by Jane Lindsay
published in Similia - The Australian Journal of Homoeopathic Medicine, June 2015
Orchids in Homeopathy
In Louis Klein’s most recent book, we are taken into the wonderful, enchanting and exotic world of Orchids. With in excess of 20,000 species, the family Orchidaceae is the largest group of flowering plants and represents nearly 10% of all, accounting for 880 genera and over 400,000 recorded hybrids.
Orchids have a large number of extremely specific properties but are at the same time an inordinately diverse family of plants. As one of the world’s most prolific flowering species and also one of the most ancient on our planet, it is interesting to note that until recently, they have remained largely unexplored within our homoeopathic provings. One might ask why they have remained hidden from our view until these times and what this says about their inherent qualities for their use in practice?
Prior to this publication, our homoeopathic materia medica has for a long time remained deficient of Orchid provings. Perhaps one of the most well-known orchid remedies is that of Cypripedium – Lady’s Slipper. In herbal pharmacy Cypripedium is considered a pure nervine and tonic that gently strengthens the functional activity of the nervous system and has been used by generations to relieve hysteria, general nervousness, delirium tremens, tension, anxiety and nervous depression. Its relaxing qualities are also considered helpful for reducing hyperactivity in children and this is a theme that is further explored and brought to the fore in this long overdue book.
As a homoeopathic remedy Cypripedium is known for its effectiveness in easing chronic insomnia and restlessness and is especially useful during those times when “the brain just won’t shut off,” and in over excited children, as it facilitates sleep. Against this backdrop one might indeed expect to find that Orchids, as a species, may have specific qualities of use in many neuro-behavioural disorders, including learning difficulties ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, Aspergers and dyslexia – areas of homoeopathy where we sometimes struggle to find a similimum.
“Orchids in Homeopathy” presents the reader with over thirty-five colourful and concise remedy pictures, as well as six Hahnemannian provings. With its well-defined descriptions and accurate analyses, the link between theory and practice is made clear and applicable. This is a comprehensive reference of the largest and most fascinating plant families in the world “Orchidaceae” which other homoeopaths have also in very recent times taken interest in exploring further. Jan Scholten in his recent publication “Wonderful Plants” *1 has also written of the Orchidales (Ref no 633.700) of which the Cypripediiodae is one such sub phase. Scholten writes that themes include a desire for playfulness, which also comes out in Cypripedium as “children who desire to play at night”, as well as autism, aversion responsibility, and wanting to remain forever young. It is appropriate here perhaps to highlight the mind themes within Scholten’s classification as this can be seen as a very complete overview of this species and summarises Louis Klein’s provings: -
Scholton - Orchidaceae – General themes - Mind
Desire: party, play, games, fun, laugh, joy; enchanting music, dance; drugs, alcohol; Carnival, Venetian masks; on a stair to heaven; money, glamour.
Joy in the midst of destruction and death.
Deceit, trickery, cheating.
Healing wounds of others; relatives, wounds of war.
Sexual, sensual, erotic, trickery, seduction, whores, geisha, big boobs, brothel, promiscuity, one night stands; sexual games, orgy, lack of love, prostitutes.
Getting away from humanness.
Giving oneself up, surrender to bliss, beauty, in procreation, reproduction, birthing.
Indifferent to being ruined, insanity, being in rags.
Lack of responsibility for family, wife and children; home wrecker; aversion to being a parent, mother; outsider position, stepparent; teenage pregnancies.
Anger, rage, fury, contempt, screaming, < being rejected, betrayed, cheated.
Sad, depressed, hopeless, disgust, < being rejected.
Apathy, indifference, dull, stupefied, drugged, bored after having seen it all.
Mimicking animal state; between plant and animals.
Spiritual, developing one’s own individuality. Cold, hard, harsh, analytical, calculating, planning, untouchable, in control, focused, strong will power.
Decadence, degradation, disgust. Fear: threat, destruction, war, death, disease, conflicts, discords, fights, rejection, exclusion, poverty.
Delusion: body bursting in blood and pus and decay, after deliveries, sins.
Delusion: being dark, bad as if there is something wrong with them; shame, guilt, sins; rape, abuse; being drowned
Two recent provings are worth highlighting to further emphasise the keynotes of this species and help us to gain sufficient understanding to be able to apply these remedies in our practice. These have both been included in Louis Klein’s book –
1) Hahnemanian Proving of Phalenopsis Gigantea *2- In 2011 Sally Williams published a paper in Interhomeopathy on the Hahnemanian proving of Phalenopsis gigantea bringing interest and attention to this species of Orchid and also its use in behavioural and learning difficulties.
The species and hybrids of Phalaenopsis are the most widely grown orchids in the world; Phalaenopsis gigantea or “Elephant Ear Orchid” is native to Borneo and was first described in 1909. The central idea of Phalaenopsis gigantea is confusion with a lack of comprehension and difficulty in concentration, learning, retaining information, writing, and speaking. The proving participants were enrolled in a homoeopathic college and during the proving each one temporarily had trouble learning and retaining information as if they had learning disabilities. There was also difficulty with memory, a fogginess of mind and a dullness of senses, one prover records “I was not able to listen, and could remember little, almost as though I cannot hear”. Another prover with a history of ADD did very well during the proving and many of his concentration difficulties were subsequently curatively resolved.
2) Dactylorhiza praetermissa, the Southern Marsh Orchid *3 - In 2010 Misha Norland and Peter Fraser and the School of Homeopathy conducted a proving of Southern Marsh Orchid -Dactylorhiza praetermissa; the Southern Marsh Orchid is a common European orchid. The Dactylorhizas have two to five, slightly elongated, tuberous roots that resemble fingers
and the name derives from the Greek dactylos, which means finger.
A keynote of the Orchidaceae family, which was especially apparent in Dactylorhiza praetermissa, is sensitivity / hypersensitivity. This was especially apparent in the most powerful physical symptom in this proving, expressed in an affinity to the eyes. The eyes felt larger, as did the pupils which seemed to let in too much light. There was clarity of vision and specifically a greater peripheral vision. There was also sensitivity in the eyes to the degree that one prover actually found herself blind for a few minutes. I can confirm this too as I have in practice used this Orchid remedy to support extreme sensitivity/photophobia in patients.
This heightened sense and extreme sensitivity/ hypersensitivity, in particular to light, is also confirmed in Louis Klein’s other provings. The use for autistic or Asperger’s children is also indicated where they may have an attachment to, or an aversion, to how things look, smell, taste or feel. Many Orchid provings also had references to numbers and number games, which is also characteristic of Fungi kingdom remedies, along with Carbons. There may also be an obsession with numbers and we see a person who is cocooned within their own mind, closed off as in autism. The relationship of Orchids with fungi is a symbiotic one – as each orchid requires very specific fungi for reproduction. With the large number of species this might mean the possibility of reproduction is limited, however it appears that nature provides for each specie and genre. Fascinating too are themes of sensuality and joy, juxtaposed with darker themes such as war and death brought out by the orchids’ relationship with fungi.
The theme of sexuality also comes to the fore in this proving of Dactylorhiza praetermissa. This might well be expected with the name orchid being derived from ‘orkhis’ the Greek word for testicle! Some species of Orchids have two tuberous roots that resemble testicles and in Middle English they were called ballockworts! Orchids are indeed the most sexual of plants and have always been seen as exotic, rare and highly prized - Many orchids are extremely sensual; in their appearance, to touch and in their scents, and for centuries they have been considered the kings and queens of the plant kingdom. Today you may find the common hybrids of Phalenopsis (the butterfly orchids) at Bunnings and ordinary garden centres; however the inner true beauty and essence is always best observed in orchids growing wild their native settings.
Orchids have captivated man for centuries. In the Victorian Era ‘Orchidelirium’ described the “flower madness” of the men and explorers who travelled to dangerous and undiscovered parts of the world risking their lives to uncover and return with highly prized and rare orchids. Many indeed did not return, becoming lost in the Amazon jungle, eaten by crocodiles or cannibals! This ‘Orchid Fever’ has been written of by Eric Hanson in a book aptly named ‘Orchid Fever’. There is also a book by Jill Marie Landis - The Orchid Hunter tracing the tale in a romantic novel of such a Victorian explorer: in addition there is a film called ‘Adaption’, produced in 2002, taken from Susan Orleans’s non-fiction novel ‘The Orchid Thief’ starring Meryl Streep with Nicholas Cage, tracking the obsessive nature and qualities of the hunters of orchids. If you’re interested in understanding orchids these novels and film will also give you a further insight into their inherent qualities.
In Greek mythology it is recorded that women of Greek origin believed they could determine the sex of their unborn infants with the roots of the orchid. Their belief was that, if the father of the child ingested the larger tubers from the plant, then the resulting child would be male; if the mother ate the smaller tubers, the child would be born female.
Like the carnivorous plants, the orchids push the boundary between what is vegetable and what is animal. The carnivorous plants do this through what they consume and the way they attract prey. The orchids do it through their connection to sexuality. The deceptive pollination of many species involves what could be termed sexual behaviour with insects. A study of the effect of a Himalayan Dactylorhiza on rats shows that the association is a valid one and that orchids have a significant effect on testosterone levels and testosteronerelated activity.*4 Louis Klein also confirms the strong affinity with the sexual organs, neurological complaints, fungal infections and allergies of which we seem to be seeing more and more in practice.
Finally my own clinical observations are that as well as a playfulness and/or immaturity in patients needing Orchids this is often accompanied by irritability or intense anger, sometimes manifesting in haughtiness. This anger or irritability is usually due to a perception or feeling of being marginalised, or that they have been treated unjustly. Both Louis Klein and Jan Scholten confirm these themes and observations and that the individual’s compensatory behaviour is that they either stand out from the crowd as being different or remain hidden, which may go part way to answering my opening question: “Why have these Orchid provings remained ‘hidden’ from us for so long, when they are such a prolific species?”
In summary Louis Klein has created a wonderful well-referenced and researched summary of the themes seen in orchid remedies and related that to how and where they grow. The more detailed materia medica information on individual remedies is a great resource and a great gift to the homoeopathic community. I thoroughly recommend this wonderful insight into our orchid remedies and would encourage you to read and incorporate these remedies into your homoeopathic practice. Essential reading.
1. Wonderful Plants – Jan Scholton - 633.700 - Orchidales - Series: Hydrogen, Carbon and Silicon series; emphasis on Silicon series. Source: Louis Klein, Sally Williams. DD: Phosphorus, Fluorine, Natrum
2. Hahnemannian Proving of Phalenopsis Gigantea http://www. interhomeopathy.org/phalaenopsisgigantea-the-hahnemannianproving-of-elephant-ear-orchid
3. Dactylorhiza praetermissa, the Southern Marsh Orchid. Misha Norland’s full proving is available on-line – http://www.alternativetraining. com/docs/SOH/Provings/Orchid_Proving_FINAL_v3.pdf
4. A study of the effect of a Himalayan Dactylorhiza on rats: - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC2206241/