Photos by Saara Nafici.
One of the first remedies I gave my (then) young son after beginning to study homeopathy was Stramonium.
He was about 9, I think, and my previously easy-going young fellow had become pretty surly. To paint the picture, he had previously had a good relationship with the after-school tutor who had been helping all 3 of my boys at various times for a few years. They would sit at the dining room table when I was cooking dinner and they chatted nicely and joked as she explained to him how this thing called “math” worked. Then, one day, he just became unpleasant and rude to her. It was not just with the tutor, but that relationship provided the clearest display of what was happening.
I had learned recently about the homeopathic remedy Stramonium and I ordered a tube because it sounded like a pretty good fit for him. As the days went by, waiting for the remedy to arrive in the mail, I hoped that it was actually just a passing phase and my pleasant son would return. My hopes went unanswered.
As luck would have it, the Stramonium arrived in the middle of a tutoring session. I opened the package and popped a couple of pellets in his mouth. A few minutes later, he said, “what did you just give me? It has made me really angry!”
I have to admit that I panicked for a minute. What had I done? (In hindsight, a lower potency probably would have been better.) But, a few minutes later, he calmed way down after a short-lived aggravation*. I don’t think I ever actually gave him a second dose of Stramonium and his old, pleasant self soon returned.
What is Stramonium and how can it possibly have this effect?
Stramonium is made from jimson weed, a nightshade relative of tomatoes, eggplants and tobacco, and is known to trigger psychosis when ingested (Mental Health Daily 2015). All parts of this plant are toxic and in its raw state can cause convulsions, hallucinations and even death if ingested (Nafici 2016).
The bloom itself is quite striking, but the seedpod (see top photo) is a better depiction of what this plant is all about. Jimson weed, also known as “locoweed,” “mad-apple” “thorn-apple” and “stinkweed” is “UNSAFE [original author's emphasis] when taken by mouth or inhaled” and “contains chemicals such as atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine” which “interfere with one of the chemical messengers (acetylcholine) in the brain and nerves” (Rxlist.com 2021) and can be fatal in high doses (Charmley 2022).
Alrighty then! Message received — keep a safe distance from the plant itself! (If you or your pet do come in contact with this plant, call Poison Control at 1.800.222.1222.)
“Jimson weed poisoning is found primarily among adolescents who seek the hallucinogenic effects of the plant” (Chan 2002) but it can also harm animals (Guthrie 2014) and makes the list of the “10 common poisonous plants” (Charmley 2022). (A quick search of the internet turns up many news articles of teens ending up in trouble from smoking or ingesting this weed.)
Many of homeopathy’s most powerful medicines come from the most poisonous substances on the planet: Belladonna, Hemlock, Aconite… the list goes on because as we know in homeopathy, “Like cures Like.”
What does that even mean? "Like cures like" means the symptoms or conditions which can be created or caused by a substance in its natural state can then be “cured” through the use of the potentized homeopathic version of the same substance. (See also, “Hom, not home”.)
Indeed, one of the ways we find out the healing properties of homeopathic remedies is through historical accounts of poisonings. Take for instance Socrates, the Greek philosopher who was sentenced to death in 399 BC by drinking a hemlock liquid mixture — his symptoms were recorded by Plato in his book Phaedo (Dayan 2009). Plato told of the slowly ascending paralysis which crept up his legs and resulted in death when the paralysis reached the respiratory muscles. Enid Bloch researched the veracity of this account and discovered Scottish toxicologists of the 19th century conducted their own experiments and found similar effects. John Harley, author of The Old Vegetable Neurotics, poisoned himself and recorded the physiological effects, again confirming Plato’s account. As a result, we have a good homeopathic picture of what Conium maculatum (Poison Hemlock) can do. (For this article, suffice it to say that homeopathic Conium can help with feelings of constrictions, indurations, nodules and tumors; conditions where the symptoms move upwards; it is highly indicated in a number of coughs, especially when lying down; sensations of heaviness and weakness, and, finally, progressive weakness, even to the point of paralysis.)
Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, “found that the more he diluted his medicines, the more the toxic impact of their original substance was washed away. And, he found something else that was even more surprising: that the more dilute the medicines became, the more powerful they became in terms of their healing power” (McCabe 2010).
McCabe goes on to speak of the homeopath E.B. Nash (1838-1917) who said, ‘the stronger the poison the stronger the cure.’ “Homeopathic remedies, when given in micro dose, have no toxicity left. But it is also true that they retain their inherent medicinal strength, making the remedies taken from poisonous substances particularly curative.” How these diluted solutions actually work eludes scientists to this day.
Back to jimson weed…
Along with the hallucinations, Charmley lists “aggressive or unusual behavior” as one of the dangers of consuming this plant. Dewitt (et al. 1997) lists “combative” behavior.
Homeopathyonline.org (2013) says “the idea of Stramonium is we have lived through a night of terror … but more commonly the terror is internalized.” A person or a child has seen or experienced something frightening and that fright got stuck inside them.
Morrison (1998) lists a “change of character” and “rages.” “Terror. Night-terrors. Feeling of threat or violence.” Boger (2015) lists “DREADS DARKNESS … Fearful, desires company or wants to escape … talks incessantly … wildly excited … or does all sorts of crazy things. Raving mania … cursing … Awakes in fear or screaming.”
How do these internal terrors express themselves? Often through rage which shows itself with a red face. Or, rage alternating with laughing; rage with cursing and hitting, even an uncontrollable, violent rage. Stramonium is one of only 5 remedies listed in Murphy’s Repertory for rage and fury in children.
It doesn’t have to get to this level though. Those symptoms listed above are extreme examples. Like all homeopathic remedies and their symptoms, there is a range of expression. Stramonium is also used for plain old anger: those who are easily angered and those who are angry from being frightened. It’s a good remedy for those who get angry as a result of anxiety and for temper tantrums.
It was the idea of temper tantrums that caught my attention all those years ago. I realized that was what my young son was doing. It wasn't like the temper tantrums of a toddler, this was different, but very much the same -- an unreasonable bout of anger, out of reach of logic.
Where else is Stramonium useful? For those suffering from fear: fear of being alone, (especially children), as well as fear of being alone in the darkness — they want light and company. Fear of animals and dreams of scary creatures. Fears of being attacked or bitten. Claustrophobia, the fear of going to the doctor, fear of ghosts and imaginary things. The fear of being injured, the fear of mirrors in a room, and being afraid of monsters and scary noises.
As you can see, Stramonium is an excellent homeopathic remedy for frightened and/or angry children.
Was my son exhibiting fearful behavior at this same time? I don't remember now and I didn't have the knowledge to look for such things then. Did my son see some show or read some story that freaked him out and got stuck in his head? Possibly, but I’ll never know for sure. What I do know is homeopathic Stramonium removed that layer of anger from him, regardless of where it originated, and returned to me the sweet young fellow I knew him to be.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* Remember, an aggravation is considered a good thing in classical homeopathy. It is an exacerbation of the existing problem. The pendulum swings further in the direction of the problem and then corrects itself soon after, resulting in equilibrium.
Bloch, E., n.d. Hemlock Poisoning and the Death of Socrates: Did Plato Tell the Truth? Academic Paper. [online]. State University of New York at Buffalo, NY, USA.
Boger, C. M., 2015. Synoptic key of the materia medica : a treatise for homeopathic students. New Delhi: B. Jain.
Chan, K., 2002. Jimson Weed Poisoning—A Case Report. The Permanente Journal [online], 6 (4), 28–30.
Charmley, S., 2022. Top 10 most common poisonous plants: How to identify [online]. www.medicalnewstoday.com.
Dayan, A. D., 2009. What killed Socrates? Toxicological considerations and questions. Postgraduate Medical Journal [online], 85 (999), 34–37.
Dewitt, M. S., Swain, R. and Gibson, L. B., 1997. The dangers of jimson weed and its abuse by teenagers in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. The West Virginia Medical Journal [online], 93 (4), 182–185.
Guthrie, T., 2014. Jimsonweed – a poisonous plant that may be found in or around your horse pasture [online]. MSU Extension.
Homeopathyonline.org, 2013. Stramonium [online]. homeopathyonline.
McCabe, V., 2010. From Poison to Medicine: Homeopathic Medicines made from Poisonous Plants. kindle. McBooklets.
Mental Health Daily, 2015. Drug-Induced Psychosis: List Of Causative Agents [online]. Mental Health Daily.
Morrison, R., 1998. Desktop companion to physical pathology. Nevada City, Calif.: Hahnemann Clinic Publ.
Murphy, R., n.d. Repertory, version 3. Accessed through Radar Opus software.
Mutebi, R. R., Ario, A. R., Nabatanzi, M., Kyamwine, I. B., Wibabara, Y., Muwereza, P., Eurien, D., Kwesiga, B., Bulage, L., Kabwama, S. N., Kadobera, D., Henderson, A., Callahan, J. H., Croley, T. R., Knolhoff, A. M., Mangrum, J. B., Handy, S. M., McFarland, M. A., Sam, J. L. F. and Harris, J. R., 2022. Large outbreak of Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) poisoning due to consumption of contaminated humanitarian relief food: Uganda, March–April 2019. BMC Public Health [online], 22 (1).
Nafici, S., 2016. Weed of the Month: Jimson Weed [online]. Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Rxlist.com, 2021. Jimson Weed: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions [online]. RxList.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.