Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Gadus morrhua

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Gadus morrhua


1273, cotfish, origin unknown; despite similarity of form it has no conclusive connection to the widespread Gmc. word for "bag" (cf. O.E. codd, source of codpiece, q.v.). Cod-liver oil known since at least 1615, recommended medicinally since 1783, but not popular as a remedy until after 1825.


Traditional name

Italian: merluzzo
English: Cod fish

Used parts

Trituration of first cervical vertebra of the fish.


Animalia; Chordata / Vertebrata - Vertebrates; Pisces - Fishes; Gadiformes; Gadidae


see Oleum jecoris aselli
sea remedy

Original proving

Petroz: West. Hom. Obs., V. 3, p. 187.

Description of the substance

Spine on top of first vertebra tightly connected to a narrow crest at the rear of the skull; transverse processes of vertebrae not swollen at tip; single hypural bone attached to last vertebra. No part of the skeleton expanded and ivory-like.

Gadus morrhua, or Atlantic cod, belongs to a family of mainly marine fish.
All the fish in this family have a large oil-bearing liver.
The cod is an olive-green to brownish fish with a silvery belly, a small strand on the chin, and a white stripe along the flanks. The sharp teeth can be quite well developed.
In the first year of life, it quickly grows to a length of 20 to 30 centimetres, and can eventually reach a maximum of 1.5 metres and a weight of 95 kg.
Since it is not so sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, it is found in polar as well as temperate regions. The young fish prefer to remain in coastal waters, while adults like the open sea, in which they hunt for food at depths of up to 600 metres. A voracious omnivore, it swims along the sea bed like a vacuum cleaner, searching for crustaceans, molluscs, worms and fish. Its preference for herring, which prompts it to follow migrating schools of herring, makes it a formidable rival of herring fishermen.
When winter comes, cod migrate in huge numbers to the coast in order to spawn. They are extremely fertile and a female can produce up to 9 million eggs. Fertilisation of the tiny eggs, which float to the surface, only occurs when the eggs coincidentally come into contact with milt. Following this, the fish again swim back to the open sea.

The Atlantic cod is a member of the Gadidae family which are medium to large size, bottom dwelling, generally marine fish, found in cool waters in the northern hemisphere. This family includes such fish as haddock, hake, and burbot (Scott and Scott, 1988). Although they are bottom dwellers, cod can be found anywhere from the surface to 500 or 600 m and from inshore waters to the edge of the continental shelf (Lear, 1993).  

Cod tend to migrate in large schools along trenches in the continental shelf.  These trenches are favoured because the water is 2-3°C warmer than the shelf.  During migration, the fish spread out to the limit of their visibility so that they maintain contact with the group but also maximize the area searched for prey. Juvenile fish join the migrating adults and in this way they may learn the migration routes (Rose, 1993; Fisheries and Oceans, 1995). The cod follow the trenches inshore where they spread out to feed during the summer. By autumn they have moved northward and then back offshore, following a circular route.

Cod reach maturity at about 6 years of age, but this varies between 5 and 8. The average weight is about 2-3 kg, although the largest cod on record was 95.9 kg (Lear, 1993). The average age of fish caught in the fishery is 4 to 8 years of age, however cod can live to be twenty years or older (Lear, 1993). Fishing has greatly disrupted the age structure of cod populations by removing the oldest fish, and even cod over 6 are rare today.

The factors influencing growth rates in cod are temperature, food availability, and population (Lear, 1993). Temperature seems to be the dominant factor and differences are clear between cod found in northern and southern regions (Brander, 1994). It is clear that in the cold Labrador area the slowest growth rates are seen while the warm George's Bank area had the fastest growth rates (Scott and Scott, 1988). The effect of temperature on growth has been estimated at 29% per °C (Brander, 1994).

Food preferences change as the cod grows. Young cod tend to eat small crustaceans such as copepods and amphipods, but as they mature they eat a larger proportion of fish (Scott and Scott, 1988; Lear, 1993; Palsson, 1994 ). Juvenile and young adult cod will eat crustaceans such as euphausiids, shrimp, small lobsters and crabs. When they reach about 50 cm, they eat mainly fish including capelin, sand lance, redfish, and herring and many other types of fish. They will also continue toeat crustaceans and other creatures such as molluscs, but these are a small part of their diet (Scott and Scott, 1988; Lear, 1993; Palsson, 1994). Size plays an important role in what they will eat since they eat their food whole (Fisheries and Oceans, 1995).

As a cod reaches maturity, it will be recruited into an adult population. The discussion of spawning makes it apparent that cod recruited in a particular area were not necessarily spawned there. They may have been spawned much further to the north and were transported south by currents. Recruitment will therefore depend on where the fish matured (de Young and Rose, 1993). Studies show that the distribution of cod of various ages has a definite pattern (Fisheries and Oceans, 1995). Young cod are found in inshore areas, but as they mature, they move offshore and become more widely dispersed. By three years of age, they are mainly found in deeper water. Young cod have an advantage over older cod as they are more tolerant of cold temperatures. This may allow them to avoid older cod and thus cannibalism (Fisheries and Oceans, 1995). Eventually they will be recruited by the resident adult population. This theory of recruitment makes it unlikely that migration is genetically determined. It is more probable that juvenile cod learn the migration routes by following older cod.