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!
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!)
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.
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”.
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.