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The King Root, The Jack of All Trades in Homeopathy’s Medicine Cabinet.

Dr. Shailendra R. Vaishampayan discusses Sanguinaria canadensis, which he refers to as a homeopathic remedy that is the “king root, the jack of all trades. “

If I were asked whether I could survive in the wilderness as a homeopathic doctor with only three remedies, my answer would be unequivocal: Arsenicum album, Pulsatilla, and Sanguinaria. With these three in my possession, I could weather any storm and navigate any terrain.

While the first two remedies are widely accepted and acknowledged for their effectiveness, people often question my choice of Sanguinaria over a remedy such as Belladonna. However, I firmly believe that one requires a remedy that may not necessarily have a profound effect but is capable of managing almost all physical symptoms that may arise in any acute situation.

We are not searching for a remedy that could bring about a complete spiritual shift in one’s life, which is often associated with homeopathy. Instead, we are seeking a simple remedy that can provide immediate relief to the patient. And in this regard, Sanguinaria is a jack of all trades.

Indeed, it is essential to have a remedy that can address a wide range of physical symptoms in the wilderness, where medical help may be far from reach. My clinic in India, in the year 2000, was situated in what could only be described as a no-man’s land; a slum area with just four doctors and a complete lack of major medical facilities in the vicinity.

Sanguinaria, with its ability to manage symptoms such as headache, fever, cough, and sore throat, among others, has proved to be the ideal remedy to have at hand even during those difficult days. Its versatility and effectiveness in managing acute conditions make it an indispensable remedy to have in my survival kit.

Therefore, while Belladonna may have its own set of benefits, when it comes to managing a wide range of acute physical symptoms in a survival situation, Sanguinaria is undoubtedly the remedy of choice at least for me [we are speaking about this imaginary situation only, otherwise these remedies are to be prescribed purely on symptom similarity and a Belladonna case requires Belladonna only]. I agree that it’s not a polychrest remedy, but it is undoubtedly a useful remedy that can save your patient and your reputation.

Sanguinaria canadensis, commonly known as the bloodroot, holds a special place in my heart due to the numerous memories associated with the plant and its remedy. Back in 1997, during my medical college days, I was tasked with teaching my fellow students about this remedy by our Materia Medica teacher, as a punishment for not attending her lecture. At the time, I had no idea whether I would ever become a practicing doctor, let alone a teacher of homeopathy. However, this remedy ended up changing the course of my life.

Since Sanguinaria was not a classic remedy, and very limited literature was available on it, I had to refer to nearly twenty books to gather enough information to teach my fellow students. My efforts paid off, and I was able to impart valuable knowledge about the remedy to my peers. This experience solidified my desire to become a teacher of homeopathy, and to my surprise, the first drug I taught as a junior lecturer at VHMC Medical College in Mumbai[ 2001] was Sanguinaria as well. It was a coincidence that seemed too perfect to ignore.

As the years went by, my passion for Sanguinaria continued to grow. When writing my dissertation, I chose the Papaveraceae family as the topic, with a particular focus on Sanguinaria as a palliative remedy for advanced pathology. It was during this time that some of my students began referring to me as the “Sanguinaria doctor” due to my ability to fit the remedy to any patient and any situation.

Common name: Bloodroot (Sangunie Blood)

Dr. Bute from the USA is the prover of this plant, which secretes red juice. According to the old concept of the Doctrine of Signatures, this plant is believed to be beneficial for all disorders related to circulation and blood.

The history and folklores surrounding Bloodroot are rich and varied. Native American people used it as a traditional remedy to treat fevers, rheumatism, and induce vomiting, while early settlers also discovered its virtues and introduced it to the rest of the world.

It was used to treat many respiratory issues, such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, and consumption, as well as to wash wounds and create an ointment for use against fungi and eczemas. Ancient people also used Bloodroot as a remedy for divination and a plant to cast off evil spells and negativity. It was often placed under windows and used by Native Americans as red war- paint.

It is well known that these remedies have not been extensively proven, as their introduction to homeopathy was through folk doctors, American Doctors, and Eclectic physicians. Thus, we are often limited in the data we have regarding their symptoms.

To compensate for this, we refer to extracurricular books that can help us discover the missing pieces of the puzzle. ‘The Secrets of Wildflowers by Jack Sanders’ is one such book that can provide practical hints for cases and possible therapeutic applications of many American Homeopathic Remedies.

In the early 19th century, a London physician discovered that this particular plant bleeds just like humans. He proposed using it as a protocol for skin cancer treatment, and according to Jack’s narrative, it was extensively used at London’s Middlesex Hospital.

However, it eventually fell out of use due to the development of more advanced skin treatments. Nonetheless, some continued to use it for the treatment of minor cancers, skin and vaginal polyps, and nasal polyps. Every homeopath from India is familiar with the use of Sanguinaria canadensis (and its derivative, Sanguinaria nitricum) as a so-called specific for vaginal and nasal polyps.

In 1983, an American company called Vipont Pharma marketed a toothpaste and mouthwash containing sanguinaria juice, claiming that it was effective in reducing dental plaque and whitening teeth. These claims were supported by the American Dental Association and some army dental surgeons claimed that it was the best thing to happen to dentistry since fluoride.

This remedy is a part of Ayurvedic  literature  and is a famous plant in India .  In my grandfather’s possession was a small, ghastly-looking doll made of Bloodroot. Coming from a farmer’s family, he was familiar with many natural first aid medicines used for both domestic animals and humans.

According to him, the Bloodroot doll was a remedy for everything, including head colds, wounds, muscle sprains, and fevers. I vividly remember the astringent feeling and heat generated by the root when a poultice made of it was applied to the affected area. At that time, we found this treatment old school and ghastly, and longed to see a regular doctor.

However, no one dared to speak against him, not even my parents. He was considered a folk doctor due to his first aid knowledge, which led to him working for the Bombay Veterinary College as a surgical assistant after India became independent. Back then, veterinary doctors practiced with a lot of herbal remedies. So, according to him, this medicine worked better than any antibiotic for issues related to pregnancy and mastitis in cattle.

Dr Kent’s description

Bloodroot is an old domestic remedy. A great many eastern farmers’ wives will not go into the winter without bloodroot in the house. In the cold winter days, when the coryzas come on, a “cold” in the head, throat and chest, then they get the bloodroot ready and make a tea of it. With them it is a routine remedy for “colds.” They give it to combat all complaints, and there is no doubt that even in this crude form it does break up “colds,” because the provings show its relation to chest troubles and “colds” that go to the chest.

When other remedies prove ineffective, Sanguinaria can be a helpful alternative. Though it affects every organ superficially, it is not a constitutional remedy based solely on a mental abstract picture. In certain cases, we cannot prescribe deeper acting remedies such as Phosphorus and Silica due to the risk of serious aggravation.

For instance, in patients with weak immune systems, severely damaged lungs or heart, or chronic conditions such as COPDs and bronchiectasis, where the damage is irreversible, this remedy can be used as a substitute until the patient’s susceptibility and vitality improve.

Belonging to the Papaveraceae family, Sanguinaria is one of the three significant remedies in homeopathic Materia medica, along with Opium and Chelidonium. According to their Doctrine of Signatures, Opium’s white juice acts on the brain and nervous system, Chelidonium on the liver due to the yellow juice, and Sanguinaria on circulation and blood. However, despite these differences, they share many similar active principles that make them interchangeable in practice.

In the complete repertory, the mind section comprises around 125 symptoms of Sanguinaria, although only a few are commonly observed in practice. These include drowsiness, similar to the effects of Opium and Chelidonium, which is typically seen in acute conditions.

Patients may also exhibit weakness and lethargy, particularly in cloudy weather, along with sensitivity to light, noise, touch, and changes in weather that can lead to irritability. Additionally, depression may arise as a result of headaches, while stupor may make it impossible for patients to study or work.

In some patients, I have confirmed the occurrence of dreams related to a long journey, particularly by rail, during which they experience shaking and movement throughout their body. Although this symptom is not explicitly listed under dreams in the repertory, I was able to locate it under the delusion section.

Its action primarily targets the circulation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. It initiates with irritation, leading to congestion, inflammation, and catarrh. In acute cases, the following sequence of events occurs ;sudden onset leads to congestion of the affected area when the individual is exposed to drafts, cold, or rainy weather.

Periodical exacerbations are also common. The patient suffers in spring due to pollen and experiences various forms of allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and chilliness. The symptoms evolve rapidly, akin to a storm. Regardless of the pathology or affected organ, some elements remain consistent, such as right-sided affection, sudden burning, and ebullition of heat in the affected area, burning leading to rawness, throbbing of the affected part, and aggravated symptoms due to touch, jar, motion, like Belladonna.

However, symptoms improve with heat, lying down, lying on the left side, and passing flatus up and down. I have verified this modality in many patients. It is often useful in acute asthma or bronchitis attacks, coryza, sinusitis, or even orthopedic pain from head to toe; this remedy has a unique affinity for the right-sided shoulder joint, deltoid, and rotator cuff.

This makes it an indispensable remedy in atypical gout, adhesive capsulitis, and frozen shoulder for which it is considered almost specific.

Ferrington’s Materia Medica is an excellent resource to gain a better understanding of this remedy. It has various indications that can be useful in treating a range of illnesses.

For instance, in migrainous headaches, previously referred to as American sick headaches, the patient is rendered incapable of functioning after working for six days and experiencing a headache on Sunday. In such a scenario, the patient must sit down in a quiet, dark place or lie down on the left side, while applying heat to the affected area and avoiding interaction with others. Passing flatus is an essential modality of this headache. A similar headache on the left side of the head may suggest the use of Lac Defloratum. Meanwhile, Iris Versicolor is a crucial remedy for right-sided migraines, which are often better by vomiting.

Sanguinaria is a remarkable remedy that has proven beneficial for a variety of conditions. It is particularly effective for polyps of all kinds, including nasal polyps during acute situations. Other remedies like Teucrium, Formica Rufa, and Bovista may also be useful for such conditions. The discharge from the mucous membrane is hot, red, sanguinous, and burning to the affected part.

As a palliative treatment, Sanguinaria has been found to benefit many individuals with advanced stages of lung disorders, including asthma, bronchiectasis, neoplasia, fibrosis, sarcoidosis, and cystic fibrosis. I recall a remarkable case of Aspergillosis with black, bloody fungi in the sputum, where the patient was declared to have no more than a year to live.

She was an Indian woman residing in the Middle East and had experienced weight loss and other complications due to Aspergillosis. However, after taking Sanguinaria, she fully recovered from her illness, gained weight, and returned to normal hemoglobin levels. The remedy helped her for three years before she required a deeper acting remedy, Silica. The case was treated in 2012, and the lady is still alive today.

When it comes to pneumonitis, I have found Chelidonium to be a much better indicated remedy than Sanguinaria. Although I have used Sanguinaria for asthma where there is more spasm on auscultation on the right side of the lungs or even lung fibrosis after tuberculosis or any trauma.

A deeper remedy when prescribed to a healed lung could reopen the fibrosis and reintroduce the bleeding again, so a remedy like Sanguinaria could make the patient symptomatically better. Many disorders of allergic origin where the cause lies with an upset GIT, like eosinophilic oesophagitis, are also benefited from this remedy. Any gastric regurgitation leading to breathing issues, hay fever, or allergic bronchitis, and lung tuberculosis where one needs time before sending a patient to the proper protocol are also conditions where Sanguinaria has shown many good prospects. The leading indication is that the part is red. The chest from outside and the cheeks are also red despite the patient being anemic.

Sanguinaria is also an effective remedy that covers many symptoms of menopause with right-sided affections. For left-sided and hot patients, Lachesis is preferred. Coffea is recommended for pain and heightened imagination, while Sanguinaria is used for right-sided and bloated and chilly women.

Many acute inflammatory disorders and degenerative arthritis are under its influence, such as acute gout [right-sided], congested, red, burning, and better by warmth and lying down. Knee injuries, bursitis, and RA are also effectively treated with Sanguinaria. In many patients with RA, I have found this remedy to be very effective during acute attacks, specifically for people on the second line of drugs like chloroquine derivatives. It provides quick relief.

When it comes to the issue of flatulence, a number of middle-aged, perimenopausal women often complain of vague body pains. They describe feeling gas trapped in the affected areas, moving back and forth. These women also report experiencing eructation (belching) when they apply pressure to these specific body parts, especially their knees.

In such cases, Borax is the only remedy listed in the repertory under the rubric “eructation General pressing on painful part when.” It’s worth noting that Sepia differs slightly from Borax in its symptoms, as its eructations occur only after the affected part is touched with the tip of a finger. However, none of the other remedies can match Sanguinaria’s modality, where the symptoms improve drastically after the patient passes gas in both directions. This golden symptom has been verified by myself and others in thousands of cases.

When it comes to using this remedy for pneumonia, although Kent’s Repertory mentions it as a treatment for right-sided lung infections occurring in the upper and middle zones, our practical experience suggests otherwise. During the time when we were allowed to treat bacterial and viral pneumonias on an outpatient basis, Chelidonium was more frequently prescribed based on symptoms than Sanguinaria. It has a deeper and longer-acting effect than Sanguinaria and can also be prescribed as a constitutional remedy, much like Lycopodium. But that’s a discussion for another time.

 To summarise:

Sanguinaria, the healer’s delight

For acute ailments that come day and night

Sudden onset, without any notice prior

Congestion grips, as if house on fire

On the right side, joint pains, and headaches

Chills that shake, as the body quakes

Dull and irritable, hard to bear.

Bright light, noise worsens, adding to the despair.

But fear not, for Sanguinaria brings.

Relief from these painful things

Passing flatus up and down

Brings comfort, the pain is gone

Short-acting, yet potent still

Sanguinaria, a remedy with skill

For those who suffer and seek relief

Sanguinaria, the doctor ‘s belief.

Keynotes –

Acute/short-acting

Sudden onset

Burning and congestion

Right-sided joint pains and headaches

Chilly

Dull and irritable

Worse when lying on the right side

Improved by passing flatus up and down.

Note- As the proverb goes, “Experience is the best teacher.

References

Allen, H. C. (1995). Keynotes and characteristics with comparisons of the leading remedies: With some of the nosodes, Sarcodes and imponderable drugs. Asian Health Press.

Boericke, W., & Boericke, O. E. (1990). Homoeopathic materia medica with repertory comprising the characteristic and guiding symptoms of the remedies (R. B. Savage, Ed.; 2nd ed.). Homoeopathic Book Service.

Burt, W. H. (2019). Characteristic Materia Medica. HardPress.

Clarke, J. H. (2022). Decachords: Top ten indications of 120 homeopathic remedies. B Jain.

Clarke, John Henry. (2023). Dictionary of practical materia medica: 3-Volume set. B Jain.

Cowperthwaite, A. C. (2021). Text Book of Materia Medica & Therapeutics: Characteristic, Analytical & Comparative: 13th Edition (13th ed.). B Jain.

Hering, C. (2016). Guiding symptoms of our materia medica. B Jain.

hompath. (n.d.).

Hughes, R. (1999). A cyclopedia of drug pathogenesy. B Jain.

Hutchinson. (2021). Seven-Hundred Redline Symptoms. B Jain.

Kent, J. T. (1979). Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy. Thorsons.

Mathur, K. N. (2023). Systematic Materia Medica of Homoeopathic Remedies. B Jain.

Nash, E. B. (1986). Leaders in Homoeopathic Therapeutics. Insight Editions.

Phatak, S. R. (2002). Concise Materia Medica of Homoeopathic Medicine. B Jain.

Roberts, H. A. (2022). Principles & art of cure by homoeopathy: A modern textbook with word index: 3rd edition. B Jain.

Sanders, J. (2014). Secrets of wildflowers: A delightful feast of little-known facts, folklore, and history. Lyons Press.

Tyler, M. L. (2022). Homoeopathic Drug Pictures. B Jain.

von Lippe, A. (2021). Keynotes & Redline Symptoms of Materia Medica. B Jain.

https://www.amazon.com/FOLKWAYS-HOMOEOPATHY-ANCESTERAL-SECRET-HEALING/dp/B0B2TNCJXC

Hahnemann, Samuel, Organon 6th Edition, translated by William Boericke  , B Jain.

Despite being proud of his mother tongue, Marathi, Dr V, like many Mumbai citizens, speaks six other Indian languages. He also has a diploma in German language from Mumbai University. Despite being diagnosed with dyscalculia and dysgraphia, he manages to speak and write readable English.

Apart from his work in homeopathy, Dr V has a keen interest in Western classical music, Indian music, and playing various musical instruments. Due to his tongue-twister name, Shailendra Ramchandra Vaishampayan, his patients fondly call him Dr V to avoid any mispronunciation.

Dr V’s podcast show, “Dr V’s World of Homeopathy,” is popular in more than fifteen countries.

Dr V refers to himself as a missionary of homeopathy, and his mission is to unite the homeopathic world by connecting people globally and sharing knowledge of homeopathy.

He co-authored two research articles on COVID-19 with various researchers amidst the pandemic:

“Clinical research on the efficacy of homeopathy in the treatment of COVID-19: A retrospective observational study” published in the journal “Complementary MedicineResearch”(https://www.thiemeconnect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0040-1716336)

“Effect of Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of COVID-19: A Prospective, Parallel-Group, Open-Label, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial” published in the journal “American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine” (https://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo?journalid=254&doi=10.11648/j.ajcem.20200806.13)”

About the author

Shailendra Vaishampayan

Dr Professor Shailendra Vaishampayan, MD [Hom] India, RsHom [England], known as Dr V, is a renowned motivational speaker, orator, teacher, global practitioner, podcaster, and documentary filmmaker of homeopathy based in India. He has conducted numerous seminars, webinars, and workshops across the globe. He has taught at prestigious medical colleges in India and Malaysia, and in various countries, including India, Malaysia, the UK, Ireland, and the United States of America. Dr V has authored three books on Materia medica: Kindergarten Materia Medica, Folkways and Homeopathy, and Cell Salts-Hands On. With more than 23 years of practice and teaching, he currently holds the position of Professor of Materia Medica at DYPHMC and PG Institute, where he is an official PhD and MD guide. Along with his doctor wife Amruta and their friends Dr Jay and Dr Rupali, Dr V founded a group called Folk Homoeopathy. Through this group, they have successfully converted many general practitioners into hardcore homeopathic practitioners.

10 Comments

  • i always watch those ‘Alone’ shows and think why don’t these geyzers know about charcoal. if i was to go anywhere with only one item i would, without doubt, take along charcoal. it cures absolutely ANYTHING. and not just dis-ease in ppl. i use it on plants, in my fridge, in my water supply, on my rescued animals, on my teeth (the dentists always ask me why my teeth are so clean!) …. and the list goes on and on and on. pity the masses don’t know about it but then i guess everyone is mainstream. why i’m going to live in the jungle ….

  • The least you could do to encourage confidence in Hpathy’s articles is use a botanically accurate photo of the plant being discussed. The flowers in the photograph at the top of the article are not Sanguinaria canadensis.

      • I live where Sanguinaria candensis grows wild. It has 8-12 petals which are rounded at the tip, not indented. There are no visible “veins” in the petals. There are many more stamens than shown. The stem of the flower is reddish-tan, not dark green. So I respectfully disagree. This looks like an AI generated photo loosely based on Ranunculaceae, possibly on an Anemone. I have inquired of several botanists on an identification forum and will add more information later.

    • Thank you, Shailendra. I apologize, I misspelled “canadensis” but couldn’t see how to edit my post (which is awaiting approval).

    • I am sorry for not saying that I enjoyed the excellent article! Very instructive and I agree, this is a versatile remedy! Please excuse my lack of respect, Sir.

  • I live where Sanguinaria candensis grows wild. It has 8-12 petals which are rounded at the tip, not indented. There are no visible “veins” in the petals. There are many more stamens than shown. The stem of the flower is reddish-tan, not dark green. So I respectfully disagree. This looks like an AI generated photo loosely based on Ranunculaceae, possibly on an Anemone. I have inquired of several botanists on an identification forum and will add more information later.

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