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Monday, September 19, 2011

Wolfs bane: The Power to Kill or to Cure

In the comic books, when you have a super power, you can use your power for either good or evil. Some call that "free will".  This is also true in the plant kingdom, or at least when humans get involved and interfere with the plant kingdom.

Wolfs bane is a plant that has been around for a very long time in a multitude of locations and across many cultures. In folklore, wolfs bane is said to reverse shape shifting spells. It is rumored to kill werewolves, cause them to change, or even to heal them, depending on who you listen to. It has been used as a folk tradition for protecting homes from werewolves. Ancient Germans used wolfs bane to kill wolves, perhaps that's where the name originated from. It was used to kill predator animals throughout both Europe and India.

Witches were said to have dipped flints in the juice of wolfs bane. If the flint was then thrown at your enemy with any kind of accuracy, one scratch alone was enough to kill.  These "turbo-boosted" flints were called "elf-bolts".

This same plant in Tibetan medicine was called "the King of Medicines", while the Greeks called it the "Queen of Poisons". Interesting how the king is good and the queen is bad, but maybe that's more a reflection on power. Hmm...

Regardless of the fact and fiction that may surround this plant, there is no doubt it is powerful and can be very poisonous. It is essentially a paralytic which means it would paralysis your nervous system to the point that you would stop breathing if taken in enough quantity. And it seems like you probably wouldn't need to ingest that much of it. It is also a hallucinogenic, so you might have some interesting "60's type, magic mushroom" experiences just before your breathing stopped. Experimentation to find the dosage wouldn't be recommended!!

In the world of homeopathic medicines, the balance between kill and cure is understood. Many of the homeopathic remedies are derived from plants or substances that, if used in their pure form, would be deadly. In the preparation of the remedies, the substances are diluted to such minute levels, that a person can experience the power of the substance for cure rather than illness. In the tradition of "like cures like", substances cure the very symptoms they would cause if taken in stronger doses.

Wolfs bane is used to make the homeopathic remedy aconitum lycoctonum.  One of the prime indications for this remedy is Hodgkins, according to the Materia Medica (the source for all things homeopathic!). It is also indicated for swelling of the glands  (lymph nodes) which is really the hallmark of Hodgkins. Some of the symptoms of Hodgkins include coughing, chest pains, and breathing difficulties- all of which could be considered symptoms of wolfs bane poisoning. Another charactertics of the condition is skin flushing which is also a match for the poisoning. Aconitum lycocotonum is not very common, is pretty specific in its indications, and is not widely available.  It would be unlikely to find this in the "over the counter" formulations and you would probably need a homeopathic practitioner to find this remedy.

There is however, a very common remedy called aconitum napellus that is prepared from a plant similar to wolfs bane, called monkshood.  Although it's not the same plant it is very similar in nature and the two are  often confused, or referred to interchangeably.  Monkshood is purple, while wolfs bane is yellow.  Both are poisonous.

Aconitum napellus is very useful for a wide variety of symptoms. It is especially helpful for respiratory affections including a dry cough and labored breathing.  It is the remedy to first consider for croup and fever. The cough and symptoms that respond to aconite usually occur at night, often around midnight. People that match the aconite personality are often affected by atmospheric changes and find their symptoms come on, or worsen, if they are exposed to draughts, dry cold weather, or very hot weather.

For people that experience attacks of panic, feel very anxious and worried about their ailments, or are prone to experiencing forebodings and fears, aconite may be a match. The person may be very physically and mentally restless and likely won't want to be touched when ill.

I've mentioned before that I really don't believe in coincidences.  I think when something comes to you, there is a reason.  I therefore don't think it is a "coincidence" that during the course of writing this entry, I have talked to 4 different, and unconnected or related people, about an incidence of cough and respiratory complaints in the past few days.  Two of the "patients" were animals- one dog and one horse.  Aconitum napellus can be used for animals as well as for humans, like all of the homeopathic preparations. It would be a good remedy to have on hand during this fall season.

I don't honestly even know where one would buy flint in order to dip it in wolfs bane, and let's face it with my aim, I might not hit the right target!  And what about the concern that it might bounce back on me.  How did  witches get that wolfs bane on the flint without absorbing it through there own skin? And are shape shifting and  werewolves really a bad thing anyway?  All this to say.. I recommend we use the positive power of plants rather than evil.  And if you're feeling all that fungus in the air these days and you're coughing and heaving, feeling fearful, or having attacks of panic- consider aconitum napellus as a remedy!

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