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The Doctrine of Signatures

Article by: Marisa Comito 2007


The Doctrine of Signatures states that by observation one can determine from the colour of the flowers or roots, the shape of the leaves, the place of growing or other signatures as to what the plant's purpose was in the creator's plan. Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) of Georlitz, Germany was also credited for invigorating the Doctrine's popularity when he wrote the first published book pertaining to the topic called Signature Rerum, "The Signature of All Things."


The book had a strong religious/spiritual base and eventually became widely accepted and valued for its medical contribution.  This famous philosophy used by many past civilizations right across the world including Chinese, Native American Indians, Aztec Indian, African, Arabian, Indian and many other cultures throughout the world, has now been confirmed by today's investigative, nutritional sciences.


Studies have shown that what was once called 'The Doctrine of Signatures' was in many cases correct. It now contends that many plants/herbs and whole foods have a pattern that resembles a body organ or physiological function and that this pattern acts as a signal or sign as to the benefit the plant or food provides the consumer. 


1)  Signature of Colour

2)  Signature of Form

3)  Signature of Location



The Signature of Colour:

Purple or blue flowers indicate cyanosis and bad skin although usually classified as Blood purifiers and alteratives. The spots on leaves are compared to spots and sores on the body and on organs. Lung wort, due to the spots on its leaves was related to pulmonary complaints.


Plants with yellow flowers or roots, such as Goldenrod were believed to cure conditions of Jaundice by the signature of colour. Plants with a red signature were used for blood disorders, examples include redness in beetroot helps to cleanse and fortify the blood. The petals of the Iris were commonly used as a poultice for bruising because of the signature of colour, the petals resembling in hue the bruise they were to alleviate.

The yellow juice of Chelidonium majus reminds one of the yellowish complexion, typical of patients with liver problems. Chelidonium is known for its affinity to the liver.


The dark lines on the petals of Digitalis purpurea are reminiscent of blood vessels. Indeed, Digitalis is a well-known allopathic drug for heart problems and also has an affinity for this organ in its homeopathic preparation.



The Signature of Form:  

If a portion of a plant resembled an organ or other part of the Human Anatomy, it was believed to be beneficial to that part. Vines were compared to nervous and blood systems and therefore used as blood purifiers and nervines. Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.


Poplar or "Quaking Aspen" leaves were used for shaking Palsy, and Byrony root, which, with a little imagination could be said to resemble a swollen human foot, was obviously signed for use in cases of Dropsy which caused swelling of the foot.


Plants with thorns indicate helping with sharp pains. Bitter herbs indicate - bitter to the taste, sweet to the stomach whereas - sweet to the taste, bitter to the stomach.



Signature of Location: 

The location of where a plant or herb is grown also gives a clue or signature of how the plant may be of use in healing, some examples include: Wet lowlands and swampy regions is associated with diseases of wetness including; rheumatic disorders, fevers, colds and coughs. Plants grown in such locations include; Tea tree, Mint, Verbena and Elder.


Mucky soil - Associated with mucous excretions generally caused by inflammation--plants that clear the mucky areas and are grown there for that purpose including; Eucalyptus, Sundew and Sunflower.

Banks of clear ponds and rivers - Associated with diuretics were believed to help cleanse the urinary system , these herbs include; Horsetail, Mint and balotta.

Gravelly and sandy areas - Associated with cleansing mucous linings and keeping them oiled so preventing sickness of the bronchial and alimentary tract include herbs such as;  Parsley, Sundew, Euphorbia and Ephedra.



Whole Foods: 

A Walnut looks like a little human brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neocortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function. Walnuts have a unique fatty acid profile plus a number of vitamins, minerals and other compounds that exert potent antioxidant effects. All of these add up to give walnuts extraordinary capacity to fight heart disease and free radical damage as well as help feed, protect and nourish the brain. They also contain arginine, are one of the most abundant sources of antioxidants in the world, contain manganese, copper, magnesium, folic acid, Beta-sitosterol and Melatonin (better known for its mood and sleep-cycle regulating properties).


Eggplant, Avocado's and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers.


And how profound is this?  It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).


Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.


A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.


There are so many other examples this is just the "tip of the iceberg", teaching yourself to be more aware of the plants that grow around you may help you to become more aware and understand their meaning in the scheme of things. It is said that plants grow where they are needed. A great example of this is with the herb Plantain.


Plantain is an evergreen perennial, spreading by seed, which cling to feet - it was taken to the New World (America) for herbal use and became known to North American Natives as "White Man's Footsteps" as it followed the new inhabitants (white man) where ever they settled. Plantain persists for many seasons, forming a rosette close to the ground, so it survives mowing. It is tolerant to trampling and survives in paths and every lawn. The leaves contain tannins and astringent chemicals which, when crushed, make useful styptics for small cuts and an alternative to dock leaves for nettle stings.


Plantain Leaf works by drawing the poisons from bites and stings to the surface of the skin, removing the poison from the body. It works equally well with slivers, splinters, felons, or anytime you need a drawing salve. Just pick one or two plantain leaves, roll them in your hand until they become mucilaginous. Then rub over bite or sting until you feel the drawing effect of the poison coming to the surface of the skin. For a splinter or sliver, place Plantain Salve or Tincture on bandaid, and leave on over night. The splinter should be soft and ready to remove the next morning.













Disclaimer: Please note that the information within this website is for educational and research purposes only and should not be used as a guide for self prescribing. 


Always seek the advice of a health care professional

before using herbal medicine or taking nutritional supplements

especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are pregnant, breastfeeding

or are taking any medications.





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