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In homeopathic medicine, dulcamara is used to purportedly cure a wide variety of ailments. Homeopathy abides by the "like cures like" theory, in which an ailment should be similar to its remedy. Dulcamara, a type of nightshade plant, is used by homeopathic practitioners for those with sensitivity to cold or damp conditions or who suffer from various respiratory conditions, viral infections, and skin problems. The plant may either be ingested in small amounts or applied directly to the skin.
Dulcamara is part of the Solanaceae family, which encompasses nightshade plants. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes are all nightshade vegetables as well. Some types of nightshade vegetables are considered poisonous, and even dulcamara is not recommended to be taken in large doses due to a potential narcotic effect. Some other names for this plant include woody nightshade, bitter nightshade, and bittersweet.
Most of the uses of the plant are associated with homeopathic medicine. This practice involves taking a natural approach to healing, in which a remedy is meant to bear certain similarities to the ailment is it used to cure. An analogy in Western medicine may be found in the diluted use of the influenza virus in flu vaccinations. Homeopathic remedies, including the use of dulcamara, involve using diluted amounts of natural remedies and only taking one remedy at a time for an ailment.
The woody nightshade plant was first used as a fever cure in the 18th century by Swedish naturalists. Today, the plant is used for those who show signs of sensitivity to coldness and dampness or who may be susceptible to fevers, asthma, pneumonia, and certain skin conditions. Homeopathic practitioners may also recommend dulcamara for those who exhibit dominant or strong-minded personality traits.
There are a variety of use for this homeopathic plant. Fever, common cold, bronchitis, nasal congestion, and sinusitis are supposedly relieved by taking dulcamara. Those who suffer from skin conditions, such as hives, warts, and eczema, may also benefit. Joint problems and rheumatism are also frequently targeted. At one time, these problems were most likely all associated with exposure to the woody nightshade plant, yet are all meant to be relieved by taking diluted amounts of it.
The plant can be either ingested or used topically, depending on the ailment it is relieving. For rheumatism, a weak dulcamara tea may be taken three times a day. For those who suffer from certain skin conditions, the herb can be boiled in and discarded from water, and the patient can then use this water to wash his or her skin. Extracts are also available to be taken topically or ingested after a drop is added to a beverage. These extracts are mainly used to relieve inflammation, pain, and even anxiety.
Dulcamara grows wild where I live in Indiana, and it's listed as moderately toxic. So, just a warning to those who want to use it for medical purposes. You should only do so under a homeopathic doctor's care.
I also know this plant can poison dogs and livestock animals, so beware if it grows wild where you live.
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