Sally Williams has been to Bocas many times and has always had much love for the islands. She and her husband have visited “every inch of Panama” while looking for a place suitable for them to live part-time and it was Bocas that continued to beckon them. On one of her trips to the islands, Sally visited Lin Gillingham at the Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens. Sally approached Lin about doing a “proving” seminar and using her botanical gardens for the study. Lin was intrigued and delighted by the idea and thus gave Sally both the green light and thumbs up (the green thumbs up?). When all was said and done, 15 new plants were brought into homeopathic arsenal of remedies. But first off- proving? And homeo-what now?
In 1796 a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, discovered a different approach to cure the sick which he called homeopathy (from the Greek words meaning ‘similar suffering’). Like Hippocrates two thousand years earlier he realized that there were two ways of treating ill health, the way of opposites and the way of similars. Take for example, a case of insomnia. The way of opposites, (conventional medicine or allopathy), is to treat this by giving a drug to bring on an artificial sleep. This frequently involves the use of large or regular doses of drugs which can sometimes cause side effects or addiction. The way of similars, the homeopathic way, is to give the patient a minute dose of a substance, such as coffee, which in large doses causes sleeplessness in a healthy person. Surprisingly this will enable the patient to sleep naturally. (Source: National Center of Homeopathy)
These homeopathic remedies are discovered through provings. “Proving” is a word that comes from the German word “prüfung,” a word for experiment and the purpose of the experiments or provings is to “elicit what the healing properties of the particular plants are,” according to Sally. To prove a plant, a sample cutting is taken typically of the stem, the blossom and the leaf. Once you have the sample cuttings you combine them with pharmaceutical grade milk-sugar and grind them together with a mortar and pestle. The experiment itself is “bizarre, but it’s what happens,” says Williams herself, and she explains: “The experiment is called a trituration. You grind the plant with the milk-sugar and over a three hour period the mortar and pestle is passed from person to person in a group. As that’s being done, the energetic properties of the plant are released. The people that are doing the proving will actually go into an altered state mentally, emotionally and physically. And since homeopathy is based on the principle of “like-cures-like,” the symptoms they experience are the symptoms that the plant can cure.” However, the provers do not suffer, as Sally assures us that the symptoms are fleeting.
To give an example of what a simplistic proving would be like, let’s take the example of Allium cepa or red onion. Many people suffer burning watery eyes and a bland clear discharge from their nose while chopping onions. These are the very same symptoms that Allium cepa cures if made into a homeopathic remedy. It is a very common remedy for allergies when the patient is suffering from burning watery eyes and a runny nose! During the more involved trituration proving, mental and emotional symptoms are experienced as well.
So in February of this year, Sally invited 18 different colleagues to Finca Los Monos to conduct a proving seminar on various plants that are found in Lin’s botanical gardens and they were able to discover 15 new homeopathic remedies! In attendance were Jan Scholten of the Netherlands, famed for his knowledge on the application of plants as homeopathic remedies and Robert Muntz of Austria, a pharmacist who took all 15 plants with him to his pharmacy in the Netherlands and are already available as medicines. A few of the German homeopaths that were in attendance have already reported successful results in a few different cases where they have implemented the new remedies.
Now going back to the proving, there is always a person supervising the experiment that is writing everything down the people are feeling, but also the conversation that comes about, which Sally claims is the most important aspect because “the conversation is actually the underlying cause of the problem.” In allopathic (mainstream) medicine there is rarely a connection made by doctors between the emotional/mental well-being and the physical state of patient, where as in homeopathy it is fundamental: “in our body, when we experience symptoms, it’s just a manifestation of a deeper problem; a physical manifestation of a problem that’s rooted mentally, emotionally or spiritually.”
Now, I haven’t had much prior knowledge nor experience in the way of homeopathic treatments, but I would like to add that for a while now I have entertained the thought of mental and emotional states affecting one’s physical well-being, especially when one considers the classic “terminally ill cancer patient” that’s told he has 3 months to live, but looks the doctor right in the eye and says “I will survive,” goes on to prove the doctor wrong and lives way past the 3 months he was given. Mind over matter? Or do the conventional treatments work sometimes? Or I guess the doc’ can’t always be right about the prognosis.
It seems like there is an ever eclectic group of people drawn to the islands that are always making new and exciting things transpire. Sally thinks the most wonderful thing about Bocas is its diversity. She would love to practice in Bocas and tells me that during her visits she has found many people in Bocas very receptive to homeopathy. She currently practices in Buffalo, New York (USA) at The Healing Arts Association. To read some of her provings go to http://www.greatlakesprovings.com. For more information on Sally, visit www.sallywilliamshomeopath.com.