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.
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.
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.