The Rosaceae, or rose family, belongs to the much larger order of Rosales. As well as the familiar garden roses, the family also contains many fruits and berries, such as apple, crab apple, pear, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and many stone fruits such as peach, cherry and apricot. Like the garden roses, these are often (though not always) thorny plants, protecting themselves and their fruits by flesh-tearing thorns along the branches. Many of these plants also contain the precursors to hydrocyanic acid, one of the most lethal poisons known to man – only on eating the fruit is it turned into hydrocyanic acid in the stomach. So, here we already see several of the themes of this large family: the sweetness of the fruit, together with the thorniness of its protection, and a stifling quality, breathlessness and suffocation, brought on by the cyanides within the plants.
Homeopathy makes use of several of these plants, although until recently, many of them have not been well-known as remedies. By understanding the themes of this family, and the sensations that accompany it, it has become much easier to recognize and prescribe them. The well-known remedy Crataegus oxyacantha or hawthorn, for example, has long been used to deal with heart problems, and its thorny character is obvious. Until recently, however, we have not seen it in its larger context, which pertains to all the Rosaceae: heart complaints due to problems in (romantic) love relationships.
Jan Scholten has described the overall theme of the Rosaceae as “the pain of a broken heart”; the heart and circulation are generally where the problems manifest most clearly. Each of the various members of this family deals differently with issues of romantic love and its possible pitfalls.
The rose is a symbol of romantic love, with its sweet smell and beautiful blossoms. It is often gifted to one’s lover, and is often used in bridal bouquets. The apple, too, is a symbol of love and sexuality. Problems relating to love can be reflected in the sexual sphere as well, as seen in the rubrics: coition aggravates, weeping, sadness and irritability.
People needing a remedy from the rose family can have a tendency to idealize love – they romantically dream of “the prince on the white horse” or “the unattainable princess”. Once they are in a relationship, they have the tendency to give all that they have. They can be very sweet, as sweet as a peach or a cherry. They are often very cheerful in order to bring happiness, but they tend to give more than they receive. They live for their love so much that there is no space for them, no room to breathe. The air is there, but they cannot breathe it in because they give themselves away completely. They demand that love be perfect and exclusive, there is no room for affairs. They might have fallen in love with someone who is unattainable or who does not love them in the same way, and they get the idea that they are unlovable. In the end, they can feel empty, having given themselves away in vain. If their love is unfulfilled, or even worse, if it is deceived, they can become ill, both physically and emotionally. Then, they can become irritable, making nasty remarks, or expressing their irritation constantly, showing their thorny side.
Although this “love” aspect is generally associated with romantic love, these remedies can also be of use for those who put all their passion into their work, or another field, and end up feeling disappointed if it is not returned.
As Ulrich Welte notes in his article, the theme of unrequited love is also known for remedies such as the Natriums. But in Rosaceae cases, the person is generally sweet and open, unlike the closed-off mineral aspect of Natrium. Sulphur remedies also deal with issues pertaining to “partner”, but those needing a Sulphur remedy are generally less idealistic, using clothing and make-up as a means of seduction. They tend to be full-blooded and warm, with red lips, and no specific issues with heart and suffocation, whereas the Rosaceae tend to be cyanotic and have blue lips.
For a more detailed differential diagnosis, please refer to Welte’s article in this issue.
Desires: sweets, strawberry, peach, prune, apple, pear, apricot, blackberry, raspberry
Aversions: as above
Food: < stone fruits
It is sometimes possible to recognize a Rosaceae remedy by their pronounced desires, aversion, aversions or allergies to a particular fruit.
Menses: painful, irregular.
Neurological: convulsions, epilepsy, tics, twitching, trismus, opisthotonus, coma
Lung: respiration obstructed, asthma, dyspnea
Heart: arrhythmia, infarction, failure, decompensation, dilatation, hypertension, hypotension, angina pectoris
Pulse: fast, slow, hard, soft, strong, weak, irregular
Arteries: obstruction, arteriosclerosis
Genitals: vaginitis, fluor albus
Skin: blue discoloration of lips, nails, face, arms
In Scholten’s system, the remedies can be placed in stages, according to the periodic table of elements. Here only the general themes are given.
Stage 1: Hydrocyanic
The acute of the rose family. The most lethal poison known to man, this gas has been used in the ultimate form of lovelessness: extermination, as in Zyklon-B of the holocaust gas chambers.
Stage 1.1: Quillaja
soap bark tree)
Naïve, impulsive in relationships
Geum urbanum (avens)They have the idea that they have to adapt (stage 2) to
their partner, that they are not allowed to have something for themselves,
sometimes nothing at all. They think that they have to give everything in a
relationship. They can adapt easily and so they can easily fulfill their role, but
they can also feel that it is not good to adapt so much. They feel that they
should also have space for themselves, but this can lead to guilt: “If you do
that, your love is not real.” This duality can give the feeling that they do
not have the space to live or the air to breathe, and it can lead to asthma.
Physical: see Clarke for a full description
Asthma; bladder disorders; pains in penis; shooting pains in abdomen
Stage 3: Potentilla
They are in a relationship that is in its starting phase (stage 3). They have the feeling that it is not established yet, and that they cannot count on their partner. This can lead to sadness, irritation, fighting or indifference. They can be very irritable, trying to force their partner to make a choice for them but, as a reaction, (s)he becomes more and more reluctant to make that choice, seeing the relationship as a trap that cannot be escaped. The result can be that the relationship is always in turmoil.
It can also be that they themselves cannot make a choice, and that their doubts concerning their partner makes them avoid marriage. They could also fall in love with someone who is not really available, a married person, a priest or a homosexual. This can also lead to triangle relationships.
Mouth: inflamed, bleeding gums, gingivitis provoked by mercury
Stomach: ulcer, vomiting, blood
Liver: icterus, diabetes
Rectum: prolapse, diarrhea, bloody, enteritis, dysentery
Skin: wounds, weeping eczemas, cracked hands and lips, contusions
Stage 4: Sorbus
domestica (Rowan tree, mountain ash tree)
This person cannot stand his partner being closed; behind this is the fear of betrayal. He has his doubts about the marriage and whether the partner really loves him. He asks himself if he has made the right choice and if there is real love, and even whether he should be married at all. It can be that the partner is silent and does not speak about important issues. “Love should be open, love can accept everything from the other.”
Physical: Heart problems, pain, palpitations, fast pulse, lying left side <
Stage 5: Malus
The relationship has started but they ask themselves if they should go on with it. There are doubts about the relationship: is it a good choice? Does the partner really love them? Are they strong enough to go on? Do they really love the other? Their ideals of relationship are so high that they doubt if they can live up to the huge task.
It can be from a situation where they have been seduced into a relationship that they did not really want. They wonder if there might be a better partner for them, or if they might be a better partner for another spouse.
Stage 5.1: Malus pumila (Crab apple)
Delusion: dirty, everything, food, himself
Delusion: abused, molested, victim, being soiled or abased
A feeling of dirtiness is common in those who have suffered sexual abuse or inappropriateness
Stage 6: Sanguisorba
Here, the feeling is that the relationship is not working well; the partner has chosen for them but doesn’t really go for it. This makes them angry so they try to force their partner to really make the commitment. The partner has to prove that he really loves them. On the other side they have to prove that they really love their partner, but that feels just as difficult. So they have the tendency to choose someone who is not really available, a married person, someone from abroad.
Sensitive, irritable patients
Genitals: menses long, profuse, climacterium, chronic metritis
Legs: congested, varicoses veins, ulcers
Stage 7: Alchemilla
vulgaris (Lady’s cloak)
They have a very loving and helping quality. Mistakes are often covered with the cloak of love. They want to spread love in the world, bring harmony in the people around them. They can be very perfectionistic in their work and actions. This often results in much criticism toward themselves. They have the feeling that they should do better. They have a marriage in which they do the most, but they like that. Even when the partner is not friendly or is even violent, they keep on helping and loving.
Physical: see Boericke
Respiratory system: cough
Digestion: gastritis, enteritis
Kidneys: urine scanty, edema
Genitals: menses copious, leucorrhea, menarche late, menopause problems
Skin: wet eczema, cuts, bruises, wounds suppurating
Dream: Working too much, in a caring institution, refusing the reward for it, giving gifts, being criticized for the work.
Delusion: people are more alike than different
Delusion: distance from the world
Stage 7.1: Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony)
They have a partner who is not well, either emotionally or physically disturbed, or both. He is not giving much and he laments about his problems. It feels like a heavy burden to carry. In the beginning they do it with love, but after some time the burden becomes too much for them. Out of a feeling of responsibility they cannot leave the partner, and they continue with sorrow in their heart.
There is a tendency to avoid the problems instead of facing them, to glide over difficulties, with attempts to stay cheerful, find diversion, or reach for stimulants like alcohol or drugs. There is a forced cheerfulness externally; they hide their suffering, even though suffering internal torment.
Kidneys: pain, deep, colicky pointing in the lumbar region, extending down the ureters; urine muddy, foul smelling
Genitals: pain in uterus
Stage 8: Prunus
spinosa (Blackthorn, sloe, bullace)
They have a relationship that is hard. They have the feeling that they have to work hard to keep it going, that they have to give themselves completely. This gives them the feeling that they are constantly busy for their spouse. It is never enough, the husband is never satisfied. He always says that their love isn’t real, otherwise they would have done more.It can also be that they demand complete love from their spouse. The proof of their love is that they do everything for them, that their life is completely for love and the marriage. This leads to much grief, sadness, irritation and sourness.
Physical: see Boericke, Clarke, Phatak
Ailments from sexual abuse
Generals: night sweats
Sensation: shooting, pressing outwards, lightning, wandering
Aversion: food; < warm food
Stage 9: Cydonia
They have the delusion that their relationship is almost fulfilling, almost complete, but it still requires some minor adaptations, corrections or approval.
Physical: see Culpepper
Ailments started after deadly poisons, white hellebore
- Rosa canina (Dog rose)
They feel love as ideal and noble. There’s no cover. In Western culture, there is the ideal that love should be all giving, the ideal of romantic love for the partner. Writing poems to loved ones.
- Rosa damascena (Damas rose)
A very old symbol of love, the theme of which is present in all members of the Rosaceae. Love is idealised in its most romantic form, as in the time of the troubadours, the medieval ideal of love, a love that will never come into form because it is too ideal and too idealised. Dwelling in romantic thoughts and feelings.
Stage 11: Amygdala
amara (Bitter almond)
Excessively brilliant eyes, sardonic laughter, joyful countenance, sparkling eyes
Stage 12: Crataegus (Common hawthorn)
There is an overreaction in love matters. They want to do it too well and tend to give too much but they have the feeling that people or circumstances are acting against them. This can lead to trying to control the circumstances or the partner. It can lead to over-control or even tyranny. They become very bossy and irritable from the least thing that they see as resistance.
They can also be controlled too much by their partner, if they have a partner who is a tyrant. “The war of the roses” – fighting and not giving an inch.
Physical: See Boericke, Clarke, Grimmer, Phatak, Anschutz
Weak, exhausted; irritable, cross, hurried
Melancholy, despair, feels weak and fragile
Mental dullness; confused
General: weather: > fresh air, < warm room. < rest, quiet
Sleep: insomnia of aortic patients
Stage 13: Rubus fruticosus (Bramble)
The relationship is unfulfilling. They feel that they do not receive much love, although they themselves give too much. Their partner is often demanding, irritable, self-centered or egotistical. This leads to the feeling that they don’t want to continue with the relationship. But on the other hand they stay on because of feeling responsible for the other, or because they hope that it will improve. They feel that they cannot leave, it’s too painful. It reminds one of the thorns of the blackberry that point inwards; one can go quite easily into the brambles but cannot come out without getting scratched everywhere.
They can also be in a relationship with someone who is always thinking of leaving. It feels as if only half of the love is left.
Circumstances can also give them the feeling of being locked in a marriage. They can feel imprisoned by the care for the partner and children. They can no longer do what they want.
Physical: heart problems, palpitations
Stage 14: Spiraea ulmaria (Meadowsweet, Queen of the meadows, Hardhack)
See Boericke, Clarke, Hansen
A relationship where the relationship is a formal one, it has no real content anymore.
Stage 16: Fragaria (Wood-strawberry)
They know that the relationship is in fact over, but they keep waiting for their lover to come the back one day, recognizing that the relationship had been true love. They can keep on waiting for years, even when their friends and relatives, and they themselves see their “delusion” as unreal. They continue to fantasize and speculate on how and when their ex-lover will come back. Since they are still full of their old love, they cannot open for a new love, so they remain alone and end up as old spinsters.
Sweat: profuse, viscid sweat
Faintness. Suffocation, stroke, convulsions, anascara
Lungs: dyspnea, sarcoidosis and especially swollen tongue. Strawberry tongue
Skin: urticaria, chilblains
DD: rosaceae, Arsenicum, Apis
Stage 17: Laurocerasus (Common laurel, Cherry
See Boericke, Clarke
They have the delusion that no one loves them and that no one can love them. They think that they have lost all the love there is and are not lovable at all, so they don’t even try to find love. This can be the consequence of sexual abuse, fighting parents, fright and shock. It is understandable that someone born with such an attitude does not want to live, like the blue baby after birth. They retire from life, which can be physically expressed in fainting, heart disease, strokes and coma.
Delusions: sees old men with distorted faces and long beards
Dreams: hideous, misfortune, dead bodies, dead people
Fear and anxiety about imaginary evils
Memory loss provoked by fright, pain, etc.
Dullness of special senses
Ailments from loss of love, every excitement, fright
Rajan Sankaran places the Rosaceae somewhat differently, making use of the miasms:
- Acute miasm: Hydrocyanic acid and Pyrus americanus
- Typhoid miasm: Amygdalus communis
- Malarial miasm: Prunus spinosa, Rosa damascena
- Tubercular miasm: Prunus cerasifera
- Ringworm miasm: Amygdalus persica
- Leprous miasm: Laurocerasus
- Syphilitic miasm: Crataegus
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Rosa rugosa; Antoine Letarte
Geum urbanum; Randy A. Nonenmacher
Sanguisorba minor; Hans Hillewaert
Strawberry; Jeff Kubina
Keywords: roses, cyanide, cyanosis, heart problems, romantic love, disappointed love