Warmth in Pharmaceutical Processes

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By: Dr. Johannes Zwieauer

The ability of warmth to transform substances has been used since primeval times to modify the material world. Metal mining, glass blowing, and pottery come immediately to mind. The ability of warmth to transform substance is also used in the manufacture of remedies; activating processes latent in the substances themselves, which can become healing forces. Through the medium of warmth substances of nature can be directed to the human organism. Anthroposophical medi­cines are almost always made with one or the other of the following warmth processes:

1. Digestio. Digestio is a pharma­ceutical process employing mild warmth, specifically the warming of plant juices to blood temperature. In nature plant sub­stances are exposed to seasonal and diurnal temperature rhythms but the pharmacist can maintain constant levels of warmth in the laboratory. The human organism also does this; taking substances out of their ac­customed temperature rhythms and into a constant temperature. Just how vital the maintenance of normal body temperature is becomes clear in that a deviation by just a few degrees from it makes human life dys­functional or impossible. The process of digestio leads to a "humanization" of plant matter. Approaching or matching human blood temperature attunes the plant's activ­ity to our biosystem. Many heart remedies such as Crataegus, Strophantus, and Digi­talis are prepared in the digestio manner; and ferns and willows, used to heal disturbed rhythms of the digestive system, are sub­jected to a digestio process.

2. Infusion. This is similar to brew­ing tea. Dried plants are steeped in simmer­ing water and left for a short time. Brief heating extracts warmth-related substances and is particularly suited to plants which condense the sun's warmth into aromatic oils, such as marjoram, sage, and chamomile flowers.

Through the medium of warmth
substances of nature can be directed to the human organism.

3. Boiling or Decoction. Plant parts are started cold and heated to simmering, then boiled for a period of time with the steam from the process cooled and con­densed again and again. This process is re­lated to the cooking of food which does some of the work of digestion. Some plants parts, such as blossom and fruits, already have a strong relationship to warmth. They are, as it were, are precooked by the sun and there­fore can be digested easily without further cooking. Boiling is useful however, in pre­paring other plant parts such as leaves and roots, which are less exposed to the sun's warmth. Roots, live removed from the sun in the cool earth. Relating as they do to the human head and cool nervous system, they can be utilized through the process of de­coction. Chamomile and gentian roots, for example, are often prepared in this way.

4. Distillation. Here a separation is brought about between the volatile sub­stances and their residues through the application of intense heat. An example is Melissengeist, in which warmth and air-re­lated substances are removed from the plant matter. Even solid minerals can be changed by distillation. An example which is freshly distilled phosphorus shows enhanced solu­bility, as though the substance were enliv­ened. Weleda metal preparations are also subjected to the distillation process. These metals, usually bound by gravity, are put into very high temperatures using a com­plex high-vacuum distillation method, which brings them into a gaseous state, then condenses them back onto a cold surface. The metals in this refined state are very delicate and thin, like a mirror, and their prima cosmic nature is reinforced, thus giving then maximum therapeutic effect.

5. Tostatio. Tostatio has its counter part in cooking, as for example in bread baking or roasting. By cooking with hot air bland foods are aromaticized, digestive glands are stimulated, and metabolic activity increased. One of the best known examples of tostatio is the preparation of green coffee beans whose characteristic aroma and taste are only brought out by roasting.

6. Carbonization of Plants. We ob­serve even stronger warmth effects through combustion in a confined space without oxygen. This forces all fluid and gaseous matter out of the plant, retaining only a car­bon skeleton (carboy. What the earth takes long ages to form as coal deposits is achieved in a short time in the laboratory using warmth. Such plant coal has the remarkable ability to absorb light and gas, making it a valuable remedy in potentized form.

7. Ash (cineres). This is the ultimate application of warmth in pharmacology. With the addition of an air stream, the or­ganic substance is burnt, and all warmth and light, stored during the growth and rip­ening of the plant, is released. What remains is a small heap of ash bearing only the min­eral characteristics of the plant. The greatest liberation of energy in the plant world oc­curs in the blossom and fruiting process which, of course, is followed by a retraction into the seed. Plant ash (cinis) resembles the encapsulated life force of the seed condi­tion. Its capacity to 'remember' the forces of light and warmth, leading to a new be­ginning, has been represented in mythol­ogy in the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes; an ancient symbol of the power of resurrection.

What wonderful effects of warmth we can see before our eyes! Warmth works against earthly stiffness and heaviness. It causes activity to occur in matter and leads to ever higher refining and combining con­ditions, from the solid to the liquid to the gaseous/aeriform; while itself permeating all these states.



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