Radioactivity and Homeopathic Medicine: Radium bromatum.

On 26th December, 1898, Maria Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie announced the isolation of radium. It was only long after its discovery that the real dangers of radiation were recognized. Curie herself dyed of leukemia, which arose as a consequence of her frequent exposure to the incorporeal powers which so fascinated her (radioactivity is a spontaneous release of energy generated without a chemical or material reaction).

Curie had the option to patent the procedure she discovered to isolate radium, but refused on the basis of her belief that science should be kept free and open, and that her discovery be always available to anyone who wanted to use it. As Ulrich Welte has remarked, this unrestricted attitude speaks to the transpersonal dimension of the radioactive elements, which can be observed in various ways in the dispositional features of patients who tend to benefit from such remedies.

Radium is a remedy that has been used clinically for such issues as: “leukemia, bone marrow disease, splenomegaly, skin cancer, radiation damage, the effects of x-ray radiation, skin burns due to radiation, genetic damage, mytosis and muscle decay, etc” (Ulrich Welte). On the mental-emotional level, Radium patients can “feel guilty that they are special, that they have survived disasters where others are deceased” (Jan Scholten). Marked fears of the dark, of ghosts, and of being alone can be suggestive of this prescription. There can be apocalyptic dreams of trying to save the world, of hot air balloons, bombing, explosions, tidal waves and huge floods, disease, deformity and malformation, blood and premature birth. Prophetic and clairvoyant themes are also common, as they are for all of the radioactive remedies.

Buddleja davidii: The Emotional Bombsite.

 Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush). Buddleja has been described as a remedy for those who find themselves in an “emotional bombsite.” It is a remedy for states of hypersensitivity which arise as a consequence of extreme shock, sudden loss, overwhelm and ruin. It can be given to those who have witnessed or been subjected to horrific events. Beyond its employment in acute situations characterized by deep, destabilizing shock, Buddleja is also one of the primary remedies for affecting healing in those who carry trauma from long ago, including the trauma of one’s ancestors as well as from past lives. Symbolically, it is a remedy that works on the level of primordial fear and terror which reach all the way back to humanity’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Buddleja facilitates the releasement of deep states of devastation which keep a person mired in cycles of never ending anguish and negativity. Buddleja allows for the renewed communication with Life. It is a remedy of remarkable peace and surrender which gradually allows one to move forward after being held back by the accumulated ill effects of negative karmic patterns of experiencing.

Buddleja is also an excellent remedy to give before and after anaesthesia, and greatly helps to ward off or undo any ill-effects of such. It is a remedy for head injuries, as well as comatose states. Buddleja is also remarkable for aiding in the transitions in and out of this life (pregnancy, birth, and death).

Fungi in Homeopathy

Fungi occupy the liminal realm between world of the living and the world of the dead: decomposing and recomposing earthly environments in untold ways. Ongoing studies of mycelia and mycorrhizae (“fungal roots”, which are entangled in intricate symbiotic relationships with plants and play an integral role in soil structure and ecosystem multifuncionality) have opened the scientific mind to the reality that forests are superorganisms, woven together by vast, largely unseen fungal networks. The fungal mind is all around us.

Fungi are responsible for processes involving the transmission of information amongst living organisms; they do this by way of electrical impulses that are sent underground through long, thread-like structures called hyphae, which expand to form mycelial networks.

In homeopathy, fungi have come to play an increasingly important role in our materia medica. Fungi are related to the Uranium series of elements on the periodic table, which are united by the themes of limitless invisible power, magic, intuition, and decay. Fungi patients exist in-between worlds, carving out their own niches, dwelling in the liminal spaces outside of social expectation and convention. Their internal worlds are labyrinthine in their complexity, rich with highly sensitive capacities for feeling and perception. Hence, they can feel easily invaded, with unclear boundaries and a sense of vulnerability and awkwardness.

The network character of fungi are analogous to the billions of synaptic connections in the human brain, making fungi useful remedies for brain related pathologies (e.g. migraines, strokes) and dementias. When the biological networks of the body are damaged by trauma, infections, autoimmune diseases, radioactivity, and cancer, fungal remedies can help to restore organismic integrity and cohesion, reintegrating and re-weaving a fragmented corpus that has been subjected to the forces of breakdown and decay.

Cypripedium (Lady’s slipper) – From Excitation to Withdrawal.

Several different species of the orchids known collectively as ‘Lady’s Slipper’ were used in traditional healing systems before the combination of habitat destruction and overharvesting placed these remarkable flowers at risk. It takes many years for Lady’s slipper plants to develop from seed to their mature form. Symbiotic relationships with fungi in the soil are required for the successful propagation of all species of Lady’s slipper. The species commonly used for medicinal purposes include, but are not limited to, Cypripedium acaule, Cypripedium parviflorum, and Cypripedium pubescens.

Lady’s slipper has a special affinity for the nervous system and has been widely used in the treatment of nervous affections. The nervous system may be in a state of overstimulation leading to tension, with complaints of restlessness, fidgeting, and excitability. Ailments from emotional excitement: patients who exhibit pronounced emotional inundation, completely and utterly overwhelmed by intense and markedly fluctuating states. For example, there can be a dramatic oscillation between wanting to laugh and wanting to cry, where both the laughter and the weeping are exaggerated and disproportionate to the situation at hand. Emotional ebb and flow can give rise to difficulties in forming social bonds. There can be heightened sensitivity that leads to isolation and withdrawal, though there can also be great efforts to be recognized and seen. For example, the sophistication of the lady’s slipper orchid is expressed in the exaggerated care that these patients can put towards maintaining their personal appearance. However, they often feel that their care of elegance, along with all that makes them special and unique, is not recognized or valued nearly enough by their peers.

The 19th century physician Edwin M. Hale wrote of these features of the medicine of Lady’s slipper: “It causes at first a feeling of exhilaration of the mental and nervous system…it acts upon the cerebrospinal system, and is useful for the effect of over mental exertion, or reflex nervous excitement.”[ Quoted in Michal Yakir. Wondrous Order. Kandern: Narayana-Verlag, 2021. Pg. 751. ] Accompanying these symptoms, there may be varying degrees of insomnia, characterized by restlessness and muscle fasciculation (twitching of the limbs). Lady’s slipper is useful in cases of insomnia where the patient cannot fall asleep or wakes up as a consequence of excessive mental activity. We can see this in children, for example, who wake up in the middle of the night with an overabundance of energy, wanting to talk and play, without any desire to go back to bed. Such children are often overly engrossed in their own imaginations, and prefer to be alone because of a heightened sensitivity to others and to their environment. If these children do want company, it will usually be that of their parents or of children younger than themselves. In both children and adults, the overexcitement of the night may be followed by weakness and indifference during the day.

Michal Yakir writes: “There is a mutual association between the nervous and the digestive systems: disturbed digestion due to nervous emotion (anxiety, a sad event, mental exertion) or nerve conditions as a result of a digestive disorder. Amenorrhea [the absence of menstruation] accompanied by hysteria, nerve weakness and depression. The nervous system along the whole length of the spinal cord is stimulated and aroused.” 

Lady’s slipper is also characterized by a mutual association between the nervous system and the hormones and reproductive system. This connection has been explored at least as far back as the time of Paracelsus (1493 – 1541):

“The testicle-like shape of the root suggested its early application. The name ‘orchid’ comes from the Latin for testicle. Paracelsus said that Lady’s Slipper, by virtue of this signature, would ‘restore a man to his lewdness.’ The flower provides a signature different from the root. Lady’s Slipper gets its name from the resemblance of the flower to a slipper. Several closely related species are called ‘Moccasin Flower.’ Paracelsus said that if a plant looked like a foot, it was a remedy for a foot. The foot represents the possibility of wandering, while the shoe represents protection for the foot [for the wanderer]. It also represents the idea of settling down. An old proverb says, ‘When the shoe fits, wear it.’ When the right thing appears one cannot do anything else but commit oneself to it. When people commit themselves to something that doesn’t fit they grow restless and doubtful. Life has no stability, emotions slip back and forth. They are candidates for Lady’s Slipper.”

Lady’s slipper has been widely used for issues of premature birth in children and post-partum exhaustion and depression in mothers. Premature babies may suffer from an underdeveloped or immature nervous system, and hence may grow up to be easily and distressfully stimulated by their emotions and surroundings. “The body still isn’t ready to operate on its own in the world.” The post-partum depression and exhaustion of the mother may be characterized the feeling that she does not have the energy to adequately love and care for her child. In general, there can be issues centering around the feeling of never being sure that one has done done the right thing. In issues of love, there can be the tendency to develop strong romantic ties but without the level of maturity to commit to one’s partner. This speaks to an underlying lack of stability and indeterminacy in life and in the emotional sphere.

Overview and additional indications:

Antispasmodic, sedative. Quieting the nerves, promoting sleep. Nervous afflictions: tremors, irritability, restlessness, spasm, epilepsy. Hyperesthesia (heighted sensitivity of the senses, one or more senses could be affected simultaneously), often resulting from the overstimulation of the brain. Fevers of nervous origin.

Abdominal worms. Digestive disorders with a strong link to the nervous system.

Infections and inflammations of the eyes, characterized by pronounced soreness and irritation.

Itching and burning of the skin, often without any signs of redness or swelling.

Lapis Lazuli, Homeopathic Remedy Picture

The use of Lapis Lazuli as a medicine extends back thousands of years, with documentation of its healing properties found in the ancient cultures of Babylon, Sumer, and Egypt. Some traditions exalt Lapis as the archetypal healing stone, as can be seen in the symbology of the Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja) the patron deity of healing and medicine, whose formal Sanskrit name translates to “Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light.” The Medicinde Buddha’s blue skin represents his power to eradicate the cardinal causes of suffering, to lessen the burden of those with heavy karma, and to heal all manner of diseases that have been brought about through an imbalance of the elements. In his second of twelve vows, the Medicine Buddha states: “…my body, inside and out, shall be like Lapis lazuli, shining with penetrating and immaculate purity.” A vision of the power of enlightened wisdom and compassion to transform sorrow into bliss.

“Lapis lazuli embodies the image of the boundless universe painted by nature” (Walter Schmitt), and by extension the illimitable possibilities of healing that are intrinsic to life itself. As a homeopathic remedy, it helps to strengthen the connection between the subtle bodies and the physical body, thereby allowing for a greater willingness and ability to freely communicate with and navigate the outer world. It is a helpful remedy when challenges of communication have resulted in destructive familial dynamics. Lapis is a medicine for highly intuitive and sensitive individuals who have difficulty with the mundane, practical side of life, those who are ‘in the world but not of it’ (Colin Griffith). Lapis patients may report delusions of starvation, fearing that one’s family or even all of humankind will starve – a strange, rare, and peculiar symptom which reflects a pathological mirror image of the Medicine Buddha’s universal compassion. Lapis helps to restore objectivity to the perception of highly idealistic, anxious individuals whose vision has become muddied through emotional entanglements of all kinds. It is a medicine with affinities for the eyes, throat and thyroid gland, thymus gland, bone marrow, and the immune system.

Agaricus muscarius: “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter”

Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) is the prototypical mushroom – it is immediately recognizable to many, even if they are totally unaware of its identity, history, or mythology. So too is Amanita the prototypical fungal remedy in homeopathic medicine (where it is referred to as Agaricus muscarius), having been introduced into clinical practice around the year 1830 by Samuel Hahnemann. Historically, Amanita has held great significance in Siberian and Scandinavia shamanic traditions. It was “consumed as an oracle, to treat diseases, interpret dreams, communicate with spirits and other worlds, or to name a newborn – it is always ‘told’ in a loud voice the reason for its use. The mushroom is said to influence one via the A. muscaria ‘manikins’, little spirits who tell the consumer what they need to know, in the form of song, story, or taking one on journeys to other places and worlds” (Snu Voogelbreinder).

Amanita’s traditional use involved the navigation of interstitial realms of experience: the spaces between life and death, the experiential threshold lying between this world and the worlds beyond. Unsurprisingly, themes of the otherworld and the netherworld are strongly present when we look at Amanita through a homeopathic lens. Characteristic is a tremendous anxiety about death and a preoccupation with suffering, found alongside a weak-willed, fragile and dependant personality structure. The situation of dependency can be so great that the Agaricus patient drives his caregivers themselves to the point of wanting to die! (in the repertory we find: ‘MIND – TORMENTING – others – complaints; everyone with his’, with Agaricus as the sole remedy).

Children requiring this remedy can have an unshakeable preoccupation with death and dying; they may also be irresistibly drawn to the bizarre, the supernatural, and the macabre (e.g. horror stories), and may suffer from vivid, anxious and tormenting nightmares in which they are haunted by apparitions and spectres. These morbid fixations and preoccupations may emerge as a consequence of a child growing up with a parent who is close to death, or who died when the child was very young (premature exposure to the ravages of old age, decrepitude and decay, creating a lasting psychic impression). So too can Agaricus be called upon in situations of a dying person who lacks the courage required to face death, in order to facilitate a graceful passage into the beyond.

An additional indication for children in need of this remedy is a strong obsession with superheros. This fixation can be paired with, or serve as a vehicle through which, the child expresses their impulsive aggression. Agaricus children can constantly be thinking about and playing games involving superheroes. There can be a strong desire to emulate one’s older siblings (those who have more power and strength), and dreams involving the display of incredible superpowers.

We find additional themes of separation or flight from reality when we look to the use of Agaricus in treating states of dissociation, mania, schizophrenia and bi-polar conditions, as well as a variety of autistic spectrum behaviours. The patient in an Agaricus state can be very difficult to communicate with – either keeping totally silent or talking excessively but completely incoherently. When they do engage in dialogue, they may rapidly change the thread of the conversation, and refuse to acknowledge or answer questions put to them. They may love to sing, and singing can be carried out with such vigour and fervour that it peaks into states of delirium or hilarity. Exalted, unbounded states of fancy, marked by immoderate and involuntary laughter and abandon, can quickly alternate into deep states of withdrawal and despondency, or just as easily into fits of uncontrollable shrieking, violence and rage. This stark juxtaposition and alternation of extremes speaks to the confusion of identity and sense of duality that can be manifest in an Agaricus case.

The spatial senses and perceptual (dis)orientation feature strongly in Agaricus. There can be a pronounced tendency towards awkwardness and confusion – clumsiness, dropping things, forgetting what one has just heard or said, what one was just doing, where one is, or where one was going. Things small may appear large, and vice versa. A small hole appears as a frightful chasm. While walking, a foot is raised unnecessarily high in order to step over what is in actuality a very small object. Everything may look smaller or larger than it is in reality, including one’s own body. As the Caterpillar in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ says to Alice, speaking of the mushroom upon which he is seated: “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”

Atrophy is a central theme in Agaricus. We can see this with respect to sexual atrophy – either a literal shrivelling of the male sexual organs, or a history of strong sexual desire which atrophies into a weakened sexual state, a deflated libido with a corresponding inner feeling of emptiness. The Agaricus patient may be old and atrophied in appearance, an empty and shallow reflection of themselves.

Some additional indications for homeopathic Agaricus include: frostbite, treatment of the negative effects of botox injections, alcoholism, vertigo (especially resulting from sunlight exposure), Alzheimer’s and dementia, narcolepsy (the patient can appear very bright, twitchy, and aggressive and then suddenly lapse into a comatose state), dull headaches that cause the sufferer to move his head to and fro, migraines, neuralgia (the feeling of cold needles running through the nerves), epilepsy, and paralysis.

Homeopathy & Alchemy: A Hidden Connection?

Are there connections between homeopathic and alchemical systems of healing? While many would balk at the mere suggestion, a closer, unprejudiced look reveals deep allegiances. The alchemist Paracelsus held the view that the microcosm and macrocosm were intimately and inextricably bound together by way of a complex network of correspondences, which served as the invisible ground of all phenomena, including health and disease. Disease for Paracelsus, then, was not to be understood as a materially based phenomenon. The same is true for Samuel Hahnemann, who understood that disease is a mistunement or derangement of the Vital Force, the dynamic, spiritual principle that animates and governs the life of the organism.

The reason that Paracelsus was at odds with the medical establishment of his day is the same reason that Hahnemann was at odds with that of his (and, needless to say, ours). This is precisely because Paracelsus and Hahnemann both understood that the underlying source and meaning of disease could not be adequately approached by way of mechanical, chemical or physiological modes of understanding. To treat localized pathologies (focusing on the diseased organs themselves), is to remain fixated on the external effects of internal causes. Both Paracelsus and Hahnemann recognized that, in order to affect the greatest depth and breadth of healing, the physician must look to the innermost spiritual causes from which outward (material, measurable, and quantifiable) afflictions ultimately stem.

The task of the physician then becomes “to treat the very essences out of which corporeal organs become crystallized, and to supply them with the power of vitality of the quality which they require” (Franz Hartmann).

To affect a cure by means of a transformation on the level of the innermost spiritual causes of disease is the shared aim of both alchemy and homeopathy. Both Paracelsus and Hahnemann postulated the existence of an immaterial Vital Force that regulates and governs the body in health and disease, a single universal principle of life that oversees the parts that make up the whole. If this life principle is functioning harmoniously, health is the result. If it is obstructed or impeded, disease is the consequence.

Homeopathy and alchemy are both concerned with transformation, evolution, and realization. As a branch of modern alchemy, homeopathy leads us to “turn the base lead of our gross existence into the pure gold of service, not only for our fellows, but for our own spiritual selves, so that we may shine like living suns” (Martin Miles).

Paracelsus (c. 1493 – 24 September 1541)

Imponderable Remedies: Spectrum

There are a number of imponderable remedies in the homeopathic materia medica. These are remedies that are made from intangible energy sources. Homeopathy is premised on the notion that every substance is infused with a dynamic motivating energy, and that this energy can be reflected in human consciousness and corresponding states of health and disease. This same notion of dynamic, motivating energy applies equally to material and immaterial realms of existence.

One such immaterial (or imponderable) remedy, called Spectrum or Rainbow, is made from sunlight shining through a prism, which separates the light into its component colors. The chief indications of this remedy are to encourage the flow of fluid energy, especially as it relates to the blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid. As cerebrospinal fluid is responsible for supplying nutrients to nervous system tissue and removing waste products from cerebral metabolism, Spectrum also acts indirectly on the central nervous system. It is a remedy that can be extremely useful when it comes to ridding the system of toxicity and pollutants, such as exposure to radiation and the ill effects of inoculations. Spectrum can also greatly help the organism to detoxify and recalibrate itself after excessive drug use, both pharmaceutical and otherwise, and hence may be called for as a remedy in treating addictions.

The patient in need of Spectrum may complain of being stuck, with an inability to see how to move forward in life, and can feel like they just don’t fit in with their surrounding environment or family. There can be a deficiency of intuitive perception, pervasive spaced out feelings and a lack of groundedness, as well as a generalized apprehensive and fearful orientation towards the world. Spectrum may also be indicated in cases of sudden emotional shocks to the system that result in states of breakdown or debility. In short, Spectrum is a remedy that helps to provide roots to those who are rootless, to strengthen the intuitive faculties, to create flow where there is stagnation, and thus help with the movement towards the integration and unification of one’s whole being.

Homeopathic Medicine for the 21st Century: What Does Homeopathy Offer Our Modern Ailing World?

[Photo of The Samuel Hahnemann Monument in Washington, D.C.]

One of the fundamental distinguishing and characteristic features of the homeopathic medical paradigm is its focus on rehabilitating and enhancing the individual’s natural, and inherent capacity for self-healing. This capacity is something that all living beings possess. The word ‘healing’ is etymologically related to the word ‘whole.’ To heal means to restore to a state of wholeness. Put differently, the integrity of the organism is what must be given pride of place in a genuinely holistic system of healthcare. Those who practice homeopathic medicine strive to find the health in their patients through the art of careful attention and detailed, direct, and unprejudiced perception of the totality of an individual’s symptoms.[1] Homeopathy employs a non-linear approach to understanding health and disease that is able to respect the complex interdependence of body, mind, soul, and spirit.

Orthodox medicine hones in on morbid pathology, seeking to eradicate disease through extrinsic means. This approach is necessarily impersonal, and sometimes toxic insofar as chemical agents that compromise an organism’s capacity for feeling and function are involved. Such a mode of treatment can often serve to suppress or distort the patient’s self-healing capacity, temporarily ameliorating symptoms at the expense of long-term bodily integrity. Orthodox medicine tends to lose sight of a patient’s own natural patterns of equilibrium/disequilibrium. All too often, there is little to no attention given to a patient’s individual life history and the unique conditions of their embeddedness in a particular social and cultural context, or their direct, personal embodiment and expression of nature’s laws of healing. Homeopathy, in shifting the focus beyond the narrow and exclusive frame of pathology towards the understanding of disease as a dynamic continuum, is able to find and mobilize the state of health, directly engaging the self-healing capacity that is intrinsic to life itself.

Our 21st century world is increasingly characterized by growing rates of chronic, debilitating diseases that are being fueled by increasing stress levels and social pressures across global populations. It is a world that is facing exponentially worsening patterns of income inequality, declining food quality and soil depletion, and an environmental crisis that is spiraling asymptotically towards uncertainty and precarity. Our current global environmental predicament is also serving to give rise to a growing number of acute epidemic diseases throughout the world’s populations.[2]

Homeopathy, in perceiving the relations of an individual’s state of health to the larger social, cultural and ecological matrices in which it is being expressed, has the potential to offer unparalleled support in times of mounting crisis, on both the individual and collective levels. Homeopathic methodology contains a sophisticated ability to understand the context and continuum of health and disease. As such, it is a system of healing that can, if its principles were to be more widely adopted, contribute immensely to understanding the factors that predispose not only individuals, but also larger cultural groups, to specific patterns of imbalance, disequilibrium, unrest, and dis-ease. It is only from a place of such genuine understanding (one that embraces rather than shies away from complexity) that significant and lasting positive social, cultural and environmental changes can begin to be undertaken.  

Homeopathic medicine is one of the most sustainable systems of medicine in existence. Given that homeopathy works with ultra-high dilutions of substances taken from the natural world, it requires very minimal physical resources to produce its remedies. These remedies, moreover, can be produced anywhere in the world at an extremely low cost and with a minimum of human effort. Homeopathy thus lends itself to be utilized in parts of the world that have faced economic hardship, and where access to pharmaceutical drugs is limited. The humanitarian potentials of homeopathy are further supported by the fact that the principles and practices of homeopathic medicine are truly universal in scope and can be understood and applied irrespective of an individual’s cultural background (as is clearly attested by homeopathy having been taken up with great success and enthusiasm around the world).

Homeopathy can be described as a medicine of peace and compassion. As noted above, homeopathy does not declare war on disease, but works along with and supports the process of the individual’s vital energy through understanding its patterns and modes of expression. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, taught that the vital energy (or that which governs and maintains life in the individual) is the fundamental basis of health, and that disease can only be understood by observing the dysfunction of the vital energy. By working with, rather than against, the body’s processes homeopathy is rightly considered a medicine of applied compassion. It is precisely such a medicine that can offer real solutions to the worsening and increasingly complex ailments of the modern world.

[1] The totality of symptoms does not suggest a narrow focus on pathological manifestations. It is a notion that embraces the concept of health and disease as a continuum: for health and disease to be properly understood, what needs to be taken into account includes an individual’s character, personality, constitution and disposition. How does an individual think about themselves and their place in the world? How do they relate to others? What are their genetic predispositions? How do they react, think about, and respond to the different circumstances and events that they have faced in life? All of this and more, understood alongside and as inextricably bound up with morbid pathology, is what is meant by the totality of symptoms.

[2] Pharmaceutical drugs, while undoubtedly life saving in many situations, are also contributing to the spread of disease through their over-prescription and misuse. Consider how the routine use of antibiotics, for example, has resulted in dangerous, and increasingly treatment resistant, forms of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) present us with another pressing example: countless millions of pounds of over 50 pharmaceutical forms of SSRIs have made their way into all of the wastewater systems of every industrial nation in the world. From the perspective of planetary ecology, when introduced into a given ecosystem these inhibitors have been shown to alter the function of every biological system that serotonin affects (impacting e.g. sexual maturation, reproduction, germination, root and brain development in plant an animal species). Were homeopathic medicine to be more widely adopted and accepted, this would significantly offset the over-prescription of pharmaceutical drugs and help to remediate the dire ecological and public health consequences of their misuse.

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Homeopathic Remedy Pictures VI: Rhus Tox (Poison Ivy)

Poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron) is well known for the allergic reactions, caused by an oily resin called urushiol, that it elicits in susceptible individuals who come into contact with it. Given the potential severity and unpredictability of its effects, poison ivy is considered to be a hazard by many. But when seen through the prism of homeopathic medicine, wherever there is an overt poison in nature, so too is there a latent, potential medicine. The alchemist Paracelsus is purported to have said “Everything is poison, there is poison in everything. Only the dose makes a thing not a poison.” In this light, when poison ivy is prepared as a potentized medicine and prescribed according to homeopathic principles, its healing virtues are revealed, and it can be seen for the wonderful healing substance that it is.

Homeopathic Rhus tox is known chiefly by the general public as an antidote for the effects of poison ivy. When used in this way, it is being applied according to the principles of isopathy, i.e. ‘same treats same.’ The idea is that if a substance causes a certain reaction, it can be also be used, given in a highly diluted form, to treat that same reaction. Potentized Rhus tox can, in fact, often relieve even severe cases of skin rashes, eruptions, swelling and difficulty breathing that were brought on by contact with poison ivy. Rhus tox is also taken prophylactically (that is, in a preventative manner) by those who are especially sensitive to the plant’s poison effects. This can significantly reduce, or even completely eliminate, a previously highly sensitive individual’s tendency to develop poison ivy symptoms when coming into contact with the plant.

Homeopathically, Rhus tox is prescribed for a wide variety of ailments and afflictions, only a select few of which we will discuss here. On the mental-emotional level, the Rhus tox patient may appear in a constant state of anxiety, “as if something were going to happen.” They harbour many fears, which often appear suddenly, and are especially pronounced at night and in bed. These fears can include the fear of people as well as the fear of being alone, the fear of evil, of being poisoned or even murdered. The Rhus tox patient can become suspicious of the members of her own family, sensing an impending danger, threat, or attack. They feel helpless, irredeemably forsaken by others. There can be the feeling of isolation and imprisonment, of being handicapped and incapable of extricating oneself from horrible circumstances that are seen as being beyond one’s control. This state can, in some cases, escalate to the condition of mania.

Homeopath Tinus Smits relates that this state can be brought on as a consequence of severe childhood trauma, but further suggests that “The deeper causation of this layer can [also] be situated in past lives. When we are killed in a war, or sexually abused or beaten to death, etc. and we died in great pain and anxiety with hate and resentment, then these feelings are stored in our unconscious mind and one day we get the opportunity to let everything go and to free ourselves.” Whether one believes in past lives or not, Rhus tox is nevertheless an invaluable remedy for treating patterns of deeply held, potentially intergenerational trauma that manifest as a fearful and anxious orientation in the world.

Rhus tox is known as a remedy that can treat ailments that arise as a consequences of excessive fearfulness and the associated feelings of helplessness. These feelings may be kept hidden from others, however, due to the outwardly timid, shy, and self-conscious nature that Rhus tox patients tend to possess. The patient needing Rhus tox can also be extremely superstitious. The combination of anxiety and superstition manifests as an insuppressible restlessness that leads the patient to constantly want to move about.

Children requiring Rhus tox are often incapable of sitting still, tend to be constantly fidgeting, and always moving some part of their body or other. They may also have issues with involuntary urination and bedwetting. Generally the Rhus tox patient is worse when still, and better with initial movement. This is equally true with respect to mental-emotional symptoms (the patient’s fears can be relieved when they go out for a walk in the open air), as it is arthritic and rheumatic complaints, for which Rhus tox is also widely utilized.

Homeopathic Remedy Pictures V: Phosphorus

‘Phosphorus’ is derived from the Greek words ‘phos,’ light, and ‘phoros’, bringing or bearing. Phosphorus was discovered by the German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669, while searching for the philosopher’s stone. Brand had been involved in experiments with urine, which contains significant amounts of dissolved phosphates from normal metabolism. In the process of heating urine residue in order to create salts, Brand accidentally released a shining liquid from his furnace, which he soon discovered to be extremely flammable. When he contained this liquid in a vessel and allowed it to cool, he saw that it continually emitted a greenish-light, hence the name – phosphorus mirabilis (“miraculous bearer of light”) – that he bestowed upon it. Elements of light and fire come through in the symptomatology of the homeopathic remedy made from phosphorus as can be seen, for example, in the following symptoms: delusion of a flame of fire seems to pass through him, sees a sea of fire on closing the eyes, sees flashes in the dark, sees sparks and lightning on falling asleep.

Homeopath George Vithoulkas describes the primary theme of phosphorus as diffusion: “the process of spreading outward into the environment, like smoke spreading outward into the air.” The phosphorus patient often experiences a similar diffusion on the level of their energy, awareness, emotions, and even physically on the level of the blood. Due to their notable absence of barriers and boundaries, phosphorus patients tend to be extremely susceptible to a variety of external influences and highly sensitive to many external impressions. There can be an excessively free flow of outward emotions, without the ability to recognize or guard against the vulnerability that results from such a state of openness. In phosphorus, brightness, excitably and extroversion exist alongside a variety of phobias (of e.g. darkness, deep water, storms, and death), and a heightened anxiety state, especially when alone. On the level of self-consciousness and awareness, there can be a kind of self-forgetting in which the mind becomes scattered, unfocused, and diffused – the phosphorus patient may appear to be “spaced out.” Concentration can be very difficult, and endless cycles of procrastination may be a problem. In addition to this excessive openness, impressionability, and sensitivity to external impressions, the phosphorus patient’s sensibility may also be heightened to the point of clairvoyance. They can have out of body experiences and can enter into somnambulistic (sleep-walking) states. 

Yubraj Sharma describes the psycho-spiritual transformation that phosphorus can help to bring about in such a patient: “It facilitates entry into the darkness of one’s own being, to face the inner fears of loneliness, abandonment and separation from spirit. This involves moving the consciousness from superconscious into sub- and unconscious experience. There is the potential along this journey to take one’s inner light into the darkness, and to assist humanity as part of a collective ‘fall.’”

On the physical level, phosphorus covers a wide variety of symptoms. It is commonly prescribed for frequent vertigo that can come on at any time of the day and be accompanied by nausea and pressive headaches. There can be a feeling of congestion in the head with burning, humming, buzzing and throbbing pains. These sensations may be localized in the forehead, and there may be a redness and heat of the face (though the face can also be pale during the phosphorus headache). Migraine headaches are made worse from fasting and heat and are better from sleep, the cold and open air. Generally, phosphorous patients sleep very well, have a preference for sleeping on their right side, and feel revitalized and refreshed from sleep. Phosphorus is generally worse from fasting and feels better after eating. There can be a ravenous appetite and tremendous thirst, especially for cold drinks. Hunger may be greatest during the late hours, and the patient can wake up with an unignorable desire to eat in the middle of the night. Phosphorus patients can be easily dehydrated and experience dryness of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat. Phosphorus also has a strong affinity for the skin and is used in conditions such as dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema, especially where the itching is worse from heat and at night. As one of the most commonly used polychersts in the homeopathic materia medica, phosphorus covers a great many more symptoms in addition to those just discussed.

Homeopathic Remedy Pictures IV: Arnica

Arnica is a remedy that has strong associations with physical trauma and is widely used in the treatment of acute injuries as well as chronic conditions that have resulted as a consequence of a blow, a fall, or some other significant affliction. Examples of such chronic conditions can include: posttraumatic arthritis, neurological damage (e.g. post concussive syndrome), or even a variety of psycho-emotional and cognitive disturbances, such as depression, irritability, uneasiness, and nervous sensitivity. Arnica treats the effects of shock and trauma that have become impressed on the central nervous system.

Arnica has a strong association with bruising, and is often called upon to help with the reabsorption of blood after surgery. It is always important to treat bruises: bruises create a condition that we can describe as ‘bad blood’, ‘stagnant blood’, or ‘congealed blood.’ This can, in turn, lead to cancerous conditions in the distant future. Put otherwise, where there are bruises on the body, the oxygen supply in the bloodstream to the affected area is compromised. Limited oxygen supply promotes the development and growth of tumours.

On a mental-emotional level, the Arnica patient can feel “bruised by life.” There can be a long history of emotional trauma and a life path that is characterized by difficult knocks and hard falls. This in turn results in a melancholic, morose, and withdrawn disposition. The Arnica patient can come off as standoffish and distant, as someone who dwells on their suffering and wants to be left alone with their pain. They may also be very obstinate and headstrong, unwilling to listen to the opinions and feelings of others. The Arnica patient can feel at odds with the world, convinced that they will always be facing obstacles. Such a patient may have a fear of being touched, and a fear of others approaching, lest she be touched. There may be a fear of death, especially as a consequence of heart disease or a sudden heart attack (this fear may be especially amped up during the night). There can be frightful dreams of being buried alive, of black cats, and of death, nightmares that can startlingly wake the patient from sleep, and which may have commenced after an accident or injury. The Arnica patient can be easily startled as a consequence of prior shocks that have become deeply set in the nervous system. This history of being beaten down and emotionally battered can give rise to chronic rheumatic and arthritic