Spagyrics: “New” Type of Medicine
Mark Iwanicki, ND
Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Spagyric remedies are a “new” class of medicine that is gaining popularity in the holistic and natural health communities in the United States. Although the modality was first coined by Paracelsus, the famous Swiss physician of the 16th century, it is still something with which relatively few practitioners here in the United States are familiar. More popular in Germany, spagyric remedies, although similar to homeopathy and herbal medicine in many ways, are a unique class of medicine that can be used for a wide variety of health conditions, from acute disease to chronic conditions.
Spagyric remedies combine the phyto-therapeutic effects of botanical medicine with the energetic aspects of homeopathy. The remedies themselves have active biochemical constituents based on their specific herbal, and sometimes homeopathic metal, components. However, the spagyric process itself then potentiates the energetic signature of the plants in much the same way succussion and dilution do in the homeopathic process.
Spagyric remedies have their roots in ancient Hermetic, Egyptian and medieval alchemy. More specifically, spagyric medicine is the application of alchemical philosophy and techniques to create medicinal plant remedies. Alchemy as a science was always more than just the pursuit of turning base metals into gold. It stood for the much broader concepts of refinement, transformation, and turning the mundane into the divine. Its application in the field of herbal medicine is what initially inspired Hahnemann’s early energetic theories.1
Throughout the centuries, the goal of alchemists was to attain a comprehensive understanding of nature. A holistic philosophy served as the basis of their undertakings. The central point of this philosophy was the understanding that all levels of existence stand in a relationship to each other based upon natural laws. The ancient alchemical text, The Emerald Tablet, by Heremes Tristemigus, describes these laws, such as the Law of Polarity and the Law of the Rhythm of Nature, which help serve as the basis for spagyric philosophy and practical application.1
The famous Swiss medieval physician, Paracelsus, was the first to bring the ancient alchemical texts into the modern era and begin applying them to the creation of medicinal remedies. He believed that nature was the ultimate healer and that any illness could be cured by studying the rhythms and patterns of nature. Paracelsus, like modern naturopathic doctors, looked to nature to find cures for illnesses. This quote from Paracelsus fits perfectly with the foundational tenets of Naturopathic philosophy:
Nature is the physician, not you. From her you must learn, not from yourself. She compounds the remedies, not you. See to it that you find out where Nature has her pharmacies, where her virtues have been written down, and in what boxes they are stored.2
Paracelsus made the first written reference to spagyric medicine in his Opus Paranirum, in which he advised doctors to “study alchemy, otherwise known as spagyric, for this reason: to learn to differentiate between what is correct and what is false.”2 The word spagyric comes from Greek words “spao,” which means to tear open, and “ageiro,” which means to collect or unite. The spagyric process is intended to separate out the base or coarse matter of a plant, potentiate the spirit of the plant to higher energetic levels, and then reunite the plant with its original essence. According to spagyric philosophy, all plants have 3 components: Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury, correlating with its Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Salt component of the plant involves the minerals and physical matter; the Mercury components of the plant are the water and fermented alcohol essences; and the Sulphur components of the plant are the essential oils. These 3 components represent the physical, spiritual, and energetic components that are separated and recombined during the spagyric process.
In practical application, the process involves distillation or separation of the essential oils of a plant macerate and then the reunification of the distilled oils with the original macerate. This process is usually repeated several times. Through the continued distillation and reunification process, the remedy gains the energetic qualities associated with higher-level homeopathic succussions that affect the mind and spirit. Combining the distillate with the original macerate adds back the physical, phytotherapeutic components. The liquid preparation is then filtered and bottled. The left over mark or physical plant matter is then either reused for further production rounds or burned in a final process called calcination and then added to the liquid preparation.
Calcination involves heating up the plant fibers, also known as the “mark” of a tincture, to the point where they dissolve, leaving only ash minerals. These minerals are then added into the final tincture as a last step before bottling. Some companies skip the burning of the mark phase and add in minerals known to be contained in the plants, but obtained elsewhere.3
Varying Alchemical Processes
There are many variations to the original alchemical processes first described by Paracelsus. In some cases, manufacturers forgo the traditional distillation and recombination process altogether and use a rhythmic fermentation and filtration method instead. Other companies choose to homeopathically potentiate their spagyric mother tinctures with serial dilutions, further increasing the energetic effects. Since there is no set standard spagyric manufacturing process, many producers alter the traditional alchemical techniques according to their unique manufacturing philosophies. Achieving a homeopathic designation is also within the manufacturers best interests since there is no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designation for spagyric products. The spagyric hybrid is difficult for them to categorize and many manufacturers have had trouble breaking into the US market because of this dilemma.
The final remedies are usually liquid preparations that patients take in drop doses. Most of the large-scale spagyric production is currently happening in Germany with companies like Pekana, Soluna, Solitaire, and Phylak. The remedy formulations are designed to support and stimulate the different organs and organ systems of the body. When used to focus on the emunctories or organs of elimination like the liver, kidney and lymphatic systems, these preparations act as drainage remedies that help to flush out and eliminate toxins from the body. Many practitioners of the drainage philosophy believe that most chronic disease is a result of improper elimination of toxic accumulations in the body, and that stimulating the organs of elimination with drainage remedies is a way to eliminate those toxins and bring the body back into balance.4
As more attention gets shined on spagyric remedies, new studies will begin to emerge. In a recent 2016 observation study in Germany, patients with rhinosinusitis reported significant improvements after 10 days of treatment with a spagyric combination remedy. Using a questionnaire called the Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-16), 43 of the 47 participants (91.5%) judged the treatment to be effective or rather effective, as well as satisfying or rather satisfying. At a follow-up 4 weeks after the end of treatment, 43 patients (91.5%) reported having no further sinus problems, and 3 patients (6.4%) reported rarely having sinus problems.5 The study was not controlled but shows promise for future research into these powerful remedies.
Spagyric remedies are a unique class of medicine, functionally distinct from both traditional herbal medicine and homeopathy. Grounded in ancient alchemical principles and studies of man’s relationship to nature, these remedies provide a new frontier to explore in clinical practice. Although unique, at their essence they actually combine both the phytotherapeutic effects of traditional herbal medicine with the energetic aspects of homeopathy. In this way spagyric medicine could be said to be the child of both traditional herbal medicine and homeopathy. These remedies provide a novel treatment approach to many different health conditions and should be explored further by any innovative health care practitioner.
- Bartlett RA. Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy. 3rd ed. Ibis; 2009.
- Paracelsus, Waite AE. The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus-Two Volumes in One. Martino Fine Books; 2009.
- Junius MM. Spagyrics: The Alchemical Preparation of Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs, Edition 3. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co; 2007.
- Rozencwajg J. Organotherapy, Drainage and Detoxification. Emryss Publishers; 2010.
- Schmidt S, Kaestle H-J, Steinhausen U. Homeopathic-spagyric therapy of acute and uncomplicated rhinosinusitis: An observational trial on symptom severity in 2 general practitioner surgeries. Forsch Komplementmed. 2016;23(5):303-305.
Mark Iwanicki, ND, received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 2002. He then went on to co-found Innovative Medicine, a holistic health marketing and distribution company. Dr. Iwanicki graduated from NUNM in 2016 with a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters in Acupuncture and is currently practicing medicine at the Clear Center of Health in Mill Valley, CA. His clinical work focuses on chronic degenerative disease, neurological disease, chronic infectious disease, asthma and allergy, and endocrinology. You can learn more about his practice by visiting his website at www.DrMarkIwanickiND.com