Homeopathy for Plants?!
Homeopathic Approach to Gardening Works in Harmony with Nature
By Gaela Nelson PDHom
I had long been wondering if homeopathy can heal diseases in people and animals, why couldn’t it be applied to plant pests and diseases? I was excited to read V.D. Kaviraj’sÂ “Homeopathy for Farm and Garden”Â this summer.
Agro-homeopathy is a relatively new field, but 20 years of experiments and experience is showing promising results. Homeopathy could be an inexpensive, non-toxic, environmentally friendly yet highly effective approach to treating plant pests and diseases, soil problems, weeds, and even trees.
V.D. Kaviraj is a homeopath, researcher, and pioneer in the emerging field of agro-homeopathy with 20 years of experience applying homeopathy to garden pests and diseases on farms from Australia to India and Brazil.
The first âexperimentâ with homeopathy happened when some friends asked Kaviraj for help with their apple trees, which had suddenly been attacked by rust.
As a homeopath, he sought a remedy that might work, based on the treeâs symptoms. He prescribed a remedy called Belladonna.Â âThree days later, the rust was all gone and the plants looked healthy again. It was in the fall – around the end of September and the apples were all ripening. The first apples had tasted very sourly-bitter, when the rust was infecting the trees and after the rust had gone, they tasted so sweet and were so juicy, unbelievable!â
Homeopathy itself is a 200 year old system of medicine that uses plant, mineral, animal, or other substances. The medicines are formulated using a series of dilutions and succussions (shaking) which removes any toxicity while enhancing the medicinal effect.Â (See about homeopathy for more info)
In humans and animals, the remedy stimulates the bodyâs internal self-healing mechanism according to the principle of âsimilar curesâ. For example, chopping an onion may cause the eyes to water and the nose to run â and onion is used in homeopathic form to treat symptoms of hayfever, which are similar.
One can use homeopathic âfirst aidâ remedies on plants in much the same way as you would for people. For example, if you are transplanting, Calendula (used for skin healing in people) helps with tears and breakage of the leaves and stems, and Arnica (used for injuries, bruising, and shock in people) helps with root damage and transplant shock.
Kaviraj did many experiments, searching for remedies that could protect plants from specific pests and diseases. He discovered that remedies made from predator insects could be used to scare off pests. For example, instead of introducing a predator such as a ladybug to eat aphids, plants can be treated with a diluted tincture of ladybug, and it works just as well, without the risks involved in introducing a new live species.Â The aphids sense the âpresenceâ of a predator, and leave.Â Kaviraj says âa fruit fly can smell a banana from 6 kilometers away; so we know that insects have a very fine sense for detecting tiny amounts of pheromone or other presence; the remedies are fooling the aphids into thinking there are ladybugs all over the plantâ.
I asked Kaviraj about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle that has become such a problem in Ottawa and Ontario. On my street alone, there are about 10 beautiful mature Ash trees that are dying. He suggested two possible remedies to try, both made from plants, called Ledum and Thuja.Â He says many species of beetles can be deterred by these two remedies, and he encourages us to do our own experiments and find out if it will work.
Perhaps the Mountain Pine Beetle that is causing such devastation across Canadaâs forests could be controlled by a simple, relatively inexpensive homeopathic treatment, if it was applied extensively enough.Â âIt can be sprayed like a pesticide from an airplane, says Kaviraj âas long as the nozzles are adjusted to create a rain-like droplet that will go down to the rootsâ.
Another interesting discovery happened in Perth, Australia. Kaviraj decided to try applying a homeopathic dilution of the pest itself (Helix tosta, made from snails) to control snails. He found it worked very well, and gave out some free samples to local gardeners to extend the experiment. Everyone had good results and it caught on by word of mouth. Soon most of Perth was using Helix tosta instead of the commercial (and toxic) snail pellets.
Homeopathy works by strengthening the plant, or by fooling the pest, not by attacking or killing the pest, so it wonât create resistance the way many chemical pesticides do, says Kaviraj.Â It can even improve the soil they grow in.Â The mineral remedies tend to help plants grow strong even in poor soils. Kaviraj gave the example of Aluminum:
âIf you use the remedy Lycopodium, made from a plant that contains a lot of aluminium, what you find is that the soil microbes do not transfer so much aluminum to the surface, and also the plants are healed of the effects of the aluminum, even if it is still there in the soilâ.
I asked Kaviraj if farms planting in larger scale monocultures could still benefit from homeopathic pest control, and he replied âIf you apply the homeopathic remedies made from companion plants you can fool pests into thinking it is not a monoculture at allâ.
If you apply the remedy made from Basil (called Ocimum basilicum) on your tomato plants, for example, it provides protection from many pests and diseases of the tomato, including bud worm, flies, mites, and anthracnose.
The environmental benefits of agro-homeopathy are extensive; reducing need for pesticides, and fungicides, reducing need for fossil fuel inputs, genetic engineering and the risky business of introducing predator species.Â Kaviraj says that in his experience, farmers using homeopathy donât lose the 30% of their crop that they used to lose, and he sees plants that are bigger, healthier and take up more CO2.Â âAgriculture accounts for a large percentage of crude oil use so switching to homeopathic methods would have great environmental benefits.â
While Kaviraj talks excitedly about the potential of homeopathy as an ally in the âreal agricultural revolutionâ, he is more than a little aware of the obstacles. He has already had his share of difficulties with pesticide companies. In Australia, the snail pellet manufacturers argued that his preparations were not registered. When he registered them, âsomehowâ every year the fee for registration of each remedy increased exponentially until he finally had to close his business.
However, his book is selling well, and Kaviraj says that in many countries such as Brazil and India where homeopathy is more accepted, these methods are âspreading like wildfireâ. You can find his book at Narayana publishers online at http://www.narayana-publishers.com/homeoplant_home_en.php
I am planning to try some remedies on my trees and plants this summer, and will blog about the results at www.homeopathyottawa.com.
Based on an interview with V.D. Kaviraj, author of Homeopathy for Farm and Garden