A message from Frans & Linda
July 2012

1) We have been informed from many quarters about the lack of an easier, more useful table of contents. There are very clear and distinct reasons why we chose to make our table of contents as it is, which can be ascertained by reading the Introduction very thoroughly. Nonetheless, as you note, we have corrected this by offering a alphabetical index on the web site (see The Book > Additional Material) We hope that this index will serve to meet the needs people have expressed for this kind of index. This index was not an "afterthought" but a response to the requests of homeopaths. We hope that very little time will be spent in the review dwelling on the deficit which has been corrected.

2) The "index issue" is really only one facet of a larger point. What is the purpose of the book and does it achieve this purpose? This large issue also relates to the other aspects you mention. You bring up the request that you wish to see more elaborate indexing for themes, phytochemicals etc for "quick look up" or a table of family themes (we assume in the nature of how Sankaran lists his family themes in Schema). In essence you are asking for a Repertory of the book. We specifically and quite consciously chose NOT to do that. This work is not primarily a desk top reference text. It is not a book where one sees a possible theme, word or idea from the patient and then flips to a repertory-like list with remedies and pages numbers for a "quick look up" of possible remedies, followed by reading just the seemingly relevant page. Just the opposite - this book is to study, learn and grasp deeper whole concepts about families and remedies. It is not to be used as a "top-down" research tool. For example, suppose Belladonna comes through in a patient from symptoms, rubrics or other materia medica. Belladonna can be consulted in the original index to see it is a member of the Solanaceae family and that family number is given, from which it can be located (We agree that the name and page number of that family should have been there but that is now corrected). Then this family in PLANTS should be consulted to see what are the overarching family ideas. Then further study about each individual member can be reviewed to see if there is another Solancaeae that is better suited to the particle case. The whole point of plant family knowledge is to branch out to more precise prescribing rather than staying with the "type remedies" in a given family just because we know them the most and they appear most prominently in computer program searches. The problem with this "quick look up" approach is that we do not know what we don't know. There are 139 plant families and groups, each with specific themes, nuanced and varied. If all we do is look up what we already know, we may be missing themes that we are not aware of.

The in-depth study of the text, family themes and the individual family members are aimed at enlarging our knowledge and understanding. If homeopaths focused more on the "remedy" and not on the "quickness", there would be far more successes. We assert that botanical families and their themes cannot be reduced to single words, or a small group of words. All the themes we discuss interact with each other and, all of them together, as a whole, make up the deeper understanding of the family. For example, you can say that a staining is a theme for Anacardaceae but without the full context of the other themes of that family, it would be impossible to differentiate it from the staining of Juglandaceae. We specifically choose not to facilitate those kinds of approach to the family themes by organizing the book to encourage homeopaths to walk on path that will give more full understanding. Yes, it may seem the long way around route by some, in which case they are welcome to use other repertory style references. This route, however, is very productive because there is a wealth of information available this way that may capture the homeopath's attention and enlarge the prescribing possibilities in ways that would not happen other wise. We have elaborated this concept in our Introduction.

We are encouraging homeopaths to recoil from the habit of going to an arboretum and making a dash for the roses, without looking at anything else because the visit is more efficient that way. By the way, this is among the reasons we organized the indexing as it is. Yes, it is more laborious and takes effort to go from remedy name to family number to family chapter and then to thumb through to the specific remedy. Slowing down the search process is purposeful to impress on the homeopaths' mind the ideas of families, their relations, the whole connectedness of all the aspects of a family and their members. All of this seeming "meandering" is to good effect in enlarging the homeopaths' world and appreciation of how large the PLANT world of homeopathy really is.

Frans Vermeulen
Linda Johnston