Roses: sweet scents, thorns, and cyanide
Romantic love so sweet, can be painful and stifling if unfulfilled
A German marzipan producer has come up with the slogan "Marzipan aus Liebe" (Marzipan with Love), and it goes well with the idea of Roses and Rosaceae, the Rose Family.
The typical, slightly bitter taste of marzipan comes from minimal, non-toxic traces of cyanogen glycosides. These are precursors to hydrocyanic acid, which is formed in the stomach only after their ingestion. Marzipan is made of sweet almonds (Prunus dulcis) and sugar. Higher contents of cyanogens are found in poisonous bitter almonds (Prunus amygdalus amara), and Prunus laurocerasus. The same bitter taste is found in kernels of apricot, peach, cherry, plums, etc. So, the hydrocyanic-acid themes are more or less a property of all the rose family, Rosaceae, although not all contain cyanogen glycosides.
The Rosaceae family is a bitter-sweet cocktail of three ingredients in varying proportions:
1. Romantic, idealistic, and sweet love; the courtly love of olden times
2. The demanding and stifling themes of Hydrocyanic acid
3. A prick of thorns
The suffocation of the rose family, so well-known by its cyanotic member Laurocerasus, comes from suffocation by love, an idealistic tendency which demands that love must be romantic and forever: eternal love. If this ultimate love is compromized, they take it too much to heart, and the well-known prick of thorns can cut deep into the flesh.
Clinical picture: Heart problems with cyanosis. A stifling, suffocating quality with asphyxia and blue lips. Blue babies. Cardiac or pulmonal cyanosis. Stenocardia, oppression of chest, narrow feeling. Acne rosacea. If any of these is caused or aggravated by romantic problems in idealized love and is accompanied by heart symptoms, it is a good indication of rosaceae.
Psychodynamics: The cyanide theme of the Rosaceae comes into play when the demand for eternal love becomes a threat to the partner, or if it is not fulfilled. The roses demand exclusive love; they exclude affairs. "If you love me it must be the one and only love for life." This all-or-nothing aspect in relationships is Natrium-like, but sweeter and unlike the mineral, closed-up, cool quality of the Natriums. The love aspects of the Roses are sweet, scented, special, and summum-bonum (a Latin expression meaning "the highest good", which is used in medieval philosophy, the time of courtly love, the Minne love, sung and praised by minstrels, to describe the singular and ultimate end which human beings ought to pursue).
Perhaps the non-thorned Rosaceae like Agrimonia display less of the hard-hurting propensities. Also, the ones without cyanide have less stifling qualities and present a predominance of the lovesick problems, as the cases given below suggest. It is certainly not by chance that the apple, also a member of the rosaceae, is an ancient symbol of love and sexuality. In apples (malus spp), the sweetness predominates. It has no thorns and only slightly bitter kernels.
Cyanide themes. The stifling quality of the cyanides should be understood to see them as part of the rose family:
Cyanide = Cyanosis; a vehement and suffocating presence.
Chemical formula of Hydrocyanic-acid, is H-C-N: Hydrogen, Carbo, Nitrogen.
Hydrogen: the acid principle, sudden onset, vehement, issues of life and death, to be or not to be.
Carbon: physical structure, rigid or labile physical existence, imminent death and fear of death.
Nitrogen: suffocative expansion, takes too much space, assertive, vascular activity.
Deduction of Cyanide themes by theory of elements and confirmed by cases: Cyanosis (CN) with a vehement (H) and suffocating (N) presence (H). Manic activity (H), takes his surroundings by storm (H), stifles (CN) any opposition by talking others down (H). Takes too much space (N) with suffocation (CN); see Interhomeopathy, May 2008
DD Roses and Cyanides: Laurocerasus has the strongest cyanide aspect, but roses in general have a romantic undertone, unlike hydr-ac.
DD Roses and Sulfuricums: Both have problems with love and relationships, but sulfur is less idealistic and somehow shabbier, with skin problems which smell or look unclean. Sulfur has an issue with seduction by make-up, clothes etc. The rose family is cyanotic, with blue lips, while Sulfur has red lips, is plethoric and has no specific issues with heart and suffocation.
DD Roses and Natriums: The all-or-nothing aspect in relationships of the Roses is like the love of the Natriums, but it is sweeter, fuller, and unlike the mineral, closed-up, onesided view of the Natriums. Plants are more ambiguous, more organic, more flowing, less predictable. They have a life of their own and can feel sensitively, though standing fixed, apart from the structural, almost boring concrete-and steel quality of minerals.
The following cases illustrate these themes.
Agrimonia eupatoria: cheerful but cannot find a partner; feels as if only half alive, missing the other half.
An elderly spinster who feels only half alive because she never found a soul mate
She comes across as a decent, well-dressed teacher of about 70, with silvery hair and polished manners; she wears a tasteful dress dotted with small red flowers and a pale-green shirt underneath. She suffers from depression, claustrophobia and fear of dementia. Her sight is becoming weak with macula degeneration. She appears cheerful and open, but inside she seems to be complicated and very sensitive. One soon has the feeling that one has to be very careful because she takes things to heart very easily; the slightest wrong word may cause trouble and perhaps disappoint her. When asked what her main problem is, she tells very frankly and with a smile that she “never found her soul mate” and is still unmarried. She feels so alone. “It is as if I am just half alive, as if I am in a huge cotton ball as large as a market place.” Instead of asking about her symptom of agoraphobia, I ask what it is to be fully alive. “Well, of course, to have a partner, a husband!” She also mentions her unfulfilled idea of leading an institution from behind the scenes, like being the “good soul of a health resort”.
Her colour preference is 24D, a tender olive. The rubric in the colour repertory suggests Agrimonia, and it is confirmed by the family themes of rosaceae, partner problems, and the tender love she cherishes but which was never fulfilled. Her flowery dress confirms a plant. This is enough for me to try it.
The day after Agrimonia 200, she feels as if reborn. Even her sight has improved. One month later she comes for the follow-up and says she is doing fine but immediately she starts to complain about other things. It feels like a kind of nagging, as if she glosses over the good effect of the remedy and needs a new complaint. Now she thinks she has a fat belly (which is not obvious). I am not in good shape either, and instead of using this as a delusional symptom, I feel a little irritated but don’t show it. But I notice that she senses this and becomes irritated too. Then the clinic helper comes in with a wrong prescription formula for her, with the name of another person printed on top. She immediately notices it, alert teacher that she is. This is enough, two wrongs, and from this moment the hidden thorns sharpen and she shuts down. She cancels the next appointment and never returns.
I mention this small and certainly uncertain case only because it pointed out a possible Agrimonia theme “cheerful but cannot find a partner; desires a husband but does not find one; feels as if only half alive, missing the other half”. Later, this was confirmed in another case:
Missing a soul-mate, forcefully cheerful
The patient is woman of about 40, very cheerful and quite pleasant to talk to. She’s a sweet-natured psychologist who did well on Lanthanum sulfuricum regarding her lack of self-confidence, but her main problem is that she never found a partner, which is strange because she is good-looking and seems pleasant to be with. But who knows about the odds of fate? She said that since she takes Agrimonia eupatoria LM6, she doesn’t suffer from the longing for a partner and the pain of living without one, and she feels better in general as long as she takes it. So, this theme is confirmed, even when the remedy is not matching the full case.
DD Agrimonia and Apis: Edward Bach describes the flower remedy Agrimonia as “too cheerful”, entertaining like a good buddy, restless, but with a glossing-over quality, playing down the problem, which is seen in these cases too. Glossing over the problem by an appearance of cheerfulness. Cheerful after the loss of a partner is quite like Apis, the cheerful widow, but the Apis patient is someone who has lost a partner and keeps cheerful and busy to stay alive, whereas Agrimonia never found a partner in the first place, and covers the problem by a rather forced cheerfulness. Apis is more busy-buzzy.
Crataegus oxyacantha: The War of the Roses ("Rosenkrieg") with cyanosis. Divorce fights with bitter hatred and heart troubles - stage 12
Silent rage with asthma
This man has been a patient in our clinic for 30 years, and it took almost as long to find "his remedy" – in fact there were two. When he first came he was 35 years old, slender, with a dusky face, deep eyes with an alarmingly sharp look; his eyes can flare up with coal-like fire when he feels cornered. He is always short with people, as he is short of breath. He can easily become difficult to deal with if crossed (stage 12), but he is faithful and true (rose). He suffers from asthma with pain in his heart region (rose), and then his lips turn dark blue (cyan); sometimes his whole face is bluish grey. He hardly talks: only a few words, in short sentences. He appears hard, but if he feels understood and in harmony with someone, he can open up and show an unexpected sweet side, though still barely talking. Underneath his hard side he is very sensitive and feels it acutely if someone is untrue to his word. His wife is very different: she is outgoing, pretty, less straight-laced, and not nearly as serious as her husband, and so they often get into quarrels, and then no-one yields an inch (stage 12). She had formerly wanted him desperately as a husband, but became disappointed after marriage. She says that he can develop bitter hatred very easily after slight insults. Then he closes up completely and punishes her with endless silence, his eyes becoming like daggers (thorns). With this dangerous look, she sometimes is afraid that he might kill her by stabbing (thorns), although he never said so. He demands (cyan) that she be faithful (rose) and open up to him and obey him. He never has eyes for other women, only her (rose). Ten years later he moves to the basement of his house, living alone and cutting himself off completely from her: he does not say a single word to her for months although living under the same roof.
He has had many different remedies, the best of which were Sulfur and Kali bichromicum, but his asthma was never cured and he needed sprays constantly. Thus 20 years passed. His wife had left him in bitter hatred and gone her own way, never to return. She couldn’t stand his suffocating presence (cyan) anymore. He had bunkered up himself completely, only to leave the house for his daily work in a hardware store. In this dire situation, he got Crataegus 1000 because we learnt the theme of the war of roses and stage 12 for this remedy from Jan Scholten‘s Spring Seminar in Utrecht, May 2004, a yearly event that a true homeopath should not miss. Then things fell into place: his cyanosis and allergy to pears (also a member of the rosaceae) both pointed to the rose family. His tongue becomes numb when he eats pears. He shuns all stone fruit (rose) except cherries.
Crataegus 1M was a wonderful remedy for him, but it went unnoticed for quite a long time due to his lack of communication. He only returned after 7 months because of an itching eczema in the heart region, a new symptom which surfaced instead of his asthma and cyanosis, which had disappeared. He had stopped his medications shortly after this single dose. The remedy was not repeated until 3 years later, when he had a relapse of asthma and cyanosis. Two years previously we saw that his sister did also extremely well on Crataegus, and when he came with his relapse, it was clear that he just needed a repetition, the only one in 3 years. During the next year he received the remedy 3 times, and then he found another partner. He had become much more open, with no more cyanosis or asthma, though he is still not talkative.
Of late he has inflamed gouty joints in his feet and wrists, with edema: very swollen like a balloon. These problems come in increasingly short intervals since some months. As is usual with him, he comes to the clinic briefly and makes no fuss. We analyse his modalities according to Boenninghausen/Frei, and Cannabis sativa turns up as the first remedy. This is a member of the Rosales according to the new APG system, and it should be seen in this context. Then he casually adds that he has a feeling as if water is dripping down his temple (he had an accident there some months ago). Wow, Mac Repertory and Reference Works mention "as if water dripping on head" also suggesting Cann-s. He receives Cann-s C30, 4 times daily, which helps quickly: the same day the swelling subsides. How do you feel in general? – "Well, quite OK, hmm". This means a lot for him, in fact the best commentary he is capable of. The next day: – "Hmm, 90% done. Good". Half a year has passed, with nothing significant to notice.
Silent rage with thyrotoxic crisis.
The following woman is the sister of the above patient. She was a similar type: also a faithful patient since the beginning of our clinic, also curt, short and true, very easily irritated and then silent, refusing to talk. She could also develop intense hatred, especially towards her husband, who drank too much, treated her very badly and died young, but also towards her son, even for small reasons. Despite the bad treatment by her husband, she had been always faithful to him, but their marriage was a disaster. When he died, she never remarried, remaining single out of conviction. I once was called to her house in an emergency because of severe pain in her heart. She was drunk. It was the first time I was in her house and I expected a horrible place. But it was quite the opposite, which was a great surprise. Everything so neat, simple and tidy. The air smelled good except for a slight smell of alcohol, and there was a very sweet, fine harmonious atmosphere, in contrast to her story. She collected old traditional dolls, which she dressed neatly, and one was sitting on her table watching her. There was a very sweet side hidden beneath her harsh exterior, which very few people came to know. A good soul covered with thorns, battered by trouble, although quite of her own making. Good previous remedies had been Carboneum oxygenisatum, Nitrogenium oxidatum, Anacardium and Thyreoidinum. In her case, the idea for Crataegus came up when she mentioned that she cannot stand the smell of roses. She was suffering from cyanotic congestive heart failure and hyperthreoidism and was a very thorny type, so the remedy was appealing. In phytotherapy, quickthorn (crataegus oxyacantha) is a very good herb for congestive heart failure. Only later we saw that much of her story, including the battle with her husband, was also in line with this remedy.
After Crataegus 1000 things improved much. A few days later, her dyspnoea and cyanosis improved, and she regained some cheerfulness. Her former loathing of life and her threats to commit suicide vanished. Her depressive appearance changed, and there was a sort of peacefulness never seen in her before. This all changed in the course of one week. She also said that her memory improved. After another dose, an old ulcerous skin disease healed. She changed her appearance and had a new hairdo. She could walk upstairs freely, whereas she formerly had to stop every few steps, puffing; after the remedy she walked up to her flat with her shopping bags almost cheerfully. She lost 22 kilos in 3-4 months and returned to the ideal weight she had when she had as a young woman. She received Crataegus 1000 every now and then, some 4-5 repetitions in the course of a year. Whenever some breathing difficulty arose, the remedy helped quickly.
Then, she had another bitter fight with her son. Neither yielded an inch. Her lips had turned blue again, she had severe dyspnoea and had to be hospitalized. Her son refused to see her even in the hospital. This made her so furious that she went into a silent rage and soon had a thyrotoxis crisis with hyperthermia. She died in the hospital under intensive care in the course of a few days. Her son refused to go to her funeral. My God, how can people be so hard, mistreating each other and suffering for nothing!
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
My sweet rose; Waterhouse JM
Roses prickles; JJ Harrison
Crateagus flowers and thorns; Ulrich Welte
Keywords: thorns, closed heart, war of the roses, bitter marital fights, taciturn, faithfulness, cyanosis, sweetness, overly cheerful, missing a partner
Remedies: Agrimonia eupatoria, Crataegus oxyacantha