Arbor Medica Volume I

by Steven Olsen

  • Arbor Medica Volume I

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Tree provings with cured cases:

  • Abies canadensis - Hemlock Spruce,
  • Acer cercinatum - Vine Maple,
  • Agathis australis Alnus rubra -
  • Red Alder Arbutus menziesii

We have a relative dearth of tree remedies in homeopathy; certainly there are some, very well-known and invaluable ones, Thuja occidentalis foremost among them. How is it that we haven't employed more regularly the healing power of trees in homeopathy, given their profusion in nature and their substantive contribution to the well-being of our earth and mankind?

We do, of course, have some familiarity with some tree remedies. A recent development in our understanding of trees is the family characterization of the Conifers, an understanding facilitated by some earlier provings by the author of this book, Steve Olsen, ND, and others. And about Tree remedies in general, Steve Olsen identified the following themes (published in the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine):

  • a sense of being alone and isolated, as if there is a barrier between themselves and others;
  • a feeling of not being well connected to life or to the people around them;
  • a relatively weak identity; an inordinate need to be included by others or to be recognized by others;
  • overeating or eating to feel emotionally nourished; and a general feeling of sadness and depression.

It's critically important, of course, not to be beholden to the theme concept; each remedy possesses its own unique character and could easily diverge from established themes (which, we must always remember, have been conceived to enable a working grasp of these remedies, not to dictate a remedy's potential applicability to a case). Consequently, an appreciation of each remedy's unique symptom picture is essential, and provings, of course, are the bedrock of remedy profiles.

Conducting a proving is a time consuming and laborious process. Fortunately, we in homeopathy have been blessed with a few stout-hearted souls, Steve Olsen among them, who have taken on this daunting challenge and greatly enriched us in the process. Provings are also tricky. It's easy, especially in the process of identifying real proving symptoms and, if the prover is so disposed, attempting to identify symptom themes, to err. Precision and sound judgment are required. I have been privileged to edit many of the provings in this book, having done so in my capacity as editor of the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine. I have learned much in the process. Many of the remedies here included will, I believe, prove valuable and frequently indicated homeopathic medicines. Dr Olsen is an exceptional proving conductor; I believe his proving model is exemplary. His approach is well-grounded; there's no flight of fancy here, such as not infrequently taints some recent provings. The methodology is solid and reproducible. Symptom identification, proving and cured, is accurate.

Too often these days proving conductors mistakenly list cured symptoms as proving symptoms, confusing mightily the image of a remedy. Steve Olsen is aware of this failing and avoids it. An example might help at this point: now and then in a proving I have come across the listed 'symptom' mental clarity or clearness of thought; what I suspect this implies is that a previous dullness of thought the prover had been subject to was ameliorated during the proving, affording the prover greater mental clarity. Thus the correct symptom would be confusion of thought, not clarity, which by- and- large would be a pretty useless symptom anyway unless said clarity was positively extraordinary in nature and possibly disconcerting to the patient, a very rare occurrence in clinical practice.

The above observation brings to mind another point I would like to make about this volume of provings - their clinical utility. Not only does Steve Olsen provide us with a number of exceptional provings and well-defined rubrics, he gifts us with a very large number indeed of cured clinical cases, helping to cement the remedy images in one's mind. I feel this is a unique feature of Steve Olsen's provings, in that I have but rarely come across little more than an occasional cured clinical case attached to provings heretofore.

These cases really seem to crystallize the remedy image and enable the author to then formulate a basic remedy essence, if you will, a distillation of the most valuable and clinically useful characteristics of the remedy. I find these brief descriptions to be most helpful in later clinical application of the remedy.

I hope the reader will find the following proving as enjoyable to read and invaluable in practice as have I. I close with a quotation taken from a song written by a local (no doubt now defunct) Alaskan band, Dr Schultz, I had the pleasure to hear long before I ever became a homeopath. The song is entitled 'Trees', and its message has stuck with me, hauntingly, over these many years. In anticipation of the future easing of suffering these and other tree remedies will provide, and in celebration of the communion with trees we humans can achieve through the miracle of provings, I quote the following verse: "I'm very sure that trees have a spirit. Sometimes it seems they talk to me. Their quiet ways make me feel so comfortable; Their souls make me feel at ease." - George Guess, MD, DHt Charlottesville, Virginia - June, 2007.