February 2015

Linum catharticum - 644.23.12: two cases

by Ulrich Welte

Two cases of Linum catharticum (Fairy flax) highlight the issue characterising the Linaceae: a mother-son conflict, in which both mother and son lack independence. A difficult son feels he must thank his mother. She cannot let him be himself; she wants to confront and discipline him when he lapses but she can hardly get the words out. She ties him down with her own lack of independence, since she was also unable to be herself when younger. She demands too much, often tacitly. The dependent son goes even further astray, behaves offensively, and becomes a problem child – the black sheep of the family. Those close to him, even the entire village, take offence at his behaviour: people look askance at his mother and she feels ashamed, not knowing how to deal with it. Nor does her son know how to deal with the messy situation. As a result he becomes depressed.

We can see this problem in a completely new light if we look at the position of these plants in the new plant system, interpreting the issues in this light: not just the stage (12) becomes clearer in the case description but also the family (Linaceae), the order (Malpighiales), and the class (Fabidae). In the analysis of case 1, this classification is briefly sketched.

Case 1 is already ten years old, originating from a time long before the new plant system. The remedy was subsequently checked for correspondences, which can clearly be seen. Case 2 is more recent. The correspondence to the class, order, and family become clearer here. The case-taking provides more information since it is conducted in the light of the new criteria. It remains to be seen whether the botanical system alone will in future be able to pinpoint remedies. So far, we only have very limited experience with the new method.

Case 1: forty-five-year-old woman with rectal carcinoid

She is a restless, strict teacher, neat, and very respectably dressed. It seems as if she has been driven into a corner and she appears to be a stranger to herself. She describes her complaints randomly without any connection to her actual life. She does not seem to have much self-knowledge, and her attempts to explain what is happening to her do not make any sense to me.

Two years ago, she had a rectal polyp removed during colonoscopy. The histological examination showed, however, that it was a carcinoid rather than a polyp. Unfortunately, the tumour was not completely resected. When the remains of the tumour were to be removed during further colonoscopy, the correct location could no longer be found. Further examinations were inconclusive – the tumour could no longer be found and there were no metastases visible. This was good news as far as it went, but what about the residual carcinoid? So, she had to live with ongoing uncertainty, constantly on the watch for the “hidden horror in the gut“, a continual inner fear. She found herself continually thinking: “How on earth can I get a grip on this? I have to keep at it, must not let up, always be on the watch.” (stage 12)

She wanted to analyse what was going on with her and those around her but in her psychological explanations, she sought connections where there were none. She gave the impression that her real motives were opaque. She could not see any connection between her situation and her illness. In fact, she seemed to be actively avoiding any such thoughts. She wanted above all to be natural but seemed instead to be constrained – something about her was not quite real.

Since her youth, she had suffered now and again from diarrhoea as soon as she found herself in strange situations – for example, when a male stranger spoke to her when she was a child. This was said to be irritable bowel. During her strict education at boarding school with severe religious discipline, she became sensitive to peas and linseed at the age of 17. The legumes are in the family of the Papilionoi­deae 644.55, which belongs to the class of the Fabidae 644.00, as does the family Linaceae 644.23. Ten years later – she had married by now – she became even more sensitive to the flax family (Linaceae 644.23). She had diarrhoea immediately after ingestion. This new, more extreme form of oversensitivity started when she found out that her husband was having an affair with another woman. This became known in her social circle and she confronted him. He broke off the extramarital relationship and stayed with her. Then, she wanted to clarify things psychologically but after several discussions, he refused to continue, protesting that he had enough and that this was no way to carry on. During this period, she had powerful dreams. In one dream, she cut off the breasts of her rival, ran into her car or tried to disable it with various tricks (stage 12).

Years later, shortly before the discovery of the carcinoid, she again found herself in a difficult situation: her son went off the rails, having dropped out of college, started smoking marijuana, and finally smashed her car while driving without a licence. He was still living at home at his parents' expense. It was a real scandal and disgrace. He was the black sheep of the family, but she could not bring herself to give him an ultimatum. She did not know what to do. She was in a real catch-22. She could not act and she kept biting her tongue to avoid saying the wrong thing. What did the neighbours and relatives think of her family? He should be punished but at the same time he needed help. After all, he is her son – she is responsible for him and should try to help him put things right.


The allergy to flax drew our attention first to the remedy Linum usitatissimum, common flax or linseed. The affinity of linseed to the gut is known. In view of the numerous stage 12 issues – carcinoid, revenge with tricks, vigorous resistance, always on the watch – I thought of a particularly fierce member of the flax family: Fairy flax, Linum catharticum, which contains the cathartic aspect in the Latin name, with the ability to violently purge, to produce strong diarrhoea, which is why it supposedly belongs to stage 12.

Retrospective analysis according to its position in the botanical system

First, we should briefly explain what is behind the number 644.23 for the Linaceae family. This number is a code defining the position in the botanical system, closely based on the concepts of the periodic table, yet with one new idea: the phases. There are 7 phases, which are a simplified version of the 18 stages of the periodic table. The family of the Linaceae 644.23 belongs to the order of the Malpighiales 644.20. The Malpighiales are in phase 2 (the red digit 644.20). Phase 2 means that the Malphigiales adjust their behaviour and make sure they are accepted by their group; so this is almost the same as stage 2. Within the large order of the Malpighiales, the Linaceae family is in subphase 3 (the next red digit 644.23). Subphase 3 means that they have gone halfway to emancipating themselves from the passive adaptation of phase 2 and are trying to find their own point of view but have not yet found it. So, phase 3 is similar to stage 3.

This mixture of phase and subphase is an important criterion in differentiating the plants from the minerals; it is a more multi-layered, complex variant of the periodic table, which distinguishes the uniquely ambiguous character of the plants. The nascent dormant life of the minerals comes to life in the plants.

In the case of the Malpighiales, the group to which they adapt is a small, manageable one, usually a family in a village. The themes of the Iron series, the 4th series of the periodic table, are represented by the red digit in 644. So, the conformity of the Malpighiales develops in the Linaceae family but generally follows the strict rules and discipline of the Iron series. The Malpighiales are concerned with discipline problems in, for example, a family, a school class, a small business, a local football team, a submarine crew or an assembly line job. The Malpighiales sometimes seem rather forced because they uncritically adopt the rules of this small group in a rather lifeless way. They want to belong and so they fit in but due to their dependence they are not fully accepted; they can be looked down on. They feel at the mercy of the strong and rely on the benevolence of those in charge. They feel guilty and imagine that there is something wrong with them. They therefore work all the harder but still without achieving the desired result, so eventually they let things slide. They are therefore often rejected – no one really wants to have anything to do with them. They remain in the group but without any concrete point of view, which would allow them to assume personal responsibility.

As subphase 3 of the Malpighiales, the Linaceae first try to establish their own position in the group but are not yet successful because they are not forceful enough and they back down too much; they are still trapped in the basic attitude of the Malpighiales: “just don't put a foot wrong or else you will get it in the neck.” The Linaceae find themselves in a dilemma, as described by the patient. With the Linaceae, it is mostly a mother-son conflict. The mother obeys the strict rules of the village but she herself lacks the conviction to impose the rules of the group with sufficient determination. She nevertheless expects these rules to be followed. In this way, she makes a contradictory impression on her son (and others), making it difficult to simply follow her. It is not difficult to recognise these qualities in her.

Progress: after a dose of Linum catharticum MK, she was really unwell for two days, thoroughly shattered, scarcely awake, not fully there. On the third day, she came down with the flu, which was quickly over. Then, she rapidly felt better. Her husband said that she seemed very well and noticeably more good-tempered. Then, for the first time, she gave her son an ultimatum during an argument. She remained calm and even-tempered, behaving for the first time in a resolute way, as she herself put it. She gave him a choice of either changing his ways and giving up marijuana or moving out and paying his own way. From this point on, he indeed began to change. Her diarrhoea had stopped since she took the remedy. Six weeks later, the remedy was repeated. This time, there was no immediate reaction but after three weeks, her mouth became sore, as if it were burnt, and the oral cavity became swollen and red, extending to the visible part of the lips, and an apht formed. It was so bad that she could not eat anything solid, just yoghurt, milk, and pudding. Two months later, she sent a card saying she was doing well. After a further six months, she said her life had become more restful, without the fear and driven restlessness – everything was far better than before. She had changed her whole life, living in a more natural way, and had switched from frantically rushing around to taking things peacefully and calmly. She had got rid of her car, travelling instead by bike and train, and she was eating in a more thoughtful way. Her son had moved out and started studying. Things were turning out well for him too. She could not, however, see any connection with the little white pills – an indication of the somewhat coarse nature of the Iron series! Ten years have since passed.

Carcinoids are rare tumours (less than 1% in comparison to the most frequent types of cancer, such as breast cancer). They arise in the cells of the neuroendocrine system and are therefore known as "neuroendocrine tumours" (NET). They occur above all in the gastrointestinal tract, 80% in the terminal ileum or the appendix. Carcinoids (NET tumours) grow slowly without generally becoming malignant and are therefore often discovered late. They frequently secrete neuropeptides or serotonin. The first symptoms are mostly triggered by these neurohormones (serotonin, substance P, kinin, insulin) and not from local complaints: there is usually flushing (sudden blue-red discolouration of the face, neck and upper body) with diarrhoea, hot flushes, and tachycardia; asthma attacks and endocardial fibrosis also occur. The diagnosis is often made late because the tumour is so rare and the most common symptom, diarrhoea, is long thought to be irritable bowel. The motto of the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation is: “If you don’t suspect it, you can’t detect it.”

Case 2: fifty-year-old woman with colitis

This case is still ongoing so cannot be described conclusively. I therefore offer it here with a caveat. The situation was similar to the first case.

She was the mother of a difficult son and she suffered from colitis. The diarrhoea became really awful when her son came out as gay. He was the black sheep of the family, the problem child; he was classified as difficult to educate, had occasional psychotic episodes, took drugs, received special education on several occasions, and took part in therapy groups – and now this too. She could not do anything to help him because she did not know what to say. As a teenager, she herself had thought that it would be better to cut out her tongue because honest words only cause injury. She had often suffered when she said what she thought. She came from a strictly Catholic family and found it difficult to internalise the often unspoken rules of her parents. Still, she adapted and remained silent.

Her sensation was, in her own words: “It's as if I'm wearing a heavy coat that I can't break open (the protective coat is like a prison, stage 2); I don't trust myself to issue an opinion of my own (Malpighiales); when I say something, I always get boxed round the ears for it (Iron series); people put me down (Iron series, stage 2) if I say too much; if I do what feels right to me, people call me a dreamer; I cannot be myself (Linaceae).

The remedy first came to light through repertorisation with Reference Works: the term “tongue cut out” pointed to Linum usitatissimum, although Mangialavori's notes on Linum catharticum were a better fit to her history. It is the Greek legend of Philomela, who has her tongue cut out so she could not tell of her violation. Her loom becomes her voice: she weaves her story into the design of the cloth so that her sister Procne can understand what happened to her. The women are thus able to take their revenge. Linum catharticum was prescribed because she chose the same colour as the previous patient, red 8C, and because her story sounded so similar to the first case. The only hint of stage 12, however, was her radical nature in wanting her tongue to be cut out; she was less severe and mistrustful than the first patient.

She has so far reacted well to the remedy but without any direct reaction that would allow us to definitively relate her improvement to the action of the remedy, also because she has consulted other therapists. It is possible that she needs another remedy from the Linaceae family. In Jan's new book, however, only stage 1 (Linum usitatissimum), 12 (Linum catharticum) and 13 (Humiria balsamifera) are described.


Botanical systems of taxonomy – APG or Cronquist?

These two cases show that the new order of the Malpighiales certainly has a botanical justification. It does not exist in the Cronquist botanical system, which is favoured above all by Michal Yakir. The order of the Malpighiales was first described following analysis of DNA sequences in the APG system. Here, there used to be some uncertainty in the botanical classification of individual families, such as the Clusiaceae (to which Hypericum belongs). The question of the practical validity can be clarified by homeopathic practice, among other methods. Our cases indicate that the new classification is correct. 

Materia Medica for Linum catharticum

The old texts clearly hint at the gastrointestinal aspect of the remedy as well as the inability to speak: they cannot express themselves in the way they wish and cannot utter a sound. The clenched jaw (trismus, lockjaw) is similar to Hypericum (also Malpighiales). Maybe carcinoids will become a specific indication for Linu-c, since apart from colitis there are other symptoms of carcinoids that can be seen: asthma attack; if a linseed poultice even came near her, she felt constriction in the chest.


Asthma. Colitis. Strangury. Contains small amounts of hydrocyanic acid, which may be responsible for the extreme action of the remedy. Inflammation of the urinary tract. Gastrointestinal disease. Trismus and paralysis of the tongue.


Case of a woman in whom the application of a linseed poultice to an ulcer over the right shin bone produced an attack of asthma that nearly proved fatal. If a linseed poultice even come near her, she felt constriction in the chest. Almost immediately (after swallowing the oil), she felt a fullness at the stomach and a precordial uneasiness, went to bed, where she was seized by spasms. She lay on her back, head moved rhythmically, jaws completely clenched, which had to be pried open. Did not recover speech till evening. Bruised feeling in elbows and knees remained with prostration, and she was left with impaired health. Livid and struggling for breath. Perfectly conscious, but only able to express herself by signs.

Allen's Encyclopedia

Miss X., aged nineteen, of nervi-sanguine temperament. The jaws were immovably clenched; the upper limbs shaken by spasms, but pliable and uncontracted. With all this nervous disturbance, there was no sign of cerebral disorder; the patient was perfectly conscious, and complained by signs of violent pain in the cheeks and temples. She could not articulate a syllable. I began to think the attack must be hysterical. Yet, the symptoms did not seem to wear the precise aspect of hysteria. Here, were violent trismus, and complete paralysis of the tongue, affections rarely seen in hysterical patients. I soon succeeded in prying open the jaws with the handle of a fork, when I was surprised to see that the tip of the tongue was turned upwards and backwards, so as to touch the velum palati. On attempting to speak, the patient uttered only inarticulate sounds.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Linum catharticum; unknown; CC BY 2.5 SI
Photo: Shutterstock
Keeping silent; lekcej

Categories: Cases
Keywords: mother-son conflict, irritable bowel, food allergies, carcinoid, black sheep, revenge, purge, diarrhoea
Remedies: Linum catharticum


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Posts: 3
Reply #2 on : Sat May 07, 2016, 05:43:22
you can get it here
Savitri Clarke
Posts: 3
Linum catharticum
Reply #1 on : Sat April 23, 2016, 17:19:50
I would love to give this remedy to a patient I have but cannot find it anywhere. Can someone let me know where to purchase it please?