Comparison Araliaceae and Anacardiaceae


[Vivienne Nov]

In November 2011 Frans Vermeulen and Dr Linda Johnston gave a free lecture over the internet as part of their promotion of their new book – PLANTS – Homeopathic and Medicinal Uses from a Botanical Family Perspective (4 volumes!)

They explained how, in the past 10-20 years, a new body of homeopathic information blossomed, with the work of Vithoulkas, Scholten, Sankaran, Massimo, and now, there has been a shift to incorporate the old masters’ body of knowledge with the new information. Frans emphasizes that we don’t have to choose one or the other. We can achieve a stronger homeopathy by combining both.

Frans gives a short and a long example of how we can combine the classic ideas with the modern ones.


Anacardiaceae: one clinical symptom of Anacardium has become a ‘key note’. Only found in “Hering’s Guiding symptoms”: “An angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder. It was never observed in a proving, but from one single clinical case”.

This symptom gives the idea that there’s a split in this family, and can be called angle / devil or black / white.

Frans then goes on to explore if there is any confirmation  or correlation on a physiological physical level of the family that would solidify this point as the central theme of the Anacardiaceae family.

Anacardiaceae plants have an oily resin that is hidden in the fruits and the leaves. It is milky white transparent, but when it oxidises with air, it becomes black. So one could say this is a translation of the angel-devil theme on a physiological level.

An unknown member of the family, called Comocladia, has been found by a botanist to be amongst the most dangerous of the Anacardiaceae. In Cuba, in the zombie cult, it is considered to be the most diabolical plant. It is said in

the culture that there is nothing better than to destroy, kill, demolish, finish off  the plant, as evil comes naturally to it, and no one dares touch it.

This follows the ideas that we have developed from other sources about the Anacardiaceae family.

The point is that with the knowledge we have, we try to develop a framework, and if that framework is correctly developed, it also fits the members we don’t yet know.

Frans and Linda show how we can do it with families we don’t know so well – for example, the Araliaceae family.

 It’s a small family, unknown in homeopathy, so how do we build up a framework of knowledge?

All families have a type, a member of the family that represents it in the best way. And we can draw certain conclusions from that type, regarding  the other members  that belong to the same family.

Our member as type of the Araliaceae is Ginseng, which has 500 symptoms in the repertory. It is hard to develop an idea based on so few symptoms.

Other members of the family are Hedera helix, Aralia racemosa and Schefflera hetrophylla.

We can draw conclusions about a species or a family from Materia Medica, or outside of material medica, from the biological properties, herbal uses, folklore etc.

What does the plant contain is a most important question.

Steroid compounds are found in all the members of the family and we want to know what they do.

In botanical herbal use of the members of the family, we find that they exert a strengthening effect, and raise the physical and mental capacity for work. These properties are defined with the term adaptogenic – and involve a non specific increase in resistance to the noxious effects of physical, chemical, biological and /or emotional stress. A less scientific term could be stress busters.

Herbs of this family are thought to help support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress, helping it to adapt to any situation that will alter its normal function.

The bottom line is that source language doesn’t only come from the material medica, but from the substance itself (we know this from Sankaran’s work!!) The material medica is just a filter of the nature of the substance through the

human mind and experience. A proving is just one way in which to find out about homeopathic substances. The experience of the substance can be application of the substance.


The chemical composition of Ginseng and the other members of the family are very similar; chemically the structure is the same, so the effect must be similar or the same. Ginseng is the largest member of the Araliaceae in the Materia Medica, so we can find information from Ginseng

Lembke, 19th century, Riga, from his proving of Ginseng: Mood quiet and contented plus good courage.

Is this a coincidental use of the word courage?

Can courage be combined in any way with what have learned so far about steroids and adrenals.

Phytochemicals of this family effect steroids.

The steroids in our bodies are 2 kinds: sex hormones and cortisone.

Cortisone has a very distinctive effect on the organism. It is a hormone that is released in the body when the body, mind and emotions are under stress.

Adrenalin is known for its flight or fright reaction – when somebody is suddenly startled, upset or put into danger, their adrenalin surges in the body and they are given strength, power and abilities to take care of the immediate life –

death situation, even if that ability is to have the strength to run away from the danger.

But the body cannot tolerate living on adrenaline, so what happens if that stressful, dangerous, harmful or upsetting situation is not just an immediate situation, but something long term, then adrenalin stops being produced and the body produces cortisol instead. So you can think of adrenalin for short term immediate danger, and cortisol is the hormone for long term continuous danger or stress.

Cortisol is produced and mediated via the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. This is a series of 3 organ systems.

Cortisol is great! If someone is under stress and he needs extra energy, an adrenalin like surge of power, energy and stamina, cortisol is the thing to have.

Unfortunately high cortisol levels on a long term basis extract an awful price – deterioration and break down of the body and an eventual collapse.

Cortisol draws energy from the body for certain circumstances, but unless those circumstances change, there will be a collapse. This collapse has been noted for many centuries. We call it chronic fatigue syndrome, burn out syndrome.

In the past it was called neurasthenia, a condition of extreme fatigue, chronic anxiety and debility. There may be lots of physical symptoms – headaches, depression, a condition of complete exhaustion of central nervous system reserves. These reserves have been exhausted by the perpetuation of high levels of cortisone.

In 1869 there was a case recorded where the symptoms were weakness, dizziness, fainting, anxiety and exhaustion. It was noted that the symptoms came from the stresses of living in the modern world and increase of competition in the business environment.

Today people are burned out, exhausted, chronically nervous and stressed, and will look for a ‘stress buster’.

There is no one family of remedies that will be the only similar family but the Araliaceae have that as its overriding primary theme.

Look in repertory and old material medica for neurasthenia after debilitation diseases.

If the framework is correct, we will find confirmation of the framework by looking in the material medica. Other members of the family will fit into the same framework.

            Hedera helix: proved by Mezger – constantly lives in a state of anxiety and worry.

The link to courage – from the levels of cortisone which is the long acting adrenaline like effect, giving people courage and stamina to face situations of danger or chronic stress and anxiety. Its not an accident that courage came out

in the proving.

There are links with phytochemicals, with the physiology, and herbal uses and other aspects of these remedies.

Courage, endurance, and facing stress, and conversely breaking down from having too many demands on a person. They are all intrinsic parts of the members of this family.

Another proving: nothing the matter with him, yet everything the matter with him, cannot sleep when he lies down, yet cannot keep awake when he stands up. Cannot concentrate, but still pitifully worried about his life.

Every irritant caused him to go off the handle.

Aralia racemosa: had certain effects on asthma,

I have been annoyed all day by a dread, fear, anxiety, that my wife is seriously diseased, I couldn’t shake off the fear. Living in a state of unnecessary anxiety, worry, that causes stress.


We work through the Materia Medica from an external angle, collecting material, drawing it together, with certain recognizable issues, then going back to the Materia Medical and try to make sense, because how can we discriminate?

There is a case in Reference Works IFH 1993 which highlights how the author prescribed the remedy Ginseng based on the patients courage in the face of tremendous pain.

            Oplopanax horridus: recently introduced by Lucie de Pierce. The proving brought about positiveness in 7 out of 9 provers, and increase of calmness, confidence, ability to work easily through situations which in the past

would have caused anxiety and irritability. An increased feeling of well being and ability to relax easily and relax others.


The same theme comes through!

The proving of ginseng in 1840: after 2 hours the feeling of weakness entirely disappears and gives place to an agreeable lightness and clearness of mind.

After the first day there was a peculiar lightness and vigour in the limbs despite much walking.

On the second day there was a peculiar pervading joyous vigour sensation especially of the upper limbs. There was a peculiar lightness and flexibility of the limbs in the morning despite a bad night.


Another aspect of this family which ties in with cortisol and courage (demanding high levels of cortisone)is the theme of aging.

Most people think of ginseng, as anti- aging, and they take it to stay young. To keep your mind young. And this is also a theme of the Araliaceae family.

But we need to differentiate between time aging, and deterioration because of disease. Aging is a feature inherent to all multicellular organisms.

 We need to establish the correct identity of the species we use. We don’t always know the correct identity of the remedies we use, for example, the spiders, and now, ginseng.


In summary, the main themes of the Araliaceae family are on the one hand – high stress, high activity, high cortisol levels (a high adrenaline kind of feeling), courage, strengthening effect (physical and mental), endurance,

high capacity for work, constant worry and  anxiety. On the other hand, quiet and contented mood; Deterioration and breakdown of the body (collapse), like chronic fatigue syndrome, burn out syndrome, debility, complete exhaustion.


Scholten, in his seminar in Israel in January 2011:

Desire to be strong, capable,  vital, want the feeling that they have a vital body. Strong energy to do a lot, courageous, careless, impatience, hurry, violent. Vitality is a strong issue.

They don’t want to be the weak one.

Kids hate to be small and weak.

Fear to loose vitality, energy and position.

Overactive, ADHD, like to run, to do sports, be busy.

< exertion once they have problems.



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