Concerning New "Synthetic" Mineral Remedies, According to Indications by Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner indicated a new way of preparing medications at the end of a medical conference in Stuttgart in October 1922 which, in our opinion, is of fundamental importance. At the end of the fourth lecture he said: "If, for instance, we prepare the leaf of urtica dioica, the ordinary stinging nettle, in the right way, we have a remedy composed of sulfur, iron, and certain salts. But we must really know how to relate the devitalizing force that is present in the plant to the vitalizing force that is present in the human organism. In the root of urtica dioica the whole sulfur process is tending gradually to the inorganic. The human organism takes the opposite course and transforms the sulfur by way of the protein in such a way that it gradually brings the digestion into order. The iron in urtica dioica works from the leaves in such a way that in the seed (and thereby in next year's leaves) this plant shatters the very thing that brings together the rhythmic process in the human organism—the process in the stinging nettle is the opposite. In fact, the stinging power of the nettle leaves is this destructive process that must be overcome if the rhythmic process of the human organism is to be regulated. Again, the alkaline salt content of the plant is least of all transformed into inorganic matter. Therefore it has the longest way to go, going right up to the nerve-sense organization; it goes up quite easily because, with the complex of symptoms we are now considering, we know that the kidney activity is asleep, is suppressed. In the human organism we actually have the opposite of what is expressing itself outwardly in the formation of the plants.
But there is no need to confine ourselves merely to plant remedies; synthetic remedies may also be prepared and cures affected by combining in a suitable dosage the substances I have characterized. . ." (Fundamentals of Anthroposophical Medicine, p. 81-82, Mercury Press 1986, in German in GA 314.) On p. 85, he goes on to say: "Let me assure you once again that there is no question here of a wasteful and amateurish abuse of modern scientific methods. Instead we are giving guidelines that will lead to more tangible results than pure experimentation. I am not by any means saying that such pure experimentation cannot also be fruitful. It does indeed lead to certain goals, but with this method a great deal passes us by completely, especially many things we can learn by observing nature. Although it is fine to produce synthetically a preparation composed of iron, sulfur, and alkali, it is good to know how. In a particular plant, all these substances are synthetically brought together in a certain way by nature herself. Even in the production of synthetic remedies we can learn a great deal by understanding what is going on outside in nature ......
About a year later he discussed this idea at greater length in his first lecture to doctors at The Hague on November 15, 1923 (GA 319): "We direct our gaze away from man and onto outer nature. We decide to study the particular nature of equisetum arvense. If we study this equisetum so that we attach less importance to the substances it consists of and more to the process which lives in it, then we arrive at the following. Because materialistically-oriented thinking has taken hold of everything today, it is customary to say of anything organic that it consists of so and so much protein, fats, and carbohydrates, etc. We look at what external chemistry has to say about the individual constituents of a substance and in this way we arrive at the so-called elements, although things have changed somewhat in this respect. But, that is not the important thing in what we are looking at here. What interests us with equisetum is that when we analyze it and separate its functions, silica is the main component in what is left over. That has to be in there so strongly that it predominates; that is, it should still assert its silica function in equisetum. One does not identify the substance itself in the analyzing process, but one discovers the significance which the substance has, and one has to know this.
Equisetum is a plant, so we do not find an astral body in it, but it has a physical body and an etheric body. When we study equisetum arvense we see that silica plays a special role in it, although, of course, there are other plants which contain silica. We also discover that certain sulfur salts or sulfates are important, and in the end we see that the most important components in equisetum which still assert their nature and essence are silica,—not the substance, but the silica function—and the sulfur function. And now we discover something very strange. If we are in the position of being able to perceive with spiritually developed forces the special kind of connection which sulfate salts have with silica, or SiO2, we discover that a process or a functional connection exists which we now bring into the human organism internally—although for other processes one does not need the oral route—through baths, or by injection. We will have to consider the significance of these individual methods later. We can bring equisetum into the human organism in a certain way, but it is better not to use equisetum itself, and this is the important thing about our preparation of remedies, because visible effects are there with the plant but they are not as lasting. If we study the functional connection between silica and sulfur and then try to imitate it in a preparation, then by translating what can be studied in equisetum into the more-or-less inorganic preparation, we can produce stronger effects on the human organism than the ones obtained when one uses the mere plant as a tea or the like. This is the important thing in the preparation of our remedies.
If I now bring the functional connection between sulfur and silica into the human organism in the right way, then simply through the particular quality of this functional connection the following occurs, namely, the human astral body in the kidney is relieved of a process which it has to carry out during the illness. If I bring the functioning of sulfur and silica in equisetum arvense into the kidney, I relieve it of doing what the human astral body otherwise has to do on the deformed kidney—using 'deformed' in the widest sense. I let the pathological process be carried out by something I have brought into the body."
A little later in the same lecture, he suggests that a similar preparation can be made on the model of pimpinella anisum: "In this way pathology and therapy, which otherwise stand completely apart from each other and which can only be brought together purely empirically, are transformed into an absolute unity. After one recognizes the nature of the pathological process, one turns to outer nature and finds that, for example, a particular kidney process is imitated in equisetum arvense; or if in certain forms of illness one discovers that the bile-secreting process in the liver is such that we can find this pathological form of the bile-secreting process in cichorium intybus, for example, then through the way in which cichorium intybus functions, we are in a position to relieve the astral body and the liver of what it otherwise has to do in the bile-secreting process. Thus, we make progress in healing in the sense that pathology really becomes the same thing as therapy. Thereby, therapy becomes a really rational science. If, for example, one knows about the wonderful connection which exists between iron and certain mucilage-components and the salts in pimpinella anisum, one realizes that there is something functioning in anise seeds which is identical with certain hyper-inflammatory pathological processes in the blood. We can relieve the blood of this pathological process if we use a preparation which imitates the connection between certain plant mucilage substances and the iron in anise. Then we not only liberate the astral body, but also the I-organization which is involved wherever blood diseases are present."
So much for R. Steiner's fundamental remarks about these new possibilities.
It would be easy here to object that it is useless to imitate the actual substances of a plant artificially since such a preparation will never be able to replace the effects of natural substances and their proportions. However, the preceding shows that R. Steiner was not interested in replacing the compositions of natural substances but in displacing the process of plant-substance formation into the inorganic realm with the aim of achieving stronger and longer-lasting effects.
We know that we appeal to the I-organization with the use of mineral, inorganic substances and to the astral organization with the use of plant substances, and to the etheric organization with the use of animal substances.
Therefore, if we succeed in imitating the mineral composition of the substances in a plant in a more or less mineral preparation, we have a possibility of bringing effects which otherwise only reach up to the astral organization up to the activity of the I-organization. These are the effects which R. Steiner called stronger and longer-lasting.
In this connection one should also remember that elsewhere R. Steiner points out that the use of mineral substances is something significant, and something which honors man in a way, since it places greater demands on the counter-forces which the human organization has to bring forth in order to process and assimilate the foreign mineral substances.
Through this way of looking at things, the concept of synthesis acquires a completely new content. Synthesis becomes rational again, since it does not just orient itself by the properties of dead substances, but it gets its guidelines from what goes on in the living plant.
It should be noted here that preparations like Scleron, Bidor and Kalium aceticum cum Stibio, among others, should definitely be looked upon as synthetic preparations. However, the guidelines for their preparation do not come from the plant world but are obtained from the human organization. Since the human being with his I-organization towers above the three nature kingdoms, and since he modifies these three kingdoms in himself with his I-organization, it must be possible for the human being to get diseases which have no equivalent in the three nature kingdoms. There must be diseases for which we can find no remedies in the kingdoms of nature. We have to prepare synthetic remedies for these from different substances in the nature kingdoms and get our guidelines for this from man himself.
As an example of these methods inaugurated by R. Steiner for the production of synthetic, mineral remedies based on plant models, we would like to describe our procedure with equisetum arvense.
Analogous preparations have been made for urtica dioica under the name of Solutio ferri comp., and for chamomilla e rad. under the name of Solutio sacchari comp.
Since 1940 we have been following up the suggestion of R. Steiner—mentioned at the beginning—to imitate the existing functional connection between silica and sulfate salts in equisetum in an inorganic preparation.
We first tried to find this functional connection between the two substances.
The deliberations and studies which led to an understanding of the functional connection, and at the same time gave the foundation for its experimental realization in an inorganic preparation, will be discussed in the following:
First of all, it was necessary to make a very exact analysis of the normal equisetum plant in order to acquire a real basis for gaining a correct picture. These analyses were not done by examining the ash but by systematically dismantling the plant materials. First, we extracted with ether and acetone, then with alcohol, and finally with water. We found that about half of all the plant's mineral substances go into solution in the aqueous extraction. These are almost entirely sulfate salts and also magnesium oxide and alumina as organic salts, and about 10% of the total silica as soluble, colloidal silica.
Only remnants of insoluble silica and traces of sulfates—which were obviously held fast by the silica—were found in the extracted residues after destruction of the organic substance by chemical means or by burning.
It was assumed that the soluble mineral substances which the analysis brought to light were connected with the plant's living streams of substance. These are the only ones which can be of importance in the preparation and use of equisetum, and also in its synthetic imitation.
The ratio of silica to sulfates is about 1:10. The sulfur occurs mainly as potassium, sodium, and calcium sulfates.
The discovery that part of the silica in the equisetum occurs as soluble, colloidal silica was an important clue for understanding the so-called functional connection.
Horsetail is a flowerless plant and the fructification process is restricted to completely separate spore-bearing stalks in the spring.
The plant is really nothing but stem in all of its parts, and as such it could keep on growing more sections all the way up to the sky, since there is no retarding flower impulse to hold back the purely vegetative growth.
So why is it that the little horsetail tree does not grow up into the heavens? It is because the flowering principle is present, but it slides completely into the plant-forming process without producing flowers.
It becomes manifest in two different ways, namely, in the plant's tendency to form stars, and in the formation of metal sulfates. Whereas the flowering impulse dipping into plants like cruciferae, mints, and umbelliferae forms sulfurous, ethereal oils, the horsetail condenses the sulfurial element into metal sulfate salts.
And the question is: how does the horsetail do this? For this, one has to look at its other important component: silica. The plant is completely encrusted with silica inside and out. If one carefully burns an equisetum plant to white ash, some of its parts retain their shape, and one can extract these parts with acid to remove the carbonates. And even after this, the original structure of the horsetail can still be clearly seen. This is a phenomenon which we usually only see in the carbon of other plants. Thus, unlike other plants, the horsetail's skeleton not only consists of carbon, but its shape is determined by insoluble, mineral silica deposits.
The soluble silica which we found through the analysis can be looked upon as a remnant of the silica stream which runs through the plant from top to bottom. Analyses revealed that this soluble silica is also combined with alkali in the living plant.
This stream of soluble silicates, which runs through the plant from bottom to top, continually runs into the sulfurous flowering process which dives down into the plant from above.
In the meeting of these two streams of substances, we have the living functional connection between silica and sulfate salts.
The sulfurous flowering impulse which takes hold of the plant from above is gradually condensed to the sulfate stage, and this breaks down the silicates which the plant absorbs from its root region. Sulfate salts form and become concentrated in the plant's stream of juices or deposit as gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate), and at the same time, free silica forms and is exuded and becomes an incrustation on the outside.
After the investigation of the medicinal, leafy form of the equisetum plant was complete, and we had an idea of how to make an imitation, we had an opportunity to also make an exact analysis of the spore-bearing, leafless, spring shoots.
The result of this analysis confirmed our deliberations about the functional connection between silica and sulfates in the standard equisetum medication.
We discovered that the total silica content of the spore-bearing stem is 0.5-0.7% lower than for the medication, whereas the content of soluble silica is three times as high as in the medication. The content of sulfate salts is 0.8-1.2% lower than in the leafy horsetail.
The vernal spore-bearing shoot has no star-shaped branches. It is a greenish-brown stalk which grows almost as fast as a mushroom, and it is encrusted with much less silica substance. It bears the spore capsules at its tip.
The sulfurous flowering process intervenes much less in the overall growing process. For this reason the silica stream, which is the supporter of the rapid growth of the spore-bearing shoot, is "salted out" much less than is the case for the leafy equisetum shoots.
The sulfurous flowering process exhausts itself in the spore formation and is not able to salt out the silica stream to the same extent. That is why the content of soluble silica is considerably higher and the sulfate content is lower in the horsetail's spore-bearing shoot.
The results of our investigations led to an experimental procedure which enabled us to introduce the intervention of the sulfur process in the silica stream, the salting-out process, and the formation of soluble silica and sulfates in a step-by-step manner so that one can speak of an imitation of organic processes in an inorganic process.
None of the usual trade-name chemicals were used in the manufacture of this and other synthetic preparations, but only raw materials which were either taken directly from nature or were modified by our own methods.
The result of the experiment is a solution which contains colloidally dissolved silica and the characteristic sulfates of horsetail in approximately the right natural proportions.
Through a very exact harmonization of the processes, and by carefully watching the neutralization points and temperatures, etc., it is possible to produce an equilibrium between sulfate salts and colloidal silica so that the former do not precipitate the latter.
The finished preparation shows a sensitivity to temperature which is reminiscent of the behavior of fresh plant juices, because heating it over 80°C. precipitates out all of the silica.
The preparation gained in this way bears the name Solutio siliceae comp.
As we already mentioned, other preparations of this kind have also been made, namely, Solutio ferri comp. (for urtica dioica) and Solutio sacchari comp. (for chamomile root).
Solutio siliceae comp. and Solutio ferri comp. have already been used in medicine for about ten years (in 1951), although they were not too well known during the war years and for some time thereafter.
My doctor friends have reported that the new preparations have proven to be successful in the direction of R. Steiner's indications, and they have a stronger and longer-lasting effect than plant preparations, and they also emphasized that there were distinct and positive psychological effects as well.
We would also like to mention that no ethanol was used in making the preparations, and that ampules for injection are completely free of alcohol, although dilute ethanol is used to preserve dilutions for oral use.
(Translated by Harold Jurgens from Mitteilungen der Weleda A.G., No.3, Sept 1951.)
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