A Supplement to Clarke's Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica
by Peter David Fraser
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Ground Elder, Goutweed, Herb Gerard, Bishop's Weed, Snow in the Mountains.
Found through much of Europe and Asia.
The remedy is made from the plant when in flower, either by tincturing or by trituration.
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
The herb has a long history of use both as a food and as a medicine though neither use is well known now. Its use in gout, sciatica and rheumatism lives on in the names Goutweed and Herb Gerard (St. Gerard was once prayed to in case of gout) and in the second part of the latin name which also refers to gout. It was useful as a food plant, its leaves appearing as early as February in the UK provided a good early vegetable. It was introduced to the UK by the Romans and was spread throughout medieval Europe by the monasteries where it was grown for its medicinal value. It is an invasive weed and one of the hardest to eradicate. The roots and rhizome go down to a great depth and the tiniest piece of the rhizome will grow quickly into a thriving plant. It is biennial alternating growth in the rhizome one year with explosive growth of the plant above the ground the next. It has survived well in the ruins of monasteries across Europe hence the name Bishop's Weed. In spite of the difficulty in eradicating it, its ability to quickly provide ground cover and its attractive white florets mean it has been used as an ornamental plant.
The plant is a member of the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family which, like the Solanaceae, family provide a great number of foods (carrots, fennel, parsnips, celery celeriac) as well as powerful poisons (Conium, Cicuta). The Umbelliferae aslo provide a great number of flavourful herbs and spices including: parsley, dill, cumin coriander, anise, caraway and lovage.
Its use externally in poultices as a treatment for rheumatism, gout and sciatica has a long history. Internally it was used as a mild sedative and as a diuretic.
The remedy was proved in 1989 by Dr G. Mattitsch of the Austrian Society of Homeopathic Medicine. The proving involved 11 provers, 5 male and 6 female. It is available only in German.
The proving provided startling confirmation of the traditional use of the remedy. Three of the provers had pain in the big toe, the classic site of up to 50% of acute gout. For one of them this was a symptom she had experienced often and which was cured by the proving. Pain in all the joints was common among the provers and was especially noted in the hips and shoulders and in the knees. There was great heaviness, in all parts and generally through the body but it was most pronounced in the lower limbs.
Traditionally Goutweed has been used as a sedative and the proving revealed great lethargy and tiredness with a lack of motivation or energy to do anything. There was also a great insensibility to the environment that was described as being wrapped in cotton wool. Numbness was also experienced in the proving. This heaviness, numbness and dullness is a common feature of the Umbelliferae.
The other traditional use is as a diuretic and in the proving the remedy caused changes in the pattern of urination though the provers were not specific as to what the changes were just that things were different. There were sharp pains in the bladder.
The key mental and emotional symptoms were around an alternation of mood and of patterns activity. The most important of these is an alternation between being sociable and wanting to be alone, away from company and not to speak. Although the alternation is important it is definitely the desire to be alone, to shun company and to avoid conversation and speaking, that is the significant symptom. There are also alternation between focus and lack of concentration; being in the world working and being with the family; cheerfulness and great depression; confidence and hopelessness; zest and listlessness. Perhaps the most distinctly expressed was an alternation between calm and balance and a state of agitation and irritability.
An unusual feature of the remedy is the importance of taste. There were many desires for unusual or odd foods and for combinations of tastes. There is also a sensitivity to tastes and odours. These desires, cravings and aversions are often contradictory.
Colds, coryza, flu and flu like symptoms are common symptoms as is rhinitis. The coryza can be accompanied by epistaxis and haemorrhages in general are common.
Symptoms as well as being changeable and alternating have a tendency to violence.
Dryness is general.
Cheerful and sociable alternating with depression and unsociability. Emotionally alternating between great zest and complete listlessness. Calmness alternating with agitation. Apathy and discouragement alternating with confidence and hopefulness. Focus and concentration alternating with difficulty in concentrating. Mentally fresh and active alternating with feeling tired and exhausted. Wish to be in the world working alternating with a desire to be with her family.
Discouragement and apathy. Not wanting to take on new tasks. Discouraged, and unmotivated, could look forward to nothing. Fear of failure.
Feeling calm and balanced. Relaxed and calm in arguments.
Aggression, anger, rage and depression. Irritability. Depressed and surly. Restlessness. Anxiety. Tension with claustrophobia. Tearful.
Lethargy and depression. Lack of motivation. Self pity, lack of courage. Hopelessness. Longing for death. Feeling of an inner void.
Insensitive to the world as if wrapped in cotton wool. Unable to take in her environment.
Will not talk. No wish to communicate, unable to write or talk. Avoiding society. Aversion to company and conversation. Desire to be alone. Wanting to retire from the world, to see and hear nothing, be closed and left alone. Whining and withdrawn. Avoiding society. Weeping but only when alone.
Difficulty concentrating. Tired, could barely force himself to think.
Inability for mental or physical effort.
Dressed almost exclusively in black.
Congestion. Rush of blood to the head. Frontal headache. Dull headache. General headache. Dizziness. Dryness of the scalp and dandruff.
Burning pains. Sensation of dryness in the left eye. Heaviness of the eyelids. Itch on right eyelid. Itching eyelids. Eyestrain, Weakness of the eye muscles. Blurred vision. Sensation of a foreign body in both eyes. Tic in right eyelid.
Tinnitis. Burning pains. Heat. Itching in the meatus.
Epistaxis. Rhinitis. Rhinitis with haemorrhage. Coryza. Itching.
Dryness of the lips and herpes. Herpetic eruption on the left upper lip.
Swelling of the gums on the right side. Inflammation of the gums. Toothache.
Dryness. Dry tongue. Taste of cardboard or dough in the mouth. Bland taste in mouth. Bitter taste.
Sensation of a ball in the throat. Pain and swelling of the glands on the right side. Tickling sensation. Sore throats. Hoarseness and cough.
Desire for sweet and salty foods. Seized with odd cravings. Changes in appetite. Lack of appetite. Thirst. Thirstlessness.
Nausea. Queasy. Pain with nausea. Sinking feeling with nausea. Upset feeling.
Pain, cramping pains. Colicky pains before stool. Bloating with frequent urging to stool. Pain in the groins.
Soft to liquid stools with cramping pains. Diarrhoea. Constipation alternating with diarrhoea. Violent nausea, diarrhoea and tenesmus. Haemorrhoids.
Sharp pain in the bladder. Changes in patterns of urination.
Decreased libido and potency.
Haemorrhage. Dysmenorrhoea. Spotting between menses. Menses a week late. Pain in both ovaries.
Cough. Dry cough. Bronchitis.
Tenderness of the nipples. Swollen breasts. Shooting pains in the breasts.
Tachycardia and arrhythmia. Sharp pain in the heart area.
Tightness and discomfort in muscles of the shoulders and neck. Neck pain. Dull pain in the back. Sharp pain in the thoracic area. Pain in the shoulders. Lumbar pain. Low back pain. Pulling pain in the lumbar region. Pain in the sacroilliac joint. Dull stiffness in sacral joint. Itching.
Pain in right wrist. Pain in left wrist. Pain in the finger joints. Numbness of the hand. Heaviness of the arms. Drawing pain in right middle finger.
Redness and tenderness in the joint of the right big toe. Pain in the right knee. Knee pain. Pain in the ankles. Hip pains. Cramps in the right calf. Painful red lesion on the left thigh. Paralyzing leaden heaviness of the legs. Legs heavy and numb. Desquamation on the balls of the feet.
Lethargy and fatigue. Weariness that comes on every day but at different times.
Flu and flu like symptoms. Colds and sore throats. Feeling cold.
Sensitivity to cold. Overheats easily but dislikes cold and loses energy.
Pains sharp and shooting.
Sensation as if bruised. Feels tired and bruised.
Dryness. Dryness of mucous membranes.
Itching. Flushing and itching. Dryness. Vesicular lesions. Dysplastic nevus, melanoma.
Difficulty falling asleep. Waking after a few hours. Insomnia. Waking at 5 am.
Vivid dreams. Erotic and sexual dreams. Flying dreams.
violent shivering and muscle aches.
Mattitsch , G.Proving of Aegopodium podagraria 1989 Documenta Homeopathica No. 12
Wansborough, C. Aegopodium podagraria