Installment 15 of a series on case analysis
© Will Taylor, MD 2001 (bio)
Families of Remedies
Bacteria and Viruses
I pondered carefully the position of the "bacterial" and "viral" remedies, and decided to not create a special classification for these in the "kingdoms" section. In the scheme I followed, I placed these remedies in several locations, based on function rather than on taxonomy:
- The bowel nosodes
- The disease nosodes (with several subgroups)
- Decaying animal tissue
It is my impression that the "bacterial/viral remedies" do not form a group large enough, or cohesive enough, to warrant consideration as a "kingdom" of remedies. And with the exception of the bowel nosodes, these all involve diseased tissues in addition to the suggested pathogen.
Identification and classification of the animal remedies posed a generally greater puzzle than that of the plants. Many of our heritage were amateur or professional botanists, and the conventional medicine of the 18th-early 20th centuries was largely botanical; so the details and importance of botanical classification were not far from the reach of homeopathic practitioners. The technical classification of remedies from animals however appears to have been a different matter altogether.
Tracking down the identification of Theridion is a case in point. Hering introduced this spider to our materia medica in 1832, while in Surinam. He described it as Theridion curassavicum, the 'Orange Spider'.
"A small spider known to people as very poisonous, chiefly found in the island of Uraçoa. This spider, about the size of a cherry stone, is found upon orange trees in the West Indies.
When young it is velvety-black in appearance, marked with antero-posterior lines composed of white dots; on posterior part of body there are three orange-red spots, while upon belly there is a large square yellow spot."
[C. Hering, Guiding Symptoms]
A review of the arachnological literature revealed no contemporary or historical use of "Theridion" as a genus name. There is, however, a family Theridiidae, comprising the cobweb-weavers and the black widow spiders - these latter closely resembling Hering's description of his critter. Scouring the arachnology literature for widow spiders from the Caribbean region matching Hering's description, I found the spider Latrodectus curacavensis.
In his Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy, Hughes wrote,
"Hering admits that his 'Theridion curassavicum' is very similar in many respects to the Aranea tredecim-guttate, by which name Fabricius has designated the Latrodectus malmignattus of Volterra and other places"
- this latter spider being the black widow spider of central Europe.