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Darwin and Homeopathy

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Charles Darwin published The Power of Movement in Plants — on phototropism and vine behaviour — in 1880, but the concept of plant intelligence has been slow to creep into the general consciousness. He also did some experiments on plants with homoeopathic remedies. He did not call his experiments homoeopathic, for that would have been scientific suicide in his day. We know it is little different today, as many are opposed to homoeopathy through ignorance. Darwin was experimenting in a scientific manner when he did his experiments on plants.

He did some very interesting experiments with Drosera or Sundew, a flesh-eating plant, well known today. He discovered that however much he reduced the dose of the substance he used, salt of ammonia – prepared according to the homoeopathic method with dilution and succussion – the effects were always visible in the plant. He was quite astonished by these effects and their consistent appearance with every new dilution. He compared the substances pheromones, which a dog can smell from a great distance in the case of, for instance, a bitch in heat.

His frame of reference was the molecule – then the smallest known particle of matter that was able to show particular characteristics. He did not realise that the doses he prepared no longer had any molecules in them, while still being increasingly active. It stimulated the glands and the plant’s tentacles and caused the plant to turn inward. Avogadros’ limit may have been known to him. In 1903 he wrote to the well-known physiologist Prof F.C. Donders of Utrecht Netherlands, that he observed 1/4,000,000th of a grain of the salt had a demonstrable effect on Drosera. Here is what he said about his experiments:

“And that the 1/20,000,000th of a grain of the crystallised salt does the same. Now I am quite unhappy at the thought of having to publish such a statement. The reader will best realise this degree of dilution by remembering that 5,000 ounces would more than fill a thirty-one gallon cask or barrel and that to this large body of water one grain of the salt was added – only half a drachm or thirty minims of the solution poured over the leaf. Yet this amount sufficed to cause the inflection of the leaf. My results were for a long time incredible, even to myself and I anxiously sought for every source of error. The observations were repeated during several years. Two of my sons, who were as incredulous as myself, compared several lots of leaves simultaneously immersed in the weaker solutions and in water and declared that there could be no doubt as to the differences in their appearance. In fact, every time that we perceive an odour, we have evidence that infinitely smaller particles act on our nerves. Moreover, this extreme sensitiveness, exceeding that of the most delicate part of the human body, as well as the power of committing various impulses from one part of the leaf to another, have been acquired without the intervention of any nervous system.”

(Darwin The Power of Movement in Plants 1875)

He also demonstrated that Drosera is not sensitive to just any substance. He tested several alkaloids and other substances that have a powerful effect on the human and animal body, which possesses a nervous system, but that had no effect on Drosera. He decided that:

“The power of transmitting an influence to other parts of the leaf, causing movement or modified secretion or aggregation does not depend on the presence of a diffused element allied to a nervous system.”

(Darwin The Power of Movement in Plants 1875)

He thus confirmed the homoeopathic consensus that living systems react only to those substances that are in harmony with their own pattern of energy.


V.D. Kaviraj is a Dutch homeopath, author, researcher and pioneer in Agrohomeopathy. He has written textbooks on various aspects of homeopathy including “Homeopathy for Farm and Garden”.

About the author

V.D. Kaviraj

V.D. Kaviraj is a Dutch homeopath, author, researcher and pioneer in Agrohomeopathy. He is also Vice President, World Homoeopathic Association UK Chapter. He has written textbooks on various aspects of homeopathy including "Homeopathy for Farm and Garden", which is now available in seven languages. The revised and enlarged edition with 376 pages has just been published : http://www.narayana-publishers.com/Homeopathy-for-Farm-and-Garden/Vaikunthanath-Das-Kaviraj/b8241


  • Good work but lacks some real punch. The letter stated to Prof. F C Donders is not available on Darwin’s correspondence project. Also the same Prof. died in 1889, much before the date of the letter (i.e. 1903). Are we missing something here?

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