Plant remedies have certain particular sensitivities that are repetitive and aimed at the opposite. It is said that plants are sensitive and even though it is true, the statement is confusing. Everybody is sensitive to his own problem, no matter what kingdom he belongs to. And the emotionality of Level 3, for example grief and sadness, is often mistaken for sensitivity. Partially this is a language matter: we use the words feeling, sensing and experiencing for Levels 3, 4 and 5. The patient doesn’t know what we are looking for and it is better not to explain too much or patients who like to keep control, will influence the answer with their rational mind. This makes their answers worth less. When asked for the experience and the patient answers with: ‘I feel sad’, we know it is Level 3. We can prompt the patient to tell us more and most likely he will go into Level and give ideas, delusions or images: ‘it hurts in my heart, it’s like a wound there, as if somebody stabbed me with a knife’ etc. The leap to Level 5 is to ask directly for the experience: ‘to be hurt and stabbed in the heart, how is it for you?’. If the patient needs a plant remedy he’ll give a plant sensation: ‘it is like being burned to the third degree, like scalded, like your skin is raw, it is very, very painful’ (Ranunculacea).
If it were an animal remedy the sensation would be that somebody tried to kill me, wanted to finish me, hated me so much that he wanted to murder me to get rid of me etc. The aggressor would come into the foreground. In the plant kingdom the sensation of what it does, comes to the fore.
To know for sure whether we are dealing with a local sensation or a vital sensation, we have to wait during case taking for the same sensation to be repeated. If it doesn’t, it means it applies only to one situation, or one level or one complaint. Until the contrary is proven we can’t use it as a basis for the prescription.
For instance, a person has a stiff and painful joint and he can’t move freely. When questioned about this, he says he feels stuck. This is a sensation belonging to the Anacardiaceae, but it is also a quite common sensation with that kind of complaint. If the stuck feeling is not repeated anywhere in the case, it probably was a local sensation. In another example: a patient has a quarrel with her mother-in-law. She feels the mother-in-law doesn’t accept her, treats her like a stranger though she makes all possible effort to be recognized. Still she feels she’s not part of the family, she doesn’t belong, she is not wanted and is ultimately alone. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she needs a plant from the Lily family: a feeling of being excluded and forced out. If this same feeling is not repetitive in the patient, then it belongs to the situation, to the story and not to the vital disturbance. It can be a more or less realistic depiction of what is going on and the feelings might well be in proportion to her actual situation.
In order to be sure that the sensation is repetitive, it must come up spontaneously. This is why it is so important to ask very open questions and to follow the patient where he is taking us in the first part of the consultation. If we start to ask questions about a sensation too soon, we emphasize it before we even know if it is a vital sensation. The patient will get the impression that for some reason this is important, and we making a case instead of receiving a case.
To spot the repetitive sensation, the full attention of the homeopath is required. The patient may use different words for the same sensation. For instance the sensation of the Solanaceae is ‘catastrophe’. But there are many expressions of that one sensation: war, violence, explosions, fire, bombing, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, natural disaster, plain crash, and so on. The main idea is of a violent event with many deaths and the action the person wants to is to escape from the place of danger. Even when the patient doesn’t use the word catastrophe, we have to spot the idea of a calamity of this kind. It will be the underlying feeling or message in every story or example that he gives. On the other hand, when a patient does use the word catastrophe we cannot be sure that he needs a plant from the Solanacea family. First we have to ascertain for ourselves that it is not a common expression from the third level but a vital sensation from the fifth. And then we must listen carefully to discover whether the sensation is general and is repetitive.
The third aspect is the opposite of the sensation: again this must come spontaneously. Asking the patient who complains of feeling stuck what the opposite would feel like, is an ineffective question. The answer is too predictable and loses all impact. Sometimes the patient only gives you the opposite polarity since it is the compensation for the sensation. It is what the patient is aiming at in order to avoid his sensation. For instance the Umbellifereae sensation is that of a sudden and unexpected blow. The way to avoid this is to be prepared for everything, to expect the unexpected so to speak. Hence these patients will stand out because they stress over and over how well prepared they always are, in any situation. Then one starts to wonder who needs to have this condition fulfilled in order to ‘be OK’ and then we understand the sensation behind it. A patient needing a remedy from the Papaveraceae family is sensitive to unbearable pain and torture. Since they perceive in the world around them only cruelty and pain, they may spend their time and effort on spiritual practices to gain a sensation of calmness and bliss, the state of the Buddha. A patient needing a member from the Solanaceae family will probably describe fight or flight reactions or adrenaline and that he wants to sit near to an exit to be able to escape. Even if he doesn’t talk about the catastrophe he feels lurking in every corner, by describing the opposite we understand what it is that he wants to avoid.
Any sensation that a person has can show itself in different ways: the straightforward sensation, the way the patient ‘copes up’ with it or the compensation. The ‘coping up’ points to the conditions he needs to ‘be OK’. In reality everybody is OK. Wouldn’t it be a blasphemy to accuse our Creator of doing a sloppy job? Is it man who decides what is perfect and what is not? Is the eagle perfect and not the crow? Is the buttercup perfect but not the daisy? Are there perfect and imperfect beings? Such an idea is unimaginable except in a limited or distorted point of view. This is what we call disease. We can’t see the love and perfection in all creation but qualify things as good or bad according to our morals, philosophy or likes and dislikes. Because of that we feel there are conditions that need to be fulfilled in order to ‘be OK’, lovable, worth our existence and maybe to earn a place in heaven.
The general kingdom hint for plants is this specific sensitivity and an overall tendency to react to the environment. Plant patients are lively and alert, vivacious and easily touched and they react before they can think. They are quick, swift, attentive, and make connection with everything and everybody around them. They have an eye for the surroundings, for beauty and harmony, colors, smells, proportions, tissues, sounds, anything. This also means they can startle easily, get carried away by music, love to dance or watch dancers, be sensitive to perfume, get readily disturbed by messy things, feel in their bodies what is happening around them. For instance they listen to the evening news on TV and all the violence and the disasters give them the feeling of being fragile. Then they tell an anecdote in their life of a relationship that ended and they feel that this split in the family can never be mended. And their main complaint happens to be inflamed joints, which give them the feeling that they can fall easily and break something. The feeling in mind and body is the same: fragility (Conifers)
They can talk at length about their connection with animals or favorite pets, they love flowers or gardening, cooking, decorating, they have alert senses in general. Most of them will love to be in nature, enjoy landscapes, forests, trees, desert, mountains, and the seaside: the fresh air and the sun.
And not surprisingly, the majority have all kinds of modalities. This means they are easily affected/influenced by outer circumstances. Of course they react to other people as well, in close or more remote relationships. Everything that happens, that is said or done, makes a deep impression.
The consequence is that plant cases give an abundance of symptoms, a lot of modalities, sensations, anecdotes, stories and examples. Often when the homeopath can’t see the wood for the trees it’s because he is in the plant kingdom.
Because they have a vivid way of talking the plant case can be confused with animal remedies. But in plants it is rather a matter of stimulation of ideas, excitement or exhilaration; in the drug remedies this goes as far as euphoria. Because of their intense feelings they can use strong language, but again this is not an animal quality as such. A plant can have an intense fight with somebody and be enraged or full of hatred. They can be intensely jealous (Hyoscyamus for instance) or express forthright violence (Solanacea) but this is merely an emotional reaction to what they experience.
And in plant remedies the miasm determines how the patient is ‘coping up’ with his vital sensation. Let’s take the example of a patient belonging to the Cruciferae family: they feel the natural flow is stopped and dammed. The continuity is stopped by something in the way, the flow has come to a standstill. Depending on the miasm this can be experienced in different ways.