Pulsatilla Pulsatilla pratensis  200C
Pulsatilla pratensis

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
[Yousuf Karsh]
Pulsatilla pratensis. Anemone pratensis. Pulsatilla nigricans. Pasque Flower. Wind Flower. N.O. Ranunculaceae.
CLASSIFICATION Pulsatilla belongs to the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family. Comprising over 1800 species in about 50 genera, the family is centred in temperate and cold regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The plants are mostly herbs, rarely woody climbers, such as Clematis. The genera Anemone, Pulsatilla and Clematis do not produce nectar and are visited only for their pollen. In Anemone and Clematis insects are attracted by brightly coloured sepals. The Buttercup family is divided into two subfamilies: the Helleboroideae and the Ranunculoideae. The latter comprises three tribes, of which the Anemoneae contains the genera Pulsatilla, Anemone and Hepatica.
GENUS The genus Pulsatilla comprises some 30 species of clump-forming, often densely hairy, perennial herbs with pinnately or palmately divided leaves and large regular flowers that typically bear 6-petal-like sepals [that are hairy on the outside], a whorl of nectaries, and numerous stamens. Pulsatillas closely resemble Anemones and at one time were included under that genus.
SPECIES Pulsatilla pratensis [also known as Anemone pratensis] is the Pasque Flower, so called because it blooms in Europe around Easter time. It can be found in dry grassland in central and northern parts of Europe, preferring chalky soil. Pulsatilla pratensis is used interchangeably with Pulsatilla vulgaris, as is Pulsatilla patens var. nuttaliana. Pulsatilla pratensis and Pulsatilla vulgaris are very alike. Both grow in [alpine] meadows in cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere, hence both are named ‘meadow anemone’; both flower in early spring; both prefer a sandy habitat rich in calcium; both are found in open situations; both grow 15-30 cm high; both are clump-forming; both form a winter rosette; both are covered with silky hairs; the flowers of both have prominent centres full of golden stamens; in both the flowers are followed by fluffy seed heads; both are called ‘wind flower’ as well as ‘pasque flower’; both colour iron blue and Easter eggs green; both contain considerable amounts of protoanemonin; both are odourless and honeyless; both have an acrid taste; both are variable in colour, ranging from purple to white; in both old plants resent disturbance [transplanting]. The main difference lies in their flowers: those of P. pratensis are smaller, more bluish, nodding, and bell-shaped, whereas those of P. vulgaris are larger, more reddish purple, open, and erect. The nodding flowers of P. pratensis seldom open fully, but the flowering stalks straighten up when the seeds ripen to facilitate their [wind] dispersal. Conversely, the flowers of P. vulgaris close and fold over when evening approaches or rain threatens. This folded flower has been likened to a tiny tent. Legend has it that fairies use these tents for shelter from the elements. Jahr claims that P. pratensis differs from P. vulgaris in having a second flowering period in August or September, while P. vulgaris has not. This is a dubious criterion since most pulsatillas will flower for a second time if the weather conditions have been good.
NAME The common name was originally written ‘passeflower’ and was changed to ‘pasque’ by Gerard in 1597; it refers to the plant’s flowering around Passion Week [the week before Easter]. Traditionally the flowers opened at the command of the first mild breeze of spring. The name Pulsatilla comes from L pellere, to drive or to shake, in allusion to the fact that the flowers are easily moved by the wind. The flowers appear almost before any other vegetation has started, hence are devoid of shelter and thus the slightest wind will move the flowering heads. The Mesopotamians described the anemones as well as some other species in poetic manner as ‘silver sheen’ or ‘waving in the wind’. [Anemone comes from Gr anemos, wind.] Culpeper states that the flowers open only when the wind blows, but is quick to add that “Pliny is my author; if it be not so, blame him.” The North American Blackfeet Indians thought that the wind flower [in this case Anemone multifida] was “adapted for a windy place” and can be found “growing on hillsides where the wind strikes it.” The specific name pratensis means ‘of the meadows’.
MYTHOLOGY The Roman goddess of flowers and spring, Flora, was, according to Ovid, originally a nymph named Chloris who was loved by Zephyrus, the West Wind. At his kiss she was transformed into Flora, and breathed out flowers that spread over all the earth. When Zephyrus fell in love with the beautiful nymph Anemone, Flora became jealous and transformed Anemone into the wind flower. Abandoned by Zephyrus, she was left to the mercy of Boreas, god of the North Wind.
CONSTITUENTS Protoanemonin [converted into anemonin on drying], triterpenoid saponins, tannins, volatile oil. The volatile oil was formerly known as ‘pulsatilla camphor’ or ‘anemone camphor’. “The American Pasque Flower [A. patens var. wolfgangiam], formerly known as A. patens var. nuttaliana, was recognized as a source of the drug Pulsatilla. This plant is also designated as Pulsatilla hirsutissima. … Dioscorides revered A. nemerosa, A. stellata, and A. coronaria in the form of external plasters or baths for skin ulcers and inflamed eyes. Pliny advocated their use for toothache and swollen gums. The Chinese employed A. pulsatilla for ailments ranging from dysentery to madness. Many Anemone species have been studied in the laboratory, both for their chemical content and for the effects of their extracts in animals and in the test tube. They are all remarkably similar in their chemical and pharmacological properties, a majority of the effects being explained by the presence of a simple chemical compound known as protoanemonin, which is converted to the active substance anemonin. Anemonin is highly active against a large number of different disease-producing micro-organisms, has sedative powers, lowers blood pressure, stimulates the gallbladder, relaxes smooth muscle of the gut, allays pain, and in pure form will produce a vesicant [blistering] effect on the skin or mucous membranes. This latter effect has not been observed when sufficiently dilute water extracts of the Anemone species are used, because the anemonin itself is diluted. There is enough of this substance present, however, to slightly irritate the mucous membranes, giving rise to an expectorant, and perhaps a diuretic, effect as well.”1
FOLK MEDICINE Wind flowers were sown usually “in the gardens of the curious”, says Culpeper, and served various medicinal purposes. “The leaves provoke the terms mightily, being boiled, and the decoction drank. The body being bathed with the decoction of them, cures the leprosy. The leaves being stamped and the juice snuffed up in the nose, purges the head mightily; so does the root, being chewed in the mouth, for it procures much spitting, and brings away many watery and phlegmatic humours, and is therefore excellent for the lethargy. Being made into an ointment, and the eyelids anointed with it, it helps inflammations of the eyes. The same ointment is excellently good to cleanse malignant and corroding ulcers.”2 Although less commonly used now in herbal medicine, it is still considered a valuable remedy for cramping pain, menstrual problems and emotional distress. “It is considered a specific treatment for spasmodic pain of the reproductive system, both male and female, and is given quite frequently for pre-menstrual tension and period pain, esp. when these are accompanied by nervous exhaustion. In France, it has traditionally been used for treating coughs and as a sedative for sleep difficulties. Pasque flower is also used to treat eye problems such as cataracts. The fresh plant is not used because it is strongly irritant.”3
AMERICAN PULSATILLA Pulsatilla patens var. nuttaliana is the North American pulsatilla species, known under a multitude of Latin and common names. It flowers around Easter time – whence its name Pasque flower – and is common in the northern states and Canadian provinces. The pasque flower is the state flower of South Dakota. The Dakotas call the pasque flower ‘hokshi-chekpa wahcha’ [twin flower] because each plant usually has only two flowering stalks. The Lakota name, ‘hoksi cekpa’ [child’s navel], refers to the flower bud, which is similar in colour and form to a baby’s navel in the healing process. The Blackfeet know it as ‘napi’ [old man], because the greyish, silky seed-head resemble the heads of old men. The pasque flower was used as medicine by many Indian tribes. “Blackfeet women boiled the plant and drank the tea to speed delivery in childbirth. The Blackfeet also bound the crushed pasque flower leaves, which contain a vesicant, on some injuries as a counterirritant. An Omaha informant told ethnobotanist Melvin Gilmore that the crushed leaves of the pasque flower were applied externally as a counterirritant for rheumatism, neuralgia, and similar diseases.”4 Taken as a medicine, the pasque flower calms, soothes and heals the nerves. “The sensation is very similar to the feelings of childlikeness and youthfulness which are common in childhood. In the medicine wheel it is an herb of the south, of the newness and springtime of life, an herb of youth. ‘When an old Dakota first finds one of these flowers in the springtime it reminds him of his childhood, when he wandered over the prairie hills at play, as free from care and sorrow as the flowers and the birds. He sits down near the flower on the lap of Mother Earth, takes out his pipe and fills it with tobacco. Then he reverently holds the pipe toward the Earth, then toward the sky, then toward the north, the east, the south and the west. After this act of silent invocation he smokes. While he smokes he meditates upon the changing scenes of his lifetime, his joys, his sorrows. His hopes, his accomplishments, his disappointments, and the guidance which unseen powers have given him in bringing him thus far on the way, and he is encouraged to believe that he will be guided to the end. After finishing his pipe he rises and plucks the flower and carries it home to show his grandchildren, singing as he goes, The Song of the Twin Flower, which he learned as a child, and which he now in turn teaches his grandchildren.’ [Gilmore, Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region.].”5 Pulsatilla patens var. nuttaliana, along with the European species P. pratensis and P. vulgaris, was officially listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1882 to 1905, and in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1947. Hale has advocated the idea that these three pulsatillas are closely allied, if not synonymous, in their chemical composition and therapeutical effects. He concluded: “The American Pulsatilla will in time become an important remedy. I believe it will soon be almost universally used instead of the foreign species. In fact, I see no necessity for using the latter while the indigenous species grows in such abundance.”6
PROVINGS •• [1] Hahnemann – 6 provers; method: unknown.
•• [2] Lembke – self-experimentation; method: tincture in increasing doses.
•• [3] Robinson – 9 provers [8 females, 1 male]; method: 30th [4 provers], every night, every second morning, or every third morning [not stated for how long], 200th [4 provers], single dose, every third morning, or night and morning [not stated for how long], one prover “took every second morning, in order, the 1000th, 200th, 30th, and 12th.”
•• [4] Clover et al – 52 provers [31 females, 21 males], 1978; method: 3x. “The trial was planned to last for three months, with provers taking one tablet twice daily and recording the effects on the diary sheets given them. Each prover had a set of tablets labelled with their trial number and month 1, 2 or 3. It was a conventional double blind cross-over arrangement, except for the first month which was a placebo control run-in phase. Consequently in the second and third months provers were taking either medicated or plain sac lac tablets for a whole month. … Of the 52 volunteers, 30 returned diary sheets completed to some degree. Of these, 18 contained data recorded over the full 3 month period and were suitable for inclusion in the final evaluation of the adults. … Of the 6 systems with the highest symptom frequency ratings in the active month, all except one, the urinary and reproductive system, had even higher figures for one of the placebo months in the same symptom category. Hence we have again to admit that this trial failed to demonstrate specific effects attributable to Pulsatilla 3x. … Hence to modern statistically trained doctors the case for Pulsatilla 3x could be said to be unproved in this trial. … The results obtained in this trial are another indication that somatic effects are influenced, not only by physiological responses to medicines, but also by more subtle dynamics such as group pressure and individual responses to the circumstances in which a remedy is presented. We submit that the evidence of the trial response is one of the most important results of this study.”7
[1] Weiner, Weiner’s Herbal. [2] Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. [3] Chevalier, The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. [4] Kindscher, Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie. [5] Buhner, Sacred Plant Medicine. [6] Hale, New Remedies Vol. II. [7] A.M. Clover, S. Jenkins, A. Campbell, and M.D. Jenkins, Report on a proving of Pulsatilla 3x; BHJ, July 1980.
Worse: WARMTH [AIR; ROOM; clothes; BED; WARM FOOD; WARM DRINKS]. Getting feet wet. SUPPRESSIONS. EVENING. REST. BEGINNING MOTION. LYING; one side [left]; painless side; with head low. EATING [RICH FOOD; long after; FATS; ice cream; eggs; overloading stomach; PORK; fruits; pastry]. PUBERTY. PREGNANCY. Before menses. During menses. Iron. Quinine. Dangling feet. Violent emotions. Wet weather.
Better: COLD; FRESH, OPEN AIR. Uncovering. ERECT POSTURE. Gentle motion. After a good cry. Cold applications. Rubbing. Hard pressure. Lying with head high. COLD DRINKS; COLD FOOD.
Main symptoms
EMOTIONAL; TEARFUL [alternating with laughter].
• “The medicinal employment of pulsatilla will be all the more efficacious when, in affections for which this plant is suitable in respect to the corporeal symptom, there is at the same time in the patient a timid, lachrymose disposition, with a tendency to inward grief and silent peevishness, or at all events a mild and yielding disposition Especially when the patient in his normal state of health was good tempered and mild [or even frivolous and good-humouredly waggish]. It is therefore esp. adapted for slow, phlegmatic temperaments; on the other hand, it is but little suitable for persons who form their resolutions with rapidity, and are quick in their movements, even though they may appear to be good tempered.” [Hahnemann]
M YIELDING, submissive, can’t refuse anything.
Wants to PLEASE [e.g. by being fastidious].
Sympathetic, but gives to receive.
May have rigid, moralistic, [religious]-dogmatic ideas [in a deeper stage].
M Demanding.
• “In her dependence, however, she can place severe demands on the time, solicitude and emotional reserves of friends, relatives, and acquaintances. In family, amorous, and even friendly relationships, she seeks ever more support until, at length, others feel they are captives. At first they want to reach out in compassion, with a ‘Poor thing, let me help you’ impulse – which she allows. But with time this becomes burdensome. In her tender affection she entwines them in chains of velvet, but they are chains nonetheless, and those wishing to withdraw their support are beset by feelings of guilt. Pulsatilla’s need for support is so strong and real that others are reluctant to make her assume responsibility for herself, even though the protection she seeks is not necessarily in her best interest.” [Coulter]
M Can be manipulative to get attention.
Places responsibility on others.
• “Pulsatilla self-pity is seen in the touchiness of adolescents who are offended when someone looks at them the wrong way and imagine that others are talking or laughing at them behind their backs; also in the young girl who, seeking to arouse sympathy in the listener, weeps while recounting the problems of her social life: that she has no friends and that nobody likes her. … … At times her very voice connotes self-pity. The sweet and slightly imploring, ‘Will you help me? – I do so need support’ announces this constitutional type even over the telephone. Once recognized, this special pleading or plaintive, even beseeching, inflection is hard to miss. … A subliminal self-pity may emerge in subsequent visits to the physician; in an unconscious manner to hang onto her illness Pulsatilla eagerly describes what is still amiss. Characteristically these patients first tell their little aches and pains to evoke the physician’s sympathy; only at the end of the interview do they describe their overall improvement. Some will even reiterate at length how poorly they felt prior to the prescription, instead of focussing on how much better they feel now.” [Coulter]
• “For Pulsatilla, Mother is the sole point of reference. The umbilical cord has never been truly severed, and if Mother is not there, the child finds a substitute [a teddy bear, thumb-sucking, a favourite blanket, etc.].” [Grandgeorge]
G Changeable, shifting symptoms.
• “They change in an erratic fashion that may baffle the beginner in homoeopathic prescribing. The patient may be mild and pleasant one minute, peevish and tearful the next; for a while cheerful and apparently quite well, only to begin weeping copiously because she feels so miserable. No two stools are alike; one evacuation may be greenish-yellow and slimy, the next of pure white mucus, again a soft stool mixed with mucus or looking like stirred eggs. Chills run up the back, are confined to one side of the body or constantly change location; heat and chill are mixed or occur simultaneously; pains constantly change location. Inflammation, pain and swelling suddenly cease in one joint, only to appear in another. When this symptom is observed in a case of arthritis, there are few other remedies to select from.”1
G Chilly, yet absolutely INTOLERANT of any form of HEAT.
CHILLINESS during PAINS [yet aversion to heat].
• “Chilliness, ordinarily a common symptom, becomes highly characteristic of Pulsatilla by reason of its constant association with other Pulsatilla complaints and the modalities affecting it. Chilliness with pains in any part of the body, increasing with the severity of the pains; chilliness from emotional excitement; external chilliness and internal heat with diarrhoea after fright; anxiety with shivering, chattering of the teeth and hot flushes; inward chilliness in a warm room, or when warmly clad, passing off in the open air.”2
G FATS and rich food, particularly meat fat, pork [aversion + <]. May either love or hate butter [cold fat]. DIGESTIVE problems. < Eating to SATIETY. G NO THIRST. G > OPEN AIR.
Craving for open air [wants windows and doors open].
> Walking slowly.
G < At beginning of motion. > Continued motion.
G Pains DISAPPEAR GRADUALLY – after sudden or gradual appearance.
G Fulness of VEINS.
Varicose veins.
G Never well since puberty.
• “Puberty is the first stage of true psychological emancipation from the family, which Pulsatilla does not seek. She trusts her omniscient parents and does not fight against them to assert her independence. In her resistance to maturation, she acquires a host of unexplained little aches and pains: last week in the knee, yesterday in the head, today in the chest, tomorrow in the abdomen. In this way she remains reliant on her parents’ support, at times even developing into something of a malingerer. Many of her later legitimate ailments, such as chronic headaches, bladder infections, allergies or painful menses, can be traced to a preadolescent or early adolescent period of inception.” [Coulter]
P Chronic nasal catarrh.
Discharge thick yellow, greenish, offensive.
< Warm room. > Open air.
Obstruction of nose at night.
[1-2] Harvey Farrington, Pulsatilla nigricans [Pulsatilla pratensis]; Hom. Recorder, 2nd quarter 1934.
Ailments from jealousy [3]. Anxiety, hypochondriacal, mania to read medical books [2], > walking in open air [3]. Religious aversion to men in women [2], to women in men [2]. Colours, desire for blue [1*], aversion to orange [1]. Delusions, she is always alone [3], alone, she did not belong to anyone [1/1], she is not appreciated [1], he will be taken by the devil [2], has neglected his duty [1], surrounded by strangers [2]. Fear, in evening at twilight [3], to get talked about [1], of being humiliated [1], of being neglected [1], of opinion of others [1]. Haughty, wounded self-esteem, wishes to be flattered [1].
Objects seem to be far off [3]. When walking rapidly [2].
Dim, in evening, when walking fast [3/1], in evening, when warm from exertion [3/1], at night, during menses [2/1], from exertion of body [3; Calc.]. Lost, during menses [3].
Odours, of old catarrh [2], of tobacco [1]. Sneezing, during sleep [1], in warm room [3].
Discolouration, bluish before menses [2/1]; pale after menses [1].
Pain, at beginning and end of menses [2/1], > sour things [1/1].
Choking before menses [1/1].
Nausea, after warm drinks [3], after ice cream [3], < motion of eyes [1], on going into a warm room from open air [2]. Rectum Diarrhoea, after onions [2], after opium [3], after being overheated [3], after pastry [3], after pork [2], after rhubarb [1], from tobacco [1]. Bladder Urging when lying on back [2; Prun.]. Involuntary urination from sudden noise [1]. Chest Fulness, heart region, during menses [2/1]. Palpitation > walking slowly [2].
Coldness, as if cold water were poured down the back [3]. Constriction, lumbar region, as from a tight band [3]. Pain, > gentle motion [3].
Sleeplessness, from having always the same thought [3].
Black animals [2]. Anxious, when lying on left side [2]. Naked men [2].
Eating to satiety < [3]. Stretching before menses [3/1].
* Repertory addition [Grandgeorge].
Aversion: [3]:Butter; eggs; fruit; meat; warm drinks; warm food. [2]: Bread; drinks; everything; milk; oil; pork; tobacco; water. [1]: Beer; brown bread; hot drinks; milk, in morning; salt; sweets; turnips.
Desire: [3]: Cold food. [2]: Alcohol; beer; bread; eggs; eggs, soft-boiled; herring; peanut butter; refreshing; sour; sweets; tea; tonics. [1]: Brandy; bread; butter; cheese; chocolate; cider; coffee; cold drinks; fruit; ice cream; juicy things; lemonade; lemons; melons; potatoes; pungent; smoked food; spicy; whisky; wine.
Worse: [3]: Bread; bread and butter; buckwheat; butter; fat; frozen food; pancakes; pastry; pork; rich food; warm food; tobacco. [2]: Black bread; cabbage; chocolate; coffee; cold food; dry food; fish, spoiled; heavy food; hot food; meat; meat, spoiled; milk; onions; oysters; potatoes; raw food; salad; sauerkraut; sweets; turnips. [1]: Apples; beans and peas; beer; buttermilk; cold drinks; flatulent food; lemons; melons; pears; plums; rhubarb; tea; wine.
Better: [2]: Cold drinks; vinegar. [1]: Hot food.

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