When God measures a man, He puts the tape around his heart instead of his head.
Selenicereus grandiflorus. Night-blooming Cereus. Queen of the Night. N.O. Cactaceae.
DISTRIBUTION Cacti are mainly New World plants. They are native to semideserts of the warmer parts of North, Central and South America, and are doubtfully native or early naturalized in Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. The genus Opuntia is naturalized in Australia, South Africa, and the Mediterranean. Several species of Opuntia are found in colder regions, i.e. in Patagonia and Canada. Various Cereus grow exposed to the icy winds of the Mexican Cordilleras. The typical habitat of cacti is arid regions with erratic rainfalls and long drought periods in between.
CLASSIFICATION The classification of this family is more than usually controversial. “The Cactaceae is of especial interest to botanists for its combination of a primitive, unspecialized flower with highly advanced vegetative organs; to the ecologist for its survival under adverse conditions and drought; and to the evolutionist for its parallel life-forms to other unrelated xerophytes, e.g. Stapelia, Euphorbia and Pachypodium. To the taxonomist it presents great problems, being apparently still in a state of active evolution, and resisting the standard herbarium procedure based on dried specimens. Under pressure from collectors and commercial growers large numbers of ‘genera’ and ‘species’ have been created, more nearly equivalent to subgenera and subspecies or varieties in other plant families. It is here considered to contain 87 genera, while others recognize over 300. “1 Cacti are easily confused with certain cactiform species in the family Didiereaceae – small family of four genera of columnar cactus-like plants, confined to semidesert areas in Madagascar – and with some Euphorbia species in the family Euphorbiaceae, the Spurge Family. Euphorbias – chiefly those of the tribe Euphorbieae – differ from cacti in having a milky white latex which is a powerful purgative and extremely irritant to the skin and mucous membranes.
FEATURES “Most cacti have spines, and the spines, branches and flowers arise from special sunken cushions or areoles which may be regarded as condensed lateral branches; these are either set singly on tubercles or serially along raised ribs. Tufts of short barbed hairs [glochids] may also be present in the areoles. The young green shoots undertake photosynthesis, but with age these become corky and in the arborescent species develop into a hard, woody, unarmed trunk as in conventional trees. The vascular system forms a hollow cylindrical reticulated skeleton and lacks true vessels. The roots are typically superficial and in the larger species widely spreading and adapted for rapid absorption near the soil surface. The flowers are solitary and sessile [Pereskia excepted], bisexual [with rare exceptions] and regular to oblique-limbed. Colour range is from red and purple through various shades of orange and yellow to white; blue is lacking.”2 Cacti vary considerably in size, ranging from tree Opuntias of 10 m tall to desert dwarfs such as Lophophora, and epiphytes perched on trees. Most cacti are succulents and are characterised by swollen stems which harbour water. The water-filled stems are frequently strengthened by means of tough ridges. Covered by a thickened epidermis, cacti contain a thick and mucilaginous sap. The entire structure of cacti is meant to check excessive evaporation, enabling them to survive in hot and arid places.
ECONOMICAL USES Cacti have few uses, apart from their wide use as garden and house ornamentals. The fleshy fruits of many are collected locally and eaten raw or made into jams or syrups. Opuntias [prickly pears or Indian figs] are grown commercially in Mexico and California for their large juicy fruits. Opuntias, in particular Opuntia ficus-indica, have become troublesome weeds in Australia, India, and North and South Africa. The juice of Opuntias is employed in the manufacture of candles. The large-flowered epicacti are grown primarily for their flowers. Epicacti are epiphytes, plants growing on other plants without being parasitic.
VITALITY Although cactuses grow slowly, their unparalleled vitality ensures that they survive in areas scorched by the merciless sun. So great is their vitality that it would take months or years for them to dry out completely. The lack of rain gives them very little time to reproduce by means of seed. Because of this, the seeds have a phenomenal germinative capacity. After all, they have to germinate in the short, fertile period [rain] at their disposal. It is quite a normal occurrence, therefore, for cactus seeds, waiting in the soil for a shower, to germinate in less than 24 hours. They make use of the first chance they get, and make the best use of the time they are given, as it were. In the cool of the night, they bloom unexpectedly and almost unnoticed. Neither is the blooming period a long drawn-out affair, because however striking the flowers may be, they only bloom for one night and then start to wither. The plant often does not bloom for years, so when it does occur, it is quite spectacular. The huge tubular flowers – usually red, and sometimes white or yellow – also emit a delicious odour. The juicy fruits then produced are a local treat. In this way, the cactus begins its existence as a spherical, moist plant and ends it in the same way as a juicy, round fruit. The plant’s enormous vitality is also evident from its ability to multiply from cuttings. Pieces that have been broken off grow into a full plant again. If they were not kept in check by ‘harmful insects’ they would overpower and control huge areas in the shortest time. They are virtually immune to fire and poison. The cactus exerts all its energy on the conquering of territory.
NAME The name Selenicereus derives from Gr. selene, the moon, in allusion to its nocturnal blooming, and L. cereus, waxy or wax taper, referring to the shape of some of the species of this cactus. The name cactus comes from Gr. kaktos, a name used by Theophrastus of Eresus [372-285 BC] for a prickly plant of South Europe – most probably Cynara, cardoon – but now applied as a general name for any plant of the family Cactaceae.
QUEEN OF THE NIGHT “Selenicereus grandiflorus is the Queen of the Night, a straggling Mexican climber which has little to commend it until it flowers. Then it deserves every complimentary epithet, for at dusk the great trumpet-shaped blooms expand, 30 cm long and 20 cm wide, white on the inside and yellow without, exuding a rich vanilla fragrance which can be discerned at some distance.”3 The blossoms commence expanding about 6 or 7 p.m. , and are fully blown about midnight. The flowers emit their fragrance only from the time when fully expanded. About 3 or 4 a.m. , however, they already have withered. When touched before opening, the blooms will not expand.
CONSTITUENTS Selenicereus grandiflorus contains alkaloids [including cactine], flavonoids [isorhamnetin], acrid resinous glycoside, fat, wax, and a pigment. Cactine’s cardiotonic effect is considered similar to that of cardiac glycosides. Alkaloids, triterpene saponins, betacyanin flower colours, and mucilage are widespread in the Cactaceae in general.
EFFECTS Application of Selenicereus grandiflorus to the skin causes pruritus, pustules, and excoriations. In Cuba, the juice of the stems is used as a vermifuge and as a vesicant. The spines of cacti are capable of inflicting mechanical injury. Comparatively common in the arid regions of the western United States is an eruptive disorder confined to the skin of the limbs, characterised by secondary infection and skin ulceration. The disorder results from spines of cactus plants breaking off under the skin. The inflammatory reactions are believed to be caused by contaminating fungal material. The Mexican Aztecs ritually impaled victims on the tops of spiny cacti. In Mexico Selenicereus was, at one time, a popular remedy for various diseases, including irritation of bladder and kidneys, intermittent fever, difficult breathing, and cough. In sufficiently large doses it acts as an intense irritant to the heart, resulting in hyperaesthesia, irritability, arrhythmia, spasms and neuralgia of the heart. “The tincture, in large doses, produces gastric irritation, and also affects the brain, causing confusion of mind, hallucination, and slight delirium. In excessive doses, a quickened pulse, constrictive headache, or constrictive sensation in the chest, cardiac pain with palpitation, vertigo, dimness of sight, over-sensitiveness to noises, and a disposition to be sad or to imagine evil, are among its many nervous manifestations. Melancholia often follows such action. It is generally conceded, however, that the mental, cerebral, gastric, and other effects are secondary to and dependent largely upon the primary effects of the drug upon the heart.”4
HALLUCINOGEN The finding that large doses of Selenicereus can cause slight delirium and hallucinations is in line with the estimation that 10 per cent of the species of cacti are hallucinogenic. The most well-known hallucinogenic cacti are Peyote [Anhalonium] and the San Pedro [Trichocereus pachanoi], both of which contain mescaline.
PROVINGS ••  Rubini – 2 provers, 1864; 10 drops of mother tincture, daily for 8 days.
Introduced into the medical profession by Scheele, of Germany, it was given little attention until Rubini, a homoeopathic physician of Naples, Italy, brought it in 1864 into especial notice as a remedy in heart diseases. [This cactus species grows in the south of Italy.] In a manner not stated, Rubini proved the remedy on himself and his wife by taking the drug for eight days. “My wife and I, when we saw that it acted so fearfully on the heart and circulating system as to produce weeping and fright, had not courage to push our experiments further and thereby endanger our lives. I trust that others, endowed with more courage and less timidity than we, may be able to complete and to correct the pathogenesis where I may have erroneously described the symptoms.”5 Various cured cases are included in Rubini’s report of the proving.
••  Hencke – self-experimentations; method: repeated doses of 5-15 drops of tincture, 1x dil., 3x dil., and 6x dil., over periods ranging from 2 to 14 days.
••  Lembke – self-experimentation; method: repeated doses of 5-30 drops of tincture, for 29 days.
••  Clark – self-experimentation, 1877; method: strong inhalation of recently prepared tincture, with long-lasting effects: ‘I was well in no part affected till 10 days had elapsed, and remained weak for several weeks, with frequent attacks of palpitation.’
••  Burt – self-experimentation; 100 to 600 drops of 3x dil.
••  Fitch – self-experimentation; 7 to 20 drop doses of tincture for some days.
Hering collected 16 cured cases.
[1-2] Heywood, Flowering Plants of the World.  Perry, Flowers of the World.  King’s American Dispensatory.  Rubini, Cactus grandiflorus; The American Homoeopathic Review, Febr. 1865.
HEART [muscle]. CIRCULATION. Head; right side. Chest. Circular muscles.
Worse: Lying [on left side; on occiput]. Periodically. Exertion; walking. 10-11 a.m. or 11 p.m. Disappointed love. Sun. Damp. Slight contact. Ascending stairs. After eating. Fasting.
Better: Open air. Pressure on vertex. Sitting. Rest.
M Taciturn – desire for solitude.
• “Profound hypochondriasis, is unwilling to speak a word.”
• “Continual taciturnity, he will not answer though repeatedly spoken to.”
• “Love of solitude, he always avoids those about him who try to comfort him.”
• “Sensation in the chest as if some one were pressing and holding it tightly, under the delusion that this was the case he cried out, ‘Leave me alone’.” [Rubini]
M Deliberate – impulsive.
• “Disposition to do deliberately whatever was undertaken.” [Allen]
• “Slow in making up mind to action, and deliberate in carrying it out.” [Hughes]
This symptom was recorded by Dr. John H. Fitch, who obviously was a ‘cactophile’ since he proved 4 species of cactus: Selenicereus, Cereus bonplandii, Cereus serpentinus, and Opuntia. The disposition to act ‘deliberately’, observed on the first day of the proving, seems to have been an attempt to combat ‘impulses bordering on the grotesque’, a symptom observed on that same first day.
• “We understand now that this type of person, who can act only according to his whims, feels suffocated by others and that this feeling found its way into the subconscious the sensation: ‘whole body feels as if caged, each wire being twisted tighter and tighter’. Whether this feeling is being felt locally or at all levels, it limits the action of the person, and he feels that his heart is like an imprisoned bird [sensation in heart like bird’s wings]. This feeling of imprisonment is aggravated by any contact, meaning it is aggravated by a threat from the outside. This refusal to face the external threat leads to the symptom ‘Passion at least contrariety’. In order to avoid these contrarieties, he ‘desires solitude, he avoids his entourage and those who want to comfort him’. It is a total refusal of dialogue, as seen in prover 1: ‘deep hypochondria, does not want to utter a word. Melancholia, for which he does not want to give a reason’. Hering says: ‘Unwilling to speak a word or to answer’. Looking at all these symptoms, one could imagine why such a state could produce autism.”1
c “This is also a good remedy for children who will not venture to do anything as long as someone is looking at them; they seem incapable of doing anything, but get up at night and are perfectly able to act as long as they are shielded from the gaze of others.” [Grandgeorge]
• “The fact that she gave up her work whenever she felt she was being observed could mean that she wanted to ‘create her flower hidden from sight: during the night’. Sangeeta used to give up her occupation whenever she was being observed and she only did what she had decided to do. She was not sure of her action and of her decision.”2
In another case – that of a young girl, suffering from a heart abnormality – there was also a great recovery on Cactus. The remedy was chosen on the same group of symptoms: “Does deliberately what she wants to do, otherwise feels like being in a cage; doubtful of progresses in life and feels life is ephemeral.”3
M Dreams of FALLING; wakes up startled and frightened.
G Hot here, cold there, on account of irregularity of circulation.
G Ailments from HUNGER.
[heart, chest, neck, body feels tight, bladder, rectum, vagina, uterus; often “brought on by slightest contact”].
CONTRACTION and CONGESTION.
G Constriction as of a BAND, belt, as if caged in wires.
• “Sensation of great constriction in the middle of the sternum, as if a hoop of iron constricted the part; this feeling produces oppression of the respiration, aggravated by motion.”
• Sensation of painful constriction in the lower part of the chest, as if a cord were tightly tied round the false ribs, with obstruction of the breathing.”
• “Sensation of constriction in the heart, as if an iron hand prevented its ordinary movements.” [Rubini]
G < Beginning of menses. G < 11 P.M. • “Pain in the uterus and its ligaments, recurring every evening, and increasing gradually till 11 p.m. , when it is worst; it then ceases until the following evening, for many successive days.” [Rubini] G > Continued MOTION.
G Vertigo from rush of blood to the head.
P Congestion to head and violent headache, as of a heavy weight on vertex.
< Every step [esp. during menopause]. P Pulsating pain [congestive] in temples. < RIGHT and at night. Or heat in head from mental exertion, esp. after drinking COFFEE. P Choking sensation [lump], cannot bear a tight collar around neck [Lach.]. • “Feeling of constriction of the throat which prevents free speech, and on forcing himself to speak, the voice is low and hoarse.” [Rubini] P Menses only during day, cease when lying. P Violent palpitation of heart. < Lying on left side. < Shortly before menses. P HEART feels CLUTCHED and RELEASED ALTERNATELY by an IRON hand. Or feels if expanding and contracting. Heart seems to turn over. P Angina pectoris. And Band-feeling around chest, wrists and ankles. [Vrijlandt] P Atherosclerosis. • “If the true meaning of the word tonic is understood as implying ‘a medicine which has the power of acting slowly and by insensible degrees’, then Cactus is pre-eminently a tonic. I wish to make it very clear, indeed, that Cactus is not a heart ‘whip’, in the ordinary sense; not a drug to use for a quick, decisive action; not a power you can summon to do instant work. Cactus must have time to act. Given time, it does not produce showy effects, but works slowly and smoothly. It is not often a thoroughbred, quarter-stretch sprinter, but a homely, reliable pack-mule, in a therapeutic sense. … There is one condition in which Cactus is king of all the cardiac remedies, so far as my experience up to present goes, and that is, where the heart is feeble and the vessels are atheromatous or in a state of arteriosclerosis. … If cardiac force be applied to the stiff arteries too rapidly, they may rupture, with all the dire consequences of haemorrhage – cerebral, most likely. Atheroma or arteriosclerosis is not a contra-indication for the administration of Cactus; in fact, it is a strong indication for its employment. I have given Cactus grandiflorus – in material doses, too – to people so old that their arteries were as stiff as pipe stems, the heart also participating in the senile change, for periods varying from six months to two years. The drug has been given continuously, and with benefit only. Cactus is pre-eminently the heart tonic of the atheromatous and the arteriosclerotic.”4 c Though Snader accomplished his successful cures by the daily administration of five-drop doses of the tincture over considerable periods of time, the relation with fatty deposits is interesting since dried Cereus species are used as candles or torches on account of their high contents of wax. P Swelling of the LEFT hand [Dig. swelling of the RIGHT hand]. [1-3] LucFayeton, I do what I want to do; HL 1/99.  Snader, A Contribution to the Study of the Clinical Uses of Cactus Grandiflorus as a Cardiac Medicine; Transactions of the Amer. Inst. of Homoeopathy, 1895. Repertory Mind Anger from contradiction . Anxiety on waking . Delusions he has an incurable disease ; he is dying ; body is smaller ; things grow smaller ; is caught in wires . Hurry, seems always behindhand [2*]. 1 Impulse to do strange things . Irresolution in projects . Reserved . Sensitive to noise of talking . Incoherent speech on waking . Weeping, causeless, without knowing why , < consolation , before menses . Vertigo Breathing deep < [2/1]. When turning in bed . Head Congestion from coffee , during menses , from mental exertion , from exposure to sun . Pain, comes and goes with the sun , > bending head backward , from exertion of body , from fasting, if hunger is not appeased at once , from noise, esp. voices ; vertex, from noise , > pressure .
Protrusion . Pulsation in eyes .
Colours, red circles before the eyes [1/1].
Epistaxis, with amenorrhoea , suppressed menses .
Choking, with cardiac pain , < clothing , compelling swallowing . Swallowing difficult, must drink in order to swallow ; impeded, must drink at every mouthful to wash down the food . Abdomen Constriction hypochondria as if by a bandage ; inguinal region extending around pelvis [2/1]. Rectum Weight and feeling as of a plug wedged between pubis and coccyx . Bladder Urination dribbling, involuntary, during menses . Female Constriction of vagina during coition [3/1], on touch [3/1]. Menses daytime only , cease while lying ; clotted , dark , too frequent ; only on motion . Respiration Difficult, > lying on back , > lying on back with shoulders elevated [3/1], during menses , during pain in heart , during palpitation .
Mammae sensitive to cold air [1/1]. Pain, > lying on back ; in heart > lying on back , before menses , during menses , extending to left hand . Palpitation, when holding breath , during deep inspiration , on beginning to move [1/1], > sitting up . Whirling sensation about heart .
Sleeplessness from palpitation , from pulsation in different parts of body [1/1].
* Kent erroneously included “always behindhand” under Mind, Slowness, always behindhand. The original proving symptom, provided by Lembke, clearly shows that it stems from hurry and restlessness. The feeling of being behindhand expresses loss of sense of time as a consequence of hurry. The proving symptom is recorded as follows: “Seems to have for some days a marked restlessness and hurry in what he does; seems always to come too late, never at right time, and the day seems not long enough for his work; at same time uneasiness and oppressed feeling in heart.”
Aversion: : Meat; milk.
Desire: : Milk.
Worse: : Coffee. : wine.