Author: Karim Ada
Of apples and roses: a case of Malus communis
by Karim Adal
Introduction and background
The patient is a sixty-year-old woman whom I have been following since June 2010. She had come to see me with a goiter, recurrent sinusitis, back pain and sleeping problems. Her past history was remarkable for cervical cancer and cancer of a salivary gland. She quickly and spontaneously connected to three years prior, when she had lost her father after a protracted illness due to duodenal cancer. The state of shock, weakness and numbness she felt at that time, was also felt at several other key moments and dramas in her life, with the need to control manifestations of that state, hold back the tears, stay calm, avoid panicking or passing out. She did quite well on Ignatia for four years, with improvement in the size of her goiter and amelioration of her sleep, and each time she had sinusitis or back pain, she would respond to the remedy.
By June 2014, however, it had become clear that Ignatia was not touching her deepest emotional issues. I waited for a moment of crisis to re-take her case, which came in June 2014.
The following is a condensed summary of the one-hour consultation that day, where there was a lot of gentle coaxing to move her gradually to higher levels of experience. I only write a few of my questions to her so that some transitions are easier to follow.
Patient (P): "I have a cold, I feel congested, with a runny nose and a dry cough, it tickles me in the throat. My nasal secretions are very thick. I am very tired, I feel feverish. I have been very worried about my husband, this is probably why I fell sick, he had to be hospitalized and I really thought he wouldn't make it. I felt very anxious and afraid. It was difficult to breathe. I lost my appetite, I felt like crying, sad. Sadness about old age. I really thought that it was the end for him. If it were to happen, it would be very difficult, the separation… anxiety, sadness. I lose my peacefulness.”
Karim Adal (KA): What do you feel, in your body?
P: “Difficulty breathing. Loss of appetite, I don't even want to drink anything. I close myself up. Lack of energy. I want the moment to stop. I have a fear of death. It is difficult to stay calm, not show what I feel, because the other person will be even more disturbed if I panic. I feel an uncomfortable agitation that I cannot control. I wondered whom I could phone for support, my children, then I thought that it was not a good idea to worry them. Being alone, the loneliness in the fear.”
KA: A little more on this loneliness, whom could I call for support, what was the feeling at that moment?
P: “The feeling that I missed my dad (tears). And I felt childish, he's not here…” (So, we are right back where we started four years ago.)
KA: A little more on this feeling childish, the need for your father.
P: “One never gets used to the separation I suppose. He's not here! He can't be here! It is sad. Somehow, he was going to help me, I don't know how, but his presence would have been enough.”
KA: What would the dad bring to this child?
P: “Safety, confidence, a lot of love. As if everything is possible, it's magical. Even though I knew that it wasn't the case, for me it was that way!”
KA: A little more.
P: “Everything, love, a lot of love, a lot of care (from here onwards, I will indicate words she said in English by italicizing them; words or expressions in a different language than the main language of a case often convey a particularly important feeling or sensation. The case was taken in French). The feeling that one is unique, that everything revolves around you. And the happiness that comes with it. As if everything was eternal, beautiful. This is what I missed in that moment. Maybe I thought that my children would miss their father as well. They would get used to it, like I did, like everybody does.”
KA: What would one feel?
P: “A physical absence, the relationship missing, the warmth, everything…”
KA: Just qualify this "everything" a bit more.
P: (long silence) “What I think I will miss… (long silence)… it is something that you live with, you get used to it and you live with it. So that pain decreases and other things take its place, but the love remains. But there is nonetheless the physical absence, you miss that.”
KA: Where does one feel this physical absence in the body?
P: “In the heart the most, I suppose.”
KA: What does one feel here?
P: “With time one starts feeling once again the love that was felt, so the pain diminishes over time.”
KA: A little bit more on the heart, what one feels?
P: “I feel warmth. Real pain (HG).”
KA: A bit more on this pain.
P: “A real pain, like a cramp (HG). The stomach… pain… palpitations. I also often have difficulty crying. I cry easily in front of you but I usually hold back.”
KA: A bit more on this heart pain, whatever comes to you.
P: “It was tight, squeezing (HG). It's like a point (HG) that's painful. It's as if one could cry but is unable to cry.”
KA: Tell me a bit more about this point.
P: “It's a point, like this (HG), sharp, that pinches (HG), then gives a warmth upwards. It's very strong. It's strange, because it is true that it does it on this side (shows the heart) and not here (shows the right side of the chest), and nowhere else.”
KA: What does it do on this side?
P: “Pressure, like this (HG). It’s not like a knife because it's not a knife. Pain. Maybe that is what stops my breathing, this is where I feel panic, as if I cannot breathe. It is as if the current will stop. This pain goes to the back, this point, and it provokes panic, one cannot breathe. It can go all the way to there and then I take a deep breath and start breathing once again. It's all painful here, sharp, the shoulder, everywhere. But what's strange is that, in that moment, I am not thinking of myself, or that I am hurting. I know that I feel all that but the pain does not matter, it is the other person that matters, what will become of him…”
At that point, I felt that she had gone as far as she could, that she had nicely and gradually gone from level 3 of emotions to level 5 of sensation, and that the energy pattern of the Rosaceae was manifesting quite clearly. This is very important, because otherwise what follows makes no sense. Understanding where one is in the case allows you to stay grounded and not deviate into interpretive patterns of thinking.
KA: Good, what dreams have you had, tell me about just one dream.
P: “I had a dream that was a bit strange, with apples, many apples…”
P: “Yes, many apples.”
KA: Wonderful, what was happening in the dream?
P: “I was surprised. I saw many apples, really green apples. I had to choose some. I was wearing a dress with a pattern of squares, one white square and one square the color of apples; that was funny. There was a basket full of apples and there was an apple tree. I felt really good in the dream. There was a lot of light, it was beautiful, I was happy and without worries, I felt like dancing and singing (laughs)."
KA: What do apples symbolize for you?
P: "For me it's the heart, love. It's like the drawing of a heart, it's a lot of love. I always think that if a couple is united, it's an apple, the two of them. I love the apple in all its manifestations, the apple tree, everything, the smell, the sweetness, everything. Apple means youth also for me, energy, youth, kindness, everything…”
KA: And what is your favorite flower? Just like that, without thinking about it too much.
P: “Roses, I love roses! My dad loved roses! I love roses so much, all the colors, all the shapes, the rose tree, the climbing rose, I love pink roses, rose petals… you know, in our oriental culture we use rose water to clean babies, it smells really good, and we make rose petal jam. Roses are so beautiful. It's nature at its best, a gift of nature, the colors, the shades, the smells, what it represents. It's friendship. Yes, a rose garden… aahhh… I could live in a rose garden (laughs).”
KA: What does the rose represent for you?
P: “Love. Light. Kindness, once again. Beauty. Light. Gardens.”
KA: Wonderful. One last question, what is your favorite fruit to eat?
P: “I love bananas, orange, peaches. I love apples also, sweet ones but also sour ones like Granny Smith. I love all fruits in fact and I eat a lot of fruit."
Analysis of the case
I took the chart home to think about it. It was clear to me that the patient had connected to the sensation of the Rosaceae family (pressure, tight, squeezing, it stops my breathing, pricking, like a sharp point), within a context of grief, fear of separation and loss, heart pain, palpitations, care, and love. The connection to roses for her and her father was quite strong. The dream of apples (a fruit belonging to the Rosaceae family), a dream she had never had before, was quite stunning, and was so unexpected that it took me by surprise during the case-taking. Was I to give her a rose remedy based on the plant chart of the sensation method, or based on the Materia Medica of remedies in the Rosaceae family, or consider the dream as a manifestation of the remedy source?
I read all the literature that I could find on the Rosaceae: Rajan Sankaran's An insight into plants – volume 3; the Materia Medica of many remedies in the Rosaceae family (since then I have compiled a document on Rosaceae, where I list more than 60 remedies belonging to this family); notes from superb seminars given by Mahesh Gandhi on Rosaceae; and superb articles from the December 2012 edition of Interhomeopathy, entirely dedicated to that family, with an introduction by Jan Scholten and Deborah Collins.
I could not find a remedy that was strongly indicated based on traditional MM knowledge or otherwise, and I felt strongly that one could not ignore such a clear and unusual dream. So, I gave her Malus communis 200, with the belief that the dream was a direct manifestation of her remedy source, without telling her what the remedy was. I will summarize below her follow-ups.
One month later
P: “This remedy has done me a lot of good, I have felt its action in a very gentle way. I no longer have hot flashes at night. I sleep much better, and when I wake up at night, instead of all the negative and polluted thoughts, it's empty, nothing comes. It's a complete letting go. No anxiety, I can go back to sleep.
"I had a dream where I saw an aunt of mine, who had lost her husband suddenly when very young; I saw her dressed in mourning, and I felt as if my anxiety was disappearing. It was as if my aunt was telling me goodbye. In the dream, I was wondering ‘why is she putting on her hat, where is she going, what is happening.’ I loved her dearly but I have never dreamed of her since she died twenty years ago. She was very close to us, part of the family. When I woke up, I felt that the dream was a goodbye, maybe I never really let go of her. Very positive. This emotional memory that has to do with death, the fact that she had lost her husband… (silence; a beautiful moment of introspection where one could watch how she became deeply aware of the relationship between the dream and her own fear of losing her husband)… you know, this is very interesting… when my husband was in the hospital and I got so scared to lose him, so probably she came in my dream because of that. Her being a widow had shocked me as a child, to have lost someone so dear to her; she had no children, he was the only person in her life. Yes, finished (HG of sweeping something away), most probably I let go of this idea also.“I did not have more apple dreams, I had had many of them before taking the remedy. I have dreamt of birds and lemons.
“I am in a good period. There is no more anxiety.”
KA: So this worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, feeling that you needed to cry that you talked about last time?
P: “I had forgotten that I had said all that, it is all gone, can you imagine?"
KA: And the feelings of tight, sharp point, all that?
P: “All that is gone, finished. I am no longer "closed up" like I have been since my father died, I now want to see people instead of avoiding them, and I’ve enjoyed myself socially.
“A big change, very gently, as I told you. It started a week after taking the remedy, I started feeling it with the sleep issue, because I used to sweat so heavily in bed that I had to change nightgown. I am much better, my energy is much better.”
KA: Could you just summarize the main difference in you compared to one month ago?
P: “Essentially, I am happier. It's a childish joy, like what I was when I was a child; (how beautiful that the word childish now comes attached to joy, as opposed to the previous visit, where the childish feeling was connected to missing her dad, the separation. One can clearly see here the shift in the polarity that we often observe in our patients during the healing process.) I was very vivacious as a child, very happy. There was carefreeness in me that had disappeared over the years with the feeling of responsibility. I think that I let go of that duty feeling (HG of sweeping away), and now I live, so this happiness has found back its place now. Now, I want to ask you, can I take another dose of the remedy, because it makes me feel so good! (laughter).”
KA: Where do you feel this happiness in your body?
P: “Here” (indicates her belly).
KA: Just connect to it, breathe deeply and feel this sensation… (some music for the next ten minutes)
P: “The sun. I see sunflowers. I run in the fields. I feel so good. I have trust in my health instead of doubting, it gives me strength. It's like a perfect moment. A moment of confidence. It gives happiness.”
At that moment, I told her about her prior visit, her remedy, its relationship to roses, the symbol of love, and the magic of her dream…
P: “To rediscover this bubbly joy that I had lost is amazing. I could have eaten a ton of apples after a dream of apples (laughter), but never would I have thought, or a doctor would have thought… imagine if I had gone to a psychiatrist, he would have given me an anxiolytic (laughter). This homeopathy is amazing, thank you.”
Three months later
Having not heard from her, I called her for a visit.
P: “I am very happy that you called. This remedy has made a big change in me. It has given me such an inner calmness that I don't recognize myself. I probably had this calmness in me for a long time but I could never find it, probably because of the anger I had in me, this tension… it was always some external thing that affected me and gave me a reason to complain. But now that I have found this calmness, there is no anxiety. It is so wonderful. My health is so good that I cannot believe it.
“And my relationship with my mother is much better. I am very sweet towards her. For the first time, I was able to stay calm and reason with her. I am much more confident in myself now. It cannot be better than what it is already now. A few weeks after taking it, I started feeling calmness, the remedy has healed a kind of burn I had in me (she points to her chest), in the heart chakra. I have the feeling that all is well, I am breathing well.
“My digestion is much better. My sinuses are getting much better day by day; the area of discomfort has shrunk a lot, it’s just around the nose now instead of the entire face.
"Despite all the problems around us I have remained calm. I have found the place where I belong. There’s no more anxiety when my grandson goes away, I was actually happy for him. It is an extraordinary change. Also my age doesn't matter to me now, I feel good the way I am. All is good for me, I have lost all material ambition, and I feel so good about that. I have no sadness in me because I really had a very beautiful life with wonderful events in it; lots of love, lots of people around me. I no longer need to be the ‘general’ in the family, finished! For me, I'm good as I am and that's it!
“I very often have dreams where I see myself in gardens and in nature, feeling the wind, feeling the good weather, feeling light, the beauty, not only of gardens but also of nature, of the landscape, I relish this in my dreams.”
KA: What sensation does it give you?
P: “Freedom. Freedom is mostly lightness for me, because the sense of duty used to weigh heavily on me. So, lightness, to be with myself all the time.”
KA: Where do you feel this in your body, during the dream? (She closes her eyes spontaneously)
P: “Here (points to the belly). A sense of letting go. Relaxation, well-being. In the morning when I wake up, it is as if I want to stay there, in that sensation I had during the dreams. To be able to breathe easily. Wanting to stay in that state, calm, a sort of love that manifests, un-interested love. A sense of accomplishment. It is indeed as if one needs nothing, it is good as is, I feel good. Lightness is the most important, I don't even feel my body, it is so light in this moment for me. Absence of fear, happiness. This love fills me with a good energy. I could get up and dance right now. Dancing, happiness, joy. It is wonderful. I feel like I want to give this love. I feel like doing this (crosses her arms on her chest) because it feels good. It is full of warmth, a sensation of warmth. (She opens her eyes)
“We are universal. This word ‘love’ is important indeed. It always has meant a lot to me. When I was young, my friends thought I was hypocritical because I was so kind at school, I always had many friends that I loved and I always found something good in everyone. Later on, when my friends gossiped, I told them ‘no, there is love.’ They used to say ‘oh, enough, you're not going to put all of it under your love umbrella!’ I have pink-colored glasses that allow me to see the world with the love that I have within me, and I will continue to be that way. When I am near my children, I feel this love so strongly, I can take any child in my arms and give him the warmth, the protection, the caresses, everything! It fills me up, it is like an osmosis (HG) for me, there is everything in love, and love can do no harm. When I raised my daughters, what I prayed most for was ‘no heartbreak’, I did not want them to have their heart broken (in French ‘mal d'amour’, meaning literally ‘love pain’).
“I have so much love in me for everyone around me.”
KA: If you had a three-year-old child in front of you, how would you define this word "love" for this child?
P: “The first image that I get, strangely, when saying that, is the apple, a red apple. And what would he tell me, I don't know… health, love, warmth, giving, giving, giving. Maybe he would say ‘my heart’. Love forever.”
KA: And what would he say to express what he feels in his heart?
P: “In his heart? I would think giving, giving something from your heart, even giving your heart. The child will define love with something from nature precisely, like the apple or the sun, or God.
“Tonight we have Rosh Hashanah, the feast of the apple, it is the first day of the New Year, and we eat jams, apple, apple tarts… it is the fruit of the new harvest of the year, so we start today the prayer with apple jam or apple honey instead of the usual honey.
"At a recent wedding in our family, my daughter read a text on Adam and Eve and the apple; she spoke of the apple, love, people spoke how two halves of an apple make an apple. The apple is the fruit of love. You told me that apples are the same family as roses, and roses were truly the favorite flowers of my dad, and I love them very much because I loved my dad. This year I created a corner in my garden just for roses, for my sixtieth birthday, in memory of my father. I have dreamed of doing this for many years but it did not happen until this year.
“I went back home recently to pray for the annual commemoration of his death, and I think I said goodbye to him. I always cry a bit, but not this time, it did not touch me too much, the pain has gone. I went because it is my religious duty, but for me he is not in that spot. Everyday something reminds me of him. During his illness I had closed (HG) my feelings too much. When he left us, I remembered the good times, but in a way I did not live my pain, my daughter was divorcing at the same time. This year all this got cleaned up (HG) and I think that this remedy had a lot to do with it. I feel more liberated, more independent also. He was my backbone, and now my backbone is mine. I'm more love-giving, more loving myself. Emotionally, I feel more solid, surer of myself, I know that I can be on my own, instead of how I always feared to lose my husband. Love does not need the fear any longer, and this makes me feel liberated (HG), what a shadow has gone! I always feel I will be in the right place at the right time now, I trust.”
Six weeks later
More than five months following the first dose of remedy, she had a mild partial relapse with some anxiety and sinus symptoms coming back, following a shock caused by a car accident of a dear friend. What is stunning is that two days prior to coming to see me she had a dream where she was eating apples. She was peeling the apples, they were a bit dry and withered, not healthy looking, but she was smiling in the dream. She also had another dream where she was eating apple honey.
After repetition of the remedy, her physical symptoms quickly disappeared and her anxiety vanished once again. She felt immediately better, her mood got much better in two to three days, and she described feeling a lot of happiness. She had dreams of a salad with apples in it, and dreams of gardens with sunshine.
I wanted to share this case because I don't know if there have been cases of Malus communis documented in the past in our literature, and I feel that it contributes to our understanding of this remedy at many levels, and adds to our Materia Medica knowledge. During the follow-ups, I tried to investigate the patient's feelings and sensations as much as I could, since no one knows better than the patient what the energy pattern of the remedy they need feels like.
When one looks up Malus communis in Reference Works, there is very little information. Interestingly, in Aromatherapy, it says: "Depression – washes away negative thoughts, breathing in peace, contentment and freedom from worry. Promotes thoughts of love, for self and others." This description is strongly confirmed in this case. There is a definite feeling of love towards others that manifests in this case, a pure love, a giving love, a warm love, a love that is caring and generous.
Love is a central theme in Rosaceae remedies, as taught by Mahesh Gandhi and Jan Scholten – the heart, the desire to be likeable, desperately needing the connection, the relationship with others, the need for love in a naïve way, the need to do for others but losing yourself in others, relationships with unfit partners leading to disappointments and grief –, but each remedy has its own "flavor" of love. Malus communis is the domestic apple. If one reads about Crab apple (the wild apple), it is a very different energy than the love described for Malus communis. In the Crab apple remedy there is a strong leprous energy, feeling unclean and impure, issues about rejection and disgust, a feeling of shame, preoccupations with impurities, an aversion to anything dirty (Flower Essence Repertory), as expressed in the following rubrics: Delusions: contaminates everything he touches; Delusions; dirty: that he is; Delusions: dirty: eating dirt; Delusions: dirty: everything is, that; Despair; Disgust; Loathing; Thoughts: disgusting thoughts with nausea; Washing always, her hands (Bach's Repertory). "This remedy belongs to the group Despondency and Despair… There is much perfectionism and self-disgust and a need for purification… The individual may feel shame and helplessness about repairing this situation. Preoccupation with beauty flaws and self-centered behavior can also be present. This is an abuse remedy" (Gorney's Flower Remedies). The goal of therapy is "to bring a sense of self-acceptance and forgiveness of one's shameful aspects. To direct the mind to positive attributes of oneself, as well as to reestablish priorities such as love and kindness over self-preoccupation and despair. Directing the view to the care of others and finding the joy of service, with simultaneous raising of one's self-worth, brings deepened healing" (Boedler's Bach Remedies).
In Malus communis, I would suggest that the miasm is more likely to be the cancer miasm. There is a strong need to control the sensation of the loss of love, to avoid complete breakdown. She had responded well – though partially – to Ignatia (the Loganiaceae remedy classified in the cancer miasm), and her past history was remarkable for cervical cancer and cancer of a salivary gland. Also, her family history was remarkable for cancer, her father having died of duodenal cancer. I believe that this remedy should be included in the differential in cases where Ignatia helps but is not as deep acting as one would hope. Among the Rosaceae, Prunus spinosa, according to Mahesh Gandhi's experience, is also similar to Ignatia.
Finally, I would like to point out that there is a lot of confusion about the taxonomy of Apple remedies. For those interested, I detail my research into the subject matter below.
Notes on the taxonomy of Apple remedies
The taxonomy of apple remedies is extremely confusing, full of mistakes and contradictions. I have discussed it with Jörg Wichmann who has put a warning notice regarding these remedies on his website www.provings.info
Jörg Wichmann differentiates Malus domestica = communis = Pyrus malus from Malus sylvestris = Crab apple = Malus pumila.
Remedia states that Malus sylvestris = pumila = communis, ≠ from domestica.
Jan Scholten differentiates Malus communis (apple) from Malus pumila (apple paoma or ménagère in French).
In Reference Works, there is also a lot of confusion, especially for Malus communis:
Malus communis = Pyrus malus (Aromatherapy), Malus communis = Pyrus malus = Crab apple! (Boericke), Malus communis = Pyrus coronaria (Mal-p!!) = Wild crab apple!! (North American medicines)
Crab apple (Crb-a-b) = Malus sylvestris = Malus pumila (Wichmann) but Murphy says that = Pyrus malus.
In Wikipedia, there are many contradictions as well:
The domestic common apple tree's scientific name is Malus pumila, and the wild apple tree's Pyrus malus = Malus sylvestris
The common domesticated apple was originally classified as Pyrus malus when the scientific Latin-based binomial system of naming species was first introduced in the 18th century. By the 19th century, the apple was re-classified as Malus domestica, but the term Pyrus malus is still often used in ingredient lists when apple extracts are used in skin care products.
The Crab-tree or Wild Apple (Pyrus malus), is native to Britain and is the wild ancestor of all the cultivated varieties of apple trees = Malus communis. (Botanical.com)
What appears to be most logical and most certain is that:
The domestic apple tree is named Malus domestica = communis.
The wild apple tree is named Malus sylvestris = Crab apple. The information for this remedy is found in Reference Works under Crb-a-b.
Pharmacies carrying these remedies include:
Ainsworth: Apple, Apple bark, Apple leaf, Pyrus malus
Hahnemann laboratories: Malus pumila.mac, Pyrus malus
Malus domestica = Apfel (kultiviert), Apfelbaum, Apple-tree, kultiviert Apfel, Kulturapfel – Starting material: var. Boskoop, bark of young branches, pod, fruit flesh and kernel with chassis
Malus sylvestris: Apfle (wilder), Crab Apple, Holzapfel, Malus communis, Malus pumila, Pyrus malus, Pyrus silvestris, wilder Apfel – Starting material: Pyrus malus = Pyrus communis = old name (warning: Pyrus communis refers to the pear tree in fact, not the apple tree!!)
Despite certain taxonomic errors (I have indicated these errors in blue), I believe that it is Remedia that has differentiated the two remedies most clearly.
Keywords: grief, anxiety, fear of death, fear of loneliness, cancer, goitre, sinusitis, rosaceae, apple
Remedies: Malus communis.