Colchicum Autumnale L. (Autumn crocus, meadow saffron, or naked ladies) is a perennial that typically blooms in early fall and best known for its use in homeopathic preparations to help with gout and gout-like symptoms. Autumn Crocus, Naked Ladies or Meadow Saffron are the common names for the plant Colchicum Autumnale. This is a plant that has been used in herbal medicine and homeopathic medicine for generations. As a herbal preparation caution should be taken when using this plant as it is a poisonous plant with severe toxicity in large amounts. The plant contains the component colchicine in the bulb and seed which has been used as a drug in the treatment for gout. Colchicum plants are poisonous due to their colchicine content with severe toxicity in large amounts. However, it is very safe when used as a homeopathic.
Colchicum is apart of the Colchicaceae family despite popular belief that it is part of the iridaceae family. This confusion is because the colchicum flowers resemble the crocus flowers who are in the latter family. This plant is found growing in Europe and North American traditionally. There are about 150 different species of Colchicum within this genus. The Autumn Crocus plant including its bulb is the one most commonly used in homeopathic and botanical preparations.
What does the flower look like?
The Colchicum flower resembles that of a crocus. There is one solitary flower on a stem that can vary in colour from purple to pink. They are most often referred to as lavender-pink or lilac-pink. These flowers have orange stamen at their centre. The flowers are perennials meaning that they will live at least 2 years.
Where the name comes from?
The name for the Colchicum genus is thought to have been derived from the Greek language. It is believed to be named after a place in Greek mythology. The common name “Autumn crocus” comes from the fact that its crocus-like flowers appear in fall and "naked ladies" since the flowers emerge from the ground long before the leaves appear.
Many parts of the colchicum plant are poisonous as they contain colchicine. This includes the bulb-like corms, seed, leaves and flowers of the Autumn Crocus. Each of these components contains the alkaloid colchicine with the highest concentration of it in the corm. When this pant is not dosed properly it can have severe side effects. This is why Autumn Crocus is often prepared as a homeopathic.
In general, homeopathic remedies work by stimulating the body's innate healing mechanism to bring us back into balance and to relieve symptoms or dysfunction. Each remedy has its own profile or symptom picture. The presenting symptom picture of the patient is matched to the symptom picture of the remedy. That remedy is then used in various doses to treat the presentation of the patient.
Homeopathic preparations are also very diluted so they contain the energy of the plant only. This makes them very safe for use on just about anyone. A plant prepared homeopathically does not have the same side effects or potential for harm as their botanical counterpart.
Medicinal Properties of Colchicum
- gout (both as a botanical and a homeopathic)
- rheumatism, rheumatic complaints in general
- pain with or without swelling
- worse in cold, damp weather or extreme heat
- pain that migrates and moves from one joint to another or one side to another
- pain that is worse with motion
- pain with exhaustion and weakness
The plant colchicum contains the alkaloid known as colchicine. Colchicine affects the way the body responds to uric acid crystals, which reduces swelling and pain. As a drug, it is therefore used to treat gout and a certain inherited disease called familial Mediterranean fever. Since Colchicine inhibits cellular function and division, it has a narrow therapeutic index. This means that there is a small window where this drug is beneficial to help treat certain health conditions. If colchicine is overdosed outside of this therapeutic window it can cause colchicine poisoning and, in the worst case, death.
As a homeopathic C. Autumnale works on harmonizing the entire body. It stimulates our bodies healing abilities to bring us back into balance in order to heal the dysfunction and sensations we are experiencing. In this sense, Colchicum can provide lasting change to how you are feeling instead of just suppressing or masking what is happening.
It is a very gentle and safe medicine because of its mode of preparation. It can also come in different strengths depending on the person.
As a homeopathic preparation, C. Autumnale does not have any known adverse effects or side effects, however, as a plant, it can cause severe side effects including poisoning the individual who is taking it. The toxicity of the C. Autumnale plant comes from the component colchicine that is found in many parts of the plant including the bulb. In high amounts, this species causes poisoning that will prevent the different cells in our body from replicating. This prevents the body from making new cells and performing the functions that it needs to. This can result in death. The component of Colchicum colchicine is also found in the seed, corm and flower of the plant. Therefore taking any part of the plant can be toxic if it is taken in too large of a quantity. As a plant, Colchicum autumnale can cause severe side effects including poisoning the individual who is taking it. Due to the alkaloid colchicine that is found in the seed, corm and flower of the plant, taking any part of the plant can be toxic if it is taken in too large of a quantity. However, as a homeopathic preparation, Colchicum autumnale does not have any known adverse effects or side effects. Still, pregnant or breastfeeding women should always consult a health care practitioner prior to use. Also, a health care practitioner should be called in if symptoms persist or worsen.
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