Veratrum Album, common names “White” or “European Hellebore” or “Weisse Niesswurz”, belongs to the natural order of the LiliaceÃ¦ and is a member of the family of the Hellebore or MelanthaceÃ¦ (German = Germer plants). The name “Germer” derives from the old high German word “hram”, a torturing tool, and it was given to this plant family because of the biting, pungent smell of the roots of the white Germer. For the preparation of the homeopathic remedy, the tincture of the root-stocks, collected (in the Alps and Pyrenees) early in June before flowering, is used.
The white Hellebore is native to Eurasia and grows in moist grassy sub-alpine meadows and open woods in the Alps and Pyrenees, in Europe, from Lapland to Italy, through Russia and from east Asia to Siberia, but also found in Northern China, Japan and Northern Africa. Under the name “Veratrum Californicum”, this plant is said to have been found in Colorado and other western states of the U.S. It’s first known use was that of a pesticide in the classical Rome and Greece.
The plant itself is a perennial herb, growing up to 3.5 to 5 feet high, with a fleshy, oblong, somewhat horizontal rhizome, about the thickness of a finger, blackish or brownish-white externally, whitish or pale yellowish-white internally, having numerous fleshy, brownish-white fibers or true roots. The stem is straight, round and striated. The leaves are alternate, plaited and broad-ovate. Veratrum album closely resembles the American species, but is distinguished by its yellowish-white flower. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs), yellowish-white, green at the back, 8 lines in diameter, and have five large, petal-like sepals, eight to ten inconspicuous tubular petals, many stamens, and three to ten pistils.
Veratrum album has a paralyzing effect on the nervous system, and is scarcely if ever used internally, though the alkaloids it contains are used in the pharmaceutical industry. Though all parts of the plant are highly poisonous, it is the rhizome that is used mostly. The dried root, as it occurs in pharmacy, has a faint, unpleasant odor, and a sweetish, bitter, and then intensely disagreeable, and permanently acrid taste, leaving the tongue tingling and numb. It serves occasionally externally as a local analgesic, but even this is not without its dangers since it can be absorbed through broken skin.
It contains an amorphous alkaloid, Veratralbine (C26H43NO5), which the poisonous properties of white Hellebore is believed to be due to, and three crystallizable alkaloids,
- Jervine (C26H37NO3), discovered by E. Simon, in 1837, and called by him Barytine, because, like barium salts, it formed an almost insoluble sulphate. Jervine is feebly toxic, and the most abundant of the Veratrum alkaloids
- Pseudo-Jervine (C29H43NO7)
- Rubijervive (C26H43NO3)
Veratrum albums alkaloids act as a very violent and irritant poison, occasioning, when sniffed up into the nostrils, severe coryza. When swallowed, it causes sore mouth, swelling of the tongue, gastric heat, and burning, severe vomiting, and often profuse diarrhea. Vertigo, weakness, and tremors of the extremities, feeble pulse, loss of voice, dilatation of pupils, spasms of the ocular muscles, blindness, cold sweating, and mental disturbances are also produced.
When it proves fatal, narcotic symptoms, such as prolonged stupor and convulsions, are evident. Gastro-intestinal inflammation has also been produced by it. When not fatal, distressing precordial oppression persists for some time, and there are produced nervous and spasmodic symptoms and prolonged debility. The poison may be treated by drinks and injections of coffee, stimulants to overcome the depressed condition of the heart and arteries, and opiates and demulcents to relieve internal inflammation.
Veratrum album is, in minute doses, efficient in bowel disorders, with gushing, watery diarrhea with spasmodic or cramp-like action of the intestines, cold face, sunken eyes; and a body covered with cold sweat. That is why it used to be employed in cholera infantum, cholera morbus, in both of which it also checks the vomiting, and in Asiatic cholera as well.
Today it is rarely used, except as an external application to kill lice, and cure scabies and some other cutanous affections: the root contains ‘pyrethrums’, (Greek from purethron: “feverfew”) an insecticide and parasiticide, usually made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium or C. coccineu, hence Verartum album’s role as a forerunner of pesticides in ancient Rome and Greece. Pyrethrums are also effective against caterpillars and mammals so great caution is advised.
Hellebore is one of the four classic poisons (the other three being deadly nightshade, hemlock, and aconite). The name Hellebore comes from the Greek “elein” meaning to injure, and “bora” meaning food.
On the 26th of June, 1812, Hahnemann presented a Latin thesis, entitled:
“A Medical Historical Dissertation on the Helleborism of the Ancients.” (Published in Hahnemann : “Lesser Writings“, New -York, -1852, page -56-9.)
His son Frederick acted as the respondent, The thesis was a marvel of research and erudition, concerning the white Hellebore of the ancients, which will be proved to be identical with the Veratrum album of the present. (www.homeoint.org)
The use of Hellebore dates back to 1400 BCE, when it was used as a purgative to “cleanse the mind of all perverse habits”. Gerard, in his famous “Herbal”, found a use for Hellebore that is of particular interest to Goths. “A purgation of Hellebore is good for mad and furious men, for melancholy, dull and heavy persons, and briefly for all those that are troubled with black choler, and molested with melancholy.” Hellebore is found in writings through the ages, from the ancient Greeks through the Middle Ages, when it was used by herbalists. It has been used for animal ailments, to bless animals and keep them from evil spirits, to repel flies, to “purge the veins of melancholy, and cheer the heart”, or even in one superstition to make oneself invisible if scattered in the air.
King Attalus III was one of the greatest poison fanciers in history, and he had a particular fondness for Hellebore, since the poison “racked the nerves and caused the victim to swell” and Hellebore is stated to have been one of the principal poisons used in Europe for arrows, daggers, etc.
Hahnemann said about Veratrum Album: “Physicians have no notion of the power possessed by this drug to promote a cure of almost one-third of the insane in lunatic asylums (at all events as a homeopathic intermediate remedy) because they know not the peculiar kind of insanity in which to employ it, nor the dose in which it should be administered in order to be efficacious and yet not injurious. ”
The main characteristics of an individual in need of Veratrum Album are just like they appear in poisonings with the plant: Pale face, sunken expression, cold sweat, icy cold body, diarrhea and excessive vomiting and purging, convulsions with cerebral congestion, paralytic weakness and loss of power with violence of reactions to pain and collapse.
The mental state will be found somewhere between despair and rage: The tendency to quiet delirium is stronger than to manic, delirious states, the latter being greatly dependent on the pain that is felt by the patient: As long as a Veratrum Album patient is not triggered in any way, he will most likely remain in apathy, taciturn or anxious depression , but attacks of severe pain may drive him to despair or even rage, same applies to the way his fellow men approach him.
So there are two great signs that point to Veratrum Album: That of a poisoning that seems to end fatally–so weak is the body, cold and almost lifeless – though still trying to rid itself, with vehemence, of the poison through violent evacuations and incessant flow of saliva – almost like a complete system-flush; the other pointer is delirium, mania, insanity.
Hering describes the Verartrum Album Patient as:
“Young people and women of a sanguine or nervo-sanguine temperament ; also people who are habitually cold and deficient in vital reaction ; gay dispositions ; fitful mood.”
Fear & Anxiety
Some causes/etiologies on the mental plane for Veratrum Album states are:
– Fright (1), especially during menses (2)
– Injuries, mental symptoms from (1)
– Wounded honor (1)
– Disappointed love (1)
– Emotional excitement (2)
– Loss of money (2)
The fact that the highest degree of these symptoms is marked with 2, shows that Veratrum states are not necessarily most times on the mental plane and in fact they aren’t, which will be discussed later in this article.
Fear – not a prominent symptom of Veratrum; however, we do have fears that revolve around loss of position, wealth and status, as well as fears that you might expect from a poison:
- Mind – Fear – death, of (2)
- Mind – Fear – perspiration, during (3)
- Mind – Fear – Poisoned being, fear of (2)
- Mind – Fear – social position, about (1)
- Mind – Fear – job, loose his lucrative (1)
- Mind – Fear – robbers of (1)
These fears can become so overwhelming that the patient reacts irrationally:
- Mind – Fear (2)
- Mind – Fear – driving from place to place (2)
- Mind – Fear – breath away, takes (2)
Looking closer at the possible mental causes of Veratrum Album and its fears, it becomes clear, that this person takes himself very seriously. He might be just fine, as long as everything is just the way he needs it to be.
- Mind – Selfishness (2)
One of the characteristics of Veratrum Album is ‘rigidity’. The Veratrum personality is quite stiff in thinking, and cannot tolerate contradiction at all.
(The rigidity even reflects in his voice, Philip Bailey found, describing it as “very loud or a tense staccato, almost like a robot voice” in relatively healthy persons, because in disease, the voice of Veratrum album is often weak and feeble.)
- Mind – Contradiction – intolerant of (2)
- Mind – Dogmatic (1)
- Mind – Obstinate (1)
- Mind – Confident (1)
- Mind – Dictatorial (1)
- Mind – Rudeness (3)
- Mind – Haughty (3)
- Mind – Quarrelsome (2)
- Mind – irritability (2)
- Mind – Irritable – trifles, from (1)
- Mind – Offended, easily (2)
Veratrum’s mind seems to be single-tracked: Dogmatic – dictatorial – haughty. One can’t help but thinking Veratrum is living in his own little dream world, where all the rules are laid out, his picture of reality clearly drawn and then – as soon he is disturbed by something that might prove him wrong, he is unable to consider a second point of view. It might be far too much mental work for him and he becomes irritable, angry and reacts rude or impolite. And indeed, Veratrum does feel like in a dream, functioning as long he isn’t awakened.
- Mind – Dreams, as if in a (2)
- Mind – Absentminded (3)
- Mind – Interruption – agg. Mental Symptoms (1)
- Mind – Monomania (1)
- Mind – Thoughts – persistent (2)
Violence / Aggression & Depression
Veratrum can become quite aggressive when the balance he keeps through his dreamy state of mind is upset. His “on-button” lies right here: contradict him, insult him or make him sick: upset his mental or physical balance (here, especially, pain) or break his routines, and he will start right up! The bigger the difference between the peace of his own world and beliefs and the outside influence or disturbance, contrary opinion or pain, the more vehement will be Veratrum album’s reaction.
- Mind – Abusive (2)
- Mind – Striking (2)
- Mind – Biting (2)
- Mind – Violent (=vehement) (2)
- Mind – Biting (2)
- Mind – Rage, fury (3)
- Mind – Rage, fury â€¢ headache, with (2)
- Mind – Delirium – raging (3)
- Mind – Delirium – pains â€¢ from (3)
The aggressive mental state is, however, not the most marked one in Veratrum and it always needs a trigger to bring this side out in the patient. Veratrum is more likely to appear apathetic, calm, dreamy, numbed. On all planes, the depressive phases outweigh the manic ones. Veratrum is desperate of his recovery, sad and depressed – a dull mental state.
- Mind – Sadness (3)
- Mind – Discouraged (3)
- Mind – Despair (3)
- Mind – Dullness (2)
- Mind – Brooding (3)
- Mind – Taciturn (3)
- Mind – Indifferent (2)
- Mind – Sitting – inclined to sit â€¢ wrapped in deep sad thought & notices nothing, as if (2)
Sometimes, Veratrum Album can be seen busy though. This should not been confused with a really active mind – it is more an activity of automatic character. A desire to move (physical) to sooth his mind or keep it in a quiet state. Just like a baby likes to be rocked on it’s mothers lap until it falls asleep, the Veratrum patient might engage in some kind of activity that does not require much mental exercise.
- Mind – Activity, desires (3)
- Mind – Restlessness – anxious (2)
Hyperactivity / Mania / Delirium
The restlessness can be a foreboding of a true manic state., which the Veratrum patient goes through.
- Mind – Mania – alternating depression (1)
- Mind – Loquacity (2)
- Mind – Mania (3)
- Mind – Delirium – loquacious (2)
- Mind – Delirium – restless (2)
- Mind – Mania – singing, with (2)
- Mind – Mania – tearing â€¢ clothes (2)
- Mind – Delusions – laughter, with (2)
- Mind – Delusions – loquacity, with (2)
The Delirium, for which Veratrum album is a great remedy, may develop great intensity and violence:
- Mind – Mania – rage, with (2)
- Mind – Delirium – maniacal (2)
- Mind – Delirium – furious (1)
- Mind – Delirium – violent (1)
Like most psychotic remedies, Veratrum, too, has a strongly religious attitude. Because of his rigid mind, the Veratrum Patient is prone to religious fanaticism and might not accept any form of religion other than his own and he might try to “save the multitudes”, feeling chosen by God or he may imagine himself to be Christ himself:
- Mind – religious affections – too occupied with religion (3)
- Mind – religious affections – too occupied with religion â€¢ fanatism (1)
- Mind – Delirium – religious (3)
- Mind – Delusions – religious (2)
- Mind – Exhilaration – religious (1)
- Mind – Delusions – God â€¢ messenger from God, he is a (1) (the only remedy in this rubric)
- Mind – Delusions – heaven, is in â€¢ talking with God (2)
- Mind – Delusions – Christ, himself to be (3)
- Mind – Preaching – religious psychotic preaching (1) only remedy in this rubric
Since Veratrum is very anxious about his health, it should come as no surprise that he is just as anxious about his salvation:
- Mind – religious affections – too occupied with religion â€¢ melancholia (2)
- Mind – Praying (3)
- Mind – Praying – kneeling and (2)
- Mind – Piety, nocturnal (1) only remedy in this rubric
- Mind – Anxiety – salvation, about (3)
- Mind – Delusions – doomed, being (2)
- Mind – Delusions – crime â€¢ committed a crime, he had (2)
- Mind – Insanity, religious (2)
Goods & Chattels
Veratrum Album states can be brought on by loss of money and by wounded honor. Veratrum fears for his social position, for his job and worries about the presence of robbers as well. The reference to status symbols can become so strong that out of his fear, Veratrum may develop delusions about this subject, because prestige and property are things that give safety and ensure that none of his routines are broken and the balance can be kept:
- Mind – Delusions – vow â€¢ keep it, must (1) only remedy in this rubric
- Mind – Delusions – rank, he is a person of (1)
- Mind – Delusions – squanders money (2)
- Mind – Delusions – misfortune â€¢ inconsolable over imagined misfortune (2)
- Mind – Delusions – thieves â€¢ seeing (1)
- Mind – Delusions – thieves â€¢ frightened on waking & thinks, dream is true, dreams of robbers (1)
- Mind – Delusions – ruined â€¢ is ruined, he (1)
The Veratrum Album patient is not as sexually obsessed as some other psychotic remedies but it is there to some degree:
- Mind – Mania – sexual mania (1)
- Mind – Amativeness (1)
- Mind – Lewdness (1)
- Mind – Delirium, erotic (1)
- Mind – Obscene (1)
…but, a distinctive desire for the erotic and a good deal of lust and he might appear shameless or lewd:
- Mind – Amorous (3)
- Mind – lascivious, lustful (2)
- Mind – Naked, wants to be (2)
- Mind – Shameless (3)
- Mind – Lewdness – talk lewd (3)
- Mind – Nymphomania (2)
Overall it can be said that as long the patient’s internal balance is kept, as long nothing breaks his routine and as long no pain triggers upset him, the patient will remain in a quiet, depressed state; but as soon as his optimal conditions get disturbed, he might become quite lively, aggressive and active.
The Symptoms of Veratrum Album are
Many of Veratrum’s complaints are < Menses, whether that be delirium or nosebleed, just about anything can get worse because of menses or lochia, because in Veratrum the discharges, especially the menses, are profuse and prostrating.
Movement & Motion
Most symptoms are < motion, < walking, < standing and > sitting and > lying. Especially does this apply to affections of the locomotor system, neck and head. This isn’t surprising when one remembers that mentally, too, the Veratrum patient doesn’t like to ‘exercise’!
Naturally, every pain and complaint between chest and umbilicus and every complaint of the respiratory system can be aggravated by motion as well. This then would be < coughing and < ex- and inspiration.
Temperatures & Weather conditions
Veratrum album has a general aggravation from cold and amelioration from warmth. Eye symptoms are < open air and pain in upper extremities is < rainy weather.
Daytimes & Seasons
Because Veratrum is generally < cold air, naturally symptoms also are < winter.