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A Homeopathic Journey to the Healing Springs of Ashe County, North Carolina

Every so often, we come across a gem in an old homeopathic book or journal. I first ran across Arsenicum bromatum while researching homeopathic remedies for my book Homeopathic Cancer Drugs: Oncology Materia Medica.

During my 14 years of research for the Oncology Materia Medica, I discovered that the last time the identification of homeopathic source materials in the official Homeopathic Pharmacopeiea of the United States had been updated was with John Henry Clarke’s Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, published more than one hundred years ago! 

Much has changed since Clarke’s time in science, botany, zoology and in chemistry. This has had an effect on the identification and designation of species and materials used in homeopathic pharmacy. For the sake of accuracy for the homeopathic cancer drugs compilation, I felt it was necessary to reexamine the exact source of each of our materials – in light of modern classification and nomenclature. 

The resulting exhaustive research led to many amazing discoveries. I have previously commented in our webinars on many plant sources that, for the first time, were correctly identified in Homeopathic Cancer Drugs (By the way, the new one-volume edition of the book are now ready to ship, I am told.). Among the homeopathic drugs I first identified were the cancer remedies AugoporaBomhenia, and Verrugosa acrochordon chocoe fel. Most of this new research is not currently available in any other homeopathic materia medica. I did report on my lengthy search for the true identity of Grimmer’s Bomhenia in an article entitled, Bohemian Villages and Cow’s Paws: My Search for Bomheniapublished in the American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine, Vol. 1 Spring 2008. Unfortunately, they declined my request for reprinting the article.

However, I also discovered that many mineral drugs were also misidentified in our Materia Medicas – partly because of inconsistent nomenclature, or because of insufficient knowledge of chemistry a hundred years ago, or simply because science in general had not yet advanced enough since Clarke’s day where substances could be fully identified. But even if they were correctly identified, sometimes my research led me to information that simply makes for a fascinating story

The Story Continues!

Back to the story of Arsenic bromide – it was the source material for the preparation of the homeopathic remedy Arsenicum bromatum which was listed as useful in treating cases of sarcoidosis and even Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to George Vithoulkas’ Materia Medica Viva. This sparked my attention. I had to find out more.

This unproven drug was not even mentioned in T.F. Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica or Constantine Hering’s The Guding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica! Arsenic bromide was introduced into medicine in the German medical journal Deutsche Klinik, March 1859, by the Frankfurt physician Th. Clemens. The article by Clemens had been translated into English by Samuel Lilienthal, and published in the Homeopathic Recorder 1888, volume 3, page 146.

Clemens reported how he compounded the drug, and that he found it was well tolerated in crude drop doses in water by patients and useful in recurrent skin eruptions, swollen glands and “syphilitic” conditions. He even described a case of a breast tumor with enlarged indurated lymph nodes. The women took four drops of arsenic bromide twice daily in a glass of water for more than a year, and her tumor disappeared completely.

It took me a while to search our literature to find out more about this obscure medicine. Most authors had absolutely nothing on the drug, not to mention its natural source. Only Anshutz [FOOT NOTES]described it in detail and even mentioned its promising use in various syphilitic and psoric conditions. A.L. Blackwood listed “carcinoma” among pathologies it had cured, probably referring to some of Clemens’ stories. Lilienthal recommended the remedy highly for diabetes in his Therapeutics.

According to Clarke’s Dictionary, a mineral spring in Ashe County, North Carolina, USA was supposed to contain this substance. I needed to learn more about this mineral spring. As during my past searches for other remedies, this search took me weeks, if not months. I discovered that there is a town called Healing Springs in North Carolina, but it is not located in Ashe County and, alas, it was not the object of my search. Ashe County in the far northwest corner of the state, but there was no entry in any map for a healing spring. With the help of searches on the internet, I discovered that, although the location was very remote, there had been a long-standing and well-reputed spa in operation in that county that ceased to operate in 1962. I was hot on the trail!

In 1883, a young William Barker discovered the spring while looking for drinking water to give to his father who was plowing a cornfield. He, his father, and his sister noticed that after drinking the waters of the spring, several acute, and many chronic conditions just disappeared. They told their friends, and people flocked to the spring to drink its water. Eventually, the news of tuberculosis recoveries and even cancer cures brought thousand of people to visit the spring every year – many of them allegedly experienced miraculous cures of their own ailments. The property the spring was located on was finally purchased by a Colonel H.V. Thompson, who built a hotel and cabins for people to stay in while partaking of the waters of the healing spring.

Sojourners visited the spa and drank the spring’s waters. Hundreds of the success stories are still on record, including of cancer cures. The spring’s folkloric reputation caused homeopaths like Blackwood and Lilienthal to take notice. While the main spa hotel building burnt down in 1962, many of the original cabins apparently remain today and are available for overnight stays. In 1976 the spring was officially listed in on the National Register of Historic Places. I report the full history of the healing spring of Ashe County in Homeopathic Cancer Drugs: Oncology Materia Medica. The healing waters are still offered for free to anyone who wishes to make the trip to this remote part of North Carolina.

A Journey to Uncover History

This year, over labor day weekend, our family would finally have the opportunity to visit Healing Spring and taste its waters. It was a gorgeous cloud-free summer day, and we spontaneously decided to make our trip to northwestern North Carolina – about three hours from our cabin in in the Asheville, NC area. We camped overnight at the nearby New River State Park, and drove down the picturesque valley with its tall trees and bubbling creek.

If we had expected a booming mineral thermal spa, like, for example, the ones in Bad Gastein, Austria, or the Karlsbad Springs, in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, where millions of patients from all over the world pilgrim every year to take part in the healing waters, we would have been very disappointed! By the way these two waters are also homeopathic cancer drugs, and are both cited in Oncology Materia Medica!

There’s no mention of the North Carolina Healing Spring in Ashe County on any road map or on GPS. There were no signs to the spring until you come upon a narrow, curvy road, off NC Highway 16 in a small town called Crumpler. Had I not done my research for this place while writing the Oncology Materia Medica, we would have never found it!

After turning on to a curvy, even narrower road, we finally arrived! At the bottom of the valley, we were greeted with antique wooden cabins that were modest and rustic. Their original historic façade remains intact (with fresh paint!), while modern updates were done on the insides. The owners were helpful and friendly. From the Healing Spring Soap Shop, where they also sell pottery and pastured meats & eggs, we were directed to the concrete enclosure down from the store—perhaps the remnants of an old springhouse—nestled in the side of the hill next to the creek. Several signs listed historical facts and even reported some of the healing stories resulting from the spring’s waters. We found an analysis of the mineral content of the spring water. We pumped water out of the spring with an old-fashioned cast iron hand pump.

One prominent sign has the logo of the Old Spa Hotel operation, “Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Water, performing miraculous cures”, with a challenge to the medical profession, “We ask the profession to examine and say whether or not they know of any spring’s or well’s water that suggest so many important uses in medicine.”

I purchased a pottery mug and a plastic jug in the gift store since while getting ourselves and five children ready that morning we had forgotten to bring our own containers! We walked to the spring across a little bridge covered with some kind of dense vine. Our youngest child, Effie, pumped water into the cup, and I took a big gulp.

We drank the water with gusto. It tasted cool, pure and delicious. There was none of the sulfur taste I had noticed in some other mineral springs out west. It simply tasted refreshing and good. We filled the jug and left, as more guests arrived waiting their turn at the pump. We returned the next day with empty jugs to take more of the healing water home with us.

The waters of healing springs make up an important, but neglected sector of our materia medica—the “water remedies”. While there have been many discussions in our literature and in lectures on various families of plant, animal, milks, mineral and even gemstone medicines, we have not heard much about our water remedies. This is strange, since so many amazing cures of serious disorders like cancer have been credited to these natural medicines. All of the water remedies have been used successfully for the treatment of cancer and can be found in Homeopathic Cancer Drugs. Maybe I’ll present a webinar on homeopathic water remedies someday, including on Aqua pura, Gastein aqua, Lapis alba, Carlsbad aqua, including more details and my own proving symptoms from the waters at Healing Springs in Ashe County, North Carolina!

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