Editorial: the wonderful world of Plant theory
This issue focuses on the Plant theory in homeopathy, as developed by Jan Scholten in his most recent book “Wonderful Plants”. Cases come from Jan’s own clinic, as well as from colleagues who have learned to work with his new Plant system.
For many homeopaths, Jan Scholten is best known for his pioneering work with the minerals, making the whole of the mineral kingdom accessible to homeopathy through his work on the periodic table of elements. Jan’s main interest, however, has always been the plant kingdom. In order to understand the inherent logic in a field as vast and varied as the plants, it has been necessary to first comprehend the more basic patterns of nature as seen in the mineral kingdom, as these patterns are bound to repeat themselves throughout the whole of creation. For many years now, Jan has been relating the same principles found in the mineral kingdom, to the plant world, helping us to finally find a way through this previous jungle of remedies. One of his lesser known books, “Minerals in Plants” has been a step in this direction, showing which minerals are most prevalent in certain types of plants, and demonstrating the correspondence between the properties of plants and their main mineral components.
His chef d’oeuvre, “Wonderful Plants”, goes far beyond describing the individual plants and the characteristics of their families – it is, indeed, an enormous undertaking: the creation of a classification system that can enable us to track down little-known, or even completely unknown, plant remedies. Following the pattern of the periodic table of elements, the plant kingdom is mapped out according to the development of the plants, from the more “primitive” plants to the more highly developed. He has chosen to utilize the APG3 plant classification system, the latest system available, based on DNA research.
By its very nature, anything that describes the plant kingdom will be more complex and less black and white than the mineral kingdom. Plants themselves are extremely varied and are composed of many elements. Patients who need plant remedies present a more rounded and “woolly” appearance, and are not so easy to put into one box. They tend to see things from various points of view, as opposed to someone requiring a mineral remedy.
Accordingly, the Plant theory is much more difficult to grasp and to work with than the periodic table, as it requires of the homeopath an ability to perceive the various factors at play in the patient, and to accurately distinguish them, in order not to follow the wrong path in choosing a remedy. Yet, for those who want to embark on this adventure, it offers a logical overview of the plants in such a way that we can make use of hitherto “useless” information from our consultations: that which is characteristic of the patient and which is yet impossible to find in a repertory.
I will leave the introduction of this system to Jan himself. What I would like to do, however, is to encourage those who have not yet looked into this work, to take up the challenge that any new discovery can pose or propose. This need not mean that one has to throw overboard one’s previous ways of working – quite the contrary; one needs a solid homeopathic base from which to embark. In practice, we will often not need more than our traditional knowledge and experience in order to track down the right remedy. For those who already have this base, and who still find themselves searching hopelessly for that elusive remedy for their patients, it is comforting to realise that there is after all a system in this mass of information in our materia medica. Jan’s work provides a vast map from which to understand our cases in a fresh light. Personally, I find that this work goes hand in hand with all of our classical knowledge, and also with the work of Rajan Sankaran on the themes of the plant families. Despite the fact that some homeopaths find the variety of approaches in modern homeopathy very confusing, it is good to know that they are, after all, not necessarily contradictory but, in fact, complement each other beautifully.
PS: It is important to know that there is a much more extensive and more user-friendly version of the Index to “Wonderful Plants” freely available online. Making a copy of this index and placing it in the book can save the homeopath a great amount of time and effort.
Photo: Cyanotis speciosa; Jürgen Weiland