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    Gnaphalium leontopodium

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    Uta Santos, Austria







    Remedy unknown to prover


    Remedia (A)

    Description of the substance

    A homeopathic drug proving- now termed a homeopathic pathogenetic trial- of GNAPHALIUM LEONTOPODIUM

    Eine homoeopathische Arzneimittelprüfung von Gnaphalium leontopodium, dem Edelweiss


    Uta Santos



    Leontopodium alpinum, Edelweiss


    Holidaying in the Alps means coming across the plant - in a variety of ways- which since the 19th century has become a symbol for the Alps!


    On postcards, leather trousers, drawings, in operettas, essays or poems, but rarely in its natural setting: nothing is more symbolic for the Alps than the “Edelweiss”.


    So Austrian homeopaths wondered what might possibly be the image of such a locally well-known plant, which is so commonly and frequently used as a symbol, if this plant were taken for a proving?


    As the distinction of “big” and “small” remedies is obviously outdated and the word “poly” from polychrests nowadays only means the frequency of a prescription and NOT the frequency of successful prescriptions, and since it is apparent that with the so- called small remedies we can achieve great results — thereby revealing long-lasting myths -- how then can we make sure not to create new myths? What is it that generally shows in proving?

    Might it be the chemical-toxicological existence of the substance, independent of its geographic or cultural contexts.

    Do similar or very different symptoms arise, if Austrians prove the Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) grown on Austrian ground, compared to a Ukrainian prover who proves the Edelweiss grown on Ukrainian ground? Does a specific cultural opinion on a substance enter into the proving, even if this opinion is only 200 years old as is the case in Leontopodium?


    Are age-old remedies such as Equisetum, Lycopodium or Tyrannosaurus Rex homeopathically more important, merely because over the thousands of years, they they have become archetypically set, or can 200 years of cultural history, as in the case of the Edelweiss, be as important, because their items/topics (?) are possibly more current? Is Leontopodium - botanically one of the compositae - a homeopathic “family member” of the compositae due to the items/topics belonging to this group or does it differ completely from Arnica, Calendula or Bellis perennis?


    I asked myself these questions, when I supervised the proving with a group of students at the University of Vienna. They did not know the remedy (but in this proving I did). Here are the results.


    In the proving group there were 10 females and 3 males. They took the remedy daily in C 30 potency until symptoms occurred.


    Some general information about the plant:


    As stated above, leontopodium is one of approximately 20.000 existing species of the compositae. This group is homeopathically well- known. Besides those mentioned above there are millefolium, taraxacum, heliantus or chamomille and gnaphalium, which is the most similar to leontopodium.


    The group of leontopodium comprises 30 to 40 species, which mainly exist in the high mountain regions, its origin is probably the south- west of China, it is quite common in Siberia, Afghanistan, Europe (in the Carpathian Mountains, the Alps and the Pyrenees).


    It grows on dry, chalky clay or on stony grounds, in well-lighted places; they it prefers the heights between 1700 and 3400 meters. It grows in worts producing up to 50 flowers each. The flower itself is surrounded by thick tomentose hypsophylls creating the “stars” , typical of leontopodium.


    Chemically it contains tannin, which might have lead to the traditional use for diarrhea, furthermore polyacethylene and pyrrolizidine- alcaloids. In the Alps, people used this plant as one of the sacred (nine) herbal charm and against ghosts.


    Edelweiss often grows in stony places, hardly accessible and demands boldness of the collector, physical flexibility and endurance. It is therefore the image for these attributes and in myths and legends it is the sign of love and the proof of the bold hero’s love, who offers this flower to his beloved as the token of his love.



    Summary of the most important symptoms

    Especially the ones, which came up in several provers or which were very dominant in individual provers:


    The main areas of the physical symptomatology were the extremities, walking, movements and actions, and the stomach.


    One female prover writes:

    Burning stomach pain lasting for one month, much flatulence, re-occurring sensation of bloating and pressure in the bowels. In one place in the stomach, located under the xyphoid, there is a sensation of heat. All the time I feel bloated like a balloon, the colon is filled so much with gas that the diaphragm is pushed upwards thereby causing a strong pain in stomach.


    In addition severe constipation, bowel motion every 3 days, clay-colored and sheep-dung like. I feel the urge more often, but the stool does not pass. General amelioration by eating, warm food is better than cold food. Amelioration by sitting bent and exercising pressure on stomach, by resting (after sleep) and warmth, agg. by tight clothes, after eating raw vegetables and from coffee or alcohol.


    After a month, she takes Arnica D 12 three times a day, quick amelioration of all symptoms and very soon no more complaints. (It is interesting that Arnica as a well- known Compositae with a clear symptomatology in the region of the stomach could obviously be used efficiently as an antidote in this case).



    In the area of the extremities:

    Restlessness amel. by motion, mentally and physically. Paralysis of left arm, this also occurred as a physical symptom as in a dream. Standing erect and looking amel. stiffness, tenseness, due to these two phenomena, looking aside was impossible.



    Clenched teeth, grinding of teeth, pressure as if lock-jawed (physically as well as in a dream)


    Inner pressure

    External pressure agg.

    Any touch is painful, oversensitive towards being touched, oversensitive to pain.


    Back, coccyx: feeling of fragility


    Sensitive to cold


    Sexual desire increased


    Weakness of memory


    Taste and smell of sulfur and garlic



    As in all my provings, I am especially interested in the dreams, which allow a beautiful insight into the soul’s topics related to the remedy. So I will mention parts of the dreams of the provers in their own words, hoping thereby to create an impression of the whole picture which arises from this plant.

    It has to be mentioned that the dreams have been discussed with the provers to exclude individual opinions of general phenomena of single elements in the dreams.



    I am walking in a street and suddenly I realize that I am full of blood up to the navel and up my back to the same height. I become weaker and weaker, I walk to the hospital. A young doctor and a female doctor take care of me.

    Comment: I wake up in the middle of the night with the sensation that my coccyx is brittle. When awake, a slight sore pain there.


    Here we meet the topic of injury in the Compositae, the location of the injury seems to be the coccyx, a structure at the base of our physical body. The prover associated this with: the place where in animals there is the tail.


    The same prover has another dream:

    Of a black, bull-like dog that looks really dangerous. There is the uncertainty of whether he will attack me or whether I will escape. When he comes closer, my emotions change and I realize that he has a kind of erotic relation with me.


    Next day:

    Again a dream of a black dog, this time he has longer hair. He is not as dangerous as the one the day before, he is approaching me and he is friendly. It is unbelievable: it has never happened before, 2 days later I dream about the same bull-like black dog, which I don’t know in reality. Again I feel a similar sensation. First a kind of thrill, is he dangerous? And then the erotic sensation while he approaches me!



    Due to the repetition here the dreamer meets the dog in an impressing and unavoidable way as a libidiual masculine symbol. The color black underlines the dangerous aspect, and black stands also for the dark that has not yet been touched by any light of consciousness, so this quality has to be looked at as one that has not yet been integrated.



    A male prover dreams:

    I am walking on a meadow high up in the mountains above the timber line. It must be early mountain summer, around me there are a few snow fields, the grass looks as though it has recently been cleared of snow, the grass is yellow and flat, where shortly before the snow has melted. There is a strong, cold adverse wind , I am bent over, forcing myself against the wind whirling stones from the ground and I am afraid of them hitting me on my head or in my face, so I close my eyes firmly, lower my face and with a lot of effort I walk ahead against the wind. I think that it is unsportsmanlike if I were to put my hands in front of my face for protection.


    Comment of the prover:

    There seems to be a rule that no one should protect oneself, no one should see how weak I feel. The potentially spirited and live entity is still reduced after the winter has gone and had pressed it down with the cold, white snow.


    I feel as if I had been hit by a blow, “please don’t touch”, the jar of a soft touch could cause severe pain.

    Here also the extreme vulnerability of a Compositae.




    Dream of another female prover, her only dream under the remedy:

    I am ascending a staircase made of glass, I am wearing white moon-boots and from below, people, who I don’t know or cannot remember, are staring at me.


    Dream of a male prover:

    I am taking an escalator in a little house, exit it and enter another one, which is quite large and which seems to be a classroom. I feel that something is not okay and realize that this escalator is not only ascending but is also moving high above the houses. I manage to exit and realize suddenly that this escalator is hanging on a thick rope and is falling down from high up. (The escalator is no longer inside a building! It is falling freely in the air). I run away, as it is about to fall directly onto me, but somehow a kind of umbrella opens (it looks like a palm made of linen) and slowly the escalator sinks to the ground.



    In an escalator, a part of a building that more or less offers safety inside a house, something threatening comes up. The association with “classroom” is that there the unformed are formed, tamed, become “socially acceptable”; high up and falling deeply are the 2 movements in the dream.


    A last dream, in a metaphorical language typical for this plant:

    I am walking about in an hotel, I am looking for my husband, who wanted to enjoy a hot bath somewhere in the hotel. I am wearing Jeans, a T-shirt and I am carrying a brief case with me. Downstairs there are swinging doors in wooden frames and milk glass or frosted glass. Steam is coming towards me. All the guests are wearing towels and are hanging at the side of the doors as if wrapped in white plastic/ synthetics. Staff is running around and is handing out rose-colored pieces of soap. One of them is soaping the guests’ faces. I find my husband at the end of an aisle, he also is wrapped in a white bath towel. He is being pursued by someone and wants to get away from there. We flee along aisles, dark aisles in this otherwise white house and we end up in the office section. We hear voices calling and hide in the dark behind the door of a cabinet in the nearest office. A person in a business-suit enters and switches on the light. We are shocked, the office is ravaged and on the floor there are shapes of human beings, who have already been carried away.


    With my husband on an island with wild cliffs and an amazing, beautiful coast, fog is lifting, the sun shines on and reflects from a blue-green ocean. Feeling of freedom…



    Here also we see the contrasts:

    The white, clean-soaped figures enclosed in plastic/synthetics wrapping and the dark aisles…

    Light (in the sense of enlightening, perspective, clarity) focuses on something, which was formerly alive (the dead ones who have been carried away), who have met their death in a place of bureaucracy, of formalism… contrary to the hotel, then this amazing, beautiful nature, where fog is lifting and clarity and foresight comes up…


    Again and again the color white appears in the dreams, which Aeppli, a Jungian analyst, explains as follows: “White is not yet a color, it is purity beyond life, is a demand to be dissolved into its spectral colors, the colors of the vivid life”.


    In fact, again and again a kind of non-vitality appears, a white, which is cold, sterile, without life and constraining.

    This constraint, stiffness, paralysis and threat probably are related to public places, which are under social rules like the classroom, the hotel, the office, while nature means freedom.


    Ascending is threatening, be it on the narrow glass catwalk (the dream with the white moon- boots), on which every step is followed by the anonymous viewers, or be it in the escalator, which is threatened by social descent, the free fall, or be it the mountain heights, where a cold adverse wind obstructs walking forward and one is not allowed to protect oneself.


    Originally authentic feelings and instincts are suppressed and are even more predominant in a dark and threatening way. (I mentioned only the dreams about the dogs of the one female prover, there have been more on this topic).



    If I dare come up with a summary and a hypothesis, I do this of course with all necessary reservations for as long as there are no well- observed, long—term cases of patients under treatment solely with Leontopodium. It seems certain to me that Leontopodium has clear aspects of the Compositae:

    The oversensitivity and vulnerability, physically as well as mentally and also in the dreams, is very obvious.

    Gnaphalium, which is botanically the most similar, has its center of gravity (concerning its symptoms) also in the area of extremities, and Arnica as a potent antidote of these long-lasting, strong and extremely uncomfortable proving -symptoms also shows strong resonance with Leontopodium.


    As a special topic of Leontopodium I assume that the patient would feel weak and insecure, especially in a socially highly normative context, where you have to behave differently than your own feelings and impulses tell you and you are constantly threatened to be blown down by a social cross- current “wind from the front-side” (gesellschaftl. Gegenwind).

    Harsh socialization with the center of gravity of what “ONE DOES” leads to an early suppression of one’s own emotions and instincts, which might lead to the behaviour that accepts external rules as a yard-stick in every situation of life and that the person is not used to follow his own findings any more, even if these seem adequate and in tune with his own inner voice.


    As a metaphor the image comes to mind of the hero, who risks death to pick the Edelweiss from the highest rocky mountains as a proof of his love for his beloved who herself not only agrees to his high risk, she maybe even expects or demands it, as she measures the love she receives from her admirer by his extraordinary gift. She lacks the sense necessary to realize emotions in the very immediate encounter.

    “if he risks his life, he probably loves me, how else could I know it , and if he dies due to this, he dies as a noble, white, pure hero and his death raises me as a white widowed virgin, untouchable, spending a lifetime in a cold, glass coffin.


    The opposition of nature and culture, of emotion and instinct on the one hand, and the social taming on the other hand seem to be a conflict; conscious of its own lack of protection, Lentopodium compensates by submission under a cold, non-vivacious entity, which knows only itself as white and the other as black, where everything alive is shattered as if on a rock face.


    Some questions, which I placed in the beginning, remain unanswered. I suggested without any response so far to prove Leontopodium in another cultural context. Unfortunately, this was not yet possible, but maybe there is someone among the audience / the readers, who is interested in arranging a second proving.


    I am very grateful for every kind of feed-back, when you prescribe Leontopodium, and I would be very happy if after reading this article you should want to try this remedy.


    Our Lentopodium was potentized by Robert Münz, Remedia Pharmacy, Austria, where this remedy can be obtained.