2012 November

Another look at the Compositae family

by Mary Ellen Turner

Recently, I’ve been reviewing old cases with fresh eyes. While the prescribed remedies have had some benefit, the overall hoped-for shift had not taken place. In two cases, I found myself taking another look at the Compositae family of remedies.

During this time, I happen to be politically interested in the US presidential election (2012) and find myself watching the RNC Convention here in the USA. One iconic speaker represented the signature persona of Arnica. He often played the strong, silent type in many of his classic movies. One in particular is a 1970 film, Two Mules for Sister Sara with Shirley MacLaine, where our noble hero-for-hire saves a “damsel in distress”. They then continue on, facing subsequent adventures (acute situations), all requiring risk and determination. “Be very careful not to show any pain - or weakness.” (Sister Sara)[1]

We often see the theme in the Compositae of the absent or estranged family: the subject is yearning for a connection (as an ally) where they can maintain their individuality as equals. While self-protective (due to their highly sensitive nature), they are sensitive to the plight of the less fortunate.


KV, 42-year-old woman, very lively, animated, intense, and acutely sensitive to insult.

Hormonal hot flashes alternating with chills


Cold sores/herpes, < touch

Bloating (constant, after meals)

Vertigo, since ‘94 (< straightening up from bending forward)

Metal taste in mouth

Hepatitis (drug use) since age 18

Insomnia (wakes every hour) – waking startled from scary dreams

Right shoulder pain (skiing)

She was in lots of trouble with authority as a child, culminating in severe beatings from her step dad.

KV was hired as an executive chef for a wealthy family and soon became the “chief cook and bottle washer” for all its members; forever on call. This was a very chaotic household with no structure or accountability. She often felt unappreciated, of which she bitterly complained (“After all I do for them…”). The same pattern typically played out in her romantic relationships.

Her job environment was constantly chaotic, requiring her to “pick up the pieces” and “make everything ok”. Lachesis and Carcinosin had been prescribed with some success, but her energetic intensity had not been quelled.

Her vacation time is spent traveling to exotic locales, trekking Africa or swimming with sharks in Bali; “It makes me feel alive.”

At one consultation, she mentioned the marriage breakup of her employers. She cried in great distress as to how each member of the family would be impacted, including the dog. She had been working for them for 9 years and felt them to be her family. She hadn’t seen her stepfather since age 17 (pregnant), and was estranged from her son, mother and sister.

I was struck how her grief was focused on this family’s transitional hardships. Considering her propensity to over-give, while feeling unappreciated, and her liveliness, juxtaposing her exhaustion and the isolation of her personal life, I considered a plant remedy of the Cancer miasm. Mirilli’s Thematic mentions the desire for company (of the family). In this case, there is an indifference to her biological family, while having a strong dedication/duty to another.

Two doses of Bellis Perennis 1M within two days brought relief; “I feel so calm.” Her skin cleared, and she stopped smoking. “I finally let myself off the hook,” meaning she was not responsible for juggling the chaos of others. KV found herself “drawing a line in the sand” both with her employers and in her romantic relationship. “I’m finally prioritizing my needs.” Her skin/cold sores have healed, and her vertigo and hot flashes have ceased. Her shoulder is free of pain and her sleep continues to improve (was a 10 on a scale from 1-10, waking hourly – now changed to a 4, with occasional waking). She has decided to leave the employ of this family and focus on her catering business.


LR, (F) age 57. Self-described Radical Feminist Separatist.

High blood pressure (on medications)

Earache (stabbing) right, itchy, occasional stuffed-up sensation in both ears

Arthritis pain, left hip; < lying in bed, > stretching leg

Vertigo with nausea; > closing eyes, < lying in bed, turning in bed, rising from lying, occasionally while walking

Menses flow at night

Tendinitis; right shoulder

Anxiety = epistaxis right nostril, < touch

Irresolution, second guessing – “hunger, but don’t know what I want; what I like or don’t like.”

Easily discouraged and wants to give up, quit, and leave the situation (various jobs).

Estranged from family

Sensation: unloved, not seen, don’t belong

Perspiration at night, followed by chills (head/shoulders)

Daily cannabis use

Purpose in life: “To do what I want.” (Suggesting that she may not yet know what she wants).

Dreams: “I’m in a group that is looking for something. When I make a suggestion, they don’t acknowledge me. Don’t want to dream; to hear what they have to say – which is: ‘You’re doing it wrong.’”

Fears: heights, danger

Food: Doritos chips, sour cream, cheese, bacon, burgers

She describes herself as self-sufficient, “just tough it out”, and that it does not occur to her to ask for help. “Dad was a subtle terrorist and told me that I was a trouble maker, because I would always question authority. ‘If I don’t show any emotion, dad won’t bother me.’”

She experienced lots of quarrels with friends; “I want close friends, yet I get annoyed when it’s offered.”

Having prescribed Magnesium carbonicum, with quasi-relief, I switched to (capricious, irresolute) Chamomilla 1M (acute of Magnesium carbonicum). She called four days later: “I started dreaming again. I’m in a group where we have a common project. It’s harmonious and happy.” Her hip pain had subsided and her ears are stuffy.

Three weeks later she has had several epistaxis episodes. She has returned to her familiar “funk” and wants to quit her job. Her hip pain has returned. She took 10M in the office and I sent her home with a 200C/dropper bottle to take as needed.

Two weeks later: She had planned a trip to Taos, NM, to visit a friend and before leaving discovered that she needed a new starter for her car (Oh! The metaphor!). She started to go into familiar discouragement but decided to “keep her eye on the prize,” get the starter and go on her trip. “The best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.”

The decision to go on the trip was a breakthrough and subsequently she has drawn to herself numerous synchronicities, offers of help and a deeper intimate friendship. “I became aware of how I get in my own way. I’m able to let it go. There’s a level of contentment. I find that I’m less defensive and am able to keep the negative mind chatter from taking over. I’ve gone back to playing piano and now I sing and whistle at work. I’m less isolated.”

Two dreams: “I am a member of a group with a common goal. War planes are flying above. We decide to do nothing. The planes fly by. I am in a partnership with someone making plans.”

"The hip pain has lessened to the point where I’m weaning off Ibuprofen for pain. There is no ear pain, just occasional crackling – something there is breaking up. I’m finally getting my needs met!”

She still describes herself as a Radical Feminist, though she has dropped the “separatist” from her title.

Mary Ellen Turner lives and practices in Denver, Colorado

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Bellis perennis; David Monniaux

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCsGfoF8CjQ


Keywords: compositae, abuse, over-giving, tough, estrangement, joint pains
Remedies: Bellis perennis, Chamomilla


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