[I have much pleasure in publishing this important paper by Dr. G. Madaus who who is both a physician and a researcher of great originality. His findings may prove epoch-making in the art of healing.-J.E.B.].
IN investigating the therapeutic value of medicinal plants the question persistently presents itself: “Why do certain plants exhibit poisonous properties and others not ? Is it a mere accident that some plants contain active poisons, or is it a fundamental law of nature, which yet unsuspected, awaits to be discovered, discovery which may revolutionize our ideas on their mode of formation ?”.
May theories have been advanced to explain this mystery and some of them have attained a degree of popularity out of all proportion to their scientific soundness. An example is the “Chemical Theory. This theory states that the activity of any plant, as far as if medicinal value is concerned, is directly related to the chemical nature of the soil. On this assumption it was believed that the presence of metallic salts of Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Manganese, Calcium, etc., in combination with inorganic radicals such as Sulphates, Carbonates and the Halogens had a direct influence upon the production of certain substances within the plant cell, which, in the case of medicinal plants, give them their characteristic properties.
Scientific investigation has proved beyond doubt the fallacy of this theory and that the purely inorganic substances of the soil have no effect upon the presence or absence of active principle in plants.
I have proved this in our own herb gardens by cultivating plants in all types of soils and manures and have found that those plants which grow well in the wild state are not friendly to cultivation. The net result of this experiment proved that those plants of medicinal vale which are friendly to cultivation shown no change in their active constituents even when the soil had been entirely altered.
The proof that th inorganic substances in the soil had no effect on the presence or absence of active principles within plants suggested that there might be a fundamental relation between one plant and the other which awaited discovery. It was from this point that my investigations on the vital principles of plants and animals took place in our research laboratories at Koetzschenbroda.
At one time it was thought that plants, unlike animals, produced no excreta but ridded themselves of their waste products by the discharge of excess and watery vapour and by thee formation of special cells, or of insoluble bodies. I would mention the resin ducts in Pinus and the presence certain plants of large quantities of Calcium oxalate crystals, which are useless by- products of plant metabolism.
Further it was universally stated that the external surfaces of roots and the adherent soil were acid in reaction. This idea had been proved t b wrong as many plants exhibit an alkaline reaction, viz., Watercress (Nasturtium officinalis). In order to demonstrate the above, small Watercress plant were uprooted, washed in distilled water, and placed in beakers of neutral water. At regular intervals the Hp. of the water was taken and in the case of Watercress it was found to be alkaline.
The test demonstrated in addition to the alkaline reaction peculiar to the Cress root, that the plant in order to produce this effect must have expelled a substance from its roots which changed the Hp. From this point I will have to advance a little to explain that this substance or substances which is an excretion of th body by way of the roots, can be compared by analogy to the gastric and intestinal secretions in animals.
The next question was: “How o plant excreta affect the soil in which the plant grows ?” It is well known that clover (Trifolium) enriches the soil by the symbiosis of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the roots. When planted in soil which has produced several crops of clover and away from the roof influence of other plants, it will become sickly and die. It cannot be said that the ground is poor and impoverished for previous clover crops have enriched the soil considerably and if other plants are planted in this soil they taken root rapidly and flourish greatly.
But why should clover, which so enriches the soil, suddenly cease to be able to live on the soil it has enriched ? The answer may be found in the fact that clover did badly not for lack of nourishment in the soil but because the root excreta of the previous clover crops had reached such a concentration that the roots were unable to absorb the necessary nutriment from the soil. Hence the plants died.
It is for this reason that the farmer changes his crops from year to year. He dose so, not, as is [popularly supposed, because the has become impoverished, which is only true as far as purely food materials are concerned, but because the excreta of a particular crop would have a poisonous effect upon n similar successive crops.
Nature has evolved a system whereby the plant root excreta deposited inn the soil by one set of plants can be utilized by plants of other natural orders to their mutual benefit. This process leads to the formation of the active constituents in plants. Medicinal plants absorb from the excreta of other plants poisons which become valuable to them.
This process of converting plant excreta into useful material of another kind has been going on since the time when life began. The soil is saturated with plant excreta. Nature has no means of ridding the soil of these excreta except through the process of one variety of plants absorbing the necessary amount of excreta of another variety. Thus a balance is established. Nature can maintain this balance only in the wild state.
Therefore, when cultivation is commenced, an artificial means of disposing of the excess of excreta of a particular crop must be founds. This is done by ploughing. If a field of, say, oats is ploughed the suns rays strike the turned up soil which is rich in plant excreta, they destroy the complicated structure of the organic compounds contained in it, the field is detoxicated, and the same crop may be grown again. The absorption which Nature obtains by a mutual exchange between toots of different plants man replaces by use of the plough.
The truth of this assertion can be demonstrated by experiment. Young sunflower stems (Helianthus) are cut and placed in glass vessels in water until root growth commences. After a few days have developed. The the stems are cut transversely across the meddle, the flower tops are discarded but the stalks and the roots remain in the jars. The excretion from the roots is now largely increased and is dissolved in water.
This aqueous solution is added to the water of a different type of plant growing under similar conditions to the sunflower and the flowing effects are observed. The plants which receive a portion of the aqueous solution of the root excretion produce a remarkable increase in root growth, showing that this solution possesses a root growth stimulating principle. What is the nature of this principle ? We know that there are substances which, when withheld or administered to man, produce profound physiological changes.
Thus the principle of the Thymus gland produces growth in children, th Thyroid gland secretes Thyroxin which, if produced in insufficient quantity, causes cretinism in children and myxoedema in adults. On the other hand, excess of Thyroid secretion produces a condition known as exophthalmic goitre, also the drastic changes which take place in the male when the secretion of the male hormone is stopped by castration. These principles which are secreted direct into the blood stream are known by the name of hormones, and, although their chemical nature may not be well understood in some cases, their physiological action is well known.
Having drawn out this rather long analogy, it is evident that a similar substance or substances is present in root excrement of the sunflower. The principle may be termed “The Root-Growth Stimulating Hormone” as it acts on all plant roots in the same way.
Further experiment were made on plants with hormones found in the human body in order to test the sensitiveness of the plant to human hormones and to demonstrate the close similarity, if not identity, of the hormones of animal and plant origin which control the fundamental processes of life.
For this purpose we chose Eastern which, although present in its most concentrated form in the uterus and ovarian glands, is founds in every plant or animal cell. In fact it has been proved by independent workers, especially Professor Scholler, Berlin, that OEstrin is not destroyed on the death of the organism but continues to exist and it has been found in the coal measures.
Oestrin is the predominant female factor and is responsible for the oestrus, the liberation of the egg-cell in the ovary and the discharge of the unfertilized eggs with the menstrual discharge. The menstrual discharge is arrested in due course by the anti- sexual hormone which is developed in the sack which contains the egg-cell in the ovary. Here a yellow viscous substance, the Corpus luteum, is formed which at the commencement of thee period increases in volume.
At the end of three days (the average time of menstrual discharge0 it flows into the womb and brings the oestrus period to an end. There are two hormones which opposed actions. One hormone produces the characteristic menstrual discharge, while the other hormone bring it to an end. From this fact observed in the animals kingdom we turned to the vegetable kingdom in order to find a plants which exhibits the antisexual characteristics of the Corpus luteum.
This plant is Agnus castus, or Chaste Tree, which was much favoured by monks and nuns in the Middle Ages for the purpose of the depressing of the sexual instincts. The leaves of this plant were infused or eaten raw to produce the effect desired.
To prove that Oestrin dose actually act on plants, a number of young maize plants were plants and were allowed to taken firm root. After a few days the plants were graded by size and a test batch was well watered with a watery solution containing OEstrin. Those plants which received the Estrin solution showed rapid growth of shoots and leaves, and the chlorophyll content of the leaves developed rapidly, whereas the plants which received only the normal watering grew but they were vastly inferior to the hormone-fed plants.
The experiment was now carried further. A batch of white female rats were made sterile by removed of the ovaries. From the date of sterilization no oestrus period was observed but, on the administration of vegetable OEstrin, the normal female characteristics were observed, culminating in a menstruation which, however, cased when OEstrin feeding was withheld. The results of this test proved that plant OEstrin not only acts on plants, but that it has the same physiological action as the OEstrin of the ovary.
The sterile rate were again on a diet containing OEstrin and once more the female characteristics were restored. Now a preparation of Agnus castus was administered to the when they immediately reverted to their sterile condition.
During these test on the rate the Allan-Doisy Test was used for control. It was established that the plant Agnus castus contains a principle which is anti-sexual in its physiological action and to which the mane “Anti-sexual hormone” was given. There are other which exhibit this characteristic, especially the Tiger lily, Lilium tigrinum. It is, therefore, probable that by suitable clinical experiments the value of these two plant hormones can be established and that they can bee used with advantage in sexual disturbances.
Our next investigation ward the study of plants substance which heal plant wounds. These substances were previously thought to be of a resinous character and peculiar to the individual plant, but closer examination showed that not all plants are equally efficient in producing these healing substances. It was found by experiment that plants which possess thick fleshy leaves contain the wound-healing principle in abundance. Such plants, such as Calanchoe, when broken or bruised, exude a fluid which completely covers the wound.
Now, if this wound is observed carefully, a process similar to the granulation of an animal wound is to take place. These plants were then treated with medicines in different pharmaceutical, and especially in homoeopathic, from. Ointments were made having as a basis Lanoline, Vaseline, and also mixtures of Vaseline. In addition our own special form of plant powder was prepared o which the registered name of “Teep” is given.
To distinguish this preparation from any others in the “Teep” series we will call it the “Wound Hormone Teep”. The test was, as in all the forgoing cases, carried out firstly on plants and then on animals. We found that if rapid granulation of a wound is to be obtained, preparations of the Wound Hormone should not be applied in the form of ointments, not even with a Lanoline base, but in the form of powder, preferably in the form of Teep powder.
Here, as in the case of the sexual hormones, the antagonistic principle was sought and found. The plant is Viscum album, the common Mistletoe. It was known to the ancient German tribes who attributed to it very deadly properties. This is evident from the reference made in the Saga of the death of the Sun God, or God of Life, who was killed by an arrow made of Mistletoe. The Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which grows in the wounds in the bark of trees.
The oak seeks to close the wound by a healing principle (hormone), but the Mistletoe, which depends for its existence on the presence of an open would, excretes counter principle which keeps the would open and, therefore, enable the Mistletoe to live. This counter principle or “Anti-Granulating Hormone” of the Mistletoe produces the same effect in the wound off various plants. In animals the wound, if not actually bleeding refuses to heal so long as the active principle of the Mistletoe is present. Fresh wounds bleed without clotting when under the action of this hormone.
According to our policy, no attempt was made to isolate those principles in the pure state but tinctures were made from the fresh plants strictly according to homoeopathic principles. In additions the extraction of the active principles was carried out by macerating the fresh plants in oil in certain cases.
Our next research concerned the reactions of the vegetable vascular system to drugs. It has been found by experiment that the and vascular pressure in a plant can be altered by the addition of certain drugs. A simple illustration is as follows: When a cubic centimetre of a solution of Adrenalin 6x is added to the water in jar containing the roots and cut stem of a plant, the top of which is connected to a U-shaped tube, the bottom of which is filled with Mercury, the Adrenalin immediately produces an alteration produces an alteration in the pressure of the plant sap which is registered by the alteration of the level of Mercury in the arms of U-shaped tube.
From a series of tests it was found that drugs which alter the blood-pressure in animals act in a similar way on the pressure of the sap in the vascular system of plants.
Concurrently with these experiments tests were carried out with plants which exhibit a high internal temperature. Their temperature was accurately determined by means of an instrument of great sensitiveness. This instrument which is so constructed as to measure both the external and the internal heat showed in one instance that the internal heat of the plant differed by 30 degrees from the atmospheric from fevers when given preparations of these plants show a remarkable resistance to high temperatures and the prognosis of such cases, if these plants are used, is more favourable than would otherwise be the case.
In conclusion the work so far accomplished this year is but a preliminary to that vast and unexplored field of research into plant hormones. What has been accomplished is the establishment of the identity of the vital principles of plant and animal hormones and of the therapeutic value of plant hormones in cases in which previously only hormones of animal origin had been used.