Botany for the Homeopath

It is important to recognize that our discipline was historically born out of botanical medicine;  in Hahnemann’s 1805 Fragmenta de Viribus, his first collection of “provings,”  24 of the 27 included remedies were of botanical origin; in his later Materia Medica Pura, 20 of 36 were derived from plants.  The “Old School” medicine out of which Hahnemann’s homeopathy emerged was largely reliant on the botanical medicines detailed in Dioscorides’  De Materia Medica, and many of the remedies later introduced by Hahnemann & colleagues entered our practice from the herbal medicine traditions of 18th century European alpine dairying cultures.  Hahnemann’s “Eureka” moment involved experimentation with Cinchona bark, borrowing on South American botanical medicine.  Even today, with the enormous proliferation of substances introduced into our materia medica, our remedies are dominated by the rich diversity of plants.

Botanical (Herbal ) medicine, and homeopathic medicine, tho often confused in the lay mind, in professional understanding are often seen to be distinct in principle & practice.  Yet Edwin Moses Hale suggested that ALL cures are homeopathic, whether intended to be so or not, and regardless of other explanations for their effectiveness.  As such, it warrants us to study the botanical medical traditions as potential roots for our practice as homeopaths.

Contemporary homeopathic teachings often derive descriptions of the medicinal properties of our remedies from natural history & from the classification of natural substances.  If we are to follow these teachings, or to evaluate their  potential applicability to practice, we need to first have a deep understanding of natural history, & of our approaches to botanical classification.


In this 5-week course, I’d like to look carefully into the nature of plants; the diversity of plant life, and the diversity of the plants introduced into our materia medica; the natural history of the plants from which we obtain remedies, our approaches to botanical classification, the known medicinally-active constituents of plants, and how all or any of this might inform our use of plants in homeopathic healing.  We’ll closely investigate the information we might obtain from the botanical/herbal medical traditions, and how this has & might continue to inform homeopathic practice, & v/v.  We’ll investigate contemporary teachings which rely on botanical classification (kingdoms & families) to predict & organize our understanding of the properties of remedies.

I anticipate that material will overflow this 5-week-long course, & will entertain a sequel to explore these issues further, if participant interest warrants.

Thursdays, September 19-October 17, 2019; 5-6/7pm US Pacific time [UTC-8]; I'll try to keep the sessions close to 1 hour, but in my enthusiasm for the topic will likely run over, so I'm blocking out 2 hours to be safe.


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