Structuralism and the Plant Kingdom

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Frodsham (Chester), Cheshire, United Kingdom
Interests: Philosophy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Buddhism, Psychosynthesis, Hypnotherapy and R.E.B.T.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Stage 7 - the control freaks

Rhenium :: Gold Series : Stage 7 (Scholten theme – teamwork).


Stage 7 people are often described in the Homeopathic literature as control freaks - totally unable to delegate. They do this because they feel the need to keep their eye on the ball all the time - in case something goes wrong. They are not quite sure of themselves. Sometimes they hesitate if the challenge looms too large.

Rhenium, in the Gold Series, does have power, bags of it, they will take on all sorts of challenges, but sometimes  they just don’t have quite enough to get over the obstruction. Its not quite enough to feel totally comfortable and confident... so they are glad of a helping hand. A bit of cooperation is needed!

They can get into a failed state if there’s no one there to push them forward.  They become 'worriers'!

Is this the case?

First Proving impressions- Rhenium

I’v been in an unwanted Osmium crisis situation recently:

Day One -
As far as sensations go I’d describe Rhenium as primordial fire (P) + ether (V). Absolutely electric.

Rhenium gave a feeling of being able to share responsibility and delegate; being more able to ask to help, its not all down to me. I dont have to ’carry’ anyone. Others seem lees insignificant, their opinions more mature. I dont have to take responsibility for *Everything*. What a relief!
- Much less lonely; I can share feelings and worries that I have been stewing over. I’m becoming more open, trusting & loving!
I can just be me. I don’t have to be the Boss. ’
Just … let it be.
R E L A X !

Day Two -
I just got used to this relaxed feeling and enjoyed the weekend… The set of worries arising from that stressful crisis have just dissolved. It’s just hitory now. Its like the remedy dissolved one single big knot of stress that nothing else could untie – not even daily meditation.
The remedy just affected one part of my brain – more precisely than a laser. So that’s Stage 7 of the Gold Series in a nutshell – Rhenium: ’stress and worry arising from a crisis’.
Just to clarify, Rhenium didn’t make me want to take on the stress to Stage 8 – I don’t want to jump up and join an intensive care crash team. For me the familiar feeling of good old Stage 7 is just fine.

Other Stage 7 remedies

  Some of these themes are found in Promethium (Stage 7, Lanthanides). Here the emphasis is on inner resourcefulness and freedom. They feel quite strong so there is an element of exploration and testing: Scholten, ”They just want to be free in all kinds of situations”.
They want others to be strong too, so they combine cooperation with their own feeling of autonomy. An outer crisis where great responsibility is required can knock them into Stage 7 of the Gold Series. If the crisis is related to creativity the Stg 7 remedy from the Silver Series may be required – Technetium.

 Once you find a persons ’Home Stage’ (i.e. column of the Periodic TI able) you can help them through the different challenges of life found in the ’rows’ of the P. T.
Is there a ”Home Row’ of the P.T. for each of us? If so, it would depend on our habitual focus … If work is all that matters we are naturally focused on The Ferrum Series.

Stage 7 or the Ferrum series is magnesium (Maganum). The following rubrics show their concerns:
- Anxiety as if something bad is going to happen;
- Dreams of misfortune; Fear of misfortune;
- Cautious; Dreams bad luck

The ’Stage’ describes our level of comfort with stress, our comfort zone… its an equilibrium between our inner strengths and resources and the external opposing obstructions we encounter to our goals – from start to finish. We don’t always finish … our inner resources become exhausted, or are simply inadequate, and we can go no further.

An example from Footy Culture … Roy Hedgehog has landed the job of England Manager. How will he cope? He’s OK as long as popular opinion is behind him … without it he crumbles. So its Stage 7 for Roy.
Compare with Steve Keane (Blackburn Rovers) … the fans wanted him out – but he battled on to the bitter end without showing any signs of collapse … so Stage 8 for Steve?
What about King Kenny? Well, he’s done it all before, accepts victory or defeat with equanimity and good humor. He’s my Stage 10!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Homeopathy vs. Ayurveda

Homeopathic Remedies in relation to the three Doshas of Ayurveda, 

Does anyone remember the English Homeopath and Teacher, John Damonte?

He developed a fairly sophisticated 4-Element Map to highlight patterns in the imbalances he observed in patients. Misha Norland, another famous English Homeopath took this further in his book ”The Four Elements in Homeopathy”.

I would like to introduce some of the more obvious and easily identified ’elemental’ characteristics of one or two substances found in the Periodic Table and then move on to describe how they are used in Ayurvdea.

So, following in the footsteps of John Damonte and Misha Norland lets see if we can identify some of the elemental characteristics of Aurum Met.  Look at the list of  rubrics ... does anything there intuitively suggest the dominance of any particular element?  Aurum prides himself on his sense of responsibility so what about the rubric, 'anger from contradiction'?  Getting 'Hot under the collar' is an expression that brings to mind the fiery nature of anger.   So Aurum definitely has plenty of 'fire'!

On the opposite pole, Aurum can feel crushed and useless, he has failed and life is no longer worth living. Where has all his fire gone now?   Making an intuitive leap we could say his fire has been 'put out' ... which suggests the water element has some role in the picture of Aurum's pathology. We do naturally associate the water element with emotions sometimes, especially with grief ... when we cry we 'melt into tears'.

So, fire and water play a part in Aurum pathology.  Does the air element?   We often associate the air element with thoughts - cold reason and subtle discrimination, both could be said to have cutting associations - cutting, like a cold wind.  Aurum is full of self-reproach - which is virtually an act of cutting oneself.

So the three main elements are out of balance in the Aurum patient.  These are counteracted by the remedy if its is given in the right potency because these elements are present in the remedy in similar proportions.

What a fascinating way to describe the characteristics and action of a Homeopathic Remedy! 

The proving symptoms of Tungsten (below) show how changes the balance of the doshas due to the remedy affect the mood and perception of the provers. This study provides a remarkable insight into the proving experience.

Doshas rebalanced by Tungsten

The language they use gives us an exceptionally clear idea of how each dosha influences perception of the situation.

Pitta decreases markedly, and as Vata increases there's a feeling of detachment or spaciness, which is a very typical vata expression.

Dreamy calmness is typical of Kapha increase.

 Historically, these elemental concepts gave rise to the historical idea of 'Hippocratic Temperaments'.  Similar use is made of the element concept in Acupuncture and Ayurveda.  Each system has its own inner coherence and beauty - and we can learn from them all, but a sometimes a little confusion can arise when making cross-cultural comparisons.

In Ayurveda, the Choleric temperament is traditionally associated with heat and the fire element (Pitta dosha).  The Phlegmatic temperament is associated with moisture and water (Kapha dosha). The Melancholc temperament is associated with air and space (Vata dosha).

These elements can be mixed together in various ways, according to different schools of thought - in Ayurveda the fourth traditional element, earth, is not studied alone - it only found mixed together with water to enhance the description of Kapha... to give the muddy and sticky image of the mucous produced in Kali-bi conditions!
Doshas after proving - Kapha (phlegmatic type sx).

Do these correspondences conform to our expectations?  Vata is characterised by air qualities such as worry, fear and coldness.  Are these experiences confined to the naturally occurring gaseous elements like Oxygen, Nitrogen?  Does Pitta manifest in the hot elements? Kapha in cold, static elements?

The table below shows some of the main characteristics of the three Doshas with examples of remedies which markedly exhibit these attributes.

rLung, (Vata) the wind element is an aspect of the breath and it is closely associated with the nervous system. Normally, vata produces enthusiasm and creativity.
Its balance is easiliy disturbed by desire and attachment. Concern with external factors, like the wind disturbing the treetops, produce excessive mental activity, which manifests itself as troubled, erratic thinking, capricious moods, excited loquacity and active dreams. This kind of stress, causes hurried, impatient, busy and often obsessional minds. As a result of being a bit impulsive and scatter-brained their finances can end up in a mess.

Elemental Properties and Modalities :
Light, mobile and quick. Coarse, rough, hard and piercing. These sensations are exemplified by the pains of arthritis. Its roughness can be seen in the hair and fingernails. It is dry and absorbant like the spongy tissues of the lungs.

We can easily find many examples of rLung symptoms which reflect these properties in the repertory and produce an analysis which gives a list the remedies of this type, (square brackets indicate B. Bhattacharya's analysis of each one).
  • Mind; activity; general; hyper active. impatience: impulsive.
  • Generalities; coldness:
hyos [V5,P5] stram [V5,K5] ign [V5,P5] bell [V5,K5] camph [V5,K5,P5] staph [V5,k5] op [V5,P5] arn [V5,K5] anac [V5,P5] bry [V5,K5]

Minerals ...
  • Busy, restless - chaotic. Impulsive.
  • Loquacity. Mind & Speech abrupt.
  • Plans - many. Thoughts rapid.
  • Cold agg. 
  • Stool, watery.
  • Taste, astringent.
       Repertorisation -> Ars. phos, sulph, aur, bar-c, arg-nit, caust, cupr, calc, nat-m, iod.

Tripa, (Pitta) inner heat, is associated with the endochrine system. It normally gives clarity, determination and courage. When over-stimulated it manifests as competitiveness, then other people are percieved as being in the wrong, and we often feel that we are under attack. The result is dictatorial egotism, irritability and anger. When anger is out of control it becomes hatred and violence, which are often reflected in destructive dreams of battles and fighting.

Elemental Properties and Modalities :
Hot and dry. Light and quick. It is sharp, acidic, pungent and purging. Boils, ulcers and acid indigestion are typical Tripa complaints.

  • Mind; anger irascibility: capriciousness:
  • Generalities; blood; circulation of; accelerated: heat; flushes of
nux-v [P5,K5] cham [V5,P5] coff [P5] croc [V5,P5,K5] ran-b [P5] Ip [P5] verat [P5] cocc [P5] chin [P5] lil-t [P5]

Minerals ...
  • Quarrelsome. Anger.
  • Thirst.
  • Skin - burning or cracked.
  • Stool, hard.
  • Taste, bitter.
       Repertorisation -> Carb-an, sulph, hep, merc, sil, ars, nat-m, nit-ac, petr, phos, caust.

Badkan (Kapha) is associated with fluids, especially with the blood, and it also mixes with the earth element. Its softness and smoothness give tolerance and love. Its heaviness helps us to relax, so sleep is usually deep and there can be romantic dreams.
When it is stimulated by delusions, its heavy nature gives rise to physical and emotional sluggishness, apathy and dullness. This may produce a rather boring and monotonous voice.
Opinions and relationships are formed cautiously. Opinions are then held doggedly, which gives rise to ignorance and can result in a lack of consideration for others[6]. In financial dealings, their cautious investments can amount to miserliness, and this greed itself produces a tendency to envy.

Elemental Properties and Modalities :
The water element in the body is cool, soft, oily, sticky and slow, like mucous. Earth is dry, heavy, solid and slow, like bone. Poor circulation and congestion are typical complaints.

  • Mind; dullness sluggishness difficulty thinking and comprehending
  • Generalities; lassitude: Sleep; rise; aversion to.
puls [V5,P5] bry [V5,K5] con [V5,K5] cycl [K5] dulc [V5,K5] arn [V5,K5] dig [K5] drosera [K5]

  •  Ideas, deficiency of; Slowness.
  •  Bed - remains in.
  •  Thirstless.
  •  Stool - white.
  • Taste, sweet.
      Repertorisation ->   Merc, phos, sulph, arg-n, plb, calc, phos-ac, bar-c, graph

Do these proposed correspondences conform to the expectations arising from our knowledge of the Periodic Table and of the corresponding remedies? Even though the three symptom repertorisations above take only a small number of generalised complaints the results are interesting.  The more characterisitic symptoms we add the clearer the differences between the three temperaments becomes.

 Vata is characterised by 'air 'qualities such as worry, fear and coldness.  Are these experiences confined to the naturally occurring gaseous elements like Oxygen, Nitrogen? The remedies suggested certainly do worry and suffer anxiety.

Does Pitta manifest in the hot elements? Think of the burning symptoms of Hepar Sulp. Are kapha  traits found in the heavy, cold and  static elements? This is certainly true of the Calcs. Baryta carb is another heavy, slow remedy.  Phos-ac suffers exhaustion badly.

 Comment: Were the best rubrics selected to represent each Dosha? 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Rasa (taste) and Virya (energy)

Rasa and Virya

The interaction of the elements with the Doshas

The Rasa (taste) and Virya (energy) of a substance or food (food is regarded as medicine in Ayurveda) can be used to predict what effects it will have on the doshas using the principle of 'like increases like'.  Kapha, which is cold, heavy and dull is increased in winter, and Pitta, which is hot, mobile and sharp, increases in summer. Vata, which is dry, light and cold also increases in autumn as the cold winds begin to blow.

 Kapha, which is basically mucous, is a mixture of the earth and water elements, has the properties of fluidity and density.   If we add a dense, sticky substance to a site of Kapha aggravation the site will become even denser and eventually blocked.  Knowing this we should try to reduce the Kapha aggravation by prescribing a substance with the opposite qualities, i.e. dry, light,  and hot. The light and hot qualities can liquify heavy, fatty obstructions. The drying quality can reduce the stickiness, or oiliness of the obstruction. These particular qualities are found in pungent foods and herbs.   

An imbalance in the doshas can be corrected quite easily by paying attention the aggravating factors. When the doshas first become unbalanced the endoderm is affected quite quickly, first giving rise to quantitative psoric changes. If the prodromal psoric symptoms are ignored the aggravation grows and spreads until eventually sycotic symptoms arise in the ectoderm.  When the inbalance is severe enough, and prolonged enough, the deeper tissues of the mesoderm are structurally affected giving rise to more sycotic and even syphilitic changes. 

It is important to recognise the early signs of disease and do something about it!  A change in dietry habits, especially an informed and thereby increased sensitivity to the bodies own promptings and cravings for different tastes may be sufficient. In most cases (i.e. other than addictions) your cravings are telling you what to do.  This is why food cravings are given such emphasis in Homeopathy.

The attributes associated with Rasa and Virya are so important that the original Sanskrit name, Gunas, is still used today to describe their interaction with the three doshas.  An assessment of these Gunas, or attributes, is starting point for the  determination of potential  interaction of any substance with the Doshas.

The listing of the twenty opposing Gunas  below shows their Doshic affinity in brackets.  The doshic affinites are highlighted in the illustratation on the right.

The Gunas and their relationships with the Doshas.
Heavy (K)   <->  Light (P)
Cold (V) 
<->  Hot (P)
Static (K) 
<->  Mobile (V)
Soft (K) 
<->  Hard
Oily (P) 
<->  Dry (V)
Transparent (V)
<->  Cloudy (K)
Dull (K ) 
<->  Sharp (P)
Smooth (K) 
<->  Rough (V)
Gross (K) 
<->  Subtle  (V)
Dense (K)  <->  Liquid (P)

Gunas,  can simply be regarded as elemental forces - heating, cooling, heavy, light and so on.    Consider, the description of Kapha  - at the start of the article,  a warming influence on cool, sticky Kapha secretions induces expansion and  softening, hence a static, sticky clump becomes more dynamic and liquid.

Tissues can withstand quite a lot of abuse before collapsing.  Long before that any  imbalances in the Doshas will make themselves known.

Once the insulting influence is removed and Doshas rebalanced the tissues will normally begin to heal.  The figure, right, shows how a substance (e.g. food or herb) high in Pitta and Vata qualities might affect the sticky Kapha obstruction already described.

As one gradually becomes more familiar with Ayurveda one starts looking at available foods in a different way.  The biochemical approach to nutrition, that of studying proteins, carbs, vits and so on begins to seem rather mechanical.   One begins to use observation and gradually develop a deeper appreciation of how these qualities affect us our body. We can gradually become sensitive to what our body is asking for - instead of mechanically applying some formulaic dietary plan.

In principle, astringent substances, which are  drying, cooling and heavy will reduce  Kapha in certain conditions.
- In a condition of excess Kapha, such as a runny nose, the drying energy reduces the excess liquid. Astringency, having an earthy component makes Kapha heavier and denser.  Following this line of thiking an pungent substance (e.g. garlic), wich is light, drying and warming would  benefit a cold where there is heavy congestion more than an astringent substance (e.g. rhubarb).

Similarly the cooling energy will reduce pitta and tend to make kapha molecules move slowly, become sticky and even solidify.   

We have to consider all three Doshas when selecting a therapeutic food or a herb. Pitta dosha, the fire of combustion and chemical energy in the body, is increased by substances with warming energy, especially by the pungent taste, which is light, drying and warming.  At the same time  warming energy makes kapha more mobile.  The consequence of increasing Pitta is that excess Kapha will be burned off.

Vata, which is by nature quick, dry and cold, is increased by the dry quality of pungent substances and decreased by the heat.

The elemental qualities of the Six main Tastes

Taste  is imparted by the sap of the plant - its essence. The dominant elements affect the taste, e.g. Sweet is a mixture of Earth + Water. Sweet taste has a warming energy.

Salty taste is a mixture of Fire + Water. It has a warming energy (think of hot water), which increases Pitta.  The water element makes salty tasting substances quite heavy.  This tends to increase Kapha.

Astringency has drying (air) and heavy (earth) properties. The drying property reduces kapha (earth/water). Since astringent herbs have a cooling effect they tend to reduce pitta (fire). 

The bitter taste has drying, light rasas and cooling virya.  The rasas increase vata and reduce kapha, whilst the cooling virya decreases pitta.

So - its possible to re-classify the plant remedies according to Rasa/Virya. There's no conflict with Misha's circular Mappa Mundi system of elemental correspondancies. The two layouts, one circular and the other vertical, as above, compliment each other.

Homeopathic Potency and Ayurveda 

Ayurveda, like Herbal Medicine, is a study of substances, often in the form of tictures or powders, which are derived from the mother substance, usually the living plant. Homeopathy is a study of the behaviour of the same substances in potency.  The Nutritional and Homeopathic pathways differ slightly - I would like to suggest that the homeopathic pathway seems to be the reverse.  The energetic attributes (gunas) of the remedy appear to affect the subtle layers first.

Mother substances and tinctures, when taken orally first impact on the digestestive tract, the Anna Vaha Srotas (food channel); after being broken down they circulate through the body in the plasma (rasa dhatu). Eventually superfine molecules circulate through finer and more subtle channels and dhatus to the nerves, spinal cord and brain.

The superfine molecules help nourish Ojas which is derived from Kapha dosha, Tejas which is derived from Pitta dosha, and Prana which is derived from Vata.  Para Ojas is present as subtle drops of 'nectar' in the heart chakra and gives rise to great bliss in meditation. It is described as soma in Rig Veda.  

Dr. Vasant Lad describes Tejas as "the burning flame of intelligence", and it gives rise to pure awareness when we meditate on emptiness.  Prana allows us to combine bliss with emptiness. This meditation enhances all the Koshas, the subltle sheaths of the body and mind which are intimately connected with the Chakras.

Substances in potency affect the subtle channels immediately.  The subtle Koshas, especially Manomaya Kosha (discrimination), are directly affected, via Mano vaha srotas (subtle channels and inner winds*) instead of  being transported and transformed by the delicate processes in the body.  

A prescription, in higher potency, which is truly well indicated will affect the subtle Koshas and Chakras beneficially and stimulate a healing response. The healing changes and adjustments then emanate throughout the body from these subtle levels down to the tissues.   

A poorly selected prescription, which does not correspond to the patients real inner being, is experienced by the subtle sheaths as alien, causing proving symptoms to appear, possibly along with aggravation and shock.   According to Dr. Lad the same happens with injections, because the vaccine isn't naturally and gently transformed by the bodies subtle energies (agni in sanskrit). 

Clearly, even more care is required with very high potencies.  In Ayurveda, as in Homeopathy, the deepest curative potential of any herb will not be demonstrated in any individual selected at random.  The Ayurvedic practioner takes a full case to determine the discrepancy between an individuals Prakriti (original constitution) and their Vikruti (clinical presentaion).

* Different traditions describe the subtle channels and winds in their own way.  All seem to agree that these channels connect us to to the outside world of experience and converge on the chakras.  The simplest way I can think of to explain the concept of 'inner winds' is to imagine what would be left if your thoughts stopped.   This is exactly what happens in Mahamudra meditiation - the inner winds, from gross to subtle, are drawn into the central channel by the force of concentration.   As these winds settle thoughts and delusions decrease untill we are left focussed on the nature of the mind itself.