Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Update on Monotropa Uniflora

A brief note on a few clinical experiences I've had with Monotropa uniflora (Indian Pipe/Ghost Pipe/Fairy Smoke) since my first encounters with the plant this summer:

-- A client had a panic attack while visiting a friend. She found him doubled over and only able to say "The pain! The pain!" She assumed that he was in excruciating physical pain and reached for the Monontropa uniflora tincture she had on the shelf and gave him a moderate dose (I don't know for certain but I suspect 10-20 drops).

He came to see me a few days later and told me that "The Indian Pipe took everything I was worried about and put it outside me, in front of me, where I could work on it." I told him that was almost exactly how people described the plant's effect on physical pain. (Tommy Priester says that it puts you "beside your pain" where you are aware of it without feeling it.)

Over the next two weeks or so, he continued using the tincture for acute panic attacks that were coming almost daily. When I saw him next he told me that one day he began having a panic attack and began thinking about the plant and remembered the way it worked inside him. He said he realized then that he didn't need to take the tincture anymore. Despite dealing with some large setbacks in his life since then, his emotional health has remained excellent.

-- A client had been experiencing severe migraines since sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury in the first Gulf War. As he described his experiences, I immediately saw Monotropa uniflora, its form resembling the brainstem. I told him to take 3 drops for acute migraine pain. He came back to me the next day and told me it was the first medicine that had ever touched the pain of his headaches. (I also gave him a formula including Ashwagandha, Wood Betony, Oat Milky Seed, and Clematis for daily use but have not heard back about the effectiveness of that formula.)

-- On two occasions, I have used Monotropa uniflora with people experiencing acute psychotic episodes brought on after taking large doses of psychedelics. (As Jim McDonald and others have pointed out, psychedelics don't cause psychosis, but they can bring out an underlying psychosis.)

In the first instance, I gave 30 drops of Monotropa uniflora and 30 drops of Monotropa uniflora to a man who was disoriented and very verbally agressive. After a short time he became much more subdued though still severely disoriented, and a little while later fell asleep. He was lucid when he eventually woke up.

In the second instance, I was part of a team working with a man who had gone into a full scale dissociative state after taking 5 hits of LSD and had become extremely physically and verbally violent. We initially gave him 10 drops of Monotropa uniflora tincture with no response. Over the course of the next hour we gave him two 30 drop doses of the tincture. (In addition to Mimulus to address his panic.) After the second dose his pupils became less dilated and his eyes became more responsive and he began to respond more directly to outside stimuli. Our sense was that the Monotropa uniflora had brought him "down" from the trip at a physical level.

However, it didn't touch the underlying psychosis. He remained physically violent, emotionally agitated, and verbally incoherent for the following four hours. Eventually he became physically exhausted enough for friends to take him to a hospital at which point we lost touch with him.

(We had avoided calling 911 because we knew there was little that an Emergency Room could do in this instance that we couldn't and that an ambulance would have required police assistance. Given the near certainty that he would have assaulted the officers trying to help him, we erred on the side of sparing him from facing felony charges.)

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