Gelsemium Sempervirens: Can’t Raise a Muscle or a Thought!
First published in Homeopathy Today in December, 2002
Gelsemium sempervirens, also known as yellow jasmine or wild
woodbine, is a beautiful climbing plant found in moist woodlands and
along seacoasts in the southern states of the U.S. It climbs high up
in trees, forming festoons from tree to tree and perfuming the air in
the spring when it flowers (March – May). It belongs to the same botanical
family (Loganiaceae) as Nux vomica, Ignatia, Curare, Strychninum ,
and Spigelia (all homeopathic remedies) and should not be confused
with the true jasmine plant, which belongs to the Jasminaceae family.
The homeopathic preparation is made from the fresh root.
Yellow jasmine is poisonous in large quantities and produces a state
of great mental and physical weakness. The mind is sluggish, the muscles
are sluggish, and the limbs feel so heavy they can hardly be moved.
The medical history of this plant is interesting and dates from the beginning of the 19th century when it was used in error by a Mississippi farmer. The farmer mistook Gelsemium root for another root that was prescribed for his fever. After recovering from the poisonous effects of Gelsemium, he was cured of the chronic fever from which he had been suffering. This accidental poisoning and cure led to Gelsemium being marketed as a (herbal) cure for fevers and finally, to its homeopathic provings.
typical gelsemium stresses
Complaints often come on: after too much heat, after a sunstroke or too much sun, at the change of seasons when the weather changes to warm after the cold of winter (or spring), or in those who spend their lives in overheated houses.
Gelsemium is also needed for those who fall sick after a period of high anxiety, after an ordeal which involved anxiety (and possibly fear), after a test, an exam or interview, or after giving a presentation, etc. The ordeal may have involved a visit to the dentist or hospital or long distance travel where there was a tremendous amount of anxiety involved leading up to the event.
heavy and weary
Everything feels heavy; the whole body (the eyelids, the arms, and the
legs) feels like it is weighted down with lead. Talking is difficult
because the tongue feels stiff and heavy and because thoughts sink without
They feel exhausted in a trembly, heavy kind of way and find any kind
of exertion (opening their eyes, raising their heads off the pillow,
getting out of bed to go to the bathroom) really difficult.
slow and thirstless
Their complaints come on slowly, (like Bryonia) but Gelsemium patients are never thirsty, whereas those needing Bryonia may not drink very often but when they do, it will be in large quantities.
Their fevers are moderately high with a dry, burning heat. The heat alternates with chills (that can run up and down the back) and shivering. They become apathetic, dull and drowsy with the fever. They feel better for sweating, which doesn’t come easily.
They suffer from aching or sore/bruised pains in muscles anywhere but
typically in the back, head, or eyes (eyeballs). Strangely, the pain
in the head is accompanied by frequent urination, which actually relieves
the pains. They pass a lot of clear (colorless) urine.
Their vision is affected, they have trouble seeing clearly; it becomes foggy and then they feel dizzy when trying to get up and walk.
Emotionally, Gelsemium is an important acute remedy for those who become literally paralyzed with anxiety (anticipatory anxiety) and fear, suffering from shaking legs, frequent urination, and diarrhea in anticipation of an important event like an exam or an interview. They feel (and may look) stupid. They may even forget their lines or fluff their test because they tremble, stutter and can’t collect their thoughts.
materia medica in verse
“Bubble, bubble, Bronchial trouble. Misty eyes and seeing double. Throat feels tight and head feels light. Almost paralysed with fright. Don’t want food, don’t want drink, Hardly feel inclined to think. Wobbly legs and queezy “tum,” It’s clear you need Gelsemium.”
-A Song of Symptoms by Patersimilias (1949)
Written by a member of the Faculty of Homeopathy (UK), who preferred
to remain anonymous, the author of this amusing short tome was in fact
Dr. Percival Henry Sharp.
The following is from Dr Sharp’s introduction to his book:
“The purpose of these verses…is to stress some of the more striking key symptoms of each particular Homeopathic remedy in such a way that a basic picture of that remedy may be retained easily in the mind round which a more complete picture may be built up.”
“There are two clearly defined schools of thought in regard to the amassing and retaining of data.”
“The more Spartan school believes in sitting up to a table on a hard
chair and squaring up to the job, and the followers of this school say
with some justice that what is learned the hard way is better remembered. On
the other hand when we come to the memorizing of isolated facts which
cannot be arrived at by a chain of reaching, we are presented with
the alternatives of either learning them parrot wise with much effort,
or of forming some memory association which will present us with at
least a starting point.”
“Many people find it easier to remember a jingled rhyme than a fine piece of prose…and exaggeration is the keynote of these rhymes.”
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