The History of Lachesis Mutus

LachesisIn Greek mythology Lachesis was the name of one of the Moirai (Three Fates), three sisters who controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and immortal from birth to death. Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Lachesis measured the thread of life with her rod. Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of a person's death - when she cut the thread with "her abhorred shears," someone on Earth died.

 

Nowadays, Lachesis is the scientific name of a snake called surucucu in Brazil. Its name comes from the Indian tupi language and literally means “what slips and makes disappear.”

 

This extremely dangerous snake, which can measure over six feet long, is the largest pit viper in the Americas. The upper part of its body is dark red or yellow-reddish, interlaced with large brown-black diamonds. The bottom of it is pale yellow resembling porcelain. The tail contains 10 to 12 lines of spiky scales. It is similar in appearance to the North American rattlesnake, but has no rattle, and therefore was officially named Lachesis muta.


Constantine HeringIts venom is one of the big medicines of the homeopathic pharmacopeia. It contains a very dangerous toxin and like products such as coagulin and hemolysin capable of preventing coagulation. It was introduced in the homeopathic Materia Medica by Constantine Hering (1800-1880). A physician of German descent having emigrated to the United States, Hering founded the American School of Homeopathy.

 

While traveling in Surinam in 1828, he voluntarily experimented on himself the venom of Lachesis. The locals who were helping him during his expedition in the Amazon jungle brought him one of these snakes in a bamboo box and ran away as fast as they could. Hering knocked the snake out by hitting it on the head as soon as he opened the box. Then holding its head down with a forked stick he pressed on the venom glands in order to prepare homeopathic dilutions.

 

Manipulating the poison gave Hering a fever with delirium and manic excitement. He woke up the next morning lucky to be alive. Always the dedicated clinician, his first reflex was to ask his wife what he had said and done in his agitated state. He then got to work, writing down the symptoms he had manifested during his “experimentation” with Lachesis.

 

During the rest of his life Hering could not tolerate tight collars men used to wear during those times. The intolerance to tight clothes around the neck is one of the important symptoms of the medicine. Another characteristic symptom is the propensity to talk a lot, which seems surprising coming from a snake called the mute Lachesis.

 

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