Geochelone sulcata (African Sulcata Tortoise)

Proving Summary

The complete proving is published as a monograph. Information about the proving can also be found in the book The Desert World: A Homeopathic Exploration. Contact the AMCH Bookstore for more information.

Choosing the Remedy

Geochelone sulcata was chosen as a remedy to examine the healing qualities of an aspect of the reptilian family never previously explored. Turtles have been well known for their healing properties and possess a rich healing lore. Geochelone sulcata in particular represents an example of a desert medicine and represents a further opportunity to explore the power of desert remedies.

Core Sensation

The core sensation for this proving was related to the sensation of tingling/prickling/burning as if something was coming alive. This was experienced in the head, chest, stomach and upper extremities. What was unusual was that several provers described this sensation within seconds after taking the first dosage of the remedy.

First thing; immediately after taking the remedy my lips started tingling and burning lips top and bottom; in the center only; the burning spread in an oval down my chin to the center of the soft palate and into my teeth; went around the back of my neck; spread to tip of nose and chin; really weird (HG); this lasted for 24 hours the tingling; burning sensation. Burning in a circle in the middle of the tongue. Wandering burning sensations (5).

First night within one minute after taking the remedy I had a physical reaction; started in right breast; crushing pressure radiating down to my breastbone; warm; went down my wrist out my arm and into the inner ear; like a numbing in my inner ear; right eye right cheek; upper jaw; radiating heat; base of my skull; all worse right; inner corner of my eye was burning; it was like dental anesthesia was wearing off; it was a mild tingling. It was a warmth (6).

This was most strongly expressed in the stomach area. Manny provers described a numbness or emptiness in this area, which was followed by a tingling prickling excitement. When this sensation was most strong it was accompanied by a feeling of anxiety and agitation.
One prover described it as follows;

I could not think; I started craving for anything I could eat to fill the emptiness inside; I ate 18 popsicles; 7 pieces of pineapple cake; then sunflower seeds-ate a whole pack of them-two pounds; I kept going and going. Finally went to bed to stop eating but I could have kept going. I just had to have it (HG) (10).

The opposite of this sensation was that of numbness which was experienced by several provers, worse at night. This was primarily located in the extremities.

Other sensations noted during the proving included, fullness, heaviness, burning pains, stitching pain, pressing pains and biting sensations.


Several provers experienced lovesickness during the proving. The feeling was one of romantic excitement. One prover had not experienced this for many years and the other prover had never experienced this. The feelings were intense. One prover described it as originating from the stomach and associated with numbness and tingling in that region.
Lovesick; I never get involved emotionally with anyone that I am dating; in the last month I have been love sick about it; that has been strange; all consuming kind of emotional; thing; very out of character. He is older than me; I have been getting into poetry and listening to love songs; still going strong for me; never ever felt this way about anyone in the world; Always been a serial dater and never get involved emotionally; felt like I had a spell put on me. To be thinking about him all the time; wanting to be with him all the time; looking to the future with that person In it; feeling like a longing kind of feeling in the pit of your stomach; like you are hit by this huge emotion that you cannot kick; like really deep in my stomach; kind of like a tingling or numb sort of feeling; it is not painful or uncomfortable; neither good or bad. Frequently stayed up late talking to this guy on the phone(18).

The opposite side of lovesickness was also seen. One prover left a marriage of long standing duration during the proving. She felt oppressed adn trapped in the marriage and was longing for love that she felt was missign in the marriage.

Core Movement/Motion

Another prominent sensation during the proving was that of compression by a circular band. This was accompanied by a hand gesture of circular tightening. Many of the provers described pressing pains in the head as if someone was pressing their finger or a band tightly on them. This was most problematic in one prover in the abdomen where she felt simultaneous compression and swelling/expansion at the same time. She described it as follows;

Bloated stomach. Feels like my stomach as been in the way. It feels too big and in the way. Feels bruised and sore to the touch. Bruised feeling. Fat like I am going to burst. Liver hurts. Worse laying on back. Sensation of being an upside down turtle. Like I am on my back and cannot turn over. Like I am contained in a shell. Like it is contained and bloated (1).

One of the disadvantages of carrying around a hard shell is that there is little room for expansion or contraction within the shell. This is particularly problematic for desert creatures where expansion and contraction is one of the main themes of desert remedies. Other provers described it as follows:

Aching in arms like being grasped very hard (5).

Beside myself with worry about my son. Feel gripped by this. It is pressing in on me. Felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin High anxiety (7).

First night within one minute had a physical reaction; started in right breast; crushing pressure radiating down to my breastbone; (6)
The compression tended to be circular. One prover described it as compression of the head like an iron helmet. Band like constrictions around the abdomen and feet were also noted. One prover could not tolerate shoes around the feet because of the compression.
There was also an emotional component to the compression-a feeling of emotional restriction and an accompanying intolerance to this. One prover described it as follows;

Friend and I had a conversation about having restrictions on me and telling me what to do; if he goes on a business trip he can do whatever he wants to do; when I do something he is all over it; I want him to quit putting restrictions on me; that issue came to a head. Restriction is not able to move or deep breathe; being confined; like the same feeling with the belly (1).

Dream: Full of cockroaches. I was at this house and it was full of roaches. There was a young girl there. I asked her to help watch my kids. She was afraid and said that I will never let her go. She felt that I would “keep her forever” (7).

Feel all tied up (10).
I feel like a caged tiger. Agitated (13).

Reptile Themes

Geochelone sulcata can be compared to other reptile remedies. Reptile themes present in this remedy include constriction and compression, attack and defense, violence, conspiracy, suspicious, antagonism with himself, sexuality, loquacity, sudden unpredictable attack, fear of death, desire to kill and lethal. There was a strong theme of killing, particularly around cutting off the head. Turtles are particularly vulnerable in the head area.

There was a strong theme of split and divided that came out during the proving. This is a common animal theme, which is particularly strong in the reptile family.

Desert Themes

Geochelone sulcata is an inhabitant of arid to semi-arid regions of Africa. Many desert themes was seen throughout the proving. These included water themes, distension and contraction, violence, attack and defense, photophobia, large and small, wandering, restlessness, isolation, death and dying, and excitement and hurry following a prolonged period of torpor. The presence of a strong thirst, without a desire to drink is characteristic of desert remedies. Formication is also typical of desert remedies.

One desert theme that was particularly strong in this proving was that of prolonged torpor followed by hyperactive energy. This relates directly to the core sensation. In the torporous state, there was a desire for dark cave like places (the animal spends much of its time aestivating during summer heat) and photophobia. One dream that described this:
Dead pirrhana that is pink and yellow. I am afraid of it. I try to flush it down the toilet. It’s alive and tries to get out and then turns into a yellow cat (5).


Miasmatic classification is difficult to do based on a single proving. However, there are suggestions of the Leprosy Miasm with suicidal tendencies, homicidal tendencies, self contempt and loathing, disgust, helplessness, hopelessness, self-torture, feeling violated and dirty and not feeling good enough. The syphilitic miasm is also a possibility.

General Characteristics

Rights sided symptoms predominated in this remedy. The remedy tended to be warm and was associated with hot flushes in several patients. In addition, there was a predominance of nighttime aggravations. Other general characteristics included a tendency towards injuries, weight gain, swelling and lassitude.

Emotional and Mental Characteristics

Emotions were typically felt in the stomach with this remedy. Most commonly this was an empty or hollow sensation that had to be filled, accompanied by feelings of loneliness, and anxiety.

The aggressivity of this remedy was particularly marked by irritability and anger. There was a strong desire to kill that came out in the dreams (this was surprising considering the placidity of the animal and its vegetarian diet). The most common descriptor of the irritability was “snappy”, a characteristic commonly associated with turtles in general.
Compassion and benevolence was seen in several provers. This involved a need to protect others primarily. This also came out in a maternal protective role with many provers having dreams of protecting babies and others. This is interesting in that the animal does not protect its young. However there is a well-known story of an African Seychelles Tortoise adopting a baby hippopotamous and protecting and sleeping with it after the tsunami in Indonesia.

Interestingly, slowness was not seen at all in the proving-a quality common associated with turtles and tortoises.

Physical Characteristics

Physical areas most targeted by this remedy included the extremities, eyes., head and stomach.

The eyes demonstrated much lacrymation and burning pains. They were often heavy and discolored red. There was profound photophobia and pressing pains, which could be accompanied by a foreign body sensation. Provers would often rub their eyes.

The stomach area experienced much crampy abdominal pains. There was nausea and vomiting worse in the morning and insatiable appetite. These tortoises are known for being voracious eaters. This was accompanied by distension and fullness. There was a strong thirst, particularly for cold drinks, which could be unquenchable. Anxiety was experienced in the stomach.

The extremities were the seat for many symptoms. There was much numbness and tingling. Pressure pains were noted that were particularly right sided and in the shoulders, wrists and arms. Stiffness and swelling often accompanied. There was much itching.

Menstrual symptoms were fairly common in this proving. Menses were either late or early and coupled with a cramping dysmenorrhea. Several provers experienced a white leucorrhea. Sex drive was generally low.
Skin was often dry and there was much formication. One prover had the interesting symptom of a painful cicatrix.

Of note was that there was little in the way of respiratory symptoms elicited by the proving. This is interesting in that respiratory diseases are some of the most common forms of pathology for this animal.


Geochelone sulcata can be compared to other reptile remedies. In addition, there are similarities with other desert remedies.

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