The plant family of the Fabaceae, formerly known as the Leguminosae (the bean and pea family), have been researched by Jan Scholten and Rajan Sankaran. By studying material medica and cases, and by understanding the use of these plants in daily life, it is possible to come up with themes that fit the whole family and are manifested in different ways in each plant. Historically, legumes are known as “poor man’s meat”; a source of protein when conditions are dire and there is no money for luxury. The theme of poverty is prevalent; the fear of not having enough to fill one’s needs, both at physical and emotional levels (DD Psorinum). Life is experienced as hard and dry, with no frills and no pleasure. It is all hard work and no play; Patients needing Fabaceae can feel powerless in their situation of poverty and lack. They tend to overexert themselves, becoming dry, humorless, disappointed, and critical (a “holy bean”) in the process.
An overwhelming fatigue is often a main symptom for the remedies of this family. This fatigue probably has to do with the inability to digest certain amino acids. It is known that many of this family have strange amino acids in them; when they are not digested and metabolised as proteins they can prevent certain body functions. It is known in orthomolecular medicine that carnitine, an amino acid, has beneficial effects on ME (myalgic encephalic syndrome). The fatigue is both physical and mental; physically, it can go as far as real paralysis (multiple sclerosis, polio), or the opposite of paralysis, epilepsy. Mentally, it is seen as dullness and confusion, an inability to concentrate or to think at all. In short, the overall picture is one of hardship and suffering, doom and gloom.
The corollary to this is seen in the desire for pleasure, the desire to enjoy life without the burden of difficulties. There is a strong connection to the themes of Nitrogenium (pleasure-seeking). Fabaceae are known to have a symbiosis with bacteria, which can convert nitrogen into nitricum at their roots. In Dutch the Leguminosae are known as “vlinder-bloemigen” (butterfly flowers), and the desire to be as light as a butterfly is reflected here. There is a desire to detach oneself from earthly cares and concerns, to split off from the humdrum of daily existence. The word ‘split’, and its many variations - scattered, fragmented, falling apart, separate, dissociated, etc - reflect this flight from the drudgery of life. One becomes ‘scatter-brained’, ‘feather-brained’. The split is reflected in the seeds, which have two halves, like the peanut, Arachis hypogeia.
Dizziness and vertigo are quite a strong theme. It is usually described ‘as if drunk’, and indeed, they probably are drunk, due to an imbalance in their intestinal flora, which stimulates the production of alcohol in the gut.
In common with Nitrogenium, there is a time aggravation around 9 am and a desire or aversion to fat, bacon, cheese, and all kinds of proteins. Aggravations from beans or peas, as well as strong aversions or desires, can point to Fabaceae.
The theme of being a teacher can be strong, as in Manganum, another remedy for exhaustion. Many Fabaceae contain a lot of manganum, which is reflected in the desire to help and to work together. The theme of perfection is strong, as in the iron series, of which Manganum belongs. They want to do things very well and this can lead to even more exhaustion.
Fabaceae remedies can be necessary when the whole of one’s lifetime has felt like hardship, or they can be helpful during certain periods when it is all work and no play, such as times of study during puberty, when one would much rather be out playing and discovering life rather than studying for exams and having to achieve. Several of the Fabaceae have shown to be useful in relieving chronic fatigue as an aftermath of mononucleosis, which is prevalent among students. Known as the ‘kissing disease’, it might have little to do with the joys of kissing but more to do with the lack of pleasure and joy at that time in life.
Looking at the causative factors in several of the Fabaceae, we see issues emerging which could have to do with situations of deprivation and hardship. Baptisia, for instance, is useful in high septic conditions: blood poisoning from being in a mine, in the mud, in a sewer, or inhaling foul gas. Having to live or work under such harsh conditions could be a Fabaceae indication. Refugee camps, concentration camps, slave ships, hiding from an enemy while having a lack of food, all could contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair and become soil for the seeds of Fabaceae to grow in. Melilotus has many rubrics which can be interpreted as having to hide in silence from an enemy, as in Anne Frank’s situation. Alfalafa can be used to correct malnutrition, helping the patient to regain weight when the body has been unable to metabolise food. With further research, we will be able to find precise indications for each of these remedies.
Jan Scholten has classified some of the Fabaceae into stages, as in the periodic table of elements.
1) Medicago (Alfalfa)
5) (not yet classified, possibly Gymnoclades)
8) Cytisus laburnum
9) Abrus (Jequirity)
11) (possibly Copaiva)
15) Derris pinnata
Rajan Sankaran has focused the theme of the Fabaceae on the idea of separation, of feeling split, fragmented, and scattered, as we know it from the delusion of Baptisia: “Thinks he is broken or double. Parts feel separated, or scattered. Tosses about in bed, trying to get the parts together.” In his book, “An Insight into Plants, volume 1”, several cases are given of patients who, due to disastrous life circumstances, had fragmented into pieces and became whole again under the influence of Baptisia. The opposite sensation of separation is “bound together” and Leguminosae patients might complain of feelings of tightness or constriction. Sankaran proposes the following classification for the Leguminosae, in terms of the various miasms:
Acute miasm: Melilotus (suddenly split up, acute threat from being split up)
Typhoid miasm: Baptisia (desperately trying to pull all my pieces together, if I can pull them together I am fine)
Malaria miasm: Robinia (intermittend threats of splitting apart)
Ringworm miasm: Chrysarobinum (tries to keep together)
Sycotic miasm: Copaiva (avoids the split)
Tubercular miasm: Balsamum Peru (a race against time to get things together or else things will be destroyed)
Cancer miasm: Physostigma (stretching beyond one’s capacity to hold things together)
Leprous miasm: Caesalpinia (condemned because he is split up)
Syphilis miasm: Lathyrus (destroyed because of splitting up)
Maarten van der Meer points to Vincent van Gogh’s painting “the Potato Eaters” as an example of the sober atmosphere common to the Leguminosae: a picture of impoverished life, hard work, few choices, and no frills. Work here is primarily about surviving; ensuring the basic means of life, and gives no space for pleasures or creativity. Humor turns to cynicism or self-depreciation, though, as he notes, these people can often laugh wryly at their own dire circumstances. Frustration leads to the criticism of others or finding ways to drag another down.
Photos from www.wikipedia.org
1: Astragalus tragacantha
2: Medicago sativa
3: "Potato eaters" V.Van Gogh
Keywords: poverty, chronic fatigue, powerlessness, MS, diziness, vertigo, split