear. This often takes the form of a feeling of dread or doom, but it is also common for it to focus on health, sanity and heart disease. And they often hate being alone.

A characteristic conflict often centres around sex. They can feel intensely aroused sexually, to the point of seduc­tiveness and even nymphomania, yet be held back by their sense of morality. It is common for them to fantasise about sex and to have urges to say obscene things, although they rarely verbalise them. They may feel torn in two directions, wanting to be a saint one moment and a sinner the next. They commonly feel irritable and angry after making love.

Keeping busy (hurry again) is one way that they can distract themselves from this sexual arousal that they wish they were not cursed with. Indeed, there seems to be a vicious circle here because the busier they try to be the more it feeds into that wild crazy feeling I mentioned earlier.

Pulsations and palpitations
People who need Lilium tingrinum often feel congested and feel the pulsation of blood vessels in various parts of the body. They can get throbbing headaches, rapid pulse and palpitations. When irrit­able they can feel as if their heart is being overwhelmed, that it is beating too fast and that it is too full of blood. At times they may feel that their chest is being gripped, as if it is in a vice. It may even feel as if it could burst.

Dragging down sensation
In women there is a common feeling that the womb or the lower abdominal organs are falling downwards. Some young women may experience dysmenorrhoea, painful periods, characterised by cramp­ing pain and an intense dragging down or bearing down sensation. This can be so intense that they may feel as if their womb is going to fall out, and they have to sit cross-legged to prevent it happening.

Patients of both sexes can be trou­bled with irritable bowel syndrome, IBS. When Lilium tigrinum is indicated the characteristic pattern is that the individual feels the need to go frequently to the toilet to open the bowels. This is often unsuccessful and all they experi­ence is the dragging down feeling and the cramp. Often they will only manage to pass urine. This will tend to make them feel very irritable. The next day they may get up, feel very congested in the lower abdomen, as if they have a lump in the rectum, and immediately pass a very loose sloppy motion.

Haemorrhoids, with a dragging down sensation described above, are quite common.

Recurrent cystitis is also commonly complained of, again with this charac­teristic feeling of everything being dragged down. And of course, there is associated irritability.

PMT and the menopause
Lilium tigrinum may help women who are intensely irritable – so much so that they make everyone around them feel as if they are walking on eggshells – pre­menstrually or when they reach the menopause. They may break into sud­den rages and they are subject to the mood swings I have already referred to. The dragging down sensations are com­mon and the conflicts in their mind about sex are likely to be present, although they may well try to suppress all such thoughts.

Lastly a few odd snippets
Apart from the cramping, dragging down type of pains, people in need of Lilium tigrinum often experience pains in small, well demarcated points, which flit around. Fresh air often soothes symp­toms in Lilium tigrinum, although when they are feeling irritable, the thought of a brisk walk will not go down well. And strangely, if they have to walk over an uneven surface, they may just find that they cannot do it.

Craving meat is quite common and attempts to go vegetarian, for whatever reason, often fail. And that isn’t sur­prising is it – in a tiger!

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul. 



by David Lilley

The snake is one of the most powerful symbols in the homeopathic materia medica, and none more so than Lachesis, the dreaded bushmaster, a pit-viper of the Amazon basin. The longest and largest viper in the world, growing to over three metres in length, Lachesis is a magnificent creature, with a massive body as thick as a man’s thigh, a short tail and a wicked-looking, triangular head, which broadens towards the back. Highly poisonous, it possesses fangs three centimetres in length and hypodermic scimitars capable of stabbing deeply into its victim’s tissues.

Lachesis is a denizen of the tropical and equatorial rainforests of northern South America and Central America. There it lives on the forest floor, its handsome reddish-brown skin, marked along the back with black-brown rhomboidal spots, providing the perfect, disruptive colouring necessary to camouflage it as it lies amongst the fallen leaves waiting for its prey. Contrary to popular belief, the bushmaster is not usually aggressive, but it is extremely dangerous because, relying on its superb camouflage, it is loath to move and reveal itself, and is therefore relatively easy to stand on – often with fatal results.

Lachesis belongs to the Crotalidae, a snake family that includes the pit-vipers, rattlesnakes, lanceheads, moccasins and copperheads, which are the vipers of the New World, the Americas. Like other vipers the venom of the bushmaster is a potent cocktail of virulent enzymes, which are primarily destructive to the blood (haemotoxic) and the soft tissues (proteolytic and cytolitic), thus causing haemorrhage and necrosis. By contrast the venom of Naja, the cobra, which belongs to the family Elapidae, is primarily poisonous to the nervous system (neurotoxic) and the heart (cardiotoxic). These differences in venom action assist the homeopath in his choice of snake remedy.

Lachesis may be viewed with the eye of a shaman to better penetrate the snake’s hidden genius. She provides the matriarchal image of all snakes, for not only is she the largest representative of the most evolved snake family, she is also the only pit-viper that is oviparous, producing eggs, all others are ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young. Hence she is the forerunner, the source and essence of all things serpentine and venomous, and the jungle is her shrine. This is significant. She comes from the bosom of Gaia (Mother Earth), from the reproductive centre of the planet, its metabolic heart, the equatorial rainforests of the Amazon basin. Here speciation is at its most prodigious; it is Gaia’s hothouse for the generation of diverse life forms – a teeming paradise – a Garden of Eden. Deep within its steamy density lurks the awesome bushmaster, her venom charged with the creative and destructive passion of the planet. She is the serpent of our genesis!

In the Judeo-Christian creation myth the snake is portrayed as the evil tempter and seducer, the very personification of deception and intrigue, premeditating and perpetrating the downfall of mankind. Aptly it is coiled round the Tree of Knowledge, or of Intellect, and induces Adam, via Eve, to partake of the fruit and lose his innocence – the innocence of instinctive, animal existence that keeps the urges and impulses within the bounds of natural restraint and in harmony with life’s laws. This is symbolic of mankind attaining that level of intellectual and emotional capacity which permits “freedom of choice” and custodianship of the conscience, a release, unfolding and responsibility which were bound to bring conceit and conflict.

There is no cult more universal or ambivalent than that of the serpent. In ancient cultures the snake was above all a magical and religious image of the creator divinity itself, or a symbol of the primeval life force, the primitive animal will, which it is our destiny to wrestle and ultimately subdue. As such it embodies all man’s potentialities, the divine and the mortal, the sacred and the profane, and the contention between the two. The snake has always been perceived as a dualistic force, a source of strength when mastered, but potentially dangerous and often emblematic of chaos and corruption when yielded to. Snakes have been seen as gods, ancestors and sacred protectors or as demons and monsters – as sources of inspiration and prophecy or of evil and temptation. In its simplest form the duality of the snake is easy to understand because few creatures have been regarded with more awe and fear than the snake. It either engenders reverence or revulsion, admiration or horror, but, whether the response to the snake be positive or negative, it rarely fails to provoke fascination – a fascination that may even amount to obsession.

The Lachesis personality
Rooted since antiquity in paradox and polarity, duality is the very essence of the snake, of Lachesis and of the subject who requires this wonderful remedy. As with so many of us, they are in contention with themselves – the lower self opposes the higher, the animal nature vies with the human, deceit confronts sincerity, egotism struggles against selflessness, arrogance competes with diffidence and perversity challenges morality. Conscience and desire strive for dominance. The entire sphere of spiritual conflict is the battlefield of Lachesis. The conflict is often heroic. The venom from which the remedy is prepared is immensely powerful and destructive and those who require it are proportionately of an intense and passionate nature. The Lachesis individual is ever in danger of being possessed by passions and feelings. They are aware of the struggle within them, their labile emotions and thoughts and their unpredictability. At times they feel at the mercy of their emotions, torn between the promptings of their heart and their head, between their thoughts and feelings and between desire and guilt. If they are unable to indulge their passions or sublimate their emotions through creative release, they will have to repress them and the price is emotional or physical ill-health.

The snake in movement is a miracle to behold. Without legs to propel it the creature flows effortlessly along, like a shining rivulet – sinuous and silent. The entire energy of the snake is manifested in fluidity and flow. In the course of evolution the snake withdrew its limbs to attain flow. Its venom contains enzymes, which dissolve and digest the tissues of its prey, causing what was firm and solid to break down into a fluid form, which can flow. Flow is intrinsic to the snake and this is equally true of the Lachesis person. In any condition where suppression of flow or function predominates, be it emotional, intellectual or physiological, Lachesis may be indicated. A typical example is the cessation of the menstrual flow at the menopause, a time of life frequently calling for the use of Lachesis. Likewise the appearance of the menstrual flow in a Lachesis person will signal the relief of premenstrual symptoms and brings a feeling of well-being.

Thus even without the extra insight of homeopathic, proving trials, we can learn a great deal about the human archetype which corresponds to this remedy from a study of the mythology, the external appearance and the natural history of the snake. A treasure of therapeutic indications is revealed and through the clear image of a powerful metaphor the remedy is fixed in our memories.

The bushmaster is a master of camouflage. It is a “sit and wait” predator, using its cryptic colouring to deceive and ambush its prey. In a similar manner the Lachesis individual can practice cunning and deceit to waylay the innocent and naïve. They don a deceptive mask to conceal their unscrupulous intentions – they are not what they seem. They hatch plots and schemes to catch the unwary, but also to revenge themselves against those they consider enemies.

They are creatures of the night; it is then that they become alert and watchful for their prey. They have cat’s eyes, the pupils are a vertical slit and the retina contains mainly rods giving them excellent night ision. Lachesis is a night owl, needing little sleep, doing their best and most creative work at night, even into the early hours of the morning – reading, writing, studying or enjoying stimulating conversation, particularly about philosophy and religion. The mind is extraordinarily active and clear in the evening. Some become unduly vivacious and talkative at night, but then have difficulty finding sleep, spending hours at the mercy of their overactive minds. Like many night-time people, Lachesis individuals are not their best in the morning. They often wake into an aggravation of their complaints, into a headache, an attack of asthma or a bout of depression. They may come to fear sleep; such is the state of suffering which greets them on waking.

Although a snake of massive proportions, the speed with which it can strike defies description. It is an explosive blur of movement ending in a death-dealing blow delivered with deadly accuracy. As it strikes, its mouth gapes wide, permitting the awesome, hinged fangs to swing down so that the snake can strike and stab at the same time, gaining maximum penetration. Lachesis, the human, can respond to an emergency with speed and initiative, making instantaneous decisions and acting upon them with confidence and alacrity. They possess a volatile capacity to react and retaliate. They do not prevaricate or mince their words; they can speak daggers to those who confront them. The theme of quickness is present throughout the mental, emotional and physical pictures. They are quick and even hurried in everything they do. The Lachesis mind is quick-witted, nimble, alert and highly perceptive. They can comprehend new concepts, even those outside their field of experience, with remarkable facility. They speak rapidly. Often the Lachesis mind can be too fast for others to keep up with and sometimes the flow of thoughts demanding expression is too fast for their tongues to cope with. On a physical level they share with the snake an admirable athleticism, poise, balance and co-ordination.

The remarkably active, forked tongue of the serpent is a powerful symbol. It is constantly darted out of the mouth through a notch in the upper jaw. It acts as a sense organ picking up scent molecules from its environment. The snake tests life through taste. The Lachesis being has a taste for life – an instinctual hunger for life experience – a nature filled with desire, which has an intense urge to taste all that life has to offer. The agile, active tongue confirms the proverbial talkativeness of the remedy, which is also a manifestation of the remedy’s need to flow. For Lachesis, talkativeness is often a release or vent for repressed emotions or desires. Not only do they talk a lot, they also speak loudly and rapidly and are inclined to jump continuously from one subject to another. A highly functional aspect of this loquacity is their ability with words. They have rare linguistic skills, often multilingual, and they are highly articulate with a wonderful gift of oratory. The immense power of Lachesis reaches its highest expression in the public speaker. They have remarkable charisma and eloquence, speaking with passion and intensity, which is persuasive, seductive and if he wishes, inciting. They are often extremely gifted, creative and imaginative with the written or spoken word. True to the serpent’s ambiguity this skill can be used for good or evil. The forked tongue has always been a symbol for deceit, intrigue and treachery.

The large, staring, unblinking eyes are disturbing and compelling. All snakes lack eyelids, hence their fixed, penetrating gaze. The never-sleeping eye, ever watchful and alert, denotes a mistrustful, suspicious nature – a temperament jealous, possessive and paranoid – always expecting to be taken advantage of, to be done in, or to be harmed in some way. The love of Lachesis, whether for family, friends or experienced in a sexual relationship, is a constricting and possessive love, often tainted with jealousy. This jealousy can become obsessive and malignant. They can never relax, always watching their partner, always alert for signs of infidelity, always peering, prying and imagining. Often their jealousy remains unspoken, pent up and seething within, and will eventually affect their health bringing on headaches, high blood pressure, menstrual pains, excessive menstrual flow or asthma. Jealousy in Lachesis may turn love into hate and may lead to violence and tragedy, especially if alcohol is an added ingredient.

The eyes are also sharp and piercing, cold and calculating, hypnotic. Behind them lies a sharp, penetrating mind, which analyses everything, misses nothing and is not easily moved to sympathy or compassion. The same hardness and meanness of disposition is revealed in the unsmiling, thin-lipped mouth. Some can be as relentless, ruthless and cruel as the serpent they mirror. They are as cryptic and menacing as the snake lurking amongst the leaves ofthe forest floor. These less common members of the Lachesis family are not talkative at all. Here the waters are deep and silent and harbour a dark energy, coiled and primed, often discharged in sinister and nefarious ways in the jungle of human life. The venom glands of the snake are modified salivary glands, and thus “spit” is turned into “spite”. The hiss of the viper is pregnant with S’s and so are the utterances of Lachesis. They are spiteful, sarcastic, sardonic, scathing, satirical, slanderous, sceptical, superstitious, sanctimonious, self-righteous, suspicious, secretive, sultry, sexual and seductive and we may justly add, cynical and psychic.

The snake has always been recognised as a sexual or phallic symbol, implying a strong sexuality and a powerful libido or sex drive. The sexual energy is the most fundamental energy of Lachesis and its power lies behind the intensity, the turbulent passion and the creative genius of the archetype. It must find expression sexually, creatively, religiously or spiritually. It may not be suppressed. In the young it is most likely to be experienced and expressed in its fundamental form – sexually. Both sexes may be sexually preoccupied and even troubled by persistent erotic thoughts and fantasies. The sexuality is always coiled and ready to strike. Many will say that if their sex life is good, life is good. It is part of the flow so essential to snake life; it relieves tension and stress. The female particularly brings to a relationship a passionate romanticism and ardour, which enriches it. She is conscious of her sexuality and its power and uses it. She moves with serpentine grace and is able to charge the simplest action with sexual energy.

This libido energy is also available for the highest purposes of our existence and can transcend into poetry, art, literature and music. The tendency to transcend and sublimate such energy into the arts by ardent, passionate and turbulent souls of this archetype is empowered by one of the best known characteristics of Lachesis – its left-sidedness. The internal anatomy of the snake has had to be radically modified in order to accommodate the internal organs in such a narrow elongated body. Throughout the unique adaptations to internal anatomy peculiar to snakes we see a sacrificial degeneration in the left-sided organs. Translated into human pathology this is presented as physical dysfunction of the left side of the body, but the mental stage upon which this dysfunction is enacted is the right cerebral hemisphere, which is the seat of our intuitive, artistic, imaginative and creative self. It is the stimulus of this dysfunction that can transform a gift into genius. Lachesis can soar like a phoenix!

David Lilley is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica. 


Mammal medicine in homeopathy

When my wife, Theresiu, and I were on holiday last autumn we were staying in a small Mediterranean villa, which was frequented by a group of half-starved, semi-wild cats. We could not resist feeding them. Three were orphaned kittens of about six weeks old which were skin and bone when we arrived. They quickly put on weight on a diet of Greek yoghurt and cat food, but from time to time we would see them apparently suckling another cat that was not their mother. The three would lie and suckle from this cat, but one day, on close inspection, I realised that not only was this other cat a mere kitten, but it turned out to be male. The kittens were gaining no physical nourishment, but all four animals seemed to need and enjoy the experience of “going through the motions” of suckling. This young male cat was a delightful, very affectionate and gentle animal – he very nearly had to come home with us! What this taught me was that the desire for suckling – the physical closeness, warmth and contact, both to have it and to give it – is extremely powerful in mammals. This delicious, warm, comforting feeling is what I call the “mammal feeling”.

This early physical and emotional nourishment helps to make the young child (and the adult into which it will grow) feel content, happy and secure. If this process, however, is in some way disturbed then the opposite is the case – the individual can feel profoundly unfulfilled, empty and insecure. These feelings can be so deep that they lead to severe emotional problems and a range of physical complaints.

The unique adaptation of mammals is the production of milk. Milk is produced from the mammary gland from which mammals gain their name. Thus suckling – the feeding of the young with milk – is a uniquely mammal activity. Suckling is a wonderful combination of both physical and emotional nourishment. It involves feeding the young, but more than this it entails a physical contact between mother and young with the warmth and intimacy that this provides. Humans are mammals and are unique in that when they suckle, mother and child can actually look into each other’s eyes. Thus the combination of physical togetherness, nourishment and emotional intimacy are all combined in the process of breast-feeding. This is what bonds mother and child.

Milk as medicine
From the homeopathic point of view milk is very interesting medicine. It combines elements from two sources. People who need milk as a remedy will show issues and problems related to milk in general, but also issues relating to the specific animal source from which the milk comes. When milk is obtained from a mammal as a homeopathic remedy it is necessary only to obtain a very tiny quantity of the milk and that is sufficient to produce all the homeopathic doses we need – literally thousands of doses. Milk is always obtained humanely and without any physical or psychological trauma to the animals concerned.

People who need milk remedies often have eating disorders. They may have food intolerances or cravings and addictions. They may have a tendency to comfort eating or anorexia or bulimia, may feel hungry all the time, be very fussy about eating, or be totally intolerant of missing a meal. It is as if they are “empty” both physically and emotionally. They sometimes crave milk, or dislike it, or are made ill by it.

Headaches and migraine are common milk remedy symptoms as are infantile eczema and acne in puberty. Patients often have hormonal problems with premenstrual syndrome, menstrual irregularities or problems that begin in puberty. Anxiety and depression are common in these patients since the lack of the healthy “mammal feeling” leads to deep insecurities. They are prone to feeling excessively chilly (lack of physical and emotional warmth) and chronic fatigue syndromes.

Patients needing milk remedies are often somewhat immature emotionally – they often regress into a child-like state under stress. They are often self-conscious and shy. It is common to see a history of poor bonding with a parent, especially the mother. There can be a feeling of not being part of the family or a desire to leave home early. Often the child will have found an alternative mother, for example an aunt or a grandmother. Sometimes the child gets into the role of actually mothering their own mother, especially if the mother had mental illness. There is often a feeling that siblings were preferred to them. The general feeling is one of forsakenness and isolation.

Children in need of milk remedies are often impulsive and unable to control their behaviour. They may tend to fight – often like animals – with scratching and kicking. On the other hand they can be very playful, again like mammals, with lots of hugging and kissing and jumping on people. They often love the outdoors and are very good at climbing and sport. Often they love animals and interestingly animals often love them. There is a kind of animal magnetism about them.

Patients may have a tendency to destructive urges with lashing out, wildness and rage. There can be a strong urge to control these emotions and often bad feelings about one’s “animal nature”.

People who need milk remedies often have a very negative body image. They can feel ugly, unattractive or disgusting. They have a tendency to feel emotions in a very “visceral” way using phrases like “I have a gut instinct”, “I feel it in the guts”, “I want to get out of my skin” or “It makes my flesh creep”.

Patients will sometimes form a very close attachment to an animal, with a feeling towards it as to a brother or sister.

Mammal remedy people can have a lot of physical energy and love the outdoors. They love socialising and can be gregarious or be the very opposite and feel cut off and isolated. They are often very competitive and can love martial arts and sport in general.

Mammals fall into different categories. Some are predators and others are prey. Some are solitary creatures while others live in herds or packs. Some are carnivores, others herbivores. Predatory mammals provide milk that is useful for people who tend to be aggressive and independent, while animals which are prey give milk suiting people who are more shy and with a tendency to run away or hide from problems!

Lion’s milk
One of my milk patients had severe premenstrual syndrome and general feelings of anger and rage. A number of features pointed to a milk remedy in her case. The specific thing, which struck me about her, was that she admitted to a dislike of men which essentially was contempt for them. This feeling came out very strongly in the proving of Lion’s milk. It is known that the lionesses do the work in a pride of lions – hunting and looking after the young – while males hang around doing very little. This was the feeling this woman had – that she was doing all the work and men were lazy. She has done extremely well on Lion’s milk. (I’m glad I wasn’t the one who had to do the milking in this case!)

Wolf’s milk
Another of my patients who had problems with rage was someone who felt very intensely about the well-being of children and their proper treatment by their parents. In the homeopathic proving of Wolf’s milk several themes came out very strongly, including a strong feeling of children being in danger and a desire to protect them. Wolves are amongst the most playful of mammals – even the males play a lot with the pups. This woman had a very strong affinity with wolves – she even described herself as a “mother wolf” on occasions – and people will often have a strong connection with the source of the remedy they require. She did extremely well with Wolf’s milk.

People who need Wolf’s milk tend to be extremely warm and open hearted and are very easy to be with. They are extremely sociable and have a magnetic personality. They have a love and openness for friends. All these features relate to the sociability of wolves and their affectionate nature. It is interesting that there are a number of recorded instances of wolves actually caring for orphaned infants and young children, as in the myth of Romulus and Remus.

Horse’s milk
Several themes came out very strongly in the proving of Horse’s milk, including the strong feeling of being overwhelmed by duty and work and the impression that life is hardship. In the past if your horse became ill there would be no work, food or money and horses were often worked to death. Another thing that came out very strongly was killing and violence, probably because the horse has been used in warfare for millennia. Horse milk people tend to be efficient and very organised and work well together in a group, which probably relates to the herd nature of the animal. Both of my Horse’s milk patients own a horse, which is a very important and much loved part of their lives. They refer to horses as their “therapy”.

Lac felinum
Another remedy I have used very frequently is Lac felinum – the milk of the cat. If you ask anyone what they love most about cats they will nearly always say, “they are so independent”. They will often also remark on their cleanliness, elegance and poise. All these characteristics came out in the homeopathic proving. People needing Lac felinum will usually be extremely independent. Several of my Cat’s milk patients have in response to their difficult childhood developed a very strong desire to leave home at an early age and fend for themselves. They tend to be elegant people with good taste in clothing and  jewellery. They tend to be agile and extremely good at sports. Sometimes they will be excessively clean and fastidious. They nearly always love cats intensely.

I will finish where I began – in the Mediterranean. There have been a number of reported cases over the years of Mediterranean seafarers being rescued by dolphins. Dolphins have arrived at the scene of sinking ships and have carried sailors to safety. This has been depicted in Roman mosaics, as at Bignor Roman Villa near where I live. Such altruistic behaviour cannot be understood if we regard animals as without intelligence and feeling. The urge to nurture and protect is extremely powerful in mammals. The fact that homeopathic provings bring out such depth and intensity of emotional feelings shows there is far more to the psyche of a mammal than is normally recognised. In addition to everything that mammals have given us in the past, now in our modern era, through the great gift of homeopathy, mammals are serving us perhaps in the most profound way by providing a substance which can be the medium of true healing for both body and mind.

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeopathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoology before studying medicine and has a special interest in animal remedies.

Lac caninum

by David Lilley 

For thousands of years, dogs and humans have walked the same path as intimate companions, in love and devo­tion, in kindness and cruelty, in work and play, in adoration and contempt and, oft times, in suffering and death. Their entwined destinies have etched shared emotions, experiences and images into the universal memory of the collect ­ive, canine unconscious, which reflects these parallels and are dynamically imprinted in the milk of the dog. Ancient medical tradition recognised the healing potential of bitch’s milk: Pliny and Dioscorides recommended it for the removal of the dead foetus and Pliny further claimed that it could cure ulcer­ation of the uterine cervix and ease and quicken the birth process; it was also considered an antidote to deadly poisons, including snakebite. But, it is only a homeopathic potency of the milk, given for purposes of proving or cure, that can plumb the depths and play upon the keyboard of the deep unconscious of the human psyche to fathom all that lies in the heart of “man’s best friend”.

A portrait of inferiority and corruption
In a medicine derived from the milk of the domestic dog, we would expect a portrait of loyalty, courage, self­sacrifice, obedience, forgiveness and unconditional love to emerge from the provings: all those admirable and even heroic qualities that dog­lovers revere and extol. Instead we are faced by a test­imony of degradation, ignominy and abuse, resulting in retaliatory resent­ment, rage and hatred. Yes, the nobler traits are there, but so recessive they constitute a mere glimmer in the surrounding gloom. The picture is threaded through with evidence of abject humility, a pervasive sense of inferior­ity, failure, guilt and shame and a feel­ing of being diminished and degraded. The self­denigration can reach such a pitch that it becomes revulsion, disgust and intense self­-loathing. This was experienced by a female trialist who graphically reported the feeling as follows: “She woke at daylight feeling that she was a loathsome, horrible mass of disease; could not bear to look at any part of her body, not even her hands, as it intensified the feeling of disgust and horror; could not bear to have any one part of her body touch another, had to keep even her fingers apart; felt that if she could not in some way get out of her body, she should soon become crazy.” Such abhorrence can only be matched by the Thuja archetype, which experiences itself as soiled, tainted and defiled. Both archetypes may need to wash their hands compulsively to cleanse themselves ritualistically or to absolve themselves of some unconscious shame. This form of self­revulsion indicates that the sycotic miasm is dominant in the constitution, which may externalise in the pathological symbol of self­rejection: an autoimmune disease (the production of antibodies against one’s own tissues, for example rheumatoid arthritis).

A distorted hybrid
Prompted by the stimulus of the poten­tised milk, from the abyss of the canine unconscious comes the anguished cry of the abused, a cry that stills protestations of reciprocal love and companionship and asserts the truth of accumulated violation, humiliation and suffering experienced by a species, now far removed from its wild, ancestral mould and exposed to the manipulation and exploitation of humanity. The collective imprinting is not an image of friend­ship and sharing, but one of domina­tion, deprivation and bondage. The free, proud and fiercely independent grey­wolf, the superbly efficient and far­ranging progenitor of all dog breeds, has been largely transformed by the Frankenstein­like manipulations of breeders into an unnatural species – a distorted hybrid – a mutant wolf! Due to disadvantaging, anatomical changes, some breeds are scarcely able to breathe, others to conceive, give natural birth or care for their young, natural instincts are blunted or lost, and most are beset by diseases as diverse and as destructive as those of the masters who warped them. The genetic destinies of two species, that have escaped the purify­ing and ennobling influence of natural selection and survival of the fittest, are forever bonded. It is not surprising that we find mirrored in the remedy picture of Lac caninum so much that reflects human suffering, deprivation and abuse in a “dog­eats­dog” world; a world of harsh and extreme polarities where afflu­ence and want exist “cheek by jowl”.

A disfigured identity
Bearing in mind the transformations required to change from wolf to dog, while still possessing the same DNA, one can imagine the shock and horror of a wolf, wishing to admire itself in a mirror, being confronted by the visage and physique of a chihuahua or a bull­dog. Significantly provings of bitch’s milk reveal: “aversion to herself”; “contemptuous of self” and, most telling, “feels she has somebody else’s nose”. Lac caninum subjects are known for “errors of personal identity”, often, like Thuja, seeing themselves in a distorted way. In practice, both medi­cines have proved valuable in the treat­ment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia (the individual perceives herself as fat even when dangerously emaciated), especially when there is a history of abuse or victimisation. When the physical identity has been traumatised by severe injuries to the face, by multiple operations (often orthopaedic), or by procedures involving the reproductive organs, which leave the patient feeling disfigured, mutilated or diminished, especially after mastectomy and hyster ­ectomy, Lac caninum, or Staphysagria, may be indicated for the emotional consequences, even many years later. Likewise, we always need to bear Lac caninum in mind when a person is obsessively dissatisfied with some body part, often the nose or breasts, and needs to “improve” their looks by cosmetic surgery.

A metaphor of contempt
Contrary to our personal experience with our canine friends, and in conflict with our love and esteem, it is startling that inherent in our unconscious, archetypal evaluation of the dog, invariably expressed in our idiomatic, language patterns, is the same image that emerges from the provings: an image of inferiority – something to be scorned, disparaged and vilified. Habitually, in our day­to­day vocabulary, we link the dog to negative connotations. We speak of “a dog’s life”, of being treated, feel­ing and working “like a dog”, of food “not fit for a dog”, of being in “the dog­house”, a worn book is “dog­eared”, a place that has fallen upon bad times has “gone to the dogs”, we are “dog­tired”, and, indeed, who has ever heard of being “dogged by good fortune” or “hounded by success”? We are also inclined to associate inferior human qualities with dog­like characteristics: “hangdog” describes someone who is downcast and despondent or furtive and guilty in appearance or manner; the craven coward cringes and cowers, crawls on his belly, ears down, tail between his legs; the fawning sycophant “licks the hand that beats him” but may also turn on his master and “bites the hand that feeds him”. Even “puppy­fat” and “puppy-love” are often derisory expressions, and who can doubt that “dog” and “bitch” become extreme forms of insult, particularly when barbed with a sexual expletive.

Despised and rejected
It is not surprising to find in Lac caninum symptoms which evidence ter­rible feelings of inferiority: “feels despised, diminished, smaller”; “feels insulted; as if she is being looked down upon by everyone” (unique to Lac caninum); “he is dirt”; “he is dirty”; “despondent, hopeless, thinks her disease incurable, has not a friend living, could weep at any moment”; that they feel incapable and incompetent: “everything is doomed to fail”; “he is a failure”; “doubts her ability and success”; “want of confidence”; that they fear life and those in it: fear of violence, abuse and rape; “fear and mistrust of people”(humanity); certain people, men, authority figures, strangers; “fear of ridicule and humiliation” and “fear of rejection, abandonment and separation”. What a sad litany coming from the deep repository of canine heartache and what a sad commentary on the distorted pattern of human think­ing, both unfortunately stemming from life experience. From constantly enter­taining such ideas of mediocrity and powerlessness, depression and despair are never far away, and are vividly portrayed: “chronic, ‘blue’ condition, everything seems so dark that it can grow no darker” and “heavy dark clouds seem to envelop her”. It is a heaviness of spirit; even “the clothing seems too heavy”. This despondency is increased by the short days of winter and by grey, dismal, overcast weather, especially if it appears interminable.

A symbol of duality
In myth and symbolism, the dog is also portrayed as a metaphor of extreme duality. Christian and Celtic traditions revere the dog as the embodiment of fidelity, unswerving devotion, compan­ionship, protective vigilance, nobility of spirit and love that survives death. In Semitic iconography, however, it accompanies the scorpion, serpent and other baleful reptiles, and is evil and demonic; in Judaism the dog was held in contempt as an unclean scavenger, an eater of vomit, associated with “whoremongers, sorcerers, fornicators and idolaters”. Islam sees in the dog all that is vile in creation, a term of opprobrium for unbelievers, the very symbol of uncleanliness, greed, gluttony, and gross materialism – the sole exceptions being the saluki and the greyhound, which were used for hunting. On a profounder level, the dog shares in the ambivalent symbolism of its ancestor, the wolf. Its image in the human psyche is essentially dark. It is equated with the devil – fierce, insatiable and evil. As incarnating all the dark, destructive aspects of nature, the wolf, when wor­shipped, becomes one of the dread deities, embodying ferocity, cunning, greed, cruelty, and wickedness. How­ever, its fierce, noble qualities can also be protective, loyal, courageous, and victorious, and therefore venerated. Lac caninum, the remedy, covers the entire spectrum of these great contradictions and opposites, all of which lie within the sphere of sycosis. This duality, or double­sidedness, is symbolised in the wagging tail, hallmark of both the wolf and dog, which is carried forward in the cardinal modality of Lac caninum: symptoms and signs move from one side of the body to another (often commencing on the left – the side of the emotions, creativity and imagination). But, the starkest paradox and duality of all lies in the capacity of the dog to either heal or kill. In Hellenic times, the ill and infirm would travel, in search of a cure, to the shrine of Asklepios, the God of Medicine, at Epidauros. At the sanctuary, sacred snakes and dogs were used to lick the wounds and ailing parts of the sick and many instances of healing were recorded. Yet, it is the domestic dog and its near relatives that are particularly responsible for propagating the dread disease rabies.

Wotan – the god of wolves and dogs
In Norse and Teutonic mythology, the wolf is sacred to Wotan (Odin), the king of the gods. Two ravens and two wolves, Skoll and Hati, repulsion and hatred, always accompanied Wotan into battle. He is often depicted riding a huge wolf. It was believed that these wolves persist ­ently pursued the sun and the moon attempting to swallow them so that the world might be plunged into primordial darkness. They achieve partial success at the eclipses and it is said that they will finally succeed at Ragnarok, the Norse Doomsday, when Wotan will close in mortal combat with the monstrous wolf Fenrir, his own dark aspect, and die.

Although primarily a god of war, Wotan was a multifaceted deity with a rich diversity of roles. He displays multiple personalities and was capable of seemingly endless transformations, revealing a complex and often contra­dictory nature. In keeping with its ruling deity, Lac caninum can be indeter­minate and fluctuating in behaviour, emotions and character, showing a lack of fixed identity; a tendency surely due to the selective breeding methods that have produced such glaringly different breeds that they could easily be confused as different species. Certain Lac can­inum types are able to don different personas to suit the company and circumstances they find themselves in – people of many faces and many masks, human chameleons – able to be what­ever and whoever the other person would like them to be, or what would ingratiate and profit them best. They are often troubled by an inability to sense who they truly are. Others are very susceptible and over­impressionable, easily influenced by dominant individ­uals, even to the point of adopting their identity, personality traits and manner­isms (Pulsatilla). These role models may be idealised even when intrinsically wicked or evil. This resonance is an important quality of the archetype, further evidenced in the frequency with which a breed is unconsciously and pref­erentially selected as a projection of some dominant trait of the owner, so that owner and dog look alike.

God of wisdom and frenzy
Most important in the mythology of Wotan was his great initiation, when, pierced through his side by a spear, he hung suspended on Yggdrasill, the World Ash Tree (the Norse Cosmic Tree – like Thuja, an arbor vitae) for nine days and nights without bread or water.

He was rewarded with a vision and understanding of the runes, which embody the esoteric knowledge of the northern tradition, enabling him to access the wisdom of the underworld (the Shadow) and travel freely through the dimensions of spirit. He became a necromancer capable of summoning the shades of the dead in order to obtain arcane knowledge. Myth also relates that on another occasion he sacrificed an eye (the eye of intellect) in order to attain wisdom. Wotan’s sacrifice on the tree echoes the passion of Christ on the cross. He, like Jesus, became a fount of all wisdom, which he sourced from the realm of the dead. But, at the opposite extreme, swinging from the sacred to the profane, Wotan was also God of Frenzy and Lord of Ecstasy. In 1936, Carl Jung wrote an essay Wotan in which he prophesied the return of the ancient god, re­activated “like a dormant volcano” from the collective unconscious of the German nation under the Nazi party, which was soon to lead it to a disastrous war. He saw the frenzy of Wotan manifest in the rabid ravings of Hitler, delivered whilst seemingly in a state of possession.

Artistic,religious and hedonistic rapture
It seems impossible to reconcile these contradictions of the god and the arche­type, either morally or logically, unless one understands the contrasting energies of the sycotic miasm and of Lac caninum. The “frenzy” of Wotan, and therefore of Lac caninum, is not just the battle fury of the Viking Beserks, which rendered them invincible, it is also the passion of the creative mind: of the poet, the artist and the musician. In the pagan world, myths, heroic exploits and noble deeds were extolled by bards at the courts of kings and chieftains through the medium of poetry and song and re­enacted through dance. These were as important vehicles of communication and knowledge as the media are today. Religious and magical fervour was also connected to Wotan, often assisted by chanting and dancing and the use of psychotropic substances and alcohol. The priests of Wotan were known to carry a leather pouch that contained hallu­cinogenic herbs used in the rituals asso­ciated with the god to induce psychic states and vision of other dimensions. Chief amongst these was black henbane (Hyoscyamus), the anti­rabies acute of Lac caninum. Both recreational drugs and alcohol can lead to licentiousness, promiscuity and sexual frenzy, none of which are foreign to either Wotan or Lac caninum. The Lac caninum subject is hypersensitive to touch, especially to the throat, breasts and pelvic region, all of which are powerful, erotic zones. They are very sensual and easily aroused, even to excessive levels of sexual transport and rapture: “hysteria and madness during sex – worse at the height of orgasm”.

Heightened senses; intense emotions; powerful urges
Lac caninum is hypersensitive and over­reactive on all levels. Their desires and impulses can be canine and therefore inordinate in a human being. Like the wolf, all their faculties are keen. They are intensely alert to their environment and the people in it, gifted to pick up instinctively on “vibes” and atmosphere, their sixth sense enabling them to apprehend thoughts, emotions and motives. They are intensely passionate and the emotions they experience are excessive and extreme, out of propor­tion to circumstances and context and too prolonged, lasting even a lifetime. Their fear is terror, their dislike is detestation, their anger is rage and their love is adoration. They can hate with an alarming intensity and a vengeful­ness that is dogged, vicious and fright­ening. They gnaw at their grievances, their hatred and their desire for revenge, like a dog gnaws at a bone, never satisfied until they have destroyed the object of their enmity or vented the energy transpersonally on society or by scape­goating others (Hitler). Their fears and phobias are intense, often dominat­ing their lives. Snakes, spiders and dogs, particularly large dogs, terrify them and they are haunted by fear of disease, especially cancer, and the dread of dying. Thunderstorms petrify them, the flash of lightening and the crash of thunder causing them to cringe with fear. They are so imaginative that the images born out of their fantasy assume reality, appearing before them, threatening and terrifying. They have only to think of their ailments for them to be intensified. Even their natural urges tend to excess: insatiable thirst, often for milk; craving for salt and spices; an appetite that cannot be appeased; and an insistent, sexual hunger.

Repressed traumatic memories
Sometimes a history of sexual abuse is responsible for their fears and phobias. In both Thuja and Lac caninum, this may have been suffered repetitively and over an extended time, often at the hands of those who should have been protective care­givers. In some Lac caninum victims, the memory of the abuse may have been repressed in amnesic response to experiences too terrible for the young mind to hold in the light of consciousness. Only dreams and imaginings remain: “visions of creeping things”; “horrible visions; afraid they will take objective form”; “dreams of snakes in her bed” and most significantly – “feels she is lying on a large snake” and “sees faces in the dark; the face that haunts most is the one she has really seen”. This unconscious repression of unwanted memory may impair normal recall, causing them to make mistakes when speaking or writing, and to become absent minded: leaving behind items they have bought in a shop, or forgetting to retrieve their credit card after a purchase.

The homeopathic guide dog
Lac caninum is a remedy of indispens­able value to the practitioner of “depth homeopathy”. The ancients quite rightly understood the dog to be guardian of the underworld (Cerberus), guide of souls from one realm to another, and the intermediary between different levels of consciousness. When a patient’s emotions and feelings are deeply repressed, when dreams have ceased or never been, when the personal shadow is heavily burdened with unresolved emotions and experiences, it is often the dog that leads the physician into the deepest realms of the unconscious and releases the pains of the past. Lac caninum can rescue the wounded child in the depressed adult. When in doubt, give Sulphur we are taught, but more frequently, when we stand non­plussed, before a complex, emotional state due to past or present trauma, a severely repressed state, a paucity of symptoms, an ever shifting presentation, or a con­stitutional picture simulating various polychrests and revealing the influence of more than one miasm, Lac caninum is often the remedy which, true to its canine nature, will open up the case and guide the physician with devotion and fidelity out of the darkness into the light.

David Lilley MB ChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.



Keith Souter profiles the remedy of loss

Most home homoeopathic kits will have Ignatia in them, listing it as a bereavement or shock and disappointment remedy. Its use in such situations may well have converted people to homeopathy, yet it has far wider use than that. To see the wonder of this remedy’s healing action you need to understand the unique way that the individual in need of Ignatia reacts to illness or stress.

I like to think of remedy vignettes, character studies or tales that illustrate the features of a remedy. In the willow-pattern we get a pretty good idea of many of the features that indicate when Ignatia would be helpful.

The tale of two lovers
Everyone must surely have seen the world famous willow-pattern, which has been in continuous pottery and china production since it was first designed by Thomas Minton in 1799. The blue and white landscape was subsequently popularised by Josiah Spode at his Staffordshire pottery, from whence it found its way around the world, being produced by many other famous potteries and companies. There is some debate as to whether the story behind the scene is originally Chinese or merely an English invention yet, whichever is the truth, the fact is that it is a scene which is romantic, mysterious and evocative of the East. It is exotic.

The willow-pattern portrays the tale of Koong-Shee, the daughter of a wealthy mandarin, and Chang, his secretary. Koong-Shee has been promised to Ta-Jin, a wealthy warrior nobleman, but it is Chang with whom she falls in love. Inflamed with fury, the mandarin forbids her to see Chang and banishes him, at the same time locking Koong-Shee in his pagoda until the day of the wedding.

The lovers are overcome by desolation and are heartbroken at their loss. They yearn for each other. Koong-Shee alternates between pacing the pagoda and just sitting, sighing and sobbing. Her maids cannot console her and she is unpredictable and subject to mood swings. She would laugh with them or snap at them, and she would have fits of jealousy and suspicion, asking them to reassure her that Chang was not seeing someone else and that he would still love her. At times she would get so tense that she trembled, and at times she might develop twitches, so that the servants would worry lest she have a fit.

She wanted only Chang, just as he wanted her.

The two contrive to communicate by sending messages to each other by pigeon. On the night before the wedding Chang sneaks into the orchard and they plan to elope. Unfortunately, they are discovered by the mandarin, who chases them across a small bridge from the pagoda. A passing boat takes them to an island where they take refuge in a small house. Over the years the mandarin becomes consumed with anger that his daughter has run away, and jealous beyond measure because Koong-Shee has loved Chang more than he, her father. In time, he and Ta-Jin, the spurned suitor, track the two lovers down and set the house on fire, with the lovers inside. But the gods take pity on the two lovers and the next day their spirits rise, phoenix-like as two love birds who fly into the realm of everlasting happiness.

If you look at the willow-pattern you will see all of these elements, and they symbolise to me, in the character of Koong-Shee, and also in Chang, the profile of Ignatia, some of whose features I have italicised.

The remedy
Ignatia comes from the St Ignatius bean, which is the seed of Ignatia amaris, a climbing shrub native to China, the Philippines and Indonesia. It was taken to Europe by the Jesuits in the 1650s and named after the founder of their order, Ignatius Loyola. The seeds were used to treat epilepsy and some contagious diseases, such as cholera.

It belongs to the family Loganaceae, which also produces the remedies Nux vomica, Gelsemium and Spigelia. The fruit of Ignatia amaris is a corticated berry, about ten cms in diameter, which contains numerous seeds in the middle of its yellow pulp. It has a high alkaloid content, more than 60 per cent consisting of strychnine, which is about twice as much as is found in Nux vomica.

It was proved by Samuel Hahnemann himself, who compared the reactions of Nux vomica with it. He felt that while it was similar in many ways, yet it “was not appropriate for those who experienced anger or violence, but that it would do service to anyone who reacted with rapid changes of mood from gaiety to weepiness, and who internalised and dwelt upon their loss.”

Romantic and sensitive
Romance and idealism are common characteristics of the Ignatia state. There may be a general tendency to see the world and relationships through rose-tinted glasses. As a result, when things go wrong and they are disappointed in something they take it personally. They are sensitive and easily offended, easily hurt. They may sleep fitfully and badly.

They may manifest sensitivity to the environment, with aversion to cigarette smoke and stuffy atmospheres. Noises and bright lights will make some symptoms worse, and they will be eased by rest away from the noise or light.

At a physical level there is a general hypersensitity. Thus there may be the development of twitches, tics, cramps and spasms. These spasms may manifest as a lump in the throat, spasm in the throat or difficulty swallowing, even amounting to the nervous state that we refer to as globus hystericus, whereby the individual cannot swallow food. There could be a cough that feels tight and as if there is a constricting feeling in the airways. Acute back pain could flare up suddenly. Irritable bowel syndrome may develop, and it is common to experience rectal symptoms. Burning, cutting feelings, like a hot poker or a knife in the rectum, or even like a ball in the back passage may come on and seem almost impossible to live with.

There is almost always a delicate and chilly tendency. Most complaints will be worse in the cold, but will improve from sun and warmth.

Curiously, pains tend to occur in very circumscribed or well-located spots. For example headaches will be sudden and severe and feel as if a nail has been hammered into a spot, or a single part of a muscle or joint will hurt.

You can see the romantic background in the willow-pattern and the tendency to sensitivity in Koong-Shee.

Loss and yearning
The word loss almost underpins the Ignatia reaction, because they do not cope well with loss. This can be loss of anything important, such as status, a treasured possession, or something they have become attached to. The most devastating loss, however, is the loss of a loved one, be that a relative, friend, pet or lover. This will fill them with desolation. They will be aware of the empty hole that is created in their life and they may feel empty inside. They will feel genuinely heartbroken.

Ignatia may be needed when grief is prolonged, or when ailments start following a bereavement, a relationship breakdown, or some other important loss. They get love­sick. They can also feel upset if they feel that they have failed someone, as if they have failed in their duty. They will dwell on this and agonise about it.

They are prone to jealousy, which can become so severe that it will rise all of a sudden to ruin their equanimity. It can create turbulence in an affair or relationship.

In the typical Ignatia reaction there is a tendency to yearn for the thing that is lost. The person will not often talk about their loss or about how they are feeling, but they will agonise and yearn for the lost person or thing. They will not tell people about it, but they will in a way expect them to know.

Again, you can see the essence of Ignatia in the willow-pattern: a thwarted love affair, the overwhelming sense of loss and the tendency to produce twitches and spasms of one sort or another. A further analogy with the willow-pattern is the tendency to feel blue, so blue that the whole of life is blue and desolate, lacking in colour. There is a tendency to brood and to seem to wallow in their blues.

Sitting, sobbing and sighing
The Ignatia reaction characteristically shows the three “S” symptoms. They sit around because they cannot motivate themselves; they sob and they sigh. They say to themselves that there is no point, that it is “so unfair” and they despair. Their sighing is uncontrollable and is apparent to friends and family.

Paradoxical reactions
Many books talk about Ignatia being indicated for hysteria. Well, it is and it isn’t. It may seem as if the person is out of control, but it is in fact the rapid change, the mood swings that account for the so-called hysterical reaction. The individual may react to news with laughter, making a joke of the situation and then, almost instantly, they would change and dissolve into tears. The unpredictability and changeability can be so severe as to make them seem rude, or quarrelsome. Yet they are not violent or physical.

People being sympathetic will tend to make them feel worse, as would being engaged in conversation. Indeed, James Tyler Kent said that sometimes “there is nothing you can say that will please” the Ignatia person.

Their reactions to physical symptoms would also tend to be paradoxical, or unusual. For example an inflamed joint might be better for pressure, or a sore throat be eased by gargling with breadcrumbs.

Desire to travel
The trip by boat is the clue in the willow-pattern. Symptoms get better when they travel, as if the motion makes them leave the symptoms behind.

The birds
The romantic picture of the birds enjoying eternal happiness is another interesting paradox in the willow-pattern, for the Ignatia type of person is often unaccountably afraid of birds.

And ever after?
Does Ignatia allow the individual to enjoy life afterwards? If it does, then it has been a well chosen remedy. But if, as Kent says, the condition occurs again and again and threatens to become chronic, then Natrum mur, the so-called chronic of Ignatia will often finish the cure.

Sometimes, however, the individual only partially picks up and the reaction turns into one of continued low spirits, coupled with a feeling of indifference to everyone around them. They may want to just get in the car and drive away regardless of what happens to their loved ones. For them, Sepia may be the most apt and will possibly bring about marked improvement.

Which potency?
My feeling is that since the main emphasis of this reaction is to produce a definite disruption of the emotions, then a moderate or a high potency of Ignatia is needed. I would suggest a 30c or a 200c taken every twelve hours for three doses.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.

The divided self

Hydrogen occupies a special place in the mineral kingdom and the state of a human being who requires this medicine is especially striking and fascinating writes Jonathan Hardy

A man of 27 came to see me in October 1999. He had been given a diagnosis of depression and anxiety and was currently taking Prozac for his psychological state and Motilium for severe and chronic diarrhoea.

After discussing his physical symptoms he said, “On occasions I feel suicidal and quite nihilistic. But I am aware of myself spiritually and therefore I haven’t done it. I am in a state of turmoil. There is a lack of continuity in my life – I don’t know where my roots are – I was adopted. It is so big that it is almost too difficult to talk about. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by just getting out of the front door.”

It is very interesting to note the sort of words he is using: nihilistic, spiritual, continuity in life, big, overwhelmed. The language a patient uses is very important and I was by this stage beginning to get a sense that this patient viewed himself and his world in a rather unusual way. 

“There is turmoil inside me -so many things in my mind,” he continued. “I feel disorientated, almost a physical dizziness – I will start to feel woozy, as if I’ve been on a fairground ride, and then I feel sick and I’m unable to relax. I feel pent-up, het-up, tense, unable to stop thinking about things. I’m generally unwell – tired, heavy, lethargic, unable to relax. I tend to be unapproachable and distracted and withdrawn. I’m off sick from work at the moment.”

It was clear that he was suffering intensely. Not only was he unable to find any state of peace in himself but he was unable to function properly and was therefore not working. He continued, “I have remarkable mood swings ­sometimes I have an irrational elation about the world, some days I am absolutely ecstatic – I will suddenly start laughing and giggling for no reason. It feels like I’m crazy – my sense of humour comes back in a strange way. I am unreasonably happy about absolutely everything. Suddenly I feel part of the universe, connected with everything. It feels as though there is a pattern to the universe and I am part of it. I can feel absolutely brilliant, on top of the world – it’s a feeling of elation, of connectedness, that there is a point to life and I feel more active and intelligent. When I’m like this I want to talk to people more and I become hyperactive. I am really Superman and I feel really lucky and that things will really go my way. I feel that I have a boundless self. I have a confidence which makes me feel that I can deal with anything, that there is absolutely nothing I can’t face up to. It is a total sense of well­being. It feels that everything is going to be OK – with me, with other people, with the world and the environment ­absolutely everything.”

It is not every day you hear a patient describe things like this! He is using extremely unusual words and describing extremely unusual states which reflect a very unusual perception of himself and the world. In conventional terms we might think this patient is manic.

In homeopathy a specific medicine is chosen on the basis of what is unusual and different about a particular case and I quickly felt that I had a Hydrogen patient sitting in front of me. The sort of words he used to describe his state corresponded remarkably closely to many of the symptoms found in the proving.

He then went on to describe another aspect of his state which contrasted remarkably with the ecstatic state. “I have always felt a certain insecurity from being adopted especially when my parents divorced. It made me feel like I was outside of things. When I thought about it I realised that I quite often felt like I was outside of my family. I feel I don’t know where I come from, where my real family is.”

I noticed at this point that he tended to lean forward far more than most patients do ­really leaning over the desk as if he was trying to make a connection with me and that he had to get close to me in order to do this. Observation of patients is so important in homeopathy – everything about them can tell us how they are feeling.

“I felt part of something when I was at boarding school. I find it really difficult to feel that I belong, that I am a part of things. There is a lack of continuity in my life ­no direction. For the last six years I have had one job after another. I will be 27 in five days and I feel there has been no benefit in what I have done. I see no plan for my future. Jobs just don’t lead anywhere. I come up against a brick wall which means I can’t face doing the same thing day after day. I feel like I’m not part of a community, I’m not part of society. I feel there’s no one I can approach and that I’m not connected to people. When I feel that way I become physically jumpy. I am sometimes really nervy and twitchy in my arms and legs or my head.”

This patient had a number of physical symptoms. He had severe diarrhoea and would pass loose bowel motions six or seven times a day. He was very hot and sweaty. He had a skin rash in his armpits which was red and raised and would weep a sticky yellowish discharge. He had a sore pain in his stomach and his intestines would churn. I gave him a single dose of Hydrogen in a 1M potency and asked him to come back in one month.

One month later he returned and said, “I have been pretty well the last two weeks. The first two weeks were a bit of a nightmare – I felt very, very low – a real sense of despair. The diarrhoea was much worse. Now though I feel a lot more balanced. I am taking care of myself better and rushing around for others less. I am starting to think that I don’t have to just get through this depression but maybe there is some future for me. I am feeling more confident. I am more in control of my emotions – I am less tearful, less obsessive. The diarrhoea is much better in the last two weeks, I am only going two or three times. I am less twitchy. The rash in my armpits is much better. I haven’t been grinding my teeth so much – my partner is really pleased about that! My appetite is getting better.”

This is just the kind of reaction we like to see. It is not that common for a patient to have such a bad aggravation but it is the long term improvement which is most important. One dose of one medicine has produced across the board improvements! Not only is he feeling all kinds of changes for the better in his psychological state but all his physical symptoms are getting better too. For me this response of the whole person is absolute proof of the holistic view of healing. I gave him nothing more and asked him to come back in five weeks.

In fact he came back seven weeks later and was feeling much better and more positive. Again I gave him nothing more and this time asked him to come back in two months. However, a little over two weeks later he rang me up: “I am really depressed and tearful again, and much more over-emotional. It has just been the last two days.” This was a little over three months after his first dose.

In a chronic case, when the medicine is the simillimum you normally expect improvement to be maintained for at least two months after the first dose. However this depends on a number of factors including the depth to which the patient is affected, how long they have been ill, their general level of vitality and the nature of the remedy and its potency. I was not at all dismayed that he had relapsed after approximately fourteen weeks. I repeated his Hydrogen in a 1M potency. 

At his appointment seven weeks later he told me he had improved again from the second day after taking the second dose, without any aggravation. I asked him to come back in ten weeks, but he forgot his appointment ­not for the first time (Hydrogen symptom: Absentminded!). I spoke to him on the telephone to check on his progress before writing this article. He told me he is doing very well and has not looked back since improving the second time.

Remedy profile
Hydrogen is a gaseous element and has the atomic number 1. The lightest of all known substances, it is estimated Hydrogen makes up more than 90 per cent of all atoms and three-quarters of the mass of the universe. Prior to the big bang it is thought that nearly the entire universe was comprised of Hydrogen.

The English homeopath Jeremy Sherr and his Dynamis School first determined the therapeutic power of Hydrogen. He elicited a superb picture of the prescribing indications and symptoms of Hydrogen including:

  • Unification, with high consciousness.
  • Delusion, that he is in the presence of God.
  • Love, overflowing for humanity.
  • Delusions, things look beautiful.
  • Delusions, distances are enlarged.
  • Delusions, body enlarged.
  • Spaced out feeling.
  • Everything seems ludicrous.
  • Laughing over serious matters.
  • Interested in esoteric subjects and astrophysics.
  • No boundaries or painful experience of earthly restrictions.
  • Problems of having to live in the world on account of a sensation of universal consciousness and enlightenment.

Other symptoms reflect the opposite state:

  • Delusion, that he is separated from the world.
  • Delusion, detached.
  • Delusion, despised.
  • Delusion, there is a division between himself and others.
  • Estranged, from family.
  • Estranged, from friends.
  • Forsaken feeling.
  • Delusion, thinks he is repudiated by society.
  • Delusion, diminished.

The Hydrogen patient has a state on the one hand of unity, accompanied by wonderful feelings of love and expansion and on the other hand a feeling of being small, separate and alone. Very often medicines show this kind of polarity ­two sides of the same coin. Such opposites are actually the two extremes of one pathological state.

It has been suggested Hydrogen, as the first element, is to do with the most fundamental existential issues which face mankind. It addresses the challenge of incarnation: the spiritual nature of a human being feeling a connection with the divine. Yet when we incarnate there is a sense of separation, smallness and unworthiness. The patient who needs Hydrogen is the one who is suffering too intensely from this inner conflict between unity and separation.

Dr Jonathan Hardy has been a homeopathic doctor in private practice in Hampshire for over 15 years. Last year he set up, in partnership with Dr Jane Winfield, one of the five new NHS clinics funded by the BHA.


Jenny Boyle profiles this often under-used and under-valued medicine

It was Samuel Hahnemann who first proved this wonderful remedy. His instructions for preparing it were: “Pulverise one grain of the purest black lead taken from a fine English pencil, and prepare the triturations and dilutions in the usual fashion.”

Graphites, one of the carbon remedies, which also contains a small percentage of iron, is a major eczema remedy, and it is prescribed extensively for this condition, as well as other skin problems. However, it has a much wider picture. Classically, the following are features of the patient who needs Graphites.

Their appearance is often described as obese, but at the same time poorly nourished, with a pale, puffy look reminiscent of Calc carb. The face is said to have a pale, waxy, sickly hue.

It is an extremely chilly remedy, and patients can be sensitive to the least draft of cold air. But they are also averse to great heat and feel oppressed in a hot stuffy atmosphere. They can crave air like Pulsatilla and Carbo veg. Sweating on the least exertion and profuse night sweats which stain linen yellow are also features. Foot sweats are offensive.

Patients are often excessively tired and sleepy. There is utter lack of zest for any form of activity and a tendency to sudden onset of exhaustion, with a desire to lie down. Drowsiness by day is followed by sleeplessness at night so they feel unrefreshed in the morning.

As with Ferrum, there can be a rush of blood to the head with a flushing face. At the same time there can be icy cold hands and feet. A peculiar aspect of Graphites patients is that they become flushed just before experiencing a physical symptom.

Aversion to sweets & salt
The aversion to sweets can be striking in children.

A great skin remedy

There is a liability to skin eruptions, particularly eczema. The dry skin cracks and flakes. Where the skin cracks, there is the thick honey-like fluid characteristic of Graphites that dries into yellow crusts. The influential US physician who advocated high potencies, James Tyler Kent (1894-1916), noticed that the eruptions of Graphites are apt to occur on flexor surfaces, that is in the bends of elbows, groins, behind the ears, in the corners of the mouth, and in the eyelids.

Graphites patients can also have fissuring of the skin, especially at the muco­cutaneous borders (eg sides of nose, mouth and anus), as is found in the remedy Nitric acid.

There is a tendency to thickenings in the skin eg the eczema areas can be thickened and there is a tendency to form thick scars (keloids) after a wound or surgical operation. Also, the nails can be thick and distorted.

Graphites skin cases
E.B. Nash (1838-1914), a US physician and exponent of keynotes, described several cases cured by Graphites. One of these was an old, obese woman, with eczema on her legs. He wrote: “Sulphur brought out a rash all over the body which exuded a glutinous, sticky fluid. A dose of Graphites cured the eczema and left the skin as smooth as that of a child.” His conclusions about Graphites were that “it cures complaints of many kinds, when you have present two things: firstly the peculiar tendency to obesity and secondly the characteristic glutinous eruptions.”

I have successfully treated a number of patients myself with Graphites; one is a little girl, now aged two and a half years. Her mother initially brought her to see me as a six month old baby with severe eczema. This had developed at the age of two weeks, first on her face only, but then spreading down to involve much of the rest of her body. She also had cradle cap. Of note was that she had severe problems with her bowel as soon as she was born, and had to have bowel surgery as well as lots of antibiotics. She was an unhappy baby, with angry red skin on her face, and over her abdomen and legs. At this time, the eczema was dry, and I treated her initially with Sulphur. Although she improved for a short while, things then got worse and in particular the skin behind her ears broke down, and became cracked and weepy. I therefore switched her remedy to Graphites, in a dose of 6c daily (weekdays only).

Since then, her skin has gradually improved and her mother is delighted. I saw her recently, and she has just a few areas of slightly dry skin on her face. She still uses the Graphites if the eczema flares, but this is now a very unusual occurrence.

Kent was impressed by the use of Graphites in problems due to scar tissue. He tells of the case of a girl with a stiff elbow after inflammation, due to rheumatics: “She had the adhesions broken down, but they recurred, and she again presented herself a year later. She got Graphites and in a month’s time the elbow was found to be freely movable.”

A gastro-intestinal medicine
Graphites is of great value in the treatment of gastric or duodenal ulcer and other stomach problems. There is stomach pain, often some hours after food, which is relieved by hot food or drink, especially warm milk. There can be acute attacks of heartburn often accompanied by a feeling of intense heat in the stomach and throat, causing a desire for cold drinks, but this aggravates.

Graphites can also be used in the treatment of constipation, especially where the stools are large, hard, knotty and covered in viscid mucus.

The menopause
Graphites can be a good remedy for menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, irregular or late periods, decreased libido and vaginal dryness.

The mental picture of Graphites

The eminent Greek homeopath George Vithoulkas, who pioneered the psychological essence of the constitutional remedies, says the main idea that comes to mind in Graphites is blandness. They don’t seem to degenerate into deep mental pathology – it is the blandness that stays with them. He says: “Outside impressions do not seem to penetrate, resulting in a blandness of the entire system. The mind is dull and lethargic, slow to receive information. In the interview, the patient will answer questions only superficially. It seems difficult to make contact in any real way with the patient.”

Jan Scholten, a leading Dutch homeopath whose work has been pivotal in the understanding of the mineral remedies, expands on this: they adopt a fixed set of values, usually copied from their parents or tradition. They switch off the mind and just carry on. They do everything “because it should be done like that”.

The prominent Indian homeopath and prolific author Rajan Sankaran takes this further: “They have problems with understanding and comprehension, eg at a conference when the speaker says something that excites them and you ask them what was said, they try to repeat, word for word, but cannot be precise because precision involves understanding and comprehending. This comes very close to Baryta carb – both have incapacity to think and abstract.”

Poor memory
They have a poor memory, especially the short-term memory.

There is also irresolution and they cannot make even the simplest of decisions. They cannot plan and there is a strong feeling of inadequacy.

According to Sankaran: “The Graphites patient will say about themselves: to me, survival depends on not bothering about the big things in life, there are others to take care of them. I do not have to make decisions because someone else will make them for me.”

One of the main things about the Graphites mental picture is that patients can be upset or irritable about trifles. They are also conscientious about trifles, which can make them fastidious. They weep on the least pretext or for no reason at all. The Graphites wife who bores her husband with trivia has also been described.

Graphites can resemble Pulsatilla because of this weepiness. But it is sentimental weeping. They don’t weep from depression. They can be weepy, sad, despondent, full of self-pity and, at times, pre-occupied with thoughts of death. When they are in an unhappy mood, listening to music makes them feel even more miserable.

Graphites is one of the main remedies in the rubric “ailments from anticipation”. They are anxious, restless, apprehensive, full of fearful forebodings which cannot be stilled. They are timid people who lack self-confidence. This self-doubt creates anxiety. They are always uneasy and fretful, with a feeling that misfortune is just around the corner.

Mood swings
A quick change of moods is characteristic. They are often quite cheerful in the morning, but show signs of agitation, impatience and irritability, especially in the late afternoon and evening. There is a desire for solitude because they are annoyed by everybody. They may get really angry and fly into a rage, but are easily consoled.

Sankaran’s picture of Graphites
Rajan Sankaran encourages us to keep an open mind about Graphites and not adhere strictly to a rigid image of the remedy as described above. While Vithoulkas paints the bland, dull picture of Graphites, Sankaran shows us another view with two very striking features: excitability and weeping.

Excitability: the Graphites patient is very, very excitable. They become excited by the smallest possible thing. This excitability can be expressed as sentimental, despairing, irritated, or sad. The slightest cause is sufficient to create turmoil within them. This makes them very restless, and anxious. They are the kind of people who get very worked up over the slightest thing. This also accounts for their fastidiousness. They talk in an excited manner, and their actions are hurried and very restless. They feel that something has to be done, but don’t know what.

One situation could be a wife/mother in a house where other members of the family do not bother about anything. The house is a mess, and nothing works. The husband and child are enjoying themselves, and do not care about the house. So the wife becomes disappointed and excitable. She becomes excited over small things. A Graphites lady may have a Calc carb or Sulphur husband.

Weeping is an expression and the Graphites patient is much better by expressing her emotions. Until she has expressed these emotions, she will be excited, anxious, apprehensive, sad, despairing and despondent. Her mind will be all shaky and vibrating and the moment she can express it, it becomes smooth and calm. This can happen when she comes for her consultation. She seems so excited when she describes her problem, and after she has finished, she is so relaxed. (Homeopathic Links, 1992)

To further understand the Graphites patient, it can be helpful to consider similar remedies:

  • Pulsatilla: weepy, changeable, irresolution;
  • Ferrum: tirednes, fatness, coldness, flushing;
  • Calc carb: chilly and obese, but Graphites has an aversion to mental work and Calc carb will persevere.

Jenny Boyle MBChB MRCP DCH DRCOG MFHom left general practice four years ago to develop her interest in homeopathy. She helps run a clinic in Huntingdon as well as working at the RLHH and in private practice.



The explosive remedy is profiled by Keith Souter

Glonoine is a valuable homeopathic remedy that I would always in­clude in my homeopathic travel­ling kit or medicine cabinet. It has multiple areas where it is of benefit, but interestingly, it is not as well known as one would expect it to be. I rather sus­pect it is because people are wary of it, since it is prepared from the explosive nitroglycerine.

Bias is an interesting phenomenon in homeopathy, both for self-prescribers and professional homeopaths alike. Although we may try to be objective in our remedy selection, it can be very dif­ficult not to make a favoured remedy fit the case. At the same time there is often a tendency to ignore or avoid particular remedies, perhaps because they are too obvious, or because they might reflect an aspect of someone’s character that may seem pejorative or unpleasant. Nitric acid is one of the remedies that is often neglected for this reason, as I have mentioned in an earlier article.

Glonoine is an under-used medecine which is often written off as merely a sunstroke remedy. In fact, like the nitro­glycerine from which it originates, it is a remedy of great power.

An explosive history
Nitrogylcerine was discovered in 1847 at the University of Turin by the pro­fessor of chemistry, Ascanio Sobrero. The problem was that as a liquid it was highly volatile, unstable and liable to explode. Indeed, in one of his early experiments Sobrero was badly scarred when a preparation exploded in his face. Apparently he agonised over his dis­covery and kept it secret for a year. When he did make it known he initially called it “pyroglycerine” and actually counselled against producing it, because he considered it to be far too dangerous to be of any practical use.

He was later quoted as saying, “When I think of all the victims killed during nitroglycerine explosions, and the terrible havoc that has been wreaked, which in all probability will continue to occur in the future, I am almost ashamed to admit to be its discoverer.”

In 1862 the Nobel family began experimenting with nitrogylcerine. A year later Alfred Nobel, who had work­ed in the same laboratory as Ascanio Sobrero, patented a process for “Nobel’s Blasting Oil”, which became available as an industrial explosive. Sadly, in 1864 Nobel’s younger brother Emil was killed in an accident during the preparation of some of the explosive.

Four years later Alfred Nobel man­aged to make the explosive mixture easier to handle by the addition of kieselguhr (a siliceous deposit, also known as diatomaceous earth). He called the mixture “dynamite”. From this he made a fabulous fortune, a vast amount of which he left to establish the Nobel Prize.

Nitroglycerine and allopathic medicine
Glyceryl trinitrate was one of the very first drugs that I was taught about at medical school. For generations it has been the mainstay in the management of angina pectoris. This is a condition of tight chest pain associated with under­lying myocardial ischaemia, first des­cribed by Dr William Heberden in 1768.

The use of nitrates was first advo­cated by Sir Lauder Brunton in 1867, when he prescribed amyl nitrate to angina sufferers, on the basis that this would dilate the coronary arteries. When glyceryl trinitrate could be made into tablet form in 1879, it revolutionised the treatment of this condition. Now­adays, virtually every family doctor will have either glyceryl trinitrate tablets or spray in their medical bag for emergency use. It is also an extremely useful prepa­ration to use topically in cases of anal fissure, which is an extremely painful condition.

This drug produces a dramatic effect in angina and relieves severe chest pain in seconds. It does so by virtue of the fact that the nitroglycerine is converted by the body into nitric oxide, through a mechanism that has yet to be fully elucidated. Nitric oxide is a significant natural vasodilator, which means that it widens blood vessels. Thus it eases angina by dilating the coronary arter­ies, speeding the heart and lowering blood pressure. Unfortunately, it can often produce as side-effects a throbbing headache, flushing and faintness. The side-effects also come about from this vasodilation.

Constantine Hering, one of the great early homeopathic physicians proved nitroglycerine in 1848 and gave it the name of Glonoine, from its chemical formula (Gl O NO5), thereby denoting its composition. From then its value became established in congestive head­aches, the menopause, angina and in many conditions that seem to start sud­denly and explosively, especially when the circulation is involved.

Dr Ernest Farrington, an associate of Constantine Hering said that the whole symptomatology of Glonoine could be expressed in one phrase: “a tendency to sudden and violent irreg­ularities of the circulation”.

A complex mixture
Glonoine has many features that over­lap other remedy profiles. This is worth considering a little further because I think this can give us some insight into the remedy, which will be illuminating when we go on to consider a few cases.

Nitroglycerine is made by mixing sulphuric and nitric acids and glycerine. This has, of course, to be done with phenomenal care, since the reaction is unstable and potentially explosive. The actual chemical reaction results in the nitration of the glycerine, without the sulphuric acid being incorporated in the product. Sulphuric acid is regenerated in the process, so it is purely a catalyst.

In terms of the homeopathic remedy Glonoine, however, there are similarities between it and both Sulphuric and Nitric acid. All acid remedies have tiredness or some sort of fatigue within their profile, meaning that they are often indicated in fatigue states. Glonoine often seems to come into its own when people complain of great fatigue during and after they have had one of their flushes, headaches or episodes of angina. It is as if there is a time of settling down needed, like the aftermath of an explosion.

There is also often speed involved when these remedies are indicated. Sulphuric acid is often needed for peo­ple who are in a hurry and want every­one around them to hurry up. Nitric acid may help those who are really anxious about their health and who want some­thing doing straight away. Glonoine patients may have both features and when they develop symptoms they come in great surges, as if a fluid is flowing fast into a closed container and the pres­sure builds up swiftly.

Finally, the essence of the remedy Glonoine seems to be its potential power. By this I mean that there is a sense of the pre-explosion. The sudden build up of pressure, the surging force, the sense that something explosive could happen or that something bad is imminent. The actual explosion may not take place, but the fear is there and it dominates.

So with this in mind, let us look at a few cases which illustrate some of the indicative features of this great remedy.

Mad dogs and Englishmen
Gerald was retired and admitted to me that he had a big problem. He simply would not learn the lesson that life repeatedly taught him. He loved his gar­den and he loved working in it in the sun. Although he had little hair left, he disliked wearing a hat. He was aware that working out of doors in the sun gave him headaches, yet he had come to accept them as part of his life, even though bad episodes would put him to bed. During these episodes he would be unable to think clearly and he certainly would not feel able to do anything that involved writing or concentrating.

He had, of course, been treated over many years for migraine and had even­tually seen a neurologist. It was only when he had retired that he really felt he would like to be rid of the headaches. When I asked him to describe them he told me that they always came on suddenly, even if he had already been out in the sun for an hour or two. He emphasised that they did not come on slowly and gradually build up, but came suddenly, with a pounding sensation that corresponded with his pulse. Sometimes it felt as if blood had sud­denly surged into his head and he felt as if it could burst. He reported that you could actually see the pulsation of his neck arteries. When these severe episodes occurred he had to go indoors and seek the solace of a darkened room.

Interestingly, he could not lie flat when he had a headache. Even if he had just recovered from one, if he then lay flat it would recur. He had found that he had to lie well propped up. This is characteristic of Glonoine.

Gerald still likes the sun and still works in it, but at least he can control his headaches instantly with a dose of Glonoine in 30c potency. He no longer has to lie in darkened rooms.

Sally was another sun-worshipper who was frustrated by her tendency to suffer from sunstroke. She was in her early twenties when I first saw her.

A holiday with her boyfriend in Greece had been blighted by admission to hos­pital with full blown sunstroke. After only a few hours on the beach she had developed a sudden throbbing headache, went clammy and started vomiting profusely. At first, food poisoning had been suspected and she spent a couple of days in hospital having a battery of investigations.

From that point on, she became a sun-reactor, unable to bear the direct sun. The headaches and the sudden nausea were particular trials for her, neither of which responded to prescribed medication. When afflicted with one of these episodes her eyes would go blood-shot and her face would become flushed.

When I took her case one particular symptom stood out. She told me that one of the things she found helped was to bend her head backwards to stretch her neck. I find that this is a character­istic Glonoine feature. And once again, Glonoine 30c has helped her markedly.

It is not just the sun that can cause a problem. Some people experience head­aches while working under lamps, in greenhouses or anywhere near heat so that they feel that their head is being over-heated. If they get the surging headache, that feels as if it could burst, then Glonoine may help.

Menstrual and menopausal problems
Gill was another headache sufferer. Her headaches often came on pre­menstrually. These she could deal with. On occasions when her periods were late (she had an irregular cycle) the head­aches became debilitating. On several occasions she had lost time from work because of them. The description of the headaches corresponded to the Glonoine profile and the remedy transformed her life.

This is another characteristic indi­cator for Glonoine, a headache that comes instead of the period.

Carol reached the menopause in her late forties and began to experience menopausal flushes. Hormone Replace­ment Therapy was contraindicated on medical grounds and she had found no benefit from taking over the counter herbal preparations.

Her description of a flush was of a sudden upflow of heat from the middle of her abdomen to the top of her head. It felt like a surge of heat and an accom­panying sensation that blood was being suddenly pumped into her head. Regular Glonoine has controlled her flushes.

Loose collars only
I saw Jim many years ago when he was a schoolboy. It was in the days when a tie was an integral part of a school uniform and having it tied loosely was consid­ered a punishable sin. Poor Jim was forever in trouble for loosening his tie and unbuttoning his collar. He was sub­ject to headaches and retching. When he felt bad, he just could not abide the feel of his tie being too tight and he would retch unless he could relieve the pressure.

We call this symptom tumefaction. It is a sensation of bloating about the neck which produces a choking feeling if there is tightness from clothing. The remedy Lachesis has this feature, which most people are aware of. Glonoine also has it, and if other indicative features are present, it can work wonders. It did for Jim.

Why can’t I remember?
Brenda was an excitable, but sprightly 70 year-old lady, who started to react to all sorts of foods and odours. As part of her reaction she experienced sudden headaches, dizziness and on several occa­sions became confused. She even forgot how to find her way home from the local shop. Inevitably she began to worry that she was starting to manifest Alzheimer’s disease.

This feature of being confused in places which are well known to one is another feature that is recognised in the Glonoine picture. Fortunately, it worked well for Brenda.

Angina and palpitations
Anginal pain should be treated with con­ventional medicine, in my opinion. Yet there is a role for Glonoine if the symp­tom pattern matches Glonoine’s profile. The chest pain, which comes on sud­denly, is in this case usually described as being hot, with a congested sensation in the chest and an awareness of the heart pulsating quickly. The carotid pulsation in the neck is usually visible.

A few modalities
In remedy selection the modalities, those factors which aggravate or alleviate a condition or symptom, are often of great value.

Aggravation in the sun or over­heating of the head are very marked. Stooping, being in motion, being jarred or lying flat will all tend to worsen symp­toms. Wine, stimulants and peaches also seem to aggravate.

Interestingly, having a haircut may actually seem to bring a condition on.

Headaches may be eased partially by holding the head in the hands. If forced to bed then the head always has to be uncovered. Paradoxically, a nap will often worsen a symptom, but a good long sleep will alleviate it.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc has a private holistic medicine practice in Yorkshire and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.


A case for Gelsemium

A dental nurse unable to undergo treatment proved an excellent candidate for this remedy, writes Ludwig Gedah

Recently, a 26 year-old woman with nine years experience in dental nursing joined our practice. After a few weeks working together, it emerged that she was in fact a dental phobic and that she had been suffering with severe toothache on and off for several months, but had been putting off treatment, resorting to painkillers. When I asked her why she felt so frightened, she would reply that she knew what would happen, or that the tooth would break during the procedure (anticipatory anxiety) and that was enough to make her cancel or postpone her appointment at the last minute with her own dentist. She admit­ted that she had not had any unpleasant experiences but found the whole event very distressing and a daunting ordeal.

Eventually, she let me have a look and I took some x-rays. She had multiple cavities but the severe pain was due to gross unrestorable caries in an upper wisdom tooth which required extraction. However, she declined treatment because she could cope with the pain, even though she knew that the problem would not go away and that action was required.

One morning, she came in to work saying that she had had very little sleep the previous night because of her toothache and that she was ready to have the extraction. Once sat in the dental chair, she felt great anxiety in her tummy and holding her abdomen screamed: “Oh, I’ve got awful butterflies in my tummy just thinking about it.” She then excused herself to go to the toilet. Upon her return, she asked if she could have the treatment in the afternoon as she did not want to miss her lunch having had no breakfast. Come the afternoon, she said the pain had gone. A similar sequence of events happened on several occasions, with the patient using different excuses such as feeling very weak and trembling and that she could not go through with it, or having a bad dull headache.

One day when again I could see the same story unfold, I suggested that I could give her a homeopathic remedy to calm her nerves. She was very sceptical about homeopathic treatment but was desperate to get some help as she could not face another sleepless night. I gave her Gelsemium 30c pillules half-hourly and reassured her that I would not administer the local anaesthetic unless she felt relaxed.

After a few doses, much to her amazement, she had calmed down and I was able to anaesthetise the tooth. Again, she felt the need to use the toilet which made her feel better. The extraction was not quite routine but she managed well and the tooth was delivered whole. I gave her Arnica 30c to use three times daily for the next few days. She was very relieved and admitted that she felt surprised at how much better she felt and how she had coped with the whole situation after taking the Gelsemium. She said that “it felt similar to having laughing gas (nitrous oxide and oxygen) which was given to her during childbirth. She then voluntarily booked herself some more appointments to have the outstanding treatment completed.

Gelsemium the flower
Gelsemium sempervirens is a yellow flowering plant native to North and Central America and found in coastal regions in moist woodlands from Vir­ginia to Mexico. It is a very attractive creeper that can climb up host trees to a great height, often hanging in tresses from one to the other. It is evergreen with a woody, twining stem which contains a milky juice and bears opposite, shin­ing and evergreen lancet shaped leaves and clusters of from one to five large funnel-shaped fragrant yellow flowers in early spring. The flowers are her­maphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. The fruit is composed of two separable, jointed pods containing numerous, flat winged seeds. The roots form runners, a stem or rhizome that can extend great distances underground before shooting up as another plant.

Gelsemium is also called yellow jasmine, false jasmine, Caroline jasmine and wild woodbine. Its name comes from the Italian word gelsomino, mean­ing jasmine and is not to be confused with the true yellow jasmine of Madeira which is also known as gelseminum but has only two stamens whereas gelse­mium has five.

All parts of the plant contain toxic alkaloids, the two main ones are gel­seminime and gelsemine. Gelseminime is a yellowish, bitter amorphous alkaloid that is readily soluble in alcohol to form amorphous salts. Gelsemine is a colour­less, odourless, intensely bitter alkaloid that is sparingly soluble in water, form­ing crystalline salts. The rhizome also contains gelsemic acid, a tasteless, crystalline substance which exhibits an intense bluish-green fluorescence in alka­line solution.

The root of this plant has been used since the days of the early settlers in America as a cure for fevers. During the American Civil War, it was largely used as a sub­stitute for opium as a narcotic. The plant was first described in 1640 by John Parkinson who grew it in his garden from seeds sent by Tradescant from Virginia.

The medical history of this plant is quite recent. It is believed to have gained attention through the mistake of a ser­vant of a Mississippi planter who was afflicted with fever. This servant gave his master a decoction of gelsemium root, instead of the garden plant intended. After partaking of an infusion, serious symptoms arose, but contrary to expectations, he recovered, free from fever which did not recur. It was clear that the attack of bilious fever from which he had been suffering had dis­appeared.

This accidental error led to the preparation from the plant of a propri­etary medicine called the “Electrical Febrifuge”. Later, in 1849, Dr Porcher brought Gelsemium to the notice of the American Medical Association, Dr Henry in 1852, and many others after him, made provings of it; the main one being that of Dr Hale, whose Mono­graph on Gelsemium was a great help in the knowledge of this drug.

Gelsemium poisoning
The prominent and universal symptom is paralysis of the motor nerves as it is a powerful spinal depressant, its most marked action being on the anterior columns of the grey matter in the spinal. Poisonous doses produce a sensation of languor, relaxation, muscular weakness and paralysis. The face becomes anx­ious, the temperature subnormal, the skin cold and clammy and the pulse rapid and feeble. Dropping of the upper eyelid and lower jaw, internal squint, double vision and dilatation of the pupil are prominent symptoms.

Later, the toxic effects cause the sphincters to relax, the anus and urethra stay open. Respiration becomes slow and feeble, shallow and irregular, and death occurs from respiratory failure, the heart stopping almost simultane­ously. The drug also acts through the vasomotor nerves to produce passive venous and arterial congestion. Also, the drug has an affinity for the mucous membranes, giving rise to catarrhal inflammation.

Homeopathic use
In its homeopathic form, Gelsemium is prepared from the fresh root, which is chopped, soaked in alcohol, drained and diluted/succussed to the required potency.

The keynote of Gelsemium semper­virens is weakness. There is mental and physical paralysis. There is slow and gradual complete prostration with drowsiness, low grade fever and a dull headache. The patient is lethargic and reclusive, preferring to be left alone.

Symptoms are better from bending forward, profuse sweating and urinat­ing, being in the open air, gentle and con­tinual motion and with stimulants.

Symptoms are worse from change of weather, change of season, anticipation of performing, mental exertion, physi­cal exertion, tobacco smoke, damp weather, bad news, before a thunder­storm and from emotions or excitement.

Homeopathy and fear of dentists
Dental anxiety is probably the most com­mon reason for non-attendance at the dental surgery. When assessing anxiety for homeopathic repertorisation, I find it useful to consider the type of anxiety, what triggers the anxiety, when it is felt, where it is felt, any concomittant symp­toms, where these are felt and any aggra­vating/ameliorating factors.

I have used Gelsemium on several occasions to manage acute dental anxiety. Other very effective anxiety remedies, some of which I use, are:

  • Aconitum napellus: heart palpitations, sudden panic, dry mouth, dilated pupils, the sensation of sudden shock, the “white knuckle” syndrome patient. The anxiety is very short-lasting and of very quick onset.
  • Arsenicum album: chronic anxiety. It is indicated in very chilly and fastidious people who have profound anxieties about their health and may experience burning pains that are better with heat.
  • Argentum nitricum: patient is excited, hurried, hyperactive and talkative.
  • Coffea cruda: patient is over-enthu­siastic, sleepless (mind: full of thoughts), excessively sensitive to pain and to noise, even music.
  • Ignatia amara: patient may display hysterical behaviour, twitching of the muscles of the face and lips, is hyper­sensitive to smells, especially cigarette smoke or coffee, and sometimes has a sensation of a lump in the throat (globus hystericus). It is especially useful in the “have never been well since” cases of emotional trauma.

I find that Arnica montana and Hypericum perforatum are compatible with the above anxiety remedies and I sometimes use them concurrently after a dental procedure.

I used Gelsemium in this case because of the butterflies in stomach description of the anxiety, the weak trembling hands, the nausea and nervous diarrhoea symptoms. Gelsemium is also very use­ful for influenza sufferers, where there is a gradual low grade fever, and in nerv­ous diarrhoea cases, for example, prior to examinations or public speaking. It is also a very important polychrest and constitutional remedy.

Ludwig Gedah BDS DGDP DPDS MFHom(Dent) is a full time general dental practitioner in a mixed NHS/private practice in Cornwall. He incorporates homeopathic treatment when appro­priate for his patients. 

Ferrum metallicum

Iron – The Element by David Lilley

Warrior archetype
Though the world entered the new mil­lennium with bright hopes for a new and better future, possibly even an idyllic, peaceful Golden Age, strife and conflict are escalating. Never a day goes by without news of some act of savagery and destruction. The forces of disorder are proliferating, seeking to undermine stability and establish anarchy. Today violence has never been more indis­criminate. We are yet in the grip of the Iron Age, the gods of war remain insa­tiable, and the shadow-warrior moves in our midst.

An ambivalent metal
It has been the destiny of iron more than any other metal to serve the forces of war and destruction, yet, like all the met­als, it possesses a profound ambivalence. The intuitive response of ancient civili­sations to this powerful substance emphasises its symbolic ambiguity. The Aztecs prized meteoric iron as a celes­tial and sacred metal falling from heaven as a gift from the gods, whilst the Egyptians equated it with the bones of Set, a destructive, diabolical divinity, worshipped by some, execrated by others, but universally feared. He embodied primeval power perverted to wicked ends and was perceived as a negative force in the cosmic and moral conflict between good and evil.

Iron-copper polarity
Ancient Chinese tradition sees iron and copper as polar opposites, iron being base, yang, masculine, a fire element and related to the colour red, while copper is noble, yin, feminine, a water element and related to the colour black. Other cosmologies perceived the same con­tention: hard, crude, rigid, dark iron when contrasted with soft, subtle, warm, shining copper, appearing as the dark or shadow aspect – “lord of darkness and night” – the perfidious purveyor of car­nage and death, while copper repre­sented brightness, light and love. In modern myth, Tolkien portrays a cor­responding distinction between the loathsome, bestial, warlike orcs and the exquisite, gentle, spiritual elves, and like­wise between Gandalf, the noble war­rior wizard and Saruman, the black-hearted, fallen wizard. Darth Vader of Sky Wars, masked in steel, is the quintessential dark warrior, who, like Saruman, is a manifestation of mali­cious and misguided power. His laboured breathing is in keeping with the marked asthmatic tendency of Ferrum (invari­ably worse at midnight). The “Set-com­plex” of virtue corrupted, demonstrated by these two mythical beings, is sym­bolised in the inexorable corrosion and disintegration of iron over time to a rav­aged travesty of its pristine form.

A vital metal
As the molten globe of the newly cre­ated Earth began to cool, the closely related elements, iron and nickel, grav­itated to form the core of the planet. Here, their magnetic, ethereal energies radiate the masculine and feminine forces of Gaia. Iron is essential to the “life” of the planet. It is also vital to the life processes of all plants and animals. It is the core atom of haemoglobin, the respiratory pigment of mammals. In the human being it therefore holds centre-stage, built into the blood, which together with the heart, expresses the very pulse and passion of the ego. Hence, Ferrum must be regarded as one of the most fundamental archetypes in the human psyche and its relationship to haemoglobin, blood and the fire of the ego confirms the ancient knowledge of its kinship with the colour red.

Red and the body
Physically, red signifies fever and this is common to the acute Ferrum state, but even more so for Ferrum’s “tissue salt”, Ferrum phosphoricum, a remedy as important as Aconite and Belladonna in treating fever. Organically, red indicates the blood, heart, circulation and blood vessels, and organs that are particularly rich in blood – the thyroid, lungs, liver, spleen, reproductive organs and mus­cles. Organ relationships, when pro­nounced, often provide insight into nature and temperament. Ferrum is above all splenic, sanguine and choleric.

Red and the spleen
The spleen symbolises anger, indigna­tion, irascibility and especially rancour and bitter resentment. A Ferrum knows well how to nurse a grudge and “vent his spleen”. True to the warrior code, the cause of such grievance is invariably a betrayal of trust, breach of loyalty or a slight to reputation. The lower Ferrum is incensed by the least opposition or challenge to his authority. He is always right and cannot tolerate contradiction or criticism which he can never forgive; the offender will either be ostracised or become the victim of reprisal. Their anger is inordinate – it is wrath, rage and fury – when the “blood is up” they “see red”!

Red and the blood
In the sanguine disposition, the blood runs fast and furious, accompanied by sparkling eyes, a buoyant, jaunty air and flushed countenance. Their manner is assured, confident and optimistic and if put to the test they are found indomit­able and courageous. True to the medi­eval meaning of sanguine, if called upon, they are willing (sometimes eager) to shed blood, even their own. How could it be otherwise with iron, the element of blood and the implement of war? They are excitable, warm, romantic, ardent and animated, given to passions and enthusiasms. They believe, love and hate with passion. Without focus they decline into boredom.

Red and the lungs
Ferrum has a particular affinity for the lungs and has often been used success­fully in the treatment of asthma, par­ticularly when exercise-induced, and tuberculosis, especially the incipient stage in young people. This relationship to TB imparts to the archetype a rest­less, romantic, adventurous spirit that loves excitement, stimulation and chal­lenge; an idealistic, often altruistic, need to bring about change either by refor­mation or revolution; and a sense of the imminence of death.

Red and the root chakra
Red and Ferrum are principally related to the first or root chakra, a dense, swirling vortex of vital-force energy sit­uated at the base of the pelvis. Physically and energetically it is our very founda­tion, providing the stability and security upon which our vitality, health and sur­vival depend. The Ferrum martial arts exponent aligns his stance with this pyra­mid of power, giving him poise, balance and the potential for explosive, yet con­trolled, action or reaction. He taps into the male and female vitality of the earth core with which he resonates, and is thus imbued with the panther-like strength and grace of the warrior-dancer.

Security and survival
The consciousness of the root chakra is at the instinctual level, focused on sur­vival, encompassing the primal, animal instincts of sex and aggression. Threat to survival stimulates the primitive, rep­tilian brain and the amygdala (memory brain), which in turn trigger the con­scious brain (the cortex), enabling the body to react instantaneously with an adrenaline response: fight or flight. In the typical Ferrum archetype, these path­ways possess a primed, innate tension, like a tightly drawn bow; they are ever alert, watchful and wary. Here is a man who sleeps with one eye open and watches his back. In the presence of such a hyper-vigilant state, usually due to traumatic experiences in the past life of the individual, his family or his people, a perceived offence or insult can pre­cipitate an excessive and inappropri­ate reptilian amygdala response that swamps and overrides the rational brain, leading to an emotional crisis that can be violent and out of all proportion to the event. Road rage and wife-beating are of this order. In such a taut indi­vidual, abuse of alcohol may lead to tragedy.

Life is war
To Ferrum, life is a state of war, siege, attack and counter-attack. There is always an enemy; the world and human­ity are inherently hostile. This harks back to a time when our lives were under constant threat and the strength and vig­ilance of the first chakra were essential to survival. This paranoid outlook may result from a traumatic upbringing in which the young Ferrum is exposed to physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Attempts may have been made to break his spirit by severe beatings, harsh coer­cion, or being cruelly confined, but instead of breaking, his spirit is tempered and hardened like steel. He will become strong, courageous and steadfast, the antithesis of those who abused him, or he will move to the dark side and become the abused abuser, perpetuating a sordid sequence. Ferrum is often the remedy for such a history, but it is even more specific for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, for those who have experienced the horrors of war and witnessed carnage and are suffering the consequences.

The pioneer
The root chakra is also concerned with tribe, tradition, territory, hierarchy, rit­ual, propagation, nourishment, rest, warmth and shelter, all of which urge humanity towards establishing founda­tions, villages, farms, cultures and even­tually civilisations. Fundamentally, Ferrum is a man of the earth; iron can be fashioned into a sword, but also into a ploughshare. All the ancient war-gods evolved culturally from divinities pre­viously linked to vegetation and agri­culture. Ferrum is a pioneer, an explorer and an adventurer. He has a burning desire to discover, to investigate, to research, to probe ever more deeply and to widen his horizons and territory.

Infused with the energy of the first chakra he has the zeal, drive, enterprise and energy to build great things from very little, just as the giant oak grows from the tiny acorn. He is a born ini­tiator and strategist and a fine leader of men. He is a pioneer-soldier, therefore also an invader and a conqueror. His acquisitive gaze may extend to territory that belongs to others, even to nature.

Iron and the intellect
Iron relates to the intellect rather than the heart, and its use has paralleled the evolution of human civilisation. The great iron ore deposits of the planet extend in a mighty belt across the tem­perate zones of the entire northern hemi­sphere. These areas have been likened to the chest and thorax of the planet, while the tropical and equatorial regions constitute the centre of metabolism. We see here the correspondence between iron, lungs, haemoglobin, oxygenation and intellectualisation. It was in this northern temperate zone that the mind of man reached that level of technolog­ical consciousness that iron would be essential for its expression. The iron deposits are present just where they were required, and more curious still, the earth’s great coal deposits are found in the same regions, following the iron belt through the northern continents. Iron and coal provided a combination essen­tial for the fabrication of steel and the industrial revolution. One without the other would not have sufficed.

Conqueror of nature
Ferrum’s logic is masculine and heavily left cerebral. He represents the mod­ern mind coloured by the bleak Newtonian vision of today’s science. Such a pragmatic intellect is closed to subtle concepts such as homeopathy and despises God as an unscientific delusion. He is militant and needs to attack and crush these fallacies with his scientific fundamentalism. The cosmos of the ancients, filled as it was with purpose and intelligence and driven by the love of God for the benefit of man, is lost to him, and replaced by a merciless, goal-less, clockwork machine. With the loss of God comes the loss of nature. He no longer experiences himself as a child nourished at her breast, sheltered and carried. He is an alien warrior in an alien environment, a stranger to the world with which he is at war.

With a godless heaven above and a hostile environment below, the scientist Ferrum sets about the conquering of mother earth, overwhelming her and binding her with shackles of iron, put­ting her to his own use, indifferent to the consequences. This is the paradox of iron: at the core it is the life force of Gaia, but wrested from the earth and forged into the artefacts and weapons of technology it defiles and destroys the planet. The war is witnessed in the des­ecration of our environment and the fortresses proliferate everywhere: ugly man-made iron and concrete structures spewing forth contamination. The grim, unrepentant warrior standing amidst the devastation is often a Ferrum. In Lord of the Rings, Saruman the corrupt magi­cian embodies the soulless scientist who, to his own ends, manipulates life through perverse technology and wages war against the forces of good.

Physical profile
The archetype can often be recognised by their outer appearance, carriage and mannerisms. The features are strong and well-defined, characterised by a square, forceful jaw, a wide brow and a firm, determined mouth. The jaw is often jut­ting and cleft. The glance is direct from steely eyes. The expression can be dig­nified, composed, assertive, resolute, hard, intimidating, arrogant, pugna­cious, or even cruel, depending on char­acter and circumstance. In youth, they are athletic and muscular, their condi­tion toned by disciplined activity and frequently developed by “pumping iron” in the gym. Their bearing is often erect and military. In middle age they tend to become stiff and corpulent. If balanced, they bear themselves with dignity, have an air of authority and a powerful pres ence; if overblown, they may swagger and strut, appearing arrogant, over­bearing or even pompous.

God of war – Ares
The god of war has two aspects, one negative – the Greek Ares, and the other positive – the Roman Mars. Ares was the least respected and honoured of the Olympians. The Greeks regarded him as the embodiment of the destructive forces of war: a crass, mindless, blood­thirsty warmonger, delighting in blood­shed, slaughter and strife, in contrast to the goddess Athene, who represented the sober tactics and strategy of war, especially when used to defend the com­munity. His sons Deimos (Fear) and Phobos (Panic) attended him. His name is synonymous with “the frenzy of fight­ing” and “the warrior’s ecstasy”. These appellations link him to Dionysos (Bacchus) and Wotan (Teutonic Lord of Ecstasy), hence to Thuja and Lac caninum respectively. He is the Olympian “actionman”. His modern equivalent is the sportsman for whom winning is everything. His approach is uncompro­mising; he will do anything to overcome the opposition (enemy); no holds barred. He excels at contact sports in which he can give free rein to his raw, and often bloody, aggression. They are frequently penalised for fouls, against which they offer fierce, incredulous protest, argu­ing with the referee, swearing, making vulgar gestures and getting into punch-ups with opponents and spectators. Unfortunately, the aggression that brings them success on the playing field can spill over into their private lives and dis­credit them. They are often found in the ranks of professional boxers and wrestlers, idolised by their fans for behaviour which in cricket, tennis or athletics would be frowned upon. They are not averse to taking banned sub­stances to boost their performance.

Ares the dancer
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, the father and mother figures of the Olympian pantheon. Hera entrusted his early education to the phallic god Priapus, who first instructed him in dancing and then in every manly sport and the skills of a warrior. This sequence is significant as dancing, especially ballet, provides an excellent foundation for any activity that demands great co-ordination, grace and athleticism. In martial arts the basic exercise movements are performed as if executing a solitary dance. The Ares archetype is in his body; his emotions and body are one; he has animal energy and reflexes. Many a Ferrum becomes a professional performer, dancer or acro­bat, and is admired for his passion, intensity, athleticism, stamina, inter­pretation and technique. Muhammad Ali embodied the combined qualities of warrior and dancer.

Ares the lover
Ares was the long-term lover of Aphro­dite, the goddess of love and beauty, sexuality and sensuality (Cuprum, the next archetype of this series). Their rela­tionship was open, tempestuous and pas­sionate, punctuated by ruptures and reunions, but remained irresistible and insatiable. True to his divine counter­part, Ferrum is capable of loving a woman and yet having sexual adven­tures on the side. He has a lusty, ardent nature and is essentially amoral. His sex­uality is earthy, strong and confident, undaunted by a woman’s beauty or experience. To be the chosen lover of the most desirable and sexually discerning goddess of all indicates that the arche­type comes highly recommended. In some the libido energy is transmuted into artistic creativity.

God of war – Mars
The Romans held Mars in high regard, second only to Jupiter in importance, and revered him as the founding god of Rome and its divine protector. To the youth of today, his equivalent would be Superman, Batman or Spiderman, guardians of the community, the epit­ome of manly strength, courage and fair play. In sport he could be a man like Lance Armstrong, who fights testicular cancer with secondary tumours in the lungs and brain, and then indomitably presses on to triumph seven times in the Tour de France and promotes fund rais­ing for cancer research. The archetype must always be doing and achieving. They are men who must have a chal­lenge. They always want to go further, climb higher, dive deeper, go faster and prove that they are stronger and fitter than the rest.

The saying: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” suits this Ferrum perfectly. They are often res­cuers, placing their own lives in jeop­ardy to save others. They will not desert a companion in distress. These adven­turers, although attracted to challenges that are often potentially dangerous, are not reckless. Their watch- words are always – preparedness, proficiency and performance. They know there is no margin for error; there may be only one chance. When it comes to their equip­ment every nut and bolt will be meticu­lously checked. When they act they do so like the samurai: leaping into battle with the full potential of the ki, vital energy, at their disposal. For Ferrum there is only one way to face the battle of life – frontally, and only one direction to move – forward! The Mars-type Ferrum moves also upwards, achiev­ing pre-eminence in any field of endeav­our they undertake. Can one doubt that the Ferrum executive entering the board­room is a gladiator girding his or her loins for battle? His is the “iron fist in a velvet glove”; she is the “iron lady”. Though they may be feared, they have earned both respect and loyalty.

High warrior
The peace-loving Ruskin came to the dreadful conclusion that “ … war is the foundation of all the arts … the foun­dation of all the high virtues and fac­ulties of men … all the great nations were nourished in war and wasted in peace… born in war died in peace.” In Europe and Japan in medieval times, out of the savagery of war blossomed a noble morality. Chivalry became the child of feudalism. In Japan, Bushido became the code of moral principles, which the samurai were required to observe. The high warrior embodies these precepts and in his loftiest form will fight and lay down his life for jus­tice and the rights of others. He is the champion, liberator, rescuer and reformer. Being a warrior at this level is a total way of life driven by a code that is unuttered and unwritten, inscribed only on the tablets of the heart.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


A case for Fagopyrum esculentum

Raymond Sevar describes the medicine made from buckwheat and the success he had in treating an elderly patient

Buckwheat belongs to the polygo­naceae plant family. In the second half of the 20th century it became almost forgotten as a food in Britain although it had been one of our staple flours. In past centuries it was one of the standard British agricultural crops and was grown throughout Europe. Buckwheat is still popular in Eastern Europe where it is eaten as a “grain”, in blinis (buckwheat pancakes) and in bread and it remains a staple in Japan eaten as “Soba” noodles. In the past 20 years it is steadily gaining in popularity as a naturally gluten­free alternative to wheat and buckwheat flour is now widely available in supermarkets. The pyramidal reddish seeds contain all the essential amino acids and it is high in long­chain carbohydrates giving it a good G­I index.

As an agricultural crop it is extremely undemanding, will grow without fertil ­isers on the poorest of soils and, if the green parts of the plant are ploughed back in, it improves the soil and allows growth of other crops. The green matter can also be used as feed for horses. It has a short growing season of three months and despite its variable yields is gaining in popularity among organic farmers.

The remedy Fagopyrum esculentum, prepared from the whole mature plant, was proved by Hichcock in 1873 who found it curative when indicated in eczema, itching without an eruption and inflammatory arthritis. It has symptoms in common with Sulphur, Sepia, Lycopodium and Thuja which are often prescribed instead.

I prescribed Fagopyrum esculentum with great success for Edith, a 78 year­old who made a deep impression on me. Our first consultation was in October 2002. She told me that she had suffered from a constant and terrible itch inside her skin for nine months and it was getting steadily worse, but she had no rash. Her whole body was itching and the itch got worse in waves during which she felt very hot.

When she asked her husband to feel her skin, he was most surprised to find how hot she actually felt to the touch. The itch would get worse if she wore tight clothes, especially if made from synthetic materials, and a little less if she wore cotton or silk. The itch tended to get steadily worse through the day and by evening and night­time it was terrible.

She tried very hard not to scratch but the itch was so bad she just had to. Scratching did not really make the itch better. She tried hard not to scratch so much that she made her skin raw or made it bleed. Like many other people she’d had a tendency to dry skin since childhood and had to be careful what she put on her skin and vigilant about which detergents she laundered her clothes with or she would get a prickly heat type rash – she even took her own pillowcase on holiday or she would wake with a rash on her face.

While her itch was very severe, Edith’s symptoms so far were fairly common and do not help much in showing which medicine might be best indicated – so I asked her what was the most striking or unusual thing about her itch.

“The worst thing is,” Edith told me, “that I cannot lean my back on a chair. As soon as I do the itch gets terrible and I cannot bear it – I have only been able to sit straight upright for months. I can only sleep on my tummy because if I roll onto my back the itch is just terrible and then I am awake for ages.”

This really is a most strange, rare and peculiar (SRP) symptom – one I had never come across before – and therefore highly useful in finding the best homeopathic medicine for her. Such an SRP symptom suggests one of the so­called “small” remedies – a remedy which is less frequently prescribed but as powerful and deep acting as a “poly­crest” like Graphites or Sulphur.

At this point I looked in my com­puter repertory at the rubrics for itching worse from pressure and lying down, itching without eruptions, itching in old people and itching at night and at the generals chapter for pressure aggravates. A computer repertory is often useful for holding and comparing lists and look­ing at the small remedies within the rubrics which have her SRP symptom. I saw the remedy Fagopyrum esculentum. The computer repertory programs can also quickly search all the symptoms of a remedy to see whether it might cover the case – and Fagopyrum esculentum was listed for many skin symptoms of itching with and without eruptions.

Other factors
Now, of course, it was important to learn if there was anything else that troubled Edith and to try and under­stand something of her unique nature, about her life and how she has lived it. She explained she had some osteo­arthritis of her hands, neck and right hip which were worse from a cold draft and better from swimming – she still swam many lengths regularly to keep supple. She had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Her right carotid artery was narrowed and she had had a tiny stroke and one attack of angina pectoris. She had fully recovered from both with­out treatment, indeed she was “not one to take tablets” and had refused all medication for her conditions except the glaucoma for which she did use the eye­drops prescribed.

In the past she’d had the usual child­hood illnesses, was found to have only one kidney and had several urinary infections. She “sailed through child­birth twice and the menopause” without any problem. She comes from “good old-­fashioned stock” and all her family are long­-lived – her parents both died aged 94 and her sister died aged 90 and she was glad to nurse them through their final illnesses.

I noticed when she spoke of “child­birth twice” there was a little falter in her voice and a slight pause and her husband looked up from reading. I chose to wait and raise the matter later in the consultation while moving onto lighter but important matters of sleep, energy and food.

The lack of sleep from the itch had gradually eroded her previously high energy and lately it had gone down to only ten out of an ideal 100. She had not drunk tea for 40 years as it gave her diarrhoea, hated oysters and slimy things and liked “old-­fashioned good quality freshly prepared food – I like bread and butter and marmalade best”.

The most personal and private details of a person’s life are usually their sex lives and their religious faith. I could see no reason to question a 78 year­old woman about her love life, so asked about her faith.

“I have a strong Christian faith – my husband and I still go out doing Christian work every morning – we don’t preach to people, we just give practical help where required. We have a little sleep after lunch and feel better. I pray a lot and it helps me. My faith is a great comfort to me…”

Again, there was the little falter in her speech and now a tear glistened in the corner of her eye.

“My third child was stillborn and I still think of her every day. I know that I will see her again.” A tear escaped and ran down her cheek.

I believe it is important at such times for the physician to stop: stop writing, stop moving, to sit still in silence to honour the memory. Also, I have found that, when the healing sighs and tears abate, suggesting to the mother that lighting a candle on the anniversaries appears to be beneficial whether the patient has a religious faith or not.

I prescribed Fagopyrum esculentum LM1 30ml, one drop in a full glass of water, one mouthful as a daily dose.

The follow-­up
At the next consultation six weeks later Edith looked happy and reported, “The itch got a bit worse at first so I stopped the drops for a few days then I started again with a smaller dose as you suggested and gradually got better. For the past three weeks it is like a miracle – it is amazing. The itch has gone from my whole body. There is some itch left in the vulva where it all started but it is less than it was. I can lean back on chairs, it is so wonderful. I sleep right through the night now. I was so exhausted by the itch before but now my energy is definitely better – 50/100 – the arthritis is much the same.”

I advised her to continue Fagopyrum esculentum LM1 1 drop in a third of a glass of water, taking a mouthful daily as before till “well” then occasionally when required. I have found that patients who are improving with the LM potencies daily often do well to decrease the size of dose and the frequency of dose once healing is established – this avoids a later aggravation.

Edith truly impressed me. She was calm with a kind of quiet serenity despite her severe constant itching. Her religious faith was effective, quiet, unassuming, deep, warm and undemanding of others – she seemed to almost shine with grace. Since I was, at that time, struggling with my own illness and my own faith, I asked her to share with me a little of her wisdom and asked her if she felt there really was meaning to suffering. After a pause she said, “If our life really does pose us a question, then perhaps the answer is our whole life.”

I receive a Christmas card from Edith every year. Her itch resolved and her arthritis became much less troublesome. She takes the remedy occasionally when­ever the itch returns or her joints are a bother and both are relieved quickly.

Raymond Sevar MD MRCGP FFHom has 30 years experience as a medical doctor including 16 as a homeopathic physician in his private practice in Carlisle, Cumbria. He is Dean of the Faculty of Homeopathy and teaches homeopathy to doctors and other health professionals in the UK and abroad.


Cuprum metallicum

Copper – The Element by David Lilley

Goddess of love and beauty
To the ancients and the alchemists, cop­per was imbued with the nature and inner qualities of Aphrodite or Venus: the goddess of beauty and love, of cre­ativity and procreation and of sexual desire. Likewise, in astrology copper is associated with the planet Venus, which graces the night sky with a radiant beauty that outshines all other heavenly bodies. Copper delights the eye; it has lovely warmth, richness and depth of colour, which is friendly and inviting, and worn decoratively it clasps the arm with intimate, yielding softness. Trad­itionally worn as a talisman to protect the wearer against the risk of cholera and ease the stiffness and pains of arthri­tis, it is protective, nurturing and caring.

There are various versions of the birth of this most exquisite goddess, each revealing a different aspect of the col­lective unconscious. One of the most ancient and primal was that she arose naked from the foam of the sea, riding on a scallop shell, borne by gentle spir­its of the wind, and alighted on the island of Cyprus. As she stepped ashore, spring blossomed into fullness and her joy, laughter and desire swept over the land. Wherever her delicate feet touched the earth, grass and flowers sprang into being; everywhere she drew forth the hidden promise of life. Petals of red and pink roses were strewn in her path. Her five graces attended her: Flowering, Growth, Beauty, Joy and Radiance. In this myth she is visualised as an aspect of the great mother goddess herself, and symbolises the emergence of all life from the sea. Botticelli’s masterpiece, The Birth of Venus, incomparably captures the enchanting image of the goddess’ voyage towards Cyprus on her mollusc shell. Significantly, Cyprus was the main source of copper in classical times.

The emasculated father
In later times, a more primitive, con­voluted (psychopathological) explana­tion for her birth was added: a story sometimes metaphorically relevant to the emotional life of Cuprum. As Aeschylus tells us: “The great and amorous sky (Ouranos) curved over the earth (Gaia) and lay upon her as a true lover.” From this repeated union the Titans were born. Ouranos hated and feared his progeny and hid them within the folds of Gaia’s body. In revenge, Mother Earth persuaded the Titans to attack their father. Her youngest son, Kronos, lay in wait for him, and when Ouranos descended to couple with Gaia, he severed his father’s genitals with a sickle and caste the dismembered organs into the sea. Amidst the foaming of sea and semen arose the form of a most beautiful woman – the goddess Aphrodite. This myth establishes her pri­macy: she is more ancient and primor­dial than the Olympian gods.

The mother-metal
Copper is the mother-metal of civilisa­tion; the first metal to be discovered and fashioned into useful and decorative implements. The Copper Age gave birth to the Bronze Age through the alloying of tin to copper. Bronze became the favoured material for the sculptor and was employed in the creation of musi­cal instruments. The dominance of cop­per coincided with the pre-eminence of the worship of the feminine by many dif­ferent cultures in the East and West. The advent of iron and the Iron Age, which eclipsed copper, coincided with the rise of the patriarchal society, based upon the power of the warrior archetype (Ferrum). The mother was suppressed and minimised as these societies sought to force the power of the feminine into an obscure and subservient role, dis­crediting those of her symbols, such as the serpent, that could not easily be assimilated.

The Cuprum remedy picture arises from the ever-present domination of the feminine by the masculine principle, with all its attendant suppression, injustice, discrimination and exploitation. The same sequence, of copper yielding to iron, is seen in the evolving physiology of life forms. In the transition from marine invertebrate to vertebrate life, the role of copper is taken over by iron in the shift from haemocyanin, neces­sary for water breathing, to haemoglo­bin for the breathing of air.

Copper is the mother-metal of the sea and its creatures.

A wanton metal
Aphrodite was sensual, seductive, and promiscuous and the protectress of cour­tesans and prostitutes. Because of the ease with which the metal combined with all the acids and transformed, the alchemists named copper “the harlot of metals”. Homeopathy calls her “shame­less”. In mythology Aphrodite was mar­ried to Hephaistos, God of the Forge, the divine craftsman and inventive genius (Roman – Vulcan; homeopathic – Sulphur). He had a misshapen foot and walked with a limp. In his subterranean smithy, he used volcanic fires to fashion the most beautiful objects – exquisite artworks, utensils, weapons and armour for the gods and heroes.

How often is a beautiful young woman seen in the company of an unprepossessing, older man who, in return for her favours, keeps her, pam­pers her and showers her with jewellery and expensive gifts? She may well be a Cuprum and he a Sulphur. The arche­type loves to be doted upon and spoilt and delights in adornment and luxury. They have a particular preference for wearing gold. In the myth, Aphrodite and Ares (Ferrum) cuckold Hephaistos; together they form the eternal triangle of husband, wife and lover. This trian­gle, fraught with passion, love, jealousy, deceit, resentment, anger and hate, is reflected in the geology of the Earth. The most abundant and important copper ore is chalcopyrite, a copper-iron-sul­phide: literally a combination of Aphrodite, Ares and Hephaistos or Cuprum, Ferrum and Sulphur. Myth and fact walk hand in hand.

Copper and colour
Copper and gold are the only metals that are vividly coloured but it is the ores and salts of copper, not gold, that glorify nature’s palette with an exquisite spec­trum of colours. The pure metal varies from yellow-red through orange-red, rose-red, sunset-red to brownish-red. It possesses a rich, honey-like beauty. Honey belongs to the language of love – honeyed words, honeyed lips and the honey-colour of semen. When bur­nished, copper becomes fiery and shim­mers intensely like gold. It burns with a brilliant blue-green flame tinged at the tips with red. Ultra-thin leaf-copper appears bluish-green.

Copper combines in nature with all the acids and in doing so transforms into magnificent greens, blues and violet, as well as reds, oranges and yellows. Cuprum is therefore an important fun­damental remedy of the materia medica and influences all the chakras. When exposed to the atmosphere, the com­bined effect of moisture and carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) causes the metal to develop a thin coating of green rust known as patina, which protects it against further corrosion and adds a noble beauty to copper works of art. Once clad in its mantle of green, copper can resist the ravages of time.
Green is the colour of the fourth or love chakra; Cuprum is a remedy for the pangs of unrequited love and for obses­sive love. Green is also the colour of nature and plant life; Cuprum loves gar­dens and gardening.

Red – the first chakra
The presence of red is vibrantly visible in copper; it is a fiery passion glowing within the metal. It connects Cuprum to the first chakra and also to Ferrum, which, through haemoglobin, is respon­sible for the red colour of blood. This fundamental relationship between Cuprum (copper) and Ferrum (iron) reflects a deeper one connecting the Goddess of Love, mischievous, seduc­tive, fun-loving, golden Aphrodite, with the God of War, blood-thirsty, head­strong, dour, ever-amorous Ares – an eternal, tempestuous relationship forged in heaven, but far from heavenly. To­gether, they represent the basic instincts of survival, identified by Freud as sex and aggression.

Sex comprises all the instincts based on the reproduction of the species and aggression comprises all the instincts based upon survival, attack and defence of the self. The element connected with the first chakra is earth, symbolic of the matter into which we descend through incarnation, but also the “citadel” of our situation, which must be defended and preserved. Cuprum shares with Ferrum a war-like perception of life and the necessity for preparedness, profi­ciency and performance to avoid being disadvantaged or displaced. Much of their push for excellence and superior­ity may be subconsciously due to a deter­mination to avoid vulnerability.

The love and union between Aphrodite and Ares is symbolically cel­ebrated in the simple solenoid, one of the basic elements of electro-technology. The phallic rod of iron is enfolded and wrapped round by coils of copper wire through which flows an electric current that magnetises and activates the iron. Feminine dawn and dusk (Cuprum) her­ald with glorious russet rays the ascent and descent of the masculine sun: the return and departure of the hero (Ferrum). These are the special times of Cuprum, beneficial times of change and transition, of renewal and replenishment – and times for making love.

Orange – the second chakra
Orange is the colour most closely related to the nature and personality of Cuprum, seen in the common yellow-red shade – a golden, honey-like colour. This is the colour of the second or sacral (pelvic) chakra, which is associated with the element water and functionally with the genito-urinary tract and the lower, small intestine. Orange is feminine red and yin. In orange, the life frequency has moved upwards, outwards and away from the dense earthiness, groundedness and aggressive passion of red. The pas­sion remains, but no longer anchored to issues of survival and security; orange broadens life, looks for change, moves on, initiates and seeks to express itself uniquely and creatively. Like water, through expansion, orange and Cuprum can overcome barriers, even shatter rocks and dissolve obstacles: a metaphor for the breaking up and dissipation of deeply repressed emotions, destructive habituation and the dire effects of sup­pressed function. The energy of the sec­ond chakra is expressed through change, motion, duality, polarity, desire, free­dom and the interplay between yin and yang: a ceaseless flow that brings con­stant change – a quality inherent in water, copper and electricity.

The orange/copper personality
Both orange and Cuprum are extroverts and sociable; they love parties, dancing and singing, are full of fun, mirth and mischief and love to mimic and tease. They are flirtatious, witty and socially and sexually confident. To achieve its ends orange uses diplomacy, seduction and, if needed, deceit and is willing to bide its time. In their negative presen­tation, however, they cease to flow – they stagnate, contract, suppress and become closed, rigid and fixed in their emotions, holding onto grief and grudge. Often there is outrage at having been exposed to injustice, cruelty or severe abuse. Such an injured Cuprum loses her burnish and becomes dull copper – mat and muddy – unsociable, introverted and restrained – yet with seething, pent-up currents of repressed suffering always in dan­ger of venting violently, either by furi­ous, emotional outbursts or through cramps, spasms and even convulsions. When indicated, homeopathic Cuprum has the power to dissolve, resolve and establish a healing flow.

Flow and sensitivity
Like silver, copper possesses an inner, fluid state revealed in its plasticity: the ease with which it can be fashioned by hammering and pressing without crack­ing (malleability) and its ability to be drawn into extremely thin wires with­out breaking (ductility). This quality of liquidity and flow is paralleled by the metal’s excellent electrical and heat con­ductivity; second only to silver. Con­ductivity, in human terms, indicates sensitivity to both their inner and outer environment, manifest in the Cuprum individual as intense aesthetic and sen­sual awareness, which affords them immense pleasure. Their love of beauty in all its forms embraces both nature and culture. Cuprum espouses especially the ephemeral and elusive beauties, those that bud, blossom and eventually blanch: a magnificent sunset, the fresh­ness of dawn, the magic of spring, the beauty of a garden, the loveliness of a countenance, the fickleness of fashion and the act of love; ephemeral yet eter­nal, because always renewable. Though transient, Aphrodisiacal beauty makes everyday life more charming, more civilised and more passionate. However, Cuprum’s sense of the beautiful can sur­pass that which simply pleases the eye – the formal perfection of an image, the physical attraction of a lover – and can touch that which lies beyond, as, when in profound sexual union, pleasure transports to ecstasy and becomes sanc­tified.

Since antiquity, musical instruments have been fashioned out of copper and bronze, hence it is not surprising that the copper-being loves music, dancing and singing. They are hypersensitive to touch, especially an intimate caress, and to being observed, especially the caress­ing glance of an admirer. Their tolerance for pain is low. The charisma of a strong, magnetic personality can easily infatu­ate them. They pick up on human man­nerisms and frailty and can make both the butt of their gift of mimicry and their wicked wit. They have a telepathic awareness of other people’s thoughts and feelings. These may impinge uncom­fortably on their emotional state. They have well developed “gut instincts” about people and situations.

Cuprum and water
The spasmodic conditions of the Cuprum clinical picture – cough, colic, spasms, hiccough and vomiting are all relieved by drinking cold water. All the associations of copper point to its pro­found relationship to water; the same conclusion was common to many tra­ditions. Greek Aphrodite arose from the ocean-foam. The Aztecs regarded cop­per as the symbol for water and, by extension, equally the symbol for plant life; a symbolism highlighted by the green patina of old copper. Green and red were of equal potency, both express­ing the life force and both vigorously manifest in copper. With intuitive in­sight, their myth perceived that copper­coloured sunbeams are the celestial pathways for water, only visible when they shaft through dank mists and storm clouds, penetrating the earth to great depths where the water is transformed into copper. The myth of another cul­ture envisaged copper coming down from a red heaven of blood, fire, war and divine justice in the form of thun­derbolts that cleave the earth and deposit the red, fiery metal.

The homeopathic provings of Cuprum enable us to unravel the veiled wisdom implicit in these cultural myths, just as we can interpret the personal, dream myths of patients. In psychology, water represents the energy of the uncon­scious and also its mysterious depths and perils. These depths are known as the shadow: the personal abyss. On the spir­itual path of unfoldment, the energy of the unconscious needs to be expressed: the repressed, unrealised and undevel­oped aspects of the Self must be resur­rected, resolved and brought to fulfilment. These myths portray in lurid metaphor the reverse process, by which the traumas, storms and battles de­manded by destiny in the “red heaven” of life, are violently thrust into the inte­rior as a Cuprum psychopathological state instead of being lived-out and over­come. Implosion of such destructive energy must ultimately lead to explo­sion. Note well the phallic words I have used to convey the myth image: shaft, penetrating, thunderbolt, cleaving! The deadly inversion of copper energy is often the effect of masculine oppression and abuse, often sexual.

Suppression – Cuprum’s Nemesis
Cuprum must flow outwards emotion­ally, sexually and functionally. Her enormous, externalising energy may not be stifled. Throughout the clinical pic­ture of Cuprum we witness the phe­nomenon of suppression: things that should come out on to the surface, fail to do so, due to either non-development or suppression. On the emotional plane, powerful feelings and impulses – from injury (especially head injury), shock, fright, grief, bereavement, disappointed love, anger, jealousy, humiliation, assault, abuse and rape – are repressed. In order to repress intense emotions, the Cuprum subject has to control and rigidly close down all tender feelings, needs, instincts, self-expression and even their sexuality. In achieving this they become extremely closed, serious, cold, rigid and uncompromising. They adopt a bureaucratic-like fidelity to responsi­bility, ambition, rules and regulations, order and work. What is marked in Cuprum is the total nature of the close-down and the tendency for this almost absolute control to break down period­ically and unpredictably, with outbursts of most violent emotions. In extreme cases, in the throes of such an emotional convulsion their behaviour is maniacal: they turn on their adversary with all the savagery of a wild-eyed, harlot – spit­ting, scratching, biting, striking and pulling hair.

Repression of the feminine
In myth, the inherent Aphrodite energy within all women rose from the bosom of mother ocean as an independent, all-powerful, generative, primal force, rul­ing both heaven and earth, or was born out of the emasculation of Ouranos, which symbolises liberation from the misogynistic domination of the male principle. Repression of the feminine in any form is a transgression against this freedom, independence and power and will ultimately bring dysfunction or pathology, which may become a Cuprum state. A vital force that is not recognised and valued becomes nega­tive. The use of the contraceptive pill is an abuse of the feminine through sup­pression of the procreative aspect of the goddess and must exact its penalty. The often unconscious repression of the fem­inine may be a defensive response against male chauvinism, abuse, domination and neglect. The myth of the disembodied genitals has then another meaning: the soulless, faceless phallus in the night may represent the rapist, but also a barren relationship devoid of love, beauty and grace in which release and self-gratifi­cation are the motive for intimacy. Sexuality has lost its voluptuous magic; it is neither sin nor sacrament. Gone are its wondrous colours, neutralised to the grey of sexual platitude. To survive, Cup-rum turns off the honey of her love, turns off Aphrodite, and she, the most tactile and lovely of archetypes, becomes averse to touch and the eye of the be­holder. She withdraws her caring, nur­turing, vulnerable, sensual, feminine nature and asserts her critical, domi­neering, exacting, masculine aspect: a patina with which she masks her grief, her humiliation and her indignation.

The return of Aphrodite – the apotheosis of Cuprum
Aphrodite always returns to the sea, immersing herself in the pulsing rhythms of the tide and restoring her virginity. So it is between lovers whose souls touch; immersed in the enveloping, aquatic world of the goddess; all is flow, mois­ture, foam and wavelike movement; streams of energy which unite and mount to climactic liquefaction, bringing that ephemeral moment when the partner assumes an incandescent beauty and golden Aphrodite grants a glimpse of eter­nity. It is always unique; it is always the first time: a paean to Cuprum!

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.


Homeopathic remedy families

Jonathan Hardy discusses two patients treated with medicines in the Cucumber family

In recent years we have developed our homeopathic understanding of reme­dies in groups and families. We have found, for example, that remedies which come from the same family of plants all share a number of characteristics. This is very helpful in practice. The two cases I will relate in this article have been treated with different remedies from the Cucumber family but you will see that the two patients are very alike in their most important characteristics.

The Cucumber family is part of a larger family called the Violales. Through his brilliant and insightful work, the well-known Indian homeopath Rajan Sankaran has demonstrated that the remedies in this plant family share both common physical sensations and com­mon mental states. The pains tend to be cutting, stabbing, stitching or pinching in nature. At a mental level they feel vex­ation and chagrin and the main feeling is that they do not want to be disturbed. They want to be left alone, to rest and they would like to avoid people. Very char­acteristically, they become irritable when questioned. What they most want is quiet­ness, calm and stillness. In the extreme they can become malicious and violent.

Case one
A man who came to see me in June 2005 was 40 years of age and his chief com­plaint was ulcerative colitis. This had been diagnosed three years previously and he was using conventional medica­tion to control his symptoms. The con­sultation began as follows:

“I haven’t really filled out your ques­tionnaire in detail because I’m a bit of a sceptic. I have been badgered to be here by my wife.”

I told him that he was by no means the first reluctant husband I had treated and asked him to describe his symptoms.

“I get grumbles and gripes in my stomach. It’s upset 99 per cent of the time to varying degrees. It’s changed my character. It’s made me very impatient and intolerant and a bit fed up.” (He dem­onstrates here very quickly and clearly the fact that when people get ill they usually show the effects of their disease at both a physical and psychological level. He immediately relates a psychological state to the physical condition.)

“I’ve had no joy with drugs – they work sometimes but not others. A lot of grumbling goes on in my tummy. First thing in the morning I have to go to the toilet straightaway and then maybe ten times throughout the day. Lately I’ve had a kind of hot, uncomfortable feeling which makes me fidget. I’m fed up with the con­sultants.” (So we see the restless aspect and the irritability of the Violale family.)

I ask him to say a little more about the change to his character.

“I have become very intolerant of things that the family do. I hate being questioned. I hate being probed. I’ve been impatient with my mother lately.”

I asked him to say how he felt when people questioned him.

“I just don’t want to talk about it. For example, if my children are having problems at school, I don’t want to talk about it to my wife. Or this weekend at a company barbecue I didn’t want to make small talk with people. What irri­tates me most is repeatedly going over the same subject – I end up making a snappy answer – short and snappy, say­ing ‘That’s the end of the conversation’.”

I asked him to say what it feels like when people are repeatedly asking him about the same thing.

“I feel ‘You’re really pushing me to the limit’ – any minute I’m going to shout. I don’t want to be questioned. Leave me alone. Don’t push me any more. Don’t probe me. I won’t be calm any more. In fact, I’m a bit irritated now! You know, I nearly put that questionnaire in the bin. I felt ‘I haven’t got time for this’.”

I decided to move on to his physical symptoms!

“It’s as if someone is grabbing me inside – a kind of squeezing sensation. I get a kind of cramping and twisting feeling in my abdomen. I want to really push hard, to bend over to relieve it. It really makes me angry when the pain keeps coming back.”

The medicine this patient needed was Colocynthis. Its common name is bitter apple. The leading symptoms of the remedy include a tendency to pent-up emotions, especially anger, restlessness with pain and an aversion to talking, answering or having much contact with people at all. It is very good for all kinds of painful conditions including trigem­inal neuralgia, sciatica and most impor­tantly conditions affecting the gastro­intestinal tract. Pains tend to be cramp­ing, grasping or cutting and pinching. Not surprisingly it is a good remedy in infantile colic which is characterised by severe abdominal pain and tends to be associated with impatience and irrita­bility!

This man is doing extremely well on Colocynthis. Now 18 months later he is nearly symptom-free all the time. He has no pain, no diarrhoea except when he needs another dose of his remedy. He is also much less irritable and much more communicative both at home and at work. If a homeopathic remedy is work­ing properly we should see improvement physically and psychologically. He is much happier and a definite convert to homeopathy.

Case two
The second patient I want to write about is a woman who came to see me in 2002. She was 67 years of age and her chief complaint was arthritis which had been troubling her for three years. She was another patient who was not very forth­coming on her questionnaire and had written less than a dozen words to describe her complaints. I managed to coax a little more information from her during the consultation.

“It has been gradually getting worse. I have no confidence in my GP.” (Cucum­ber patients can be just as critical of their homeopath when the mood takes them!) “I can’t carry much now. It’s mainly my arms and the back of my neck. But I won’t be beaten, I’ll carry on if I possi­bly can. In the last year I’ve been getting really bad headaches as well.”

I asked her if there was any pattern to the pains she was getting in her joints.

“It’s worse when I move, as soon as I start to move I get these horrible pains and it really makes me stop and sit down.”

On questioning I discovered that the pains were of a stitching, bursting nature and were somewhat relieved by firm pressure. Her pains were worse if the weather became too warm and she was generally a warm-blooded person and did not tolerate the heat well. She was a large woman with a somewhat red face and looked a bit fierce. I asked her how the condition was affecting her.

“I’m very frustrated. I’m retired now, I should be enjoying my life but I have to look after my husband who has been ill for four years and also I don’t want to be tied to looking after my grand­daughter all the time.”

I asked her to say a little more about this.

“I don’t want to be clock-watching. I don’t want to be tied down. It can make me very irritable and I explode and then I just want to go away on my own and turn the mobile off and just have peace and quiet. I don’t want anyone to ring me, I don’t want to speak to any­one, I just want to be on my own.”

So again we see the characteristic symptoms of the Violale family: the desire for peace and quiet; irritability and impatience. The medicine this woman needed was Bryonia alba (wild hops). These patients tend to be warm­blooded and thirsty. They are irritable when disturbed and want to be left alone. One of the main areas of action of the medicine is on the joints and char­acteristically the pains are worse for moving and better for firm pressure which were exactly the modalities in this case. The pains are characteristically bursting or stitching and interestingly her headache pains were of the same kind as her joint pains and also aggra­vated by movement. One could say that Bryonia patients are aggravated by movement on the psychological as well as the physical level – they don’t want to have to think or talk. The famous homeopath Margaret Tyler wrote about Bryonia as follows: “If you get a patient with severe stitching pains, worse with the slightest movement, better from pres­sure, very thirsty – long drinks with cold water, very irritable, angry and not only angry but suffering increased by being disturbed mentally or physically, you can administer Bryonia and bet on the result.” This was exactly my patient!

This woman did extremely well with Bryonia. It not only greatly relieved her joint pains but she became much less irri­table and impatient and even happy to socialise and spend time with her family.

There are other members of the Cucumber family which are well-known plants including Cucubita citrullus (water melon), Cucubita pepo (pump­kin) and Elaterium (squirting cucum­ber). These are less well-known remedies but again we can find symptoms which show the general Cucumber family theme. For example, in Cucubita cit­rullus you find “irritable on the slight­est provocation or controversy. Irritable, especially with children. Violent anger.” And in Elaterium we have: “cramping, tearing in the abdomen, with constipa­tion. Violent pains in bowels, with cramps in the abdomen, many places drawn up in knots”. These are very sim­ilar symptoms to that in Colocynthis.

It is fascinating to see the similarities with the symptom pictures of remedies of the same family. This is not only seen in plant families but also in animals from the same family and minerals from the same row or column in the periodic table. It is just one more way in which we can find help in selecting the right remedy for our patients and also one more aspect which increases our sense of fas­cination and wonder at homeopathy.

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeopathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoology before studying medicine and has a special interest in animal remedies.



Food of the gods or the devil’s temptation? asks Marysia Kratimenos while overleaf Vilma Bharatan describes the botanical properties of the cacao bean

Chocolate: one word can evoke such contrasting emotions. To some it’s the ultimate luxury, a sensual treat, yet to others it is a wicked indulgence, the bane of their strict diet that relies on denial and the avoidance of temptation. In these diverse reactions the remedy pic­ture of Chocolate is revealed.

The film Chocolat, based on the book by Joanne Harris, is as deliciously silky and smooth as a bar of the best chocolate. Rarely do film adaptations improve on the original text, but in this case the scriptwriter has managed to add even more homeopathic detail. This is the way to learn new remedies: curled up on the sofa, reading the book or watching the film whilst conducting a proving by indulging in the food of the gods!

The heroine of Chocolat is the enig­matic Vianne Rocher. Her arrival in Lans­quenet, a sleepy French village, shatters the age-old tradition of tranquillité. Lans­quenet adheres to the “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” principle. Denial is the way of life: denial of human desires, human frailties and human emotions.

The character of the Comte de Rey­naud is the embodiment of the Kali bich personality. In his world duty and tradi­tion reign supreme. He is meticulous, precise in his every action. Each precious moment is strictly regulated and account­ed for. He controls the town with an iron grip, insisting on conformity and unity. Individuality is anathema to his way of life and so the arrival of the free-spirited Vianne shakes him to the core. She epitomises the healthy Chocolate per­sonality – vivacious, charismatic, sensual, alluring and potentially dangerous.

The unconventional
After renting out the old pâtisserie from the elderly Armande, Vianne works hard to transform it into the Chocolaterie Maya. Unintentionally she breaks every social convention that the Comte holds dear. Opening a chocolaterie during the Holy Lenten fast is the ultimate affront to his principle of self-control. And there’s far worse to come.

She is unmarried and freely admits it despite the fact she has a daughter, refus­ing to invent a dead husband to hide the child’s illegitimacy. Her honesty is seen by the Comte as flaunting her wanton behaviour. Vianne refuses to accept the Comte’s offer to join the town in Sunday worship. Her faith is more pagan, and that incenses the devout Comte. Vianne’s mother was a Native American and she follows their beliefs. Her red clothes con­trast with the drab colours of the towns­people, showing her flamboyance and her tribal roots.

Chocolate was used as a drink sacred to the gods in Aztec and Mayan tradition. Vianne uses the 2,000 year-old recipe to make her drinking chocolate and flavours it with chilli as her ancestors did. Chocolate was believed to have the power to “unblock hidden yearnings and show destiny”. Vianne is a great judge of char­acter, using an ancient spinning disc to work out a customer’s preferences in chocolate by getting an insight into their psyche. It looks like magic to the un­sophisticated townsfolk. The rigid sci­entific persona cannot begin to fathom such thought processing; it is incompre­hensible to their closed minds and there­fore must be crushed amidst accusations of heresy and witchcraft.

The Comte is determined to crush her as totally as his ancestor purged the town of Huguenots centuries before. He boasts that she “presents a far lesser challenge”. He sets about poisoning the town against her, using the inexperienced and impres­sionable priest, Pierre Henri, as his pawn. In the book, it is the Church which opposes Vianne’s “immorality”, as indeed the Church once attempted to ban chocolate. The film follows the secular path, echo­ing Charles II’s attempt to close down the English chocolate houses, which he con­sidered to be “hotbeds of sedition”.

Despite the Comte’s valiant attempts to isolate her, Vianne’s charm starts to win over the town. Vianne is open-hearted and cannot comprehend the hypocrisy of social niceties. In many ways she is as innocent as her daughter, Anouk, who copes with the nomadic lifestyle she is forced to endure by having an imaginary kangaroo. All Anouk wants is a normal life, a mother who wears conventional clothes and lives a settled existence. Unable to tell her mother directly of her unhappiness at their lifestyle, she says the kangaroo has a bad paw so it must rest and stay in one town.

The negative side of the remedy
Vianne initially attracts the social out­casts of the town: the abused klepto­maniac, Josephine and Armande, the mother of the Comte’s devoted secretary. Both characters show the shadow side of the remedy.

Josephine’s character portrays the darkness of homeopathic Chocolate. She is abused by her husband, Serge, a slave to his brutality, too oppressed to break free until Vianne befriends her. (The chocolate and sugar industries have an appalling history of slavery. Even today cocoa beans are harvested by children sold into slavery by their impoverished families.)

When Josephine escapes from the clutches of her brutish husband, the Comte is outraged that the sacred marriage vows have been betrayed, until he witnesses the evidence of the beatings. He then takes Serge under his wing, determined to trans­form him into a gentleman. Vianne’s mission to restore Josephine to her full potential is far more successful. She uses encouragement rather than the humili­ation the Comte favours.

Armande is a very complex charac­ter. She is estranged from her widowed daughter, Caroline and her grandson, Luc. Caroline is besotted by the Comte and follows his rigid ways to the letter. She is terrified of losing Luc and stifles him with love. Armande, being free-spirited, cannot tolerate this, accusing Caroline of treating Luc like “a trained poodle”. Both Armande and Vianne have dysfunctional relationships with their children. Chocolate can help women with this type of mothering issue. Many women needing chocolate are unable to form close bonds with their children or partners. Treatment with homeopathic Chocolate often leads to a softening of the woman. She stops feeling the need to be so independent and it allows her to reach out to others.

Luc is fascinated by blood and gore, a rebellion against his mother’s strictness. He sees teeth, blood and a skull in the spinning wheel, indicative of the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. Chocolate was sacred to Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent god. It was foretold that the god would return and Montezuma welcomed Cortes in the mistaken belief he was the reincarnated god. As such the Spaniard was offered xocoatl (chocolate) in a gold cup. Traditionally the gold cups were thrown into Lake Tezcoco after use. This lake was drained by the Spaniards to retrieve the gold. Greed features heavily in the remedy profile. Chocolate can be used to treat eating disorders: bulimia and anorexia.

Chocolate was also sacred to the god­dess of fertility and is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. Indeed Casanova used it as a precursor to Viagra and the villagers soon discover this medicinal property.

Traditionally the Mayans used choc­olate to cure coughs and fevers, typical tubercular complaints. Vianne’s wander­lust alludes to this – she shows the rolling-stone mentality that is inherent to those with tubercular heritage. She moves with the sly north wind. She is so individual that she will always be on the fringes of society and, every time she is ostracised, her natural inclination is to move to fresher pastures. She is deeply attracted to the gypsy “river rat”, Roux, being an identical spirit. She champions the cause of the “river rats” just as Armande cham­pions her.

Armande’s motivation is that she sees a younger version of herself in Vianne. A happier self, before convention crushed her spirit, leaving her depressed and as bitter as the darkest chocolate. She is in fact suicidal, indulging in the “forbidden fruits”, given her diabetes. Rather than be condemned to a nursing home as her daughter desires, she has Vianne cook an elaborate birthday meal using choc­olate in every dish. It is literally “death by chocolate”.

The destruction of the gypsies’ boat and Armande’s suicide break Vianne’s spirit. She reverts to her old ways and pre­pares to leave the village with the north wind. Vianne’s natural reaction to rejec­tion is to move to another town. It is Josephine who saves her from herself by making her realise she is accepted by the town.

Vianne had planned a chocolate fes­tival is coincide with Easter Sunday. The shop window is filled with “pagan sym­bols” and the Comte determines to destroy this mockery, not realising how much of Christian ritual is, in fact, derived from paganism. The resurrection of Jesus is iden­tical in concept to the Quetzalcoatl myths.

The Comte gets chocolate on his lips, which proves his undoing. All that pent up self-denial breaks through and he ends up in an orgy of indulgence. Vianne and the priest are the only witnesses to his weakness and both vow to keep the secret. That knowledge of the Comte’s vulnera­bility allows the priest to liberate himself. Pierre Henri does not deliver the sermon carefully scripted for him by the Comte, choosing instead to preach tolerance and humanity: “We cannot measure goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, and what we exclude.”

Chocolate brought about a miracu­lous transformation in the fictional town of Lansquenet. Spirits were lifted, preju­dices demolished, and a freedom from the hypocritical constraints imposed by soci­ety was established. Harmony replaced tranquillité. Everyone was touched by its effects and the wind changes to the south wind bringing Roux back to Vianne. Choc­olate in potency has an equally magical and profound effect on the psyche.

Chocolate the remedy

In health the Chocolate personality is vivacious, charismatic, sensual and allur­ing. Although Chocolate is a plant, the remedy is often missed because the per­son needing it has such a magnetic per­sonality that they are incorrectly assumed to require an animal remedy.

The Chocolate personality is very in­dependent, never needing a man. She has a great gift for insight into people’s char­acters and thus may be unjustly accused of practising witchcraft by the narrow-minded. When stressed, she may develop an eating disorder, either binge eating or developing anorexia. She will distance herself from her nearest and dearest and withdraw into a deep depression. Choc­olate mothers find it hard to bond with their children and tend to move fre­quently, often leaving their children behind with the ex-partner. Chocolate often helps to cure deep-rooted depres­sion especially when associated with acne and an addiction to chocolate.

Theobroma cacao

“The cocoa bean is a phenomenon which nature has never repeated.
Never have so many qualities been brought together
in so small a fruit.”
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

With tiny star-shaped flowers and sur­prisingly large pods popping straight from its trunk and branches the cacao tree is the source of chocolate. The early history of cacao cultivation remains a mystery with many believing the Aztecs to be the first to develop chocolate. However, the word cacao is Mayan (from Central America) and analysis of residue from a ceramic “teapot” sug­gests that the Maya and their ancestors may have been gobbling chocolate as far back as the Olmec civilization some 3,000 years ago. Revered as a tree of divine origin by the Central Americans, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus reflected this sentiment when he gave the tree its botanical name Theobroma cacao. Theobroma in Greek means “food of the Gods”.

The cacao tree
A fussy plant with exacting tempera­ture, moisture and soil requirements, the cacao tree thrives almost exclusively in the narrow tropical belt, 10 to 20 degrees north and south of the equator. In this specialised habitat each tree pro­duces thousands of flowers but only around 20 to 30 get pollinated and go on to produce the pod-like fruits. These pods vary in size, shape, colour and tex­ture and each pod contains around 20 to 60 almond-shaped seeds surrounded by a satin white, sticky sweet pulp. It is these beans that give us our luscious chocolate but only after they have gone through the elaborate process of fer­mentation, drying, roasting, grinding, extraction, mixing and conching. Over the years the extensive cultivation and interbreeding of the cacao trees have produced three major cultivar groups. They are the rarer, prima donna-like Criollo, the high yielding, hardy and dis­ease-resistant Forastero and the Criollo-Forastero hybrid, the Trinitario.

More than 90 per cent of the world’s mass-produced chocolates are made from the harsh and bitter Forastero beans and these are graded as “bulk” or “ordinary” except for the Nacional Arriba, a forastero variety grown solely in Ecuador which is considered a fine or flavour cacao. The almost bitter-free Criollo and Trinitario beans are the most sought after by chocolatiers and connoisseurs for their fine and delicate flavours and are used to make the “very fine” grade chocolates. Due to their high cocoa butter content, chocolates made from fine grade beans have a rich, vel­vety texture and melt just below body temperature with a “finish” flavour that is neither bitter nor astringent.

Health benefits
The beans contain several biologically active constituents and recent studies and reviews indicate that a regular intake of chocolate may have the poten­tial to reduce cardiovascular diseases. Although stearic acid in the cocoa but­ter is a saturated fat, it does not raise LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) as it is converted to a heart-healthy mono­unsaturated fat in the liver.

And finally for chocolate to leave an even better taste in our mouth we can buy chocolate that is “equitably-traded” to help end poverty through sustainable commercial trade. 

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice.

Vilma Bharatan BSc (Chem) LCH PhD, Research Associate at The Natural History Museum, London, is also Research Co-ordinator for Lawrence House Surgery, London which is a training and research GP practice. She also has a private homeopathic practice.


Irritable, tired and fanciful – a case of China officinalis

by Keith Souter

China officinalis was the first rem­edy to be proved by Dr Samuel Hahnemann. It is therefore a very important remedy in the history of homeopathy, and consequently it is one of the first that aspiring homeopaths study.

“As long ago as the year
1790 I made the first pure
trial with cinchona bark
upon myself…
With this first trial broke
upon me the dawn that
has since brightened into
the most brilliant day of
the medical art…”

Samuel Hahnemann*

The remedy comes from the Peruvian bark cinchona, which was used in the treatment of malaria in Hahnemann’s time. It was named in 1742 by the Swedish botanist, physician and zoolo­gist Carolus Linnaeus after the Countess of Chinchon, the wife of a Spanish envoy who was reputed to have been cured of malaria in about 1640.

While translating a medical text by the Scottish physician William Cullen, Hahnemann found himself disagreeing with the author’s explanation as to how it worked. Cullen postulated that it worked because it produced a tonic effect on the stomach. Hahnemann thought this to be highly unlikely, because other astringents had no effect against malaria. Accordingly, he began dosing himself with the drug in his famous cinchona experiment. He found that he experienced symptoms not unlike those that occurred in cases of malaria. From this came the germ of an idea that was eventually to become homeopathy.

China is an extremely effective rem­edy. Indeed, in my experience, when it is well indicated, its results have usually been quite dramatic.

Jason’s story
Jason was 12 years old when I first met him. He was not a happy young man. He had been well until that summer, when he suddenly became ill. He got up in the morning feeling quite well, and then as the morning went on he began to experience a headache. This wors­ened over the course of the day. He felt aching pains in all of his limbs and he started to pass very loose bowel motions. He also felt very tired and he became sleepy. His symptoms persisted over the course of a week, it being assumed by his parents that he had a form of “gas­tric flu”.

After one week of these symptoms he was taken to see his local GP, who arranged for some blood tests, includ­ing an IM screen to rule out glandular fever. These were all normal.

Over the next week he became much weaker, until he was unable to stand on his own. At the end of that week he was admitted to hospital with a provisional diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. In hospital he had many tests, all of which were normal.

During this period of hospitalisation his bowels continued to be very loose, to the point that he had to have intra­venous fluids to correct dehydration. Once that was corrected and the IV drip was taken down he began to experience pains in his back, knees, ankles and wrists. Further tests were done and a rheumatologist was consulted to exclude juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or other arthropathy. Again, all the tests were normal.

The pains settled down, but dizzi­ness started.

The problems at discharge from hos­pital were that he had dizziness and weakness of his legs so that he had to use crutches and a wheelchair. He still had loose motions four or five times a day, but not every day.

His mood, which had been irrita­ble from the start of the symptoms, became progressively more irritable and it was suggested by the paediatrician that his problems could be psychologi­cal. He reacted badly to being referred to a psychiatrist. He felt that all doctors were against him, that they did not believe him. He became irritable towards his parents because he thought that they too believed that his problems were all psychological.

As it happened, his psychiatrist was supportive and a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was made in Nov­ember of that year. He was by that stage unable to attend school, so his mother had given up work to tutor him at home. His strength improved slightly, but he was still using a wheelchair in the house. Outside the home he used crutches.

It was at this point that they decided to try homeopathy, since nothing else had worked.

Irritable, tired and fanciful
The first consultation did not start eas­ily. Jason was openly hostile, suspicious and irritable. He was rude to his mother, angry that he had been brought to see yet another doctor and clearly felt annoyed that he was being made to go over his history yet again.

He did, however, gradually consent to answer questions. He admitted to being tired most of the time. He needed to sleep yet often woke up bathed in per­spiration. In general, however, he felt chilly. He himself attributed it all to hav­ing lost so much fluid when he was first ill. His bowels were still variable, yet overall he thought that he had good days then an equal number of bad days. He experienced headaches in the same man­ner, with alternating good and bad days. Interestingly he felt dizzy when he had days with loose bowel motions.

His tiredness was the real problem. At times he could barely stand because his legs felt so heavy. And indeed, on examination, they did seem inordinately floppy with little strength. It was appar­ent during the examination that he did not like being touched.

In talking about how he was before he had been ill his mother stated that he had always been a bit of a dreamer. Jason then volunteered the fact that he had a rich fantasy life, often imagining himself as a comic book super-hero. Thinking that he was a super-hero helped him, he thought. I found this interesting, since many comic book heroes have alter egos with very definite flaws or weaknesses – some even have marked physical disabilities, which are the antithesis of their super-powered counterparts.

First treatment
The history of the onset after the diar­rhoeal illness was very clear-cut, as was the irritability, the hostility, the perio­dicity of his symptoms, aggravation from touch, the general chilliness and this very rich fantasy life. This all seemed to point to China officinalis, which I pre­scribed in a 30c potency twice a day for three days.

When Jason came back six weeks later he came in without crutches, although supported by his mother who carried his crutches for him. He was grinning and said that he felt very much better. I quote the written summary of notes made by his mother:

“Overall, Jason… is definitely improving and his energy levels are increasing. A marked improvement has been in the number of headaches he complains of and in the frequency of his tummy aches and bouts of diarrhoea. These still occur, but not as often… His mobility is steadily improving and he no longer uses the wheelchair in the house again. The psychiatrist… was very pleased with his progress when he saw him yesterday, whereas a month ago he was extremely concerned and was con­sidering admitting Jason…”

A supportive remedy needed
Jason did well for three months, but then seemed to regress. He started using the wheelchair at home again. The skin worsened and the dizziness worsened. In addition, he felt exhausted at the slightest exertion, whether mental or physical. The loose motions, however, had seemed to settle and instead he com­plained of upper abdominal flatulence.

The China off. had to be reconsid­ered. Failure of the indicated remedy, especially with the cluster of symptoms that he was complaining of suggested that a bowel nosode could help to unblock this impasse.

The bowel nosodes are an extremely valuable group of remedies, which often have a place as intercurrent or support­ive remedies. In Jason’s case I elected to use Bacillus No7, since it is indicated for flatulence, mental and physical exhaus­tion. A single dose in 30c potency was given.

This had an excellent result. Within two days he was picking up. The tired­ness seemed to drift away and his strength returned day by day. The bow­els again became loose one day and dif­ficult the other. He reverted to the China off pattern, but it was much-improved.

Another supportive remedy
I continued to follow him up over the next year, his strength getting better and better. We carried on with the intermit­tent use of China off, with good effect. The wheelchair and the crutches were eventually jettisoned, but as he moved around more, he became conscious of pains in his calf muscles, as if he had been running and had “hit the wall”. This symptom I find often responds well to Sarcolactic acid and I prescribed this in low potency on alternate days.

Gradually he was able to extend his range of activity, being encouraged by his mother all the time. Since she was a golfer she managed to get him inter­ested in learning the game, on a short local course, and over a period of months he eventually managed a regu­lar nine holes. He continued to make steady progress.

Some keynotes of China
China is often kept in people’s medicine cabinets and is often thought of as a remedy for headaches, dizziness and abdominal bloating.

Its main keynote indications are peri­odic fevers and ailments that start after loss of body fluids. Tiredness, irritabil­ity and fancifulness are also usually some­where in the background.

* Materia Medica Pura, Vol iii, 2nd Edition 1825

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul.

Duality and opposites

a key theme of three lesser-known remedies which can have a powerful effect on body and mind, profiled by Marysia Kratimenos

The Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) were the first botanical family to be classi­fied by Carl Linnaeus in the 16th century and there are over 3000 species throughout the world. They are more common in temperate climates. Many are familiar to us as food crops: carrot, parsley, celery and angelica. Others are used as spices: dill, coriander, caraway and anise, or as culinary herbs: chervil, fennel and parsley. The same family con­tains many deadly poisons, like hem­lock. The plants are either highly fragrant or emit a foetid smell. The theme of duality is rife in the remedies made from this botanical family. Homeopathic remedies are made from 33 plants from this family, but few other than Conium maculata and Cicuta virosa are commonly used.

The family name Umbelliferae is derived from the Latin umbellula, mean­ing little shade and alludes to the arrange­ment of flowers in parasol-like clusters. The Eryngium, commonly known as sea holly, is the only species that has a dif­ferent floral pattern. It is a beautiful ornamental garden plant, with glorious spiky blue purple flowers, which dry out due to their air-filled stems, and so can be used in flower arrangements. The other plants in the family look very sim­ilar indeed: non-descript and fading into the background. It is even difficult for botanists to identify the different species; they rely on location and size, but fre­quently have to check plant chemistry to be certain. They all have flowers in vary­ing shades of white.

People requiring one of these reme­dies as a constitutional will often lead very quiet lives, never attracting atten­tion to themselves. Indeed one of my patients complained that no one ever remembered if she’d been to a party or not – she described herself as the prover­bial wallflower. She dressed in a very con­servative way, often in shades of cream and white, just like the remedy she required. She longed to be noticed, and yet would never consider dressing with more flamboyance, like the Eryngium.

The typical flower is divided into five sepals, five petals and five stamens, and the seed cases are divided into two halves each with five external ridges. In numerology the number five is associ­ated with change. In a healthy state this leads to liberty, equality, fraternity, curiosity, adventure, emotional and sex­ual exchange. A negative five means the person holds on to situations and peo­ple, postpones things, has an aversion to challenges, avoids change and exchange, and lives in seclusion and withdrawal. The leaves are arranged in a centrifugal pattern on a hollow stem. Using the Doctrine of Signatures, this is said to betray a tendency to self cen­tredness, which is frequently seen in those that require treatment with these remedies.

The root of the plants is fleshy, as clearly seen in the edible members of the family, such as the carrot and parsnip. The seeds are dry and hard, reminiscent of the warts and stony hard tumours they are often used to treat. The seeds act on the digestive system to prevent accumulation of gases. Fennel tea is used to soothe the stomach and reduce gas and aniseed is made into Ouzo and Pernod liqueurs, which aid digestion. These herbs all stimulate the secretion of the body fluids: sweat, urine, flatus and wind, in varying degrees.

Constitutional types
People requiring constitutional treat­ment with the Umbelliferae have great problems with communication, both on a physical and emotional level. They find it hard and painful to talk. They lack trust, especially in doctors, which can make the consultation quite challeng­ing. They can come across as very angry, resentful and demanding, having a great need to be heard, and feeling neglected and over-looked however much time one spends with them. They resent being ill and dependent on others, so they want miracle cures, preferably yesterday!

They are highly-strung; their nerv­ous system reacts to every sound. Young children can even start to fit at the slight­est noise. As a protective measure to this highly reactive state they often “numb out” in later life. If subjected to any trauma, they tend to block out the pain by a total sensory withdrawal, and sup­press all feelings and emotions.

They fear old age, and dream of mummification. Many develop patho­logical fears of hitting 40, 50 or 60. They will go to extreme lengths to preserve their looks. Certain Hollywood actresses might well benefit from one of these remedies to stop their addiction to plas­tic surgery. One in particular has had her face so stretched that she does resem­ble a mummy!

They dislike the role of motherhood, maybe because they fear the pregnancy and subsequent feeding will adversely affect their bodies. In fact many admit they detest the sensation of pregnancy. They are prone to recurrent miscarriages or may seek therapeutic terminations. If they do have a child, breastfeeding is a real issue, and the lack of milk makes it impossible to nurture the child. They repeatedly take the sick child to the doc­tor, insisting on immediate cures.

The theme of duality and opposites also extends into the sexual realm. There is often increased desire but impotency or frigidity, episodes of sexual excess or total celibacy; often a subliminal “look, but don’t touch” message is sent out.

The behaviour may be childish and immature, in speech, behaviour and emotional development. Grown women dressing in clothes more appropriate for early teenagers – the mutton dressed up as lamb school of style! One lady who came for treatment for her vertigo and responded to Conium maculata beau­tifully, showed this characteristic to its full. She would swan into the room, with her partner who doted on her and would act like a mixture of a man­servant and protector. She dressed in 20s-style clothes, billowing chiffon scarves adorned her petite frame, the room was filled with the scent of expen­sive French perfume and on her head was perched an ornate period hat. She reminded me of Mia Farrow in the film, The Great Gatsby. Perfectly made up and manicured, she was in her late 80s and yet spoke a breathless child-like voice. Her partner was not allowed to touch; he doted on her from afar. Her long-standing fatigue responded well to the Conium. I could just picture her lying sedately on a chaise longue.

Many people requiring the Umbelli­ferae suffer with ritualistic or supersti­tious behaviour, which may extend into obsessive compulsive disorder. It is a means by which to bring order into a chaotic world, a psychological defence mechanism.

Aethusa cynapium
Aethusa cynapium can be easily con­fused with Silica terra. Both are useful in treating children with intolerance of milk, even mother’s milk. Both are help­ful in dry skin conditions with recurrent infections.

The herb is also known as fool’s pars­ley. It resembles garden parsley, but its leaves are darker and glossier and when crushed emits a garlic-like scent. It is poi­sonous due to the presence of coniine. The dried herb loses most of its toxicity. It is indigenous to Europe and Siberia.

If ingested it leads to a burning in the mouth, throat and whole gastro­intestinal tract. It leads to colic, diar­rhoea, then violent convulsions with tremor. Death occurs from paralysis of respiration muscles and the heart. If a sub-lethal dose is ingested, there is loss of the nails and hair. Most animals tend to give it a wide berth due to its smell, but rabbits, sheep and goats appear to be resistant to its toxicity.

One child that responded wonder­fully to this remedy was brought to me with failure to thrive and eczema. He was a tiny baby, although he had been born full term. He was nine months old yet looked like a tiny wizened old man. His skin was appalling. Despite the best efforts of his loving parents, it was a mass of open sores and scratches. No creams or lotions could control the extensive dryness, and the itch was intolerable. Raj would vomit with every feed and was losing weight at an alarm­ing rate. His mother had stopped breast-feeding and was in the process of trying every formula milk on the market. None suited. He sat impassively with his mother, staring with wide intelligent eyes. It was this lack of communication and bond­ing to his mother that alerted me to the possibility of Aethusa. Raj’s mother was beside herself with worry, she obviously doted on her son and yet he showed no reaction to her. She complained he was more interested in the neighbour’s cat. Aethusa patients have a deep love of animals, preferring them to people.

I suggested soya milk formula, and this was tolerated, and Aethusa cleared his skin. He began to open up to his mother and a relationship was eventually formed. Despite his challenging start to life, he did gain weight and reached his developmental milestones. He’s now at school, a petite but far healthier little boy.

Cicuta virosa
Cicuta, the water hemlock, is a highly toxic plant. Humans die within an hour after two or three bites of these “parsnips”. Death is by violent convul­sions. A sub-lethal dose leads to heart and skeletal muscle damage. Native American women used it as a means of suicide to avenge the bad treatment of their husbands, leaving them to reproach themselves for their death.

Cicuta is very useful in treating epilepsy, alongside conventional treat­ment. One young man with epilepsy came to see me as the anti-epileptic drugs were not controlling his fits. The fits had started after a head injury, an indication for the Umbelliferae – ailments follow­ing injury or contusion. He would have a weird feeling in the gut before each seizure, and the slightest touch would intensify the fit. He was quiet and unas­suming, a person who would not stand out in a crowd. His fits would get worse every time his older brother bullied him, and he took delight in announcing that his brother “caused” his fits. The brother would taunt him and belittle him, and Peter’s “revenge” was having a seizure. The Cicuta reduced the frequency and severity of the fits dramatically. As for the sibling issues, Peter is managing to stand up better to his brother, and walking away from confrontations rather than internalising his feelings of resentment.

Conium maculata
The poison hemlock was used to exe­cute Socrates in Ancient Greece. He died from an ascending paralysis of muscles and convulsions, as described by Plato. Conium has narcotic properties similar to Belladonna, which eases the pain of death.

In the first century hemlock was used medicinally for tumours and, as late as the 19th century, was used to ease the pain of cancer as it is today in homeopathy.

It is a commonly used remedy for hard (scirrhus) breast tumours that occur after a blow to the breast. These are more frequent in older women, especially spin­sters and nuns. Conium was used in the Middle Ages to suppress sexual feeling in the nunneries and monasteries.

One patient, Pamela, suffered from recurrent loss of her voice. No cause had been found for this problem, despite extensive tests. It was put down to “hys­teria” by an unsympathetic doctor.

Pamela was middle-aged, had never married and was devoted to caring for her elderly father and widowed aunt. Her sisters had left home to marry, leaving her to be the care-giver. She had no regrets that she had never married or had a life outside of caring for her relatives. She had gladly given her life to the serv­ice of God and family. Indeed she felt blessed to have a purposeful life. She was deeply devout and dressed accordingly; no bare flesh was exposed even on the hottest day. She showed no signs of emo­tion when describing her life or her con­dition. Her voice was very weak and would rapidly fade away to a mere whis­per. Despite her age, she had a fragile, innocent quality to her. In the past she had suffered with numerous benign breast lumps, “as hard as little nuts”.

Conium brought back her voice and she began to express herself more fully. It transpired that her father and aunt were both extremely demanding, nothing she did was good enough. She tolerated their foul moods with a saintly patience, praying to God for more tolerance, but inside she would seethe at her Cinderella-like status.

Pamela managed to pluck up the courage to ask for help from her sisters, which they gladly gave, so she could have short periods of time for herself. She takes the Conium fairly frequently to keep herself calm and tolerant.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice.


…a constitutional case of Carbo veg

Homeopathic remedies work best when all of the patient’s symptoms are covered by one remedy. Julie Geraghty describes how one patient presented diverse symptoms which led to… a constitutional case of Carbo veg

Paul was 35 when he initially consulted me for recurrent chest infections. Every time he got a cold or sore throat, it would go straight to his chest. If he woke up with a sore throat, by that evening he would feel shivery, and then sweat during the night. He then knew he would have to spend the next two days in bed. He described spasms of a deep rasping cough, worse in the late evening, worse when he was lying down. He would cough up phlegm in the mornings, and felt wheezy and congested. These episodes would occur every couple of months, lasting four to five days and leaving him feeling washed out. He had been given antibiotics on several occasions, but with no benefit.

Generally he was feeling tired and unfit. He had always been a very active man, playing sport and sailing. Over the last six months he had been able to do very little exercise as he felt so lethargic. He was now even feeling breathless walking up the hill to his home, which prompted him to seek help. He said there were two things health-wise that had really knocked him over the previous 15 years: glandular fever and then pneumonia. He had been extremely fit until age 20, when he developed glandular fever at university. For the next five years he had recurring bouts of fatigue, associated with swelling of the glands in his neck. “These attacks would floor me. I’d have to lie low for a few weeks.” Gradually these episodes became less frequent, and he was OK for a couple of years, until he had a severe pneumonia six years ago.

The pneumonia had developed just at the time his son was born. He remembers a bad cold coming on two days before, with the cough worsening when his wife was admitted to hospital. “The adrenaline kept me going until I brought my wife and son home,” he recalls, “then I collapsed.”

The cough got progressively worse over the next week, culminating with a high fever and profuse cold sweats during the night. At this stage he was admitted to hospital, and a left lobar pneumonia was diagnosed. This means that one lobe of his left lung was infected by bacteria. He was given antibiotics via a drip for five days, and discharged after a week. Since then, the chest infections following colds have been a real problem.

His other chronic problem is indigestion. As it’s such a longstanding problem, he just accepts it and didn’t even mention it until I asked him. He describes this as constant, every day, but worse when he is lying down. He has heartburn from his solar plexus, burping up acid and and wind. He feels bloated particularly in his upper abdomen, even after a light meal.  He has had an endoscopy which just showed mild reflux from the stomach into the gullet.

He mentions a couple of other problems too.  He developed itchy varicose eczema around his right ankle. He feels his eyesight has deteriorated more rapidly than it should have, going down two points in two years. His eyes feel tired and dry, and he has recurrent twitching of his left lower eyelid especially when he is exhausted.

Asked about his general symptoms, he tells me that he loves fresh air, and always sleeps with the windows open. He hates to be stuffy. He is generally more prone to chest infections in the winter months, and feels more energetic in warm, dry weather. He socialises a lot and drinks a fair amount of alcohol, but is not prone to hangovers. He works long hours as an engineer, and eats erratically. His cholesterol is raised and he is on a drug to lower this.

The whole story is very typical of Carbo veg. People who need this remedy are usually very vital, until they have an acute illness which knocks their whole system out of balance. They then become sluggish and exhausted, and seem unable to recover fully. The whole system seems to slow down, well illustrated by the tendency to develop varicose veins. They become bloated, particularly in the upper abdomen, constipated, and can develop piles. They need fresh air, often wanting to be fanned, to try to counteract this state of stasis and stagnation. Sometimes people who need Carbo veg are even near to collapse, with a weak pulse, shallow breathing and cold sweat if they have become very debilitated by a sudden illness. However, they can recover quickly, even from such a severe state of weakness, if the remedy is administered.

I gave Paul Carbo veg in ascending potencies, a single dose each of 30c, 200c and 1M over two days. I also gave him a low potency, 12c, to use as required for the indigestion, instead of using the frequent antacid tablets he had been chewing.

Two months later, I saw him again. He reported that he had started to feel better within 24 hours of starting the Carbo veg. His energy levels had increased significantly, despite working long hours. He was able to walk briskly up the hill to his home without feeling breathless, which he found very reassuring. His indigestion had not been bothering him much, and he had only taken the odd antacid tablet. He described his varicose veins as feeling much more comfortable, not so itchy or achy. The surrounding eczema had virtually disappeared. He had been really surprised that the veins had improved, as he had not believed that the same remedy could help all his symptoms, and he had been told by his doctor that there was absolutely nothing that could be done for varicose veins apart from surgery. I gave him a couple of spare sets of the combined potencies of Carbo veg to keep in reserve to use when he felt he needed them.

I did not see him again for eight months. At that appointment, he said he had remained overall much better, he had not had any further chest infections and he had never experienced the severe fatigue again. However, he felt he needed another booster dose of the remedy. He had finished the previous doses, repeating them very three months or so. He had been doing a lot of sailing and had some muscular pains in the left side of his chest. He felt he’d been overdoing things, working and playing too hard. The indigestion wasn’t so good again either.

Having checked his blood pressure and listened to his heart and lungs, I reassured him that I thought another dose of Carbo veg would do him good. I have not heard from him again in the six months since that consultation. His wife, who is also a patient of mine, tells me that he is doing very well.

I think Paul’s case illustrates well how multiple different symptoms can all be helped by the same remedy. All his various complaints form part of the same picture, even though they go back many years and involve several different body systems. However all are well recognised for Carbo veg.

Remedy profile
Carbo veg is also known as “vegetable charcoal”. It is prepared by igniting a pile of dry beech or birch wood which is then covered by a thick layer of soil. This slows the burning process down, and increases the intensity of the heat. The combustion process takes place with very little oxygen present, and the wood is converted into volatile compounds and the remaining charcoal, which consists mainly of carbon.

From this process, we can already see many of the themes of the remedy Carbo veg presented. In the “acute stage”, there is a lack of oxygen when the wood is burning, and people who need Carbo veg have inadequate oxygenation of their lungs, as occurs in severe pneumonia or asthma. At this stage, patients feel the need for fresh air, even asking to be fanned. Their vitality is very low, they feel “burnt out”. However, consider what the charcoal that is produced by this process represents: it stores a lot of potential energy and can produce heat for a long period when burned. This is more representative of the “chronic state” of Carbo veg, people who have a lot of vitality. They can keep going, working long hours, and enjoy socialising too. They appear to be strong and resilient, until they are struck by a virus or other infection that knocks them completely. They then quickly become very weak, cold, sluggish, everything slows down. They can alternate between these two states. If the remedy is administered, they can respond quickly and become less likely to suffer these debilitating slumps.

Carbo veg is often used as an acute remedy for indigestion, flatulence or venous congestion.

Dr Julie Geraghty ChB DCH MFHom trained as a GP but now practises homeopathy full time, one day per week at the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital outpatients department and two days per week each in private practice in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Calcarea phosphorica

A combination of two major elements produces an important remedy, writes Jonathan Hardy

Calcarea phosphorica (Calc phos) is a wonderful remedy. It is remark­able that a remedy prepared from a major constituent of the body (calcium phosphate) should have such an inter­esting physical and psychological pro­file homeopathically. The main themes in this remedy have to do with nutrition, deprivation, grief and intellectual study.

A clue about Calc phos is found from our everyday use of calcium phosphate: its main use is in fertilisers and animal feeds (promotion of growth) and in en­amelling, glass manufacture and dental products (reinforcing hard structures). In the human body calcium phosphate is found in bones. The mineralisation of the matrix of the dense outer shell of bones with minute crystals of calcium phosphate makes the bone hard. Calci­um phosphate is the chief constituent of enamel, the extremely hard material covering the crown of teeth.

Nutrition and development
Calc phos comes into usefulness at any time in life when nutrition and growth are especially important. It is therefore a major remedy for infants, children at times like dentition and at puberty when there is accelerated growth.

Infants and children needing this remedy tend to have a dark complexion with dark hair and eyes. They are deli­cate, lanky and scrawny. They have a sunken, flabby abdomen. They can be tall and thin, and have been described as looking “like a Chinese noodle”. Calc phos children can be very insecure. They may bite their nails or often put their fingers into the mouth. They want to be carried all the time.

In developing countries this remedy can be applicable for deprivation syn­dromes like marasmus (wasting of the body) and protein-calorie malnutrition. Calc phos infants can also be emaciated due to any physical illness like diarrhoea, amoebiasis, malabsorption or worms. They can suffer with malabsorption states like Coeliac disease. There is a ten­dency to develop brittle, soft, thin and weak bones and children can have grow­ing pains or rickets. There can be late closure of sutures and non-union of frac­tures, imperfect ossification, kyphosis (curvature of the spine), scoliosis (bend­ing of the spine), and late closure of the fontanelles (the sutures between the bones forming the scalp).

Dentition is a time of stress for Calc phos children and can be slow, delayed or simply debilitate the child. These children are unable to assimilate their nutrition properly and may have the peculiar symptom of an aversion to their mother’s milk. They suffer with severe colic with belching. They can have a ravenous appetite but weak digestion with every bite of food hurting the stomach. They are extremely chilly and Calc phos individuals of all ages are sensitive to the cold, draughts, easterly winds and, most characteristically, the air when snow is melting.

There often appears to be a strong emotional causation in the development of the Calc phos state. One authority says these children often have parents who are generally immature and irre­sponsible or who have suffered from severe economic stress or marital dishar­mony. As a result, the child has suffered from emotional deprivation or, in devel­oping countries, also from nutritional deprivation. These children are often, as a result, anxious and nervous with a desire to be carried all the time. They can be hyper-alert, conscious of every move made by the doctor when exam­ined. One characteristic symptom is involuntary sighing, which appears to be as a result of internalised grief. They often can feel guilty, especially when another child is shouted at or re­proached. They can even become violent when this happens. They are sensitive to criticism, timid and lack self-confidence, but can be snappy and abusive.

Calc phos is a very important medicine for teenagers. They are stressed nutri­tionally as it is a time of rapid growth. They are also under immense pressure to learn and study which is a major aggravating factor for these individuals. It is a major remedy for headache in schoolchildren and students. It is also a major remedy for loss of motivation caused by diminished energy following too rapid growth or disappointments in love – another sadly common occurrence in teenagers! This can lead to the not-uncommon teenage state of apathy, aggravation from mental and physical exertion, peevishness, obstinacy and in some cases the characteristic sighing.

Another major theme in these indi­viduals is a sense of dissatisfaction, bore­dom and a desire for change and travel. Calc phos is a central remedy of the tubercular miasm which has a core sen­sation of feeling restricted with a strong desire to move and break free. A unique symptom of the remedy is: “Home, desires to go and when there, desires to go out”. In other words, restlessness and cannot find a place where they are at peace.

It is fascinating to analyse why this state should be in the remedy. You can gain an understanding by looking at the constituent parts of the remedy: Calcium and Phosphorus. Calcarea people need to have others around them, they want to be protected because they feel insecure and they find their security within their house and home. On the other hand, Phosphorus people have the feeling of being unloved and uncared for and they compensate for this feeling by being affectionate, friendly and sympathetic. We can therefore see that the Calc phos individual wants to go out and relate to others, meet people, communicate and be affectionate and make friends but at the same time feels insecure and there­fore wants to go home again where they can once again feel safe.

It is also interesting to consider that bone (of which Calc phos is a chief com­ponent) not only provides security and stability, but also facilitates mobility. We move around through muscular action on our skeletal system. Calc phos indi­viduals tend to be very active physically as well as mentally. They are often found to be good sportspeople and love phys­ical exercise. It is interesting that sport often involves the themes of activity, mobility and friendliness – the themes of Calc phos. These people are often of an athletic build – tall and muscular. They tend to be lean.

As well as the conditions of infants and children I have mentioned, these indi­viduals can suffer with rheumatism, arthritis, hip joint disease, exostoses (growths on bones and joints), traumatic arthritis, tubercular arthritis, osteo­porosis, easy fractures and slow healing of fractures.

A condition I have found this rem­edy very helpful for is Osgood-Schlatter Disease. This causes inflammation and pain in the shinbone at the insertion of the patella tendon of the knee. It is found in teenagers and can often cause them to have to give up sport for several years. I have found Calc phos invariably quickly curative in this condition.

I have also found this remedy very effective in joint diseases and especially in osteo-arthritis of the knees. The indi­cations for its use are the general con­stitutional state of Calc phos and also the modalities of worsening of the joint pain in cold, windy weather. If the left knee is first affected, followed by the right, that is also an indication for this remedy. One of my patients with osteo­arthritis of the knees also had the help­ful symptom of a very strong craving for pork. These individuals tend to like ham fat, pork, bacon, smoked food and salty food. On the other hand they can have weak digestion and they are especially aggravated by ice cream and other cold foods like ice, cold drinks and fruit.

Another strong theme from Calc phos “Aggravation from mental exer­tion and study” can also be understood by looking at its constituent elements. One well-known authority, Jan Scholten, has drawn attention to the Calcium themes of sensitivity to criticism and a feeling of shyness and insecurity while the Phosphorus element has themes of communication, curiosity, travel and learning and study. Putting these two together produces a number of themes, including the idea of being very sensitive to what others feel about their ability to learn and study. He quotes a very inter­esting case of a woman who had never been well since a trauma at the age of twelve. This trauma was that the head of her school told her parents in front of a number of other people that she was not very good at studying and should go to an easy secondary school. From this point she became anxious, lost her playfulness and started developing physical symp­toms, including severe rheumatic pains in her back. Calc phos produced a marked improvement – she felt better and calmer, her backache disappeared and she recovered her previous cheerfulness.

Because of the sensitivity about what others think of their learning capacities, the Calc phos youngster may start to study extremely hard, a subconscious compensation to try and make sure oth­ers do not think they cannot learn or communicate well. They are always busy developing their knowledge and con­tinuously want to see and experience new things. All this work can then lead to headaches and burn-out – with lassi­tude and apathy. Calc phos is one of the main remedies for difficulty waking and I am sure we all know teenagers who cannot get out of bed in the morning! If the child feels that they cannot live up to the expectations they can sometimes give up and withdraw, developing an aversion to school with headaches or stomach aches and then we have another well-known Calc phos rubric: “Desire to go home”.

Personality type
Calc phos people are friendly and make friends easily. They love to travel. The characteristic thing is that they tend to make a new home wherever they go – home-making comes from the Calcarea element. Any remedy with Phosphorus as an element will show a strong theme of sympathy and communication and will be found in people for whom friends, family and acquaintances are very important in their lives. Calc phos people can suffer with home-sickness, missing their loved ones when they go away from the home. They can suffer from grief and disappointment in love and their reaction can be one of jealousy and irritability. This is one of the rem­edy types which is very sensitive to injus­tice: children are likely to be heard saying “It’s not fair!” – especially when they feel others have been given more love and attention than they have. They can become intuitive. Perhaps as a means to bypass their limitations – knowing they want to learn and acquire knowl­edge but feeling they lack the energy and strength to acquire it in the usual way. This sensitivity may explain another keynote symptom of Calc phos which is fear of receiving bad news. In one of the original provings by T. F. Allen (a great 19th-century homeopath), one of the provers was described as: “Unpleasant news makes him beside himself. Very much out of humour, disinclined to speak, after disagreeable news.”

One of the most fascinating aspects of homeopathy is that of strange, rare and peculiar symptoms. These are symp­toms that are unique to one specific rem­edy and are completely unpredictable. In other words, by looking at the con­stituent elements of Calcium and Phosphorus we cannot predict the strange, rare or peculiar symptom. The same applies to any remedy and shows how important it is to have provings and clinical observations which are the only means by which we come to peculiar symptoms. Calc phos has some won­derful strange, rare and peculiar symp­toms. One is a strong liking for the colour pink and it is interesting that Calc phos girls often have a strong desire for pink clothing. On the other hand, when they are older they can become tomboys, preferring to climb trees and other out­door pursuits.

Calc phos is one of our most impor­tant remedies. It has provided relief for patients of all ages, physically, emo­tionally and mentally and will, of course, continue to do so.

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeo­pathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoology before studying medicine and has a special interest in animal remedies.


Calc carb

A young mother at the end of her tether, suffering from psoriasis and painful muscles, led Anne Pettigrew to prescribe a constitutional remedy of Calc carb

Modern life is stressful. Not in the way our ancestors perceived stress. No one nowadays has to run from a sabre-toothed tiger! Man alone in nature has had the power of reason and the ability to control his environment, admittedly not without ecological mistakes. But thinking we can control everything takes its toll of our health.

Many people now assume the human body should be able to withstand everything we throw at it, and that all emotion is controllable. Recognising our coping limit is reached, that we need space and time to breathe and that sometimes saying “no” to others’ demands is permissible, is seen as weakness. As a GP in the 21st century I am aware this is a growing problem, especially in women now fulfilling so many roles at once with little time for contemplation of their own needs.

Such a patient was Margaret. This was a young mum referred to me by an enlightened rheumatology colleague. She had psoriasis and fibromyalgia, a condition with painful muscles that until recently many doctors did not believe in. Now that an assessment scale counting recognised specific, common painful points has been invented, the condition has become accepted. (Would that we could introduce homeopathy similarly!) Like many “diseases”, once recognised it seems quite common, mostly in women.

Margaret was plump, jolly, trying to appear cheerful, yet looking tired with dark shadows under her eyes. Speaking frankly, she was convinced she had some kind of “inflamed arthritis”, worrying that lack of blood tests or x-rays proving this indicated a mental illness, which was less worthy in the eyes of doctors, her family and indeed herself.

She also had a diagnosis of hypermobility syndrome: patients with very mobile joints able often to bend their thumbs back towards their wrists. Patients with this are often atopic, that is to say they are allergy sufferers. Margaret didn’t have allergies but suffered sore, painful knees which cracked, especially first thing and climbing stairs; she had aching lumbar/neck pain worse for lying on her back, pains in various muscles and weak wrists which made her drop things. Her weight had steadily climbed to 16 stone from 91/2 before her two children, now eight and two years old.

In the first pregnancy she was puffy with high blood pressure resulting in an induced labour. Her second delivery was traumatic and painful as her epidural failed. She admitted to anger for some time that she suffered so much at delivery, but now felt with the perspective of time that it was no one’s fault. She now only feels angry pre-menstrually when trifling incidents are disproportionately irritating. Her “long suffering husband” she said just ignores this now!

After her first pregnancy she had psoriasis on her back, scalp, left forearm and elbow, which had waxed and waned. Reading that psoriasis can “cause” severe arthritis, she worried this would happen and reduce her ability to care for others. She felt unable physically to work to augment family income as her friends mostly did, though admitted money was not short. Socially she had always been gregarious, keen to help, supportive, talkative, and “out all the time”.

Now she felt she wanted to “blend into the background”, becoming irritable when people wanted to involve her. Confidence had slipped, concentration was difficult and her memory for locating things and people’s names was poor. It was not until we explored how she was perceiving and thinking about her surroundings and family and friends that she realised how much she had changed since the birth of her last child.

Always conscientious, she felt guilty giving up as the Young Women’s Group secretary, her Brownie Pack leadership and helping friends as much. She had no fears except that she might go or be thought mad, had no dreams, slept well but was uneasy at how she envied those without pain. She tried not to feel sorry for herself, but did (“it’s just one thing after another”) and felt powerless to do all the things she felt she “needed” to, which she thought was the same as “wanted” to. Finally though she concluded “but I can’t do everything”.

This should be an anthem for all young mothers, whether working or not! Daily I see exhausted, depressed women acting as worker, mother, wife, lover, cook, housekeeper, accountant, gardener etc. They have lost touch with themselves, seeing life as a treadmill of service expected by society, and seem powerless to ask for support. They do not recognise in themselves the “wrong thinking” (as the Indian homeopath Sankaran suggests) of deluded indispensability or “wrong living” (as Hahnemann suggested) of continual activity triggering their physical complaints. Anger (at inability to achieve the unachievable in modern woman) and vexation (at insufficient time to attempt it) are both considered fertile ground for illness by Hahnemann in his book, Chronic Diseases.

This lady summed up her situation: “I want to shut myself up in a shell”. Life seemed more than she could cope with. Her instincts told her to nurture her children, but she felt social pressure to work, to serve others. Curiously the remedy, which banished her pains and psoriasis, Calc carb, is made from oyster shells! A most useful polychrest remedy covering many of her symptoms.

Four days after taking 1m/200c/30c doses over three days, she had an aggravation with severe muscle pains and a rash on neck and chest. After four weeks she was free of pain in her knees, feet, elbow, neck and back, less irritable, less depressed, was thinking more clearly and aware of an energy surge. Her period came without warning or PMS. Psoriasis settled over several months.

Margaret needed further doses of Calc carb over a two-year period at times of additional stress eg financial loss (Calc carb also has fears over security/money issues). More importantly she has looked for the first time to herself as a person with needs. She started yoga for relaxation, exercise to improve fitness and had support from a slimming group to lose weight. The only conventional treatment she had been offered was an impossibly punishing physiotherapy regime without emotional support or effort to explain its rationale.

She now realises that the best way for her to take care of those she loves is to look after herself physically, emotionally and mentally, that stress sends signals to her muscles preparing for primitive “flight or fight” which is impossible in civilised societies and exhausting if not relieved. She understands now that emotional signals to her muscles can “prime” them to reduce pain thresholds, she listens to her body, allowing periods to repair emotional or physical exhaustion and above all, knows she cannot do everything.

I wish a few more women would take this to heart. And men too need to say “no” to impossible work demands, which have a similar effect.

Anne Pettigrew MFHom, a West of Scotland GP for 23 years, has found homeopathy invaluable in her practice especially in women’s health and psychiatry.

Calc carb

In our first masterclass we discussed the nature and temperament of Sulphur, the fire element reflecting the energies of the volcanic phase of evolution. Sulphur represents first man whose ability to experience human love, to have foresight, insight, self-consciousness and death-awareness, exposed him to the possibility of prolonged fear, grief and bereavement. These emotions created first dis-ease and later disease, as man, cast out of the Garden of Eden, stepped out of harmony with himself, nature and life.

This is the beginning of his quest. He is freed from the instinctive restraint and unconscious wisdom of nature and sent out into the world in search of his spiritual destiny. It is Sulphur who swaggers through the portals of Eden and, filled with the bliss of ignorance (not stupidity), discovers fire, his birthright, and becomes the hunter-gatherer and the pioneer.

Through evolutionary sequence the next archetype of the materia medica is Calc carb – the oyster – representing an awful sense of isolation, severance from mother nature, separation fear and naked exposure to a hostile environment. It is Calc carb who first becomes aware of being forsaken and alone under a menacing, over-hanging cosmos, pawn-like, solitary and insignificant, and so painfully conscious of duty and responsibility displays a mollusc-like need to produce a calcareous shell to protect herself against a sense of self-consciousness, inferiority and vulnerability to legions of dangers.

We can perceive that the nomadic wanderer, adventurer and explorer Sulphur gives place to an archetype which cherishes the security of hearth and home and is settled, domesticated and rural by nature. In ancient times the fire of Sulphur became the sacred fire that sanctified the home, the temple and the city. As the fire in the hearth it became the central focus of the home, providing warmth, illumination and sustenance, symbolising the protective, sheltering and nurturing qualities of Calc carb and its associated mythological archetype, Hestia, the Greek goddess, whose presence was necessary to make a house become a home.

The first organisms to evolve in the super-hot environment of primitive earth were sulphur dependent. In the pre-Cambrian period, 2000 million years ago, the ancient seas provided the birthplace for the next important organism in the chain of emerging life forms. This was the blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, an organism with the ability to utilise solar light energy to manufacture its own nutrients whilst releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The cyanobacteria were also able to secrete calcium carbonate, which they did in prodigious amounts and in a most spectacular fashion, to create their communal homes. These limestone edifices, known as stromatolytes, endure to this very day, despite millions of years of erosion. The cyanobacteria were the forerunners of all the myriad species of shell creatures, the molluscs, which were to follow – including the oyster.

From the inception of life, Calc carb has had to do with home-building, community-building, security and protection. The stromatolytes stand as monuments to the immovable stubbornness, the persevering industriousness and constructive capacity of Calc carb. Likewise the great limestone formations of the world, built up over eons of years by the aggregation of myriads of shells of tiny sea creatures give testimony to the slow, progressive and enduring nature of the Calc carb life processes. The same ordered and purposeful energy pervades the activities and communities of the social insects – the termites, ants and bees – and the energy is matriarchal.

Within the oyster lies the pearl, cool to the touch yet holding a hidden iridescent fire, seen as a symbol of spiritual wisdom and esoteric knowledge. Hence Christ’s use of the metaphor – “neither cast ye thy pearls before swine”. The pearl was amongst jewels the quintessential symbol of light, femininity and the moon and was also an emblem of fertility, purity and perfection. The oyster has always been a symbol of female sexuality, fertility and the creative power of the feminine principle. In its closed form it is the image of innocence, chastity, discretion and secrecy. This intuitive wisdom of the past throws light on our understanding of the mystery of this great remedy, for all these qualities are inherent in Calc carb.

the calc carb adult…

Homeopathic Calc carb is derived from the middle layer of the oyster shell and must be regarded as an animal remedy and not just a mineral. Calc carb is the fundamental representative not only of the molluscs but also of all life forms derived from or influenced by the sea, including those mammals which returned to the sea and developed fish-like attributes. The obese human image is their constitutional counterpart.

The body of the oyster
is soft, yielding, spineless and flabby to the touch. It is cold, clammy and wet; to the eye it is pallid and anaemic looking. Many a Calc carb subject possesses these characteristics. We can admire the grace and strength of a whale moving through its natural domain, but if this ancestral type should preside over a child or adult, they may resemble a beached whale, unfit for terrestrial life – overweight, flabby, lacking muscle tone, awkward and clumsy, with weak joints, bones unable to bear their weight, prone to spinal curvatures, dislocations, sprains, strains and cramps. They lack stamina, strength and breath and the least effort or emotion causes them to flush and break out in a cold, clammy sweat.

Compared with the shells of other molluscs, that of Calc carb is crude, irregular and rugged, its features may be coarse and unrefined, large and thickened, peasant-like with large nose and lips, especially the upper one which may appear swollen. From these beginnings two physical types emerge.

The first produces the classic picture of the Calc carb woman: often blonde and blue-eyed; a great fat woman without breath, strength or energy; without firmness, colour or health; fair, fat and flabby with a hand that feels like an oyster, cold, clammy and boneless; and damp, cold, clammy feet. These types, male or female, are generally indolent, inert and sedentary, lacking initiative; like the oyster ever waiting for life to come to them; content and complacent, lethargic and unambitious, not easily aroused or stirred and immovably stubborn. They are often awkward and clumsy. Extremely self-indulgent, their one enthusiasm is food. They adore sweets, especially pastries, and even more so if topped with cream; hot meals, substantial food which comforts and rewards, stodgy, starchy foods – bread, potatoes, pasta; eggs in any form and dairy products. Sweet, salt and sour are equally appealing to the palate. The price is obesity, cellulite, shortness of breath, especially when ascending stairs, heartburn, flatulence, diaphragmatic hernia, abdominal distension, inability to tolerate tight clothes, a sluggish liver, gallstones and chronic constipation.

The second type is sturdy, strong, vigorous and industrious. Earthy, honest, good-natured, generous and hearty. Blessed with immense patience, endurance and stubborn perseverance, they work and build assiduously, adhering faithfully to predetermined systems and structure. They are ordered, precise, meticulous, reliable and responsible. They are very capable, always painstaking and practical, whether it is in the home, out on the land, or in business. Their lifelong striving is to provide security, sustenance and education for their dependents and themselves rather than wealth.

Paradoxically some may present a mixture of these two types: either a soft, flabby exterior with a hard kernel of resolve and determination, or a tough, powerful exterior and a soft, timid, marshmallow-like interior.

Unfortunately like all the carbons, Calc carb may suffer burn-out. Their tendency to take on ever increasing responsibilities; their diligence and unremitting application to their work, driven by their need to provide and protect, and often a fear of poverty and want, leads to a downward spiral culminating in exhaustion, loss of motivation and the will to go on. They become timid, indecisive, mentally confused and finally fear for their sanity and that people will notice their mental deterioration. Sanity is their pearl. It is like the queen at the centre of the termite nest or the hive. Without her, structure and order are lost – all is confusion and collapse.

There is a slowness and ponderousness about Calc carb. The metabolism, the thyroid, the glandular development, the mental, emotional and physical growth and maturation, the venous and lymphatic circulations, the resistance to infection, the ability to repair and convalesce and the digestion, are slow and tardy. The intestinal functions are so slow that they feel healthier when constipated.

The woman who manifests Calc carb in her life is the hearth keeper, a homely presence, committed to her family and her domestic responsibilities, which she discharges with a warm and caring selflessness. Calc carb finds housekeeping a meaningful activity rather than a chore. She is a woman who finds a sense of inner peace, harmony and fulfilment as she accomplishes her everyday tasks. Nor does she work with any sense of sufferance, martyrdom or righteousness. Her (or his) hospitality and generosity are legendary. Her home is her oyster and she is the pearl at its centre. Whether as guest or family member the Calc carb home is a good place to be.

With time she becomes the wise old woman, the elder of the family, who has witnessed it all and has emerged undaunted and seasoned, able to give wise counsel and spiritual insight. The grit of life experience has produced within her the pearl of wisdom. She remains remarkably detached and stable, philosophically unperturbed by the vagaries of life. The spiritual path of Calc carb is often the path of work, known in yoga philosophy as the path of karma – by which one serves the creation through selfless, loving work. Calc carb builds and works and serves, and in its highest form sacrifices self through service, without expectation of recognition or reward.

the calc carb child…

The Calc carb infant is often a floppy baby – soft, fat and flabby, with a big head and a distended abdomen; fair-haired, fair-skinned and blue-eyed; bloated and dimpled rather than of solid, hard fat. They sweat copiously about the head at night, wetting the pillow. The perspiration and the entire child smell sour. Their hands and feet are cold and clammy. Their complexion may be peaches and cream, but often they are too pale; chalky-white and frequently anaemic. They suffer terribly when cutting teeth, which is often delayed, developing respiratory tract infections and a diarrhoea which is sour, pale, offensive, and acrid, burning the buttocks. They soon become prone to recurrent colds, ear, tonsil and chest infections. Their fevers are intense and may cause pyrexial convulsions. Belladonna is often the best remedy for the acute phase of Calc carb conditions, but it is Calc carb which can change the constitution and build resistance.

These little ones are often slow in reaching their milestones. Usually this is not due to any mental incapacity or deficiency. It may be aggravated by excess weight and lack of muscle tone, but generally it is a reluctance to emerge from their shell or a belief that all they need will come to them, like the ocean brings food to the immobile oyster. The fat Calc carb baby is content to sit where placed, twiddling its toes or amusing itself with some object, for hours on end. Their hesitancy is often due to an innate fear of a hostile world. In the extreme case autism may result, producing an undemanding low-care infant that remains withdrawn and unresponsive, disinterested in those about them and even averse to physical contact and caresses. However more frequently, baby is quietly assimilating, digesting and storing all the impressions it receives, and finally astounds everyone by suddenly standing, having never crawled, and uttering a string of words, having previously said only “mama”.

The slowness may continue through school. Much encouragement and support are essential from both parents and teachers. It is vital that they receive a good grounding on which to build their future knowledge systematically. With a structured foundation, time and patience Calc carb may surpass the achievements of a more precocious child. Often Calc carb is the fabled tortoise that outstrips the hare.

the calc carb fears…

We have seen that it was Calc carb who, in the process of evolution, first became aware of being separated and isolated, abandoned and forlorn, in what they perceive as a threatening environment, and sought to hide within a shell. The Calc carb child and adult have all manner of fears which are present from the cradle.

First amongst these is a deep and irrational fear that their parents will abandon them. The child fears almost everything it sees, especially anything new and unfamiliar. Their fears are increased after nightfall; they are afraid of the dark, of being alone, of ghosts and monsters. These are children who need to sleep with their parents. On closing their eyes before sleep they are terrified by horrible faces; when asleep they are prey to dreadful nightmares; when awake they are deeply disturbed by seeing anyone facially disfigured or maimed. They are frightened by anything grotesque. Scary movies haunt them for weeks and provoke nightmares.

They are terribly sensitive, self-conscious, shy and timid, easily take offence and fear being mocked or ridiculed. They dislike being watched and fear public performance. Calc carb is a remedy for school phobia and for children who have been abused, sexually or otherwise.

Other fears are: heights; claustrophobia; dogs; insects, especially spiders; disease – TB, cancer, infections, insanity – they are hypochondriacs and have symptoms which are worse for thinking of them and they despair of recovery; the future; misfortune; accidents; poverty; starvation; storms and natural disasters. They cannot bear hearing about tragedies and terrible things happening, tending to identify with the suffering of others. They are stubborn in their fears and not easily reassured. They also have a fear of authority figures. They pick up on people’s “vibes” and may develop an unreasoning antipathy towards certain people. Fearing life as they do, they may, even at an unusually young age, become preoccupied with religion and death, and whether there is life after death. This may progress to religious melancholia.

DAVID LILLEY is a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy. He trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.

A case of Black jaguar

Jonathan Hardy discusses the themes of wild cat remedies and the treatment of one of his patients

A very exciting new group of reme­dies is the wild cat group. We have started using remedies prepared from these wonderful creatures only recently but already we are beginning to understand the kind of disease states and the type of patient who will respond to them. I have seen about fifteen wild cat cases in the last four years.

We have a number of wild cat reme­dies, including Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Cheetah, Snow leopard, Puma, Lynx, Bobcat and Jaguar (of course no animal is harmed in the manufacture of the homeopathic remedies). It is amazing how our everyday knowledge and intu­itive perceptions about the sources of our homeopathic remedies is so close to the information which we acquire through homeopathic provings and clin­ical practice. When I give a seminar for colleagues I like to start with a brain­storming session in which everyone says what comes to their mind when they think of the remedy group we are study­ing. With the wild cats the following words usually come up in the first minute of the session: fierce, strong, powerful, beautiful, courageous, secre­tive and predatory. The sort of person who responds well to these remedies will show such characteristics.

The wild cat personality
They are powerful people and can be intimidating. They are often big with a loud voice and can be overpowering, taking over the consultation. They are often very successful and rise to the top in their profession. They exude an air of authority and you don’t feel like chal­lenging them! There can be a theme of power struggles in their lives – mirror­ing the fights for dominance seen in the wild creatures themselves. They tend to be outgoing, upbeat and energetic with a warm and affectionate nature.

They are strong, self-assured and with a good opinion of themselves. They tend to be ambitious and independent. They are self-reliant and often leave home early to get on in the world. They are proud and sensitive to any perceived insult to either themselves or others.

Honour and integrity are important to them. They cannot stand injustice – they fight against it fiercely. And ferocity is another theme: they can have a raging temper! So you see how our perception of these creatures as noble, proud and strong animals is reflected in the per­sonalities of “wild cat” patients.

One unique feature of wild cat patients which I have not observed in other remedy groups is the tendency to go into a state of awareness which is like that of a predatory animal, with height­ened awareness of the body. It is an intense, physical state with awareness of the muscles and every movement they make. There is a heightening of all the senses, increased awareness of the world around them. When feeling like this they experience increased agility and per­formance at sport.

Another unique feature is the way the patients move. They can be smooth, almost gliding in motion, very poised and purposeful. One of my Tiger patients would literally prowl into my consulting room! They sometimes say they can be very slow and still and then suddenly very fast when needed.

Wild cat children are precocious; often very athletic and confident. They are very competitive and if they have brothers or sisters there is a lot of sib­ling rivalry. They can be extremely bossy – ordering not only their friends but also their parents around. Sometimes they can have behavioural problems and be angry and abusive, rude and confront­ational. They can explode with minimum provocation and go into a screaming rage. On the other hand they can be great fun, the life and soul of the party, singing and dancing and “holding court”. They tend to be dare-devils, jumping from high places and climbing trees.

Homeopathic use
These remedies are useful for more or less any kind of symptom picture or dis­ease if the patient’s psychological pro­file indicates that they need a wild cat medicine. The following are some of the conditions and symptoms which I have seen clear up after administration of a wild cat remedy: behaviour disorders like anger, rage and aggression; gastro­intestinal problems: regurgitation, dys­pepsia, constipation; eating disorders; obesity; chronic fatigue; temperature imbalance; eczema, molluscum conta­giosum and premenstrual syndrome.

The case
The patient is a man of 35 who com­plained of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, tinnitus and swelling of the parotid glands which are the saliva producing glands in each cheek. These symptoms had persisted for years and responded to no treatment until finally I realised he needed a specific wild cat remedy. As usual in homeopathy, personality was crucial in selecting the remedy. This is how he described himself.

“I’m loud. I’m very talkative and happy and easy-going. I say what I need to say. I get tired of my own voice – I always seem to have an opinion and it’s often the opposite to what other people think!

“I’ve a very clear view of what I see as right and wrong and I hate what I per­ceive to be injustice. If I see injustice I have to attack. I don’t like prejudice or bullying or abuse of power. I don’t think you should patronise people – it’s belitt­ling. But when I’m angry I can belittle other people, I hate bullies but I can become a verbal bully myself.

“When most people first meet me they think I’m loud and arrogant and they might tell me later that they even hated me and found me annoying. I can be argumentative and I’m probably con­frontational.

“I’m very affectionate. I love kissing and hugging my children. I’m very phys­ical. I kiss my father and I hug my friends. I’m very loyal.

“I can have roaring arguments with very good friends. But I never bear grud­ges. My wife says my temper is explo­sive and that I have a very scary face when I lose my temper.

“I love people with big characters. I collect them and enjoy their company. I’m a lazy lion – I like to sit and think.

“My hay fever is not as bad as it was in the past – it used to be savage.”

He continues: “Sometimes I get into this strange state. It’s very intense and I’m very aware of my body. It’s a phys­ical awareness – my blood, the heart­beat. I’m very aware of the muscles in my arms and legs and I feel very strong. I feel very alive and very alert. My breathing becomes deeper and I’m very aware of it and the action of all my mus­cles. It feels almost like I’m an animal.

“I can almost visualise the movement of my muscles. All my senses become heightened. I’m very aware of the world. I see more than normal and I pick up more information. I’m more awake and I feel excited. My sense of hearing and smell are more sensitive too. I see more. For example, I see a bird flying overhead and at the same time a man walking down the road and my eyes move more quickly.

“I’m aware of people watching me and when I’m in this state I listen more than talk. I feel very coiled, explosive. I pause and watch and am aware of what’s going on and what’s above eye level, in trees, in buildings. When this happened when I was a boy I used to play football very well. I feel very alive and very aware of colours, and aware of everything around me and all the sounds. I’m very aware that I’m alive when I’m in that state.”

I asked him if he had any dreams.

“When I was a child I had a recur­rent dream of escaping. I had to escape with my family through the skylight and across roofs. I had dreams of flying and floating and of jumping off buildings. And then in real life I used to want to jump from high places a lot. I hurt myself sometimes. I used to jump from tree to tree and I wasn’t frightened at all.

“I had a recurrent dream that I was very fast and everything around me was very slow. I have a dream which I call my ‘shadow dream’. Something’s fol­lowing me – a leopard or a cat – it’s always behind me and to the left, just out of my vision. I can feel it coming. When I was a child it scared me, but now I find it reassuring. It’s a big black cat.”

You can see why I wanted to give him a wild cat remedy – he showed so many of the themes of this group. But which one? Well, he got Lion (“I’m a lazy lion”) – and it did nothing! He got Leopard (from his dream) – and it did nothing. Tiger helped him a little for a while and then stopped working, so I knew I was getting close. I wondered about this “big black cat” and then I realised that jaguars have a black variety. And jaguars are big powerful animals – the top pred­ator in South America.

My patient finally got his remedy: Black jaguar in a 200c potency. His progress has been very good since: the tinnitus is much quieter, the irritable bowel syndrome much better and the parotid swelling reduced. This was a very exciting and instructive case for me.

Other wild cat remedies I have used include Lion, Tiger and Snow leopard. Lion people feel like the “King of the Jungle” – powerful and in control. They are concerned for the welfare of others. They are very direct – one of my Lion patients said, “I don’t pussyfoot around”! Honesty and respect are very important to them.

Tiger people are very strong, pow­erful and fierce. They are born leaders and tend to work with very important and influential people.

Snow leopard people are very beau­tiful, immaculately dressed, slightly exotic and dramatic – somewhat like our perception of snow leopards as elusive, rare and special.

Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been practising homeopathy full-time in Hampshire since 1985. He obtained a degree in zoology before studying medicine and has a special interest in animal remedies. 

Flying High

Jonathan Hardy discusses bird medicine in homeopathy

Bird remedies are very new in homeopathy. They have only been proved in the last few years and for this reason it has been very exciting for me that in the last year I have seen a number of cases requiring them. Medicines are prepared from the feather, claw or blood of the bird since any part contains the essence of the whole.

When we think of birds we think of flight, soaring high in the air, bird song, the countryside, freedom, preening… It is fascinating then to find that patients needing bird remedies often demonstrate these themes in their lives. Each individual bird will have a particular theme or issue which characterises it.

Peregrine falcon
Peregrine falcons, cruelly persecuted for centuries in the British Isles, were driven nearly to extinction and are now making a modest comeback.

The central theme in this remedy is a deep sense of isolation. There is a very strong feeling of being excluded. The patient feels neglected and repudiated by friends, family and society as a whole. Patients may well have been actually deserted by their birth parents. They will usually have experienced severe abuse of a physical, emotional and/or sexual nature. As a result, there is a great deal of anger, which may either be suppressed or expressed. The anger is often directed at family members. There is often a feeling that siblings were more loved, more accepted, considered more important. There is also a very strong aversion to injustice.

The negative feelings are internalised. There is a very negative self-image with feelings of disgust at oneself and at one’s body, a feeling of ugliness. There is a very deep sense of shame, humiliation and resentment.

These feelings can lead to a deep sense of hopelessness and apathy. The patient may become discontented, discouraged, indifferent and lazy. There is indifference to household duties, to work, to family members, to everything.

I have used this remedy in about ten patients. Some of these are people who have suffered very severe abuse in childhood. Their feelings of anger, isolation and the negative feelings they have about themselves have been greatly relieved by the remedy, as have a range of other psychological and physical symptoms.

Ravens, the largest member of the crow family in the British Isles, are known to be extremely intelligent birds. They have been severely persecuted for centuries and this may be why there is such a strong sensitivity to danger, the wellbeing of the family and to the suffering of others in this remedy. The deepest inner feeling is the conflict between the desire to care for others and the desire for freedom.

Coming from the central dilemma, there is worry about work and activity, a tendency to be “hyperactive” and constantly hurried. There is a feeling of being intruded upon – of one’s space being taken up, and a desire to escape from that pressure. There is a pre-occupation with caring for one’s dependents and worrying about them. In the individual’s dreams and imagination, she is flying away from these obligations, up in the air, in nature, in the mountains where she is free, where her mind is released from constant worry.

One of my Raven patients cared for a family member for many years in her own home. She carried out her duties towards this person faithfully and without any resentment but suffered greatly because of the way it restricted her freedom. She said to me, “I wish I was a bird. I would like to open my wings and glide – I’d like to feel the air in my wings, to fly away for a day. It would be lovely to be soaring and admiring the view and then hopping back to security when I wanted to. To have freedom, which I feel robbed of in my home.” What amazing imagery!

She went on: “Singing is a definite outlet for me, I love it. I have singing lessons. I’ve got to keep myself sparkly so that I can cope. I feel like a food machine.” Aren’t these feelings so like you would expect a bird to feel – the obligation to feed, feed, feed the young in the nest and the desire to fly away from it all and soar in the air! After the remedy she felt much more at peace with the situation.

Eagle patients project an image of self-confidence and power. There is a feeling of contentedness with oneself and confidence to confront injustice, authority and people in positions of power, to express oneself freely and to get one’s way. The individual is calm, self-assured and poised.

The essence of the Eagle state is extreme anger and/or fear, which is very deeply suppressed. This suppression can lead to insomnia and other symptoms of stress. There is a very strong desire for self-control, due to fear of expressing anger and/or violence. The patient has extremely high standards, and expects a lot of himself and others. He can be critical. The ability to control himself also equips the individual for positions of power and influence in which it is necessary to maintain order and structure and to control and dominate a number of other individuals.

One of my Eagle patients was a young woman suffering with insomnia. She had been so keen to fly that she learned to fly at the age of 16. She was someone who appeared completely comfortable in herself – confident, poised, free of worries and in control. Just how you might expect an eagle to feel! Her job was one in which she had to control and organise a large number of people and she said she both enjoyed that and was also good at it. The remedy cured her insomnia.

Scarlet macaw
Macaws are very colourful birds, having bright blue and red feathers. They live together sometimes in groups of hundreds. They are parrots, birds famous for their ability to communicate.

A Macaw patient is someone who is very comfortable with being themselves. They like “to speak their truth”, are confident and happy to be seen and to be heard. In fact it is very important for them to be heard, for what they believe in to be spoken out loud in a group – rather like the macaw, so colourful and noisy you cannot miss them!

They have good relationships with their family and friends. There is a feeling of effort­lessness – that everything is good and will continue to be good in their life.

I treated a woman suffering with acne and eczema. One of the most remarkable things in her description of herself was how completely happy, contented and free of resentment she was. She was very comfortable with herself and described a childhood that was absolutely wonderful. What specifically led me to Scarlet macaw as her remedy is that one of the things she concentrated most on in her description of herself was how important it was for her to “speak her truth”. She did wonderfully well on this medicine which cleared up her skin complaints.

There were two other interesting aspects to this case. She was unable to eat nuts (which she loved) when she first came to see me – they would aggravate her skin. She can now eat nuts without aggravation. Scarlet macaws, of course, love nuts. The second intriguing thing is that at a subsequent consultation she attended wearing a small red feather around her neck – just to give me an extra hint in case I hadn’t found the remedy!

In the provings there are feelings of being light, immaterial, out of the body, dreams of flying and of being a bird. The patients can be light in the sense of being free of psychological “baggage”. They may be very content with their lives and contented with themselves. Not in an egotistical way but just having no hang-ups. They are people who let go of past problems and antagonisms. They do not want to be dragged down and dragged back by negative memories. They want to be able to fly in the psychological sense, get above mundane problems, which inhibit the expression of their higher natures. They are interested in spiritual matters, music and the arts.

They often have a very spiritual perspective, seeing events in their lives and hardships as being necessary for their soul growth. This contributes to their ability to lack rancour.

There can be a strong sense of being free or on the other hand a deep feeling of being trapped by their circumstances and a very great desire for freedom, for their personal space, for psychological freedom or to get into the country, to be in the mountains, in nature. They can sometimes strongly resent circumstances or individuals that inhibit their freedom. There can be a great desire to escape from obligations.

A very strongly developed sense of duty and responsibility towards the family means they take very seriously both the emotional and physical well-being of their loved ones. At the extreme there can be a feeling of being “a food machine” – just providing food and material comfort or, on the other hand, a strong desire to get away from this responsibility with indifference to the family and domestic duties. One thinks of the parent birds working every daylight hour to feed the young in the nest!

Feelings of persecution, danger and of being attacked may relate to the fact that a number of the bird remedies which have been proved have been persecuted, especially birds of prey.

Perhaps as a result of the abuse and persecution of birds there is a strongly developed sense of injustice, an aversion to the mistreatment of others, to authority and mistreatment in general.

Patients requiring bird remedies have a very strongly developed sense of sympathy. With a deep intensity, they feel not only for the suffering of humans but also of animals and are greatly pained by the destruction of the natural environment.

This theme runs very strongly through the bird remedies. There is a strong feeling of being rejected, deserted and isolated. Again this feeling of isolation may relate to the persecution a number of bird species have experienced over a long period of time.

Patients may be extremely intuitive; their physical senses may be heightened too, with very acute vision and hearing.

There is a love for music and an aptitude in creating it. Patients have a tendency to sing and whistle.

There are often complaints concerning quite trivial symptoms, eg minor skin blemishes, slight problems with the hair or fingernails. The patient may even appear to preen during the consultation!

Physical activity
They love to be outdoors in the fresh air and are often very good sports people. There may be a strong desire to fly aeroplanes, climb mountains, or bungee jump.

Appetite may be ravenous and constant.

A patient can sometimes be clumsy with a tendency to drop things or bump into things. This may be analogous to the ungainliness of birds on solid ground in contrast to their poise and elegance in the air.

There is a desire to travel associated with an inquisitive nature, a desire for learning, knowledge and understanding.

Some or all of these themes can be found in every case requiring a bird remedy.

Dr Jonathan Hardy MA BM MFHom has been a homeopathic doctor in private practice in Hampshire for over 17 years. Three years ago he set up, in partnership with Dr Jane Winfield, one of the NHS clinics funded by the BHA. 

Belladonna – the mystic dimension

by David Lilley

Atropa belladonna, the deadly nightshade, is a member of the solanaceae family, which includes other very poisonous plants, such as Datura stramonium, the thorn apple or devil’s trumpet, and Hyoscyamus niger, the black henbane, but also such friendly plants as the tomato, the potato, green and red peppers and the eggplant, as well as the protective mandrake and the seductive, but not so harmless, tobacco plant.

Nature is the great mother of symbols. She reveals much of her inner mysteries in the external characteristics of her creations. The appearance, growth pattern and habitat of a plant form a symbolic expression or signature of the hidden, therapeutic genius lying latent within. So it is with Belladonna.

The deadly nightshade is widely distributed over Central and Southern Europe and is almost confined to chalky or calcareous soils. Early homeopaths soon discovered that a close relationship exists between Belladonna and Calcarea carbonica, which is derived from the chalky, middle layer of the oyster shell. People of the Calc carb constitutional type often develop acute conditions that require treatment with Belladonna.

The nightshades have been described as the “gypsies of the roadside and abandoned places”. Many thrive best where there is human garbage and refuse, on rubbish dumps and compost heaps. Belladonna loves waste areas, old quarries and ruins – places forsaken by man.

The plant shows a curious responsiveness to light and shade. In shady places, on wooded hills and especially if on limestone, it grows vigorously and luxuriantly, even to the height of a tall man, but specimens exposed to the sun are, by comparison, weak and dwarfed. Paradoxically, however, the more sun and light a plant is exposed to the more poisonous it becomes, due to the increased concentration of the toxins (alkaloids) it contains. Belladonna is one of the most frequently indicated remedies for sunstroke.

The extreme vitality of the plant is witnessed each year in the rapid and vigorous growth that erupts from the thick, fleshy, whitish perennial root – older plants attaining a height of five to six feet in one season. Ailments that yield to Belladonna therapy come on suddenly, even explosively, and most often in vigorous, robust children and adults. Pains are intense and come on suddenly and disappear suddenly. The mental and physical symptoms it produces and cures are generally of a violent nature. Inflammatory states are characterised by extremely high fever and locally by severe throbbing pains, a bright redness, which quickly changes to bluish-red or purple, marked tenderness, swelling and heat. It is remarkable how swiftly a Belladonna condition can move to suppuration. Typical examples of this are tonsillitis and whitlow.

Despite being highly poisonous, the only sinister aspect the plant presents is the flower, which appears in June and July in the axils of the leaves and continues blooming until September. These are pendent, bell-shaped and are a dark, congested, purplish colour, tinged with green and possess five lobes. The calyx, which embraces the base of the inflorescence, has five clefts.

Even the number of petals of a flower has significance. In the ancient lore of numerology the number five possesses certain analogies – freedom, independence, changeability, rebelliousness, volatility, youth and adolescence, the five faculties and the sense pleasures. Five is also connected with fire and the colour red, which emotionally indicate passion and physically suggest inflammation. Fire is also symbolic of initiation, cleansing and regeneration.

Red is the colour of the first or root chakra, which reflects consciousness at a survival level – aggression and animal sexuality. The shadow aspect of the number five reveals insatiable desire for sense gratification, luxury, promiscuity, the abuse of recreational drugs and alcohol, and the destructive emotions – jealousy, hatred, pride, aggression, viciousness and malice. As a red, fire number, five has an affinity for anything hidden, occult, esoteric or mysterious. This may focus on meditation, rituals, witchcraft, Satanism, tantra, sexual and drug “magick”, and interests, which may prove either enlightening or detrimental to the individual. A study of the history, folklore, uses and remedy pictures of the poisonous solanaceae and comparison with the above, reveal powerful evidence of their correspondence to the number five – a correspondence which begins with Belladonna and becomes more pronounced in Stramonium and Hyoscyamus.

The berry that follows the blossom, far from being repulsive, is as big as a small cherry and acquires an intense, shining black colour, which enticingly catches the eye and beckons to the unwary. Like a rare jewel it attracts the fingers, whilst the mouth already anticipates the intensely sweet taste of the dark, inky juice it contains – an attraction that has often proved fatal to children. The berries’ lethal seductiveness, the frenzied, demoniacal mania they induce and their homicidal reputation gave them the name “Devil’s Cherries” or “Naughty Man’s Cherries”. As we might anticipate the symptoms of poisoning develop rapidly and violently and soon threaten life.

The species name belladonna “beautiful lady”, alludes to the custom, of fashionable Italian ladies of the Renaissance, of dilating their pupils by instilling a drop of the berry juice into their eyes, rendering them darker and more brilliant, to enhance their beauty and allure. The Latin scientific generic name of the plant, atropa, derives from Atropos “the inevitable”, one of the three Fates of Greek mythology – she who, at the bidding of Lachesis, cuts the thread of life woven by Clotho. The common name “nightshade” most likely refers to Nah-Skado, alluding to the Celto-Teutonic goddess Skadi – “the destroyer” – “Queen of the Shades” or “Mother Death” – active in the darkness of the night (nah) – (Prisma). As such Skadi is the equivalent of the Hindu, Kali, “the black goddess” – “she who creates that she may destroy and destroys that she may create”. She is akin to the black Madonna of Christianity.

Behind the sternness of these mother goddesses abides a nurturing, infinite love for mankind working with seeming ruthlessness towards the destruction of the false-ego and the transcendence of the human psyche from the shadows towards the light.

It would seem that nature intentionally fashioned the herb for a special role in the treatment of the human psyche, particularly when beguiled and entranced by the seductive ways of the world into a state of forgetfulness and detachment from its divine origin and spiritual nature. Its toxic alkaloids become more aggressive to animal life in direct proportion to brain development, being least active in lower animals, such as rabbits and goats, more intense in carnivorous animals and highly toxic and even lethal in homo sapiens.

In humans furthermore, this gradation of toxic intensity is evidenced in proportion to intellectual development – being most dangerous in those of high intelligence and those who show left cerebral dominance, characterised by a sharp intellect, a logical, analytical approach to life and a masculine energy (regardless of gender). Hufeland asserted that the mentally retarded are unusually resistant to the poison. Since the left cerebral hemisphere governs the functions of the right side of the body, the physical symptoms of Belladonna are more frequently right-sided.

The disproportionate development and dominance of the intellect and the masculine principle is often at the expense of both instinct and intuition. The stage upon which life is enacted is then too much in the head and too little in the heart, too much in the mind and too little in the feelings. The false-ego becomes inflated and worships at the altar of intellect and materialism. The sense of oneness with the creation and with Mother Nature is lost, the divine aspects of the true-self become disconnected and are lost in the Shadow-self, unrealised, unfulfilled and most often not even aspired to. Belladonna like its solanaceae cousins is most active in the treatment of those whose eternal qualities and awareness have been forgotten and whose true-self has been replaced by a false-self filled with fear and anger.

The Shadow, or personal abyss, grows apace with the development of the false-self and is filled with all the characteristics we are ashamed of and therefore repress, all our unresolved emotions, dating back to our conception, and our unrealised, divine aspects. This is particularly true of those who fail to feel and live out their emotions. In the Shadow lurks also the personal devil or “beast” structure, a proud, selfish, destructive, hateful, dark energy, which resides in varying degrees within us all, easily recognised in a Hitler but difficult to own and face in ourselves. The Devil has many symbols and some loom large in the collective, human unconscious, such as the wolf, the cockroach, with its long horns (antennae) and gleaming armour, the rat and the snake. The devil wolf is black, snarling, threatening, with glowing, baleful eyes and bared, slavering fangs, a malevolent and terrifying image – or it is the mad dog, the rabid, mutant wolf, black, fiendish, savage and unpredictable, a “Hound of the Baskervilles” – a carrier of death and destruction. These images are imprinted not only in the Shadow of humanity but also in Belladonna, Stramonium and Hyoscyamus, remedies of inestimable value in the treatment of rabies and hence for the treatment of the Shadow. Fear of water (hydrophobia) is a characteristic of rabies and also of these three remedies. In analytical psychology water is understood to symbolise the unconscious, hence fear of water symbolises fear of what lies in the unconscious – an innate fear of the Shadow.

Materia medica
In the materia medica of Belladonna appear the following significant symptoms derived from proving trials of the remedy and from cured cases:

She attempted to bite and strike her attendants, broke into fits of laughter and gnashed her teeth. The head was hot, the face red, the look wild and fierce. He was possessed by an inclination to bite those about him and to tear everything about him to pieces. Raging, violent fury; such fury that she had to be held constantly, lest she should attack someone; and when thus held, so that she could not move, she spat continually at those about her. Visions of wolves, dogs, giants and fire; cockroaches swarming about the room; rats; snakes; worms; unclean beasts, black creatures. Sees black dogs; snakes in and around her. Everything he looks at seems red; everywhere she sees fire and conflagration.

Such ghastly visions and violent anger indicate some awful abuse in the past, experiences so horrible that they have been consigned to the Shadow, out of memory. The Shadow is our own, hidden, waste area, our rubbish dump, our forsaken realm. Yet within its confines lie riches beyond measure. Like the deadly nightshade, it is in the realising of the Shadow that we can grow spiritually with vigour and luxuriance and advance beyond the toxic, spiritually dwarfing, light of the false ego and the intellect. Even in the acute Belladonna state, with its high fever and violent symptoms, a more subtle process is at work, the releasing of repressed energy from the Shadow realm, an evolution that is further developed and fulfilled in the states of Stramonium and Hyoscyamus.

The solanaceae, when indicated, expedite the individuation of the soul, the advancement towards spiritual maturity. They embody the intense, all embracing love of the “Black Goddess”, the “Queen of the Shades”, whose sustaining power overshadows us when we finally face our Shadow in the “Dark Night of the Soul”.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom trained at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital and developed his practice in South Africa over the last 35 years. He is internationally renowned as a teacher of the materia medica.

An introduction to the Bach Flower Remedies

by Andrew Tresidder

The healing power of nature has been known almost since time began. Flowers and plants uplift us. Scents give pleasure, colours and forms entrance us, and the whole splendour of nature nurtures us. On a more physi­cal level, plants give us food and medi­cines.

But it is the invisible level, the level of vibrations, that is really fascinating. Science is starting to get interested in what we all know is true – the healing power of flowers. In the 16th Century Paracelsus described the healing power of dew from flowers. Everything in the world is composed of vibrations, nature (and music) use these vibrations to pro­vide harmonious patterns.

Masuru Emoto, in Japan, has done some fascinating work on the snowflake-like Patterns In Water, that can be left by the purity of the water (not surpris­ing), the effect of music on water (really curious), and the patterns that words and flowers can leave in water (mind blowing) – see for more information. What is more, everything in the world is connected at a vibrational level, as modern physics and relativity theory tell us.

We all know instinctively which flowers and plants we like to look at. We are now discovering that just seeing them and touching them can help us feel differently. Even more interesting, mak­ing a flower essence, and taking it, can help support our feelings. Nature can help support us to reflect on our expe­riences, moving us on from stuck frames of mind and uplift us. Nature helps us feel better!

Bach Flower Remedies
Dr Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a medical doctor, bacteriologist and home­opath. He is known in homeopathy for the Bach Nosodes, made from bowel flora. In the 1920s he practised homeo­pathy in Harley Street, London. How­ever, he is better known for his work in creating the Bach Flower Remedies.

Bach had three key insights. First, he observed that people were of a number of different types, according to their out­look on life and personality (just as in homeopathy we have the great consti­tutional polycrests such as Pulsatilla, Nux vomica and others). Second, he developed his intuitive sensitivity to the point where he was able to experience an emotional state, and then find the support from nature (in the form of an essence from the appropriate flower) that resolved this state. Third, he devel­oped a method of transferring the energy from the trees and flowers that he found helpful to water, which he then preserved with brandy, and so was able to dispense remedies from this source.

Bach worked with his new remedies, in London, Cromer and finally settled for the last years of his life near Wallingford in Oxfordshire. His work was carried on after his death first by Norah Weeks and Victor Bullen, and then by others from the Bach Centre at his house, Mount Vernon in Sotwell. Gradually people around Britain and then the world became intrigued by the benefits of his “drops”.

Bach Flower Remedies are powerful yet gentle healing tools that can catalyse the resolution of deep emotional imbal­ances, as can homeopathy. Where they differ from homeopathy is firstly that being a complete system of only 38 remedies and one combination there is far less choice than faces the homeopath, even for an acute prescription. Second, there seems to be no possibility of a “proving” – that is an adverse effect of creating the medicine picture in a patient by taking a homeopathic medicine day in day out for a period of time – Bach remedies are not potentised sequentially by succussion, merely by the sun or by boiling, and then a one step dilution to stock essence, and one further to treat­ment bottle. Aggravations can occur, but they are rare and short-lived. Third, Bach remedies do not appear to have direct effects on the physical body or physical symptoms, as can homeopathy. Instead, they work through the “men­tals and emotionals” – the more subtle aspects of a remedy picture.

Emergency treatment
My first successful case using the com­bination Rescue RemedyTM, also called Five Flower, Recovery, SOS or Emer­gency Essence was when I was called out by a midwife to treat a man. His wife had had a caesarean section in hospital, and she and the baby were fine. When I arrived, he was in a complete panic, hunched up on the sofa, crying, “She’s going to die, it’s all going to be awful, what’s going to happen to me?” repeat­edly. His mother was there already, so my entrance had no great calming effect.

Into a glass of water I placed several drops of Rescue, and asked him to sip. He did this every minute, and kept repeating his distressed thoughts out loud. After five minutes, the words stayed the same, but the emotion seemed to evaporate. By the end of ten minutes, he was walking the room and said, “I don’t know why I’m crying like this, I’ll ring the hospital, find out how she is, and visit her later.” Next day, he bought six bottles of Rescue, one for each room in the house including the loo. Which misses the point about dosage – but he certainly felt that it had worked!

So which specific Bach Remedies do we use for what, and how do we choose? Well, Bach categorised his remedies into the Twelve Healers, the Seven Helpers and the Second Nineteen.

The Twelve Healers
Bach felt these were for our primary soul types, the sort of person we are. He equated these with the soul lessons we have come to learn, such as inner peace (Agrimony), strength and ability to say no (Centaury) and wisdom (Cerato). We can see these types more easily in child­ren – as adults we have accumulated other layers of imbalances – but when we are under pressure our soul type may betray itself.

The others of the Twelve are:

  • Chicory – to dissolve self-pity and “me, me, me” into generosity of giving;
  • Clematis – to bring dreamers down to earth;
  • Gentian – to resolve discouragement and despondency into the positive quality of faith;
  • Impatiens – to release the quick tense mind into gentleness;
  • Mimulus – from fear of known things into bravery;
  • Rock Rose – to transform terror and dread into courage;
  • Scleranthus – to bring balance and determination from indecision;
  • Vervain – to release over-enthusiasm into quiet and tolerance; and
  • Water Violet – to change a proud aloof or quietly grieving person into the joy of service and taking part in life.

The Seven Helpers
Julian Barnard describes these as Support Remedies, for long-term conditions:

  • Gorse – hopelessness;
  • Heather – fussy introspection;
  • Rock Water – rigidity of attitude;
  • Wild Oat – lack of direction in life;
  • Olive – weariness and exhaustion;
  • Oak – for the strong person who never gives up; and
  • Vine – for a domineering forceful atti­tude, to bring the quality of calm wise leadership.

As a GP I saw a 52 year-old patient fre­quently. She was anxious and worried about her body. As a result of headaches and abdominal pains, over a period of two years her head and abdomen were scanned, her gall bladder removed, her stomach endoscoped, and so on, as new worries replaced the previous ones.

She took Heather for several weeks, and a complete change in attitude was seen. After this, she would still come to my surgery – but much less frequently – and now her opening gambit was: “Dr Tresidder, I don’t want you to think I’m worried, because I’m not – I’m taking my Heather – but I just wanted to run these symptoms past you,” – a striking change in attitude, and a much happier lady.

Interestingly, the next layer for her was Centaury (one of the Twelve Heal­ers, and her constitutional type) because she would always say “Yes” when asked to do something, even if she didn’t want to. She came back after several weeks and said how pleased she was but that her friends didn’t like the fact that she was no longer a pushover! – “but they’ll have to get used to it!”

The Second Nineteen
These (which complete the set of 38 Bach Remedies) relate to emotional states that result from life’s knocks and challenges. They include Holly, for jeal­ousy, envy, revenge, suspicion and greed (in full negative), bringing the quality of love, and Pine which brings self-esteem, relieving a feeling of guilt and self-blame.

The flower essence that proved to me beyond any doubt that their effect was not placebo was Holly. A case of toddler jealousy presented, with three weeks of being jealous and hurtful towards the parent (though not the baby). The parents had tried presents from baby, special cuddles, and even paracetamol. None had worked! Read­ing the list of remedies, next to Holly were the words “jealousy, envy, revenge, suspicion and greed” – a perfect match that caught my eye. Into each drink went two drops of Holly. In just two days, the girl had transformed into the loving per­son that was her true nature, all traces of jealousy dissolved and healed.

Selecting a remedy
Choosing a remedy intellectually can be done from knowledge of the person, and their reaction to current circumstances, and reference to one of the small books, leaflets or websites available to help. It is important to be clear about what the exact feelings are – this can be quite easy when we are looking at a friend or some­one we know well, but it’s much more difficult to be objective about yourself.

One should aim to choose a maxi­mum of six remedies – and the key point is always to look for the deep issues, not just the surface. “Surface disturbance can stop us seeing deeply” – but when the core issues are healed, sometimes by just a single remedy, many other aspects of our feelings just fall into line.

Choosing can also be done intu­itively. However, intuitive choice should always be backed up by reading about the remedy pictures and using your dis­crimination before making up a treat­ment bottle. Reading about the ones you’ve chosen can be quite illuminating – and taking them can help you realise the accuracy of your choice.

A friend was having difficulties at work, and elsewhere in life. The reme­dies I really wanted to suggest for her were Holly, to bring love, Willow, to dis­solve the chip of resentment on her shoulder, and Vine, because she was a very strong character, able to dominate others. (There is a crossover with Nux vom here). In fact, she chose for her­self just one, and took it. She told me that she lay awake most of that night, thinking about her job, her relationships, life and a number of personal issues.

Within two weeks, she had found another job and subsequently progressed successfully on a career path she had not expected. She told me, “There ought to be a warning on that one – I only took one drop once!” Which one did she take? Wild Oat, for finding your true direction in life.

Sometimes, an intuitive choice can just be to rebalance you “in the now”, and not be at all appropriate for a treat­ment bottle. For when we are choosing intuitively, our default choice is our most pressing need – and only after rebal­ancing this over a few minutes or hours can the deeper issues become clearer.

At some point, if you are drawn to use Bach Flower Remedies, do take the trouble to try and find which your type remedy is – because it is taking this one remedy that will always help bring you back into balance, and, whilst taking it, give you insight into your character.

Treatment bottle
Making a treatment bottle involves put­ting four drops of each chosen essence into a 30ml bottle containing approxi­mately 20 per cent brandy and 80 per cent water. The brandy acts as a preser­vative. If the bottle is for someone who wishes to avoid alcohol, merely drop­ping some drops into very hot water will evaporate off the alcohol, or drops can be placed on the wrists, where a rich net­work of meridians is to be found.

The recommended dosage is three to four drops on the tongue four to six times daily for as long as needed, for up to about six weeks maximum. The remedies are en­tirely compatible with both prescribed medication and homeopathy. Sometimes one may be more appropriate than another – intuition and experience are useful guides here. Side-effects are rare, although sometimes people may get short-lived detoxifying symptoms such as a rash or a headache. Aggravations are very un­common. Once one layer has been treated and felt to change, then it can be useful to reassess and see what lies beneath.

The real fun comes when you start using flower essences proactively, intu­itively or intellectually chosen, week in week out for several years. They become teachers and valuable tools to help us transit life’s lessons and experiences rel­atively effortlessly – but that’s a story for another day!

Andrew Tresidder MB BS MRCGP, a Somerset GP since 1989, is interested in the many aspects of what makes people “tick”, and how to tick better. He researches and teaches about “invisible software reprogramming” and uses flower essences in his daily work for self, family, patients and friends. 


An exciting new remedy for rheumatic disorders and menstrual problems is profiled by Raymond Sevar 

In 1997 Berndt Schuster conducted a proving of a species of bamboo, Bambusa arundinacea, which is em­erging as an important homeopathic remedy for a wide variety of clinical con­ditions. This is a large bamboo whose shoots grow rapidly to eight metres. It is a tender plant and needs heat to survive – it will die if the temperature falls to 50°C. It lives many years (often over a century), flowers only once but for many years and after flowering it dies. The remedy is made from a tincture of bam­boo shoots and contains phyto-oestra­gens and is high in silica. Bamboo has been used medicinally since ancient times in cancer, leprosy, tuberculosis, menstrual problems and disorders of the spine.

Bamboo has great significance in Chinese medicine and culture – sym­bol of laughter, old age, elasticity and endurance – the stems bend in the wind but never break, the leaves move in the wind but never fall – bend and yield but never be uprooted, emerge from the storm unbroken. These themes are brought to life in the symptoms of the proving.

The proving

  • A view of the complex heart of this fas­cinating remedy is seen in the proving, rich in “sensations as if”:
  • deserted, forsaken, alone in the world;
  • she is poor and helpless in the world;
  • everything is insecure, meaningless, wrong and everything will fail;
  • held captive by a life situation;
  • desires change and support.

The sensation as if deserted, forsaken and alone in the world is similar to the sensation at the heart of the Pulsatilla state. The sensation that body parts are weak and cannot support the body is reminiscent of the Silica state. The sen­sation of insecurity is similar to Arsen­icum album. Bamboo seems to be related to several well-known polycrest remedies.

The theme of support appears to be central to the Bamboo remedy state. The patient desires support from others. They feel responsible for everything and no one helps them. They desire change and freedom but feel helpless and stuck in their life situation and become irritable, jealous, restless and sad. After prolonged anxiety and suffering they eventually become overwhelmed by despair.

The mind symptoms of Bamboo give other insights into the remedy state and highlight similarities to other more well-known remedies. There are ailments from wounded honour and suppressed anger (like Staphisagria), and ailments from anticipation and foreboding. There is great irritability towards husband and children worse before menses and worse from reproaches (like Sepia). There is anxiety of conscience and anxiety about the future which is felt within the chest. The fears are of: her condition being observed by others (like Calcarea car­bonica), of poverty (again like Sepia), of impending disease, of cancer, of mis­fortune and a fear of losing self-control.

The key physical “sensation as if” is of stiffness and Bamboo is emerging as a major new remedy for rheumatic dis­orders where stiffness is the main com­plaint of the patient. The stiffness is painful, profound and prolonged – like wood or a heavy weight – felt in the bones, in the joints and in the muscles. This painful wooden stiffness is very much worse after a night in bed and eased by applied heat – a hot shower or bath, a heat pad. The stiffness is much worse from becoming cold, cold weather, before and during menstrual periods and during a headache. In Bamboo the stiffness mainly affects the spine and joints near the axis of the body – shoulders and hips. Bamboo is emerg­ing as a major remedy in ankylosing spondylitis (Case 1) – an auto-immune destructive inflammatory condition of the spine with excessive stiffening and calcification of the spine (the common name of the disease is bamboo spine!). With painful neck stiffness the patient often wants to support the neck by rest­ing the chin on their hands.
This kind of aggravation from rest and cold and helped by heat is similar to Rhus tox. The Rhus tox patient is usu­ally physically restless – they want to move and are better for it even though the first movements hurt – and they are much worse from cold, wet weather, while the patient in the Bamboo state is not restless and is worse from changes in weather.

This careful differentiation between similar patterns of symptoms is impor­tant to differentiate between similar medicines in the homeopathic treatment of significant rheumatic disorders.

Other physical “sensations as if” are: of looseness and weakness and cannot support the body (the opposite of stiff­ness) and of pulsation. The Bamboo patient is usually very chilly – a cold felt deep in the bones – and made less painful with heat. They desire open air and feel better in the open air but are worse from a draft of air on a sore stiff part. There is a desire for: chocolate, cheese, spices, sweets, sour, alcohol and warm drinks before menses.

Bamboo is also emerging as an impor­tant remedy for disorders of the menstrual periods including endometriosis (Case 2). The menses can be: painful, heavy, bright red and gushing, late and clotted. There can be pain in the ovaries before the peri­ods and pain in the womb before.

Bamboo has similarities to several well-known remedies: Silica, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Sepia, Carcinosin, Calcarea carbonica, Belladonna, Phosphorus and Tuberculinum.

Case 1 – ankylosing spondylitis
I began treating Jane, a 26 year-old who had suffered with ankylosing spondyli­tis for ten years, in 1999. She walked in a very stiff, waddling way and was almost weeping from the severe pain she was in despite taking eight co-codamol and three ibuprofen daily. Her descrip­tion of the nature of her suffering illus­trates the Bamboo state very clearly.

“The worst thing is the tremendous stiffness in my back – it’s so stiff all the time… I try to put a brave face on it… my back gets hot… the pain is worse in the morning and last thing at night… my left hip is very painful. I get very angry with myself because I can’t do things. I am worse in winter but so much better in a hot jacuzzi from the heat and the bubbling massage, much better in a hot bath and better with a hot water bot­tle or in a hot room or close to a hot fire. I am much more stiff when it is cold and wet and raining and a bit worse when it snows.

“The stiffness and pain wake me between 3 and 4am and I have to get up and put on the heated pad and that helps. I turn a lot in bed but I don’t feel restless… sitting is OK, I don’t get stiff but I am so very stiff in the morning and have to have a hot bath or shower to loosen up enough to go to work… even then the stiffness lasts for one and a half hours after waking in the morning.”

Even after such a clear description I was distracted away from Bamboo by what she said next.

“I get very irritable and snappy when I am stiff and sore… I just snap at my husband if he touches me… I say some­thing to really hurt him so that he will stop… no, I have no interest in sex.” She begins to weep.

“I feel so sorry after I snap at him and I feel guilty for not wanting him to touch me… yes, I can apologise after­wards.”

This is very similar to the Sepia state – both Sepia and Bamboo females are irritable with their husbands, the dif­ference seems to be that a patient in Bamboo state can apologise more eas­ily afterwards. She also had a great desire for exercise and became a fitness freak in her late teens to lose her puppy fat and got a great buzz from exercise, like Sepia.

I began her treatment with Sepia in ascending LM potencies which for six months produced a good improvement in her mood and energy, irritability and loss of libido but only a little improve­ment in her stiffness and pain. Then she had a bad flare up of her ankylosing spondylitis and terrible pain in her left hip. The awful stiffness came back worse than ever and the pain in her hip was almost unbearable despite much stronger painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I then prescribed Bamboo – 30c drops for three days and on bad days and 6c pills twice a day for OK days. The improvement was so dramatic I will let her describe it in her own words.

“The relief from the drops was very fast, I felt much better two hours after the drops and the pain in my hip began to be relieved after two hours. I feel so much better. I can cope much better. I have more energy.

“I am much less stiff… I am still a bit stiff in the morning but only till after my shower, then it is fine… I still have the same range of movement in my lumbar spine, but my neck moves much easier and further than it used to. I can turn it further to the sides and put my head back further… I still get the odd twinge of pain in my hips and lower back, but much less than before – sometimes I don’t even realise that I’ve got a sore back at all.

“I have not taken any co-codamol for six weeks and have no stomach prob­lems… I can whizz fast around the house and make a meal for six friends, instead of panicking and crying and just not being able to do anything… I have stopped worrying about the ankylosing spondylitis… I have just stopped the pill, and am not afraid to become pregnant now, if I do it is fine.”

She continued well for a year –“the quality of my life was transformed” – her stiffness resolved and she developed more movement of her whole spine. Then she had a relapse affecting only her left hip, not her spine. The MRI scan showed the damage already done by her disease – severe destructive joint dam­age – and she required a total hip replace­ment operation (there is a limit to what the body can heal).

Case 2 – endometriosis and depression
I began treating Tina, a 29 year-old who’d had endometriosis for six years, in 2003. Her description of the nature of her suffering also illustrates the Bamboo state very clearly.

“The pain in my pelvis is terrible and it feels as if the whole of my inside is falling out. I have no control over it – I can’t stop the pain. I get massive con­tractions and have to lie down. The cramps are excruciating, they take my breath away and I must sit or lie down. The bleeding is very heavy and thick and lasts seven or eight days. I have lots of flooding and it’s frightening. I feel as if my whole inside is leaving me.

“The cramps begin before my period and carry on through the bleeding. When I was 13 my periods began and they were always heavy and very painful. I was prescribed some tablets which gave me a terrible rash on my face and then later I was given the contraceptive pill to try and control my periods. I stopped the pill six years ago. When I was on the pill I was very irritable with everyone before my periods. I still am a little but much less than before. I have no patience and I snap at people especially my mother and my husband but even at my grandmother and she is only being kind.”

Like the first patient, Tina also snaps irritably at those she loves in a similar way to Sepia. Next she describes a key symptom of Bamboo arising from the “sensation as if” of looseness and can­not support the body, which in Tina manifests as a desire for support in her life.

“I have had such a lot of worry in the last few years and I have had no sup­port. My husband has been ill and not worked for three years – he has never given any support to me even though he expects my support. I have been trying to look after my grandmother who is very old. I was brought up by my grand­mother – from age of two to 12 – to be strong, to keep going whatever happens and I have always given support to oth­ers. She always looked after me and sup­ported me and never complained.” At this point she is weeping openly and is very distressed.

“There is no support for me… I feel so uncared for. My grandmother needs help and support from me because no one else will support her.”

Her father is obsessive/compulsive and has ankylosing spondylitis; her mother is a “control freak”. Her hus­band is repeatedly unfaithful and has given her chlamydia infection and gen­ital warts. Tina is overwhelmed by cares and has reached a state of desperation. She feels deserted, forsaken and her hon­our has been wounded but most of all she desires support.

I treated her with Bamboo 30c drops as required for a year and then 200c. All her pelvic pain and excessive bleeding resolved. She left her husband, moved to a different town and enjoys dancing salsa and tango.

Raymond Sevar BSc MBChB DCH MRCGP FFHom is Dean of the Faculty of Homeopathy and a homeopathic physi­cian in private practice in Carlisle, Cumbria. He also teaches homeopathy to doctors and other health professionals in the UK and abroad. 

The golden cure

Depression following redundancy from a career in finance indicated the remedy Aurum metallicum, writes Marysia Kratimenos

John was referred to me with depression and fatigue. No cause for the exhaustion had been found; it was presumed to be emotionally based. The anti­depressants he had been prescribed had not improved his energy level.

Conservative in appearance, dressed in a business suit and wearing polished shoes, John was polite, although quiet and formal in his behaviour. He answered my questions honestly and respectfully.

He had been unwell for two years before he came to see me. His problems had started after he had been made redundant from his job. Initially he had consulted his general practitioner, who had prescribed anti-depressants. These had caused such unpleasant side effects that John had stopped taking them within days. The depression had intensified to the point where John was showing suicidal tendencies, so his GP arranged admission into a psychiatric hospital. Another anti-depressant was found that suited him better, but John was not happy taking the tablets as he felt “numb and drugged”.

He had worked in the finance department of the company for all his working life and was now in his late fifties. The decision to “let him go” had been made as a result of an economic down turn. At his age, he felt it would be nigh on impossible to find another job. He had big financial commitments and would not hear of his wife going to work. He was the breadwinner in the family. He felt humiliated that he had to turn to the state for support. He was riddled with guilt that he had placed his family in a vulnerable financial position because of his health.

Prior to his illness, he described himself as a perfectionist at work. He was extremely hard working and felt great loyalty to his company, so their “betrayal” was all the more difficult to accept. On hearing the news of his dismissal, he had suffered crushing chest pain. He thought he was having a heart attack, but all investigations were normal. Whenever he was “stressed” the pain would return, and it frightened him. Both his parents had died of heart attacks.

John described his childhood as happy, he “wanted for nothing”. He loved his parents dearly and described the day that his father died as the “worst in his life”. He said his parents taught him the importance of honour, hard work, financial security and duty in life. They attended church regularly, as did he and his wife and children. He was happily married with three teenage children living at home.

His health had always been good and he had enjoyed regular exercise in the past. He had no other medical problems. He ate a good diet and had no marked food preferences.

John was reticent about talking of his depression, blaming it on the redundancy. He felt worse at night and if he managed to sleep, he would have bad nightmares. He would wake early. He was afraid of death although he desired it. His worst fear, which he felt had been realised, was that of poverty.

As John was taking anti­depressants, I prescribed Aurum metallicum 6C to be taken daily. Certain medications can interfere with the action of high dose remedies, and in these cases I prefer to use low potencies on a daily basis.

John returned to the clinic six weeks after starting Aurum. There was a dramatic change in his mood – he was beaming! He said that his energy levels had increased so much that he was going to the gym daily. He felt truly happy in himself and was stunned that such tiny tablets could have had such a huge effect. He had agreed for his wife to go back to work to ease the financial problems until he found a new job. This was a major shift; he joked about having old-fashioned chauvinist values. His main objective was to stop the anti­depressants as soon as possible and his psychiatrist had agreed to this.

John has remained well over the last two years. He gradually weaned himself off the medication and occasionally has Aurum if his mood or energy dips, which is rare. His chest pain has never returned. He revels in the delicious irony that gold cured him and yet the striving for wealth almost killed him.

It was believed for generations that one could ascertain the medicinal qualities of a substance by close observation of its properties. The modern scientific mind scorns such superstitious nonsense, but in homeopathy many are exploring this avenue. At the very least it acts as an aide­memoire and helps to structure the vast materia medica.

The ancient myths and legends also help to glean a deeper understanding of the remedies. Jung regarded these as a reflection of the collective subconscious thought, and commenced work on archetypes, which continues today in homeopathy. The remedy pictures or essences are merely archetypes.

Aurum metallicum is pure gold; a soft malleable metal which is found in many parts of the world. It does not combine with other elements easily, so mining is relatively simple. Gold nuggets can be panned from many riverbeds.

Gold has been used medicinally since ancient times, originally as a treatment for syphilis, and more recently in injections for rheumatoid arthritis. Syphilis is a very destructive disease, which may lie dormant in the body for years, before leading to aggressive heart, blood vessel and nervous system disease. The diagnosis of syphilis usually evokes fear in the patient, as in generations past it was incurable. Aurum has these fears in its remedy picture, as well as the destructive nature, both in the physical symptoms (early heart disease) and the emotional picture (violent anger and suicide).

Gold is a precious metal reputed to strengthen the nervous system, purify the physical body and balance the mind. It allows one to accept love and aids personal illumination. It is the Sol of the alchemists, sol being the sun. Gold is the metal of the sun god.

The Ancient Egyptians mined huge quantities in Nubia (modern day Sudan). Africa has immense gold reserves and is the site of the fabled mines of King Solomon. The Egyptians used the gold to decorate the temples of the gods and the tombs of the pharaohs, who were believed to be the reincarnation of the sun god, Amun Ra. Alongside the Valleys of the Kings and Queens a special village of craftsmen was created, the Place of Truth. These men and women fashioned the elaborate tombs and offerings to the dead. It was rumoured that these people were able to create gold from base metals, a legend that has been perpetuated in alchemy, a science that originated in Egypt and is the origin of modern day chemistry.

The Egyptians were deeply religious and spiritual people, well versed in magic. Christian Jacq, a French Egyptologist, explains the deeper meaning of the process of transmutation in his fascinating series of books, The Stone of Light. He explains that this is actually a spiritual transformation, rather than a physical; the process of illuminating our base qualities and attaining enlightenment. The Philosopher’s Stone, which is fundamental for the transmutation according to alchemic tradition, is emerald green – symbolically the colour of the heart. Aurum is an excellent heart remedy, and the Aurum personality is often described as having a heart of gold.

Gold has always played an important part in religion and spirituality. One only has to look at churches, mosques and temples to see huge amounts of gold offered up to God. Gold does not tarnish unlike many other metals, symbolising its purity and incorruptibility. It is a regal metal, one that is used to symbolise love and fidelity in the wedding bands. So it is with the Aurum personality, often deeply religious and profoundly spiritual. Aurum is the patriarch of the family, the king of the castle. Aurum is honourable, trustworthy and proud.

In Greek society gold was regarded as a symbol of power and wealth. The myth of Midas is a potent reminder of the danger of the love of money; the king Midas wishes that all he touches may turn to gold and this leads to his death from starvation. In his quest for material wealth, he has forgotten the importance of the necessities of life and the simple pleasures. The shadow side of Aurum is that materialistic tendency, the avarice and the fear of loss of wealth and position. The story of gold is punctuated with these characteristics.

This is also reflected in the Judaic and Christian faith. When Moses ascends the mountain in the desert of Sinai to commune with God, he is given the Ten Commandments which are placed in a golden arc. When the Israelites broke the law by worshipping a golden calf, Moses broke the tablets and God sent a plague as punishment. Remorse followed the outburst of anger, an Aurum symptom. Moses returned to the mountain and on his return was bathed in such a strong golden light that no one could look upon him. This golden aura is regarded by Buddhists as a sign of divine enlightenment. The name Christ is derived from the Greek meaning the golden one. Saints are traditionally depicted as having a golden halo. 

The Aztecs regarded gold as the symbol of their sun god, Huizilopochtli, and crafted beautiful gifts as religious offerings. Their culture fell as a consequence of the Conquistador’s greed. Cortes took the Aztec king, Montezuma, hostage promising to release him in return for a huge room full of gold. The natives were surprised, as gold was so abundant that it had little value to them. Believing Cortes to be the reincarnation of their god, Quetzalcoatl, they were lulled into a false sense of security. They gladly complied with the request and apparently provided the Spaniards with several tons of gold. Cortes betrayed them and had the king murdered. The gold was melted down and transported to Spain, where it now decorates the Catholic  Marysiachurches. The Aztecs never recovered from this betrayal, their culture was decimated and thousands perished.

Likewise the Aurum archetype is devastated by betrayal and can lapse into a suicidal depression. John’s story clearly demonstrates the Aurum personality and the type of problems experienced.

Marysia Kratimenos MBBS FRCS (Ed) MFHom is one of the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neuro-linguistic programming.    

Aurum metallicum

Gold – The Element by David Lilley 

The Noble One
Gold, known to the ancients as the metal of the gods, is the symbol of love, fidelity and purity, the icon of all that is sacred, noble and superior. Gold has always been the preferred metal for sacred objects and to embody the divine right and dignity of sanctified kings. Gold, and that which is golden, implies the quality of superiority. To the Christians, it was a fitting gift, with frankincense and myrrh, to lay before the Divine Child. To the alchemists, gold was the metal of the sun, monarch of the realm of metals, unsurpassed in excellence, perfection and eminence. It was their “Great Work”– the goal of transform­ation and transmutation. They believed that the processes of the macrocosm are revealed in the processes of the micro­cosm, that even as the human soul grows and evolves through the alchemy of life experience to the perfection of the heavenly state, so the base, less perfect metals, such as lead, can develop in the womb of the earth to more perfect forms until the ultimate perfection of gold is achieved. In their laboratories they strove to hasten this natural transmutation. Though they failed, their efforts gave remarkable impetus to the development of science. Though their conclusions were in error, Aurum, when called for, is one of the greatest remedies in the materia medica for resolving ego-based obstacles to spiritual unfolding; it works the alchemy of excellence.

Ancient and alchemic wisdom intuited the divine essence of gold and perceived it as a symbol of spiritual attainment, artistically depicted as the golden aura or halo of the saints, yet, in harsh contrast, it is also the eternal object of humanity’s lust and covetousness – ever enticing, obsessing and corrupting. In the history of the world, the pursuit of gold has always proved a catalyst in the birth, growth and survival of civilisations, culture and commerce, but the desire for gold may extinguish respect and rever­ence for the life and land of others, resulting in appalling crimes, deprivation, persecution and suffering. Civilisations and nations have been destroyed for gold. Here we witness its extreme and dreadful duality. A noble, lustrous, warm and magnificent metal, the very symbol of nobility of spirit, purity of heart and lofty ideals, debased to become the object of rapacious greed and arrogant pride. Symbolically and dynamically, gold possesses a disturbing ambivalence.

Paradoxical properties
Forged in the cataclysmic explosion of a stellar supernova, gold’s cosmic nature remains unsullied by the normal earthly processes of weathering, oxidation, cor­rosion, rust and calcification; gold remains incorruptible. Like a resplendent, lumin­ous visitant from a higher dimension, it sheds glory and light upon the world, but remains distant and aloof. Gold, although on the earth, is not of the earth. In the light of the sun it is radiant, pos­sessing a beautiful, glowing lustre and serene splendour; in the dark of night it can only reveal its immense density, its massive weight, its metallic coldness and hardness. In this opposition lies the per­sonal tragedy of many a gold-being: a person of vast ability, promise and vital­ity dragged down by deepest despair, even to self-destruction. Gold possesses a peerless brilliance, but also a profound darkness.

Like humanity, whose spiritual-mortal state it parallels, gold carries its contradictions and contrasts within itself. Despite its ponderous mass, it is the most ductile and malleable of all substances on earth. It can be drawn into a fine wire of incredible length and microscopic proportions without break­ing; it can be beaten into the finest, trans­lucent, gold-leaf and rendered into the most tenuous gold-film, thousandths of a millimetre thick, without losing its cohesion. Gold reveals an inner plastic­ity and fluidity that belie its external nature and hint at unique and mysteri­ous forces within. At once, it matches the splendour of the sun, displays ethe­real properties and is immune to earth corruption, yet has a powerful affinity for the irresistible force of gravity, des­cending more deeply into the dark reaches of the earth than most other metals. As a remedy, it has the capacity to penetrate into the deepest recesses of the unconscious to release and resolve old emotions, oft repressed out of memory. Aurum can heal the wounded child within the adult.

Personality polarities
In terms of human duality, Aurum matches the extreme contrasts of spirit­uality and materialism, detachment and addiction, reverence and fanaticism, resolve and vulnerability, love and hate, dispassion and envy, altruism and self-absorption, aspiration and desire, integrity and corruption, bliss and despair, transcendence and suicide. It is for the idealist whose fantasies and romantic notions soar beyond the reasonable: it is for the pragmatic ration­alist whose thoughts remain anchored to the physical dimension. Its splendour speaks of the “old soul” who brings the message of wisdom and love to human­ity; its heaviness portrays a solemnity and seriousness of nature, or a tendency to be weighed down by negative emo­tions. While the radiance of gold is apparent, its darkness is hidden; the Aurum being’s inner nature is often con­cealed from others – masked, private and secretive.

The Sun God
The earliest civilisations all likened gold to the sun and perceived the glorious, radiant metal as the symbol of the Sun God, the supreme deity, therefore rep­resenting divine and royal, wisdom and power. By association with the sun, gold is a masculine, solar symbol, just as silver, the metal of the moon, is a femi­nine, lunar symbol. In many traditions, gold was identified as the very substance of divinity: the flesh of the all-seeing Ra in Egypt, and in keeping with the paradoxical nature of the metal, the faeces of the bloodthirsty, Sun God Huitzilopochtli in Aztec-Mexico. In Hindu doctrine, gold was visualised as “mineral light”, a luminous residue of the sun itself, left as threads in the earth. Romance took the allegory further, divining that through its god-like power, the sun, in the course of its myriad revo­lutions, spun a loving web of golden threads about the earth – and well may it be so – for sun, love and gold are one.

To the Greeks, gold bore a mystical rela­tionship to the Olympian god Apollo. He was the Hellenic Sun God, also known as Phoebus Apollo – Phoebus meaning “bright, shining or pure”. The ancients saw him as splendid and radi­ant, the epitome of youthful, masculine beauty, representing all that is aesthetic, harmonious, moderate and balanced in life. He possessed the same serene aloof­ness as gold, the same warmth, depth and nobility of spirit, but remained always at a distance, removed and con­trolled. He was the enemy of barbarism and the champion of temperance. His characteristics and nature reflect important facets of the Aurum archetype and ego-personality. He was a favoured son of Zeus, the Sky God, a crown prince in a patriarchal hierarchy governed by logic and reason. The left-brain perspective dominates the Apollonian conscious­ness. This left-cerebral bias is expressed through right-somatic responses and when dysfunctional produces symptoms predominantly on the right side of the body. This is true of the Aurum sympt­omatic picture.

The Delphic Oracle
The most famous and hallowed shrine of ancient Hellas was the Delphic oracle of Apollo. As God of Prophecy, this was Apollo’s chief sanctuary. Here he was served by his high priestess, the prophet­ess known as the Pythia or Pythoness. The oracle exerted a pivotal influence on the life of all Hellas, and became its spiritual heart. Communities as well as individuals consulted it for guidance. It was believed that at Delphi the dark and disorderly aspects of the cosmos had been defeated by, and subordinated to, Apollo, the celestial seer, counsellor and law-giver, whose mediating power, expressed through the Pythia, could give mortals divine guidance for coping with the vicissitudes and dangers of life. The consultation took place in the innermost sanctuary (adyton), in which stood the sacrificial, navel stone (omphalos) which marked the centre of the world as deter­mined by Zeus, who released two eagles, one from the east and one from the west, which met at Delphi. Delphi was thus regarded as the centre, heart, navel or womb of the world (Delphi or Delphos signifies womb). The heart and the uterus, both hollow, muscular organs, are metaphorically and by reflex related and Aurum has a marked affinity for both.

From these considerations vital corre­spondences emerge. The sun is the celes­tial image of divinity; gold, “crystallised sunlight”, is the image of solar light and radiance, hence of divine consciousness, wisdom, perfection, truth and love and of the sublime in man. The image of the sun in the earth is gold; the image of the sun in the body is the heart, for just as the sun radiates life-giving energy to the solar system, so the heart circulates blood, oxygen, warmth, nutrients and life to the body. The symbol of gold in the body is therefore also the heart, but so too the uterus, which harbours, nurtures and brings forth life (this latter relationship reveals the less obvious fem­inine aspect of gold). The sun and gold of the conscious mind is the will, which radiates confidence, hope, courage, power, motivation, drive and ambition to the emotional being. The sun and gold of the soul is the conscience, the voice of the higher self, radiating virtue, silent knowledge and spiritual aspiration to the lower-self.

When man’s sun or gold energy dims, his sublime qualities are obscured. He experiences loss of will, loss of heart, loss of power and loss of conscience. The focus of life becomes materialistic and egocentric, and disease of the heart (or uterus) may result. When the sun, heart and will of Aurum set, hope, joy and optimism are gone and only desire for death remains.

The ambivalence of Aurum is revealed in the mythological dynamics of the Delphic oracle. In the inner precinct of Apollo’s temple was the grave of Dionysos, his half-brother. The risen god also had his sanctuary at Delphi. During the three mid-winter months of the year, Apollo always departed for the blessed and mysterious land of the Hyperboreans (the land beyond the north wind). In his absence Dionysos enjoyed sole rule and worship at Delphi. He was the antithesis of Apollo, being the God of Ecstasy and Rapture. He was exquisitely andro­genous.

Although a god, Dionysos was also priest of the Great Goddess, and, unlike Apollo, who stood for all things mas­culine, he was a votary of the female principle – the sacred feminine. He rep­resented spontaneity, passion, intensity and freedom, but also wildness, sensu­ality, excess, frenzy, madness and destruction. To this day, his is the realm of uninhibited emotions, of insatiable desires, of the fantastic and the irra­tional. The right brain perspective dom­inates his consciousness. As God of the Vine (Bacchus), his veneration invites gratification of the senses, intoxication and the use of recreational drugs, which release inhibitions, heighten the per­ceptions and induce altered states of con­sciousness, but instead of setting the psyche free, bring dependency, decline and downfall.

Dionysos was a god who was victim­ised, suffered and died and was resur­rected (that is he descended into the regions of the shadow, confronted his darkness and was redeemed). He is the feminine and shadow side of Apollo and he is the feminine and shadow side of Aurum, most often repressed, hidden and unrealised, because above all Dionysos is the masked god. Aurum in its deepest and most morbid depression, more than any other remedy, wears a mask of normalcy, belying the inner anguish. Aurum, like Dionysos, needs to bring his darkness, his shadow-self and his femininity into the light.

Archetypal conflict
This sharing of the most sacred shrine of the ancient world, by two gods, is critical to the understanding of the archetypes they symbolise and to an understanding of Aurum. An intense and extreme polarity exists between these two divinities: “The measured, balanced, aloof Apollo in contrast to the frenzied, drunken, mad Dionysos” (Twentyman).

Behind a serious, solemn and even sanctimonious façade, the lower Aurum may harbour insistent, hedonistic urges. Often the sacred and the profane are joined in moral contention. A similar primordial struggle is found in other remedy archetypes – Lachesis, Ana cardium, Thuja and Lilium tigrinum.

Apollo’s insignia were the bow and the lyre, each representing a major attrib­ute of the god, for he was above all the Archer God and the God of Music. Even the symbols of this majestic deity reveal two poles of activity and cerebral dom­inance: the intellectual and the artistic. In the balanced and the advanced Apollo/Aurum, these two elements are equally represented in the make-up of the individual. However, our modern society encourages the archer aspect at the expense of the creative nature and this emphasis, imposed on a golden being, is responsible for much of the emotional and psychological difficulties of the archetype and the pain and heartache of those who love them.

The Archer
The archer views his goals objectively, impersonally and analytically at a dis­tance, gaining a broad overview before prioritising, aiming with care and pre­cision, and only loosing his arrow after careful forethought and deliberation. He symbolises a person who has clear vision, highly developed powers of observation, focus and concentration, and has defined goals and ambitions with the vigour, confidence and deter­mination to attain them. His target is the bull’s-eye: the mark of excellence, success and highest achievement.

This determination requires train­ing, proficiency, intensity, uncompro­mising application and preparation, discipline, meticulousness, perfection­ism and the willingness to sacrifice all other interests, desires and even rela­tionships in the pursuit of their invest­ment. With their immense abilities and drive they usually rise to the very peak of their profession or sphere of endeav­our. These are all prime Aurum characteristics. Unfortunately success, achieve­ment and status become their identity and their measure of self-worth. Thwart­ed ambition, dashed hopes, financial loss, failure, loss of honour or reputa­tion and any blow to their self-esteem can plunge them into depression and despair.

The Artist
Apollo is depicted carrying a golden lyre, denoting his role as God of the Fine Arts – music, poetry, literature, sculpture and eloquence, all of which demand passion, emotional turbulence and the inspira­tion of imagination and fantasy. This is all too often Apollo/Aurum’s repressed aspect, overruled by a powerful will and intellect. He lives too much in his head and too little in his heart; too much in his thoughts and too little in his feelings. However, music has special significance for Aurum. They have a deep love and need for it, especially classical and sacred music, which can even relieve their pain and suffering. The combined traits of relief from music, deep religiousness and exacting perfectionism are strongly indicative of Aurum.

Unrequited love
Despite his manly beauty, Apollo was singularly unsuccessful in love and often rebuffed. His greatest and most endur­ing love was cherished for the mountain nymph Daphne. It is said that to spite him for claiming to be the better archer, Eros, the God of Love, shot a golden love-kindling arrow into Apollo’s heart, at the very moment he first beheld Daphne, and then shot a leaden love-repelling arrow into the heart of Daphne. She therefore fled his advances in terror. As he was about to overpower her and claim her for his own, she cried out to her father, the river god, to spare her.  She was instantly transformed into a laurel tree.  Still loving her, Apollo made the laurel his sacred tree and wore a laurel wreath in his hair.  Being associated with the god, the laurel, like gold, became the symbol of victory and triumph – a symbol which often graces the brow of a splendid Aurum. 

Hatred and revenge
Aurum is an important remedy for unsuccessful love, rejection, betrayed friendship and loss of a loved one or beloved pet. It is a jealous and posses­sive archetype and when spurned a dark side may emerge, which maliciously desires to hurt the one who has caused the humiliation. Apollo courted Cassan­dra, princess of Troy, and bestowed the gift of prophecy upon her; when she refused his attentions he punished her by decreeing that no one would believe her prophesies. Likewise, he fell in love with the Sibyl of Cumae and granted her longevity; when she withheld her favours, he cruelly retaliated by denying her pro­longed youth. Over thousands of years, she was transformed into a hideous, wiz­ened creature that longed only to die. Aurum is capable of implacable resent­ment and vengeful hatred.

The Sublime One
When the finest, translucent leaf-gold is held up to the light a most magnificent, shimmering green colour is revealed. It is the colour of the fourth, the love chakra, a whirling vortex of dynamic energy situated in the heart region. The alchemy of life gradually and inexorably separates the spirit-gold from the ego-dross and the golden being transcends the personal flux of ambivalence and conflict. They transform their base qual­ities – the passions and the instinctual nature – into the imperishable nobility of universal compassion and love, and it becomes their mission to express the beauty of the spirit through their thoughts and words.

Aurum is the sage, the wise coun­sellor, who has experienced all things and attained to wisdom. The innocence of a child and the enlightenment of a seer are united in gold. Gold in its highest form no longer seeks, it has found; it no longer believes, it knows. Gold asks that we trust and dare, for only when we trust can we surrender, and only when we surrender can we fully receive – even that which lies beyond the north wind!

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.

The killer that cures

by Dr D.M. Gibson

At 2.30 am on Monday the 24 March, 1957, a young Frenchman, Emile L’Angelier, awoke his landlady by frantic clanging of the doorbell. Her husband was away at the time and she called out to know who was there. It proved to be her young lodger whom she found on the doorstep in great anguish, complaining of vomiting and feeling “very bad”, and on the point of further vomiting.

He did indeed vomit again after getting up to his bedroom and yet again before managing to get fully undressed. This time he also complained of intense pain. He became very cold and asked for hot water bottles for his feet and stomach. These were brought, with extra blankets to put on the bed.

At about four o’clock another attack came on and an hour later yet another, the most severe of all. She sent for a doctor but he temporised to start with by ordering laudanum drops in water and a mustard plaster to the stomach. The doctor finally arrived some time after seven o’clock and found the patient looking dehydrated, complaining of feeling terribly cold and of pain on breathing and frontal headache. His pulse was weak and his voice increasingly so.

The doctor assured Mrs Jenkins, the landlady, that the patient would recover but he said he would make a further visit between 10 and 11am. When he did return, Mrs Jenkins reported the patient was asleep and it seemed a pity to waken him. However, the doctor wished to make sure and went into the bedroom. When Mrs Jenkins pulled back the curtains, he found that Emile L’Angelier was dead.

Clinically a typical case of Arsenic poisoning. In fact, 82 grains of white arsenic were found in the victim’s stomach.

This unfortunate young man had been the clandestine lover of Madeleine Smith, the 21 year-old daughter of a Glasgow architect. He had been given his congé as a more “suitable” suitor was in the offing.

The killer
Arsenious oxide, white arsenic, has been a most prolific killer down the centuries. As an odourless, almost tasteless, and readily soluble white powder, it has provided an all too convenient weapon for the homicidal poisoner, the more so as the symptoms of poisoning can so easily be mistaken for those of so-called natural disease.

In the 15th and 16th centuries those arch-poisoners the Borgias made full use of arsenic in their cantarella, aquetta di Napoli, and other subtle concoctions of evil fame. So common was death by poisoning in the glamorous era of Louis XIV, that the period was known as “The Age of Arsenic”.

It was during this century that a notable woman poisoner, La Tofania, carried out her nefarious trade as a poison-vendor from girlhood till her execution at the age of 70. To Neapolitans the poison was known as Acqua Tofa’na and was peddled to distressed, adulterous, neglected or jealous wives over well-nigh all Europe. Her poison was apparently crystallised arsenic compounded with, for no serious reason, the herb cymbalaria.

When justice did finally catch up with La Tofania she confessed to having poisoned some 600 persons and gave the names, some of them great names, of those who had been her clients. After La Tofania’s death, fewer husbands died suddenly in Italy.

But arsenic poisoning was not limited to former eras. Far into the 20th century it was still by no means discarded despite the advances of forensic tests for the detection of minute quantities of the poison in the tissue of victims.

A 20th century epidemic of poisoning took place in a district in Hungary enclosed in a loop of the river Tisza, beginning before the First World War and continuing till 1929.

The evil genius of this epidemic was an old witch-like woman know as Auntie Fazekas who for 80 pengo (then worth about £3) would sell a fatal dose of what she called “The Water of Inheritance”, which she made by stewing a few pennyworth of arsenical fly-papers. She did a steady trade for about 20 years until in 1929 the authorities took very belated action.

How “the killer” cures
This terrible killer when potentised becomes a curative agent of great worth. This has been amply proved by experience as the appended case notes can demonstrate.

Alimentary system
A boy aged nine years had suffered from severe bilious attacks for five or six years. He was a nervous child, afraid of school, always on the fidget, always chilly. With the attack he was prostrated for two or three days, with much vomiting of green bile, thirst for frequent small drinks, and action of bowels accompanying vomiting.

He was given a dose of Arsenicum 200 and improved from then on. Not only did the bilious attacks cease to recur every five or six weeks as formerly but he became much less nervous and fearful.

A man, aged 39, a gold smelter, had complained of burning pain in the stomach for three months accompanied on three occasions by severe vomiting with retching and gagging. An attack would last about one day, aggravated by the least amount of food or drink, accompanied by loose stools, extreme prostration, a feeling of freezing cold, shivers, and a terribly dry mouth.

He felt restless, must be doing something, and admitted to being fussily tidy. Given: Arsenicum 1M to take four hourly as required. Two weeks later he reported having taken 12 doses in all and feeling very much better. He said, “It is now a pleasure to work. I feel a new person.”

A case reported by Dr Royal Hayes of the USA, was a man of 50 who had become poisoned by eating toadstools. He presented one of the most horrible pictures Dr Hayes had ever seen. Unbearable burning pain in the stomach, violent vomiting and retching, loud groaning, insatiable thirst, copious sweat, thrashing the bed with anxiety, countenance deep red and expressing intense suffering and horror. About 10 minutes after a dose of Arsenicum CM he was improving. Within half an hour he was quiet and convalescing. Arsenicum is, of course, the remedy par excellence in food poisoning.

A woman of 53, a variety artist, had suffered from stomach trouble for 30 years. She complained on attendance at hospital of severe pain deep to the right scapula like red-hot pokers. Other features were extreme prostration, great restlessness, and despair of recovery. She was given Arsenicum 10M two doses to be followed by Cheledonium 6.

Seen some six weeks later she reported that she was “very much better; was surprised when the pain went: did not need to take the second medicine”. After a further six weeks she recorded “No return of stomach pain”.

Chest conditions
A man of 41 was having very frequent attacks of asthma. These were so acute as to cause him to crawl around on all fours fighting for breath. He was apt to wake into an attack between 1 and 2am when he had to sit straight up in search of air. Any emotional upset aggravated the condition. He was restless, must be occupied, extremely tidy, well-groomed in appearance.

This man’s asthma responded at once to Arsenicum. He was usually worse in the summer months, but two years after starting treatment he reported “the best summer I’ve had for 15 years”.

A man of 60, a bronchitis with emphysema subject, complained of very severe cough in paroxysms with inability to raise the sputum for the last six days. He was worse after midnight, and had to sit up or actually get out of bed in search of relief. The attacks left him utterly exhausted. Two weeks after treatment with Arsenicum he reported the cough as very much better and when seen again in four weeks time reported himself as “feeling fine; not an ache or a pain in the world”.

A woman of 63 had complained of severe dyspnoea and palpitation on effort for about six weeks, and especially when walking uphill. She was active, restless, better when occupied and excessively tidy. She was given three doses of Arsenicum 1M and three weeks later reported that the palpitation was better and she was feeling quite normal. When she was seen four months later, the improvement was maintained.

A woman of 71 complained of severe pain behind the sternum on walking uphill, the pain radiating to the back and occasionally the left arm. The pain was burning in type and accompanied by a sensation of constriction. The heart was slightly enlarged; there was a rough mitral systolic bruit. She was given Arsenicum 30, a weekly dose. A month later, she reported herself very much better. At a visit after a further three months, she reported having been upset when caught in a thunderstorm but had had “no recurrence of that dreadful pain in my chest”.

Nervous system
A woman of 28 had suffered from right-sided trigeminal neuralgia for 12 months. An attack occurred every 14 to 21 days. The onset was sudden and aggravated by exposure to cold wind. The pain was described as of a knife stabbing in the right parietal region and downwards into both upper and lower jaws. It was so unbearable as to cause the sufferer to bang her head against the wall. An attack would last about two days and was accompanied by restlessness and prostration.

The patient was inclined to worry over trifles, was excessively tidy, very active, and sensitive to any stimulus. The attacks had started after a car accident when an x-ray revealed a slight fracture of the skull. On this history she was given Natrum sulphuricum 10M, two doses.

However, a further attack occurred. She was then given Arsenicum 200, two doses. From then on there were no further headaches. Seen a year later on account of a different complaint, she reported that “the neuralgia remains entirely absent”.

A woman of 37 presented a three-year history of brachial neuralgia. Terrible pain in the right arm would come on not long after retiring, described as stabbing, shooting, burning, and forcing her to get out of bed and walk around for about two hours. The overall picture suggested Lycopodium; but this remedy did not prevent a recurrence. She was then given Arsenicum 1M, three doses, when she related that a very severe attack had come on at 1.30am and driven her out of bed. This proved effective and an occasional dose of Arsenicum was called for to maintain relief during the next three years, namely five times in all.

Of course, instances such as those mentioned above could be multiplied ten thousandfold. Arsenicum album, that merciless homicidal agent, altered by potentisation and employed homeopathically becomes a curative medicine of immense value and amazingly wide application. Its use as a poison should decrease in view of the skill in detection now known to forensic science; its value as a remedy cannot be too highly praised.

First published in Homoeopathy, November 1971 

Arnica montana

one of the best-known homeopathic remedies for bruising has a deeper significance, writes Marysia Kratimenos

Arnica montana is one of the best-known homeopathic remedies. It has been used for several trials to demonstrate the effect of homeopathic remedies on bruising and trauma. Indeed some plastic surgeons swear by it for reducing bruising after cosmetic surgery. Many people are “converted” to the homeopathic cause after seeing spec­tacular results with this humble herb. Arnica montana belongs to the Compo­sitae family, in other words it is a rela­tive of the common daisy. Several of this family of plants are used homeopathi­cally and herbally – Calendula, Chamo­milla, Echinacea, Millefolium (yarrow), Solidago (golden rod) and Taraxacum (dandelion). The star shaped flowers of this botanical family are familiar to us all as sunflowers and ornamental daisies. Other members of the Compositae family include food crops such as lettuce, chicory, globe artichoke and guayule – a source of hypoallergenic latex.

The plants are rich in inulin, a com­pound between sugar and starch that the plants store in their underground organs as a source of energy. It is used as a natural sweetener for diabetics. The Compositae contain selenium and arnica ash is rich in manganese. Both selenium and man­ganese are powerful anti-oxidants in the human body and in addition manganese is an essential element needed for healthy bones, wound-healing, and the meta­bolism of proteins, cholesterol and carbo­hydrates. It may well be that it is this rich source of manganese that facilitates healing, acting in combination with the other plant chemicals. Manganese levels affect the levels of iron, magnesium and calcium in the body. Manganese defic­iency is rarely seen (or recognised) except in individuals fed artificially through their veins. They develop abnormalities in the skeleton, impaired growth and skin rashes.

Arnica – the plant
Arnica montana is an alpine plant, grow­ing in nutrient-poor soil. It can poten­tially reach a height of up to 60cm, but this is unusual given the harsh conditions at high altitudes. It grows in meadows up to 3,000 metres above sea level, where it is exposed to strong sunlight. The higher the altitude, the more aro­matic the plant will become.

It is found throughout Europe, but nowadays it is more common to see hybrids of Arnica rather than the pure species growing wild. The natural habitat has been encroached upon by agricul­ture. Arnica cannot grow in areas where fertiliser has been used and aerial fertil­isation has had a huge, negative impact on the wild population in the Voges mountains of France. Arnica grows best in moist, peaty siliceous soils and chalk is harmful even in small quantities.

Arnica is in great demand herbally and homeopathically, which has led to over-harvesting. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with other conservation agen­cies has drawn attention to this issue, and thankfully many countries have responded by introducing legislation to protect the species. A license is required to collect the plant in many European countries, but unfortunately this is almost impossible to police so the temptation to make money has taken precedence over the long-term maintenance of natural stock. Only Spain lacks prohibitive laws regarding arnica collection, yet 1,000 to 3,000 kg of wild arnica was imported into Germany from Romania in the period 1989 to 1999 according to figures obtained by WWF.

Responsible companies have attempt­ed to farm arnica to cater for the demand, but it is a tricky plant to cultivate so their results have been mixed. It loves the harshness of its natural habitat and this is very challenging to reproduce com­mercially. Its inborn need to survive has led to cross-breeding in the wild.

Herbal use
For centuries arnica montana has been used herbally for bruising and sprains.

Generations of Swiss mountain guides chewed arnica leaves to prevent fatigue induced by climbing. The dried leaves were used as a substitute for tobacco, hence its common name of mountain tobacco. The dried flowers promote sneezing, so it was also known as snuff plant. Fall kraut, fall herb and wound herb, other eponyms, demon­strate the age-old use for the effects of trauma. The flowers are used as a com­press for sprains and bruises. The bright yellow flowers glisten in the sunshine and can resemble the eyes of a wolf from a distance, hence the name Wolfesgelega, wolf’s eye in German. Leopard’s bane is a reference to its wild beauty and elegance, and independent spirit.

The root contains essential oils which are powerful anti–inflammatory agents. The ski resorts are well-versed in the benefits of arnica – massages and body wraps using arnica are readily available in many, and I was highly amused to see a Hotel Arnica in Madonna di Cam­piglio in the Italian Dolomites!

Herbally the plant has been used for traumatic injuries involving bruising, and as a cardiac tonic for weak and weary hearts. It is also used homeo­pathically to support the heart, and for weakness and weariness in the elderly.

Arnica is also used to stimulate the kidneys, but can be quite toxic in herbal solutions. The ingestion of large quanti­ties can cause irritation to the gut; a temp­orary stimulation is followed by a depres­sion of the circulation, respiration and temperature. Violent headaches ensue, the pupils dilate and then muscular par­alysis sets in. The whole nervous system is paralysed and death results. Arnica should be used judiciously on the skin as it can cause nasty irritating rashes.

Homeopathic use
Samuel Hahnemann first potentised Arnica montana, recognising its power­ful actions and its potential toxicity. In homeopathy today it is used both herb-ally in the forms of creams and tinctures as well as in the potentised form.

The whole plant is used for the hom­eopathic remedy. The plant is often infested with small insects, betraying its role as a victim. Fungi grow as parasites on the leaves. The plants have to be washed carefully before the remedy can be prepared.

Arnica montana is used as a trauma remedy, a remedy for bruising injuries, but its actions are more widespread than that. As the US homeopathic physician, James Tyler Kent (1849-1916), stated, “It is a wonderful remedy, a misunder­stood remedy, a misused remedy, because it is almost limited to bruises.” Many of the homeopathic trials have relied on Arnica’s ability to heal bruising, ignoring the bigger remedy picture and emotional state. Homeopathic remedies aim to heal at a deeper level than the superficial expression of the body’s imbalance. They are directed at the disease felt on every level, not the mere disease – a label given to the physical disturbance. In some subtle way they allow the person to recognise their behaviour patterns, their “delusions”, and their prejudicial way of viewing the world and take action to change things.

Although Arnica is most commonly used as an acute emergency remedy, one may see the deeper constitutional picture emerge. Arnica is not just a remedy for the bruised body; it is a remedy of the bruised soul. As Massimo Mangialavori so eloquently phrased it, it is a remedy for “someone who doesn’t forget pains”. Indeed the Arnica constitution is one who attracts pain on every level, just as the Staphysagria woman attracts the wife-beater and the Natrum muriaticum girl constantly falls in love with unavail­able men. There is a perverse logic to it all. In repeating our personal histories, we are allowing life to act homeopath­ically to heal our souls. The “why does this always happen to me?” is the first step towards insight and life changes.

In the playground we are constantly told that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Maybe it is this that causes the Arnica state! Words do have a profound, negative effect on the psyche and Arnica patients suffer with bruised feelings and injured pride, as well as the physical effects of trauma. Like the plant itself, they are victims of the bullies and will often say they’ve been “battered and beaten by life”.

In a desperate attempt to “toughen up” and avoid the bullies, children often mask their physical and emotional injuries – “I’m okay, it didn’t really hurt”. Like the down-trodden daisy they bounce back, stronger, or apparently stronger, than ever. They take the adage “what doesn’t kill you, strengthens you” to the ultimate conclusion. The façade of cop­ing relies heavily on masking the pain, convincing themselves and others that they’ve survived. That they are tough. That they can cope with the bullies. Hence the homeopathic rubric “fears approach”. Using the playground an­alogy, will the attentions of teacher help their situation, or will the bullies reek vengeance for “telling tales”? Despite the anti–bullying policies in place in schools, most victims fear complaining to adults, admitting they are victims, that they can’t cope with “the rough and tumble” of life. And all too often the victim is accused or even blamed. The only rational coping mechanism is to pretend they are strong. “Mind over matter” translates as “I don’t mind and you don’t matter”. Anything else would betray their weakness and make them feel a failure. Arnica’s compensation is fuelled by a need to overcome this sense of failure. They learn to do life alone, relying totally on themselves and hence can appear haughty and intolerant of others in later life.

However, this response often leads to the child ending up as the physical or emotional punch-bag of the aggressor. With no one to listen and protect, their justified anger at the situation becomes channelled into physical activity. Many Arnica patients use vigorous exercise to defuse anger and aggression, the physical pain has an almost cleansing effect on their mood. In fact many admit to being accident-prone. They have a tendency to “prove” themselves by going further, working harder, indulging in dangerous sports and going beyond the limits of endurance without complaint: they take pride in their strength.

Their anger is intense and Arnica is listed under ailments from anger, as well as irritability. The Arnica person can be very snappy indeed, refusing to be exam­ined, declaring themselves to be well when it is perfectly obvious they need medical attention. They are averse to consolation and attention as they fear they might be hurt yet again.

The pain is vividly recalled, as is the accident or incident. There may be terrify­ing nightmares, a post–traumatic stress syndrome may develop. Unlike the Aconite state, where the fear engulfs the person constantly, with Arnica the memories only occur when the conscious mind is unable to suppress the feelings, as in sleep.

It is often the response to pain caused by an accident that guides the practi­tioner to the constitutional Arnica pic­ture. In one case a woman with a minor head injury was prescribed Arnica on the basis of the “Don’t fuss, I’m fine” response to the injury. The patient reported back that the fibromyalgia that had plagued her for years had vanished. She said she used to wake up feeling as if she’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson before the Arnica! And more importantly, she became more aware of her tendency to “beat herself up” when­ever things didn’t work out. She had viewed her arthritis as a sign of personal failure, a weakness. Following the pre­scription, she found she was more able to state the limitations of her condition, and give herself the rest she so desper­ately needed. She no longer feared being regarded as weak and feeble, and her attitude to her disease changed dramatically. She was able to ask for much needed help.

A deeper understanding of Arnica is emerging, thanks to the pioneering work of George Vithoulkas, Massimo Mangialavori and Rajan Sankaran to mention but a few. Although it seemed like the perfect remedy to “prove” that homeopathy works to our critics, Arnica has not yet proved its effectiveness in clinical trials. It could be that poor trial design is to blame because the results go against everything that 200 years of homeopathic practice tell us. However opponents of homeopathy have used this as a stick to beat us. But Arnica is Arnica. It has shown its constitutional picture as the victim of the bullies. Its reputation has been bruised, battered by the sceptics. The “it can’t work, so it does not work” approach to homeo­pathy has led to a bruised, battered homeopathic community. But Arnica is a daisy – it will bounce back, as will homeopathy.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice. 

The vulnerable heart

Dr Raymond Sevar describes a case that illustrates the wider medicinal use of Arnica, as well as giving a fascinating insight into homeopathic prescribing.

The Compositae plant family is well known to horticulturists but probably less familiar to those who are not keen gardeners. It is the family to which the daisy and its many relations belong, including Arnica montana, more commonly known as the Alpine daisy. For many, Arnica is the first homeopathic medicine they encounter as it is widely used to treat bruising injuries caused by a fall, a broken bone or after having a tooth extracted.

Seeing the healing benefits of using Arnica for bruising injuries often leads people taking a much greater interest in homeopathy. Yet there is much more to Arnica and all the other homeopathic medicines derived from plants belonging to the Compositae family.

Since ancient times the plants from the Compositae family have been known as vulnerary plants – useful for the healing of wounds – but it is not only wounds to the physical body, as wounds to the “emotional heart” can also be healed by the gentle action of the daisies. Vulnerable means that which can be easily wounded or harmed. This sensation of being wounded is central to what homeopaths call a Compositae state. It is their heart, their wounded emotional heart which cries out to be healed and is the nucleus, the core of their illness. This can manifest itself physically in many different illnesses but always the central sensation is of being wounded.

An inner dilemma
The language used by each of us when we are ill or under much stress can give a clear insight into our inner state. Sensations are the most highly ranked symptoms in homeopathy as they reflect an inner state, an inner dilemma that cannot be solved. If a person is oversensitive to being wounded then life will wound them over and over again. Even innocent remarks amid the ordinary hurly burly of life will wound them and keep on wounding them. Eventually resilience is eroded and illness can ensue. Physical injury is hard and slow to recover from and can lead to patients using the “never well since” statement in relation to such injuries.

Words commonly used by patients in a Compositae state:

  • I feel as if I have been beaten, beaten black and blue.
  • I feel as if life has kicked me in the stomach, or the bum, or the guts.
  • I feel as if I have been hammered to a bleeding pulp.
  • I feel my heart has been torn in two or torn to shreds.
  • My husband doesn’t just explain things; he hammers me into the ground.

To compensate for the inner sensation of vulnerability many will adopt a strong external persona or try to develop their physical body to increase resilience, stamina and strength – by running, weight training, martial arts – yet the inner sensation and vulnerability remain. Others may compensate by becoming bodyguards or surgeons or lawyers or counsellors to protect others from harm or to help heal others.

Common physical sensations are:

  • Pains which feel bruised, sore, torn, cutting, tearing, ripped
  • The bed feels too hard or feels lumpy
  • Moving the sore part and lying on the sore part can make it worse

The following case study concerns a woman whose life of suffering from severe migraine and hormonal headaches was transformed to one of resilient good health after treatment with Arnica. I would like also to share with you some of the insights that indicate when a patient might benefit from one of the Compositae homeopathic medicines.

The consultation
The woman is 52, very tall and thin with blue eyes and grey wavy hair. She is wearing a blouse with a flower pattern. What follows are extracts of what the patient actually said during the consultation.

“I have had migraine for five years. Each attack lasts between one and four days. They got much worse when I was put on hormone replacement therapy, but I’ve been off that for a year and the migraine is still bad.

“I take a lot of exercise and I never seem to sit down – I love to keep busy. The pain feels as if I am walking around with a big bag of sand on my head. It is right-sided and the pain feels as if it is pushing in and squeezing. It seems to come on when I am exhausted and I feel as if I have a fever with it. It is triggered by wine especially or any alcohol really. I get nauseous and can’t drink and the nausea is worse if I try to focus my eyes and read. Also, worse if I am expected to do anything like make a meal for someone or do something by a deadline.”

(Observation: she keeps making rounded petal-shaped gestures.)

“It’s better from lying down but I get very uncomfortable in any one position, so I have to move in bed. It is worse when I’m moving, but I have to move after I have been lying still for a while. I feel so sore from head to toe, as if I am bruised all over. Everything feels so sore and bruised even my gut and my head is throbbing. I have to move very carefully because any sudden movement makes it much worse. But then after a while the new position becomes uncomfortable and I have to move carefully again.

“Any noise makes it worse and anyone else being in the room; I am much better being left alone. During a migraine no one can get near me. I feel repulsive to people and people feel repulsive to me. Sleep helps, if I can get to sleep. Each attack lasts between one and four days. They begin slowly and build up slowly and fade away slowly. The day after the migraine I feel empty inside and tense. I lose 3 or 4kg during each attack because I can’t eat and I can only drink very little, but I put the weight on very quickly again afterwards. I get the attacks every two weeks or so – just about mid-cycle and then just before my periods. The ones before my periods go away within a few hours of the bleeding. Yes, my periods are still regular so I don’t know why I was put on hormone replacement therapy.

“I still get bad PMT which makes me fierce and short-tempered and aggressive. I’m usually polite and anticipate other people’s needs and feelings but not during the PMT.”

Emotional pain
“I have been prone to misery and depression since my periods began when I was 13. I suppose melancholy is the best word for what I feel. I was at a girls’ boarding school. At 13 I was very tall, as tall as I am now. At school it was an advantage to be tall and I was quite strong, but when I left and went into the real world I felt a freak because I was so much taller than other girls. It was a paralysing experience; people used to stop in the street and stare at me. I became a bit of a loner because of it and did not get married till I was 42. I became obsessed with dogs instead and put all my love and feelings to my dogs and I still do. My husband is 66 and without any emotion. He even gets cross with me when I cry.

“I am told I had a big abscess in my umbilicus for a long time when I was an infant.  I was raised as if as I was an orphan – it was as if I had no parents. I remember screaming for such a long time when I was little and no one came to me. I was the middle child. My mother preferred my older sister and my younger brother to me. I was ostracized. I wanted to be treated like my sister. I fought like a dingo to be noticed.

“My parents are both in their 80s and seem indestructible.

“I am always warm all the time.  I have never been good in the sun. I get headaches or it will trigger a migraine and I feel generally rotten in the sun. I spend the summer in the shade. I am better at high altitude and I love skiing. I love chocolate but too much gives me migraine.”

The patient describing the sensation of the bed being too hard and uncomfortable along with her saying “I need to move but I am uncomfortable moving” is common to all the Compositae, and a strong symptom of Arnica, Bellis perennis (the common daisy) and Edelweiss. Umbilical discharge or abscess in infancy is a keynote of the homeopathic medicine Abrotanum – which is derived from the plant Artemisia abrotanum (Southernwood), another member of Compositae family – but her infancy was over 50 years ago. Arnica is the only Compositae under the rubric, or heading, for head pain that increases gradually and decreases gradually. Therefore, I prescribed Arnica 10m one dose plus a 30ml bottle of Arnica 30c drops, two drops to be taken for severe attacks of migraine or hormonal headaches.

Six months later, I saw the patient again. This is what she told me:

“I have had no migraine and no hormonal headaches since the first dose. I am OK unless I go and poison myself with lots of chocolate and then I feel awful all day and have a mild headache. I had a migraine the same day I took the Arnica 10m. It started as soon as I had sucked the tablet and it was a full-blown attack lasting days. I have not needed to take the 30c drops.

“My energy is fine. I am better tempered. I am less foul to my husband, and the PMT is much better. The melancholy that I have felt since my first menses is definitely better. I have been really busy in my garden and I’m sleeping a lot better. I am not waking at 4 a.m. and I don’t hear my husband get up at 5 a.m. I have had a little spot at my umbilicus since yesterday and it is leaking a bit today.”

This temporary return of an old symptom is a fairly common reaction when a homeopathic remedy leads to profound inner healing.

For several years I received a Christmas card from the woman in which she reported all was well and that she remained in remarkably good health.

Dr Raymond Sevar MRCGP FFHom was an NHS GP from 1983 to 1993. Since 1993 he has worked as a medical doctor practising homeopathy in Carlisle. He was Dean of the Faculty of Homeopathy from 2004 to 2011.

Argentum metallicum

Silver – The Element by
David Lilley

Silver symbolism
Just as gold is regarded as the metal of the sun, so silver is perceived as the metal of the moon. In this relationship it belongs to a symbolic sequence linking silver to the moon, to water and to the female principle. In consequence, silver became an attribute of moon-goddesses, partic­ularly of Greek Artemis (Roman Diana), and of queens. Gold, the active, male, solar, diurnal, fiery, hot principle, is the contrasexual counterpart of silver, the passive, female, nocturnal, watery, cold principle. The energy of gold is yang, whilst that of silver is yin. Gold radiates, silver reflects. The Latin word for silver – argentum – comes from a Sanskrit word meaning white and shining. The lustrous sheen and glistening brightness of silver may be likened to the sparkling of pure light through clear water, crys­tal, the flashing brilliance of a perfect diamond or the gleams and glints of dawn dancing on a dew drop. This imagery is consonant with unblemished purity, innocence and chastity in all its forms. Hence silver also symbolises a clear conscience, pure intent, sincerity, open-heartedness, honesty, lack of prej­udice and loyalty. It possesses the hall­mark of class, quality and nobility together with the dignity of queenship.

Wisdom and intellect
In Christian symbolism silver represents an aspect of divine wisdom, the wisdom of reason, and is primarily, but not exclu­sively, related to the intellect and the mind and is cerebral and logical, whilst gold represents the wisdom of feeling and is primarily related to the emotions and the heart and is intuitive and inspi­rational. In both archetypes problems may develop due to lack of coincidence between heart and head and between feelings and thoughts, leading to loss of wisdom, confusion and stress, produc­ing anxiety and phobia in silver and pes­simism and despair in gold. Its lunar nature makes silver a symbol of reflected knowledge, which is acquired coldly and logically by patient, intellectual appli­cation over time, requiring focus, con­centration and exercise of the memory – all of which fall under the positive influence of Argentum or Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate).

However, Taoism saw the moon as the eye of spiritual knowledge in the darkness of ignorance. The moon and silver are linked to occult knowledge, psychic powers, clairvoyance and prophetic dreams. Esoteric philosophy, mysticism and magic often fascinate the Argentum mind. However, naïve gulli­bility can cause them to be swayed by dubious doctrines. They need to keep their feet on the ground. The silver “etheric cord”, which during life con­nects the body and the soul, is visible to psychics. At the time of physical death this cord is severed, and the soul passes on to a subtler dimension. Argentum, like Phosphorus (the light-bearer), can ease the passage of the terminally ill; it can aid the birth of the soul from one dimension to another.

Shadow silver
Despite its gleaming exterior, silver has a dark side. In ancient times this pre­cious metal was already treasured for the intrinsic value inherent in its beauty, malleability, comparative scarcity and resistance to corrosion. Used in the coinage of many cultures, it came to symbolise the object of all desires, “filthy lucre” and the progressive decay of con­science that these cause. Its most nega­tive association is as the symbol of Christ’s betrayal by Judas for “thirty pieces of silver”. To “cross a person’s palm with silver” implies an act of bribery and corruption. Silver is thus emblematic of deception, guile, dishon­esty and especially fallen innocence! Negative silver will sacrifice principles for a price. This aspect of the archetype, which is a perversion of its qualities, is two-faced, deceitful, slippery and elu­sive, sheds crocodile tears and cries “wolf”. It can be cold, indifferent and ruthless. This vulnerability to loss of scruples is metaphorically revealed in the properties of the metal. Although sil­ver retains its white lustre for decades in pure, dry air, when exposed to air con­taining sulphur its surface blackens with a thin layer of silver sulphide. In the polluted atmosphere of great cities this tarnishing is inevitable. Here, sulphur embodies the ways of the world and their subversive influence upon the innocent and the unwary (silver); it also symbolises fire and brimstone – hell or Hades! The toxic action of silver reveals a similar, dark energy. Prolonged or repeated exposure to silver dust or fumes causes a blue-grey staining of the skin, mucous membranes, eyes and internal organs. This condition, known as “argyria”, develops slowly, over 20 years or more, but once present persists. It symbolises the tarnishing of the soul by materialism.

The purifier
By contrast, in its undivided state, the pure metal is not toxic to highly organ­ised life forms. Silver jewellery may be worn next to the skin with impunity. Silver wires, plates and pins can be in­serted into the body without fear of toxic reaction or rejection. Colloidal silver has healing properties. It is hostile to the low­est, most primitive, parasitic and path­ogenic organisms that flourish in the dark; it prevents their reproduction. The ancients would plunge white-hot silver into water to purify it. As an emblem of purity and unsullied virtue, the collec­tive unconscious vested silver with power against the forces of evil. It was believed that, apart from a stake through the heart, only weapons forged from pure silver could destroy creatures of the night, such as vampires and werewolves, which paradoxically were empowered at the full moon, the time when silver is most powerful. The noble metal reputedly pos­sessed such antipathy to these malevo­lent beings that a silver mirror would fail to reflect their image.

The greatest amount of silver on the planet occurs in the waters of the ocean, although in highly diluted solution. This is curious when we consider that the ancients associated the metal with the moon, water and the tides. Silver is rarely found in pure native state, unmixed with other substances, and even pure silver ores are extremely rare. When virgin silver does occur, it prefers to manifest itself in plant-like rather than mineral-like crystalline forms: won­drously delicate and dainty shapes, resembling fern-fronds or moss; wire­like threads, or round lumps gathered together like bunches of grapes. Viewing these exquisite art forms of nature, we cannot doubt the powerful feminine energy residing within this lustrous moonbeam metal. Taking their cue from nature, artists through the ages have fashioned silver into some of the most beautiful and valuable objects in the world. The silver-being is aesthetically attuned, highly artistic and possesses a passionate urge to create or to perform and to be praised for their creations and their performances. They bring to their work an exacting perfectionism that aspires to excel and to be appreciated and admired as exceptional, unique and the very best. Their creative spirit can express itself through any of the art forms – through literature, poetry, paint­ing, sculpture, music, dance, oratory, fashion, photography, theatre and archi­tecture. Some are conservative and adhere to formal and classical forms of artistic expression; others are avant­garde, adventurous, innovative and dif­ferent, often at the cutting edge of new developments in style and mode.

Moon metal
Apart from its shining brilliance, silver possesses remarkable physical proper­ties which are reflected in the charac­teristics of its archetype. Silver is the most malleable and ductile of all metals other than gold. Due to this extraordi­nary pliancy and plasticity, a mere gram of the pure metal can be drawn into a wire well over a kilometre in length, and it can be beaten into silver-leaf more ten­uous than the finest tissue. Its acquies­cent suppleness invites the skill of the silversmith lovingly to shape it into works of art. Within its metallic hard­ness it harbours a hidden, fluid state, which renders it susceptible to lunar forces. Patterns of silver salts on filter paper are markedly changed during eclipses of the moon. Silver stimulates the generative capacity of higher plants, especially at the full moon.

Understandably, the light of the “silvery moon” exerts an irresistible pull and influence upon the Argentum in­dividual, particularly the female, and never more so than when shimmering upon the waters of lake or sea. It touches them spiritually, sentimentally and romantically and arouses feelings of reverence, nostalgia or longing. Cons­ciously or unconsciously, the moon is their celestial partner; hence it is rare for an Argentum to feel immune to its silent, persuasive eloquence – its call to trans­form, even as it does through its phases, and to transcend the limitations and rigidity of the mind and the ego. They, who feel this resonance, are uplifted, illuminated and yearn for the spiritual harmony and tranquillity it symbolises. Others, living in conflict, are at odds with its serenity, uneasy beneath the scrutiny of its penetrating gaze, and experience it as malevolent – “she robs the stars of their silver and hoards it for herself like a giant cretin hoarding treasure in her mouth. She sits there like a mindless ‘O’, a scream without sound … she sucks up the darkness too, so that even the night cannot rest.” These are the poetic, yet anguished, words of a young woman cellist whose emotional distress yielded to the heal­ing power of Argentum. Silver calms the nerves and restores equilibrium, its liquid energy diluting fear, grief, anger and humiliation and resolving stuck emotions and prejudices by bringing about a fluid state of the consciousness. Silver quells the emotions – it is the great tranquilliser!

It has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of all metals. Heat imparted to the end of a silver rod is immediately diffused throughout its length. By con­trast, one may comfortably grasp one end of a lead pipe whilst the other end melts away. This responsiveness and lack of resistance to heat and electrical stimulation reveal an extraordinary vulnerability and sensitivity to external impressions; and so it is with the Argen­tum being. They are conduits for the feel­ings, emotions, joys and sufferings of the world. They have no boundaries, no defences to repel the swell and surge of energies about them. They are oversen­sitive to all external impressions. They often possess psychic awareness, fathom other dimensions and anticipate forth­coming events. They are acutely aware of ambience and atmosphere and intuitively pick up the “vibes” of people and places. These cues from their sixth sense are seldom wrong, warning them of insincerity and guile but unfortunately due to their impressionability, innocence and gullibility (soft, malleable, ductile), they may ignore these internal prompt­ings and, like Pulsatilla, are suscepti­ble to seduction by wishful thinking, persuasion and pretence. Equally, they are often indecisive, timid and yielding, not knowing whether they are coming or going, waxing and waning like the moon and just as changeable. They are very romantic, easily infatuated and like a “star-struck” lover may “moon” over some idyllic being – real or imaginary – often a star of the “silver screen”. Negative silver loves to wallow in emotion.

Dreams, phobias and fantasy
Silver, like the moon, presides over dreams, imagination and the fantasy life which in Argentum are rich and creative or fraught with dangers that terrify. The pale moonlight of their consciousness only half-illumines their reality, causing shadows to loom large and menacing, drawing them to fearful, fanciful con­clusions. Their phobias are many: heights, narrow places, crowds, antici­patory fears, the anxiety of public per­formance, social fears and dread of disease (especially cardiac) – any of which may produce panic attacks, with anxiety felt in the pit of the stomach, palpitations, insomnia, and an intoler­able, constrictive feeling, as if their clothes were too tight, intensified while walking in the open air, causing them to walk ever faster. High, perilous places may exert a frightening, lunar-like pull, drawing them towards the brink and causing an awful impulse to jump. They even dream of heights and of falling, and also of being pursued by enemies and being at the mercy of evil beings: dev­ils and powerful, “raging fiends” (vam­pires and werewolves). So vivid are these dream events that, no matter how bizarre, they waken with the feeling that they actually happened and the impres­sion of reality persists.

The flute
Although so soft a metal, silver’s inward nobility is attested by its pure ring – purer than any other metal. Silver flutes, bells and triangles produce tones of particu­lar clarity, purity and resonance. This is unusual, for soft metals, such as lead, generally lack tone and sound dull and muffled when struck; they greedily absorb and impede sound. A silver instrument permits the sound to go forth freely and unchanged, keeping nothing for itself, imparting only its own perfec­tion. Likewise, the positive archetype is generous, sincere and innocently open. The silver flute embodies much of the nature of Argentum. A flautist explained to me how sensitive, “aware”, respon­sive and temperamental a flute is. It must be cherished and made love to. It requires tender foreplay to bring it to perform­ance pitch and even then the quality of response is empathetically attuned to the mood and soundness of its lover. To reach the heights of tonal expression – all must be well. In the embrace of the untalented, she becomes recalcitrant and for a time afterwards petulantly resistant to the coaxing of her beloved.

The voice
Often silver-beings have a passion for music, song, dance, drama and the use of words. The orator is “silver-tongued”. This describes the eloquence, persua­siveness, fluency and expressiveness of a gifted speaker. The voice is often the instrument vital to Argentum’s per­formance and artistry – as singer, ora­tor, actor, preacher, lawyer, teacher or politician. Many are highly talented and like the brilliant, gleaming metal, shine and entrance. But there is often self-doubt: can they live up to their own pre­vious high standards? Their strength becomes their weakness; they place themselves under ever-increasing pres­sure and eventually their emotions, intel­lectual ability and voice may give in. Argentum is a wonderful remedy for the exhausted, burnt-out performer, whose confidence fails, and for a voice injured through excessive use. Apart from using their voices professionally, Argentum individuals, like Lachesis, usually love talking and indulge this inclination at every opportunity. They are intelligent, interesting and astute, quick and clever with words and skilled in either argu­ment or debate. When discussing art or some other creative activity or interest, they tend to get carried away by their passion for the subject and are forgetful of their audience. The more excited they become the more rapidly they speak. When highly emotional and distraught, the mind becomes erratic, jumping rap­idly from one subject to another in a ran­dom and haphazard way. Argentum suits those who are ever in a hurry and driven by time. They are scrupulously punctual and often arrive unnecessarily early for an appointment.

Maiden of the silver bow
The goddesses of the moon are three­fold, personifying the three phases of the lunar cycle – the waxing, full and wan­ing moons. Their attributes are inter­linked and mystically associated with silver (Argentum). Artemis, the virgin maiden, is the youngest element, rep­resented by the crescent moon and the delicate fronds and threads of virgin sil­ver; Selene is the mature aspect, imaged in the full moon and the grape-like pat­terns of silver crystals; Hecate is the crone, symbolised in the moon’s wan­ing and dark phase and the darkness of silver. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo. He was the Greek Sun God and as such related to gold (Aurum), the metal of the sun. They were the divine children of Zeus, the Sky God, and Leto, a titan goddess. Leto’s pregnancy was harrowing. She was relentlessly pursued by the savage, she-serpent Python, which Hera, the jealous consort of Zeus, had set upon her. Finally, brought prema­turely to labour through her distress, she gave birth to Artemis, who, as is the way with goddesses, rapidly grew to wom­anhood and was able to act as midwife to her mother through the prolonged and agonising birth of her brother.

Divine midwife
It is said that her mother’s agony made Artemis personally averse to sex, men, marriage, pregnancy and childbirth but filled her with a desire to help women in all forms of distress and travail. She became a birth-goddess and bringer of fertility to man and beast and a protec­tor of all young creatures. She, like Apollo, was an unerring archer and car­ried a silver bow, symbol of the crescent moon. Her silver arrows were thought to bestow health, ease birth pains and assist delivery, or bring a speedy and painless death. Her healing power, hence that of silver, is linked to the moon, which through its influence upon the watery realm exercises control over the the menstrual cycle, enhancing fertility and facilitating labour (Caulophyllum). Argentum is of particular value at times of transition – at puberty and menopause (onset and loss of fertility) and at birth and death (the coming and pass­ing of the soul).

Militant feminist
Artemis is depicted as a tall, lithe, young woman, with lovely, strong, almost manly features, clad in the short tunic of an athlete or hunter and accompanied by a band of nymphs and a pack of hounds. She is elusive and unapproach­able, ever disappearing into the wilder­ness of forest and mountain, which she loves to roam. Hers is the spirit of the wild horse: proud, free, defiant and untamed. Her virginity represents the active, achievement-conscious, talented and competitive female energy that exists wholly independent of and untouched by the need for a man’s support, approval or permission. As an archer she is decisive, poised, focused and intent on her goals. One day, Actaeon, a young hunter, came upon the goddess and her attendant nymphs bathing naked in a mountain stream. Thinking himself unobserved, he tarried to watch. Artemis divined his presence and instantly trans­formed him into a stag which, attempt­ing to flee, was dragged down and torn to pieces by his own hounds. The myth allegorically reveals how the goddess’s anger is aroused by and demands retri­bution for the transgressions of the male against the inviolability of nature and the sacred feminine.

Amazon woman
The spirit of Artemis, Goddess of the Wilderness and Lady of the Wild Things, permeates the heart of Argentum. She has an intense love of nature, the planet, infants, children and wild animals. A girl who is passionate about horses is often an Argentum. She and her band of like-minded women are active in organ­isations created to promote women’s rights, to protect animals and children, to support the victims of abuse and to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is she, Amazon-Maid of the Moon and God­dess of the Hunt, whose silver energy to this day fights against the skulking pred­ators of the night.

David Lilley MBChB FFHom is an internationally renowned teacher of the materia medica who has developed his practice in South Africa over the last 40 years after training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.

Apis mel a constitutional remedy

The worker bee syndrome seemed to sum up the life of Moira McGuigan’s patient

Beth, a young woman of 27, came to see me suffering from urticaria and angiodeoma. Urticaria is hives raised on the skin and angiodeoma is swelling of the lips, face and tongue that can be very dangerous. She worked in the mortgage section of a bank and had suffered this problem since 1999, shortly after getting a puppy. She had thought the dog was to blame but when he died a few months later her condition did not improve. She had recurring rashes over the next seven months and then her face, lips, tongue and the glands in her throat began to swell regularly. Some days she was afraid to leave the house because of the extreme swelling. Shortly after, her grandmother died and her symptoms got worse.

Beth’s GP had given her anti-histamines that she was presently taking three times a day but when she had had a really bad attack of facial swelling her GP was quite worried and had given her steroids to take. Beth had had referrals to an allergy specialist, a dermatologist, nutritionist and a rheumatologist with no result.

Beth finally came in to see me for help. Her rash was extremely itchy, appearing as raised sore, red lumps which were on her hands, arms legs, trunk and soles of the feet. It felt as it she was walking on pebbles even though there were no blisters on her skin. The condition appeared to be worsening with increased swelling and inflammation of her wrists, hands and knees. The itch was very intense even worse than the heat of the rash. The only relief was a warm bath with baking soda in the water.

Beth said, “Physically, I don’t have a lot of other symptoms except that I pass a lot of urine but I suppose that is because I drink a lot. I also get a lot of catarrh first thing in the morning but I haven’t had a cold since 1999. When my skin flares up, I get depressed and want to hide away.”

There wasn’t anything in Beth’s past history to alert me. She had had a happy childhood with two brothers and one younger sister. Her father was away a lot and her mother worked part-time. She liked primary school but was anxious to leave secondary school. When Beth left school, she got work in a bank, staying there for 11 years. I felt that this was unusual, people usually move around more these days.

Beth told me that she liked the people she worked with but the work was boring. There had been some trouble at work last year when she’d covered for the team leader. An older, male colleague resented her new position and was always criticising her. Recently, there had been rumours that the department was to be closed down. Everyone was hanging on for a redundancy cheque. Beth had her own plans if she got redundancy but would probably stay in the same kind of work.

Recent family events in Beth’s life had been her grandmother and grandfather dying and her father suffering a heart attack. Both worried her greatly and the skin conditions worsened. She lives at home with her parents and is very close to her sister’s child, Stephanie, who is a huge joy and large part of her life.

“I have a great social life at work,” Beth explained. “We get on well. I go to the gym three times a week and I like dancing but I don’t get the opportunity to go very often and I spend a lot of time with my niece and nephews.”

Beth had no serious boyfriends since school and wanted to meet a man who was a hero just like her dad.

Next, I asked Beth about her likes and dislikes. She was a thirsty person drinking a lot of fizzy drinks and water. She likes spicy foods but not fish. She does not like insects or heights. She loves flying especially the take off and landing and looking over the clouds. Then she said something strange: she didn’t like having flowers around the house at all. I found this quite unusual. Beth said that she even hated the pattern of flowers on wallpapers.

The symptoms of Beth’s case indicated many first aid remedies: Urtica urens, Apis mel and Rhus tox (if there is blistering) as well as Calc carb, Phosphorus and Natrum mur. However, I thought there were really strong strands running through this case. Work was extremely important to Beth. She has worked loyally for the same company all her adult life. Her team was a tightly knit group and she had worked together with them for many years. Her social life outside her family was always with her workmates. She liked harmony and stability at home and work. If things were unhappy, she was distressed.

She was very conscientious and she’d worked solidly over the years making way up the promotion ladder slowly and plodding on. Although she was young and heterosexual, she didn’t seem interested in having a relationship with a man. She was waiting for her dream man or her hero who was probably unobtainable. She enjoyed her relationship with children. She loved flying and hated flowers around the house because she would have to look after them.

Her problems of urticaria and angiodeoma had started with disharmony within her working team. Therefore I concentrated on Apis and thought of the structure of a beehive.

The beehive is the epitome of a harmonious working relationship. Only the queen bee is sexual. The worker bees work for the good of the hive and protect and serve the queen by collecting nectar and pollen from plants and bringing it back to the queen. Some workers use it to make honey, others tend the larvae and feed the grubs. Male drones have only one purpose, to chase and catch the queen and impregnate her. Only the strongest and fastest drone is successful. All the queen does is lay eggs. There are no males working in this environment at all: it is asexual.

All of this may seem irrelevant to Beth’s case but just look at some of the things she has said. “I hate flowers and the need to look after them. I love flying. I like my niece, she is the joy of my life and I like my nephews too.” She likes her niece the best but they are all like brothers and sisters. In the hive, everyone is related and involved in looking after the queen bee and each other. I gave her Apis 30c (three tablets).

She returned three months later. The rash lessened for about three weeks then she then heard that the mortgage department was closing down and her skin flared up and was worse than ever. Beth was told that she couldn’t get redundancy, only redeployment.

“I feel overwhelmed and that I have no control over my own life. They want me to move to another part of the bank. I’ve been in the mortgage department for a long time, have trained up and I feel that they should value my skills now and give me a job that matches my experience. If they can’t do that, they should give me my redundancy. I’m thinking of taking this to a tribunal.”

She told me that she’d had a strange dream. “There was some sort of war game. I was with a lot of people I knew. I dreamed about a beautiful, brand new house. We went into the house and hid in the attic. The next thing I knew, we were all sitting talking and laughing and getting on well together. It was a lovely house and made of pale wood with a porch on the front just like one of those American clapboard houses. There were no other houses around it; it was just there, sitting alone by itself. I remember thinking what a lovely house this was.”

I immediately thought of the beehive. Beth hadn’t been aware of what remedy she was given so I told her. I gave her another three tablets of Apis. The rash disappeared. She returned later with the news that she had taken her employers to appeal and was now awaiting the result. She had been transferred to another bank in England for nine weeks.

“It was a big adventure for me. I had to live away from home and we had to drive back for weekends. All three of us workmates went down. I was surprised because I wasn’t carsick at all and it had been acute before. My skin has been great, the rashes and hives have gone. I’ve stopped the anti­histamines. For the first time in two years I got a cold last week. I thought it was strange.

“If I win my appeal at the bank they will have to offer me a higher grade job. If I lose, they will have to make me redundant. I already have a job to go to as I put my name into a job agency and the next day I went for tests. I feel my working life is changing.

“I also met a guy in a town pub. He is from Newcastle. We just hit it off straight away and chatted all night. We just talk all the time and get on well.”

I left it at that and suggested if she has a flare up then contact me. Just to make sure, I phoned her recently. She said that her skin had been clear and she was still off anti­histamines. She lost her appeal at work and decided to take the new job with an insurance company but is finding it a slow process to settle into a new place. This is to be expected as Beth likes static, she likes what she knows.

I asked her if she was still seeing the man from Newcastle She told me it was going quite well but he still has to prove himself! I just thought oh well, I hope he doesn’t have to fly after her to prove himself!

The remedy Apis mel has so many indications for Beth and her character. Just with these six tablets Beth got better when conventional medicine had failed.

Moira McGuigan MBChB DRCOG MFHom was a full-time GP in an inner city practice in Glasgow for 18 years and during the last five years used homeopathy extensively. In December 2000 she left general practice to concentrate on further specialist training in homeopathy both in the NHS and private practice.


Marysia Kratimenos describes one of the lesser-known but important remedies

The Fly Agaric fungus is the toad­stool of fairy tales, a symbol of good fortune and Christmas, as familiar as Santa Claus and his reindeer. It is described as “the quintessential mush­room”, a potent hallucinogen of deep shamanic and religious importance. It is a common sight in the woods of temperate regions of the northern hemi­sphere. It probably originated in Siberia before spreading throughout Europe, Asia, North and Central America. Un­fortunately in recent years it has been hailed as the new “legal high”. Its psycho­active constituents have led to its misuse and the dried mushroom is readily available on “magic mushroom” market stalls.

Botanical facts
Amanita muscaria, as the Agaricus has been renamed by botanists, is a large mushroom, up to eight inches in diam­eter, and it frequently grows in “fairy rings”, due to its method of spore dis­persal. In ancient times these rings of mushrooms were considered a sign of fertility and supernatural powers. The fungi grow on rotting leaves beneath beech and pine trees, in the damp of autumn. Unlike parasitic fungi which destroy plants, the Amanita benefits its host tree by enriching the soil.

The fungal mycelia grow deep in the earth and the fruiting bodies, the young fungi, emerge enclosed in a warty veil reminiscent of a foetal cowl. In bygone times babies born in the membrane that lined the womb were considered witches. The remnants of the veil are seen on the stem of the mature fungus. As the mush­room grows the characteristic red colour develops, punctuated by the white warts.

Fungi are devoid of chlorophyll, the green pigment of plants, which allows them to manufacture their food from air and sunlight. They belong to a separate kingdom from plants as they depend on organic material created by other organ­isms for their energy; they obtain their nutrients by secreting digestive enzymes into the food. Their cell wall is made of chitin, a tough polysaccharide which insects and crustaceans use in their exter­nal skeleton. In essence the fungi span the space between plants and animals.

The common name Fly Agaric denotes its ancient use as an insecticide (the dried mushroom was sprinkled into milk to stun flies) and also its hallu­cinogenic properties. In medieval times insanity was believed to be caused by flies entering the mind. The term “fly” probably also refers to the shamanic journey between the physical world and the other worlds.

Although regarded as poisonous, the Amanita is far less toxic than many other fungi such as the death cap (Aman­ita phalloides). It is rarely mistaken for another species except as an immature button, which can look like a puffball. Most fatalities occur in young children and those eating the fungus for its hallu­cinogenic properties. Approximately 1g of muscaria or 50 to 100mg of ibotenic acid would constitute a fatal dose, equiv­alent to ingesting 15 mushroom caps. The potency of the fungus varies greatly according to season, habitat and weather. Muscimol and ibotenic acid are the psycho­active chemicals found in Fly Agaric. They are close chemically to one another and the brain chemicals, which explains the ability of the mushroom to alter con­sciousness and cause “trips”.

Following ingestion of the Fly Agaric, usually within 30 to 90 minutes, there is often slight nausea and vomit­ing. Then the effects on the brain become apparent: an initial euphoria, giggling and inebriation which can resemble drunkenness. Indeed Fly Agaric was added to bootleg liquor to disguise the low alcohol content.

The second phase of Amanita inges­tion is narcotic when one is deeply moved by the wonder of the universe and visions may occur. The effects can last for several days. Perception is deeply altered, colours intensify and the senses merge together, a condition known as synesthesia. Colours have smells or sounds; one can taste words or musi­cal notes. Many artists have the gift of synesthesia: Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Mondrian and Baudelaire to mention but a few. Mozart reputedly described his music in colours or flavours.

Synesthesia occurs when the temp­oral lobe of the brain is stimulated, either in the context of temporal epilepsy, with hallucinogenic drugs or in deep religious or spiritual experiences.

Aldous Huxley describes the won­drous state of shifting consciousness in The Doors of Perception. Although Huxley was actually experimenting with Anhalonium Lewinii, the peyote mush­room sacred to Native Americans, his descriptions of that altered state of consciousness hold true for Amanita intoxication. “I was seeing what Adam saw on the morning of his creation – the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence … The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being – awareness – Bliss – for the first time I understood, not by in­choate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely what those prodigious syllables referred to.” He was equally fascinated by the great mystics. He wanted to experience their world and believed that mescaline was his passport there. “Or, short of being born again as a visionary, a medium, or a musical genius, how can we ever visit the worlds which to Blake, to Swedenborg, to Johann Sebastian Bach, were home?”

Siberian shamans revered the Fly Agaric. The word shaman means “he or she who knows”. Shamans underwent spiritual journeys for the benefit of the tribe; to traverse the axis mundi in order to enter the spirit world and receive guid­ance. Drumming was often deployed to achieve the trance state. The shaman would eat of the Fly Agaric and his devo­tees would drink his urine. The hallu­cinogenic substances are reported to be active after seven passages through the kidneys. Reindeer eat Fly Agaric and sometimes the tribesmen would drink their urine to obtain the desired state. This is undoubtedly the origin of the fly­ing reindeer myths.

Amanita combined with cannabis is believed by many to be the Soma of the Vedas, the Ancient Greeks’ ambrosia and the manna of the Bible. Lewis Carroll described the effects of the com­bined hallucinogen. “In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got off the mushroom, and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking as it went, ‘One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter’.”

Lewis Carroll suffered from both temporal lobe epilepsy and stammering – two conditions for which Agaricus is commonly prescribed and his works detail a typical Agaricus epileptic state.

Agaricus the remedy
Agaricus, which was proved by Hahne­mann, is a lesser-known homeopathic remedy, however it remains an impor­tant one. As the fungus is native to Siberia, it grows in conditions of extreme cold. The rubric “ailments from frost­bite” can be a vastly important key to finding this remedy.

Other rubrics include:

  • Ailments from frost, cold, frostbite, fright, alcoholism
  • Aggravation from motion, coitus, pressure touch
  • Headaches with sensation head swollen
  • Chorea – involuntary muscle spasms that cease in sleep
  • Tubercular types
  • Hydrogenoid diathesesis (Grauvogl)
  • Loquacity
  • Delirium, confusion
  • Fear of cancer
  • Chilblains, redness of nose and pinna with extreme itching
  • Inco-ordination, muscle spasms

Case one
Christopher was a dreamy seven year-old, brought to the clinic by his mother. His teachers were frustrated by his inat­tention in class. He was obviously a bright boy, but did not do well at school. He was prone to “daydreaming” and could not focus in lessons. At times he could misbehave badly.

His mother said that his eyelids would twitch and then his eyes would glaze over. He would then be unrespon­sive for several minutes. On question­ing Christopher described synesthesia – he was very artistic and he could taste and smell his paintings. He’d go into a trance whilst painting. Flashing lights and computer games would also “trance” him out. The condition was worse in autumn. He travelled to school by bus and the light shimmering through the trees could precipitate his attacks.

It was obvious to me this was not a simple case of inattention and so I asked for the opinion of a neurologist. He con­firmed Christopher was suffering with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). His brain scan was normal. His mother was offered anti-epileptic medication but the neuro­logist said as the condition was mild, he was happy for her to try homeopathic remedies under medical supervision.

Agaricus worked wonders. Christ­opher’s “trances” stopped completely, his behaviour improved at school and his grades reflected this. He still has the gift of synesthesia, which did bother him greatly. Once he learnt many great artists suffered from it and TLE, he recognised how special he was and frequently reminded his mother of this!

Multiple sclerosis
Agaricus is extremely helpful in reduc­ing the spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and related conditions, for which I have used it successfully on several occasions. The patients fre­quently have an intense fear of devel­oping cancer. Interestingly, some of the constituents of the mushroom are pos­sibly carcinogenic. Those who respond to the remedy often have deep depres­sion with their neurological disease, and a morbid fascination with their own demise and that of others. Treatment with Agaricus is helpful in lifting the mood as well as reducing the spasms.

Behavioural problems
Some individuals requiring Agaricus show the loquacity and “silliness” seen in intoxication, particularly the children. It is a powerful remedy for behavioural problems in children. They are mis­chievous, excitable, often “away with the fairies” and often stammer. In many cases their parents have used large quan­tities of recreational drugs or alcohol.

Agaricus is a remedy that should be considered for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and for babies born to drug-addicted mothers.

Visual problems
These are frequent, both in the adults and children. Apart from twitching of the eye muscles, there are visual distur­bances, reminiscent of Alice’s fall into the rabbit hole and the distortions of perception and size, characteristic of temporal lobe epilepsy.

The treatment of epilepsy is obvi­ously a task for medical homeopaths who will prescribe alongside standard anti-epileptic medication.

Case two
Jeremy had a severe inflammatory arthri­tis. All his joints were hot, swollen and exquisitely painful. His hips were so sore that he walked with a staggering gait, indeed people accused him of being drunk. Conventional painkillers and anti-arthritis drugs gave him stomach problems: intense nausea and acid reflux, so he was loathe to use them especially as they had little effect on the pain.

Jeremy had striking muscle spasm, which ceased in his sleep. His body would contort with these spasms, and he had a bad tic in his left eye. The right shoulder and left leg gave him the most pain. This diagonal distribution of symp­toms is characteristic of Agaricus. He described the pain as if he were pierced by hundreds of ice-cold needles.

Despite the severity of his condition, Jeremy was cheerful and happy in him­self. He could see the silver lining in every cloud. He had a deep spirituality and bore his suffering stoically. His arthritis had come on after he had been camping and the weather changed sud­denly. He was “frost bitten”, “frozen to the very marrow”, as he described it. His well-meaning friends warmed him up rapidly in a hot bath and soon after the arthritis developed.

The remedy Agaricus covered every detail of his illness and its causation. Jeremy responded well to it and the spasms vanished. Slowly the arthritis improved with continued treatment.

Other conditions
Agaricus is helpful for many psychiatric conditions, again in conjunction with prescribed medication and only in the hands of experienced medically quali­fied homeopaths. It may help with alco­hol withdrawal and delirium tremens, as well as delusional and psychotic states.

Agaricus is also useful for Bell’s palsy, where a temporary paralysis of the facial muscles occurs after exposure to a cold wind. Aconite is the remedy of choice immediately after the exposure, but Agaricus may be prescribed by your doc­tor as a follow-on remedy particularly if there is a lot of muscle spasm. This condition does require a medical diag­nosis and treatment.

Agaricus is primarily a remedy for use by medical homeopaths because its sphere of influence is primarily on the nervous system. However, in self-prescribing, it is helpful for the treat­ment of chilblains. These are a common problem in the winter months and can cause intense itching and discomfort. Prevention is better than cure but, if chilblains do develop and are allieviated by warmth, Agaricus 6c taken three times a day may just do the trick.

The materia medica of the fungi is con­stantly being added to by homeopaths. They are a fascinating and very useful group of remedies.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic programming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice. 


A deadly poison that epitomises the homeopathic principle, writes Keith Souter

Aconite is one of our oldest remedies, having been one of the substances proved by Samuel Hahnemann and described in the first volume of his landmark text, the Materia Medica Pura. The homeopathic remedy is prepared from the whole fresh plant as it comes into flower. Hahnemann saw it as being a short-acting remedy that was very valuable in acute inflammatory and sometimes life-threatening conditions. James Tyler Kent also took this view and said that it is “a short-acting remedy. Its symptoms do not last long… There are no chronic diseases following it.” Since then many homeopathic texts have boldly stated that it is only an acute remedy. Well, I believe that it is indeed a great acute remedy, but it may also have a place in chronic cases, when patients have sustained, and never recovered from a major shock. Essentially, I would describe it as a great acute remedy, but also as a “blocked shock” remedy.

A distinctly shady and poisonous plant
Aconitum napellus is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. This very important family of plants also gives us the remedies Cimicifuga, Helleborus, Hydrastis, Paeonia, Pulsa­tilla, Ranunculus and Staphysagria.

The plant grows in damp and shady areas, to a height of about three or four feet. It has a spindle-shaped root that has a superficial resemblance to the root of the horseradish. The stem grows straight with glossy, dark green leaves which are deeply cleft in a palmate man­ner. The clusters of dark blue flowers with purple sepals give it some of its common names – monkshood, friar’s cap, mourning bride and auld wife’s huid. Impressive though the hood-like flowers are, there is something vaguely sinister about them, as if they mask or hood a deadly secret. That secret, quite simply, is that it is Britain’s most poisonous plant. Death hovers about it.

There are in the region of 100 species of aconitum, which grow in shady mountainous grassland or scrub in the northern hemisphere. Another species, Aconitum lycotonum also has an extreme­ly shady reputation. This is the plant known as wolfsbane, which was in days gone by used to kill wolves by baiting meat with it. It was also associated in folk legends with werewolves and lycan­thropy.

Aconite, or aconitine the poisonous alkaloid derived from it, has been known since antiquity. Indeed, Pliny the Elder recounts that it takes its name from Aconae, in the Black Sea, its supposed place of origin. Legend says that this was the place where Hercules dragged Cerebus, the three-headed dog that guarded Hades. As the dog drooled dur­ing the fight, poison fell on the plant that grew there, tainting it and making it poisonous forever. The specific part of its name, napellus, means little turnip, indicating the shape of its root.

Another legend tells of how the sorceress Hecate taught her daughters Circe and Medea how to prepare and use aconite as a poison, and that Medea, who married King Aegeus used it when she attempted to poison Theseus, the king’s son. But Aegeus discovered the plot and saved Theseus.

On the island of Ceos draughts of the poison were given to “senile persons of no value to the state”. In addition, it was used as an arrow poison in war­fare, and in conjunction with belladonna is believed to have been used as the fabled “flying ointment” in witchcraft practices, undoubtedly because of the hallucinogenic (and extremely danger­ous) effects it would have.

Sadly, the literature records acci­dental deaths after pieces of the root have been eaten in mistake for horse­radish.

The epitome of the homeopathic principle
Like many other poisons, for example arsenic, strychnine and prussic acid, aconite found a place in medical prac­tice. It was introduced as a medicinal herb in 1763 in Vienna. In 1788 it was added to the London Pharmacopoeia and to the first US Pharmacopoeia in 1820. However, because the therapeu­tic dose is so close to the toxic dose, it was later deleted from both pharma­copoeias.

The interesting thing to note here is that although these compounds were known to be poisonous, empirical obser­vation revealed that some aspects of their range of action could be beneficial. So before going further, let us just consider the known effects of aconite poisoning.

One of the first things that is expe­rienced in aconite poisoning is tingling and numbness of the tongue and mouth and a sensation of ants crawling over the body. The body temperature begins to drop and the individual starts to feel cold and clammy. The pulse rate drops at first, but then may become irregu­lar. With increasing toxicity, nausea and vomiting with epigastric pain begin, the breathing becomes laboured and the pupils dilate to cause blurring of vision. It also seems to have a predilection for the trigeminal nerve, the main motor nerve to the face, with resulting facial paralysis. Anxiety and great fear are liable to occur as a sense of suffocation and collapse supervene. Death can occur in a few hours.

In the past when fevers from all sorts of causes were common, it was inevit­able that any agent that reduced a fever would be explored. And so it was with aconite. In addition, because it was capa­ble of reducing the pulse rate it was also used to slow the heart rate down in various conditions. The old medical texts give instructions to give the remedy one drop at a time every quarter of an hour for one hour, then repeating the dose once an hour for a further six hours until the fever was reduced. Clearly, it was a very risky medication to use.

In the 1880s this strange phenomenon about the possible therapeutic benefits of small doses of poisons was investi­gated by Rudolf Arndt and Hugo Schultz, two professors at the University of Greifswald in Germany. Their research, formulated as the Arndt-Schultz Law showed that weak stimuli stimulate living systems; moderate stimuli inter­fere with living systems, and strong stimuli inhibit or destroy living systems. Nowadays this hypothesis is recognised in pharmacology and toxicology as “hormesis”, a dose-response phenome­non characterised by a low dose stim­ulation and high dose inhibition. A toxin or poison showing hormesis thus has the opposite effect in small doses than in large doses. Fascinatingly, homeopathy seems to reflect an extrapolation of this principle, in that whereas low doses are beneficial to a living system, infinitesi­mal, homeopathically prepared reme­dies are potentially curative of various states affecting the living system.

Give frequently in acute conditions
To get the benefit from Aconite in acute conditions it should be given frequently, as often as every five to fifteen minutes according to the emergency. If it is cor­rectly chosen its effects will be quickly apparent. I would always tend to use the higher potency of 30c in these circum­stances. In chronic “blocked shock”, which I shall discuss later, a single extremely high potency can have an amazing effect.

Sudden onset, post-exposure
In acute conditions the picture comes on suddenly with great intensity. An infection will develop rapidly after exposure to a wind, a fright or a shock. Classically it is indicated in the very early congested phase of an illness before localisation has taken place. The cond­ition can be extremely violent and even life-threatening.

Note this point about being post-exposure, because this is invariably the case. Conditions requiring Aconite seem to have a definite cause or to be a reaction from an event. That can be from sudden chilling, or after an accident or shock. The patient is liable to be aware that the problem started from that pre­cise point.

The text books suggest that it is more commonly indicated in robust, thick-set plethoric types. This may be the case, but it is the reaction that is the main guiding principle.

Tension and fear of death
Tension is one of the main features that indicates the need for Aconite. This takes the form of mental and physical tension. Mental tension manifests as anxiety and fear. Indeed so great may that fear be that the individual actually feels that death may be imminent, and they have a presentiment about precisely when they are actually going to die. And they will be terrified at the prospect.

Panic can be so intense that they feel they need medicine straight away, that something needs doing instantly and that medical aid must be obtained as an emergency. Their feeling is that if aid is not obtained, they will die. This is the shadow of death that seems to hover around this state and links up with the deadly poison that in homeopathic dosage will relieve it.

At the physical level the tension can take the form of severe muscle pains, extreme restlessness, shaking and even convulsions. Tension in the involuntary muscles may produce chest pains, or in the respiratory system to provoke an attack of asthma.

When Aconite is needed there is hyper­sensitivity all round. Pain, touch, hear­ing and smell all tend to be affected. Pains are intolerable, to the point that the person screams with agony and demands that someone do something about it. They are often accompanied by numb feelings somewhere or by pins and needles. Touch seems to aggravate and they even feel discomfort from the weight of their bedclothes. The least noise, even their favourite music “runs through them”, or “makes them sad” and has to be switched off. And smells become unpleasant.

Burning fever and thirst

From the days of Hippocrates until rel­atively recent years, clinicians studied different fever patterns and were adept at making deductions about the type of illness that caused the fever. The type of fever which indicates that Aconite may be needed is worth noting. Constantin Hering, one of the most famous pioneers of homeopathy, described it thus: “Heat, with thirst; hard, full and frequent pulse, anxious impatience, inappeasable, beside himself, tossing about with agony.” To this you add the rider that it usually follows a chill, and that it is invariably accompanied by great thirst. All these paint the picture of Aconite.

Common cold, conjunctivitis or sud­den, unbearable earache that comes on suddenly after a chill is suggestive of the need for Aconite. So too is vertigo and dizziness that comes after a shock. And facial pain or trigeminal neuralgia that comes after great shock and which is provoked by the wind may well respond to Aconite. And here we also need to consider toothache starting after expo­sure to cold or to wind.

Stomach problems that begin with tingling in the lips and mouth, with bitter taste and great thirst are suggestive of the need for Aconite. Tummy pains tend to be cutting and burning. The sufferer will be restless, turning from side to side and unable to get comfort. And when diarrhoea begins, the typical “summer diarrhoea”, after exposure of some sort, possibly after a chill or even too much sun, then Aconite may cut it short.

Clarke described Aconite as “the best friend of the nursery”, since it is the main remedy for childhood croup. Kent said that it was the “remedy of the rosy, chubby, plethoric baby”. But one should always be mindful that young children can become ill very rapidly, so should not be deprived of a medical opinion.

Young women and mothers-to-be
If a young woman suddenly stops having periods after a shock or fright, especially if she becomes fearful about them and her health, then Aconite may start them again.

Labour is hard for all mothers, but if the patient fears that she will actually die, then homeopathic Aconite may give rapid ease. And after delivery, if there is urinary retention with cutting pain, great restlessness and fear, Aconite may produce a flow.

Blocked shock
I mentioned at the beginning that Aconite is usually considered to be an acute remedy, but sometimes chronic (even life-long) psychological problems which start after a severe shock, be that an accident, a major event like a tsunami, earthquake or personal threat, will respond to single very high potency Aconite. Insomnia, where the individ­ual may fear going to sleep lest they die in their sleep, is suggestive of Aconite. So too, panic disorders, agitated depres­sion and many of the phobias, especially where fears of death are prominent, may be markedly eased, if not cured, with this wonderful remedy, which seems to epit­omise the homeopathic principle so well.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul. 

A common problem for women

Marysia Kratimenos discusses the homeopathic management of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections are very common in adult women and may become recurrent. The most common is cystitis, an infection of the bladder, but infection may occur in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys. Infection is caused by the growth of the gut bacteria within the urinary system, but in many cases bacteria are not found on urine culture, despite obvious symptoms of bladder discomfort. The close proximity of the anus and urethra (opening from the bladder) in women allows for the bacterial movement, especially if there is irritation of the delicate perineal tissues.

Urinary tract infections are rare in boys and men because of the length of the urethra. In most cases there is an underlying cause, usually an obstruction to the normal urine flow, or reflux of urine to the kidney. All cases of proven urinary infection in men and boys must therefore be fully investigated, preferably by a urologist. Recurrent infections in women, more than three within a year, also warrant investigation, although the chances of finding an underlying cause are less likely. Occasionally, kidney stones or bladder warts may present with recurrent bladder infections.

Homeopathy can be used alongside conventional treatment with antibiotics and for cases where no infection is found. It can be very helpful in building up the constitution, thus reducing the risk of recurrence. There are also many other simple measures that can reduce the chances of re-infection.

In all cases of suspected urinary tract infection a detailed history is essential, not least of all to find the appropriate homeopathic remedy. A urine sample should always be sent off for analysis in the laboratory. A preliminary inspection of the urine is very useful. A strong smell, cloudiness or the presence of small amounts of blood are highly suggestive of a bacterial infection, but clear urine does not exclude it. The doctor may use a reagent strip to see if there are any blood or pus cells not visible to the naked eye.

In a simple case of cystitis, when there is no fever or obvious general illness, the GP will usually wait for the results of the urine culture before prescribing antibiotics. As this can take several days, it is well worth trying a homeopathic remedy in the meantime to alleviate the discomfort.

Acute cystitis
The most common symptoms of a bladder infection are pain on passing urine and frequency of urination, although these are often absent in very young and older people. An uncomplicated case of cystitis will rarely give much more than a mild fever and does not make the person feel terribly unwell.

Pain may be felt in the urethra, as a burning, scalding sensation and/or as a dull ache in the pelvis. If the pain extends to the loins or the temperature is very high, this indicates the infection has possibly ascended to the kidneys (pyelonephritis) and medical intervention must be sought urgently. The passage of blood also warrants prompt medical attention.

Kidney infection may lead to scarring of the kidneys and prompt treatment with antibiotics is imperative. It is perfectly safe to use homeopathy alongside antibiotics.

Non–infective cystitis
Many women present with symptoms identical to cystitis but urine culture yields no growth of bacteria. Often they do get courses of antibiotics prescribed which do little to help the symptoms. In some cases there is a local cause such as inflammation of the urethra or bladder (chronic interstitial cystitis), or the delicate tissues of the perineum. Herpes infection can lead to cystitis-like symptoms, as can chronic vaginal discharges or irritation. In the vast majority of cases no cause is ever found and the patient is told she has an “irritable bladder”.

Homeopathy can be very helpful in this situation, as treatment is aimed at the whole person rather than the results of a single investigation. Careful dietary management may be indicated as some women do seem to be sensitive to certain acidic foods. A professional homeopath should be consulted.

General management
Drinking large amounts of clear water is essential. A very minor infection may be cleared by this simple action. Coffee and regular tea often aggravate the symptoms, so should be avoided. Certain herbal teas may be helpful in controlling symptoms and helping to clear minor infections, but are best avoided in pregnancy. Golden seal tea encourages urine flow and is quite palatable.

Changing the acidity of the urine is helpful. Drinking cranberry juice, or taking tablets of cranberry concentrate, make the urine too acidic for the bacteria to thrive. The sachets of powder, available at chemist shops to relieve the symptoms of cystitis, work on the same principle. Some contain large amounts of bicarbonate to make the urine too alkaline for the bacteria to thrive.

It is important to keep the bladder empty, however painful this may be. “Holding on” to urine will only make matters worse and encourage a more serious infection. If one is prone to recurrent infections, it is helpful to “double void”, that is to return to the bathroom about five minutes after passing urine and empty the bladder again. It is often surprising how much urine has been left in the bladder.

In women infection may be precipitated by sexual intercourse, a condition known as “honeymoon cystitis”. It is advisable to empty the bladder after sex to avoid infection. In some cases there is no infection, the urethra is irritated by friction and this can mimic the symptoms. Adequate lubrication and a change in sexual position may often solve this problem.

Some women develop an allergic reaction to the latex of condoms or the spermicide they contain, and this can lead to bladder symptoms. A change of contraception may be indicated if this is the case.

Local vaginal infection with thrush also predisposes to urinary infection. Many women get thrush after a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics are not highly selective, they also eliminate the so-called friendly bacteria, and the normal range of bacteria in the gut is altered. Abnormal bacteria, thrush and other fungi proliferate, leading to a condition known as gut dysbiosis. Abdominal bloating, bowel disturbance and food intolerance may result, as well as recurrent infections in the urinary system. This leads to further antibiotic courses, which derange the bacterial content of the bowel even more. In these cases homeopathy is immensely helpful in breaking the vicious circle.

Acidophilus may be prescribed alongside the remedy to repopulate the bowel with healthy bacteria, as well as remedies and anti-fungals to clear the yeast infection.

Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection, may mimic a urinary tract infection. It is becoming increasingly common in young women and may lead to fertility problems if left untreated. There is often no associated vaginal discharge and so the infection can go unnoticed. A vaginal swab taken at the local genito­urinary clinic can detect chlamydia and other infections, which will require specialised antibiotic therapy.

Local irritation of the perineal tissues predisposes to infection. Bubble baths, harsh soaps and deodorants should all be avoided, as well as thongs and tight trousers. Pure cotton underwear is best, as are stockings rather than tights. It is important to teach girls to wipe their bottoms from front to back after a stool.

Homeopathic remedies
Treatment with homeopathy is in two parts: first to treat the infection, and secondly to improve the general health so as to avert further infections. This deeper treatment is best left to a professional homeopath.

For an acute attack a relatively high potency, 30c, is indicated. It can be repeated every hour, decreasing the frequency of the remedy as the symptoms improve. If there is no improvement after three or four doses, professional homeopathic treatment should be sought.

Arnica montana
Arnica is very useful for cystitis that occurs following bruising injuries of the perineum. It is therefore well indicated for urinary problems following childbirth. There may be trouble emptying the bladder and some involuntary dribbling.

Sepia is immensely useful for recurrent urinary tract infections, especially when there is also a history of lots of antibiotic use and thrush. The woman often loses her libido, because sex is painful and she fears cystitis may result. She is often worn out by the recurrent infections, so exhausted by the struggle to keep going that she cries when expressing herself. Genital herpes may be present.

The symptoms come on very suddenly and without any warning, often after a fright or exposure to cold. Diving into icy water may bring on cystitis. There is a lot of fear and this may lead to retention of urine. There is a sensation of pressure in the bladder and burning before urination.

This remedy is often prescribed constitutionally for shy little girls with a highly emotional and changeable nature. As they do not drink much they are more prone to urinary tract infections. Pulsatilla is often prescribed for older women, who are soft and yielding in character. They are prone to cry whilst relating their story, and evoke sympathy in the listener. The pain is worse when urination is delayed, and after urination. The symptoms are changeable, and the urine tends to spurt out.

The Spanish fly is a urinary tract irritant, well known to the Marquis de Sade and his followers. It produces the most agonising pain before, during and after urination. Each drop of urine feels like scalding acid and it may be easier to pass urine in a hot bath. The surrounding skin may become excoriated, and there may be blood in the urine. The patient is beside herself with pain and avoids drinking so that she won’t have to pass urine.

Nux vomica
There is intense chilliness and the person feels very irritable with the cystitis. There is constant urging and a sense that the bladder is full, although tiny amounts of urine are passed. This remedy is well indicated when frequency is the predominate symptom. A constitutional Nux vomica is the typical Type A personality – driven, ambitious and very competitive, with a short fuse.

“Honeymoon cystitis” frequently responds very well to Staphysagria, as do urinary tract infections that come on after pelvic examination, operation or labour. It is indicated where there is suppressed anger and grief. The anger is hidden, the person appears mild tempered and gentle, yet there is often a history of abuse or deep sorrow. Cystitis occurs after sex and the pain is felt during and after urination.

This remedy is frequently used for infections when the pain comes on after urination. There may be some blood in the urine and severe symptoms of cystitis. It is easier to pass urine whilst standing up and there is a tendency to urinary retention.

Urinary matters

Dr Raymond Sevar looks at how homeopathy can help with urinary conditions

Rattlesnakes are native to the USA and common in the south eastern states where they live in sunny stony hilly areas with streams and perennial shrubs. Rattlesnakes like to bathe in the morning dew and then stretch out in the morning sun, finding shelter around noon. As autumn advances and the temperature falls they retreat to deep lairs and lie in torpor. In winter they stiffen with the cold and can appear dead but emerge in spring and find a mate. When hunting they are most lively and rise up and strike with remarkable speed, so fast it is difficult to see. Its only enemies are humans, whom they warn of their presence by rattling their tails and wild pigs that battle with them. Fortunately, the latter are protected from the venom by thick hides. The venom was proved by Constantine Hering (of Hering’s law) – the medicine is called Crotallus horridus.

I prescribed this homeopathic medicine with great success in 1996 to “B” a 61-year-old man with benign enlargement of his prostate. This is a very common problem for men over 55 and often responds very well to homeopathic treatment. His PSA (a marker of possible cancerous change in the prostate) was normal. He attended for homeopathic treatment because he could not tolerate the side effects from alpha-blocker drugs prescribed by his GP.

Patient profile
B is a short, square-built man and very muscular, with short grey hair who looks much younger than 61. He is powerful, not just in build but in his actual presence. He makes big fast sudden striking forward arm movements, talks openly and freely, and is wearing a red T-shirt and bright blue casual trousers. He is loquacious and jumps from one subject to another – from his problem passing urine, urgency so severe he has had to stop buses to get out to pass urine, mild arthritis of his spine, to his recurrent spots on his legs, and back again to his prostate.

Here are parts of his story in his own words. “For many years I have had to pass urine every hour through the night, every night, and it is a large volume each time … I have had a lot of dribbling after I pass urine since I was a little boy. The flow of urine has always been a bit of a trickle, or a loose spray, or one-sided or a forked stream.

“… the spots on my legs started as one tiny boil on my left leg and then there were hundreds – they were itchy – then after three weeks they went to my right leg.

“… for the past two years, till three months ago, I kept on getting boils and abscesses in my ear canals … here at the entrance just inside the hole … they used to burst and run and burn the skin of my ear … just on the right side.

“…. when I was a boy I was small but strong – I sorted out the bigger bullies … I warned them once or twice or even three times – then I just destroyed them even though they were much bigger than me.” Observation: this struck me as highly unusual, but I didn’t interrupt his flow “After school I got into body building. I had sex first when I was 13. I got married young, had three children and got divorced at 21. I got married again and had four children and got divorced again but we are all still very close. I still feel responsible for them all.

“… I am a self-employed industrial window cleaner. My bid for a contract is always successful … yes, always” … Observation: I raised my eyebrows in surprise/disbelief and he pinned me with his eyes–as if  I was the prey and he the predator – I rocked back in my chair with the impact – it was a moment when the room disappeared – as soon as he saw that I had truly seen this energy he released me with a gentle “see me now” look and little smile. To recover my composure, I asked him some questions about his reactions to food, temperature and weather.

“Alcohol makes me ill – I get severe pounding headaches with an empty feeling behind the eyes – it is just terrible … I am much worse from cold wet weather and much worse from heat … I get headaches from chocolate but I really love chocolate – when I was younger I could eat 3kg of chocolate … I eat once a day at night and eat nothing else during the day … I am thirsty – I drink lots of lemon tea – about 15 cups a day”.

Further probing
Now I feel settled enough to again broach the subject of his temper and how he reacts when challenged and finally ask if he has any fears. His response is: “I can’t stand anyone being in charge of me or being in control of me. Things always seem to end up the way I want it … I can discuss things and be diplomatic – it’s just that I must be free … My temper has always been the same – I give them a warning, sometimes two or three warnings and then bang, I unleash myself and destroy them … I am afraid of narrow closed-in places.”

Case analysis
He is powerful in build, in his presence and manner. B makes fast, striking forward gestures. There are themes of: competition, aggression, domination/ freedom, sex, family and bloodline all of which suggest a medicine from the animal kingdom. He pinned me – a remarkable experience – this indicates a predator but which family? He has many symptoms which are common to Lachesis and all the snake remedies: he is loquacious and jumps from subject to subject, the boils on his legs began on his left leg then progressed to his right leg, sleeps into an aggravation and is worse from alcohol. But which snake fits his symptoms best? He has recurrent boils at the entrance to his ear canals which are always on the right side so I looked up my repertory and decided Crotallus horridus fits his picture best. He gives warning before attacking like a rattlesnake. This medicine also covers his prostate symptoms. I gave him Crotallus horridus 200CH one pill.

Relief found
At review consultation two months later he has had an excellent response that follows Hering’s law of healing from within outwards, above downwards and in the reverse order of illness with temporary replays of old symptoms. B says: “Spots came out all over my back and right arm and are starting to clear and then the spots came on my legs. All the spots are definitely clearing now – they are just little red dots … my nose ran from the first day for weeks and now is tailing off … I got fierce headaches twice in the first week, like in the old days, but I didn’t take anything for them … the arthritis is better my joints feel freer – I am definitely a lot freer especially in my spine … I have had three pints of real ale three times and I did not have to get up at night to pass urine … otherwise the peeing at night is better – every two hours instead of every hour.”

I prescribed Crotallus horridus to take occasionally when required.

Since then he continued to improve until he was entirely free of all symptoms and only getting up once at night to pass urine. He still continues to recommend patients to me and asks them to tell me that he is well.

Dr Raymond Sevar MRCGP FFHom is Dean of the Faculty of Homeopathy and a Homeopathic Physician in private practice in Carlisle, Cumbria. He also teaches homeopathy to doctors and other health professionals in the UK and abroad.


Enlarged tonsils

Jeni Worden describes how she treated a toddler with worrying symptoms homeopathically

Baby Cerys was fast asleep in her mother’s arms when I first met her in March 2002. She looked like a small but unwell cherub as she continued to sleep whilst her mother, Jenny, explained what was wrong.

Cerys, then 13 months old, had been ill on and off since she was aged just four to five months old. She had never been well since having a croup-like cough, which had then progressed to wheezy breathing, like that of asthma. After that initial illness, Cerys had gone on to develop a cough, which her mum described as similar to that of whooping cough. Her GP had been so concerned by this cough that a special swab taken from the back of the throat called a “per nasal swab” had been taken. This is one of the only ways that whooping cough, pertussis, can be diagnosed but fortunately for Cerys, this swab showed no evidence of this long-lasting infection. However, since that time, Cerys had been ill recurrently, having no more than five or six weeks of health at a time in between episodes of distressing symptoms.

These symptoms started with what seemed to be a simple cold. Colds are common in children of pre­school age and most children will suffer from six to eight colds a year, each one possibly lasting for up to four to six weeks at a time. This is the reason why most toddlers and nursery age children seem to have perpetually running noses.

However, poor Cerys suffered from complications, in that, when she had a cold, she vomited as well. This was obviously a very worrying symptom for her mum and not helped by the fact that Cerys often wheezed when she was unwell. Although Cerys was a very normal little girl in between being ill, her mother found the frequency of Cerys’ symptoms distressing for her daughter and very worrying for herself and her husband.

Their GP had been supportive, referring Cerys to a consultant paediatrician for specialist advice about her condition. He had seen her about six weeks before I saw her and the GP had helpfully sent me a copy of his clinic letter. In it, he had mentioned how large Cerys’ tonsils were and commented that they almost met in the middle of her throat. He noted that her breathing was “noisy” on the day she was seen but that this was not causing her any apparent distress. There was no obvious infection in her chest when examined.

The consultant thought that when Cerys caught a cold, the resulting increased mucus secretions caused irritation at the back of her throat and combined with her already enlarged tonsils, made the enlargement worse. This resulted in her coughing, as her throat tried to clear itself and then vomiting. Vomiting with a cough in children is much more common than in adults as they do not have the same degree of muscular development in their diaphragm and gullet that adults have. This makes it easier (unfortunately) for children to regurgitate their stomach contents when being sick.

The wheeze that Cerys experienced was probably because of the cold virus making the small airways in her lungs much more irritable than usual. This results in the airways narrowing for a short time, causing a wheeze that can be easily heard.

The advice of the consultant was that there was no significant conventional treatment that could be advised at the time but that he would keep Cerys under review in his clinic in case her symptoms did worsen.

Cerys’ parents, although appreciative of the consultant’s advice, wanted to help their daughter in any way that they could. Their GP was more than happy to refer them to me for further help as we had been colleagues when I was an NHS GP.

Cerys was still asleep as I took both a homeopathic and conventional medical history from Jenny. Although troubled by pregnancy-related nausea and sickness whilst pregnant with Cerys (her first regnancy), Jenny had been otherwise well. However, the vomiting symptoms had reappeared towards the end of her pregnancy, resulting in her being admitted to hospital with dehydration two weeks before erys was due. Cerys was finally born five days late by a Ventouse extraction.

There were no apparent problems related to Cerys’ diet, although her dislike of lumpy food was very marked. Jenny described Cerys as a busy, happy, laughing baby when she was well. She liked to be ut-doors.

The only area where Jenny had any trouble with her daughter when she was well was that Cerys woke frequently in the night. She loved to be cuddled and this was in fact the best way to get her to sleep, specially if combined with a rocking movement.

Although not normally a clingy child, she was just starting to be wary of strangers, which I would regard as a normal developmental milestone for this age group. Cerys had been walking for just over a month when seen and was saying simple words.

Physically, apart from being a very appealing child, she tended to get hot and could perspire easily.

Cerys had woken up by this time but was still very sleepy and it was difficult to assess her properly. She had been ill in the night, hence her unscheduled nap. Taking her physical symptoms and her episodes of being unwell since her attack of that croup-like cough when she was just four months old, I prescribed Spongia and Baryta carb 30c, one to be taken daily. I arranged a review appointment for Cerys in six weeks time.

Imagine my delight when a very different little girl came running in to see me three months later. The appointment had been delayed as Jenny was pregnant again and suffering from severe sickness once more. Cerys had had no episodes of ill health since last seen and she looked very happy, exploring my consulting room and chatting non-stop at the same time. She had seen her consultant in the intervening episode who had been amazed at the reduction in the size of her tonsils and equally pleased with her progress. Since starting the homeopathic treatment, and as the size of her tonsils reduced, Cerys also started to enjoy lumpy food. I didn’t change the medication and arranged a follow up appointment for October 2002.

Cerys had a single episode of illness before her appointment but still looked well when next seen. She was also due to see the consultant. In view of this recurrence, and because Cerys was occasionally wheezy when she missed a tablet, I felt that perhaps a deeper acting remedy would help.

I prescribed three tablets of Phosphorus to be taken over a 24-hour period, in view of her combined problems of tonsillar and chest symptoms in such a happy, engaging child.

Cerys has remained well since last seen apart from one virus infection that did not result in her becoming as ill as she has been in the past. She was reviewed by her NHS consultant who was happy for her to stay on her homeopathic medication and has arranged not to see her again until Spring 2003. Jenny and her husband are delighted with Cerys’ continued good health and all three of them are looking forward to the birth of a new baby soon.

Dr Jeni Worden MB ChB MRCGP MFHom was an NHS GP in a group practice in Christchurch, Bournemouth for ten years before leaving to expand her medical homeopathic practice in February 2001. She also practises at the Centre for the Study of Complementary Medicine in Southampton and still does GP locums to keep her skills as a conventional doctor up to date.

Too much or too little?

Keith Souter explains the enigma of the thyroid gland and its problems

The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body with a far-reaching influence. It is one of the endocrine, hormone-producing, organs and it basically controls the rate at which the body’s various organs and systems function. It has an effect on immunity, energy levels, circulation, sugar regulation and is the overall con­troller of growth and development, and of metabolism throughout the body. More than that, however, it has an important part to play in mood.

A shield
The name thyroid comes from the Greek thyreo-eides, the name from the Ancient Greek “door-shaped” battle shield, which had a notch for the chin, from thyra, meaning door. The thyroid cartilage is such a shape and forms the Adam’s apple prominence on the front of the neck. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland, the two lobes of which lie against the lower half of the thyroid cartilage. The two lobes are united by an isthmus of tissue.

Essentially, the thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormones, thyroxine and tri­iodothyronine (respectively referred to as T4 and T3) and another called calcitonin, which has an effect on cal­cium metabolism. Ninety per cent of the body’s iodine is contained in the thyroid gland in organic form. This iodine is needed in order to manufacture the thy­roid hormones.

The thyroid hormones are the medi­ators of innumerable chemical reactions within the body. This is what we mean when we talk about metabolism; basi­cally the thyroid, through the action of its hormones, is the regulator of the rate at which the body functions.

Feedback loop
The thyroid hormones function via a feedback loop. The hypothalamus, a col­lection of specialised cells within the brain, is affected by the circulating lev­els of the thyroid hormones. If the level is lower than it should be, then it pumps out a hormone that controls the pitu­itary gland, at the base of the brain. This responds by producing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which causes the thyroid to produce more thy­roxine until it achieves adequate levels. Once those levels are attained, then a negative feedback ceases further pro­duction. Tapping into this feedback loop is the way in which we can biochemi­cally test for over- or under-activity of the gland. Essentially, we find out if there is too much or too little.

Tadpoles into frogs
Let me take you away from human phys­iology for a moment and consider your common or garden pond and its popu­lation of frogs’ spawn. How wonderful it is to see those jelly-like masses develop into little wriggling tadpoles. Remember the wonder with which you watched them during your childhood, as they slowly transformed into frogs? You were witnessing the metamorphosis of a crea­ture from one life stage to another. And it is a profound change because the lar­val tadpole hatches from the egg equipped by nature to live its life in the water. It is an herbivorous water-dweller with gills. As it develops, however, it grows limbs, lungs and when it emerges from the water as an adult frog, it has become an air-breathing carnivore.

Frogs are amphibians and the whole class to which they belong exhibit this metamorphosis. The name comes from the Greek amphi, meaning double, and bios, meaning life. The stimulus for this profound growth and development is the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. This can be proved by suppressing thyroid function in the tadpole, which will cause it to remain permanently in the larval stage, although it will continue to grow abnormally large. On the other hand, increasing the concentration of thyrox­ine in the water will induce a rapid meta­morphosis to produce a tiny frog. I find this a useful model when thinking about thyroid disorders.

Too much or too little?
Thyroxine is very important in every stage of human development. It is impor­tant to the developing foetus and it is important to the newborn baby. In this country we automatically check for con­genital hypothyroidism, which is impor­tant since early treatment is of vital importance.

Over-activity of the thyroid is called hyperthyroidism, or thyrotoxicosis and occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. It is associated with weight loss, increased appetite, pal­pitations, hot flushes, anxiety and rest­lessness, muscle weakness, tremor and, in women, often a reduction in men­strual flow. Sometimes the eyes may be affected and seem to bulge, hence the symptom of exophthalmos. Conven­tional treatment usually consists of taking anti-thyroid drugs, possibly radio­active iodine, and/or surgery. (Just think back to the mini frog and its accelerated metamorphosis. Small – weight loss – fast, fidgety, with bulging eyes.)

Under-activity of the thyroid, called hypothyroidism, is the result of too lit­tle thyroid hormone being produced. It is five times commoner in women than men, affecting up to ten per cent of women over the age of 50. It typically produces weight gain, fatigue and list­lessness, cold sensitivity, skin dryness, fluid retention, constipation, loss of libido, anxiety and depression. In addi­tion, it may cause brittle nails, lustreless hair and diminished immunity. The con­ventional treatment consists of taking Levothyroxine, a replacement hormone, for life. (Here think back to my large, languid tadpole deprived of thyroxine.) There are actually several causes of both hyperthyroidism and hypothy­roidism, but they are beyond the scope of this article. What is important is understanding this concept of too much or too little.

A goitre is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This can be the result of several factors, including insufficient iodine in the diet, high consumption of certain foods that have a neutralising effect on iodine, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and various drugs, such as Lithium. A goitre can occur in both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Thyroglossal cysts and thyroid nodules
In embryonic life the thyroid gland migrates downwards from the pharynx to its position below the Adam’s apple. Sometimes a cyst will develop along the thyroglossal tract. Usually this presents as a swelling above the thyroid in the midline of the neck. They should always be medically investigated.

Thyroid nodules are lumps that develop within the thyroid itself. Although 95 per cent are quite benign, as with thyroglossal cysts, it is important that they be investigated medically.

The thyroid enigma and homeopathy
The thyroid gland is a bit of an enigma. Although the textbook descriptions are quite clear, it is not unusual to see some­one who looks to have an over-active thyroid yet who, on testing, is found to be hypothyroid and vice versa. In addi­tion, one often sees someone who has been diagnosed as being under-active and who has been prescribed ever-increasing doses of Levothyroxine, yet derives no symptomatic benefit. They may have been told that the thyroid is functioning in the normal range, yet they still have symptoms of fatigue, high cholesterol and are still clearly out of balance.

The aim of homeopathic treatment is to stimulate the body’s homeostatic or inner self-balancing mechanisms. In order to do this the individual ideally needs to be given the simillimum, the right remedy for them at that moment in time. Theoretically, that means that the right remedy could be one out of sev­eral thousand. In practice, however, we find that there is a manageable num­ber of remedies that have a propensity to help the thyroid and the ones men­tioned have all been found of value in my practice. Interestingly, the same remedies can sometimes be indicated in situations of both over-activity and under-activity. It is the individual that is being treated, rather than the condition.

Let me describe Jacqueline’s case, because I think it illustrates the enigma of the thyroid, especially upon treat­ment. This woman is 45 years old. She consulted me after a two-year history of ill health, which had started with rapid weight loss and irritability. She had been diagnosed with thyro­toxicosis and had treatment with the anti-thyroid drug Carbimazole. This and other drugs had failed and she then had thyroid surgery, with initial improvement, which was then followed by weight gain, loss of energy and the subsequent diagnosis of hypo­thyroidism. Then followed a period of slowly escalating dosage of thyroxine, but without any marked improvement. By the time she came to see me she was two stones overweight, irritable, subject to numerous allergies and with a marked suspiciousness bordering on the para­noid. She felt that she would never get well again. This emotional state, especially the irritability, gloom and the suspiciousness highly suggested that she needed the remedy Thyroidinum. This she was given at monthly intervals, with immediate improvement in her emotional state. She became motivated to lose her excess weight and was able to do so. Most importantly, she was gradually able to reduce her Levo­thyroxine dosage to a minimal level, upon which she is still maintained.

The prominent, bulging eyes that I men­tioned above makes me think of two excellent remedies. The first is Conium maculatum which is very useful when the individual feels flat and depressed, and when they develop a very hard, smooth goitre. Being very superstitious is characteristic.

The other one is Lycopus virginicus. The characteristic here relates to the heart, with frequent palpitations and shortness of breath.

General over-activity
Ferrum iodatum is a remedy that is use­ful in the paradoxical situation where an overweight person is afflicted with hyperthyroidism. They can be peevish, sensitive to noise, and subject to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or colitis. Iodum is perhaps indicated in the classic hyper­thyroid case. Here the individual is rav­enously hungry, yet finds that weight just drops off them. They are incredibly hur­ried and restless. Very often they will admit to developing little compulsions, or even have developed full blown obses­sive compulsive disorder (OCD).

As mentioned earlier, goitres can occur in both over- and under-activity. Spongia tosta is a useful remedy for someone with a goitre, generally with an overact­ive thyroid and a background picture of tickling coughs, a tendency to suffoca­tive cough at night (as if having to suck air through a sponge) or asthma. They may feel that their cough or difficulty breathing stems from their goitre.

Calcarea carbonica is very useful in cuddly, doughy people with goitres. They feel easily overwhelmed by life, have multiple fears and crave all sorts of indigestible food. They can be very constipated, yet be unconcerned about it. Their goitre tends to be associated with under-activity.

Bromum is useful in people with res­piratory problems, who present with rock hard goitres and who long to be by the seaside, their favourite place. Being overheated makes them feel awful. Their thyroid can be either over-active or under-active.

General under-activity
Fucus vesiculosus (sea kelp) is a classic remedy for generalised under-activity in overweight individuals. They tend to be very constipated and subject to head­aches “as if an iron ring is tight about the head”. They may have both a goitre and exhibit exophthalmos.

Graphites is useful for overweight people with cracked, scaly skin troubles. They tend to have under-active thyroids and be weepy, sensitive and quite anxious.

Natrum muriaticum is another very useful remedy for reserved, sensitive, and sorrowful folk who are subject to migraines and who usually like or crave salt. They can develop either over- or under-active thyroids. They are often slim with thin necks and slightly lank hair.

Other strategies
It is not always possible to pin a remedy down and sometimes one can look at the clinical state of the individual as the result of a series of layers that need to be worked through, or be peeled away one at a time, using different remedies for each layer. Yet another approach is to use organ remedies. These are called sarcodes, remedies made from organs of healthy cattle, sheep or pigs, which are prepared in a variety of potencies. The basic principle is the triphasic activity of the remedies. Thus, low potencies (of Thyroid) 3c, 4c and 5c stimulate the gland, medium potencies of 6c and 7c regulate it, and high potencies of 9c up to 30c depress it. When used properly it can be an effective strategy.

Nutritional advice
Good wholesome food is important if someone has a thyroid problem. They would be well advised to avoid refined foods, saturated fats and sugars and to have at least 50 per cent of the diet as fresh food.

Keith Souter MB ChB FRCGP MFHom MIPsiMed DipMedAc is a part-time GP in Yorkshire. He also has a private holistic medicine practice and is a newspaper columnist as well as the author of Homeopathy for the Third Age and Homeopathy: Heart & Soul


Conventional medicine has little to offer, often relying on sedatives or tranquillisers but homeopathy, writes John Hughes-Games, can be very effective

Medically, the mental or emotional aspects of stress are exceedingly important. Unhappiness, shock, illness, fear and much else can cause stress, which in turn can make people vulnerable to so many different illnesses both mental and physical. Stress and anxiety go hand in hand; every illness has a degree of anxiety. Even a predominantly physical illness like a sore throat can cause some stress. Certain illnesses have a very large stress component; particularly illnesses like depression, anxiety states and panic attacks.

A person’s tolerance of stress varies enormously – some people thrive on it; high-powered businessmen, for instance, who constantly have to make important decisions. Others buckle under quite small stresses and this may lead to illness.

Types of stress
Stress can be divided into four types. Firstly, there is everyday benign stress, the mild stress that stimulates us to get on with things and which stops us from becoming “cabbages”. For instance, on a cold winter’s morning it might be very tempting to stay in bed but the stress of knowing that things have got to be done – jobs, housework, paperwork – makes us get up. Nobody likes paying bills but the consequences of not doing so would certainly lead to worse stress, so we do them! This sort of stress motivates us.

The second is healthy stress – having to meet deadlines, having to speak in public or, on a more physical level, competing in a race or competition. This is the sort of stress that makes us do things we might not particularly want to do but having done them we have a sense of achievement and satisfaction that is extremely good for us.

The third is acute stress – resulting from the shock of, for instance, a burglary, a sudden bereavement or a road accident, or even a more physical cause like being “mugged”, an operation, a haemorrhage.

The fourth might be called malignant stress – for instance, the anxiety, frustration and unhappiness resulting from an unsatisfactory marriage or relationship, having chronic financial problems, having to look after a difficult, disabled or ill relative or having a chronic or disabling illness oneself. This is the sort of stress about which we can do nothing and it is this particularly that concerns us as doctors, as it can lead to mental or physical disease.

If a doctor is good at reassurance he will be able to help his patients through many traumas in their lives. I once had the privilege of working with Dr Blackie who had this quality to a remarkable degree. Directly she came into the sickroom there was an immediate feeling of “thank goodness here she is, now we will be all right”. The intense worry and anxiety, which were compounding the illness are removed and this “energy”, instead of being dissipated in worry, is redirected to helping the patient to get better. Dr Blackie had the quality that used to be known as “the bedside manner”; a combination of wisdom, knowledge, compassion, humour and common sense – a somewhat rare mixture nowadays when knowledge is considered far more important than any other quality. However perhaps knowledge without wisdom can be dangerous.

How can homeopathy help?
To start with, the homeopathic enquiry is a very profound one and very often during a consultation various factors come to light, which may be creating some degree of anxiety or stress in the patient’s life. A discussion as to how they may be overcome, removed or mitigated, can often be very helpful. Discussion itself can be extremely therapeutic. In many cases the patient is anxious or worried because nobody has taken time to talk to them. The homeopathic physician spends a lot of time with patients. It is however very important that the practitioner should have a sound knowledge of conventional medical diagnosis because during the discussion signs and symptoms of disease which need conventional (sometimes urgent) treatment may emerge and a qualified doctor with a knowledge of diagnosis knows when to refer a patient urgently to the appropriate specialist and is able to do so.

Having carefully assessed the patient, taking into account not only his illness and how he is reacting to it, but his whole make-up, the homeopathic physician then tries to work out the patient’s constitutional remedy. If he succeeds in selecting the right remedy, the patient’s well­being, resistance, resilience, general health and ability to cope are enhanced and many stress symptoms can be helped.

There are a number of polychrests (medicines of many uses) often prescribed constitutionally, which are particularly appropriate for different sorts of worry and stress. The following I have used to good effect on many occasions: Lycopodium for the patient who greatly underestimates their abilities and anticipates every ordeal however small with pessimism; Silica patients are terrified of failure and Calc carbs are just too weak and exhausted to attempt anything! These medicines are only effective, of course, if they “fit” the patient so far as his whole constitution and make up is concerned.

There are, however, some homeopathic preparations, which are particularly appropriate for acute situations. Here are a few with their indications:

This is the most useful medicine in homeopathy for shock whatever the cause, whether physical or mental. It can be a great help for the unfortunate patient who suffers from panic attacks – a tablet or pill in a potency of 30c to be taken at the first sign and if necessary repeated every ten minutes.

This is excellent for bereavement, whether through death or desertion. I once had a family in general practice who had the horrifying experience of having two cot deaths – two sisters whose babies died within forty-eight hours of each other. The whole family was much helped by taking Ignatia 30c every two to three hours.

Argentum nit
A most useful medicine for people who feel extremely nervous before an ordeal particularly when the nervousness is felt in the gut and they have diarrhoea or the “collywobbles”. I recommend the 30c potency to be taken before any ordeal.

Another medicine that can be taken before ordeals, it is appropriate for the patient who freezes either mentally or physically – whose brain seems to seize up under the stress of an examination for instance. 30c is a useful potency.

One of the great stand-bys in homeopathic medicine, it is useful for bruises or falls or any sort of trauma as it promotes healing, but it is also very useful in high potency for physical or even emotional exhaustion. For instance for the mother with the very fractious baby who keeps waking up in the night, perhaps due to teething, or the person who is exhausted by having to look after some chronically ill relative. If used in this way Arnica should be given in a potency of 10M once a week only. 


Bob Leckridge describes some of the major characteristics of and commonly indicated medicines for dealing with stress

How often do you hear those around you using the s­word: stress? 

“I’m so stressed!” 
“I’m stressed out.” 
“I can’t go to work. I’m stressed.” 
“I’ve got a stress headache.” 
“It’s just stress.” 

These are statements you hear all the time aren’t they? You’ve probably even said one or two of them yourself. But what do people actually mean when they use this word, stress? Does everyone mean the same thing? 

In homeopathy, we are always inter­ested to understand what another person is actually experiencing. Of course, we can only understand by interpreting what we observe from their behaviour, in addition to listening to them explain what their inner experience is using their own words. 

However we often use words in quite loose and general ways, so to grasp what someone else is really feeling we need to ask them for examples, and to get them to describe their experience in as much detail as possible. 

When we do that, we find that individuals have quite different inter­pretations of the word stress. For some it’s a feeling of anxiety, a kind of nervousness. For other’s, it’s primarily a kind of agitation. For yet others it’s a feeling of not being able to cope. In fact, there is a wide range of emotions and inner feelings associated with this word “stress”.

Biologically, a stressor is anything which impacts on an organism requiring it to adapt  or to defend its integrity. In human beings that impact may come from within, or from without. Physical disease processes can alter the inner environment of the body and these alterations require adjustments to be made.

More commonly, probably, we attribute stress to circumstance or to some external force. (We can call this external force the “stressor” – the whatever it is that’s doing the stressing.) When we come to consider these “stressors”, again we find a wide range of possibilities. It can be a kind of harassment, a being hurried and pressured to meet deadlines, or to perform tasks in particular ways which we find demanding or challenging. It can be about feeling we have too many issues and/or tasks demanding our attention all at once. Or it can be about experiencing some significant trauma, like a bereavement, a divorce, or losing a job.

In most circumstances we feel stressed when dealing with change. However, clearly everyone will experience similar situations differently, some feeling unruffled. Even those who are experiencing a situation as stressful will have different thoughts and different sensations from each other.

As always, the homeopathic approach recognises this and therefore there is no single remedy for stress, or even small handful of remedies for stress. The most appropriate remedy will be the one which best matches the individual’s experience and characteristics.

I’d like to describe for you some of the leading characteristics of some commonly indicated remedies for those who are experiencing stress, partly so you can see the diversity of patterns, and partly because you might identify with one or two which could be useful for you, yourself. 

Anticipatory anxiety
There are a number of ways to consider the specifics of stress. For example, we can consider the pattern of the person’s symptoms in a common stress­inducing situation, such as anticipatory anxiety. A common situation in which to feel stressed is in the run­up to a challenging task or event, such as an examination or a performance. Two of the most com­monly indicated medicines here are Argentum nitricum and Gelsemium.

Both of these medicines can be useful in reducing the effects of stress in situations where some kind of performance is expected. As a GP I frequently prescribed these remedies for patients who had previously failed a driving test because of “nerves”. It was very satisfying to see them come back with their new driving licence in their hands after the remedy settled their nerves and let them perform at their best.

A very particular group of patients who came to me asking for one of these remedies were those who performed for a living. Musicians who played a string instrument like a violin or viola might find that shaky hands caused by the stress of the event could ruin their performance and, just like those who were about to take a driving test, tak­ing a sedative drug like valium was totally out of the question. In modern homeopathic thinking, remedies which are prepared from the metals we find in the row of the periodic table which contains silver seem commonly indicated for people who are involved in creative work such as musicians and other performers. (Right in the middle of that row of the table is the metal palladium, and you’ll be well aware of the long­standing reputation of a theatre like The London Palladium where you could expect to see the best performers.)

What about the fact that many performers say they need stress in order to perform well? It’s true that most great performers not only feel very stressed as they are about to step on the stage, the track or the pitch, but they claim it benefits them; it gets the adrenaline flow­ing and without that their performance doesn’t go so well. This is a good example of how stress is a complex phenomenon. We often feel that disturbing or uncomfortable symptoms are just bad things and if we could have a life free of stress, then that would be a better life. If we listen to what the top performers say, then we’ll realise that such a view is simplistic. Stress has the essential value in preparing us to meet challenges and in optimising our abili­ties to cope with them. Medication which removed stress might seem like a desir­able thing, but if it impaired our ability to cope and to perform, it wouldn’t be doing us any favours. Sedative drugs like valium have this drawback. Not only do they cause drowsiness which makes it impossible to think or act clearly but they are highly addictive and people can find that once they’ve started them, it’s very hard to stop.

Homeopathic medicines have a huge advantage over sedatives here. A remedy does not act in a chemical way, suppressing anything within the body. Rather it stimulates the natural mechanisms of healing, repair and resilience. In other words, the intention of taking a homeopathic medicine is to improve the efficiency of your body and your mind. The remedy, therefore, reduces the distressing symptoms of stress only by enhancing your ability to cope with it.

Are remedies performance enhanc­ing drugs then? No, they are not. Not in the way a sports authority would think of it anyway. (Of course even if they were, they are neither proscribed medicines in sport, nor are they detect­able in the human body.) Homeopathic medicines are not magic. They won’t enable anyone to do what they are not naturally able to do. In that sense, they cannot enhance performance. They are not a kind of cheating.

The problem with stress is when it becomes overwhelming. An amount of stress might be good for us. It might stimulate us and tone us up to perform at our best, but when it becomes too much then it makes it hard for us to function at all.

Another common situation which calls for one of these anticipatory anxiety remedies is where the stress is so inhibit­ing that it limits personal choices and freedom such as when people have a severe fear of flying which prevents them from actually being able to get onto an aircraft and being able to enjoy a foreign holiday.

Argentum nitricum or Gelsemium or some other anticipatory anxiety remedy can enable some people to take their holidays with the rest of their families, spreading the benefits beyond just the patient who takes the medicine, to their family and friends who wanted to travel with them. This is especially the case where someone is literally paralysed by their fear and just cannot physically climb onto the plane.

This same principle applies in many phobias. Think of someone who is unable to get on a bus, or who is so afraid of crowds that they can’t go into town to shops or restaurants. Whilst phobias are a more extreme form of stress, they do show how a situation which one person finds overwhelmingly stressful can be problem­ free for another. We are all so different.

Argentum nitricum
The pattern of Argentum nitricum is predominantly focused on the bowels and the limbs. This is a common state. The bowel becomes noisy with loud gurgl­ing and this over­activity can reach the outside world as diarrhoea. The anxious, stressed exam candidate who has to keep dashing to the loo is a typical example. But it’s not just the bowels which become overactive. This poor soul becomes tremulous developing both a fine tremor of the hands and shaky legs. You can imagine how difficult this is if you are a musician about to perform in a major concert! They feel flushed and overheated, crave something sweet or sugary, which can easily make them feel sick.

This is the classic stage fright remedy. There’s a theme of paralysis running through all its main features. It’s the pattern where the main focus is not so much the bowel but more the head and the limbs. The legs feel heavy and shaky, and there’s a foggy, dull feeling in the head. It can feel quite like certain kinds of flu. When about to get up on stage they find their legs just won’t take them, or they get onto stage and find that their voice has disappeared and they’re unable to talk or sing. Most professional performers who have these symptoms find that once they actually get going, once they begin to act or sing, then the symptoms disappear and they actually perform very well. In fact, that’s also the case with Argentum nitricum, where if they can get beyond the stressful symptoms, many of these people can deliver excellent performances.

Pinpointing stressful circumstances
We can also consider the focus of the person’s stress, their main issue. In other words, exactly what are the circumstances or issues which this person finds so stressful? As we saw above in considering the anticipatory anxiety remedies, finding the cause of a stress can also give clues about which remedy might help.

Arsenicum album
The patient who responds well to Arsenicum album, for example, is usually quite an anxious, nervous type of person, someone who is very fastid­ious and punctilious. In fact, these are people who always arrive in plenty of time for an appointment because they absolutely cannot stand to be late. Time pressure can be a major source of stress. I remember a number of years ago sitting on a commuter train which kept stopping between stations. It was clearly going to arrive late. I found that I was constantly checking my watch, updat­ing myself literally every few minutes about just how late I was going to be. I was becoming increasingly stressed. Then I had an insight. No matter how often I looked at my watch, the train would not go any faster. All my time checking was doing was increasing my stress level. I took my watch off and settled down to read my book. I haven’t worn a watch for over ten years now and I don’t get stressed on commuter trains any more. That worked for me, but I guess if you are an Arsenicum album type, the idea of going through life without a watch is a complete non­starter for you.

Another major focus for the patient who responds to Arsenicum album is disease. They are often afraid that some minor symptom is a sign of a serious disease. I had one patient in general practice who had a fear of cancer of the throat. He made an appointment once a month for me to shine a torch in his mouth and check his throat. He always arrived in plenty of time! However, as you can imagine, if you are particularly anxious about disease, then any small symptom might send you off to the doctor because every small symptom becomes a stressor.

In these economically troubled times Bryonia is an increasingly indicated remedy for stress. The main focus for the Bryonia patient is stress about their business or about money. These are people who are hard workers and whose work provides them with the money they need to live their lives. It’s not that they are necessarily ambitious or com­petitive. It’s more that they have a deep insecurity about not having enough money, a real fear of poverty. When such a person faces uncertainty at work, then their stress levels can go through the roof. The stress manifests itself most typically as physical pain or stiffness.

Calcarea carbonica
This is another common work­focused remedy. People who need this remedy are good steady workers but they get especially concerned about being observed or stressed by being hurried towards a deadline of some sort. You can imagine that in difficult economic times, as employees come under increas­ing pressure to do more in less time, that the Calcarea carbonica patient will become very stressed. Another common feature of employment these days is appraisal. More and more, employees are being subjected to demands to demonstrate their work skills and performance. If you are a typical Calcarea carbonica type, then you’ll find the annual appraisal round an especially stressful event.

Other patterns are revealed by the kind of issues to which a person is sensitive. Unfairness, or injustice, is one such common issue. The Staphysagria patient, for example, will probably have expe­rienced something which they feel has been unjust or unfair. “It’s just not fair!” is a common remark they’ll make. This is common in either school or at work where someone is being bullied. A remedy, of course, will not change a bully’s behaviour, but if it enables the bullied person to feel stronger and less vulnerable, then they often find that they cease to be the target of the bully.

A useful tool
There are many, many situations which individuals can find stressful, and a myriad of ways in which people experience stress. The situations, the sensitivities and the particulars of the symptom patterns are always the keys to finding the best remedy for someone. Homeopathy is a great treatment for stress, because we can’t, and shouldn’t, remove stress from our lives, but when our whole being is working optimally then we cope well, we are resilient and confident and stress can then be a use­ful tool rather than a limiting, distress­ing phenomenon. A well­chosen remedy can help to achieve this goal.

Bob Leckridge MB ChB FFHom is an ex­GP who currently works as a locum Consultant in Homeopathy at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. President of the Faculty of Homeopathy from 1999 to 2005, he teaches homeopathy extensively and internationally and is the author of Homeopathy in Primary Care published by Churchill Livingstone. 

Stress Busting

Dr Jeni Worden looks at how to stay in good mental health during these tough economic times.

We live in stressful times. High unemployment, pay freezes and short-term working are causing serious financial hardship for many people. Concerns over how to pay the household bills and mortgage on a reduced family income often lead to anxiety, stress and sleepless nights which, if untreated, can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.  The economic downturn has also produced rising stress levels among UK’s shrinking workforce as many workers have found that they’ve had to take on a much heavier workload. A recent study from 2009 shows that 415,000 people reported work related stress problems that they felt were making them unwell. Already one in five visits to the GP are for symptoms related to stress, anxiety or depression; and with the economic future still uncertain it is feared that these figures will increase.

What is stress?
Stress is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as “an adverse reaction to excessive pressures or other demands” and produces symptoms such as a pounding heart or palpitations, dry mouth, headaches, generalised muscle and joint pains, loss of appetite for food or sex, tiredness and poor concentration. The hormones responsible for making us feel so bad are released by the adrenal glands, of which we have two, situated just above the kidneys (hence their alternative name of suprarenal glands). Cortisol is responsible for causing raised blood pressure, reduced effectiveness of our body’s immune system and the release of fat and sugar into the blood stream. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are the “flight or fight” hormones, causing our heart rate and blood pressure to rise and making us sweat more. Already it can be seen why rising stress levels makes us feel the way we do. If stress is left unchecked, it can cause physical problems such as a stroke or a heart attack due to hypertension (raised blood pressure) or mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, frequently with accompanying insomnia.

First line of defence
So what can be done to eliminate harmful levels of stress from our lives? The good news is that there are a number of ways of combating stress and making yourself feel better. Talking therapies are advised by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) for the symptoms of mild anxiety or depression, but it can be difficult to access them on the NHS due to long waiting lists or lack of facilities in some areas.
However, talking to a good friend or close relative is an alternative approach and the phrase “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” is very true. Self-help groups can also be a valuable source of support but avoid those that become too introspective as it is meant to be a way out of your problems, not to further delve into them. While the mental health charities Mind and NoPanic offer valuable online advice.

Apart from counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy and anger management to which your GP may be able to refer you, relaxation techniques such as listening to music, deep breathing or muscle relaxation can help to relieve stress related symptoms. A healthy diet will always help as sugary snacks, eaten in a rush, will just make your body feel worse, and cause a “sugar dip” in both your energy and concentration. Plenty of fluids – not alcohol or caffeine – are recommended (at least 1.2 litres a day), and I can personally vouch for the calming effects of exercise. My local council run gym does an excellent programme called Healthy Horizons to which I, as a local GP, can refer anybody with a health problem, including depression, stress and anxiety, who wants to participate in an exercise regime with appropriate supervision. Fees are reduced for such patients and most people find it very beneficial as natural painkillers and mood hormones called endorphins are released during exercise. Endorphins can help to smooth out the chemical imbalance in the brain which causes depression and related anxiety symptoms.

Giving up smoking is another way to help relieve stress, although some of my patients claim smoking cigarettes is the only way they can combat stress and therefore a reason for not stopping!

The homeopathic approach
Furthermore, there is a whole range of homeopathic medications that can be used for a wide variety of symptoms in conjunction with all the therapies mentioned above and without affecting the effectiveness of conventional medicines.

For stress related symptoms such as chest pain, indigestion and heartburn/acid reflux, dizziness, diarrhoea, sweating, tension, breathlessness and anxiety, feelings of restlessness and worries about health, I find myself advising patients to try one of the most common remedies, Arsenicum album (white arsenic). If taken in a toxic dose, arsenic causes the symptoms mentioned above, which is why it is such a good homeopathic remedy for this situation. It is especially useful if the underlying personality is that of a tidy person who worries about their own health and that of their family or loved ones. They feel worse when alone and want people around them. There may be perfectionistic traits or even an element of obsessive compulsive disorder. Patients admit to wanting to feel in control and becoming very depressed if they feel that is no longer possible, for whatever reason. Generally, Arsenicum album suits someone who feels the cold and is chilly in nature, hardly ever feeling too warm. Heat makes them feel better and they often feel worse at midnight or in the early hours of the morning.

One of my female patients came to see me some years ago as she wanted to stop taking her conventional antidepressant medication but was worried about her depression returning. She was a very tidy and precise sort of lady and I felt she would do well with Arsenicum album, so I prescribed a 30C tablet to be taken daily while she reduced her Prozac. She remained well after stopping the antidepressant and has done so to this day, using Arsenicum album very occasionally for a short while to control any recurrent symptoms. Another patient had an outbreak of severe eczema which had coincided with him losing his job. He was a worrier by nature and Arsenicum album worked amazingly to restore his skin and mental state to full health.

If you are more of a “hot and bothered” type of person, being impulsive rather than guarded (as described in the Arsenicum album picture) but sharing the concern about health and having anticipatory anxiety (worry about forthcoming events), then Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate) may well be the answer to your stress levels. People who do well with Argentum nitricum tend to be suggestible and sympathetic, preferring company and becoming anxious when alone. They are warm-blooded and are worse for heat, the opposite of the Arsenicum album picture. They can suffer from palpitations and are plagued by digestive problems, such as belching and wind. And they have a liking for sweets and salty foods, in contrast to people possessing the Arsenicum album characteristics who prefer sour and fatty foods.

A personal anecdote may help to illustrate to effectiveness of the Argentum nitricum remedy. I used to have a large black tom cat who spent his life avoiding getting too hot, disliking the sun intensely. He was a terrible traveller, getting panicky even when placed in the car, and going on a journey was horrendous as he would frequently pass a motion. Argentum nitricum stopped his anxiety and meant a calm journey home from a trip to Wales without any unscheduled stops or mishaps!

Melancholy moods
Sometimes, I have to prescribe medication such as antidepressants or sedatives to relieve the severity of my patients’ problems and occasionally a consultant psychiatrist is needed for advice. But homeopathy can also be used to treat this only too common form of mental illness. 

When it comes to depression, one of the medications I find myself prescribing most often is Natrum muriaticum (sea salt). Natrum muriaticum is a very deep acting remedy, especially in the sphere of mental health. Because deep grief and sorrow are typical of the feelings Natrum muriaticum can help to relieve, and these are emotions that every single one of us will have felt at some stage in our lives, it is not surprising that it is used as regularly as it is. Typically, Natrum muriaticum will help those people who are sensitive but who have learnt to keep their feelings in check, a perfect paradigm of the very British “stiff upper lip”. They tend to be stoical and to get on with things, to “bottle things up” regardless of how unhappy they are feeling. They are often good listeners and confidantes, without their friends realising how much they themselves are hurting inside. Receiving a hug can help them feel better, but they tend to be happier without physical contact from people outside their immediate family. Being nice to them when they are upset makes them feel worse or cry more and they hate breaking down in front of you. Music may make them cry but often such patients complain to me that they cannot cry, even though very sad or recently bereaved.  They may suffer from migraines and have back pain which is made better from hard pressure. I find that because of the psychological nature of these problems I have to use a higher potency such as 200C or 1M; but I would always advise seeing a Faculty qualified homeopath before using these doses as a whole range of emotions can be raised by this remedy and may require further treatment with counselling.

Whereas, Natrum muriaticum can be great to relieve the depression or stress feelings due to an ever increasing level of responsibility, if the responsibility starts to be overwhelming, then Calcarea carbonica (oyster shell) is probably a better option for you. Calcarea carbonica suits the sort of person who is methodical and determined but has to achieve success through hard work rather than natural brilliance. Obstinate may be another word used by relatives and friends to describe them. These people have a strong sense of duty and are inclined to become overworked by trying to keep up with an increasingly heavy workload. It’s not uncommon for them to work themselves to exhaustion and they may even have to give up their job all together as a result. Anxieties exist about health and they feel that they will never recover. They fear heights and think they are going mad. While cold, damp weather makes them feel worse and they tend to feel physically weak when they get stressed. Breathing problems such as asthma or bronchitis are common. Excess perspiration is another feature, both of the head/neck and feet. Calcarea carbonica in a 30C dose taken daily can help restore balance into a sufferer’s life and to give perspective to their problems.

Lack of sleep
My final section is on the treatment of insomnia. We all suffer from sleeplessness at some time in our lives but for those with anxiety and stress problems, lack of sleep exacerbates their worries and impairs their ability to overcome their problems. As a GP, I try to encourage sufferers to analyse what is causing their sleep problem to help me prescribe the most suitable homeopathic medicine.  A remedy derived from Coffea cruda (coffee bean) has often been advised for insomnia and is worth trying. But if they cannot stop their mind from racing, then a low dose Gelsenium (yellow jasmine) taken at night should help. The herbal remedy Valerian is often recommended for sleep problems, and it can be taken in a homeopathic dose as Valeriana. As with the Gelsnium I would again advise a low dose of 6 or 12C strength at night. If you are waking up at 3 or 4 am and cannot sleep due to thoughts of work or how to manage the next day, then Nux vomica (strychnine) will be a good choice. Nux vomica is often associated with the “A” type personality who is prone to stress caused by overwork or overindulgence with caffeine or alcohol. If you just cannot “let go” of the day then try Kali carbonicum (carbonate of potassium) for this medicine can help when you are waking between 2 and 4am or you wake only four hours after falling asleep with muscle twitches or have problems talking in your sleep.

There is always help available, no matter how bad you are feeling. Please make an appointment to see your GP if you feel you are suffering from anxiety or depression which is affecting your work or home life, and talk about how you feel – I can assure you, it will help!

Further information

Sports injuries

At whatever level you exercise, problems can arise and homeopathy has some answers, writes Fiona Dry

Prior to studying homeopathy, my free time was spent as an ice hockey team doctor. Indeed, it was my quest for treatments of the coughs and colds, which could decimate our team in the winter, that led me to look at homeopathy seriously as a useful tool to add to my treatment choices.

Today some top athletes have used homeopathy successfully and interest among both athletes and the support teams that care for them, appears to be increasing. However for most people sport is recreational and the need is for simple remedies to treat the most common injuries. I usually recommend keeping four remedies in the sports bag so that they can be easily accessed at any time – whether in the gym, on court or on the rugby field.

First aid remedies
Recommended for any physical trauma, Arnica is probably the best-known homeopathic remedy – and for this reason it is often used inappropriately. When using most other remedies we look for a pattern of symptoms to match the illness – this shouldn’t be forgotten when using remedies in a “first aid” situation. Arnica can be used when the injury is in the initial stages and is likely to be superficial – sprains, knocks, falls or when bruising is easily visible, but will be more useful when some of the other features are present such as wanting to be left alone or not able to bear someone touching the area. By all means use Arnica 30c every 15 minutes for up to two hours if it seems to be helping, then reassess to check whether another remedy is needed.

For bruising that is likely to be deep as in a direct blow to the quads in rugby or any other contact sport then my choice would be Bellis perennis 30c rather than Arnica. With an injury needing Bellis perennis there is often a feeling of “tightness” and bruising may not be particularly apparent initially. It can also be helpful for tears to the quads where there is a lot of bleeding into the muscle itself. Again use it every 15 minutes for the first two hours then reduce the frequency to a dose three to four times daily, gradually tailing off the remedy as symptoms improve.

My third choice is Ledum 30c as it is so useful in treating sprained ankles. Switch to using Ledum, from Arnica if the ankle looks black with bruising and has the sensation of being cold, yet putting heat on it worsens the pain which is actually relieved by applying ice. Ledum is often needed for a couple of days so start taking a dose every 30 minutes for up to six doses and then reduce to three or four times daily as you improve. It is also particularly useful for black eyes so if you play contact sport this is good to have in your bag.

The last remedy is Rhus tox again as a 30c potency. Use it when, having sat down in the bar after a game, you start to move and feel “seized up” which is helped by getting the area moving again. Even if you haven’t been injured but have simply had a hard session and feel stiff two or three doses of Rhus tox over one to two hours, alternating with Arnica can sometimes help. Although clinical research doesn’t necessarily back this, from a purely practical point of view, it is worth trying. If you are due to play further matches that day or the next use just the Rhus tox.

Muscle cramps
These are a common problem in athletes. When it happens after a match it is painful and inconvenient, but during a match it can mean the difference between winning and losing. If cramps are a common problem try dissolving a tablet of Cuprum metallicum 30c in a small bottle of water and sip it two or three times an hour during the match. If you develop a cramp then this can be increased to one sip every two or three minutes until it subsides. Remember to mark the bottle well as you should use a different bottle to drink from if you are trying to keep up your level of hydration!

Tennis elbow
Besides helping in first aid cases homeopathic remedies can be used in injuries that take a longer time to develop such as tennis elbow. This is not easily related to a specific incident but develops over weeks or months and causes pain in the elbow, which is worse when trying to pick up an object at arm’s length. Ruta is a remedy which tends to help with such pains, however in some of my patients it has caused headaches, which limits its usefulness. It is for this reason I recommend a 6c potency which can be taken daily for up to three weeks rather than 30c. Often this condition is accompanied by restlessness and the pain is described as a bruised feeling, again some patients have used Arnica thinking that it is indicated for the bruised feeling but Ruta has a special affinity for the areas where bones and tendons meet, making it my first choice for tennis elbow. If the pain is more like a tearing feeling and is relieved by heat then Causticum might be a better choice, using 30c daily for up to two weeks.

Achilles tendonitis
This is another problem that tends to develop slowly. The tendon becomes painful and sometimes appears swollen or feels soft to the touch. Treatment should include an assessment of both footwear and the way the lower limbs move to help eliminate causative factors. Rest, good footwear and physiotherapy are the mainstay of treatment. Homeopathic remedies can be used alongside conventional treatments rather than replacing them as healing tends to be slow and difficult to sustain.

Use Kali bich especially when symptoms are in one part of the tendon only rather than affecting the whole length of it. If the area affected is the lower part of the tendon where it attaches to the heel then Ruta again would be a reasonable choice, whereas if it is more towards the end of the tendon that attaches to the calf muscles then choose Anacardium instead. When stiffness is the main symptom rather than pain, the calves and even the ankles feeling tight especially when walking then Cimicifugia might be needed.

The remedies may need to be taken for three to four weeks so a 6c potency needs to be used and can be taken daily, provided you re-assess whether the remedy is helping or not in the first five days and regularly during the treatment. Also remember to stop when there is a change in your symptoms.

Painful heels
A condition called plantar fasciitis causes pain, which is typically worse first thing in the morning when you put your foot to the floor and eases off during the day. This is due to inflammation of a thick layer of connective tissue, which attaches to the underside of the heel. This inflammation occurs at the junction of the connective tissue and the heel bone and therefore Ruta is helpful in doses as outlined for Achilles tendinitis.

If the pain feels more bony in origin, and is worse in damp weather then Aranea diadema 6c taken daily over three to four weeks would be my choice, particularly if the worsening of the symptoms in damp weather was a prominent feature – because I find this an unusual symptom in this disease.

After some time the heel can produce a small spur of bone which in itself exacerbates the pain. Calc phos in 6c potency taken daily over a six-week period can help to settle the discomfort and in most cases a small heel raise worn in every shoe or slipper will speed recovery. Your GP or a physiotherapist can advise you about this.

Recurrent injuries
In recurrent injuries, or those not responding to simple remedies, then the approach must be more constitutional rather than local. A doctor or therapist can build up a relationship with an athlete and frequently uses knowledge about the character of that athlete in choosing a remedy. The highly competitive, exacting, winner at all costs who also is popular in the club, enjoys a drink and a joke after the game (especially when he has won!) would encourage me to prescribe Nux vomica for cramps rather than Cuprum metallicum.

Someone with weak ankles and recurrent sprains would lead me to Calc carb if they were generally anxious, hard working, taking on more and more responsibility until they become exhausted. Nat carb if they were more reserved, take sudden dislikes to people, or perhaps had a feeling of sadness about them.

An athlete with Achilles tendinitis who had suffered bereavement around the time of the injury may need Ignatia rather than the remedies I suggested earlier. In some cases remedy selection can only be done after taking a complete homeopathic history and the symptoms seen in context.

Drug testing in sport
I am sometimes asked whether homeopathic remedies cause problems with the anti doping rules in sport. Athletes at anything from club to national level may be subject to drug testing for performance enhancing drugs, depending on the sport they take part in, and detection of banned drugs could lead to suspension from the sport. The beauty of homeopathic remedies is that they are undetectable via conventional methods. The problems lie with other remedies, sometimes labelled herbal or vitamin/food supplements that are confused with homeopathic remedies. If in any doubt you should contact your sport governing body prior to taking a remedy to check that it is allowable.

Can homeopathic remedies improve performance in an athlete? My answer is undoubtedly yes but not to the extent that would unnaturally enhance his or her performance past optimum, so I would consider them no more performance enhancing than good coaching and they don’t have the health risks associated with banned drugs.

What can’t homeopathy achieve?
It can’t replace correct equipment, good coaching and sensible training schedules; neither can it replace accurate diagnosis of an injury. If in any doubt get a professional opinion. A good coach is invaluable in preventing injuries and a chartered physiotherapist is equally so in treating them, take your chosen remedy along and tell them about it. You may be surprised at how much they know about homeopathy already and if not – why not tell them?

Finally I would recommend a very helpful book to read if you would like to know more about homeopathy and sports injury: Homoeopathy for Sports, Exercise and Dance by Emlyn Thomas. Full of practical advice for the athlete who wants to start using homeopathy, it is written clearly enough for those with little or no knowledge of homeopathy to use and is very readable. 

Fiona Dry MBBS MRCGP DipSportMed MFHom, who trained with both medical and non-medical homeopaths, is a homeopathic GP in Leighton Buzzard and runs the BHA-funded clinic in Huntingdon in partnership with Dr Jenny Boyle.

Sleep Problems

By David Curtin MBBS MFHom
Homoeopathic physician, London and Oxford

Insomnia or sleeplessness is a common problem in the modern world: so many people live such busy lives, rushing from one place to the next, and from one task to the next. And we are surrounded by noise – noise from traffic, washing machines, air conditioning, televisions, the children’s stereo. In cities, it is quite common for such noise to continue all night.

Fortunately, human beings are designed to be adaptive, and most of us learn to filter out unwanted noise. However, when we are under stress these natural adaptive mechanisms don’t function so well.

Some common causes of insomnia in adults include:

Anxiety or fear
Shift work or overwork
New baby
Old age
Eating late
Alcohol, coffee, tea or other stimulants
Uncomfortable bed or bed too small
Insufficient exercise.

In children causes include:

Pain – teething, ear ache, colic
Fear or anxiety, nightmares

There is no one easy answer to insomnia: finding and treating the cause is the most effective solution. In some cases there will be several causes.

Sleeping tablets will often help, but they are not always effective, they can be addictive and they may have side-effects. Also, they do nothing to solve the underlying problem.

If the underlying problem is addressed then sometimes this alone will restore normal healthy sleep patterns. In some cases a multi-faceted approach is necessary. Any serious causes of insomnia should, of course, be treated under the supervision of an appropriate health professional.

Self help

Simple tips:

  • Wind down gradually in the evenings. Do not watch stimulating television programmes late in the evening or read stimulating books
  • Do not have a television in your bedroom and do not read in bed unless you are quite sure that reading actually helps you to get to sleep
  • Avoid eating late in the evening
  • Avoid stimulating drinks in the evening – tea and coffee
  • Avoid alcohol late in the evening unless you know that it helps you to sleep
  • Alcohol often causes disturbed sleep, even though it may help you to get to sleep
  • Take 10-15 minutes to wind down when you get in from work if at all possible
  • Ideally find a quiet place, lie on your back and then relax each muscle in your body in turn, beginning with your feet, and working up to your head. Then lie quietly and let your mind drift. Do this everyday
  • Try to find a bedtime routine that suits you.
  • Put young children to bed as soon as practicable
  • Routines are helpful for most children and most adults
  • Avoid sleeping in late in the mornings if you are over-tired. This can disrupt sleep patterns and result in making you more tired. Go to bed earlier instead
  • Try self-hypnosis. Lie down in a quiet room and close your eyes. Imagine yourself in a luxuriously comfort­able place. Let your imagination flood itself with all the sensations that you would like to experience: touch, sound, colours, smells, even tastes. Choose those that are calming and relaxing. Practise this and you will find that when you are in bed ready to go to sleep you will remember those sensations
  • Self-hypnosis sleep tapes can be helpful
  • Get a good bed. Good beds are expensive but they really make a difference. Many people believe that pocket-sprung mattresses are the best.
  • Your bed should be neither too soft or too hard. A double bed should be at least 150 cm wide (5ft) and preferably 165 cm for two people. Most double beds are smaller than this. Remember, you spend a third of your life in bed.

As always with homoeopathy, the remedy must be chosen according to the symptoms of the individual. Some of the remedies used may already be familiar to you. Here are some of the more commonly used remedies. I have put them in the order in which I most often prescribe them, starting with the most common.

Nux vomica
The patient goes to sleep late because of a feeling of thoughts crowding in on him. He or she wakes at 3 am and lies awake until daybreak, when he falls into a dull sleep full of dreams, from which it is hard to rouse. He wakes late, feeling tired.

He or she feels drowsy after meals and in the early evening. His dreams are full of bustle and hurry. He feels better after a short sleep, unless aroused.

He has a great flow of ideas in bed in the evening, which often drive away sleep until morning.

Experiences sleeplessness and excitement after overwork or over-stimulation.

Dreams of quarrels.

The patient experiences complete sleeplessness and is constantly moving and excited. Sleeps until 3 am, after which he or she is only able to doze. Wakes with a start and feels excited. His sleep is disturbed by dreams.

Experiences sleeplessness because of mental activity; has a flow of ideas, accompanied by nervous excitability.

This remedy is good for hyperactive or hypersensitive children.

The patient has fever, dryness of the mouth, cold extremities and hunger.

There is pulsation of the blood-vessels, and the patient may hear this so loudly when trying to sleep as to be kept awake by it.

He or she experiences comatose sleep at night, with frequent waking and convulsive movements.

The patient’s sleep may be accompanied by moaning and tossing about.

There may be nocturnal sleeplessness, sometimes with the desire to sleep and useless efforts to go to sleep, mostly because of feelings of great anguish or agitation.

Dreams may be described as anxious, terrible, frightful and vivid. They may be about fires, robbers and assassins, or may be meditative dreams. On closing the eyes in order to go to sleep, the patient sees frightful visions and experiences jerking in the limbs.

This remedy is often used during childhood fevers.

The patient experiences sleeplessness following a fit of indigestion or colic. This remedy can be very useful in children.

The patient is very wakeful and sleepless. When asleep the patient lies on his or her back, with one hand under the occiput.

Patient has nocturnal sleeplessness, with attacks of anguish, visions and illusions involving sight and hearing. On sleeping, the patient starts with fright, cries, tosses about, is tearful, talks, raves, groans, snores and constantly separates the thighs.

The patient has fantastic, lively, quarrelsome and vexatious dreams, with a morose and sullen aspect.

This remedy is commonly indicated in teething children. They have difficulty falling asleep, and demand things only to refuse them. They want to be picked up and carried, but this only helps for a short time.

The patient has nightmares and anxious dreams. He or she experiences sleeplessness, and is restless and tosses about (use 30th potency). The patient starts up in sleep, has long dreams, with feelings of anxiety centred on the chest. Insomnia of the aged.

The patient experiences drowsiness, with anxious thoughts and rapid respiration. This is especially associated with fear of dying.

The patient is sleepless because of anxiety, constantly agitated and tosses about

The patient is disturbed, anxious, restless, agitated and tosses and turns. He must have his head raised by pillows. The patient has suffocating fits during sleep. He or she sleeps with the hands over the head. His dreams are full of care and fear.

He is usually worse at or after midnight.

Children are very demanding and will cry for their parents to come and help.

The patient is thirsty for sips of water.

Used for sleeplessness in old people. The patient goes to sleep late and awakens feeling weak. Has short naps with frequent waking.

Has vivid dreams of fire or of haemorrhage. Has lascivious dreams. Has anxious, distressing dreams that are frightful and horrible; or vivid and uneasy dreams; for example, of animals that bite, of robbers, of unfinished business of the day, bloodshed, death, quarrels, creeping things etc.

The patient walks in his or her sleep.

He or she is afraid of the dark and wants company.

The patient feels wide awake in the evening and his or her first sleep is restless. He wakes feeling languid and unrefreshed. He or she feels irresistible sleepiness in afternoon. He sleeps with the hands over the head. He dislikes being covered. May be chilly but likes to have the window open.

This remedy is used in the Pulsatilla child who is timid and lacks confidence and is clingy and weepy if upset.

These children are very impressionable and may have difficult falling asleep if anything disturbing has happened during the day. They may have nightmares about being left by parents and they like to be rocked to sleep.

These patients experience night terrors. They suffer from agitated sleep with vivid dreams. They can be very frightened. A child clings to the parents. They have frightful visions during sleep. They lie on the back with open, staring eyes.

They have a tremendous fear of the dark or fear of violence.

If you are new to homoeopathy, it is best to stick to the sixth potency, and to take one dose every evening before bed. If you are more familiar with using homoeopathy remedies, then you might use the 30th potency, though this is best used for more acute situations. If you need to take the remedy nightly for some time, then the sixth potency is better.

Sleeplessness. Disturbed sleep (patient only able to fall asleep towards morning) with tossing, and anxious and confused dreams.

Can be taken in herbal form in capsules.

Homoeopathic remedies for disturbed sleep are widely sold in health food shops and pharmacies. They are usually combinations of two or three remedies, commonly Nux vomica, Coffea and Valeriana. Combination herbal remedies to assist sleep are also widely available.

Herbal teas are beneficial for many people and a wide variety of these are also easily obtained. The name of the tea will usually indicate its properties, for example Night-time, Sleepytime, and so on.
Do not continue taking any remedy ad infinitum. If you find that you need to keep taking the remedies you should seek professional help.



Anger, after:
Acon., Coloc., Nux-v., Bry., Cham., Coff.

Anxiety, from:
Acon., Ars., Cocc., Bry., Caust., Cham, Kali-c. Lach

Excitement, from:
Coff., Hyos., Nux-v., Arg-n., Aur-m.

Fear, fright, from:
Acon., Bry., Cham., Cimic., Cocc., Ign.

Grief, from:
Nat-m., Ign., Kali-br., Sulph.,

Mental exertion, after:
Ars., Nux-v., Calc.

Old people:
Acon, Bar-c., Phos., Ars.

Restlessness, from:
Acon., Apis, Ars., Merc-c., Alum., Bry.

Thoughts, from:
Ars., Calc., Coff., Hep., Nux-v., Op.

Wine, after abuse of:
Nux-v., Coff. Coffee; abuse of, after: Coff., Cham., Nux-v. 

Perchance to dream…

Richard Robinson discusses the homeopathic treatment of sleeping problems

A couple of months ago I saw a 29 year-old woman who had been having sleeping problems for 12 months as a result of a lot of stresses in her life, including business and financial worries which had eventually involved a court case with the Inland Revenue. She had become depressed and wanted to sleep for hours on end; she was not sleeping at night and then felt very tired in the daytime and could happily go back to bed for several hours.

She went to her GP who prescribed her the sleeping tablet, Zimovane, and when I saw her she had been on them for six months. They had helped her but when she tried to come off them her sleeping was terrible again; she would go to bed at 11pm and would get to sleep quite easily but would wake up at 3.30am and lie awake for two hours before she could get back to sleep. She didn’t feel too bad when she woke up but by one o’clock in the afternoon, she said that she has absolutely had it and could quite happily go to sleep. She felt like this for the rest of the day and when she got home from work in the evening, if she sat down on the sofa she could quite easily go to sleep. She even felt like this at weekends.

Her confident, extrovert, high energy but impulsive nature, with liking a lot of stimulation and a lot going on around her was very suggestive of Medorrhinum and I prescribed three doses of this in high potency. When I saw her again three weeks later, she announced that she had “been great on those tablets”. Apparently her sleeping had returned to normal, and has been normal ever since.

Having problems sleeping, whether it is difficulty in getting off to sleep, waking up through the night, or early in the morning, is an extremely common complaint these days. If we go to our GP we will almost certainly be prescribed some type of minor tranquilliser, which often can be helpful, but if used for anything more than a very short period of time can, as in this woman’s case, create dependence, with a resulting rebound effect when the patient tries to stop the tablets, with their sleeping getting a lot worse; they have to be weaned off the tablets over a prolonged period of time.

Lifestyle changes
Simple measures to help insomnia that patients often find helpful include not drinking tea or coffee in the evenings or stopping tea and coffee completely and changing over to one of the coffee substitutes made from cereals available from health food shops. Certain herbal teas such as lemon balm have a relaxing effect and can be helpful.

Going to bed on a full stomach is not conducive to a good night’s rest and it is always best to have the evening meal at least three hours before going to bed. Eating chocolate after the evening meal can slow digestion by as much as twelve hours, but going for a walk after the meal instead helps digestion, and makes getting off to sleep easily more likely.

Some people find that reading in bed for a while before trying to get to sleep helps take the mind off the stresses of the day and helps them unwind and feel more relaxed, and if a lot of mental stress through the day has led to tension in the neck and shoulders, massaging the aching area can help.

Constitutional remedies
If these simple measures do not help, then, as always, the constitutional remedy tends to be the most effective approach. I saw a three year-old girl a while back who had had sleeping problems since birth, and her parents were at their wits’ end – she would go to bed at 8.00pm and go to sleep pretty quickly, but then would wake up at 3.00am and be hysterical, crying for her mother and shouting herself hoarse – she would be wide awake and would get up and play, talk, and go into her parents’ bed where she would moan and cry, fidget and kick. This would go on for about three hours, until she eventually went back off to sleep. She would then wake up and be ready to get up at 7.30am. Not surprisingly, she would often be tired and irritable during the day, and her parents were absolutely exhausted! Her mother was a GP and had tried every possible form of treatment both behavioural and medicinal, but nothing really helped.

After taking her homeopathic history, I prescribed Pulsatilla 200c, three doses to be taken in 24 hours, and when I saw her again after two weeks she apparently has been much happier, calmer and content – she had slept well the next night after the remedy and was now sleeping through the night and waking up refreshed. Her parents said that this was the best two-week period she had had for eight months. A few weeks and another dose of the remedy later, her parents felt that both her sleeping and her general well-being were now 100 per cent.

Another patient, a 36 year-old secretary, had suffered sleeplessness since she had changed jobs one year previously. She had been working for a small family business, but was now working at the head office of a major company in a fast and furious “I want it now” atmosphere. She described the changes in working environment as “like being hit by a fast-moving train”.

As a result of the stress she was having difficulty sleeping. She would go to bed at 10.30pm, but usually wouldn’t get to sleep until 2.00am, and then would sometimes wake up in the night as well, and then be fully awake at 6.00am.

I took a full homeopathic history as a result of which I gave her Ignatia 1M. When I saw her again, after three months she said that she was much, much better. After the Ignatia she had felt very emotional for a few days as is often the case as a constitutional remedy begins to get to work, and then her sleeping had been getting steadily better – she was able to get off to sleep much easier, if she did wake up in the night she would rapidly turn over and go back to sleep, and she would wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.
She was still feeling very tense and finding it difficult to relax as it was very stressful at work because her boss was about to leave – Dysco (one of the bowel nosodes) got her feeling totally back to normal, and the best she had felt since she had changed jobs one year previously. 

Local remedies 
These patients obviously had very severe insomnia, but often in milder cases a more locally acting remedy can be sufficient. I once had a patient from Brazil who told me that when she was growing up, her family would use local, traditional herbal remedies for many different conditions, and that the one they always used for sleeplessness was the passion-flower. As she was suffering from mild insomnia at the time, I prescribed her the passion-flower in potency – Passiflora incarta 30c, one to be taken one hour before going to bed, and to be repeated half-hourly if necessary if she was having trouble getting off to be sleep.  Her insomnia cleared up completely.  

While one doesn’t have to come from Brazil to benefit  from Passiflora incarta, most  patients appear to do very well on the less exotic, but just as  effective Valeriana 30c in the  same dosage regime.   

Richard Robinson MBBCh BaO DRCOG MFHom has been practising homeopathy for 12 years. He works at the Nature Cure Clinic in Central London, at Boots in Milton Keynes and in private  practice in Amersham. 


Sleepless Britain

A good night’s sleep is essential to staying healthy, but it appears more and more people are having problems with sleeplessness. Health and Homeopathy, in conjunction with the natural healthcare specialists Nelsons, takes a look at different aspects of this common problem and how homeopathy may be able to provide a solution.

A new online survey has revealed that the number one cause for sleeplessness in Britain is worry. The YouGov survey1, commissioned by natural healthcare specialists Nelsons, has uncovered that 42 percent of the people surveyed who suffer from sleeplessness are most likely to be kept awake at night by worries, including financial concerns and family problems.

The survey also identified the other main causes for sleeplessness:

  • 13 per cent find noises, such as a snoring partner or traffic, the biggest night-time distraction and obstacle to getting to sleep.
  • 12 per cent found medical problems like asthma and painful joints and muscles the main reason for sleepless nights (Sleeplessness is also a common side-effect of many conventional drugs).*
  • 5 per cent thought drinking too much caffeine was responsible for keeping them awake at night.

The survey found that a staggering 77 per cent of the 2,108 people surveyed said they experienced insomnia to some degree. When this figure is applied to the British population, it reveals that up to 36 million people in Britain could be suffering from a lack of sleep2.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation highlighted the importance of sleep for the mental and physical health of the nation3. Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration and memory, lethargy, irritability, a decrease in co-ordination skills and low mood, which can affect people’s work and social life.

As the YouGov survey suggests, insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns can occur in many forms, and each individual will have their own experiences and their way of dealing with it. Although conventional medicine offers a number of drugs to aid sleep, they can often leave the patient feeling groggy in the morning and many doctors are reluctant to keep on prescribing sleeping-pills over a long period of time. Consequently many people are turning to complementary therapies including homeopathy in search of a good night’s sleep.

Dr Sara Eames from the Royal London Hospital of Integrated Medicine says: “An increasing number of people mention sleep problems during their consultations. Causes can vary from anxiety, stress and grief to emotional and family problems.

“In my experience the problem can be helped using homeopathy and patients appreciate the non-addictive nature of homeopathic medicines. The most frequently prescribed medicines for sleeplessness include Ignatia, which is often used when the problem is due to grief and family problems. Whereas Nux vomica can help if it’s associated with overindulgence of any sort including food, drink and work. I’ve also seen very good results with Cocculus when prescribed for someone who is exhausted by sleep deprivation through caring for others, particularly when it is associated with dizziness.”

Mental over-stimulation, worries at work and emotional upsets are all treated with different homeopathic medicines, so to find a long-lasting solution it’s important to establish the root cause of sleep disturbances to successfully treat them.

Sleep deprived mothers
Motherhood should be an exciting and enjoyable experience but no one will deny it is also a tiring one, particularly in the early months and years. Another poll has revealed that many mothers confess to not enjoying motherhood due to being so exhausted from juggling the conflicting demands of modern life on only five hours sleep4. More than half (56%) said weariness left them in a “state of despair”. However, according to the survey, it seems men are getting off lightly, with less than a third (31%) of fathers waking up when their baby cries in the night even if both parents worked full-time.

Lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on all aspects of the life of women with young babies, with two thirds of mothers revealing that lack of sleep had put them completely off sex, and 82% of working mothers admitting their performance at work was affected by their lack of sleep.

Once again homeopathy may well be able to help mothers experiencing sleep problems, enabling them to cope much better with the daily pressures and demands that come with motherhood. Chamomilla is often prescribed when people are feeling tired but cannot sleep; whereas Cocculus is useful if you are mentally and physically exhausted of if your sleep has been frequently interrupted. Coffea may be beneficial for those suffering from restless sleep due to waking up regularly during the night, especially when too many thoughts are running through the mind.

Jet lag
More people than ever are taking long-haul breaks to destinations such as Thailand, USA or Australia. But for many the first days of their holiday are ruined by the effects of jet lag. Jet lag is the common name for the condition known medically as desynchronosis. It is a temporary disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms including anxiety, headache, dehydration, fatigue and insomnia as a result of air travel across time zones.

Jet lag occurs when your body’s usual 24 hour regime is disrupted. You may have trouble getting to sleep, wake up during the night or early in the morning, find it difficult to concentrate and be irritable because of tiredness.  To avoid jet lag why not try the following tips:

When on long haul flights, set your watch to the destination time to allow yourself a few extra hours to adjust.
Air conditioning on aeroplanes can cause dehydration, especially a long haul flights, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
Try not to eat a heavy meal on the flight as arriving at your destination hungry will make it easier for you to get into the new eating pattern.
If you feel that you need to sleep once you are at your destination, only nap for an hour or less. Any longer will cause your body to revert back to its original body clock.
While on the flight try to take a walk around the plane every few hours and perform basic stretching exercises to keep blood circulating around your body.

If you have tried these tips and still find that jet lag takes its toll on your holiday, Cocculus is often recommended as it’s indicated when someone is fatigued from travelling and feels tired due to loss of sleep.  Pulsatilla can also help particularly if you can’t sleep due to racing thoughts.

These are just a few of the homeopathic medicines that are indicated by sleeplessness. For those suffering from chronic insomnia, addressing the underlying causes of their condition is crucial to finding an appropriate cure and visiting a homeopath could be the first step to achieving this.

*If you are taking any medicines, including those obtained without a prescription, consult your doctor before taking other medicines.

1. YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2108 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 9th December 2010.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. Figure based on population of Great Britain (adults 18+) estimate at 47,319,300 in mid-2009 – & survey by YouGov Plc – calculation made by Nelsons
3. Mental Health Foundation Sleep Matters report –
4. Survey commissioned by Mother & Baby, One thousand UK mothers were questioned with an average age of 30 years:


Spotlight on Skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ; an average person’s skin weighs 4kgs (9lbs) and covers an area of 2 square metres (22 sq feet). These figures are not so surprising when we enumerate the skin’s many functions. Some are fairly obvious: protection against chemicals, radiation, microbes etc; preserving a balanced internal environment by keeping us warm, preventing us from drying out; and the sensation of touch in all its variety. But the skin has less obvious functions: subcutaneous fat is a major reserve of energy, vitamin D is synthesised in the skin when exposed to ultra-violet light. The skin also has important social and sexual functions: it secretes pheromones which play an important role in sexual attraction, while the hair and lips play a more conscious social and sexual role.

The skin has two main parts: the superficial epidermis whose thickness ranges from 0.1mm on the eyelids to 1mm on the soles of the feet. The epidermis contains no blood vessels, its most superficial layer is the dead, dry horny layer which is constantly shed, contributing to the dust in our homes. The dermis lies beneath the epidermis supporting and nourishing it and providing immunity and other functions.

What’s more, skin problems are common: surveys suggest that 20-30 per cent of us have a skin problem which deserves medical attention, but that most of us do not see doctors about them, preferring to treat them ourselves. Skin problems are among the commonest reasons for which people, especially children, seek homeopathic treatment. Of course, as always with homeopathy, it is important to be sure that homeopathic treatment is appropriate – it is for many forms of skin disease, but there are important exceptions. The most conspicuous is malignant melanoma. This is an aggressive form of skin cancer whose incidence is increasing (although fortunately it remains rare) because of greater sun exposure and thinning of the ozone layer. The warning signs are a “mole”, which grows, bleeds or is irregular in shape or colour. It is better to be safe than sorry, and have any such skin lesion removed surgically.

Also known as dermatitis, eczema is among the commonest forms of skin disease, and it often responds well to homeopathic treatment. It affects up to 20 per cent of schoolchildren and seven to eight percent of adults. Children tend to grow out of it and the majority improve greatly by their mid-teens. It is an inflammatory condition in which patches of skin become red, inflamed and itchy. The affected areas may also be covered in small, fluid-filled blisters. There are a number of different forms of eczema.

The commonest form is atopic eczema, an inborn condition which usually starts before the age of two, and may continue to flare up throughout adolescence and adulthood. “Atopy” means an inherited tendency to allergies, including eczema, asthma and hay fever. It runs in families and is getting commoner for reasons that are not entirely clear. A currently popular theory, known as the “hygiene hypothesis” suggests the reason is basically that kids today are too clean (try telling that to the mother of an average eight year-old boy!). It is based on the observation that children who grow up on farms and the younger children of large families are less likely to be atopic. The theory is that such children are more likely to be exposed to certain kinds of bacteria and that this stimulates their immune systems to mature. But not all the scientific evidence agrees on this and the jury is still out.

Contact dermatitis is caused by contact with a substance to which an individual is sensitive, such as nickel, rubber or various plants. It can occur at any age. Nickel is one of the commonest skin sensitisers – it can usually be spotted by the areas it affects: earrings and jean buttons often contain nickel.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis occurs in adult and infantile forms. In babies it is often known as cradle cap because it affects the scalp, although it may also affect the nappy area. The adult form usually affects the face and scalp.

Finally varicose eczema occurs mostly in older people, as the name suggests it is often linked to varicose veins: the blood stagnates in the lower legs resulting in a poor supply of oxygen and nutrients. The skin becomes dark, itchy and inflamed. If left untreated the skin may break down, forming an ulcer.

This too comes in several varieties, but all involve reddened areas of skin covered in large, adherent silvery scales. The basic problem is excessively rapid division of the horny cells of the epidermis, probably provoked by inflammation whose cause is currently unknown. Psoriasis tends to run in families; it most commonly comes on in late teenage or early adult life. It can be triggered by some medicines, including antidepressant, antihypertensive and antimalarial drugs, and infections with streptococcus bacteria.

The main types of psoriasis are:

  • Plaque psoriasis: the patches appear typically on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp. Unlike eczema, the patches often appear on the extensor (outer) sides of knees and elbows. The nails may develop small pits, or more serious deformity.
  • Guttate psoriasis, where the patches are scattered, small and roundish, may follow a streptococcal infection, typically a severe sore throat.
  • Pustular psoriasis, a severe but rare type affecting mostly the palms and soles.

Homeopathic treatment
From the point of view of prescribing homeopathic treatment, eczema and psoriasis can be considered together. They nicely illustrate some of the principles of homeopathy: one of three homeopathic medicines will help in many cases, but the treatment must be individualised if it is to succeed. The three medicines are: Arsenicum album, Graphites and Sulphur. Homeopathy is holistic: to treat a skin problem, one has to look at the whole person, not just at their skin.

Traditionally we homeopaths classify the “whole” in three parts: the “locals” (in the case of a skin problem this means the characteristics of the skin problem), “mentals” (including the personality and psychological features of the person) and the “generals” (physical features of the person as a whole). In terms of skin symptoms Arsenicum album and Sulphur are quite similar: intensely itchy rashes which burn after scratching. Rashes likely to respond to Arsenicum tend to be in small, roundish patches and flakey, while those which respond to Sulphur typically occur in large, red areas, but these distinctions are often not clear-cut and it is often difficult to be sure which medicine is indicated on the basis of the “locals” alone.

However, there are marked differences in the types of people who respond to these medicines: the typical Arsenicum patient is tidy, fastidious, rather anxious (mentals) and feels the cold excessively (generals). Sulphur patients are the very opposite: often untidy, they tend to be extroverts who relish a good argument (mentals). They are often warm-blooded (feel the heat) and particularly have hot feet (generals). But having said that, one has to be flexible.

Graphites cases can often be recognised by the character of the rash alone: it tends to crack, and ooze clear or yellowish, sticky liquid when scratched. The rash often affects particular areas such as behind the ears or nipples, in women the eczema may get worse around the monthly period; while the mentals and generals may not be particularly marked.

There are a number of other important medicines for psoriasis and eczema: the deep acting “constitutional” (whole person) medicines include – apart from Arsenicum album, Graphites and Sulphur – Arsenicum iodatum, Lycopodium and Sepia. The two Arsenicums are typically used for guttate psoriasis: the plaques tend to be small, rounded and flakey. Arsenicum album may also be very helpful in pustular psoriasis. Arsenicum iodatum has less of the constitutional features of Arsenicum album and even may be positively hot-blooded, but these patients frequently also have severe hayfever and other allergies, affecting the eyes particularly.

In contrast to Graphites, local characteristics of skin problems which respond to Lycopodium and Sepia are not very specific and these medicines are prescribed mostly on the basis of the mental and general features. The type of person who typically responds to Lycopodium clavatum is reserved or shy, and there may be underlying anxiety or depression. They frequently have stomach problems. Odd but characteristic features include a sweet tooth and a bad period in late afternoon, feeling better later. It can be useful for a range of skin problems including psoriasis and acne.

Sepia officinalis is most often indicated for women. Typically the patient is emotionally flat, fed-up and snappy with her family and partner. She resents others prying (as she sees it) into her problems and may hide her feelings. Often, as with Graphites, the problem seems to have come on following some event of a woman’s reproductive cycle, such as the start of a girl’s periods, childbirth and menopause. There is usually loss of sex-drive. An odd feature is the temporary improvement from exercise (dancing, working out). Again it may be useful for many skin problems including psoriasis and eczema.

However constitutional homeopathy is not the only kind of homeopathy and unless one of the “pictures” described above really seems to fit, is perhaps best left to a practitioner. There are a number of “small” homeopathic medicines which work well prescribed on characteristic symptoms, sometimes called “keynotes”. These include Petroleum (made from crude oil). The keynote for this medicine is the marked deterioration in winter. It is very useful for children who get thick cracked skin of the knuckles in winter. Many patients helped by this medicine have told me that, although they have been prescribed steroid creams, they find Vaseline just as effective and use it rather than steroids. Vaseline is, of course, made from Petroleum! A favourite medicine of mine for gardeners’ contact dermatitis is Rhus venenata. Typically these are keen gardeners who get a very itchy, blistery rash, presumably from contact with a plant, although it is usually difficult to work out which one. The keynote here is that the only thing that relieves the itching is bathing the hands in very hot water.

Most teenagers have some acne and it can cause great emotional distress at an age when many are very self-conscious; it is much less common in other age groups. Linked to androgens, male sex hormones, that are present in both boys and girls, acne vulgaris, as this type is known, affects particularly the face but may also appear on other areas, especially the upper back, chest, shoulders and neck. It is caused by the overproduction of a natural grease called sebum, which is secreted by glands in the skin. Sebum normally drains into the hair follicles and flows out through the follicle openings on the skin surface, lubricating the skin and keeping it supple. But in acne, excess sebum blocks the follicles by hardening into plugs. Bacteria multiply in the blocked follicles, causing the surrounding tissue to become inflamed.

Less common forms of acne include occupational acne, which may result from exposure to certain industrial oils; and drug-induced acne, often caused by steroids. Rosacea is a related condition occurring most often in middle aged women. The main problem is dilatation and instability of the blood vessels. It does not usually cause black- or white-heads.

Homeopathic treatment
Two of the most commonly indicated homeopathic medicines are Sulphur and Silica. And again it is illuminating to compare and contrast the local, mental and general features. We looked at the Sulphur type before. The main local feature of acne which responds to Silica is that the pustules never seem to discharge: they sit under the skin for weeks without bursting, often forming cysts. The Silica constitutional type is very different from the Sulphur, like the Arsenicum type they are usually chilly and feel cold even in a warm room. They tend to be pale and thin, with fine hair and weak, ridged nails. They will often mention that their hair has changed, becoming finer and falling out since they have been ill. Their hands and feet are cold yet clammy. Mentally they complain of feeling tired and washed out and yet are stubborn and “niggly” even sometimes obsessional.

Pulsatilla is another medicine which may be very helpful in acne, particularly (but by no means exclusively) in girls when crops of spots develop in the premenstrual period. It is prescribed mostly on constitutional grounds – the characteristics of the person rather than the name of the disease. Typically Pulsatilla types are mild tempered or sweet-natured, and indecisive. They are often weepy, crying when they talk about their problems, but quickly cheered up by a few reassuring words (unlike Sepia patients who may also be weepy when talking about their problems, but they resent probing and discussion – the best thing is to move on to another topic). Strangely, although the Pulsatilla type easily feels cold, she likes fresh air (provided she is well wrapped up) and hates stuffy atmospheres.

Other medicines which may help in acne include Kalium bromatum; with this medicine the sufferer complains of poor sleep, often disturbed by bad dreams. They may be mentally slow, have difficulties with memory and thinking and be fidgety. Calcarea sulphurica has large yellow pustules which are slow to heal, as with Sulphur they may be itchy. Acne spots which respond to Hepar sulph are very sensitive to touch or painful as they erupt.

Lachesis is the most commonly indicated homeopathic medicine for rosacea. Typically the rash is dusky red and worse in hot atmospheres. The onset may be associated with the menopause, but if before the menopause, it usually gets worse before the period and eases quite abruptly when the bleeding actually starts. The typical Lachesis patient is talkative and may be suspicious or jealous. An odd symptom is that they hate tight clothes, especially round their necks – polo necks, scarves etc.

As usual with homeopathy, individualisation of treatment needs a skilled practitioner. However, I am against being too precious about this: the use of a homeopathic complex consisting of several of the homeopathic medicines most likely to be indicated is often helpful and very unlikely to do any harm. The most commonly used “complex” for acne, well worth a try if a good homeopath is not available, is Sulphur, Silica and Carbo vegetabilis, combined in a single pill often known as SSC.

As a general rule, all these medicines should be started in a dose of two pills of the 6c dilution, twice daily. “Aggravations” – a temporary flare-up of the problem at the beginning of treatment – are quite common with homeopathic treatment of skin problems. They are generally considered a good sign, indicating the treatment is provoking a reaction. If you get an aggravation you should stop treatment until it has completely settled down, don’t be in a rush to restart. You may get another aggravation on restarting, but normally it will be less severe and will die out altogether after three or four stop-start cycles. In terms of creams and other topical applications, Calendula (marigold) cream is often used by homeopaths for eczema, it has a gentle soothing action. It is often helpful in “weaning off” steroid creams, gradually substituting Calendula for them.

Peter Fisher MA MB BChir FRCP FFHom is the Clinical Director, Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, editor of Homeopathy and is Homeopathic Physician to Her Majesty The Queen.

Shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia

Homeopathy has something to offer at every stage, says Tom Whitmarsh

Shingles usually presents as a painful blistering eruption on the skin. It is caused by the same herpes virus as chick­enpox, varicella zoster. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get a bout of shin­gles at some point in their lives. This, of course, means most people! After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in nerve roots near the spinal cord, kept in check by a normally functioning immune system. If there comes a time when the immune system becomes temp­orarily or permanently less effective and its guard is down, the virus can “seize its chance”. It multiplies and migrates out along the nerve and shows how much damage it can cause in the nerve and in the area supplied by that nerve. The skin is the most frequently damaged tissue and sensory nerves are those most commonly involved. Motor nerves (those which are responsible for move­ment) can be affected too, especially in the face (causing one-sided drooping) and other organs, particularly the eye.

The commonest reason for the decline in function of the immune system is the ageing process. Most bouts of shingles occur in those over 65 and one estimate reckons that half of those over 80 years will suffer at least one attack. Other states of compromised immunity that can lead to shingles include some patients with cancer (especially those on chemotherapy), people who have had transplants, people on long-term immuno­suppressive drugs like steroids or people with HIV infection or AIDS. Shingles is not contagious, but people who have not had chickenpox or who are in one of these risk groups can catch chickenpox from it and should avoid exposure to open shingles, as should pregnant women.

The most frequent factor that seems to be associated with reactivation of the virus in some studies appears to be physical trauma to the affected area, but this is by no means always the case. Emotional trauma or psychological stress on top of a relatively weakened immune system can be enough to bring on a shingles attack. For example, it is common for bereavement to be soon followed by shingles.

An attack of shingles is very often pre­ceded by tingling and numbness over the affected skin. In addition, two thirds of people experience shooting pains as well, up to three weeks before any sign on the skin. Some people only get pain after the rash has appeared. The rash starts as a band or patch of raised dots on one side of the trunk, face, arms, abdomen or legs. The rash occurs nearly always on one side of the body, hence the names “shingles” (from the Latin word for a belt or girdle) and “zoster” (a belt in Greek). The spots enlarge and become fluid-filled blisters, only to dry out and crust over within about two weeks. Once they are dry, they no longer contain the virus and are not infectious. The attack generally lasts about one month.

Pain is an almost invariable accom­paniment of the shingles rash, empha­sising that although the obvious signs are in the skin, the actual disease process is within the nerves. The pain can be extremely severe as the rash reaches its height. In Norway, it is sometimes known as a “belt of roses from hell” and in Denmark, it is “hellfire”. These des­criptions give an idea of just how awful an attack can be. Sufferers describe the pain as sharp, stabbing, burning, piercing, throbbing or a combination of all of these! Rarely, there can be a rash with no pain. Very rarely, people get the pain without the rash and then the diagnosis can only be confirmed by blood tests.

Post-herpetic neuralgia
One imagines that it might be possible to cope with these symptoms for a short time, but 20 per cent of those who have an attack of shingles find themselves left with a degree of pain after the rash has gone and the skin is intact again, a situ­ation known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). It happens more frequently in older people and there is some sugges­tion that early treatment reduces the likelihood of it occurring. It can be un­bearable to suffer this pain, sometimes for months or years following the attack, frequently along with hypersensitivity of the skin, so that the slightest touch or draft of air is intolerable. Most cases like this do gradually improve over time.

Conventional treatment relies on anti-viral drugs such as Acyclovir taken as soon as shingles is diagnosed. Pain­killers and anti-inflammatories can help during an attack. As a pain caused by nerve destruction – a neuropathic pain – PHN, is hard to treat, but longer-term powerful painkillers are a mainstay. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants can help, as can the application of a patch which slowly releases the local anaes­thetic drug lignocaine. A cream con­taining capsaicin is sometimes helpful in neuropathic pain. Capsaicin is a pain-producing drug derived from chilli peppers and is used in a pain-relieving cream in orthodox medicine, the rough idea being that the nervous system is in some way distracted from the neuro­pathic process. This seems to me to be a great example of inadvertent homeo­pathy! PHN is so unpleasant that it drives many sufferers to depression and social isolation. Any help we can give to this dreadful situation is of major benefit.

Homeopathic treatment
Homeopathy has something to offer in shingles at every stage. Before the rash has appeared, when there is just some tingling, if you are familiar with an attack (and some people do get recur­rent bouts) or if it is suspected, it is well worth taking some Aconite. I favour a high potency (200c, 1M or 10M), but 30c frequently is just fine. Aconite is helpful at the first stages of many acute illnesses to cut down their duration. One way of practicing homeopathy takes the view that a single remedy should be help­ful for an individual whatever the par­ticular illness. For example, if you know that (say) Natrum mur is always a remedy that helps you, you should try that in more or less any acute situation before other remedies.

Once the rash is appearing, other remedies come into play. The major remedy in shingles and one which many prescribers would give before any other, is Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy). Of course, this is often used with great success in cold sores, another common herpes-virus infection. The use of Rhus tox in shingles is a very obvious and useful example of the similia principle. In sensitised individuals, the rash caused by a poison ivy plant brushing against the skin resembles shingles quite remark­ably. There is inflammation, intense blis­tering and intolerable itching of the skin which continues for several days before healing and resolving. As in just about any joint disease, it is all too easy to give Rhus tox to someone with a blistering, itchy painful rash when other factors might lead you to different remedies. To confirm Rhus tox as a possibly useful prescription, you might look to it being more applicable in the relatively young who have some relief from moving about.

If the patient is very chilly with rest­lessness, anxiety, exhaustion and a wors­ening of symptoms between midnight and 2am, then Arsenicum album is likely to help. Arsenicum, of course, has a major keynote with burning pains apparently paradoxically relieved by warmth. It also has many interesting skin symptoms.

Mezereum (spurge olive) is useful for rashes which are very painful and intensely itchy, especially on the scalp and particularly in older people. The blisters may burst to form brown scabs.

Ranunculus bulbosus (buttercup) is often indicated with severe nerve pains, when the slightest touch or movement makes the pain worse. It is also partic­ularly helpful for rashes on the left chest wall which are slightly bluish in colour.

For a rash that is described as feel­ing like a burn, Cantharis (Spanish fly) might be a good choice.

A remedy which sometimes is over­looked, but which is very useful, is Iris versicolor (blue-flag). This seems to be most applicable to right–sided rashes. It is also used a lot for migraineous headaches with a lot of burning in the stomach and vomiting, which are char­acteristically better for a walk in the open air. This general feature could be a pointer to the remedy in a case of shingles. Other remedies mentioned for shingles include Lachesis, Petroleum, Causticum and Mercury.

Another approach would concen­trate on events in life before the attack and whether there was anything partic­ular which might have triggered it. An example might be to use a grief remedy like Ignatia for shingles coming on in close proximity to a bereavement, or an injury remedy like Arnica if it came on soon after a car accident.

The challenge of post-herpetic neu­ralgia can be met sometimes using homeo­pathy. All of the remedies mentioned previously may apply, though Ranun­culus, Mezereum and Rhus tox are most often used. I would also add Spigelia, with its shooting pains along nerves.

Variolinum, the nosode made from potentising fluid from the skin lesions of smallpox, deserves a special mention. Many prescribers will give this, either as a single 30c or 200c dose before other remedies, or as a prescription to take alongside other remedies (say 30c daily). It does seem to cut down on the suffer­ing associated with shingles and is espe­cially useful in PHN.

Some topical preparations can help. Rhus tox cream is very helpful early in the bout in cutting down the spread of blisters and in the pain of PHN, though great care and attention to cleanliness needs to be taken if the skin is very bro­ken. Similarly, applications of sterile Hypercal (Hypericum and Calendula) solution are pain relieving.

Anything that might reduce the suf­fering associated with shingles has to be a good thing. Enter homeopathy!

Tom Whitmarsh MA MBBS FRCP FFHom is Consultant Physician at Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital. 

Seasonal affective disorder

Marysia Kratimenos discusses the reasons why some of us feel so down during the winter months

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was first described in the 1980s, although many doctors and suffer­ers were aware of the condition long before then. Indeed Hippocrates wrote in the fifth century BC, “Such diseases that increase in the winter ought to cease in the summer… The physician must treat disease with the conviction that each of them is powerful in the body according to the season which is most comfortable to it.”

In countries where the winter months are characterised by fewer daylight hours, many people develop deep depression as a consequence of the decreased light intensity. In Sweden, where there is six months of total darkness in the more northerly parts of the country, the suicide rate is the highest in the world.

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that appears in autumn and may continue until March or April. In the spring there is often a mild state of euphoria, or hypomania. It is more common in women, and typically begins between the ages of 18 and 30. Some studies suggest it is very common, with one in 50 people having mood distur­bances in the winter months.

The severity is variable. In mild forms of the condition, there may just be a desire to “hibernate”, stay at home in the warm and avoid socialising. In severe forms, there may be profound depres­sion, with its concomitants. Sufferers may notice their sleep is disturbed, either over-sleeping or finding sleep difficult. There is often lethargy and fatigue, a lack of motivation and enthusiasm. Tasks seem onerous and there is often a lack of concentration. Anxiety may follow, especially associated with social events. Over-eating is common; the preferred foods are usually carbohydrate-rich. A gain in weight is common and this com­pounds the feelings of negativity and poor self-image. The libido suffers, as does the immune system. There is a greater susceptibility to viral and bac­terial infections. The depression may be so severe as to precipitate suicidal feel­ings and deliberate self-harm may result.

There are several theories as to the cause of SAD, all of which relate to the effect of light on the brain: lack of sunlight leads to a higher level of a chemical, melatonin, which slows the body down. Hibernating animals secrete high levels of melatonin in order to sleep through the winter months. Another theory sug­gests the condition is caused by a dis­turbance of the dopamine and serotonin levels in a particular part of the brain, known as the hypothalamus. This area controls mood and appetite – for life, for food and for sex. Some researchers believe that sufferers of SAD have lower eye sensitivity to light. All three theories may be true. The eye sensitivity to light will affect the hormone levels, as the eye is essentially highly evolved nervous tissue.

Although these theories may serve to explain the mechanisms at play, there is still the unanswered question as to why some individuals are more susceptible to depression than others. Since home­opathy looks at the whole person, rather than a list of their symptoms, it is uniquely placed to help with depressions of all types, including those that exhibit periodicity. Such treatment must be undertaken by professional homeopaths, with experience in the field of emotional health issues, often in conjunction with other appropriate forms of treatment.

Like truth, depression is rarely pure and never simple. Many factors are involved, both hereditary and environ­mental. Mental and emotional problems are more common in certain families. Although twins may be separated at birth and therefore brought up in different circumstances, they are more likely to suffer from the same type of emotional health problem, thus implying a hered­itary basis. A dysfunctional upbringing further compounds the situation.

Depression does not just suddenly appear out of the blue, although it may seem that way. People often describe it as descending like a dark cloud over them. In reality depression has its roots in the past. It is a reaction to unresolved emotional issues that are often partly, if not totally, forgotten or buried by the sub-conscious mind. The events that may cause depression in later life often occurred in childhood. In many cases these issues have to be explored and the past truly laid to rest before there is total healing. 
Poetry and myth
In To Autumn John Keats describes “seasons of mist and mellow fruitful­ness”, but to many people the approach­ing winter is better paralleled by his poem Ode on Melancholy. The opening verse depicts the strong suicidal desire that many sufferers of the condition experience and interestingly names many favourite homeopathic remedies for the treatment of depression.

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf’s-bane (Aconite), tight-rooted,
     for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be 
By nightshade
(Belladonna), ruby
   grape of Proserpine …

The myth of Proserpine, or Persephone, is particularly appropriate in the under­standing of seasonal affective disorder. In Greek mythology, Persephone was the beautiful young daughter of Demeter, the corn goddess and Zeus, the king of the gods. She was devoted to her mother and spent her time tending to the gar­dens of Earth. Her beauty and innocence enthralled the god of the underworld, Hades, and he decided to make her his wife. He abducted her. Persephone was petrified and stood rooted to the spot as the nymphs fled for safety. She dropped her girdle as Hades swept her up in his chariot. Her mother, Demeter, was beside herself with grief at the loss of her daughter. She scoured the world look­ing for her, neglecting her duties. As a consequence the crops withered. Deprived of her attention, the eternal summer ceased. Leaves fell off the trees and coldness and darkness fell.

Eventually Demeter found the girdle and discovered Hades had abducted her daughter. No one was allowed to pass into the underworld, so she appealed to Zeus to intervene. Zeus took pity on the mother’s plight, but he was also cautious of incurring the wrath of Hades. As Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds of the twelve offered to her by Hades, he decided that Persephone had to spend six months of the year with Hades and could rejoin her mother for the other six. In celebration of the reunion the earth blossomed and warm weather returned, only to fade again when it was time for Persephone to return to Hades.

This charming explanation of the seasons has profound echoes with SAD sufferers. To them winter is a living hell and they feel responsible for their plight. Instead of being a season of celebration, of religious festivities and the New Year, to them it is a time of reflection on their misery. Existential fears surface as the body tries to adjust to the harsh climate and memories of happier times haunt them. The sense of isolation is com­pounded by the myth propagated by commercialism that Christmas is the time for happy families. Actually Christ­mas is well recognised as a major stress factor by psychologists.

The use of light boxes, which recreate the summer light intensity, is a well­recognised treatment and is highly effec­tive in mild cases. It can cause problems though as the light is rather harsh and sore eyes may result. It can also disturb sleep patterns further. Anti-depressants are commonly prescribed, but these often cause side effects.

Counselling is recommended to ascertain the root causes of the depres­sion and this is highly effective provid­ing the patient is prepared to explore their psyche. It is painful and challeng­ing to confront one’s past, to return to the underworld, yet this hero’s journey is often the only way to find total free­dom from the mental torture. It is imper­ative to find someone prepared to act as mentor or guide to the labyrinths of one’s mind, someone that one can trust fully. Often that person is oneself. I often recommend this path to patients that are motivated to help themselves and pro­vide them with the structure necessary to make this journey of transformation.

Despite the pervading quick fix cul­ture, it is imperative to understand that true healing takes time and persistence. The use of appropriate homeopathic remedies can bring about dramatic changes in mood and behaviour and this is my favoured starting point in the treatment of SAD. But I firmly believe that following a stabilisation in the mood it is imperative to deal with any residual negative thought processes. As the Dalai Lama so eloquently puts it, “an undisciplined mind is like an ele­phant. If left to blunder out of control, it will create havoc.” Negative thought processes must be countered effectively, a process I liken to deadheading a plant. By regular removal of dead blooms and judicious pruning a plant will display its full beauty and potential, and so the human psyche. In his inspiring book The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama states that “the very purpose of our lives is to seek happiness” and clearly shows how this is attainable by training the thought processes. The book is appro­priate for everyone, whatever their reli­gious beliefs.

It is important to create a healthy environment at home to counter depres­sion. Beauty lifts the spirits, as do wonderful scents. Aromatherapy or even a simple pot pouri will gladden the soul. This is not an invitation to a spending spree. Very simple and inexpensive meas­ures can be employed. Flowering plants, like the Christmas cactus will brighten a room. Hyacinths can be grown from bulbs and have a sensual smell.

Good music will also feed the soul. Creative pursuits – any hobby that fills one with enthusiasm and recaptures the zest for life – also encourage healing. Consider an evening class – the company will combat the sense of isolation. Go wild – sign up for the belly dancing class! Laugh at yourself – think of all the happy hormones you’ll liberate. Watch the film Patch Adams if you need sci­entific proof of the value of laughter.

Being alone usually compounds depression but the company need not be human. There are immense health bene­fits to having a pet. Who cannot help laughing at the antics of a kitten with a ball of wool? If space is limited, brightly coloured fish encourage a calm, healing environment, as generations of dentists will attest to.

We are what we eat, as the television series of the same name so clearly demonstrates. Carbohydrate rich and fatty foods lower the mood, and lead to nutritional deficiencies of vitamins and trace elements, which also impede the immune system. Healthy fresh food will have a dramatic effect on one’s health, both physical and emotional.

SAD may feel like a life sentence, but there is an escape from Hades. It requires action, imagination and determination. The rewards are more precious than imaginable – a life of freedom and joy, a true awakening from the sleep of the dead soul.

Marysia Kratimenos MB BS FRCS(Ed) FFHom is on the staff of the RLHH where she is involved in stress clinics, general medicine, paediatrics and neurolinguistic pro­gramming. She also teaches on the MFHom course and has a private practice. 

Spotlight on Respiratory system by Russell Malcolm

Problems with the respiratory tract are the most common reason for patients visiting their GPs. This is because our system of airways is a very vulnerable interface with our environment. Consequently it is a way in for viruses, bacteria, potential allergens, pollutants and irritants and it is the primary location for the many illnesses associated with these triggers.

Mammals have evolved many defence mechanisms to address these airborne challenges. Our surface immunity is a very complex entity which involves: agents that we secrete into the surface mucus; agents carried in the lymphatic ducts, and agents borne by the blood supply. The various specialised cells, antibodies and enzymes involved in these processes also require a number of balancing mechanisms including our ability to:

• invoke a fever on demand;

• generate a protective catarrh;

• preserve the physical movement of air and secretions;

• dynamically alter the balance between the regional perfusion of blood and the air flow into the alveolar sacs.

Fortunately, most respiratory problems throughout life resolve themselves. Most viral colds and coughs are best left untreated in the healthy person, because there is simply very little that can be done to improve the “systems intelligence” that we have evolved.

Viral infections
Sometimes a viral respiratory illness can linger on uncomfortably. The symptoms are often a reflection of the virus itself, since different respiratory viruses preferentially involve different tissues in the respiratory tract. For example, the rhinovirus causes symptoms mainly in the nose and sinuses, while the respiratory syncytial virus causes symptoms in the nasopharynx and smallest branches of the airways, penultimate to the alveoli in the lungs.

Patients who are overzealous with their symptomatic drugs, who suppress their fever, or who are otherwise compromised by a slow immune response, can develop problems with their defence mechanisms. The more delayed or protracted the response is, the more they are likely to get swollen lymph glands and persistent catarrh.

A “distracted” immune system will also fail to deal with changes in the bacterial flora. This can result in secondary growths of streptococcus, pneumococcus, haemophillus influenzae and other organisms. These germs colonise the tonsils, middle ear and bronchi where they can cause considerable local inflammation.

Those infections which provoke a tender swelling of the cervical neck glands, often require acute remedies like Phytolacca decandra. After a well-chosen remedy, the lymph glands become much more efficient and the patient can usually then eradicate the primary infection without further treatment.

Very few upper respiratory infections require antibiotics, even those that are bacterial in origin, if they are quickly and expertly prescribed for homeopathically. The first task is to provide the remedy which most closely reflects the current physiological state and for this you will need to consult a qualified practitioner. Depending on the response, the primary treatment will be followed by a secondary simillimum, or a potency of the infecting organism itself (nosode) – but only once the primary acute symptoms are subsiding. The timing of prescriptions is very important and depends on the “acuteness” of the presentation, the “reactiveness” of the symptoms, the age of the patient and the type of remedy used. Most acute illnesses require treatment with plant remedies.

The timing of the remedy sequence depends on the illness stage. Most viral illnesses progress through inflammatory, secretory, virus shedding and resolution stages. Each stage may indicate a change of prescription, particularly if there is a hitch in the patient’s natural process of adaptation. Your homeopathic doctor will select remedies on the basis of the prevailing symptoms, which tend to reflect inefficiencies in the body’s efforts to compensate. The following is a simple example of sequenced acute prescribing in viral croup.

Viral croup is a common condition in infancy. The renowned nineteenth century homeopath, Clemens von Boenninghausen realised the phasic nature of the condition and the prescribing implications of each stage in the natural disease process. Boenninghausen’s croup powders comprising Aconitum napellus, Hepar sulph calc and Spongia tosta were given sequentially to effect the fastest recovery for each stage.

There are several good studies available on the homeopathic treatment of influenza. Some of these are rather overdue for updating and really should be distributed to the homeopathic community at large (in time for the next global pandemic).

Patients should be wary of taking paracetamol-based drugs for the symptoms of flu as suppressing a fever can sometimes lead to further complications.

In Europe and the United States Oscillococcinum is a popular homeopathic medicine which can be bought over the counter for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu. This product is not licensed in the UK, but might be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. Oscillococcinum is derived from the hearts and livers of wild ducks and was employed in the treatment of influenza, long before it was known that wild fowl are the main reservoir and carriers for influenza pandemics. The identification of the acute homeopathic simillimum is, nevertheless, of paramount importance.

Avoiding formulaic treatments
There is a tendency for some people to prescribe Belladonna for every fever, when in fact the patient really needs Datura stramonium or Duboisinum, or Solanum dulcamara, or Baptisia tinctora, or China officinalis, or Ferrum phosphoricum. Inadequate differentiation by the prescriber, or the unfocused use of homeopathy simultaneously with symptomatic drugs and antibiotics, are common causes of failure in homeopathy.

One of the most obvious abuses is the overuse of Bryonia alba for coughs. Bryonia is a highly complex remedy with very clear guiding respiratory symptoms.

Only a very small number of patients with persistent cough actually respond properly to this remedy (ie those who reflect the Bryonia “state”). Some manufacturers provide Bryonia in a cough linctus. The syrups and linctuses to which it is added can themselves offer some comfort, but I find Bryonia tends actively to block the response to well prescribed remedies, so I would never use it at the same time as expertly chosen remedies.

The issue of over-prescribing
It could be argued that over-prescribing is a modern-day problem for children, who are unable to make informed choices about their own treatment. Many children have never worked through a viral respiratory infection without concurrent exposure to paracetamol, ephedrine or antibiotics. We do not yet know whether drug-mediated alterations of acute physiology or immunology in our child population might be implicated in the markedly increased incidence of childhood asthma and glue ear in recent years. Regardless of whether there are long-term health consequences to pharmacological meddling during acute childhood illnesses, it is possible that millions of pounds are wasted on symptomatic drugs which are needlessly administered for self-limiting conditions.

Respiratory microflora
One of the most important determinants of health in the respiratory tract is the state of our microflora. Our bodies are host to many millions of micro­organisms which are in symbiotic relationships with each other and with us. There has been a tendency in the past to regard our microflora as an irrelevant or incidental group of passengers. Increasingly we are aware that the constituent nature of this microflora is important to our health.

If our passenger organisms belong to groups that don’t release toxins or evoke inflammation, their presence can significantly inhibit the growth of those that can. The microflora of the respiratory tract changes during an infection, mainly because their physical and immune environment changes as the sufferer’s body tries to inhibit the agent causing the disease. When left to itself the flora will usually revert back to a stable healthy state after the infection has been resolved.

However, when an infection has been prolonged because the patient is debilitated or subjected to the over­prescribing of symptomatic drugs, the microflora can evolve to a less healthy state. Groups of less welcome organisms can overgrow and provoke persistent inflammation and catarrh. Sometimes persistence of the primary pathogen is responsible, and homeopathically this might warrant potencies of whatever nosode is relevant.

However, the residual disturbances in the respiratory microflora are usually made up of various aerobic bacteria. Many of these are generally regarded as harmless by bacteriologists, since they are often isolated from healthy people. When certain subspecies over-colonise, however, they cause problems which can persist long after the primary infection and antibiotic treatments are over. Your practitioner may feel they require a more complex nosode. Sycotic co is one of the most useful homeopathic nosodes for persisting post-infective catarrh in the ears, nose, sinuses or lower airways. Sometimes potencies of Morbillinum (measles) is indicated in children who develop glue ear after measles or measles vaccination.

Chronic bronchitis
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways, which is often characterised by having a relapsing or “acute on chronic” pattern. Although each acute flare-up seemingly responds to antibiotics, there is often a progressive change in the microflora. This is often attended by excessive secretions and persisting inflammatory change. Smoking and exposure to environmental irritants often compounds or perpetuates the problem.

When the perpetuating causes are left untreated, patients tend to develop increasingly frequent infections, attended with low-grade relapsing fevers. Longstanding inflammation can ultimately give rise to more serious cardio-respiratory complications. The cycles of infection can often be broken by using Chininum sulph, Morgan pure, Bacillinum and those remedies which alter the secretory environment. Homeopathic remedies can also be nebulised under medical guidance and this can be a particularly effective mode of remedy administration during acute attacks.

In the medium term, patients should be treated between the acute episodes. This can involve a wide range of remedies depending on the individual circumstances. In chronic cases, there is nothing in homeopathy that can fully redress the effects of smoking. Patients with chronic relapsing respiratory problems must stop smoking completely. The psychological aspects of the tobacco addiction may be amenable to homeopathic treatment early in the withdrawal process.

There is a tendency to think of asthma as a definitive diagnosis, when in fact it is a spectrum of conditions, in which the principle symptom is transient constriction of the small airways. The reason for this physiological phenomenon can be allergic, infective, physiological and/or psycho-neuro­endocrine. This essentially means that the systems which mediate these unstable reactions in the lungs have a network of causes.

Genetic factors underlie the asthmatic tendency in many cases. An increased incidence of asthma has also been identified in children of mothers who have used paracetamol frequently (most days or every day) in the last trimester of pregnancy. Children brought up in very clean environments are also at increased risk. In particular, the early exposure of children to mycobacteria has been shown to lower the incidence of asthma.

Good monitoring is vital in the treatment of asthma. A homeopathic doctor will establish whether the presentation is predominantly allergy-mediated, infective or systemic. Various blood tests and skin-prick allergy testing can be helpful in establishing this. Responses to heat, cold, humidity, exercise, stress, menstrual cycles, drugs, inhalants, sleep/waking cycles and seasons all have significance, both in determining the category of asthma and in terms of the treatment programme.

Homeopathic treatment can be highly successful for asthmatic patients. Nevertheless, no one should forget that a severe acute attack can be fatal. There is no room for complacency. Both the monitoring and treatment process has to dovetail in a responsible and consistent way with established orthodox guidelines for good practice.

Those asthmatics who are affected in September, as the weather gets colder, often have a demonstrable allergy to house dust mite. As heating devices are turned up in the autumn, much morehouse dust is borne by the resulting convection, to be inhaled by the sufferer. This allergic challenge can be compounded by viral challenges that prevail at this time of the year. Regular doses of homeopathic house dust mite in August, in combination with household measures to reduce exposure, can help to prevent autumn aggravations.

One of the most common misapprehensions concerning homeopathy relates to its potential in serious illness. Many people mistakenly assume that this gentle therapy is only effective in mild conditions. Before the advent of antibiotics, the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital received patients suffering from severe infections, on transfer from other hospitals in the city where there was no possibility for active treatment.

Case records from the beginning of the 20th century make interesting reading. They contain details of patients who recovered, under homeopathic treatment, from pneumonias and other severe infections. It is important to remember, however, that, among the successes, there are also a number of patients treated at the beginning of the 20th century, who died and who would probably have survived with modern intensive care.

The converse irony is that today, after years of over-prescribing, increasing numbers of our antibiotics are becoming ineffective, with the emergence of resistant bacterial strains. We can onlyhope that prejudice will not prevent the medical community from tapping into a long neglected homeopathic knowledge base, for the sake of these patients.

In severe acute cases a doctor’s primary responsibility is to the safety of the patient. Miss S presented acutely with a severe chest infection and bronchospasm on a Friday afternoon. She was severely breathless at rest and virtually unable to speak. This patient did not want hospital admission. We insisted, however, that she demonstrate an unequivocal remedy response within 30 minutes, or emergency hospital admission would be arranged for her. Her air entry began to improve rapidly following homeopathic Squilla maritima and she returned home with a remedy sequence and strict instructions to call for help if the improvement was not maintained. By the time of her review, on the following Monday, she was markedly improved. She was completely free of respiratory signs and symptoms by the end of that week.

An integrated approach to respiratory medicine
Today’s medical homeopaths have access to many investigative technologies that were unknown to their predecessors and these can profoundly influence the homeopathic approach. These investigations allow the homeopathic physician to select the correct nosode, for example, or a remedy with the best known affinities for the tissue or organ involved.

Mr S had aspergillus, a fungal mass in his right lung which caused chronic suppuration. In this condition there is both an infective component and an allergic component, since the fungus produces spores which generate an allergic response resulting in “asthmatic spasm” of the airways and the trapping of infected secretions. In Mr S the homeopathic treatment was completely dependant on the accuracy of his diagnosis. Three doses of homeopathic Pneumonia air Aspergillus 30c, caused a very rapid dilatation of his bronchioles and the release of enormous quantities of infected material, pus and dead tissue. The respiratory physicians, who shared his care, were astounded by the changes in his X-ray appearance and lung-function tests.

There is a great potential for the increasing integration of homeopathy in the management of respiratory illness. Much of this potential is gradually becoming realised in our educational programmes, where a pragmatic approach to the teaching of therapeutics will increasingly enable doctors to treat acute cases responsibly and homeopathically and thus prevent a great deal of chronic illness.

Russell Malcolm MB ChB FFHom has been practising homeopathy for 20 years. He was Director of Education at the RLHH for six years, leaving in 2000 to concentrate on teaching and writing and his busy private practice in Scotland. He continues to contribute to homeopathic education, both in the UK and internationally.


An overview of this inflammatory skin condition and its homeopathic treatment by
Andrea Wiessner

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin con­dition that affects two to three per cent of the population. It can appear at any age, but mostly between the ages of 11 and 60. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, belonging to a group of condi­tions where the immune system is over­active and attacks its own cells and tissues. Normally skin cells are formed at the bottom of the outer layer of our skin. The cells go through a cycle of change, moving upwards through the layers to the surface of the skin where they die and are shed within a period of three to four weeks. In psoriasis this process is speeded up and cells can go through this cycle within three to four days. This causes thickening of the skin and its characteristic scaly appearance. Psoriasis affects mainly the skin and nails, but in six per cent of cases it is accompanied by inflammation of joints, affecting mainly fingers, toes and the spine and is called psoriatic arthritis.

The word psoriasis is derived from the Greek word psora, meaning itch, although in most cases the affected skin is not particularly itchy. But some patients do experience a lot of itching and sometimes the eruptions can be sore and painful, in particular when there are cracks present. Psoriasis can affect the whole body, including the scalp, but the face is often spared. There are different types ­psoriasis vulgaris, plaque psoriasis, appears in big patches of thickened skin usually with white/silvery scales on the elbows and knees, but also other parts of the body. When one finds lots of small scaly spots and patches the condition is called psoriasis guttate. This form often affects children and is frequently triggered by streptococcal throat infections and often disappears by itself within a few weeks or months. Psoriasis pustulosa, usually presents with little yellow pustules and affects the palms of the hands and soles of feet.

In up to 50 per cent of psoriasis patients, nails can also be affected. One can see small indentures in the nails or circular discolorations under the nails. In more severe cases the nails can thicken and separate from the underlying nail bed.

The causes of psoriasis are still not entirely clear, although in 30 per cent of patients there is a family history of the condition. Certain factors can trig­ger the onset of the skin eruptions including streptococcal throat infections, particular medicines and injury to the skin, and emotional factors, such as stress or situations of trauma, shock and bereavement. Those trigger factors can be important for the homeopathic practitioner as it might indicate which remedy might be appropriate for that particular person.

Due to its appearance, psoriasis can profoundly affect an individual, as people unfamiliar with the condition might think it is contagious. The suffer­er may also have to endure adverse comments from others about their appearance, which can affect his or her quality of life immensely.

Conventional treatment
There is a selection of conventional treatments on offer, starting with topical treatments, then phototherapy (light treatment) and then stronger, oral treat­ments. Topical treatments vary from simple emollients to moisturise the skin and alleviate itching, to salicylic acid­based creams, topical steroid creams of varying strength and tar preparations. Treatment with various forms of ultra­violet light is also used, sometimes in combination with a medicine called Psoralen.

Many patients themselves notice the beneficial effect on their skin of ultra­violet light when their psoriasis improves with exposure to sunlight in the summer months. For severe psoriasis, oral medic­ation can be used, often in addition to topical treatment. However, they can have side­effects. Also, most oral treatments are contraindicated during pregnancy.

Homeopathic treatment
Many patients I see have already tried one or more forms of conventional treat­ment. Those have mostly been helpful and often cleared the skin eruptions. However, the effect has usually been only temporary and at some stage the psoriasis has come back. Some patients are, therefore, looking for a more permanent “cure” for their condition, while others would simply like to reduce their use of steroid creams or other con­ventional treatments.

From the homeopathic point of view we can approach treatment in different ways. We can treat the person as a whole and try to find a constitutional remedy with the aim of strengthening the organ­ism generally. This means looking at not only the patient’s psoriasis symptoms, but also his or her general health and way of reacting to the environment, as well as what drives him or her on an emotional level. But homeopaths can also treat symptomatically, meaning treating the psoriasis symptoms specifically. I usually aim for constitutional treatment but sometimes combine the two approaches, giving a more symptomatic skin remedy for flare­ups, while treating the person as a whole with a constitutional remedy.

Overall we often have good results with the treatment of psoriasis. However, I have seen in some of my patients that their general health as well as emotional well­being has improved but not the appearance of their psoriasis. Occasion­ally, I also see that the itch or soreness improves considerably but not so much the appearance. Or that the appearance is only slightly better but that the psoriasis does not affect them as much anymore, making it possible to get on with life. Although not the desired out­come, this obviously can have quite a positive impact on one’s life.

Choice of homeopathic medicine
In choosing which homeopathic remedy to use, we consider various factors. It can be extremely helpful to know if something might have triggered the onset of symptoms. If the psoriasis has been triggered by bereavement, for instance, this might guide us to particular grief remedies, although a variety of other factors or symptoms need to be present too to give such a remedy. It is also important for a homeopathic practitioner to understand what was the exact reaction to such an event, as everyone has their own particular way of experiencing and dealing with such traumas. If the patient still seems to be in deep grief and their reaction is to try to deal with their pain by themselves, withdrawing from others, we might think of Natrum muriaticum. This could be confirmed if the psoriasis eruptions are located on the scalp at the margin of the hair, and if the eruptions are worse in the sun, which is not typical for psoriasis and, therefore, is an individual symptom of the patient.

The location of the patches can be useful for the choice of medicine. As mentioned before if eruptions are at the margin of the hair one might think of Natrum muriaticum. If the eruptions are behind the ears and in the folds of skin and possibly around the genitals, one might consider Graphites. In pustular psoriasis, affecting the palms and soles of feet, Phosphorus can be a good remedy, or Arsenicum album or Arsen­icum iodatum. The latter two might also be useful if the eruptions cause a lot of itching, or a burning sensation.

Factors that aggravate or ameliorate a sufferer’s condition are important to know, especially if they are atypical for the condition, as this indicates an indi­vidual mode of expression particular to the affected person.

Case study 1
Debbi, 55, was re