Materia Medica Homeopathy Papers

Conium Maculatum

Written by Len Marlow

Homeopath Len Marlow shares his insights into the M.M. of Conium. Conium is dependent, on a person, a job etc. Also, it can easily be mistaken for Phosphorus.

Hemlock, the poison chosen by Socrates. The poison symptoms move upwards (reverse order of cure), Painless, gradual; slow insidious and it paralyses.


Exhaustion of body and mind, ascending and goes into glands or nervous system, hardening of glands or slowing down of nervous system from below up. Indurations and hardening of the glands, particularly the sex glands. If it goes to brain imbecility will result, if it stays in the body paralysis or goes to glands and forms cancer.

Results of over stimulation, from alcohol or drugs, too much sex, greed.

A passive individual who becomes dependant on a partner, either emotionally or sexually. The passivity may only be in one relationship, they may be independent and successful elsewhere in their lives. Not just in “happily married” couples, where one has died. Symptoms may develop after termination of an affair, desperation overwhelms to such a degree that there is a paralysis or numbness of body and/or mind or hardening often in form of tumours (possibly malignant).

The image of the swan mating for life and when one dies the other just fades away gradually. Of course, this is not true for the swan, it’s a projection, but it does give the idea of the indifference rather than aversion to company. “I am no longer looking forward to my daughter’s visits, even though she has a little daughter”.

The person is dependent, so a brilliant remedy in people who have drug addiction, or in redundancy or retirement when the job has been the person’s main thrust in life (sexual displacement), where they may be ambitious but more so they are dependent.

Equally they used to be very good at their job but are now mentally not so bright. These people have basic material values and will see loss of sex as a material, rather than emotional, loss. They see sex as part of life’s enjoyments but they are not people who would indulge in extra-marital affairs.

However, sex is important and symptoms can arise from celibacy or excesses. The attachment is to the fabric of the world around him and once you take away that there is a reaction. The kind of person who would collapse after their house burnt down, or the kind of person who would turn to cancer as a way out.

It is the inner story that needs to be sought. It isn’t just the closed in, shut down personality; remember how outspoken Socrates was. In their outer world they may be bold, talk of sex, be flirtatious and sociable in a PHOSPHORUS kind of way, never really going too deep or too near “the flame”.

They may express a dissatisfaction in materialism but in the inner world they hoard and hang onto items or ideas, making them valuable and their actual sex life can often have been denied for years. The first thought may be to think of PHOSPHORUS but the conflict with their inner story going on all the time and gradually eroding makes them appear a bit irrational – this is CONIUM.

In CONIUM the emphasis is on the gradual weakness or paralysis. Over many years, they have not noticed the onset. Suddenly their mind is not what it was, as in premature senility. So a gradual hardening resulting in cancer of the breast, uterus or prostate problems.

CONIUM is the first remedy to look at for weakness of the bladder. They may try for ages to urinate then give up and as soon as they go away, the urge comes back. They may try so much that they end up sweating. (Compare NUX-VOM where urging results in small amounts of urine and sensitivity, and then they have to return several times).

Testicular cancer often occurs in young adult males, and detailed case taking can often bring out a clear picture for Conium. The cancers often occur around the age where in Chinese medicine we are coming of age and leading our own life, letting go of our parent’s expectations (28).

So let the man tell his story. Other remedies include CLEMATIS, RHODODENRON, YOHIMBINUM AND SABAL SERRULATA.

Conium will also show up in middle age as the performance of “maleness” starts to be questioned. Jobs that require too much sitting and too much thinking, relationships that are ceasing to have a sexual content or the sexual content is now demanding and threatening.

Do not expect any of these remedies to work fast at this point in a man’s life as there is a whole raft of changes going on. Stay with the case, listen and look for the opportunities as they come up. THYMUS GLAND will also be needed in this process.

If the trigger is loss of a partner, then the gradual process has already been laid down and the reaction is over a few months or years. So in breast cancer, look back in the history to establish this is the best remedy. Differentiate with other remedies PHYTOLACCA, ASTERIAS RUBENS, BELLIS PERENNIS.

When working with breast cancer there is the obvious medical urgency in the case but there is a need to attend to other levels of consciousness in the client:

  • respect
  • nourishment
  • nurturing
  • acceptance
  • sensuality
  • sexuality

Jean Sheehan ( points out: Most people have heard about the 7 main chakras, but we also have other minor chakras. There is a nipple chakra which relates to breast cancer and has the consciousness of:

  • neediness
  • resentment

This neediness and resentment can lead to sudden sexual interest where in the relationship there had been none, or the partners sexual interest had gone somewhere else as in an affair or sublimated to a child (an affair is less likely in CONIUM – more likely to look at STAPHYSAGRIA or LYCOPODIUM, where the “affair” would be a “one night stand” or “holiday romance”).

Conium was the poison of choice for Socrates and the famous anecdote of Socrates: “the state can have my body but not my mind” since the paralysis is ascending, the mind is the last to go. This may say more about the sexual attitudes as well.

CONIUM is italic in the RUBRIC ailments from celibacy but is also equally indicted in the RUBRICS mental symptoms from excesses and lascivious, lustful and nymphomania in women.

So the sex can be sudden and intense and promiscuous. Since hemlock is a poison, “sudden” actions would be expected. The common gradual understanding of the pace of the symptoms doesn’t show this active and necessary side. Equally, raising their sexual energies, the energies of the Generative Chakra will support the healing process. This may mean sexual activity but equally drawing on the source of this energy will generate self respect, encourage them to feel attractive to others and will link to the energies of the higher linked centre, the Brow Centre.

The Brow Centre would itself be calmed by meditation. Meditation and diet are both key to working with cancer clients. The Generative Centre is the source of the “desire” body and affects the reproductive glands but also the adrenal glands.

CONIUM can play a key roll in restoring health in these situations and the adrenal gland link supports the close relationship between PHOSPHORUS and CONIUM (PHOSPHORUS having a key focus on the adrenal glands and kidneys).

In children this gradual paralysis will be more difficult to perceive but there can be hardening of the brain – callous in the brain. They have fixed ideas. Once the child has an idea there is no budging. These fixed ideas mean they can be superstitious, having to do certain rituals before leaving the room. (So this remedy would be considered in certain autistic situations where the aetiology fits).

Vertigo when lying down, which is worse turning from side to side in bed (c.f. BELLADONNA where the head would be hot and the extremities would be cold) or in LAC HUMANUM where “their world is turned upside down” (possibly by their partner’s actions) and they have externalised their anger onto the whole world – the world is unjust not their relationship!

CONIUM is often prescribed in cases where PHOSPHORUS is the constitutional or fundamental remedy much more frequently than IGNATIA where grief is the presenting aetiology. It is a good remedy in cancer so with this connection with grief, even if the remedy was not prescribed before the mastectomy or hysterectomy, it will often be appropriate subsequently. This may be because the client is abstaining from sex or is being rejected as a result of the surgery, as well as the general sense of loss.

Regions of focus: NERVES. MUSCLES. GLANDS: MAMMAE, ovaries, prostate. Sexual organs. Respiration. RIGHT SIDE. Left side.



SEEING MOVING OBJECTS. ALCOHOL. Raising arms. After exertion. Injury. Night. Sexual excesses; masturbation. Cold; taking. Continence; celibacy. Old age. Lying; head low. Turning in bed. Turning eyes. Light. While eating. Milk. Snow-air; frosty air. Standing. MOTION.


Letting part hang down (knees > for letting foot hang down). Motion of affected part. PRESSURE. Fasting. Darkness. Walking. Sitting down. CONTINUED MOTION.


Rajan Sankaran’s analysis suggest a description of CONIUM: Must be in control even when unexpectedly attacked – cancer miasm

On the one hand excessive sexuality and on other hand suppression – celibacy

Socrates chastised his followers, instructing them to leave his bedside if they broke down in tears.

About the author

Len Marlow

Len Marlow: I trained at the College of Homeopathy in London and have been practising for 30 years. I practise in Greenwich, London and the Midlands. I have worked as clinical supervisor for the College of Practical Homeopathy and lecture at other training colleges. Reflecting on my time in practice, I recognize that a large part of my client base consists of families. It is a very enriching process, working with family groups and supporting them both individually and collectively.

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