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).
Averse company / detached
Complete and generalised indifference. Apathy. No interest whatsoever in anyone or anything. Distant, better disengaged. Sense of being removed. Detachment. Intense and long lasting disinterest. Long period of contemplation during which does not want to be bothered by anything or anyone, as if an observer of the world and human life and not part of it (3). I could not string a sentence together. Felt totally detached from myself (5). Indecision, with lack of concern, so laid back (6). I don’t feel myself, not connected with myself, real separation between mind and body, very aware that there are components of yourself. Feel not in my body, as if standing next to me. I want to rest, to shut out the world, very depressed. Had to sit and meditate a lot, shut people out
(10). At work couldn’t take a lot of people around. Just would like to sit and read and not talk to anybody, not inclined to talk to anybody…a bit irritated that I have to talk. Thinking mind immersed mundane things, meditation desire waned completely. Also disinterest in guitar playing. Wanting to be alone, not want any disturbance, could just leave the world (11). Communication seemed too much trouble, very laborious (13). ‘Couldn’t care less – this feeling persisted over nine days -as if observing something your participating in, as if observing self (15). Detached from everything, when speaking I was not listening to them or they to me it seemed (15).
Missed my turning in a familiar place, felt frightened and lost, surroundings looked wrong. Happened twice on same day (6). Walking in the full moon light, got lost. Whilst driving got lost on route, twice, although I know the way, forgetting to take the turns, normally do it on automatic (10).
A few other mind symptoms which may be important
Violent thoughts during meditation (11). Dream: observing an interview between a war reporter and a soldier on the front line of a war zone. Incoming enemy fire kept bursting around us, the reporter was unaware or unconcerned. Then the reporter got hit, fell sideways covered in blood. (4) I was driving in the car and very afraid of being hit. Very aware of keeping to the speed limit. Holding on tightly to the seat, at one point I even screamed (10).
Feel unaccountably brilliant, opposite to previous day when felt indifference and no interest. Day 12 return of symptoms experienced on day one (3). Anxious, clear headed, irritable one day to next, now irritable anxious (4). Pattern of busy, energetic, crash, then slow recovery 3-4 days, pattern repeating (9).Depression day 8 for five hours, returned days 13 and 17 (10). Day 2 not want to talk to people, day 4 felt more sociable, day 7 don’t want to talk to anyone, lasted till day 28 (x). Periodicity, alternating over a number of days, mood alternating. Emotional symptoms stopping and starting was a strong feature of the proving and the write up of the proving is interesting – the Maltese and English suffered a misunderstanding over the collation of the proving; in the future we would like to bring both proving together. I started to write about the proving in 2003, 2010 and 2012. Meditative proving took place in 1999 and 2007. It seems to suddenly come up again. Jenni Tree quotes Mangialavori [vi] “Alternating states” as a feature of parasite remedies.
Sharks (1). Road ran into the sea, big expanse of water, water lapping at end of street, feeling that at edge of the world (3).Remembering dreams (3, 4, 5, 6, 11). Cliff by sea (4). Fast river, banked and walled as it travels though the garden, is threatening and feels dangerous to go near (4). Escaping from a tidal wave. People living in water. Under clear water, surfacing, swimming. On a boat, off the boat into tunnels (9). I was playing football, congratulated the opposite team when they scored. Thought: I don’t form close relationships with people in my own team. I am an alien in my own team. I am an alien in my own sphere and can’t be accepted in either group. I don’t belong (11). Dream old friend (11). Was a fireman, water supply got cut off and I couldn’t fire fight. Fixing plumbing to stop water coming out of windows. Sister complaining of water flowing onto the windows of the house because I had made a wrong move in repairs; later she became my assistant, holding and passing tools (11). Dream old partners and relations (4, 11) sense of loss, severance of the relationship (11). Bleakness (4). Of wasps, of police chasing me – no feelings / emotions (15).
Awareness bones of face (10) [only one prover experienced this, but was a very strong symptom].
Pain in neck to top of head, pressure top of head (8) [took placebo]. Headache frontal and top of head (9). Tension headache, skull cap, band around and inside head (10).
Outer aspect of eye itchy (6). Soreness outer corner right eye (15).
Sensation of brightness and visual clarity (3). I feel as though I can see more precisely, shapes are more defined. I normally have problems with artificial light and accommodation (8) [took placebo].
Violent sneezes turn lung inside out (4). Sense of smell increased during proving especially to tobacco smoke, cooking especially garlic and incense from 100m away – it was burning across the road. Breathing very clearly, nose is usually blocked [cured symptoms at three months] (5). Sensitive to smell of tobacco (8) [took placebo].
Cold sores (4, 6).Herpetic eruption lower lip (9). Cold sores, as if about to appear (15).
Stomach and abdomen
Abdomen bloating very distended (1). Thirstless (1). Dryness with much thirst (3). Violent eructation’s for two weeks (4). High pressure wind both ends (5). Pain in stomach very sharp morning to evening (9). Increased appetite in morning huge meals (10). Distended bowel improved in first ten days. Feeling of gassy abdomen until bowel movement in morning. Thirstless then drank a litre of apple juice (11). Incredible thirst, drank 8 pints ice cold water (15).
Surge of libido on the tube, out of context; libido had been an issue for a couple of years (4). More libido, it’s too much, every single female walking past, distracting sexual thoughts (5).
Menses started – in afternoon usually in morning. Aware of ovaries more. Copious leucorrhoea after menses (9). Re-experienced pregnancy, breast symptoms and distended abdomen (lost baby in March at 15 weeks, now December), weight gain (10).
Neck pain which had existed for some time and immediately before proving improved for the duration of proving despite working on a ceiling (3). Neck feels stiff (8) [took placebo]. Dizziness with neck pain. Neck as if out of alignment, nerves in neck affected (9). Neck cracking disappeared initially returned after 10 days (11).
Shoulder pain muscle spasm (9).Shoulders sore as if partially dislocated. Arms, shoulder joints, feeling of semi-dislocation, weak at certain angles (11).
Fell asleep in the afternoon. I couldn’t stay awake. I would be dead; I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Generally sleepy during the proving, generally about 3pm. Sleep deep woke much later than usual; normally wake 2-3 times during early hours of morning. During proving always late for college (5). Nap 12.30-4pm. Slept very well at night, longer than normal. Hard to get up in morning. (several provers) (11). Sleeping on back with the mouth open (12). Sleepless before proving, slept well during proving (15).
Skin at front of torso and front limbs felt as if wanted to peel off very tingly; face too by evening (4).Uncomfortable tingling, felt like shingles (9).
Food desire spicy (1)
Aversion salt and vinegar crisps (5)
Averse potatoes (10) [one prover, might be an old symptom of hers]
Desire sweet food (4, 9, 11, 12, 13). Averse sugar (5)
Great heat upper body, tingling, prickling, dry heat, not unlike sunburn (3)
Dry heat dry like sunburn (15)
Tingling up back to vertex, then shivers down spine (1)
Tingling sensations (4)
Extreme exhaustion, had to sleep, lethargy (9)
Physical exercise is a mental effort (11)
3pm – feeling very excited (10), falling asleep (5)
3pm, 5pm, 8, 8.30 (10)
7AM or 7pm (4)
Mind, male and female genitalia, head, neck, stomach
Very few respiratory symptoms, all though prover 9 had a long lasting cough after the proving.
Burnt finger day before proving (4). Supervisor 13 heard of floods and burning things.
We hope that after being hidden for so many years, it has taken thirteen years to write the proving up, that this remedy will prove useful in your practice. Do click on the links in the bibliography to see more photos and read more about it or search Cynomorium coccineum on Google. The remedy is available from Helios Pharmacy. Thank you to all involved with the original proving.
The story behind the proving of Cynomorium Coccineum
By Linda Shannon
In 1995 I travelled to Malta on holiday. As a homeopath my attention was caught by a sentence in a tourist brochure. It mentioned a famous plant that grew on Dwejra rock, located just off the coast of Gozo, itself an island next to Malta. This plant was once deemed to have amazing medicinal properties and had been highly prized by the Knights of St John. How interesting it would be, I thought, to prove it. The journey of the proving from this moment to its publication in 2012 was punctuated by a series of synchronistic events.
The first occurred just 2 weeks later, when, on returning to the UK, I was invited by homeopath Annette Gamblin, to help teach a 2 year homeopathic course in Malta. On hearing about the plant, Annette agreed that it would be a great idea to do this proving with the students and the intention to prove Cynomorrim Coccinum was formed.
I soon found an article in a Maltese newspaper about a student doing research on the plant at the University of Malta. It seemed that Glaxco Laboratories were also interested in finding out if this plant did have medicinal properties, particularly antibiotic ones and I was able to meet the researchers and discuss our common interest in the plant. As I understand, the effect found had been mild and they had not succeeded in growing the plant under controlled conditions.
I began to research the plant, starting with the medical school library. It had a long and fascinating history. The Arabic physicians considered it ‘A treasure among medicines’. One article read, ‘Nowadays the plant exists as a luring relic of history and is fortunately inaccessible’ Many articles were authored by Dr Guido Lanfranco, no longer alive but his brother Edward Lanfranco, also a botanist, at the University of Malta, was able to show me an old sample of the plant, who’s large red phallic like shape was like nothing I had seen before.
Getting a sample of the plant turned out to be more difficult than expected. The walls of the rock had been made steep and hard to climb by the Knights of St John, and it was now a protected species. I heard from the environmental officer that, although the plant could be found still on the salt marshes of Tunisia, on the Dweijra rick itself it was being eaten by rats and only a few poor specimens survived.
Another strange co-incidence occurred when, on visiting one of the Maltese temples to the Goddess, I met a friend and colleague homeopath Linda Razell. From this time onward Linda became involved with the proving.
After several unsuccessful attempts to get a plant from the famous rock itself, Annette and I were at the point of giving up. I recall standing on the shore of Gozo and looking over at the beautiful rock. I sent an inner message to the higher forces of the universe and to the spirit of the plant itself, ‘Do you want to be known, or do you prefer to remain hidden as you are now, on this rock that no one can come to?’. I walked away and let go.
The next day someone offered to get us a sample of the plant in a daring attempt to scale the rock. This was successfully accomplished and within 2 months we met to prepare a fresh tincture. We macerated the plant and it was kept in alcohol in one of our students’ homes for another year, until we were able to bring a pharmacist to Malta to prepare and potentize Cynomorium Coccineum. We were kindly donated some money to cover the proving costs and began the proving both in the UK and Malta
The theme of long latent periods continued however. Because of my and Annette’s various other commitments, although almost completed the UK Hahnemanian proving was not written up for a further 16 years. In the interim though, one meditation proving was conducted by the Guild of Homeopaths’ proving group in 2007 (available on request). The Maltese proving, also nearly completed, has not as yet been written up for publication.
Then a final synchronistic event occurred. I attended a Society of Homeopaths seminar in the UK to help run a charity stall (www.ghanhomeopathy.org). Unknown to me, Annette, who I had not seen for many years, also attended and hearing that I would be there, decided to hand back to me all the proving materials .We both acknowledged, sadly, that with our busy lives, and so much time having passed, we would not complete and publish the proving. At that exact moment Mike Andrew walked up to us and I remembered that he has been a supervisor on the proving with a special connection to the plant. You see the results of his work here, culminating in the publication of the proving of Cynomorium Coccineum. Mike is the only person who could have done this and he arrived exactly as we were about to give up!
‘I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known’,
Rubics suggested by Mike Andrews for Cyno –c
MIND – CLARITY of mind
MIND – CLEANNESS – desire for cleaning
MIND – CONCENTRATION – difficult
MIND – CONCENTRATION – difficult – studying
MIND – CONFUSION of mind – loses his way in well-known streets
MIND – CONSCIENTIOUS about trifles
MIND – CONVERSATION – aggravates.
MIND – CONVERSATION – aversion to
MIND – COMPANY – aversion to
MIND – CONTENT
MIND – DELUSIONS – separated – body – mind are separated; body and
MIND – DETACHED
MIND – DETACHED – observing; as if – outside; from
MIND – EXERTION – physical – agg.
MIND – FASTIDIOUS
MIND – FEAR – struck – approaching him; of being struck by those (10,11)
MIND – INDIFFERENCE
MIND – INDIFFERENCE – pleasure, to – things usually enjoyed
MIND – IRRITABILITY
MIND – IRRITABILITY – questioned, when
MIND – MEDITATING – difficult
MIND – MOOD – alternating
MIND – THOUGHTS – sexual – woman he sees; sexual thoughts at every
MIND – THOUGHTS – violent
MIND – TRANQUILLITY
MIND – UNSYMPATHETIC
VERTIGO – ACCOMPANIED BY – Nape of neck – pain in
VERTIGO – CLOSING THE EYES – amel.
HEAD – PAIN – pressing pain – band; as from a
HEAD – PAIN – Temples – pressure – amel.
HEAD – PAIN – Vertex
HEAD – PAIN – Vertex – pressing pain
HEAD – PAIN – Vertex and Forehead
HEAD – PAIN – Forehead
EYE – ITCHING – Canthi – Outer
EYE – PAIN – Canthi – Outer – sore
EYE – PAIN – drawing pain – backward
EYE – PHOTOPHOBIA – light; from – sunlight – agg.
VISION – ACUTE
EAR – PAIN – lancinating
EAR – STOPPED sensation
EAR – STOPPED sensation – left
EAR – WATER; sensation of – in ear
NOSE – OBSTRUCTION – night
NOSE – SMELL – acute
NOSE – SMELL – acute – cooking food
NOSE – SMELL – acute – tobacco
NOSE – SNEEZING – violent
FACE – Bones – awareness of (new rubric)
FACE – ERUPTIONS – herpes – Lips
FACE – ERUPTIONS – herpes – Lips – About
THROAT – DRYNESS
STOMACH – APPETITE – increased – morning
STOMACH – ERUCTATIONS – violent
STOMACH – PAIN – stitching pain
STOMACH – THIRST – large quantities; for
STOMACH – THIRSTLESS
ABDOMEN – DISTENSION
ABDOMEN – FLATULENCE
ABDOMEN – PAIN – ovulation; during
ABDOMEN – PAIN – stitching pain
RECTUM – PAIN – stitching pain – upward
KIDNEYS – PAIN – stitching pain
MALE GENITALIA/SEX – SEXUAL DESIRE – increased
FEMALE GENITALIA/SEX – LEUKORRHEA – menses – after – agg.
FEMALE GENITALIA/SEX – MENSES – afternoon
FEMALE GENITALIA/SEX – PAIN – Ovaries – ovulation – during
EXPECTORATION – BROWNISH
BACK – CRACKING – Cervical region
BACK – PAIN – Cervical region
BACK – SHIVERING – extending to – Down the back
EXTREMITIES – ITCHING – Feet – Sole of
EXTREMITIES – PAIN – Elbows – dislocated; as if
EXTREMITIES – PAIN – Shoulders – dislocated; as if
SLEEP – DEEP
SLEEP – POSITION – back; on
SLEEP – SLEEPINESS – afternoon
SLEEP – SLEEPINESS – afternoon – 15 h
SLEEP – SLEEPINESS – overpowering – afternoon
SLEEP – WAKING – late; too
DREAMS – CLIFF – standing on a
DREAMS – CLIMBING
DREAMS – CRIMINALS, of
DREAMS – FRIENDS – old
DREAMS – PURSUED, being
DREAMS – REMEMBERED
DREAMS – SHARKS
DREAMS – VIOLENCE
DREAMS – WAR
DREAMS – WATER
SKIN – BURNING
SKIN – BURNING – sun; as if burned from heat of
SKIN – HEAT – fever; without
SKIN – PRICKLING
GENERALS – EXERTION; physical – aversion for
GENERALS – FOOD and DRINKS – butter – aversion
GENERALS – FOOD and DRINKS – spices – desire
GENERALS – FOOD and DRINKS – sweets – desire
GENERALS – PAIN – shooting pain
GENERALS – PERIODICITY
GENERALS – WEARINESS
Number in brackets represents prover’s number
Neck pain which had existed for sometime and immediately before proving improved for the duration of the proving despite working [painting?] on a ceiling. (3)
Concentration lot better than before the proving. (5)
Nose is usually blocked in the morning, but isn’t at the moment. (5)
Fear of tunnels. (10)
Memory very sharp (10) has not been like this for three years. (10)
Usually agitated and psychic during full moon. (10)
Upper orbit of eye hasn’t been tense and painful on pressure. (11)
No symptoms before bowel movement, no tight belt feeling. (11)
[i] Sherr J (1994) The Dynamics and Methodology of Homoeopathic Provings Dynamis Book
[ii] Abdel-Magied EM, Abdel-Rahman HA, Harraz FM (2001) The effect of aqueous extracts of Cynomorium coccineum and Withania somnifera on testicular development in immature Wistar rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 75, 1-4.
[iii] Helios circle 12/6/99, Meditation circle 20/4/07 and guides message 28/4/07
[iv] The Times (Malta) 25th August 1996
[vi] Tree J (2009) A Kingdoms approach to parasites with some philosophy Jenni The Homeopath Spring 2009, 27:4
A shorter version of this article was originally published in The Homeopath 31:3 pp7-10