The final remedy of the “hot stream” branch of the chthonic realm is Veratrum Album. This remedy is coolest, or least hot end of the spectrum of “hot stream” remedies. In terms of our dynamic physiology, the disturbance is at the level of our Ontic Organization, or more specifically, our false ego. This state is typically caused by some form of “losing face”, or (perceived) loss of status to the false ego. The tone and emotional quality can be extremely self-righteous, or haughty. If it appears within a religious context, it may come out as a “holier than thou” feeling. Within the natural health or new age movement, a similar self-righteous quality can often be perceived.
The intensity of the feeling of loss of status (to the false ego) can become so great, that the person is willing to cheat, lie, or steal – anything to try to regain their lost status. In more extreme states, there can be delusions of grandeur, with a belief that they are Jesus Christ, or some other great figure from history. It reminds me of the joke : “What’s the difference between God and an Allopathic Doctor?” “God doesn’t believe he’s an Allopath”.
When I was a student, I received a call from one of my friends who was suffering from a stomach flu, and was in a highly weakened state. Upon questioning her, I discovered that there had been a recent incident in which she had “lost face”, but hadn’t been able to express her anger or disappointment. Instead of the natural and desirable expression at the emotional level, it instead transferred to the physical level in terms of the stomach flu symptoms (which, by the way, are one of the classic symptoms of this remedy).
Continuing along in my examination of the hot streamof the chthonic realm remedies, brings us to Hyoscyamus, which is related to the blockage of function in the astral body. As you may recall, our astral body is what we have in common with the animal kingdom, and is the source of our desires and emotions. The key emotion in Hyos is of jealousy, or thwarted love, and its behaviour is full of attempts at gaining attention in one way, or another. In its most overt form, this is a state of mind which may be completely shameless, and streak through a public space in the nude. In a milder form, this can show up in terms of very sexually suggestive language or steamy jokes or stories. This is often the type of patient who is extremely open and graphic in describing to their practitioner the intimate details of their sex life or fantasies.
Alternately, their jealousy can manifest in more violent behaviours, as well as an expression of feelings of intense suspicion of their partners. Many unplanned murders are fuelled by this sort of emotional heat, and blind passion. Interestingly, their suspicion leads to the quality in this disease state of not wanting to take the remedy given by their Heilkünstler, as the unconscious fear is that it may have been poisoned.
The class clown, or the person who is constantly making jokes or silly remarks may also be fuelled by this disease state. Once you see the underlying theme of grasping for attention through silly, foolish, or otherwise tantalizing behaviour, you can start to notice it in its even more subtle forms. Particularly if there is a known history of lost or disappointed love. It is also a state which can be triggered in children suffering from jealousy at the birth of a new sibling. The behaviour and type of jealousy, however, is different from Lachesis, which is rooted more in issues of self-worth.
There is a peculiar physical symptom in this remedy, which is a loss of control of the bladder or bowel functions. Whether in children, or the elderly, this remedy may be helpful in any related condition, such as incontinence.
The next remedy within the hot stream series of the chthonic remedies is Stramonium. Where Belladonna is related to the physical body, Stramonium is related to a blockage of function in the etheric body. The core feeling in this remedy is of fear (as in all the chthonic remedies), but specifically linked to a feeling of being abandoned. The image of being left alone in the woods at night is a good image to visualize the feeling in this remedy.
This feeling recalls the movie The Blair Witch Project, which was a kind of a horror movie about three young men and women going to shoot a documentary in a supposedly haunted woods near their community. There actually was a witch haunting the woods, who conspired to draw them further and further into madness and ultimately their own demise. The way the movie was marketed, it wasn’t clear to me going in if it was fact, or fiction, and I got completely drawn into the feeling of terror as if it was real. There was also something about the hand-held camera technique which created a feeling of being there with the primary characters, running through the woods scared (some viewers complained that it made them nauseous).
This is a very common fear state seen in children who have an extremely difficult time at night, especially if they are alone in the dark. They either need night lights, or even the overhead light left on to sleep. They are also the ones who keep turning up in the parents bed, or need a parent to sleep with them in their own bed, otherwise the fear is too much for them to handle.
During the daytime, they may be full of behviours designed to attract attention, which continually draw the parents in closer (ie the subconscious drive to keep from being abandoned). These attention-seeking behaviours may alternate with inexplicable and uncharacteristic violent behviours, which attempt to fulfill this same purpose.
Stramonium may be needed after a severe fright, or possibly from an emotional event which might have raised fears of abandonment, such as a small child witnessing their parents fighting. It is often a very useful remedy for adults suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, such as after returning from active duty in the military.
Physical symptoms may include a variety of stomach aches, as well as spasms or cramps. These are also children who may suffer bed wetting. Stuttering is another classic symptom of this remedy, particularly where the onset followed a fright.
Belladonna is one of the top remedies for childhood fever. It produces an incredible heat, so much so, that if you touch the forehead of the feverish child, the heat is still palpably present in your hand even after you’ve removed it. It is one of the most common remedies used at home by parents, and should be a staple item in every homeopathic first aid kit.
The core feeling in Belladonna is of an attack which comes on suddenly, and which a tremendous amount of energy needs to be mustered to either run away, or fight off the attacker. The Belladonna fever in children is one where the fever, and the whole state comes on very rapidly. All kinds of delusions, and states of delirium are characteristic of this remedy.
The image of this remedy was forever cemented into my mind many years ago, when I had a co-worker who suffered periodic flare-ups of the Belladonna state of mind and feeling. She suffered from a delusion that the police were following her, tapping her phone line, etc., and at unexpected moments in the midst of a conversation, she would flare up into the most amazing accusations that you were working for the cops, raising her voice at you as her face turned beet red. There was a feeling that the possibility of violence was not far away at all. Before long, the storm would pass, almost as if nothing had happened.
Physically, this remedy can be useful in some epileptic conditions. It is also useful for bed wetting in children. In younger children, it can be the remedy to provide relief when aggressive biting is a problem. It is often a remedy very helpful for young mothers suffering from mastitis, especially where there are symptoms of extreme redness, and sensations of heat and even throbbing pain. It can also be helpful for the after-effects of sunstroke.
Today begins my exploration of a group of 8 remedies which are used to treat “The Chthonic Realm”. The word ‘Chthonic’ originates from Greek, meaning “from deep in the earth, or the underworld”. These remedies treat some very deep fear states, as well as their manifestation into a range of peculiar thought or behaviour patterns. At the less extreme end of the manifestation of these states, you’ll see the typical night terrors of children, who wake screaming or crying due to a nightmare which seems all too real in the moment. At the more extreme end of this spectrum lies people who either are, or should be institutionalized and restrained for their own and others’ safety.
The whole realm of our natural processes of fever, inflammation, and even the function of the orgasm, are the source of energy for these remedies, when these natural functions have been blocked to one degree, or another. Even physicists know that “energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only transformed from one form to another”, and this is exactly what is happening when a natural process is blocked, only to manifest later in one or more of these chthonic states.
Our natural, healthy development, in terms of Dynamic Physiology, unfolds through our four bodies, and through the polarity of radial versus spherical energy. This four by two matrix defines the origin of the eight specific chthonic remedies, as are called the ‘Hot Stream’ (Belladonna, Stramonium, Hyoscyamus, and Veratrum Album), and the ‘Cold Stream’ (Arnica, Baryta Carbonicum, Bufo, and Helleborous).
In terms of the medical realm of Heilkunst, there is a fundamental polarity between these Chthonic disease states (expressed by our Nether Being), and the Ideogenic disease states (expressed by our Upper Being). In other words, our fears exist in a functional polarity with our ignorance. Practically speaking, I may often prescribe one or more chthonic remedies in conjunction with ideogenic remedies, but sometimes one side or the other isn’t clearly visible before the other is treated.
This fundamental polarity of fear/ignorance is the true root of all disease, and will be the goal to address for every case. Practically speaking, the chthonic realm is most visible within the whole autistic spectrum, as well as any deep conditions of fear or phobias. Conceptually speaking, this realm becomes most ripe for treatment after the patient’s chronic miasms are cleared, but practically, can pop up at any point in treatment, depending on the specific dynamics and history of the case.
Over the next eight days, I’ll portray each chthonic remedy in its practical and clinical picture.
As the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!”. We live in an age of instant gratification and convenience, and with so many things, choosing health often takes a little bit of elbow grease, or *gasp* inconvenience. In absolute terms, though, the price that we pay for so many of our conveniences, when assessed objectively, is actually not really worth it, and so we realize that it is really an illusion we are letting go, and not a true convenience.
Non-stick, Teflon®-coated cookware belongs to this category of apparent conveniences which actually are a burden to our health. I’ve written about the toxic nature of fluoridated products, including many municipality’s public drinking water, as well as most commercial toothpaste. Perflurooctanoic Acid (PFOA, or simply “C8”) is the compound used to make Teflon® pans, and is linked with numerous cancers and other health risks. Workers at the Dupont factory who are exposed to this, for example, show much higher rates of kidney cancers and other kidney diseases. In general, the kidney is one of the organs where this chemical tends to accumulate.
A Teflon® pan becomes toxic particularly if it has been overheated, or if there is a scratch in it. Given the high toxicity of PFOA, it is not at all worth the risk, in my mind, of keeping any Teflon® products in your kitchen.
If you really think about it, a big part of how Teflon® became so popular, was based on the myth of low-fat diets being healthier for us, and a need to cook without oil in pans that wouldn’t stick. Once you understand the truth about our need for oils to be healthy, and learn how to cook with them on safe cookware (including stainless steel, cast iron, or titanium-ceramic pans), the “convenience” of non-stick cookware very quickly will appear to you as the illusion it actually is.
The Summer Solstice marks the day of the most daylight, as it ushers in the heart of all the things which summer means to everyone. Especially in climates in the further Northern latitudes, these precious weeks of summer sun and heat are cherished, as people pack in as much of their favourite outdoor activities that they can. Our moods reach the height of their expansive capacity, while we metabolize sunlight to be stored as vitamin D to take us through the winter.
There is an underbelly to all of this, which is represented within the essence of the syphilis miasm, which is also ushered into more acute expression, beginning about the time of the Solstice. If you think in terms of the cycle of gardening season, the massive growth of the spring has already peaked, and the hot, dry days of summer now threaten the possibility of drought, decay, and death. Likewise, people within the “concrete jungle” of the city can start to express high levels of irritability, and lashing out even to the point of “road rage” or other random acts of violence. If you keep this image in mind, you’ll begin to understand the inner dynamics of anyone with a genetic inheritance of this miasm (which we all have to some degree).
Destruction, decay, and processes of things breaking down or falling apart all describe the essential characteristics of this miasm at all levels (physical, mental, emotional). Physical conditions including any form of auto-immune disorder, as well as psychological conditions of depression, despair, even to the point of suicide fill out some of the details. The emotional acts of blaming and criticizing are further indicators of this energy. A feeling that life is meaningless, and that “there is no point” form part of the more extreme version of this mental and emotional state. The expression “Life’s a bitch, and then you die” portrays the sentiment of this feeling.
In less extreme form, you’ll see peculiar symptoms, such as ritualistic or compulsive behaviours, or even fleeting thoughts of doing strange things, such as wondering “what would happen if I put my fingers into the electrical socket?” Compulsive thoughts such as “I wonder if I left the stove on at home?” can fill the mind of the patient driven by the energy of this disease. Insanity is feared, or may eventually be succumbed to.
In its earlier phases, syphilis can be quite charming, and capable of drawing others into their world. In more extreme forms, this is part of the pattern of the formation of cults around charismatic leaders, who gradually lead them to do either strange or very destructive acts, including mass suicide. On an individual basis, this same dynamic within syphilis, is behind all forms of addictions, and other self-destructive behaviours which at some level involve forms of self-deception or charming oneself into being OK with “just one more”.
Physical symptoms of syphilis include ulceration in any form. Deep conditions down to the bone, such as extreme growing pains in children, bone cancers, or leukemia emerge at the later phases of this disease. Flesh-eating disease, AIDS, and other physical manifestations of the self-destructive pattern of this remedy are increasing, as syphilis becomes a more and more dominant medical phenomenon in our modern context. Years of use of antibiotics, and such, have suppressed the primary infectious form of syphilis, and converted it into this inheritable genetic form I’m describing here. There are many artistic portrayals of this energy, including the brilliantly acted role of The Joker in Batman – The Dark Knight, which I wrote about in my blog series on fluoride.
In a previous blog, I described how we use the Anthroposophical understanding of our physiology in terms of our four bodies. There is another view within Anthroposophy, which also informs our diagnosis, which is based on our 3-fold nature. Every physiological process in health or disease can be understood in terms of its underlying mix in terms of the three fundamental principles. That is, of our nerve-sense system, our metabolic-limb system, and our rhythmic system. The nerve-sense system, and the metabolic-limb system are polar opposites to each other, and are mediated through the rhythmic system. All three of these principles permeate all of our body, yet each one is most visible in certain regions. The nerve-sense system predominates in our head and spinal system, as well as through all the nerve pathways throughout our body. It is our most “cosmic” part, which is vast and still like cold empty space, and when out of balance, contributes to conditions of hardening or rigidifying. All living processes emerge at the intersection between life and death, and our nerve-sense system is our most ‘dead’ aspect, in this sense. The metabolic-limb system, in contrast, is full of movement and warmth. It is the active principle of our musculature, as well as our metabolism, and its activity is centred in our digestive organs and it radiates outward through our limbs. When a physiological imbalance is dominated by this system, it leads to processes of inflammation.
Left to their own devices, these two systems would destroy each other, if not mediated by the rhythmic system, which is most visible in our chest cavity, in terms of our heart beat, and continual expansion and contraction of our lungs. The activity of the heart and lungs touches every part of the body, through circulating oxygen through every cell of our body. It is through our rhythmic system that we have the capacity for feeling, as is evidenced by our quickening of breath and heartbeat when we’re confronted by an event of an emotional nature. Understanding the dynamics of these three principles adds another dimension of clarity to diagnosing what is going on in a disease process, and which system needs to be better supported or attenuated.
One of the misunderstandings about what I do is that I’m considered to be a practitioner of “natural health”. It doesn’t help that I often promote that misunderstanding myself, as it is a phrase which leads people into the right ballpark, so to speak, for beginning to understand the scope of Heilkunst.
The problem implicit in this phrase, is that it promotes an understanding of health and disease which believes that the best thing to do is get out of nature’s way (ie not use toxic prescription drugs, or eat artificial foods, etc.), and let her do what she does best, which is to heal. There is certainly a germ of truth to this. There is, however, a key part of this concept which is very dangerously false, and which needs to be corrected.
Dr. Hahnemann was very clear about the issue at hand here, but unfortunately, his clear explanations were largely lost on his followers, and are still misinterpreted by the current movement of so-called “Classical Homeopathy”. The same misunderstanding is generally at the centre of most natural health practices and modalities today.
So, what is the issue I am referring to here? It has to do with the very fundamental distinction in healthcare between curing and healing. A true and complete system of healthcare must understand the workings of both. In terms of our innate “natural healing power”, it operates, as Dr. Hahnemann referred, as “Our Friend In Health”. It does a beautiful job keeping all of our functions working in a harmonious, balanced way, which works best with some light support on our part, and little to no interference. We’ve all marvelled, at one time, or another, how a superficial cut on our skin magically weaves itself back together, as long as we’ve taken care to properly clean any debris out of the wound.
This natural healing power, which we consider our best friend in health, is, however, our worst enemy in the case of a chronic disease. Its mandate of healing, and keeping things balanced, has very dire consequences when applied to the realm of disease. All of the symptoms and flare-ups, in fact, which emerge from a chronic disease exist only due to the misguided efforts of our innate healing power. In this sense, it is not the disease which we are suffering, but the effects of our innate healing power trying to dislodge the disease, which it is not capable of doing.
In order to cure a chronic disease, then, it is not possible or desirable to allow the healing power to attempt the job, but it is an application of correctly selected and prepared medicine, as determined by the scientific and reasoned mind of the practitioner. The refined or ‘potentized’ homeopathic remedies may have originated from natural substances, but through their potentization, can no longer be considered ‘crude’ nature (as it exists in its raw state), but ‘refined’ nature, which can only exist as a by-product of the human creative mind, which exists above nature.
Once the curative remedy has done its job to remove the disease, then our unrefined, instinctual healing power does a beautiful job in restoring a proper state of balance and grace. In this sense, the doctor cures, and nature heals. While “natural medicine” may have roughly correct connotations for general usage, it is, as you’ve seen, highly misleading about what the actual purpose of medicine and healthcare is.
Regimen, as you’ll know from my previous writings, is the foundation for all medicine and higher Heilkunst therapeutics. Everyone knows, at least to some degree, the importance that nutrition and exercise plays; however, many struggle with mustering up enough will power to implement some or all of what they know they need to do. I often advise patients, when it comes to exercise, to find something that they enjoy doing — whether a team or solo sport, or a more informal activity such as walking their dog every day. People all too often get caught up in what they think they are ‘supposed’ to do for exercise, and completely lose touch with what actually gives them pleasure in the process. This summer, my Allyson has put this principle into practice — she had been desiring to start biking again, and you should have seen how charged with excitement she became when she discovered a bike that she loved was for sale:
She’s been out on her bike every day since, and illustrating in true living colour the importance of connecting to what gives you enjoyment. The ‘rules’ and quantities of exercise place a distant second place after this all-important principle of enjoyment. Not to mention all the sports and athletic injuries which are the by-product of someone having pushed themselves way too hard towards an abstract goal, and being disconnected from their own inner experience of what it feels like to engage in the activity. If you see Ally booting around town on her pink Schwinn, be sure to give her a wave and a smile, which many strangers are doing when they see her coming on her beautiful bike!