Mother Nature offers a most exquisite system of natural classification, the Mineral, Plant and Animal Worlds. The three kingdoms of nature are the source of the Genus Materia Medica Pura. In our class we will discuss the Three Kingdoms and their relationships to homoeopathic remedies. The mineral, plant and animal worlds are the three fundamental families of nature and the materia medica. For this project the student will need the following materials.
1. A basic chemistry book with the periodic table.
2. A book on biology, botany and plant taxonomy.
3. A zoology text.
4. Clarke's Dictionary of Materia Medica includes excellent material on the botanical families. This is an important materia medica for the study of remedy families.
The Mineral Kingdom
The inorganic minerals are the foundation of the Earth's structure as well as the human constitution. This elemental world is depicted by the periodic table in chemistry. The mineral kingdom is the underlying structure which represents slow and progressive development. The plant kingdom is quick, changeable and sensitive while the animal kingdom is prone to crisis and violence. Hahnemann, Hering, Boenninghausen and their colleagues made remedies from the three kingdoms and proved remedies on volunteers and themselves. The Founders studied the minerals in their laboratories and observed plants and animals in the field. They collected specimens, categorized samples, and proved the cardinal remedies of our materia medica. This first hand experience forms the basis of our art.
The study of the periodic table in relation to the homoeopathic materia medica is essential to being a good homoeopath. The classical homoeopath learns the polychrest minerals and then studies their relationships to the lesser known mineral remedies. The nutritional minerals are the building blocks of the living human organism. These mineral remedies are deep acting constitutional and multi-miasmic remedies. They are universal remedies because they are similar to fundamental human temperaments and diathetic constitutions. The nutritional minerals are strong anti-psorics and anti-pseudopsorics but they also have venereal characteristics.
The major nutritional minerals in the periodic table include Natrum, Kali, Magnesium, Calcarea, Chlorine, Phosphorus, Carbon, Manganese, Ferrum, Cuprum, Silica, Sulphur, Fluorine, Selenium, Iodum. These primary elements form natural combinations such as in, Kali Phos, Natrum Mur., Magnesia Phos., etc. The heavy elements are more toxic, degenerative and sycotic and syphilitic by nature but they have a role in the psoric and pseudopsoric miasms. Such remedies include Arsenicum, Antimony, Argentum, Aurum, Barium, Cadmium, Paladium, Plumbum, and Mercury.
One of the easiest mineral groups to recognize is the Natrums. Natrum represents the internal ocean which is the source of all the humours within the preeminently watery human organism. The Natrums help regulate the water functions in the human organism. This is our connection to the ancient seas where life developed. Natrum Muriaticum is an archetypal polychrest as well as a very over used homoeopathic remedy. How many of these cases are truly Nat-m. and how many were lesser known Natrum combinations or related plant and animal remedies? When the homoeopath learns the Natrum symptoms they can look for the lesser known complementary remedies. The smaller remedies revolve around the symptoms of the primary polychrests like satellites.
The Natrum Group Portrait
The Natrum family shares many homogeneous signs and symptoms. For example, a comparison of the mental symptoms of the Natrums demonstrates the following characteristic rubrics.
1. Grief, depression, melancholia, weeps uncontrolably or cannot weep unless alone,< consolation.
2. Desire for solitude, aversion to society, to family, < company > alone.
3. Serious, reserved, indisposition to talk, conversation <.
4. Sensitive; to certain people, to noise, to music,< music in general.
5. Dwells on unpleasant memories, revenge, hatred of person who have offended.
The pictures for these states are already well portrayed in our classical materia medica. These traditional characteristic symptoms contain qualifying symptoms and modalities. Once you know the portrait of the Natrums, and the other cardinal minerals, they guide the homoeopath to their natural combinations. For example, Natrum phos. is more fearful at night, nervous, forgetful and indifferent (Phos.) then Natrum mur., yet they share sitting in silence and are both < by music. Natrum carb. suffers from heat and desires to be alone (Natrums) yet is weak and slow (Carbons). Natrum ars. has great anxiety and fastidiousness, frightens easily, is most restless and easily startled (Ars.) but still indisposed to talk (Natrum). Natrum sulph. is fastidious and melancholic, and < from music (Natrum) but has more loathing of life with impulses to kill (Sulph).
In our materia medica class we are going to study each mineral separately and then in natural combinations. So next time a case looks like Nat-m. (which is given far too often), think about the other combinations which include the Natrums and the Murates. Perhaps the simillimum is Nat-ars., Nat-c., Nat-p., Nat-s., or perhaps, Mur-ac, Calc-m., or Kali-m? There are also complementary relationships with other plant and animal remedies. For example, Nat-m. is closely related to plants like Bryonia and Ignatia, insecta like Apis, and marine animals like Sepia. Our homoeopathic literature is full of such relationships. Our materia medica class is a journey in the study and applications of these relationships.
The Plant Kingdom
The study of the plant kingdom follows the mineral world. By knowing the symptoms of the plant families, and their species, the homoeopath understands the relationships between the polychrests, the smaller remedies, and complementary medicines. Botany is central to understanding our living world. Over the course of the next month we will be discussing terms and definitions. Here is the beginning of a glossary of important botanical terms. Please review these definitions before you read the following paragraphs.
1. Lichens, A compound plant consisting of a fungus and algae living symbiotically (L. lichen-Gr. leichen).
2. Gymnosperms, A group of lower or primitive plants whose seeds are not included in an ovary (Gr. gynmos-naked & sperma-seed or naked seeds). Examples, Thuja (Cypress Arbor vitae), Pinis Sylvestris (Sotch Pine) and Taxus Baccata (Yew).
3. Angiosperms, One of the main divisions of higher flowering plants which have seeds enclosed in an ovary (Gr. angeion-case & sperma-seed or incased seeds). This division is divided into monocotyledons and dicotyledons.
4. Cotyledons, a seed-leaf, [Gr. Kotyledon-kotyle, a cup]. A cotyledon is the first leaf or leaves which develop from the seed embryo. Cotyledons are common to the Angiosperm division of the plant kingdom.
5. Monocotyledons, one of the two great divisions of the angiosperms. The embryos have one cotyledon, the leaves have parallel veins, the root is tuberous, and the parts of the flowers are usually in threes, Example, Dioscorea (Wild Yam), Allium Cepa (Onion), and Zingiber (Ginger).
6. Dicotyledons, one of the two great divisions of angiosperms. The embryos have two cotyledons, net-veined leaves, and a tap root. The parts of the flowers develop in twos and fives, or multiples of twos and fives. Example, Calendula (Marigold) and Chamomilla (Chamomile).
The evolution of the three kingdoms is closely linked to the history of our planet and human beings. What is this ancient timeline? Is it any surprise that Hahnemann's cardinal antipsoric remedies, Sulphur (a mineral), Lycopodium (an early plant) and Calcarea (an early marine animal) were present in the Paleozoic Era? How does the life force evolve through the three kingdoms? Vide Kent's Lectures page 79, On Simple Substance.
"There are many qualities predicated of the simple substance [the lifeforce] and one of the first propositions we have to consider is that simple substance is endowed with formative intelligence, i.e., it intelligently operates and forms the economy of the whole animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms."
Palaeobotany records the evolutionary history of the plant world and studies fossilized plants. Life first developed in the Archeozoic Era, 5000 million years ago. By the Proterozic Era, 2000 million years ago, viruses, bacteria, and blue green algae were present in large numbers. The viruses and bacteria are used as nosode remedies in the homoeopathic materia medica. The nosode family represents very primitive life forms called miasms. The nosodes form their own family portrait and each remedy has its own differential symptoms. There are seven evolutionary families within the plant kingdom. They are the Algae, Fungi, Smuts and Molds; Lichens; Fern Allies; Ferns; Gymnosperms; and the Angiosperms divided into Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons.
The Palaeozoic Era began with the Cambrian period 600 million years ago when bacteria, viruses, green algae, stoneworts, and red algae were abundant and trilobites flourished in the ancient seas. Early land plants formed in the Devonian period 395 million years ago when the early gymnosperms, the Cycadofinicales and Cordaitales, were dominant and the Lichens, Lycopods, Horsetails and Ferns were common. Fish dominated the seas and the first amphibians, reptiles and insects appeared. By 280 million years ago the great Cycads and Conifers grew large and vertebrates roamed the land.
The early Mesozoic Era began with the Triassic period 230 million years ago, which brought great changes in which primitive forest disappeared giving way to herbaceous plants and higher gymnosperms such as the Conifers. The climate was hot and dry and there is no evidence of glaciation at the polar regions. This is the time that the early mammals, the great reptiles, and dinosaurs flourished. The Cretaceous period 135 million years ago saw the development of the angiosperms and the beginning of our modern forests. The 60 million year old Cenozoic Era introduced the modern herbaceous plants, birds and higher mammals and a great variety of monocotyledons and dicotyledons. How does this interesting information relate to Homoeopathy? The following chart offers more understanding of the ancient timeline and our materia medica.
The Seven Divisions of the Plant World and the Homoeopathic Materia Medica
*(number of species recorded)
1. Algae (proving needed), fungi, smuts and molds (90,000 species).
Examples: Agar., Cand-a., Bov., Ergot., Sec., Ust.
2. The Lichens (1,500 species).
Examples: Cetr., Stict,.Usn.
3. The Fern Allies (23, 725 species).
Examples: Equis., Lyco.
4. Ferns (9,000 species).
Examples: Fil., Pana., Scolo-v.
5. Gymnosperms (700 species).
Examples: Pinis., Sabin,. Tax., Thuj.
6. Angiosperms, Monocotlydons (40,000 species).
Examples Aloe., Arum-t., Aven., Dios., Sabal., Tril., Zing.
7. Angiosperms, Dicotyledons (359, 425 species).
Example; Solanaceae (Nightshade Family) Bell., Caps., Dat., Dulc., Hyos., Lycops., Stram., Tab.
The Solanaceae-Nightshade Family
The first example in our botanical literature is the remedy, Belladonna, from the Dicotyledon class, a subdivision of the angiosperms. It is a member of the Splaniflorae order which includes the Solanaceae, Convolvulaceae, Ploemoniaceae, and Hydrophillaceae. Belladonna is in the Solanaceae family (Nightshades). If you want to compare remedies with Belladonna, the best place to start is with the Solanaceae family which includes 29 homoeopathic remedies. The best proven of the Solanaceae family are Bell., Caps., Dulc., Hyos. Lycps., Stram. and Tab.
There is little doubt about the similar and differential rubrics of Bell., Hyos., and Stram. as they are often compared. These three remedies are the most recognizable of the Solanaceae remedies. Very similar symptoms are also found in Dulc., Caps. and Tab, as well as smaller remedies like Atro., Dat-a., Dat-m., Dat-s., Dubin., Sol-n., etc.. The homoeopath should study the symptom picture of the Solanaceae family and then study each species starting with the polychrests and moving to the smaller remedies. Then one must study the relationship between these plant remedies and their mineral and animal complements.
When a homoeopath learns the characteristic symptoms of the Dicotyledon subdivision, the Splaniflorae order, and the Solanaceae family, they have the keys to various genus and species. The genus groups revolve around the polychrests like satellites. When the homoeopath understand the characteristic symptoms of a family they can review the symptoms of all the related species. From here student studies the relationships of remedies to other plants, minerals, animals and nosodes.
This is a grand key to understanding the materia medica. When a case reminds one of Stram. the vital force may actually be demonstrating the picture of the Solanaceae Family (Nightshades). There are 29 other homogeneous remedies in this family which are similar. On a closer study of the comparative rubrics of the Solanaceae family, the homoeopath may find that the lesser known remedy, Solanum Nigrum, the Black Nightshade, is the simillimum. In this way we learn the genus comparative materia medica. The study of biology, botany, taxonomy and materia medica is a life long project.
The Animal Kingdom
The study of zoology and homoeopathy is vast. To understand the nature of the animal remedies we must study the nature of the animal sources and habitats. Farrington offers us a clue to the animal character in his Comparative Materia Medica, in Lachesis and other Allied Remedies, starting page 317.
"Medicines derived from the animal kingdom act energetically and rapidly. They vary in intensity from the fatal snakebite to coral, sponges, etc., which are more or less modified by their mineral constituents"
The animal remedies reflect energetic and rapidly moving states yet each remedy is modified by it's mineral constituents. A perfect example is Calacarea which is often listed as a mineral remedy although its natural environment is the marine habitat. Each animal species demonstrates a homogeneous group of symptoms. For example, Farrington speaks of the snake group symptoms on page 331.
"All the Ophidians affect the throat and cause constriction, dryness, impeded deglutition, hoarseness, sensitive larynx, dyspnoea, cough, blood-spitting, oppression of the chest and palpitation of the heart with anxiety."
Also he writes;
"Anxiety and apprehensiveness are symptoms of many animal poisons especially the Ophidians. In the latter, exciting reading may be the cause. It is also precordial in Lachesis, Crotalus and Naja".
Snake poisons are very useful in virulent acute miasms like scarlatina, yellow fever, meningitis, diphtheria and typhoid. This represents the violent action and crisis inherent to the acute actions of the animal poisons. In the chronic sphere the snake remedies reflect degeneration, senility, idiocy, apoplexy and drunkenness. The snake family demonstrates a homogeneous portrait which contains many differential symptoms. The most commonly used snake remedies are Lachesis, Naja and Crotalus. They have similar actions on the mind and sensorium and produce similar exalted states, a peculiar loquacity, with forgetfulness.
All the snake remedies share ecstasy, moral confusion, vivid imaginations, loquacity, suspicion, jealousy, envy, pride and sadness mixed with anxiety. They must loosen their clothes, and are worse < on sleep and on awaking. Lachesis is the most recognizable polychrest snake poison and is well known for its aggressiveness, vivacity, loquacity and rambling and frequent jumps from one subject to another or repeating the same thing other and other. Naja is more gloomy, and less aggressive then Lachesis, and has fluttering of the heart and spinal pains. Crotalus has a weeping mood and loquacity with desire to escape. Cenchris is angry in the evenings, has sighing, and delusions they are in two places at one time. Elaps has fear of rain, of being alone least the 'rowdies' break in, and a faint feeling in the pit of the stomach. Vipera has hypochondriac mood in the day and merriness in the evening, desires to go home, tears open their clothes, and has chest pains with chilliness and difficult breathing. The Indian Cobra passively coils in a stand as a warning whereas the Bushmaster snake attacks immediately. The Rattlesnake makes loud noises before striking. Such images are reflected in similar human temperaments.
The Zoological field is a wonderful area of research which brings humanity closer to their animal relatives. By recognizing the group characteristics of the species we have the key to the zoological polychrests and their relationships to the lesser known animal remedies. Some of the common animal remedies are Ambra, Apis, Aster., Bad., Bufo, Calc., Corr., Helo., Lach., Naja., Sep., Tarent., Ther, Vip. Here are the animal groups in the materia medica according the MacRep along with a few additions and subcatagories.
1. Amphibia [Amphibians]
Examples: Bufo, Salam., Trito.
2. Arachnida [Spiders]
Examples: Aran., Lat-m., Mygal., Tarent., Trom., Ther.
3. Aves [Birds]
Examples: Larus argentatus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Corvus coraz principalus (sanguis).
4. Crustacea [An invertebrate animal, an arthropod. Primarily aquatic with bilaterally symmetrical segmented bodies covered by a chitinous exoskeleton that is periodically shed]
Examples: Astac., Lim., Onis.
5. Insecta [Insects]
Examples: Apis, Blatta., Canth., Cimx., Cocc-c., Pulx., Vesp.
Examples: Cast., Hipp., Mosch.
Examples: Lac-c., Lac-d.
Sea mammals; refer 'Sea Animals'.
7. Radiata [Radially symmetric group of invertebrates found in water]
Examples: Bad., Corr-r., Medus., Physala-p., Spong.
Examples: Amp., Helo., Lacer.
9. Sea Animals [Marine animals]
Examples: Ambra, Aster., Calc., Murex, Ol-j., Sep.
Mullusca: Calc., Murex, Sep.
Sea Mammals: Ambr., Lac Dolph.
10. Snake poisons [Ophidians]
Examples: Cench., Crot-h., Elaps, Lach., Naja, Vip.
Since Aristotle, nature has been viewed as the living ladder of life, which includes the mineral, plant and animal worlds. The evolution of the Anima Mundi, the vital principle, through the three worlds represents the movement of the life force to ever increasing complex forms. The study of the three worlds is based on traditional medical writings, poisonings, provings, symptoms brought out on patients under treatment, and clinical confrimations. It also includes the use of the doctrine of similar correspondances applied to an analysis of appearance, growth patterns, habitat, chemical relationships as well as archytypes and mythologems. After the careful collection of potential signs and symptoms the rubrics are generalized to bring out the golden threads that contain the grand characteristics and redline keynotes of various kingdoms, families and individual remedies. The study of the Genus Materia Medica will continue with articles on the three kingdoms as well as various remedy families.