Drosera Rotundifolia – Sundew. Round Leaved Drosera. Tincture of active fresh plant.
Soon after publishing On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote a letter of November 1860 to the lawyer and geologist Charles Lyell in which he described himself upon meeting Drosera Rotundifolia the carnivorous Sundew, exclaiming that he was ‘frightened and astounded’ by it, shocked to find a plant more sensitive to touch than human skin, with sensitive ‘hairs’ that seemed able to react differently to a number of objects.
Teste, a 19th century Homoeopath states that Drosera grows in damp prairies, borders of marshes and is avoided by animals. Barrich states that when eaten by sheep it gives them a cough which proves fatal to them. Drosera was pointed out by Hahnemann as the principal remedy for whooping cough. It was recommended by German physicians of the eighteenth century as a panacea for hoarseness, chest disorders and even for tuberculosis.
Serrand of Paris maintains that Drosera has an important place in the prophylaxis of tubercle. He refers to the fact that sheep eating Drosera acquire a nocturnal cough and can die and that the pleurae of cats to which Drosera was administered (in its raw state) was subsequently found studded with tubercles. Serrand commends Drosera in cases of declared Tuberculosis, where he administered it in low potencies.
Buchmann of Alvensleben agrees with Hahnemann that Drosera in high potency should not often be repeated. Buchmann had a bronchial catarrh of which he suffered an attack each spring and autumn, characterised by a violent tickling cough, which almost drove him to distraction at night. Buchmann administered Drosera 1x and tincture. A single dose as soon as the tickling in the larynx commenced sufficient to allay it at once and allowed him to rest and it was only repeated when the tickling returned.
Botannical: This little insectivorous plant is found growing in the muddy edge of ponds, bogs and rivers where the soil is peaty. It is a small herbaceous perennial aquatic plant, with short and slender fibrous root, from which grows the leaves. The flower stems are erect, slender 2 – 6 inches in height, at first coiled inward bearing a simple raceme, which straightens out as the flowers expand. These are very small and white, appearing in summer and early autumn. Seeds are numerous, spindle shaped in a loose chaffy covering contained in a capsule.
The secretion of ‘dew’ which forms glistening droplets on the tips of the fine hair like projections which are extremely sensitive, is to be found most abundant when the sun is at its height. After an insect has been caught, the glandular heads secrete a digestive fluid which dissolves all nutrients from the insect.
I have found Drosera Rotundifolia growing on the south western slopes of the mountains of North Wales around Snowdonia, growing in thin, peaty, boggy soil at about five hundred feet. It proliferates in slightly rocky, thin soil sheltered from the most severe prevailing winds, growing as it does in little dips in the terrain where a hillock may shelter it from prevailing winds, creating for itself a micro-climate of warmth and sunshine in an aspect fully open to the sun and warmth. It favours dampish conditions, but I have only found it growing in fairly well draining rocky soils, free from becoming waterlogged which it would not like nor be able to thrive. Here we see in the nature of the plant some of its signature aspects, borne out by Homoeopathic proving and appearing in the materia medica of the remedy itself. Sundew is an insect eating, carnivorous plant. It traps small insects, mainly flies or small beetles in its fleshy, waxy looking, textured modified leaves fringed with hair like projections tipped with syrupy looking ‘dew’ which forms glistening droplets on the tips of those hair-like projections, which catch and reflect the sunlight and proves alluring to the insects upon which it will eventually feed.
From a close and quiet examination of its favoured environment, I would go so far to say that it actually creates or promotes a micro-climate for itself, in which it can thrive. Examination of the wider environment I which it resides offers a broader perspective. Below, the lower ground is often damp, to boggy with tussocky grasses and Sphagnum moss, another interesting plant which does much good in creating assisting and supporting its neighbouring plants and insect populations, providing a fertile soil structure, water balance and pH balance. Traditionally, it has been used as an antiseptic and wound cleanser for it is highly absorbent trapping moisture yet provides a neutral pH. It is a true bog plant and a saviour to hill walkers who can negotiate their tread by safer ground noting where it grows.
This is quite in contrast with Drosera, which in its tiny indomitable way, tends to create its own micro-climate which favours itself. I would go so far to say, that this could be considered one of its signature themes as we all know folk like that. So here perhaps, one ought to consider whether it is perhaps a keynote of the remedy in its mental and emotional sphere, perhaps yet to be brought out by any proving, perhaps a latent or hidden quality.
I think it is important to understand the contrasting nature of remedy states, seen in the nature of the presenting symptoms and borne out by both Homoeopathic proving and by observation of the plant in its natural habitat.
Although it takes root in damp, well-watered soils, they must also be free draining slopes requiring a sunny aspect. With its glistening dew drops its name Sundew is well founded. So here too, there is a note of dryness running through the remedy, reflected in the nature of the plant and its environmental conditions. Dryness of cough, constant dryness of nose contrasting with fluent coryza with sneezing. Dryness of mucous membranes. Sensation of dryness in the throat. Dry sensation deep in the fauces. Sensation in the throat, as if crumbs of bread had been stopped in it. Dry, rough tongue. Crawling in the larynx, feeling as if a soft substance were lodged in the larynx, as of a feather. Difficulty swallowing solids. Anyone who has cycled knows the sensation of inadvertently swallowing a fly. Is it too far-fetched or anthropomorphic to suggest that some of these sensations may owe their resolution to an insect eating carnivorous plant. In the presenting symptoms, in which the remedy may assist, the lips are cracked and constantly dry.
Returning to a closer inspection of the plant, the redness of colour, the waxy and textured nature of the modified leaves onto which insects crawl or alight, tempted by the glistening dewdrops on the ends of the hair-like projections which fringe the edge of the leaves. The redness of colour and texturing to those modified leaves is easily apparent. Indeed it strikes you at once, beyond the dew-dropped hair like fringe which initially greets your eye. Here, as with the remedy is rich with skin symptoms. Eruptions are scaly, thick, crusty, moist and are indeed described as eruptions. Because this is after all a poisonous plant, with toxic properties. There are marked sensations of crawling, tickling and itching. Eruptions like ’measles, prickling, burning itching, worse undressing, better by scratching, bleeding burning ulcers, cutting pains’.
Thus there is also paralysis, tetanic convulsions, sensations are of constriction, spasms. There are shootings and squeezings in the ears, especially on swallowing; pressive pains in the head. Beating and hammering in the forehead, from the inside outward. All limbs feel lame, fingers contract spasmodically with rigidity when grasping anything. Spasmodic and constricting pains in the abdomen, larynx, throat, chest and hypochondria. There are constrictive pains in the throat, larynx, stomach etc., Hip joint pain, sticking, sharp in nature. Convulsions followed by haemoptysis and then sleep. Haemorrhages of bright red blood from nose, mouth, stools etc.,
Drosera markedly affects the respiratory organs. The chief feature of Drosera effects, in poisonings is a spasmodic cough resembling whooping cough. Thus for Hahnemann, Drosera is the principal remedy for whooping cough, also in the spasmodic cough of tuberculosis. There are spasmodic, catarrhal and haemorrhagic effects. The characteristic cough is one of frequent spells of a barking cough, worse evening and after midnight, with a tendency to hold his sides with each cough. Vomits if he cannot get up enough phlegm, every effort to raise a little phlegm ends in retching and vomiting. There may be bloody stools.
Historically, Drosera has been used to raise a resistance against tuberculosis of lungs, larynx and joints. Laryngeal tuberculosis. Tuberculosis with vomiting of food from coughing, with gastric irritation and profuse expectoration. Tubercular glands.
Better from pressure, open air.
Worse towards evening, and after midnight. Worse on lying down, warmth, getting into bed. Worse talking, cold food, laughing. Worse after measles, singing, stooping. Worse vomiting, sour things, drinking, laughing. Worse by warmth. By warm drinks. Worse from acids.
Mind: Easily angered, trifles make him beside himself. Fears being alone and is suspicious of his friends. Restlessness, which does not allow for prolonged attention to a single subject/object.
Anxiety respecting the future. Anxiety evenings in solitude with fear of ghosts. Discouragement. The least thing puts the sufferer beside himself. Great mistrust. Delusions of persecution. Imagines he is being deceived by spiteful, envious people. Inclination to drown oneself. Pertinacity in executing resolutions.
Abdomen: Colic after taking acidic foods, sour foods. Pains in the hypochondria, on coughing and on being touched. Must press the area of pain with hands when he coughs.
Back: Stiffness in the nape of the neck with pains during movement. Bruised like pains In the back, particularly early in the morning.
Chest: Pains in the chest on coughing and sneezing, he has to press his chest with the hand (cf. Bryonia Alba). Constriction of chest, worse talking, singing. Stitches below axilla. Stitching pains in chest when sneezing or coughing. Oppression of the chest, as if something stopped the voice on coughing or o speaking, or as if the breath could not be expelled. Tightness of the chest on coughing. Pains, like a subcutaneous ulceration in the sternum or pressing upon it. Black pores on the chest and shoulder.
Ears: Shootings and squeezings in the ears, especially on swallowing. Harness of hearing with buzzing and roaring in the ears. Humming and drumming in the ears.
Eyes: Become prominent in coughing, during measles, in convulsions. Shooting in the eyes towards the outside, especially on stooping. Suspension of the sight; or confusion or paleness of letters while reading. As if a gauze before the eyes. Presbyopia and weakness of the eyes. Contraction of the pupils. Dazzling by candle-light and daylight.
Face: Paleness of face, with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. Coldness of left half of face with stinging pains and dry heat of right side of face. Face hot with cold hands. Small pustules here and there on face, with fine stitching sensation worse when touched. Burning and prickling sensation in the skin of the cheeks, below the eyes. Lips are cracked and constantly dry. Pressure in the cheek bones towards the outside, aggravated by pressure and contact. Black pores in the chin.
Female: Menses suppressed or retarded. Leucorrhea with labour-like pains, as if in child-birth; spasmodic pains in the abdomen.
Food: Aversion to pork and sour foods, which disagree. Aversion to and bad effects from acids. Insipidity of food. Bitter taste of food, especially of bread. Thirst in the morning.
Head: Pressive pains in the head, especially forehead and in the cheek bones, sometimes with nausea and dizziness. Pressing headache of the temples, with stupefaction and nausea in the mornings; worse when stooping and from heat; better from motion and in the cold air. Beating and hammering in the forehead from the inside outwards. Pains, as of excoriation in the scalp. Painful perplexity of the head, as after loud speaking.
Kidneys: Frequent want to make water with scanty emission, often drop by drop. Emission of urine at night. Brownish urine with strong smell. Watery inodorous urine with foetid stool of white mucous.
Limbs: All limbs feel lame. Bed feels too hard. Fingers contract spasmodically with rigidity when grasping anything. Writer’s cramp. Laming pain in right hip joint and thigh with pain in the ankle. Must limp when walking. Pains in the long bones. Pain in humerus at night only. Paralytic pains in the coxo-femoral joint and thighs. Stiffness in joints of feet.
Lungs: Whooping cough. Dry, spasmodic, irritative cough like whooping cough. The attacks follow each other very rapidly, can scarcely breathe. Cough and chokes. Cough worse singing, talking. Cough very deep and hoarse, worse after midnight. Haemoptysis after convulsions. Yellow expectoration with bleeding from nose and mouth, retching. Harassing and titillating cough in children, not during the day, but commences as soon as the head touches the pillow at night. Asthma when talking, with contraction of the throat with every word uttered.
Mouth: Putrid taste. Bleeding of the mouth. Bloody saliva. Tooathache from drinking hot drinks. Shooting pains in teeth after taking hot drinks. Small, round painless swelling in middle of tongue. Ulceration of velum palatini.
Nose: Sensitive to sour smells. Painful sneezing. Bleeding of the nose in the evening. Bleeding from coughing, stooping, on blowing the nose. Black pores on the nose. Constant dryness of the nose. Fluent coryza with sneezing.
Rectum: Frequent evacuation of bloody mucous with cutting pains after the stool, pain in the abdomen and small of the back.
Skin: Violent itching while undressing, when scratching. The skin readily peels. Itching better by rubbing or wiping with the hand, worse undressing.
Sleep: Snoring during sleep and when lying on the back. Frequent starts with fright during sleep. Nocturnal waking, on breaking out in perspiration. Frequent waking with perspiration. Sleep at noon and in the evening with sunset.
Stomach: Nausea after fatty foods. Difficulty swallowing solid foods. Bitter belching. Frequent hiccough. Vomiting of blood. Vomiting of slimy matter and of food during the cough. Shootings and beatings in the pit of the stomach. Clawing sensation in the pit of the stomach.
Temperature: Fever with headaches and convulsive cough, whooping cough. Intermittent fever with nausea and inclination to vomit and other gastric sufferings or with a sore throat. Thirst in the morning during the hot stage of the fever and not during the cold stage. Is always too cold, even in bed. Chilliness during the day, heat during the night. Shivers when at rest, better moving. Face becomes hot and hands become cold with shivering. Warm perspiration at night, especially after midnight and during the morning hours, mostly in the face. Measles, worse for.
Throat: Clergyman’s sore throat with rough, scraping, dry sensation in the fauces, voice hoarse, requires exertion to speak. Voice hollow, toneless. Difficulty In swallowing any solid food, as from contraction of the throat. Sensation of dryness in the throat. Sensation in the throat, as if crumbs of bread had been stopped in it. Hawking of yellowish or greenish mucous. Laryngeal tuberculosis with rapid emaciation.
Vertigo: Vertigo when walking in the open air, with inclination to fall to the left side.
The indications calling for Drosera in the premonitory stages are: pallor, weakness, loss of appetite, dry cough, emaciation. Three indications are:
- Anaemia and pallor of larynx;
- Vocal cords not sufficiently approximated from functional impairment of the crico-arytenoid muscles;
- Redness and swelling of mucous membranes covering and between the arytenoid cartilages.
Drosera has many pains about the hip joints and has cured sciatica with the following characteristics: ‘Pressing pains, worse from pressure, from stooping, from lying on painful part, better after rising from bed’. Gnawing stinging pains in joints and long bones. Stitching pains in the chest and all parts, lancinations in brain. Stitches from left loin to penis, itching stitches in glans.
Sources: Boericke, Clarke, Phatak.
From Homoeopathic Remedy Guide. R. Murphy. HANA Press. Second Ed., January 2000.
 Plants from Roots to Riches. A Landmark BBC 4 Series. Kathy Willis and Carolyn Fry. Kew Botanic Garden. 2014, Pub. John Murray, 338 Euston Road, London, NW1 3BH
 Homoeopathic Remedy Guide. Robin Murphy MD., Second edition. HANA Press, January 2000.
Drosera Rotundifolia – Sundew. Round Leaved Drosera. Tincture of active fresh plant.