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What is Gemmotherapy?
The natural, plant-based natural treatment known as Gemmotherapy is explored in this article.
This safe, gentle yet effective treatment may be a relatively new therapy, but it’s rooted [if you’ll pardon the pun] in old natural medicine practice, namely that which includes the use of infusions, decoctions, macerations, unguents etc.
Compilation: Dr Sandi Nye
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but gemmotherapy has nothing to do with gems or gemstone therapy. The name comes from the word ‘gemma’, which derives from the Latin for ‘bud’ – though this was not the therapy’s original name, as will be seen below.
Cocobaci is formulated and designed with the method of Gemmotherapy!
Gemmotherapy refers to a dynamic plant-medicine-based therapy, which is a distinct phytotherapeutic/herbal regime consisting of liquid drops [often referred to as ‘gemmos’] that are taken by mouth. The therapy is relatively new to the health world, although certain aspects of the philosophy behind the therapy corresponds with Hahnemannian/homeopathic and naturopathic principles, with particular reference to ‘drainage’ principles.
Gemmotherapeutic remedies are made from the embryonic tissue of various trees and shrubs, picked just as they emerge in Spring, to promote drainage and thereby encourage elimination of toxic compounds from the body.
In accordance with homeopathic principles, these remedies use the first decimal dilution [1DH] of glycerine plant macerates prepared from embryonic plant tissues that are in the process of active growth and division.
The remedies are prepared according to monographs in the French Pharmacopoeia and are a well-known and accepted form of therapy in Europe, especially France, Italy and Belgium.
In South Africa they are best known and used within the Homeopathic, Phytotherapeutic/Herbal and Naturopathic medicine fields.
More information about Gemmotherapy basics:
In 1970, Dr Pol Henry, a Belgian medical doctor, published his findings [gathered since 1959] related to the use of extracts from buds, rootlets, young shoots and the inner bark of roots. Notwithstanding any homeopathic considerations, Henry based his system and choice of plants on the concept of ‘phytosociology’, a termed coined in 1896 by Józef Paczoski, a Polish botanist.
Phytosociology is the study of plant communities that led to a system for classifying these communities. It is an interesting branch of botanical science that relates specifically to the composition, development and relationship between plant species and plant communities. According to Henry, this concept indicates that certain categories of plants [trees in this instance] are the highest evolutionary organisms in the herbal realm.
To extrapolate, the hypothesis is that the totality of the information of the adult plant is contained within the buds. Buds, being embryonic organs, contain what Henry called the ‘Potential Biologic Energy’, which equates to the anabolic ability of the embryonic cell. Because the extracts contain meristems, or plant stem cells [by which new growth occurs], the bud extracts are considered ‘herbal stem cells’ so to speak. It is from the merismatic area that undifferentiated cells multiply rapidly.
These cells live as long as the plant does, and are responsible for producing the new buds each year that contain more nucleic acids than any other part of the plant. In addition, the buds contain vitamins, enzymes, oligoelements, and the plant’s vital growth factors: namely auxins and giberrelins. Consequently, most of Henry’s original remedies are bud extracts from trees, since the postulation is that bud extracts have more powerful, expansive, in-depth and faster-acting ranges of action than remedies emanating from flowers, leaves and roots.
Although Ingredients for these remedies are primarily from bud extracts, they are enhanced by shrub extracts, relative to the history and value of traditional and clinical herbalism.
It is comforting for self-medicators to know that these remedies are not only highly active, with regard to drainage and phytotherapeutic actions, but that they lack toxicity and are therefore very safe to use.
Although Henry named his new therapy ‘phytoembryotherapie’, it was ultimately renamed ‘gemmotherapy’ [gemmotherapie in France] by homeopath Dr Max Tetau – but before that it was also known by French practitioners as ‘Phytotherapie Renovee [renewed phytotherapy], then ‘Homeopathie Vegetale’ [herbal homeopathy]. Drs Julian, Bergeret and Tetau popularised its use in Europe, with Tetau being primarily responsible for expanding the research, which was eventually defined as ‘tissular phytoembryotherapy acting through drainage, stimulation and regeneration of the cells, tissue and organs’. Gemmotherapy is however much less of a mouthful to pronounce!
This time it’s not location, location, location ……. but rather elimination, elimination, elimination aka drainage! According to the late Dr Michael Levien, ‘Gemmotherapeutic remedies are rich in biostimulating elements and act on all the functional systems of elimination, not only organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs and skin, but also on functional tissue such as blood and lymph. This then applies the fundamental principle of cure by treatment from deep within outwards towards the surface.’ Readers might recognise this principle, or direction of cure, as Herings’ law.
Hering’s Law of Cure is the basis of all healing, since it is believed that this is the way the body heals or cures itself. “All cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared or been suppressed”.
In gemmotherapy there are several classifications of drainage remedies, with the therapeutic applications being categorised according to the following 13 categories: general, pulmonary system, cardiovascular system, haematological systems, digestive system, metabolic illness, genito-urinary system, endocrine system, osteoarticular system, dermatological system, allergy, eyes and ears, and geriatrics.
Article length-restriction doesn’t permit for elaboration on each gemmo remedy, but to put natural medicine prescribing into a modicum of perspective, the simplest method applied is often based on the affinities of certain medications for one or another organ.
Broadly speaking [i.e. not gemmo-specific], the kidneys can be stimulated by remedies derived from, for example, Berberis vulgaris [barberry] and Solidago virgaurea [European goldenrod].
Commonly used liver remedies include Chelidonium majus [celandine], Taraxacum officinale [dandelion], and Carduus marianus [milk thistle] extracts, while Fumaria officinalis [fumitory], Saponaria officinalis [soapbark] or Viola tricolor [heartsease] would be more skin-specific remedies, and venous tone can be stimulated by Aesculus hippocastanum [horsechestnut], Hamamelis virginiana [witch-hazel], Hydrastis canadensis [golden seal] and Viburnum opulus [cramp bark]. Allium cepa [red onion], Euphrasia officinalis [eyebright], Sabadilla veratrum [caustic barley] and Kalium iodatum [potassium iodide] may be indicated for stimulation of the nasopharyngeal mucosae ….…. and so on.
For readers who may be unfamiliar with these remedies, here are a few examples from my practice. Depending on the condition being treated, a single gemmo remedy may be sufficient, but often 2 or more remedies may be indicated.
For example, fatigue or certain inflammatory conditions may be treated with only Ribes nigrum [blackcurrant], which has a positive effect on adrenal activity, but for adrenal stimulation Betulina pubescens [white birch] and/or Alnus glutinosa [common alder] can be added.
Some of the most impressive results I’ve seen come from prescribing Sorbus domestica [service tree], as a single remedy, for tinnitus – a notoriously difficult condition to relieve. And the same gemmo can work wonders for menopausal syndrome [personally been there, done that!].
Hayfever sufferers [and suffer they do] may find that all it takes is Ribes nigrum to settle the shnoz, rather than resorting to cortisone sprays etc. Often a single remedy is all it takes to relieve or cure a vexing condition. Simple, safe and palatable – worth a try!
Obesity is another condition that is often of interest. Weight loss treatment can however be a considerably more complex treatment regime. For example, I may choose to use the following gemmos:
Juniperus communis [from young juniper shoots], Rosmarinus officinalis [rosemary shoots] and Fraxinus excelsior [buds from European ash tree],
in higher than normal dosage, to stimulate hepato-renal function; while adding Betula pubescens for its endocrine and thyroid stimulating effects; plus Ficus carica [fig] to regulate the appetite and realign the corticodiencephalic axis.
And if the patient is anxious or depressed into the deal I might add Tilia tormentosa [silver linden] and/or Crataegus oxyacantha [hawthorn]. So for the first month Fraxinus excelsior, Betulina pubescens and Ficus carica may be indicated morning, noon and evening respectively; whereas in month two the regime may need to be changed to Juniperus communis, Rosmarinus officinalis and Tilia tormentosa – or perhaps something else – which leads into the next aspect of prescribing.
To help me decide on the most suitable gemmos I may also take into account the person’s homeopathic constitutional type. So an obese, cold and sensitive carbonic type may respond better to Ribes nigrum than a phosphoric type, for example. And if the person has a lot of water retention I may decide to add Fagus sylvatica [European beech] into the mix – for a certain period of time because it is an excellent diuretic remedy.
From these examples it can be seen that prescribing can be simple, or considerably more complicated, depending on knowledge, experience and each individual’s response to therapy.
The standard recommended dosage is 20 drops, three times a day, of each of the indicated remedies – but it can be adjusted where needed. Ideally remedies should be taken before meals [individually], either neat or in a bit of water.
Remedies can be taken either symptomatically or prophylactically because they have multiple modes of action that range from cellular drainage and detoxification, to regulating [whether hyper or hypo] physiological functions, to supporting, nourishing and toning body tissues and organs, to stimulating and/or balancing the immune system …….. plus more.
They work synergistically with other therapies and treatments, including conventional medicines, for a greater combined effect, as well as working symptomatically to relieve acute, sub-acute or chronic physical symptoms.
For your ease of reference I’ve compiled a table below [which contains a space-restricted and incomplete, selection of indications and remedies] that identifies remedies that may be clinically useful.
I hope this brief foray into the gentle gemmos encourages you to try these safe, gentle and effective remedies for yourself.
ABIES PECTINATA: Decalcification, rickets, fractures, osteoporosis, dental caries & pyrrhoea, spasmophilia.
ACER CAMPESTRIS: Herpes, biliary dyskinesias, vesicular lithiasis, sequellae of poliomyelitis and paralysis, mature onset diabetes [MOD].
AESCULUS HIPP: Haemorrhoids, varicose veins & ulcers, liver congestion, backache, swollen mucosa, asthma, emphysema.
ALNUS GLUTINOSA: Sequellae of cerebral haemorrhage, chronic rhinitis, chronic urticarial, mucosal ulcerations, fibromas, senility.
AMPELOPSIS WEITCHII: Chronic rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis deformans, elbow joint pain, Dupuytren’s disease.
BETULA PUBESCENS: General tonic & immune modulator, allergies, adrenal stimulation, obesity, uricaemia, myocardial insufficiency.
CARPINUS BETULUS: Spasmodic and chronic rhinopharyngitis, tracheitis, spasmodic cough, sinusitis, bronchitis.
CEDRUS LIBANI: Dry eczema, icthyosis, psoriasis, pruritis [general & senile], allergies.
CORYLUS AVELLANA: Emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, hepatic tonic, hypochromic anaemia.
CRATAEGUS OXYACANTHA: Cardiac insufficiency, cardiac spasm, angina, tachycardia, arrhythmia, sequellae of infarction, dyspnooea.
FAGUS SYLVATICA: Renal insufficiency, renal lithiasis, oedema, water retention, headache, allergies, ptyalism, uricaemia.
FICUS CARICA: Obsessional and anxiety neurosis, depression, gastric and peptic ulcers, gastritis, dysphagia, warts, naevi, hernia.
FRAXINUS EXCELSIOR: Acute and chronic gout, biliary dyskinesias, neurosis, anxiety, excessive weight, vesicular lithiasis, uricaemia.
JUGLANS REGIA: Varicose ulcers, skin infections [impetigo, infected eczema, acne], flatulence, diarrhoea, bronchitis, pancreatitis, MOD.
JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS: Major hepatic insufficiency and cirrhotic syndrome, jaundice, hypercholesterolaemia, kidney disease, excess weight.
OLEA EUROPAEA: Hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and hypercholesterolemia, neurosis, phobias, senility, MOD, facial neuralgia.
PINUS MONTANA: Chronic rheumatism & arthritis [small joints, non-inflammatory], osteoarthrosis of the hips, knees & vertebra, osteoporosis.
PLATANUS ORIENTALIS: Acne, pigmented vitiligo.
PRUNUS AMYGDALUS: Hypertension, antisclerotic agent, neurosis, obsessions, phobias.
RIBES NIGRUM: Allergic problems, chronic coryza, hay fever, sinusitis [most respiratory-related orders], migraine, rheumatism, prostatitis.
ROSA CANINA: Migraine, headache, herpes, warts, naevi, inflammatory rheumatism, osteoarthritis, rhinopharyngitis, euthyroidic goitre.
ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS: Hepatic insufficiency, biliary colic, biliary dyskinesia, cholecystitis, allergies, dysmenorrhoea, excessive weight.
RUBUS IDAEUS: Female complaints: menstrual disturbances, pelvic pain, metritis, vaginitis, dysmenorrhoea, ovarian secretion regulation.
SEQUOIA GIGANTEA: Prostatic hypertrophy & prostatitis, adenoma, uterine fibroids, osteoporosis, fracture consolidation, geriatric tonic.
SORBUS DOMESTICA: Venous problems, sequellae of phlebitis, haemorrhoids, menopause syndromes, deafness & tinnitus [also Viscum album].
TILIA TOMENTOSA: Nerve sedative, tranquilizer, insomnia, neuralgia, pelvic inflammation, gastritis, colitis, hyperthyroidism, excess weight.
ULMUS CAMPESTRIS: Weeping eczema, acne, impetigo.
VACCINIUM VITIS IDAEA: Intestinal problems: IBS, chronic E. coli infections, recurring cystitis, ovarian disturbance, fibromas, osteoporosis.
VIBURNUM LANTANA: Simple and complicated asthma.
Dynamic Gemmotherapy: Integrative Embryonic Phytotherapy
by Dr J. Rozencwajg
Gemmotherapy: A Clinical Guide by Max Tetau, MD
Gemmotherapy: Course notes by Dr Michael Levien
Gemmotherapy: The Science of Healing with Embryonic Plant Cells
by Roger Halfon MD