Homeopathy has barely scratched the surface in discovering, proving, and utilizing medicines made from the animal kingdom. This is even more true of sea life. We love the water world and make it a point of visiting aquariums every chance we get. The diversity in shape, color, and form of sea life is truly remarkable. We love the aquariums in Monterrey and Boston, but two of our favorites are in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, both of which have full-size walkways under a portion of the massive tank. How astounding to gaze several feet above your head at a sting ray eight feet in diameter! Or to communicate up close with amazingly delicate and fragile sea horses, who appear to live in a world of their very own. We recall a tank in Sydney which housed only one fairly small creature, a stone fish, said to emit some of the most potent poison of any sea animal. Apparently humans who are bitten find themselves rapidly writhing in excruciating pain. So often have we wished that these substances could be proven as homeopathic medicines. What type of a person, for example, might need Stone Fish for his healing? The only obstacle to making these animals into medicine is time and energy. Too few homeopaths and too many substances to prove!
The Relatively Few Sea Animals Already Proven as Homeopathic Medicines
The following is the meager list of available medicines. The only ones to be considered polychrests (the forty or so most commonly prescribed medicines) are Calcarea carbonica and Sepia. As we have mentioned before, we are of the school that the entire concept of polychrest medicines is fallacious. The idea that most of the billions of human inhabitants of this planet can fit into forty-five or so symptom pictures is absurd. The use of polychrests has been a way to make a vast pharmacopeia more manageable but much of the time it is the homeopath’s moderately successful, at best, attempt, to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. The concept that any of the two thousand plus available homeopathic substances may be needed in any case makes study and prescribing much more challenging and overwhelming, but, in the end, offers a much better fit and more spectacular results.
This is one of the first few constitutional medicines learned in homeopathy. Think of the typical chubby cheeked, blonde, blue-eyed, plump baby and a homeopath’s first thought is often Calcarea carbonica (oyster shell). The same is true of a chilly, overweight, hypothyroid, fatigued, somewhat flabby, constipated woman. These individuals may indeed benefit from this medicine, though the stereotypes are only one facet of a multifaceted diamond and by limiting ourselves to such a picture many of those who can potentially benefit from the medicine will miss out.
Those needing Calcarea carbonica are typically cautious, fearful, sluggish couch potatoes and homebodies. Conversely, they can be loyal, dedicated, tireless workers. Just the type of person you would like in a managerial office position or to be in charge of a project.
Calcarea is typically considered a mineral and located on the periodic table below magnesium and above strontium, to the right of potassium, and to the left of scandium. However, oyster shells are indeed products of the sea and, therefore, really bridge the mineral and animal kingdoms.
Clinically there is no end to the possible conditions potential treatable with Calcarea carbonica. It is often successful for infants with otitis media (ear infections), thrush, asthma, difficult teething, and diaper rash and for adults with allergies, hypothroidism, gall bladder problems, and panic attacks.
It was a real joy to see a live cuttlefish for the first time (Sepia is made from cuttlefish ink). The fluttering grace, resembling a ballet dancer, reminds us of the confirmatory symptom for Sepia- a love of dancing. It is uncanny how many women needing this medicine for a variety of problems, especially hormonal imbalances, will recount that dancing is the love of their lives. This medicine is a godsend for so many women during the hormonally fluctuating times of their lives: menarche, pregnancy, miscarriages, menstrual periods, postpartum, labor, and menopause.
Anytime there is a significant hormonal shift accompanied by a profound feeling of stasis and joylessness along with constipation, diminished libido, and irritability with or without weepiness, Sepia is a medicine to consider. It is also a medicine to keep in mind following abortions, tubal ligations, problems after oral contraceptives or hormone replacement- anytime the hormonal balance is compromised.
Not that Sepia is exclusively for women, but usually it is. The classic Sepia picture is one of a woman who suffered morning sickness during her pregnancies, had too many children too quickly, found herself trapped at home with babies, unable to fulfil her career desires, then fell into a state of a rather apathetic depression. She is occasionally shaken out of her stasis by vigorous exercise or dancing, by a good cry or an outburst of anger. But she is mostly in a kind of low-energy, low-key, emotionally-deadened state.
Sea Medicines that Are Well-Known for Not so Frequently Prescribed
This medicine is made from in the intestinal secretion of the sperm whale, known also as ambergris. Its most well-known keynote is mortification from needing to use a public bathroom due to painful shyness. There is an out-of-proportion timidity about being in the presence of strangers or in social situations. It is said that these individuals often experience premature aging, may be globally anxious, and have a propensity for coughs. It is surmised by some that Ambra grisea is a sycotic medicine, which may be true of most animal medicines. as we will mention later.
Spongia, made from toasted sea sponge, is now definitely considered to be an animal, though it was previously debatable. This medicine is best known as a tubercular medicine that is highly effective for dry, croupy, barking, coughs, known to sound like a saw cutting through wood. Those suffering from such a cough are typically relieved immediately after eating or drinking, which makes for a good differentiation during an acute cough. The suffocating quality of the cough is characteristic of tubercular remedies, in which individuals have the feeling of being trapped with a desire to escape quickly. This is by no means to say Spongia cannot be prescribed constitutionally and we have indeed used it in that way. However, it is the cough that first comes to mind when thinking of this medicine.
Sea Animal Medicines Still Considered Obscure
There are a small number of homeopathic medicines made from sea animals that are rarely used. In fact, many homeopaths may not even have heard of them. They are:
• Astacus fluviatilis (crayfish)- We have only seen this medicine prescribed by George Vithoulkas in one live case in which a man was suffering from eczema of the hands. It was the bright redness of the hands that led to the prescription. We never did find out if it worked, but at least it made us aware of the medicine.
• Asterias rubens (starfish)- There is a considerable amount of information available about this medicine but we have only heard of its use with breast cancer.
• Conchiolinum (mother of pearl)- Apparently used primarily with bony conditions. May be considered by some to be more of a mineral medicine. While researching this article was the first we heard of it. The materia medica is fairly well documented in Allen’s Encycopedia.
• Corralium rubrum (red coral)- Well-documented. Best known for violent, spasmodic coughs and coral-colored skin eruptions.
• Erythrinus (South American mullet)- A medicine with very scant information. Used by Burnett for pityriasis but we did not find it in his materia medica.
• Gadus morrula (cod fish)- Petroz is said to be the authority. More materia medica available than with Erythrinus but still limited.
• Homarus (digestive fluid of the lobster)- Apparently useful for gastrointestinal problems and skin disorders, particularly urticaria. Patients needing this medicine are said to have the feeling that they cannot move.
• Hydrophis cyanocinctus (sea snake)- Proved in the United Kingdom in 1959, this substance is said to be especially useful for central nervous system and muscular disorders, which is not too surprising given the poisonous nature of this snake.
• Lac delphinum (dolphin’s milk)- Recently proven by Nancy Herrick, MA and Dr. Divya Chhabra. Will be discussed in detail later in the article.
• Medusa (jelly fish)- Useful for skin conditions, and also urogenital and glandular problems. Shares characteristics of Sepia such as aversion to sex and an affinity for dancing. The symptoms cited in Vermeulen’s Synoptic Materia Medica are derived from Margery Blackie and Massimo Mangialavori. We used this medicine once successfully in a first-aid situation in which a woman was stung by a jellyfish.
• Murex purpureus (purple fish)- Known to be beneficial, like Sepia, for gynecologic complaints, particularly uterine. Sexual energy is quite high, in contrast with Sepia, We have not prescribed this medicine, though it is said to be useful in women who have such a sensation of the uterus falling out through the cervix that they need to cross their legs. The vaginal discharge and incontinence are reminiscent of Sepia.
• Physalia pelagica (Portuguese Man-o-war)- Again very little information. Said to be helpful in urticaria (hives).
Common Characteristics of the Sea Animals
First, remember that we are talking about animals and that the characteristics of those needing animal medicines, such as competitiveness, attractiveness, survival, domination and subordination, jealousy, etc. mentioned in the previous two articles still apply. The question is how this features may be different in those needing sea animals.
The only information to date that we have found tying together the general themes of sea medicines is from a 1996 seminar in San Francisco with Massimo Mangialavori, a brilliant Italian homeopath from Modena. Massimo has the wonderful talent of synthesizing materia medica and his personal insights to draw together original themes of families of homeopathic medicines. Massimo denotes the evolution of the sea remedies as follows: Aqua marina (sea water sea), Spongia tosta, Corallium rubra, Medusa, Asteria rubens, Homarus, Murex, Gadus morrula, then Hydrophis. Massimo describes the sea as a protected area, the only place where an animal can live attached to one rock without moving and can still eat and survive. Sea water, according to his theory, is much like an amniotic fluid for these creatures. This protected environment creates a situation where little communication is needed and social systems are not necessary. In salt water, sperm and egg can join without sexual intercourse and there is no need for nurturing by a father and mother within the sea water.
Massimo gives the following as common themes of sea medicines:
1. Individuality- Do not need any contact with others. A baby who does not want to leave the uterus. A very sensitive relationship with one’s mother combined with an inability to touch, or to talk. Someone who is protected by a nonhuman creature,
2. Weakness/Independence- A tendency to appear strong and to not need others. To need support to them means he is a weak person.
4. Communication issues
5. Past- Idea that “before” was better, though it never actually was.
6. Safe Environment/Protection
8. Motion- difficulty moving
10. Stinging pain
Massimo synthesizes the group of medicines as follows: There is a sense of weakness leading to difficulty in relationships. These individuals are lonely and poor communicators yet nevertheless have a strong desire to be understood and for others to approach them.
A feeling of a thread in the throat, which is worse near seaside, a desire for salt, and dreams of rats are common. (We have a patient with Graves Disease who has responded well to Aqua marina. She has a goiter much worse by the sea.) He has found a common delusion that others can see into them.
These insights can be very helpful. As others dedicate themselves to honing in on the sea animal medicines, it is inevitable that other themes and threads will emerge as well as miasmatic differentiations.
We participated about six years ago in a proving of Lac delphinum (milk of the bottlenose dolphin) on Maui. Nancy Herrick has documented the results of the proving in her book Animal Mind, Human Voices. The primary themes elucidated in her proving were calmness during danger, a propensity to play and pleasure, circular movements, issues of separation and detachment, and clairvoyance. Dolphins live in communities with a high level of group cooperation. The theme of mothering/nurturance was mentioned a number of times in our proving group. Lack of inhibition and natural expression came up and, indeed, dolphins, according to Ms. Herrick, are “the most sexually exploratory and freewheeling creatures in the animal kingdom.” The theme of being surrounded by danger may be reminiscent of the ever present danger to dolphins of sharks. In fact, “auntie” dolphins keep watch on the calves when the mothers need to leave.
A second proving, made from the same sample, was conducted by Dr. Divya Chhabra in Bombay, who had the original idea of proving the substance. Other themes emerged in the Indian proving: intense irritability with a desire to kill, a feeling of being exploited, intense depression, guilt, a questioning of the purpose of life, a spiritual emphasis, water, need to be cared for, intense sensitivity to noise, fear of cancer, severe pain and clenching of the jaw and fists, and sinus problems.
One might ask why the two provings are so different, though there are some shared themes. A similar disparity occurred between the proving of the Bombay Rat (in Bombay) and Rat proved in California by Ms. Herrick (which was made from several drops of blood from a well cared for pet rat). In the case of the rat, two different sources were used whereas the same dolphin milk resulted in quite varied proving experiences. We do not have an explanation for this, but it suggests the need an additional proving of Lac delphinum.
There is a current debate among some members of the homeopathic community as to the need for more provings. We strongly believe that every substance in nature is potential homeopathic medicine for some patients and that the more substances that are proved, the more patients that can be healed. Others say there are already many more medicines than we can master, so why prove more. We present the following patient, who responded quite nicely to Lac delphinum as our response to this question. She was obviously helped by this “new” medicine.
Lac Delphinum Case
Carley is a bright-eyed, attractive, seventeen-year-old whom we first saw in June of this year. She speaks in a breathy, softspoken, gentle tone. Carley’s chief complaint was excessive perspiration since the onset of puberty which stained her shirts. Carley preferred to wear sweatshirts to avoid embarrassment. She also suffered from disturbed sleep, causing her to be tired much of the time. Her fatigue prevented her from running cross country, which she previously enjoyed. Carley also complained of mild facial acne that came in waves as well as plantar warts. We continued to be struck by something in Carley’s demeanor. A sort of open-eyed innocence and lightness.
Carley’s mom explained that her daughter had been very, very sick as a child with chronic, severe tonsilitis. Her symptoms were “sick eyes” with dark circles underneath and extreme fatigue. Within three months of her tonsilectomy at five, Carley grew five inches and gained ten pounds. Subsequently she was rarely ever sick except for some clogged posterior cervical lymph nodes a couple of years earlier that took two months to drain. We noticed that it was primarily Carley’s mom who was speaking. She also had two painless plantar warts on her left heel.
Compassionate, snuggly, and athletic were good words to describe Carley. She took ballet dancing when younger. Over the past six to seven years she had played soccer, basketball, and tennis which caused her problems with her left ankle off and on. It was the same ankle that she fractured at age ten while sledding, at which time she wore a cast for three weeks. Six weeks after the accident, however, she was back at full-court press.
There was no doubt that Carley was bright. She had a 4.0 grade point average through eight grade. Now it was a 3.8 since she was tired of high school and had slacked off. She had just finished her senior year of high school and was planning to go to college in Los Angeles. When asked why she chose that particular university, she replied, “Seems like it would be fun. “I always tell my mom I want to be a dolphin trainer. I want to study marine biology. Just ‘cause I love dolphins. I think they look like a lot of fun. I used to love Flipper when little. I watched Sea World. It looks like fun to go swimming all the time.
Why, we asked, would she like to train dolphins? “’Cause they look like fun.”We asked further what it was that attracted her to Flipper. “The dolphin was nice. They’re really beautiful animals. Flipper always saved everybody. He saved the little kids from drowning.”
Carley’s mom added that she never liked blood and guts. “It’s gross. I don’t want to touch it. I get grossed out really easily. My brother likes to shove bugs in my face.
When he gets hurt, he peels back his bandaid. Sick! I just laugh at him.”
Her mom continued. “Carley is very kind and considerate. She’s harder on herself than we are with her. Such a beautiful heart. She’s always gravitated to those in need. Many of her friends are just a little bit different. She likes everyone. Makes friends and keeps friends easily. Strong bonds. When she was very small, she would crawl up in the laps of people who needed special help. Carley’s always been a very good communicator. She loves nothing more than crawling into her daddy’s lap. That hasn’t changed since the day she was born.”
“Carley likes to be silly. She’s very good with little children. Makes them feel loved, appreciated, valuable. When her brother was born, she took really good care of him.
My daughter has always been inquisitive. She was able to put words together when she was only one. By eighteen months her speech was clear. Carley has always talked a lot and asked questions. When I was pregnant with her brother, she needed to know how everything worked. “
Carley added, “Sometimes I’m scared of newborns. I don’t want to hurt them.
I don’t like it when they cry. It makes me feel like I did something wrong.” She also experienced some trepidation about applying to college due to self-doubt.”
More information from Carley’s mother: “ She has a great deal of faith. Her spirit has grown to be extremely strong and confident. I carry poems that she’s written about her faith. “ This brought tears to her mom’s eyes. Her faith is mature way beyond her years.
In one essay she wrote about how migrant labor camps impacted her life.
We asked Carley to elaborate. “Working in the camps affected me in a million ways. Seeing God’s work in others’ lives. Being able to share my love with them. The courage and hope that I see in the little kids. How that gives me strength.” We were again struck by Carley’s deep, beautiful blue eyes and her unusually innocent, childlike nature.
“I love little kids. They’re so cute and precious.I like the way they play. They’re free to go and do whatever. Being light. Like it’s the best thg in the world when you get to be “it” in tag. Like when they look at you like you’re the coolest person in the world and you’re not. The way they understand everything. I like the way you can tell them a story. They’ll just come up and teach you about the story. It’s really cool.”
Carley’s close relationships with boys always ended up in friendships after they broke up. She was trying to break up with her current boyfriend before going off to college.
Her mother remarked, “She just knows his heart. ”Carley elaborated, “I called him every other day. I really miss not seeing him.” In addition to her boyfriend, Carley had another very close male friend who she hang out with and even travelled with the family. “He shows up at one AM and we just talk. We talk about how we’re gonna be together when we’re old and grey or how we’re gonna raise our children.”
“Then there’s my best girlfriend, Jane. She’s known me forever. We’re on the same wavelength. We’re the same person. We’re telepathic with each other.” Carley was one of the strongest supporters of another young woman who had a very rough family life. “She gets pretty outspoken with authority. I help her tone down.” When asked how she could possibly juggle all of these relationships, Carley responded. “I just think they’re fun. They challenge me to think. Make me examine myself so I really understand why I do things.”
When we inquired about Carley’s brother, she cried. “He’s had a hard time. I hate to see him hurt or not doing well in school. I worry a lot about him. I see him messing up.
I’ll do anything I can to help friends and family if they’re in trouble. A friend of a friend killed herself. I tried to be there for her. To distract her. It’s all I could think of to do.”
Carley’s mom explained that her daughter was quite unusual. “We never argue.
There’s never any friction except maybe over what she didn’t take out of the car. She’s a nonconfrontational kind of girl.”
When asked about fears, Carley replied, “I’m kind of afraid of spiders. I pretend to be scared a lot just ‘cause it’s fun. I’m scared of crawly, creepy things like snakes. The only sea animal that scares me is sharks. They’d bite your head off. I like sea animals the best. I got grossed out in biology when we dissected grasshoppers but I was fine dissecting a squid and starfish. I think I just really like the water. I love to swim in it
love to walk on the beach though I don’t like jellyfish or seaweed. I don’t swim often though because I’m scared of the waves in the ocean. They’re so powerful. They can knock you over. Once I’m out there, I’m fine.”
When asked about danger, Carley told us, “I was fine when our school had a bomb threat. I think I stay pretty calm most of the time in situations like that.”
She could only remember a few dreams, One was about big, pretty whales in a purple and pink lake. A second was a recurrent scary dream about a whale mouth from Disneyland that would swallow her dad. It was swimming in poisonous water.
Carley loved chocolate, garlic, and lemon and was also found of salads, caramel, steamed milk, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and artichokes.
At the end of the interview when we asked if there was anything else, Carley mentioned, “I don’t like thinking about the future because I’m scared I’ll mess up or not do the right thing. Like why am I applying to college if I’m not sure I know what I want to do? Then I realized college will be fun no matter what I did.”
Our last question was whether Carley had cracks at the corners of her mouth (a confirmatory symptom of Lac delphinum), which she did. Her mom’s final comment was, “I consider myself very lucky to have her for a daughter.” We prescribed Lac delphinum 200C.
Carley’s next appointment was two months later. “The warts on the bottom of my foot are different. They’re darker and look like they’re coming to the surface. My acne is a bit better. I’m not waking up like before. The sweating is better, too. I wore tee shirts all summer and I didn’t even notice.”
We next talked two months later by phone because Carley was at college where she seemed to be adjusting quite well. She found college academics challenging. Her favorite subject was World Religions. Carley was also enjoying participating in the swim team. The plantar warts were still coming to the surface. The perspiration was still improved. Carley was talking to her boyfriend once a week and in very close contact with her parents, especially her mom. She sounded as enthusiastic and upbeat as ever. At the end of our conversation, she commented excited, “Guess what! Last night I took this personality test
that said what kind of animal you are- a panther, peacock, owl, or dolphin. I was [what else] a dolphin.”
A Mere Drop in the Sea
In conclusion, we know pitifully little about all but a few homeopathic sea animal medicines. Those mentioned in this article number fourteen in all and many of them remain obscure. When we think of the many patients who have derived wonderful benefit from Calcarea carbonica and Sepia alone, we get an inkling (maybe only a slight Sepia pun intended) of the possibilities. There are thousands of sea creatures just waiting to be proved. The future generations of homeopaths have their work cut out for them. Especially the scuba diver homeopaths!