The complete proving is published as a monograph. More details about the proving can also be found in the book The Deseert World: A Homeopathic Exploration. Contact the AMCH Bookstore for more information.
Choosing the Remedy
The remedy Tumbleweed was chosen because of its distinctive qualities. This is the first proving of a peregrinating plant. In addition, Tumbleweed is an icon of desert regions and a prime representative of desert plants and we have been conducting ongoing research in desert medicines. Little is known of the Chenopodiaceae plant family from a homeopathic perspective and it was our hope that this remedy would provide a window into this family. Lastly, Tumbleweed is known for its healing properties, including regulating the blood pressure, vasoconstrictive effects on the uterus, treatment of cancer, cathartic, diuretic, emmenagogue, vermifuge, treatment of dropsy and excrescences, treatment of influenza and smallpox, intestinal obstructions, hardness of the liver and spleen and expelling a dead child.
The core sensation of the proving had to do with connection/disconnection (see Themes). The plant must disconnect from its stem to begin the process of rolling and spreading its seeds, or it dies. This sensation was most clearly expressed in prover #1:
Made a decision to move; it feels like my partner, daughter and family are tying me down with rope, karmic and psychic strings; I am beginning to lose patience; people are telling me not to go; I am going and have decided that I have a right to be happy right now; feeling is that I will break off and move on without these people; I would like to do it with their blessing, but I am going; Feeling free and not bogged down; like a break of some kind; Detachment; who am I attached to and why; like detachment/attachment; it is OK to detach in life and that is the way it is supposed to go; it is OK to move and be detached and go; feeling of rolling on down(1)
There was a significant tension in the proving between searching for ones roots and wanting to connect to one’s family, friends, old acquantainces vs. wanting to detach, break free, disconnect and move along.
The connection is associated with feelings and sensations of being stifled, constrained, rooted, grounded, connected to all life, attached and feeling safe warm and protected. One prover described this as a feeling of being packed in cotton. It is also associated with codependency where individual give up themselves for the other.
The disconnection is associated with feelings and sensations of freedom, separateness from life, dividedness, detached, joy, separation between inner , and outer self, sadness, euphoric and powerful, feeling of losing a parent or a child-something very close and a separate entity that nothing can touch. Many of the provers felt empowered and able to let go of codependency traits. Some experienced this as a selfishness. Many of the provers also described a feeling of disconnection from their proving supervisors, an experience which has not been seen in previous provings.
The disconnection was experienced by some provers as a death. This was felt as a natural dying process and not one that was a fearful experience. One prover described it as follows:
Felt like the energy of the remedy was gone by today; felt like it slowly died and was gone, drifting across a desert; I feel like I am dying; It feels as though . . . it is a dying; it feels as though being thirsty but not drinking; even if I eat or drink (rolling hand gesture) it is not doing anything; not being assimilated; the dying is like the detaching; one part dies but it goes on (rolling hand gesture); that kind of thing; it feels like my joints and hands and arms even are dying like they are dried up like they are brittle and like I am cracking all over the place and I need to take some glucosamine; it felt very natural the dying process; it was not fearful at all(1)
However, two provers described dreams of suddenly losing children and waking with a profound sense of grief. The plant has been strongly associated with the American Cowboy, a symbol of restless wandering movements over the desert landscape.
The cycle is one of connection, disconnection and ultimately reconnection. The reconnection was symbolized by the recurring dreams of reunions. The feelings of connection and disconnection were profound for many of the provers and bordered on spiritual experiences.
This plant would be limited to a very limited area if it were not for man. Because of agriculture and clearing out large tracts of land, this plant has been able to extend its range extraordinarily rapidly into 49/50 of the United States. This also may relate to the strong need for reconnection to man.
Other important sensations in the proving included electrical sensations, cramping/constricting, heaviness, needle like sensations and cotton sensation.
The core movement of the proving related to Rolling. The Tumbleweed is well known for its rolling motion and its rolling motion is what makes it so effective in propagating its seeds. The plant is so effective, that its design was copied for the Mars Rovers to explore the Martian Landscape.
The rolling movement was experienced as a physical sensation:
Sensation in right upper stomach as if baby kicked; rolling sensation(1)
Sensation in left hand, palm near thumb felt as if a rolling sensation; as if someone were kneading it or ripples; sort of a rolling electrical wave, not painful but irritating(1)
On the second day had the feeling of more movement; feeling of being able to take my oxygen into my system; I could inhale more deeply and the oxygen was going to all the cells in my body; feeling of being buoyancy; think of a buoy bobbing up and down(16)
It was also experienced as an emotional/mental experience and in the hand gestures of many of the provers:
Wandering, Detachment; who am I attached to and why; like detachment/attachment; it is OK to detach in life and that is the way it is supposed to go; it is OK to move and be detached and go; feeling of rolling on down(1)
This motion can also be seen to some extent in the embryo. James A. Young (Scientific American, March 1991) explains, “The Russian thistle does not undergo germination in the normal sense, whereby cell division results in the growth….Rather the embryo uncoils….If, after uncoiling, the radicle (seed root) finds sufficient moisture…it quickly spreads cotyledons, or seed leaves and begins growing….”
A plant like sensitivity was a prominent theme during the proving. This included sensitivity to light, noise and odors, and the sound of others talking. The reaction was predominantly one of irritability related to this. What was most unusual was that three of the provers described an increased sensitivity to caffeine (coffee, tea and chocolate). They were unable to use any caffeine, whereas this had not been a problem previously. It could be postulated that this relates to an increased sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system. One prover also noted a cured feeling of overall less sensitivity. She had struggled much of her life with oversensitivity prior to the proving:
Overall I am less sensitive; don’t feel as much; able to step back and not get caught up in drama so much(5)
It is difficult to compare this remedy to other Chenopodiaceae plant remedies since these have been so poorly studied. One unusual symptom from this proving was the tendency in three of the provers to wake up in the morning with a song repeating in their head. This is similar to the tendency in Chenopodium anthelminica to repeat things:
Mind, GESTURES, MAKES: ACTIONS, REPEATED.
Mind, Repeats same things.
The Chenopodiaceae plant family also seems to have tendency towards dropsy and gastrointestinal symptoms-qualities that were born out by this proving.
Peregrinating Plant Themes
Peregrinating plants are ones that travel in order to facilitate propagation of the species. Unfortunately, there are no other proven peregrinating plants. One could postulate that the core sensation of this proving (Connection/Disconnection) is a theme of the peregrinating plant family. Further research will need to be conducted to see is this is indeed true.
Many typical desert themes were noted in the proving analysis. These included water, connection/disconnection, codependency, circular motions, wandering, violence, large/small, swelling/contracting, old/ancient, dryness, drug sensations, religion, foreign and downward motions. The strongest desert theme had to do with connection/disconnection.
Salsola tragus is relatively associated with the desert, although it is found outside of desert regions (see Natural History). As a symbol and in imagery, it is strongly associated with desert regions.
It is difficult to comment on the miasm for a remedy based on a single proving. However, some general tendencies can be noted. The strongest association was to the Sycotic Miasm (see Themes). The issues of hiding, concealment, covering up, outer façade were relatively strong. The tendency towards sties, warts, rheumatic pains and copious discharges is typical of the sycotic miasm. The strong tendency in this proving for the provers to not want to connect or talk to their supervisors is also indicative of the sycotic miasm. Also, many of the provers denied having symptoms, when they clearly were having a profound effect to the remedy.
There was a mild tendency towards chilliness with this remedy. This is typical for a desert remedy. The most characteristic time aggravation was in the morning and on waking. In addition symptoms were predominantly right sided. There was a general tendency towards swelling and edema. Food cravings were not prominent and several of the provers experience a lack of appetite throughout the proving.
Dryness was another central characteristic. This was seen in the lips, face, mouth, cough, nose, throat and skin. It was associated with a feeling of dirtiness in one prover (a Theme of the proving):
Apartment is dry and smelly; it smells like an old motel room in a hot desert that has been smoked in for 50 years; smell of dust; Could not stand the musty smell; musty, dusty old motel six that has been there for a million years and all this time; dusty, dirty (rolling hand gesture) pig pen; like Pig Pen in Charlie Brown(1)
The dry skin in some provers was quite marked. Dryness is a critical part of the plants disconnecting from its stem and wandering the desert landscape. The dryness makes the plant more mobile and capable of dropping its seeds.
Water was also a prominent theme in the proving, which is typical of desert remedies. This was reflected most stongly in the dreams. The plant produces plant material with a high energy content while using very little water.
There was a strong feeling of urging throughout the proving. This accompanied the GI symptoms but also was a mental/emotional characteristic.
The strongest physical areas effected were the sinuses, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal tract. Salsola tragus is a prominent allergen here in the Southwest (up to 5% of the pollen load) and it is no surprise that allergic symptoms were characteristic in the proving. These mostly consisted in post nasal drip, sinus pressure and heaviness and sneezing.
The GI symptoms were marked. Most characteristic were nausea and vomiting. The nausea was mostly experienced during the morning and several provers described this as reminiscent of morning sickness. The vomiting was mostly experienced at night. Herbally, Salsola tragus has been said to be useful for liver and spleen problems. Crampy abdominal pains were quite strong and often accompanied by diarrhea. The diarrhea was explosive and accompanied by much urging. Heartburn and indigestion were other GI symptoms. The GI symptoms may correspond to the high content of Oxalic acidum found in this plant.
Acne was very strong in the proving and seen in seven of the seventeen provers. In addition, one prover developed a stye and another had a cured symptom of a wart falling off.
This remedy has been used historically in the treatment of tuberculosis and asthma. Several of the provers noted shortness of breath during the proving.
Back pains and extremity pains were relatively prominent. This was primarily in the upper back, scapula and shoulder. The pains were primarily tingling, electrical, stitching and shooting and traveled into the neck and occiput. Several provers experienced awkwardness and clumsiness. This also relates to injuring toes and fingers because the provers were hurrying. One prover broke a toe because of this during the proving.
Emotional and Mental Characteristics
Irritability was one of the strongest emotional characteristics during the proving. In several provers this bordered on anger and hatred, relating to their oversensitivity.
Concentration problems, dullness, slowness and incapacity to talk to other people were relative strong and seen in four of the provers. This was described as a torpor by one prover, a theme common to desert remedies.
Drug themes were relatively prominent and took the form of clairvoyance, euphoria, feelings of intoxication, isolation, tranquility, calmness, visionary dreams and excitement.
Sexuality Sexuality kept arising as a theme throughout the proving. This took the form of an increased sex drive and amorous dreams. One prover described this as follows:
Lots of sex dreams; 3-4 sex dreams this night; very high libido in dreams; most intense sexual dreams I have ever had; very intense like a dog in heat(5)
Several provers described the increased sexual attention they were receiving in their dreams as unwanted.
Several provers noted that they kept dreaming about blonde’s during the proving. They described this as a distinct departure from their normal dream patterns. I have no explanation for this symptom.
Many of the provers lost things during the proving. This was associated with clumsiness in part. For example one prover had the following experience:
I went to my parents house for Thanksgiving and lost my cat; in the past I usually go ballistic; not one tear, not one worry(2)
This may relate to the theme of disconnection. In addition, there were many dreams of searching for lost things.
The theme of direction was a recurring on in the proving. The plant is dependent on which direction the wind is blowing for propagation and movement. In the proving, much of this related to struggling to determine which direction to take in life:
Not sure about my life right now or what direction to go in(16)
Many of the provers described feeling, dry, dusty and dirty. For example, one prover described it as follows:
I keep getting this image of an old west movie-an old motel in the distance, wind blowing and gusting, stuffy flying around, dust devils, tumbleweeds and dirt(1)
The dreams were also filled with images of dirt.
Preparation of the Remedy
A video was made of the preparation of this remedy (see Appendix B). The theory is that people who prepare the remedy also briefly participate in the energy of the remedy. Although we did not include this information in the selection of proving themes and rubrics, it was interesting to note that several of the themes were reflected in the making of the remedy. These included codependency/care taking of others, difficult concentration, weariness, feeling of intoxication, headache, cheerfulness, speed, vertigo and communication.
This remedy can be compared to other Chenopodiaceae remedies, Oxailic acidum (5% by weight of the plant), Uranium nitricum (strong affinity), other Desert Remedies (especially Larrea tridentata), Scrophulariaceae, Malvales and Leguminosae. This remedy can be distinguished from the Conifers, Scrophulariaceae, Malvales and Leguminosae in that the feeling of disconnection is associated with a brittleness, lonesomeness, death and a feeling of a wandering moving on.