This is a Hahnemannian proving of the parasitic plant Cynomorium coccineum, along with the pharmacological properties, notes from the provers’ circle and provers’ notes, as well as themes of the remedy. A full Hanhemannian proving of Cynomorium coccineum (Cynom-cocc) was conducted by Linda Shannon and Annette Gamblin in 1999 using Jeremy Sherr’s methodology[i]. There were sixteen provers, and as one the original proving supervisors I feel that the time has come to reveal this hidden treasure.
What is in a name?
Other names: full name: Cynomorium Coccineum linn. Also known as General’s Root, Maltese fungus, scarlet mushroom and red thumb. In the Arabic world it is known as “tarthuth”. There are only two plants in the genus Cynomorium: Cynomorium coccineum and Cynomorium songaricum. Cynomorium coccineum is distributed around the Mediterranean coastal regions and Cynomorium songaricum grows in Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Gansu, and Tibet and in Chinese medicine is known as “suo yang” (‘locking the yang’).
Interestingly there were seven men in the proving and there are indications that it does have a marked yang energy and effect on fertility. Two male provers experienced increased libido, a female prover re-experienced the symptoms of a previous pregnancy and someone became pregnant, against all odds, in the lead up to the proving. The effect on testicular development and serum levels of testosterone of immature rats has been investigated. Three recent studies[ii] at King Saud University found that extracts of Cynomorium coccineum, administered orally, had significant positive effects on the reproductive development and fertility levels of male and female rats.
There was both a Maltese and a London proving, which have never been collated together, and there have also been two meditative proving circles[iii]. The Maltese proving was conducted by Linda Razzell.
The substance – is it a plant or is it a fungus?
Cynomorium coccinium is often misnamed as Maltese mushroom. It is in fact an angiosperm root parasite and has two halophytic or salt tolerant hosts Limonium delicatulum and Arthrocnemum glaucum (depending on sources there may possibly be other hosts and speculatively the host plant could have an effect on the sample proven). The specimen selected for the proving was from Il-Gebla tal-General (the General’s Rock) off the coast of Gozo, Malta. As a parasitic plant it has no chlorophyll and is unable to photosynthesise.
The plant grows on cliffs or sand in a coastal salty environment and flowers between April-June, when it produces a 6-12inch large, fleshy, deep red / purple phallus – like flower stem. It spends the rest of its life underground as a rhizome. (The proving has spent most of its time underground too, and has a marked periodicity). Historically it was prized medicinally by the Knights of St. John. According to the doctrine of signatures it was used for bloody diseases: dysentery (red colour, red juice), internal bleeding, bleeding piles, control of menses, bleeding gums, gonorrhoea, syphilis, tuberculosis; also used as a contraceptive. Carried around the heart it was said to create happiness.
It was first mentioned in 1697 and sent to the nobility across Europe, although it is likely that the Knights heard about the remedy from Muslim healers in Jerusalem. In the 1750’s the Knights of St. John built an iron railing around the site where it grew on the island off Gozo and established guards to protect it. In 1800 it became a protected plant and remains so. Originally thought to only grow on the Maltese island of Gozo; it has since been acknowledged to grow on many other Mediterranean costal sites. Pharmaceutical research suggests that it may have some antibiotic properties[iv], as well as the above mentioned effect on male fertility; most recent research even shows an effect on colon cancer cells [v]!
How the proving was conducted
Each prover was matched with a supervisor and their case taken prior to commencement of the proving. The proving commenced on the 1st November 1999. There were 16 provers, eleven of whom had the 30c, two (4 &6) had 6c, one (11) had 12c and two (2 & 8) had placebo. A proving circle was held on 4th December 1999 when the symptoms were extracted.
Personal experience as a sensitive supervisor
I experienced strong symptoms from the remedy even though I did not take it, and have maintained a strong relationship with the remedy ever since, hence this article. The symptoms that I experienced are confirmed by the actual provers.
Day 1 Prover took one dose today. I had extreme Monday morning feeling. Unable to motivate myself to work. I did not care, did not want to be a homeopath any longer.
Day 2 Feeling continued. Several patients cancelled, I did not care and could not be bothered to re-arrange appointments for them or to encourage them to continue treatment. I was not my usual conscientious, caring self.
Day 3 Feeling continued in the morning, better by afternoon.
Day 8 Did not want to answer phone or talk to patients.
Day 9 Again disinterest in work, want to do something else.
Day 10 Better in afternoon
Fourth week Clear about new direction, area to develop in work.
Questioning my relationship, wanting someone else.
Other observations: More organised, sorted filing cabinet. Did more exercise. Had three neck massages, neck felt better than for years usually lots of cracking. (see prover 3)
Themes from proving circle Saturday 4th December 1999 and from provers’ notes
Grouchy and unsympathetic towards others. Cross and irritable to friend (1). Sensitive to conversations, newspapers, absorbed in contemplation precluding interest in anything else going on around me, did not want to be dragged out of it – irritation if people tried to engage me in some way (3). Irritability mild to sudden extreme snapping (4). I didn’t have the patience to wait for the lift (5). Yelled at my husband to go away and leave me to do my work. I wanted to be alone (6). I am feeling more irritated. In the train I wanted the journey to be over. At work I feel I am doing tasks quickly to get on to the next thing. I am probably a bit ratty with staff. I feel they should be working faster. I just had to control my impatience (8) [I have included placebo symptoms when collaborated by symptoms from those provers who took an active dose. I realise that this is contentious but believe that placebo provers and sensitive supervisors were influenced by the morphic field of the remedy]. Irritation with people not working at the same pace as me. Irritable, hassled, resentful of husband being busy and him not getting out of the way to be quiet. Intensely irritable (9). Mentally aggravated when questioned about my symptoms, pissed off. Didn’t fight with my partner, or argue, which I normally do, had a very productive day (10). Did not want to speak to people on phone, others making demands on my time, exploit me, irritated if asked a question or to do anything, if questioned in class liked it because it took the focus away from me, bit removed from social reality, alienation (11). I was very annoyed…I do not usually argue (12). Supervisor felt he was being ‘cut dead’ by the prover; there was frustration and irritation between them. More assertive and argumentative (13).Unreasonable anger towards secretary, so upset her that she complained about my attitude (15).
Quick thinking and clarity of thought and the opposite
Clarity of thought (4). Quick thinking, attentiveness. Absolutely zonked out during morning meditation. Read things in the morning and they made sense, pleasantly shocked by my coherence. Reading is difficult. I couldn’t hold my concentration. Had to re-read stuff. It was very frustrating when I was reading things that didn’t make sense. Since proving, three months later, concentration is a lot better and I’m hitting deadlines better (5). Memory very sharp, had not been like this for years. Slowing down, slowing down in speech and working at half speed. At three months reported not late anymore, much more organised – curative, calm not lose temper (10). Not very productive. Cannot focus, I start doing something and leave it unfinished, then I start something else (12).
Organisation and cleaning and the opposite
Day 3-20 mind very clear, less late, more organised. Administrative skills enhanced (4). A few days later I looked at my bedroom it was a real mess. I thought ‘my god, what was I doing during the proving’ (5). A bit disorganised (6). Clearing up in the office, at home, the desk. Organising, sorting, clearing. Do one thing at a time; usually do five things at once. Doing things properly, not usually this finicky (10).My attention has been more focused on physical things like putting things in order rather than spiritual pursuits. More cleaning…urge to tidy up (11).