Traces of Constantine Hering
For several centuries the Amazon rain forest has been a popular destination for expeditions, many of which aiming at the discovery of new organic substances (derived from either animals or plants). In 1827 Constantin Hering set out on an expedition to Dutch Guiana to carry out zoological and botanical studies on behalf of the King of Saxony. A number of today’s well-known remedies such as Cocculus or Lachesis muta go back to Hering’s time in the jungle of Surinam.
On my former trips it had often proved useful to pick a team of local guides for our expedition right on arriving at our destination. This time we were extremely lucky to find a guide who had specialized in catching snakes and dart frogs and in selling them overseas. Igor was from Moscow and had already explored large parts of the world in order to catch reptiles.
We wanted to take a Cessna from the capital Paramaribo to the south to the village of Alalapadu, close to the Brazilian border, where indios of the Trio tribe live. The Trio, a small tribe, are regarded as part of the original inhabitants of Surinam.
Arranging the flight proved to be a draining experience, especially since we had to leave behind essential parts of our equipment at the very last moment because they were too heavy. After a two-hour flight we landed on a narrow but surprisingly well-tended landing strip in the jungle where we were welcomed by the friendly indio community of Alalapadus. After a short walk through the jungle we arrived at the village, which consisted of about ten palm huts. We could stay at the chief’s hut, which was a particular honour. Actually, we were only the second visitors. A year ago a group of American butterfly experts had visited Alalapadu.
The residents of Alalapadu farm the land. They mostly grow cassava and manioc, which act as suppliers of carbohydrates. It takes a lot of time and labour to produce bread or casiri, a light alcoholic drink, from manioc. First, it has to be peeled, crushed and squeezed in order to remove the juice containing hydrocyanic acid.
We really appreciated that there were hardly any mosquitoes. Moreover, there is no malaria in this area. However, this area is infamous for mites causing scabies and for a species of ticks whose bite is said to cause pain for a whole year.
The next day we went for a jungle walk which should help us acclimatize ourselves. A humidity of almost 100% and temperatures ranging from about 30 to 35 degrees centigrade turned any kind of movement into an exhausting activity.
Our walks were getting longer and longer and soon we felt familiar with the jungle of this region. We passed towering trees – I had been similarly impressed by Cologne Cathedral –twined around with lianas, 40 cm in diameter. We also passed remote plantations of the indio village. They had been cleared by slash-and-burn only recently.
Giant Hunting Ants – Paraponera clavata
On one of the following days we decided to go for a night walk as most of the animals inhabiting the rain forest are active at night. So we could expect to see some real „attractions“. We set out on our nightly expedition, equipped with modern LED-headlamps, powerful torches and guns.
On later examination we found out that they were Paraponera clavata. This is the smaller species of giant tropical bullet ants, which, however, is far more venomous. It differs from the bigger and almost hairless Dinoponera gigantea in that it has a pronounced knob on the back right behind the head. (1)
A black scorpion, 5cm long, with a grey belly was another result of our jungle stay. We potencized all of its transparent venom.
Unfortunately, our plan to catch a bushmaster and milk it the way Constantin Hering had done was not successful. In the past years our guide, who catches snakes for professional reasons, found hundreds of Botrops atrox as well as several rainbow boas and Amerod Treeboas, but only 5 specimens of Lachesis muta, only the young of which survived in captivity. The older fully grown animals refused to eat and died soon thereafter. What is more, the natives are extremely afraid of the Lachesis muta, which is the biggest venomous snake of Latin America. It is therefore understandable that the indios are not often tempted to catch bushmasters and sell them to our guide for a small fee.
Instead of the Lachesis muta we could catch a Boa constrictor which an indio woman had roused from sleep close to a plantation. I had already used this snake for homoeopathic purposes on an earlier trip to the Rio Negro/ Brazil. Then the fat of the snake had been rubbed and examined by Dr. Uta Santos König in a prooving. The remedy is called Boa constrictor or Adeps Boae constrictoris. (2)
Back at Paramaribo we tried to catch bats to process their milk or blood homoeopathically. This turned out to be a rather difficult and painful experience. We looked for a very old and fairly dilapidated hut in a deserted area in the suburbs of the capital Paramaribo and covered all openings of the roof with a bird net. Thereby it happened that we missed to see a wasp’s nest in the roof truss and one of our team got stung by a wasp right between his eyes. He suffered from excruciating pain and dizziness and after a short time he had a swelling the size of a table tennis ball. His swollen eye area gave the poor man a somewhat Asian look.
The blood was immediately rubbed to C1 according to Organon 6 §270. We did not succeed in getting milk from the animal. Apparently, the milk gland was not properly developed and we had little practice as regards the milking of bats. After thorough documentation we set the bat and its young one free. They quickly disappeared in the branches of a nearby tree.
Further remedies of our trip are Passiflora edulis and Nelumbo nucifera, the lotus root, which is now available in C3-triuration quality.
Finally, I would like to say that this trip was one of my most successful ones from a homoeopathic point of view not only because of the number of new remedies which we found in the jungle. Also with regard to our research on Constantin Hering’s time in Surinam from 1827 to1833 we made a number of new and essential findings on which I will later report in more detail together with Dr. Kurz.
1. The reserach was done by Dr. Stefan Schödl, second zoological department, Museum of Natural History Vienna, firstname.lastname@example.org