Bitter apple / Bitter cucumber
The homeopathic remedy colocynthis is prepared from the gourd or fruit of the plant called bitter apple, a traditional food plant found growing in Africa, the Mediterranean basin and parts of Asia. Although very little known, bitter apple is a vegetable possessing the aptitude to boost nutrition, enhance food security, promote progress in the rural areas as well as support ecological land care.
Although bitter apple is indigenous to Turkey, it is grown in numerous arid, hot partially desert areas worldwide. This plant produces a fruit the size of an orange, which is actually a gourd enclosing pulp and seeds. In fact, the seeds of this gourd-like fruit are considered to be nutritious. On the other hand, the flesh/ pulp and the outer skin of the fruit enclose an extremely toxic substance known as colocynthin. The bitter apple plant closely resembles the widespread cucumber plant and, hence, it is also known as ‘bitter cucumber'. Owing to the toxic substance colocynthin contained by the fruit of the plant, it is advisable to exercise extreme caution while handling the bitter apple plant.
The fruit of bitter apple is soft and possesses an intensely bitter flavor and is considered to be a potent stimulant for the liver as well as a good purgative (hydragogue cathartic). Hence, the fruit of bitter apple is widely used as a potent laxative. If the fruit is consumed in large amounts, it may result in brutal, spiky pains in the bowels accompanied by precarious inflammation. In fact, this herbal medication is never used independently, but always concurrently with other purgatives. This has been the standard practice while using this medication. In addition, the fruit is also used independently to treat absence of menstruation flow (amenorrhea), chronic edema (an extreme buildup of serous fluid in the intercellular spaces of tissue) and cerebral disorders or imbalance.
It is interesting to note that the distinctive small seeds of the bitter apple gourd have discovered in many early archeological sites in the northern regions of Africa as well as the Near East. These seeds have been especially found in the sites at Neolithic period Nagada, Armant in Egypt; at archeological sites in Libya dating back to 3800 B.C. to the Roman era; as well as the Nahal Hemar Caves located in Israel of the pre-pottery Neolithic age. According to pioneering Israeli botanists Michael Zohari and Hopf, these archeological findings suggest that humans have been using wild bitter apple even before the plant was domesticated and cultivated by people.
Bedouins inhabiting the deserts in these regions use the grounded seeds of bitter apple gourd to prepare a specific kind of bread. In effect, some people often confuse the bitter apple gourd seeds with the seeds of watermelon, which are also used to prepare bread in the same manner. Precisely speaking, the term ‘egusi' may denote either or both these plants (or more generally to other cucurbits) as crops bearing seeds that are edible and used to make breads or preparing soups. Seeds of both these plants are very popular in the western regions of Africa, where they form a nutritional food.
In ancient times, Greek physicians used the fruit/ gourd of the bitter apple plant for several therapeutic purposes. They not only used the fruit as a potent laxative, but also to treat conditions, such as dropsy (a condition distinguished by a build up of watery fluid in the tissues), obsession, and lassitude as well as to promote abortion. As aforementioned, the seeds of the bitter apple are extremely nourishing, however if the bulk of bitter apple is consumed in large amounts, a sap-like toxic substance known as colocynthin is discharged. Colocynthin has an adverse reaction on the bowels and results in cramps and inflammation of the bowel muscles. In fact, the homeopathic remedy colocynthis is prescribed to treat the symptoms mentioned above and also to alleviate colicky or spasmodic pain and other problems related to the digestive system.
Individuals who are said to belong to the Colocynthis type usually prefer to remain aloof from others and suffer from a feeling of restiveness and nervous anxiety that is often difficult to conceal. Whenever such people are embarrassed, ignored or opposed, they bear resentment and try to repress their anger and their physical symptoms generally become evident or obvious in such situations.
The other major physical symptoms endured by Colocynthis people may include stomach aches, pains in the abdominal regions and other gastric disorder. All these physical symptoms are likely to occur together with aching necks, headaches, and spasmodic pains in the limbs. Turning to the homeopathic remedy colocynthis not only helps to cure the primary health conditions, but also provide relief from the associated symptoms.
The homeopathic remedy colocynthis is prepared from the fruit/ gourd of the bitter apple plant. To prepare this medicine, the gourd is dehydrated and all seeds are removed from it. Although the pulp and the outer skin of this gourd are toxic, the entire gourd without the seeds is used to prepare colocynthis. The dried out seedless gourd is pulverized and subsequently drenched in alcohol for sometime. The resultant solution is filtered and diluted to desired level to obtain the mother tincture. As in the instance of preparing any other homeopathic medications, colocynthis mother tincture also does not contain even the slightest trace of the original material, the toxic bitter apple gourd.
Although the homeopathic remedy colocynthis is used to cure a number of health conditions, it is primarily used to treat health problems that can be distinguished by spasmodic pain in the abdomen or bowels (colicky) or sharp and spasmodic pain along the course of the nerve (neuralgic pain) owing to suppressed anger. This medication is said to be very useful for relieving headaches, stomach pain that comes together with vomiting or nausea, facial neuralgia, acute pain in the abdomen that is relieved when the patient lies down pulling the knees up as well as abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea. In addition, colocynthis is also an effective remedy for conditions like rheumatism, nerve pain in the region of the kidneys or ovaries; sciatica or the pain that extends along the sciatic nerve, and dizziness caused by holding the head to one particular side owing to rheumatism in the neck. In fact, colocynthis is a versatile remedy in homeopathy and, hence, used widely to treat the conditions mentioned above and more.
It has been established that individuals who require the homeopathic remedy colocynthis are those who suffer from pent-up or unexpressed anger. The anger or tetchiness in such people usually worsens when they are questioned or piqued.
In homeopathy, colocynthis is among the most prominent medicines that work as tonic for the nerves and help to cure several nervous disorders. Some of the case specific uses of colocynthis related to nervous disorders are discussed below.
- Alleviate nervous tension
- In homeopathy, colocynthis is one of the most important medications that is prescribed to alleviate the pressure caused in the nervous system owing to the abrupt change in the hormone levels in the body for women having endometriosis (the presence of uterine lining in other pelvic organs, especially the ovaries) prior to and during their menstrual cycle. As the use of colocynthis helps to alleviate the tension of the central neuralgia (injury to the central nervous system), it facilitates to diminish the excessively active nervous cells in the brain leading to the decrease in the endometriosis symptoms, which may include anger, irritation as well as mental and physical pressure.
- Regulating profuse menstrual flow
- As in the instance of building up tension of the nervous system, often the over active uterine muscles also result in profuse blood loss during menstruation. In such cases use of the homeopathic remedy colocynthis helps to augment the balance of the cell functioning, thereby regulating the information transmitted by the nerve cells. This action of colocynthis, in turn, helps to reduce the erratic functioning of the uterine muscles leading to diminished out flow or loss of blood during menstruation. Thus, this homeopathic remedy not only helps to cure the condition, but also provide relief to such women from botheration and debility.
- Decrease muscle cramps and twitching
- An imbalance in the flow of blood in the abdominal region often results in muscle cramps and twitching. Such abnormal blood flow is said to be an effect of irregular signals received from the nerve cells. Using the homeopathic remedy colocynthis in such cases facilitates in perking up the blood flow to the abdomen, thereby, lessening the cramps and muscle twitching in the abdominal region.
The homeopathic remedy colocynthis is known to be highly beneficial for people who have been suffering from severe sciatica (the pain that extends along the sciatic nerve), as it helps to provide relief from the acute pain and other symptoms associated with this condition. In fact, this homeopathic remedy is a must for people who suffer from acute sciatica pain that extends from the heel of the foot or the knee. Usually, the condition of people, especially the acute pain, suffering from sciatica worsens when they are in motion or making any movement. In addition, the sciatica pain also worsens when the patient is exposed to cold temperatures.
People who benefit most from the homeopathic medication colocynthis are those who frequently have a tense feeling in the muscles accompanied by a stitching pain when they walk. Others who would also benefit from the treatment using colocynthis are individuals suffering from piercing or smouldering pains that occur as well as disappear all of a sudden or very abruptly. Such people also have problems with the hip and usually, experience pain and discomfort in the hip region while they are walking or are engaged in any activity requiring hip movements. Thus, apart from curing nervous disorders, colocynthis is also effective for treating various types of pains. However, here is a word for those intending to use this homeopathic remedy to cure any of their conditions. It is advisable that people should only use colocynthis provided their conditions are not accompanied by any type of swelling. People suffering from any nervous problem or any type of pain should not use this medication if they have any kind of distension in the affected area.
The homeopathic remedy colocynthis is prepared from the gourd (fruit) of the bitter apple plant, which is indigenous to the Mediterranean basin and Asia, particularly Turkey. Also known as the ‘bitter cucumber' or the ‘bitter apple', it is grown in several semi-desert regions of the world where the conditions are hot and arid.