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  Remedies from the Three Kingdoms of Nature

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By: Joop van Dam, M.D.
* Transcribed from a lecture given at the annual PAAM conference in Wilton, NH in June, 1988

In order to better understand how remedies from the three kingdoms of nature affect the human organism, I'll first discuss the general processes of digestion. Foods from the animal kingdom are relatively easy to digest, because animals are developmentally closest to us. It is only since atlantean times that mammals have split off from the human being in the course of evolution. In consuming animal food, (beef, pork, etc.) our physiology is not challenged much; we consequently become metabolically "lazy". The inner movements of the human organism slow down — the movement of the intestines becomes sluggish; kidney and gall bladder stones form; blood vessels lose their flexibility, sclerosis develops, etc.

The lower animals are further removed from us. The three-foldness of the human organism is no longer present here. Their physical substance is quite different from that of humans, especially in those animals that do not possess an inner skeleton. For example, in shellfish there is a clear differentiation between the formation of the outer shell and inner protein. In eating this protein, the digestive tract can protest due to the more distantly related and difficult to digest shellfish. Plant food is even more challenging to human physiology. In animals that are pure herbivores, a longer intestinal tract and more sophisticated metabolic system is needed, compared to the relatively short digestive tract of pure carnivores. Lastly, the digestion of minerals is of greatest complexity.

Until the age of two and a half years of age, the development of the head is such that ego-organization, astral body and ether body work apart from the physical body. After the third year, the ego-organization, the astral body and in large measure the ether body are active only in consciousness and not in the physical organization of the head. Looking at the rhythmic system, here the ego-organization and astral body are separate from ether body and physical body half of the time. They connect upon inspiration and they separate upon expiration in a regular rhythmic fashion. Finally, in the metabolic-limb system, all four members of man are united.

The human organism resembles mineral substance in the head organization, plant substance in the rhythmic system, and animal in the metabolic system. Rudolf Steiner states that in consuming a mineral substance, the ego organization is called upon to digest it; with plant substances, the astral body is engaged; and with animal substances, the ether body is active. That member of the human organism which resembles the substance to be digested will digest it. Like digests like.

The metabolic system digests animal substance. The animal has already astralized its substance; we only have to humanize it, and can do that by bringing it to life again after it has been totally 'conquered' stripped of its animal astrality. This is done by the human ether body. Animal substance will act upon the digestive system, that part of the human being where we are most animal-like. If you eat much pork, restlessness develops just like in the pig; you become a bit "pig-like." In the white-fleshed chicken or goose, incarnation is not as deep, but while beef with its red flesh, is very deeply incarnated.

Legumes are a bit more animal-like in quality, and engage the digestive system more than most other plant foods. (In certain mystery schools it is written one shouldn't partake of legumes, because it produces dullness, sleepiness; the head or heart is not engaged as much as the digestive system.) With plant substances, ether forces dominate. These in turn have to be astralized. This is accomplished by that part of the human organism where the astral body comes in from outside. Therefore plant substances act upon the rhythmic system.

Mineral substances are the most difficult to digest; they are the farthest away from the human. Mineral substance has to be brought back to warmth, to the etheric realm. Warmth is intimately related to the ego-organization. Just as the astral body is engaged with plant substance in the middle region of the human organism, so too the ego-organization is called upon to digest mineral substance in the head organization. Mineral substances can increase wakefulness as they are digested by that part of the human organism where the warmth is freed and works externally.

Animal substance as nourishment or as a medicament, can be unfavorable for inner life. This is because only that part of the ether body which is engaged in the human metabolic-limb system (having to do with the earth where the animal lived) and not those part of the ether body which are engaged in the rhythmic system or in the head region, is affected. Mineral substances don't help the inner life either, but leave you in a little better condition overall. In using plant substances, you work with that part in yourself which is like the plant – conversing, talking with the surroundings. The plant talks with the water, the air and the warmth; it is listens to the movements of the sun; it harmonizes with the moon and the other planets. Likewise, our being is affected by alternation of expiration and inspiration, systole and diastole, and feelings which move between antipathy and sympathy. Plant substances bring you to a relationship with the whole world of the planets. Mineral substances are substances which have their formative forces outside in the realm of the zodiac. That realm reaches our senses and builds our head. That is why Steiner says animal substance engages the etheric body, plant substance engages the astral body, mineral substance engages the ego organization.

Although animals engage the ether body, there is a difference between the therapeutic use of mammals, those animals that are nearest to us developmentally, and the lower animals. With mammals one organ is used, for example, pancreas, cerebellum or hypophysis, to strengthen the forces of the corresponding human organ. Bovine pancreas is used to heighten human pancreatic forces. Like the human pancreas, the pancreas of an animal has an astral body, an ether body and a physical body. It has a much stronger ether body than the human pancreas because the ether body of the animal is not needed for higher consciousness. The human being uses part of his ether body for consciousness. Because this is not the case with a cow, for example, you can use a cow pancreas to strengthen the forces which reside in the human pancreas. Steiner discussed the use of numerous organ remedies from the cow, including pancreas, cerebellum, hypophysis and iris, to strengthen the forces of one specific organ.

Another way of using an organ from the mammalian realm is to use it to direct another substance to that particular organ. When using a preparation to help guide a remedy to the right spot, give the remedy and the organ together; let them enter by the same door, not one from behind and one from the front, e.g. not one by injection, the other topically. You put the guide into the injection and let them have the same route. If you use it not as a guide but as itself, then you can have different potencies, especially with the lower animals. With the mammals you mostly use lower potencies because you are nourishing, you are not giving form. You strengthen vitality. This is always done through a low potency.

For example in using Hepar bovis-Taraxacum Stanno culta, you direct the Stannum, Tin, to the liver of the human being so it will work there. I remember a little boy, five years old, who developed an osteomyelitis of his left hip. It was discovered late so there was much pus. The orthopedic surgeon said, "He will lose the use of his hip." It was operated on, the pus was drained, and he received postoperative antibiotics. Five years old! We started to treat him with Stannum and then used Articulatio coxae along with Conchae and Formica. He also did curative eurythmy which was the strongest medicament he received, and he is totally cured. You bring the medicament to a specific place. For instance, in neurological diseases, in a patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis I've alternated Argentum, Ferrum and Stannum in high potency together with medulla oblongata to direct it there. In myasthenia gravis, especially with ptosis of the eyelids, if you want them to incarnate there again, give levico or another medicament you want to use together with the specific muscles, in a D6 potency. There are also the whole range of Disci preparations as well as others.

In contrast to the mammals, many lower animals form poisons or venoms. Poison creates the possibility for the spirit or the soul to enter the body. In the higher animal the body is built so that the soul can live therein, but with the lower animals you need a special substance, venom, so the soul can live within. Venoms are, so to speak, spirit collections, or concentrations of soul. In brachialgia nocturna, there are no symptoms during the day; but at night when trying to sleep something starts to tickle, disturbing sleep because of pain here and there. An X-ray examination of the cervical vertebrae does not reveal anything. It occurs often in people who have a great burden on their shoulders and are like bulls charging into life. In the evening this soul activity is still there, and they are unable to rid themselves of it. I've learned from Otto Wolf that you have to show the soul the way to exit. Give the venom of Crotalus terrificus, the South American rattlesnake, in a D30 potency as a subcutaneous injection at the level of C-7. A woman on vacation in Holland once came to me and said, "I've heard you do strange medicine. I have this problem that I don't sleep, even on vacation." I gave her one injection of Crotalus terrificus, and asked her to come back in three days. I repeated it once again. After three days she came back and said, "I don't know why I have to come back because it's gone!" I often give a series of three injections so that the soul 'knows' where it is to go. After two years she was again on holiday and came for another injection because the first injection had lasted for eight months.

A colleague's young daughter had hydroureter due to a dysfunctional ureterovesical valve. She was on chronic antibiotics, which her father did not want. We decided to give ureter or something which is like the ureter together with Equisetum, because Equisetum gives the image of the whole urinary system. I suggested using Equisetum D12. In his "Man As The Symphony of The Creative Word," Steiner describes the ureter as a snake. We gave Lachesis D8, Equisetum D12 only as a liquid,10 drops three times a day. She never needed antibiotics again. The remedy "showed" the ureter what to do. This was repeated three months on, then a month off, then again three months on for about a year.

If you want to understand remedies, you compare one plant with another, one animal with another, one mineral with another. Steiner once said you will can diagnose by Imagination, but the relation to medicament you will have through Inspiration. Inspiration is done with your soul, with your astral body. Imagination is done with your ether body. The astral body is constantly making relationships, feeling life, making the relation of you with the world. If you want to come into the Inspirative state of mind, you must be able to go from one thing to another. Meditate on the head; meditate on the heart; meditate on the limb, and you compare them. To conquer them strengthens Inspiration.

If you want to have a relation to medicaments, you must examine relationships. When you look at animals, try to understand the relation between a bee and an ant, for instance. A bee is warm; it lives in the warm part of the plant; from the beehive bees go out in all directions like the air, the warmth. An ant is not warm, it is cold, hard and is always at the hard part of the plant, at the roots, the needles, where things have died a bit. If you look at the movement of ants, you see they go along straight lines like crystals. There are "ant streets," and the ant streets go to a tree. If there is something in their way, they go over it because the street will remain straight. It's a different gesture. The bee takes the warmest part of the plant into itself and transforms it into form. It makes wonderful things in the beehive and where it brings the warm nectar, the honey. The ant takes the hard part, the needle, and brings it into the heat and hopes it won't become mineral but will remain in the plant kingdom. The ants in the woods care that the wood remains alive. This dry animal keeps the wood alive. It helps those things that tend to fall out of life to be brought back into life again. If you follow the ant trail up the tree, you find the ant comes to the leaves, and there in the leaf are some little fellows, aphids. They are sunk head first into the felt of the leaf, and they drink and drink, eat and eat. Aphids are very fruitful animals. They are so fruitful that if one pair of aphids were to survive frost and birds and other animals for one year, the earth would be covered by these animals who are no bigger than a millimeter. It's thanks to this little animal that the ants have the force to bring that which tends to fall out of life back again.

If you put all these observations together, you find their opposites: on one side warmth, movement, fine, delicate substances; on the other cold, bringing something which tends to fall out of life back into life. One is much life, one is not enough life. Remembering the indications of Apis and ants, you use Apis wherever the warmth organism is in danger, where there is high fever, when the pot is boiling over. Apis brings warmth into form. Apis is for acute illnesses where you have to bring something into form: lymphangitis, tonsillitis, and also where it's getting too cold, as in neuralgia. Formica (ant) is given where something is chronic, where it is falling out of life, where you have to bring it back into the stream of life again.

The wasp is in between both of these. It also brings form. You can give the wasp when a wound develops a keloid. I once had a patient who had an acute inflammation of one of the vertebrae – a purulent spondylitis. Pus had already formed and a fistula brought it to the surface. A fistula can be a horrible thing that never heals unless you excise it, but that then can take months to heal; so he agreed to try something else. I gave him Argentum D30 and Quarz D30, but more importantly Vespa crabo D6 and Arnica D20. This helped, and in three weeks it closed spontaneously and never returned. How wonderfully the wasp can work to make form. The wasp even makes paper. Of course Vespa crabo D6 and Arnica D20 will not cure every fistula. You find your own relationship to the medicaments, and then they can help you.

In earlier times, during the middle ages there were only plant remedies because healing then had much more to do with the soul and less with the ego. In our time, plant remedies are no longer in the foreground as they once were, and today we look more to the mineral substances. However, plant remedies are still a very important color on our therapeutic palette.

Imagine the earth surrounded a series of successively smaller inter-penetrating spheres, beginning with a sphere of warmth ether, a sphere of light ether, a sphere of chemical ether, and a sphere of life ether. Normally a plant has its roots in life ether, its leaves in chemical and light ether and its flowers in warmth ether. One of the first anthroposophic scientists, Guenther Wachsmuth, found that these four ethers are in movement during the course of the day. At midday they are fully together, but at night the warmth ether and the light ether retreat back into the cosmos while chemical ether and life ether withdraw into the earth. At sunrise they approach each other again, and the birds start to sing as the chemical and ether tones are brought into movement once more.

If you consider all the plant families, you find certain families at their best at certain times of the day or night. The Labiatae (the mint family) —thyme, lavender and rosemary — are at their peak at noon when the sun is highest because they are warmth plants. In the Egyptian culture herbs were used to embalm the body. They used seven different Labiatae because this warmth process brought forward the formative forces which could conserve the body. If you put the brothers and sisters of the Labiatae family beside each other, you can go from the one extreme of rosemary to the other, Lamium album. The smaller the leaves the greater the presence of warmth ether in the Labiatae. This is true of other plants as well. Think of the needles of the pine — very small, concentrated warmth — and lavender, thyme and rosemary. From another perspective, the higher the water content of a plant the lower in the body it is related to, e.g. melissa and majorana, related to the pelvic and digestive organs. You go from top to bottom. To develop a relationship with plants you have to know what each has to give. With all the brothers and sisters of the Labiatae you have something for all provinces of the body.

The Cruciferae (mustard family) plants should be known — Capsella bursa pastoris, Cochlearia, cabbage, etc. This family is very fruitful, every part of the plant can grow and grow. Such growth comes not from warmth or light, but from the light ether and chemical ether. These plants are very near the earth and can endure the winter. They contain much sulfur, and sulfur brings the ether body into connection with the physical body. They are at their peak around 6:00 o'clock in the morning.

Nightshades produce poisonous alkaloids. This is an expression of the fact they are at the end of their evolutionary lives. When they wither away most plants make a bit of poisonous substance. Steiner describes the nightshades as at the end of the biography.

Where does the rose fit in? The rose is at its best in the afternoon. The rose is a very mature plant, it has accomplished something. The rose has come so far that it can make a tree. The rosacea have a relation, a friendship, with the earth. The rose's time is late in the afternoon between 3:00 and 4:00 o'clock.

Lilies are bulb plants. You can put such a bulb in water alone; it will root because it doesn't need the earth at all. It carries a bit of the earth with it and makes of that its flower. The lily is a rather unearthly plant. The lily is connected with Gabriel, with the unborn, with the innocents, or with death, all conditions where there is a state of excarnation or of coming incarnation. The time of the lilliacea is at midnight.

The same type of relationships exist in the mineral kingdom. When discussing mineral remedies, Steiner never speaks of Silica without mentioning Calcium or of Plumbum without comparing it to Argentum. Steiner opens up a whole new area for medical treatment with the metals. The book Fundamentals of Therapy was to have been followed by a second volume on the metals. In mineral nourishment you have to have that part on earth which corresponds to the Zodiac. Rudolf Hauschka has shown how all the elements: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur, etc., except for the metals, are connected with the Zodiac. Between the Zodiac and the earth are the metals. The metals mediate between the Zodiac and the earth. The secret of the metals is that they belong to the planetary world, to the middle world. The word 'medicament' represents 'what stands between' 'medi' and there – the region where the metals belong. When the human being breathes, it's between cosmos and earth. He lives for a short time on earth and for a very long time in the cosmos; then he comes back for a short time to earth again. In between he goes through the planetary spheres. This is the sphere of the metals. Bernard Lievegood has offered this concept of the double planetary process: the incarnating and excarnating of metals. They can help you incarnate; they can help you excarnate.

There are some people who feel they are always a bit "spaced out." They don't fully touch the ground. Those people must get more heaviness, become more grounded. Use Plumbum, the incarnating metal, in a D20 not D6. However if somebody is far from home because he's always drinking too much and feels, "Where am I? Shut the door so no one can get out", then give him Plumbum or Minium D6.

It is a pity that our lives are not longer so we could learn more. We must always be trying to create new possibilities. If you look at painters, there are some who paint in characteristic hues. Every doctor has his own palette, and there are certain colors which work well in his paintings. If you have a good relationship with twenty medicaments, you will be a better doctor than if you have a limited relationship with six hundred medicaments. You must have the freedom to be creative with the instruments in your hands and combine them; but you must also do all you can to have the greatest range of possibilities.

Joop van Dam, M.D.
Lulianalaan 21 C
NL-3708BA, Zeist

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