A Supplement to Clarke's Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica

by Peter David Fraser



Aquilegia vulgaris

Aquilegia vulgaris

Common or Garden Columbine, Culverwort, Venus Plant, Love Plant, Mary's Bells, Granny's Bonnet, Woman's little shoe, Meeting Houses, Jack in Trousers, European Crowfoot.

Found in meadows, woodlands and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is a favourite English garden plant.


Tincture of the whole plant in blossom.

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Ranunculales

Family: Ranunculaceae


Chronic fatigue.





Columbine is one of the prettiest and most distinctive of the cottage garden flowers. Each petal of its bright blue flowers has a spur which fills with nectar. This means that insects, usually lepidoptera, have to reach deep in to the flower to obtain the nectar so ensuring they become well coated with pollen. However, this restricts pollination to insects with long tongues. Other insects can become frustrated and simply bite through the petal to reach the nectar thus making pollination impossible. The plant grows to about two feet high and has scalloped three part leaves that are bluish green and grow on long stems.

The name Aquilegia derives from the flower's similarity to an eagle's talons; Columbine and Culverwort (Pigeon flower) from it likeness to a ring of doves in flight. Other names relate its shape to shoes, hats or gloves. It is, as are doves generally, associated with Venus and with love.

Columbine is one of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family, one of the most important in homœopathy including such major polychrests as Pulsatilla, Aconite and Staphisagria. As a remedy Aquilegia seems to be most closely related to Pulsatilla, Clematis and Staphisagria.

The remedy has had a small unproved usage for hysteria, particularly clavus and globus hystericus in women at the climacteric, for dysmenorrhoea in young girls, nausea with green vomiting in the morning, sensitivity to light and noise, nervous trembling and for sleeplessness.

The remedy was proved in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by Barbara Seideneck at the Homœopathy School of Colorado. There were in total 33 provers 25 of whom were female and 8 male. The remedy was taken in either 30c or 200c potency.

Aquilegia has many similarities to its close relations Pulsatilla and Clematis especially in its weepiness and instability. As in those remedies pains and symptoms move from one side to the other or alternate sides. They also come and go rapidly. There is also the capriciousness and dissatisfaction that is found in those remedies. The most important difference is the hysteria whose closest analogue is probably to be found in Ignatia. The hysterical physical symptoms such as the globus hystericus are very similar but Aquilegia does not seem to have as much emphasis on the common Ignatia causalities of grief or disappointment.

Aquilegia is extremely sensitive, physically to noise, music, odours and heat in particular, and emotionally to criticism and reprimand. Although they can react with weeping and self pity they also fight back with anger that can involve cursing and throwing things. The word "bitchy" was used a number of times by provers and it perhaps well describes a slightly unpleasant, argumentative trait found in the remedy. Aquilegia is less suppressive of the anger that it feels than is Staphisagria but there is a similar feeling of being humiliated or mortified and of guilt. The proving dreams revealed these feelings as well as feelings of vulnerability. There were many violent dreams and dreams of being attacked or abused and especially of torture and cruelty. Provers particularly felt in their dreams that they could not trust people. They were also sensitive to the sufferings of others.

The sensitivity to heat is particularly notable, they can feel the slightest draft of air particularly if it is warm. There are heat symptoms in all parts of the body and throwing off the bedclothes at night and they are generally worse for heat. There is claustrophobia in the remedy and they are, like Clematis and Pulsatilla, better for the open air. There are hot flushes and it is a remedy that may be indicated at the climacteric.

The sensitivity to heat, noise and to odours leads to irritability and there is general irritability, impatience and anger at the least trifle. The provers felt overwhelmed by everything and responded with irritability and anger if they had to do something.

The sensitivity to music gave them a particular clarity in hearing it and they were able to hear separately the individual tracks of the music. Music was also heard in the dreams.

A peculiar symptom is the attitude of the provers to their inner thoughts. One found them intolerable and another saw them scrolling, jerkily in front of her, but both stressed the lack of control over them that they felt. One prover felt that there was another personality that had taken over and was making decisions for him and that he was simply a spectator. Others felt that they were witnesses to what was happening and not participating. There is a detached feeling in the remedy. The provers felt spacey and unconnected to what was happening to the extent that they were making bad decisions because of it. Though generally desiring company and better for consolation there is also a coldness and lack of involvement and a desire to get away from it all and be still and quiet. There is also a confusion about or lack of connection to time that came through in the dreams as well as in reality.

Aquilegia has established connections to Venus and to love, but in the proving raw sexuality was more in evidence than love. There were many strong erotic dreams with a stress on lots of unrestricted sex. Provers generally experienced strongly increased libido, although this could alternate with much reduced libido. Sexuality was generally more animal such as a sudden flush of desire for someone she did not find normally attractive or in conjunction with other emotions such as anger. The sexual appetite like the appetite for food and the thirst can all be described as insatiable. They are generally better for eating and drinking, particularly cold water ameliorates symptoms.

Anxiety, agitation and restlessness were common in the proving. Restless and anxious sleep with much tossing and turning were experienced by many. Dreams were also anxious with a sense that something terrible had happened. The anxiety and restlessness were often expressed, in dream and reality, as a need for cleanliness and order. In particular there were many dreams about protecting and organizing other people.

Heaviness and weakness are general in the remedy and are felt in the head, the eyes and the extremities. There is weariness and exhaustion. There is too much to do and too little energy to do it. They are overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted. The symptom of great restlessness but being to tired and weak to even move is perhaps representative of the remedy. As well as the heaviness there is slowness that is both physical and mental.

Dryness is general and can be found in all parts. Generally it is a thirsty remedy except that a dry mouth, like cotton wool, was sometimes accompanied by thirstlessness.

The most general feature of symptoms is movement and change. They continually change in both location and nature. Since it is a dry remedy there are not many discharges, those that there are tend to be clear and running.

There are many nerve symptoms including tingling and vibrating sensations, many of them, like the lump in the throat and the hiccups, are somewhat hysterical in nature.

As in Pulsatilla there is an aversion to fats and fatty foods and there is a desire for sweets.

There is a metallic taste in the mouth.

Glands, including the breasts are swollen and tender.

There is asthmatic respiration with tightness, constriction and the sensation of a weight on the chest.

Artistic correspondences

Columbine is one of the stock figures of the Commedia dell'Arte. She is the most intelligent of the characters and uses both her cunning and her flirtatious beauty to further her mistress's ends and her own. She can also be quite spiteful and bitchy.

Peculiar sensations

As if mind was separated from body.

Felt like her body was up in the clouds.

Sinking feeling as if body was made of lead.

Empty headed sensation.

Head feels as if it is floating.

Head feels expanded, crown opened up.

Sensation like an electric shock in temple.

Sensation of a thick, vibrating metal plate on the head.

Letters moving on the page.

Ears feel as if filled with water.

Sensation of something crawling on temple and forehead.

Hard to breathe as if some one standing on chest.

Sensation as if poked in the ribs.

Tingling sensation up neck into head.

Vibrating sensation in spine.


< on waking

< touch

< heat

> eating

< moving head (vertigo)

< bending over (vertigo)

> stool (headache)

> pulling earlobe (ear pain)

> cold water (sore throat)

> burping (heartburn)

> lying on back (shortness of breath)

> open air (cough)



Ranunculaceae, especially Pulsatilla, Staphisagria and Clematis. Ignatia (clavis hystericus).

Follows well




Stool & Anus
Neck & Back
Upper Limbs
Lower Limbs


Can't stand listening to her inner thoughts. Thoughts as if scrolling down a screen, jerky, broken and in waves, could not stop it, no control over it.

Sobbing and weeping. Sadness with weeping. Weeping at the slightest thing. On the verge of tears all the time. Weepy and wallowing in self pity. Better for consolation. Desires company. Depressed and lonely. Homesickness with weeping.

Overly sensitive. Feeling emotional. Easily upset. Insecurity. Anxiety. Anxiety without cause. Sensitive to heat and to odours. Sensitive to music, able to single out different tracks and notes. Sensitive to the sufferings of others. Feelings of guilt. Over sensitive to reprimand. Impulsive and reactive. Cleaning and a desire to live in a clean place.

Doesn't want to talk to anyone. Wants to be left alone, somewhere quiet. Irritability. Restless and irritable without cause. Irritability triggered by trifles. Impatient with people. Impatient at being held up. Irritable and snappy with people.

Angry. Cursing. Throwing things when frustrated. Angry with strangers because she thought they didn't like her. Temperamental and bitchy. Intolerant and bitchy to husband. Cold and insensitive to partner.

Talking quickly.

Capricious and dissatisfied. Frustration and feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by choice, too many things to look at. Feeling as if a second personality was taking over his body acting for him and wanting to do the opposite to him.

Increased sexual desire. Sexual desire increased, with anger. Sudden flush of sexual attraction.

Spacy and disconnected. Feeling as if mind was separated from body. Felt like her body was up in the clouds. Feels as if she is a witness, not involved. As if there was a buffer of empty space between her and her environment. No sense of time.

Restless but too tired to move. Lethargic. Unmotivated to do anything. Irritable if she had to do anything.

Slowness in thinking and comprehending. Concentration difficult.

Anxiety about health. Anxiety with shortness of breath. Fear that she would die.


Dizziness. Dizziness with pressure on crown of head. Off balance, falling to the left. Circles spinning inside head, < movement. Dizziness in temples. Headache with crushing or pressing feeling. Pressing pain on vertex or on temples. Headache moves from side to side or comes and goes often rapidly. Pain in temples, < bending over. Stabbing pains in and behind eyes. Pain in base of skull extending into neck. Headache > stool. Whole body feels heavy but especially the head Sensation like an electric shock in right temple. Tingling around the head. Sensation of a thick, vibrating metal plate on the head. Head feels warm. Flushes of heat. Head feels as if it is floating. Head feels expanded, crown opened up. Empty headed sensation.


Pain as if someone pressing on eyeballs. Pain boring into eye. Eyes feel strained. Eyes sore and sensitive to touch. Dryness. Can't close eyelids. Burning pain. Heaviness of eyes, easier to look down than up. Blue discolouration of sclera. Eyes twitching. Eyes don't focus together. Vision sharp and acute. Vision blurred (with nausea). Letters moving on the page (with dizziness). Objects appear further away than they are.


Pain from loud noises. Pulling pain deep in ear extending out, > pulling earlobe. Soreness, swelling and hardness in front of ears. Ear lobe sore and sensitive. Itching inside ear, alternating sides. Low frequency buzzing in ears. Pulse in ears, racing through head, preventing sleep. Hearing acute. Hearing loss. Ears plugged. Ears feel as if filled with water. Ears popping.


Clear discharge. Constant clear dripping (with burning eyes). Nose raw from discharge. Sneezing. Nose itching and dry with urge to sneeze but cannot.


Tingling and numbness. Tingling lips. Itching and sensation of bugs crawling. Sensation of something crawling on temple and forehead. Lips dry and chapped. Lips cracked near centre. Face flushed with heat and perspiration.


Sensitive to cold air, feel exposed. Teeth felt too big.


Food tastes odd. Metallic taste. Taste sweet and metallic but not quite either. Salivation increased. Mouth dry on waking but without thirst. Cottonmouth without thirst.


Globus hystericus. Congestion with lump that cannot be swallowed. Persistent swallowing and clearing throat. Rawness. Dryness and soreness. Swallowing difficult, > cold water. Burning pains. Phlegm in throat. Hawking clear mucus. Swollen glands. Soreness around tonsils.


Appetite diminished. Ravenous hunger. Gnawing hunger. Hunger but knows not what for. Nothing satisfies because it all tastes odd. Hungry but small amounts fill her up. Desire to eat though not hungry. Emptiness not ameliorated by eating. Waking with hunger pains. Thirst. Desire for cold water. Thirst with dry mouth. Waking from thirst for cold water. Aversion to meat, dairy and creamy foods. Desire for cold milk. Desire for eggs. Desires sweet and salty foods. Desire for dark meat and for spicy or smoked meat.


Burning pains. Nausea. Feels she will vomit if she moves quickly. Heartburn and nausea. Heartburn, > burping. Hiccups, with sharp pain into sternum. Gurgling.


Burning pain. Cramping pains. Gut wrenching, twisting pain. Tender to touch. Distension with pain. Bloated feeling with burping and flatulence. Rumbling and gurgling.

Stool and Anus

Itching. Constipation. Stool like deer droppings. Long narrow stool. Sulphurous odour. Stool liquid, profuse and urgent. Diarrhoea with stomach cramps. Flatulence (with headache). Offensive flatulence.

Urinary Organs

Bladder pressure and urgency. Urine strong and sour smelling. Urine bright orange.

Male Sexual Organs

Female Sexual Organs

Stabbing pain right ovary. Sharp pain in left ovary on standing from sitting. Ovary pains moving sides. Stitching pain in labia. Heavy, a watery leucorrhoea. Menses one week early. Abdominal cramps with menses. Coldness with menses. Uterine cramps without menses. Libido increased. Insatiable. Changeable libido. Dryness during sex.

Respiratory Organs

Voice deeper. Tightness in trachea with shortness of breath, > lying on back. Rattle low in both lungs. Deep cough with clumpy yellow mucous, > open air. Cough with gagging for air. Cough accompanied by pain above right eyebrow. Shallow breathing from restriction of chest. Hard to breathe as if some one standing on chest. Shortness of breath with anxiety.


Sensation as if poked in the ribs when lying on left side. Sensation of globe around left breast. Left side larger than right. Tightness. Tightness like a wide band around the chest at the bottom of the breasts, extending to left arm. Pressing sensation on chest with shortness of breath. Chest feels too heavy to lift when breathing. Tenderness around rib cage. Tenderness in lymph glands in left breast and axillae. Swollen breasts. Pain right of sternum, < motion, < deep breath, < raising arm, > pressure. Itching left side of breast.


Palpitations. Palpitations and speedy feeling in bed at night.

Neck and Back

Neck stiffness on left side. Jolt in nerves of neck. Nerve pain in left side of neck, extending into head, < lying on left. Vibrating sensation in spine, radiating to the right. Tingling sensation up neck into head. Chill in nape of neck. Weakness and ache in lower back. Ache across upper back. Itching on scapulae.

Limbs in general

Hands and feet swollen.

Upper Limbs

Tightness and ache in shoulders. Shooting pain in left thumb. Tingling from neck down arms. Arms itchy. Coldness of hands.

Lower Limbs

Ache in left knee, > walking. Weakness and aching in legs, as if legs would give out. Stiffness in ankles on rising. Back of thighs itchy. Sensation of heat in the lower legs. Feet hot at night must stick them out of bed.


Tingling sensations. Buzzing sensations. Weakness and shakiness. Heaviness of body and parts. Sinking feeling as if body was made of lead. Weakness and exhaustion. Overwhelming fatigue. Restless but too weak to move. Changeable pains, alternating sides or moving from side to side. Left sided pains. Desire for fresh air which ameliorates. Flushes of heat. Worse for heat. Warm and sensitive to heat and warmth. Hot in bed, throwing off the covers. Too hot with covers, too cold without. Chills as from a draft. Chilled, better for warm clothing. Muscles contracting and relaxing on left side. Better from eating.


Itching < left side. Skin soft and moist.


Restless sleep. Sleep superficial and agitated. Unable to fall asleep and unusually exhausted. Very tired, just falling asleep. Tired after a full night's sleep. Waking at 3 a.m. Waking with a buzz as from speed. Waking from dreams. Sleeping on right side. Waking thirsty for cold water.


Dreams of organizing, helping and protecting people and animals. Nakedness and embarrassment. Masturbating in public washroom. Sexual dreams. Sex and donuts. Of being glamorous and having lots of sex. Of violence, murder and sex with a stranger. In danger of being raped by a stranger but talked him out of it and we became friends. Dream of her mother sexually abusing her brother, feeling protective. Nightmares of torture. Dream of women being punished by being roasted alive. Dreams of not trusting people. Of being shot and dying in an old Western. Of being shot in the back. Of copious amounts of blood. Anxious dreams. Frightening dreams of being chased by wild animals and dinosaurs. Magical monsters. Snakes. Earthworms. Hurricanes. Dreams of loneliness and despair with weeping. No one would wait on her in a restaurant. Of being pregnant. Not knowing the time and looking for a clock. Hearing music in her dreams. Drinking ice water.


Fever with restlessness and weakness.


Seideneck, B. The Proving of Aquilegia vulgaris. The Homœopathy School of Colorado