You may have heard about the recent spike in interest surrounding spagyrics, a kind of herbal medicine that dates back to the medieval era. Ancient alchemists followed a process that divided plants into three essential elements to purify and recombine them into a potent water-based solvent. The process maintains the whole essence of the plant, which is thought to result in a more potent medicine than alcohol extracts or traditional homeopathic remedies.
Fabian Piorkowsky is a renowned healer who has 30 years experience working with sacred plant healing. He has an extensive background in biochemistry and other western sciences as well as traditional Shipibo plant healing and other holistic modalities. I spoke with Fabian recently about the spagyrical process, what makes it uniquely effective, how it relates to homeopathy, and more.
The idea of spagyrics is based on the alchemical theory that each plant has more than one element.
“In traditional preparations,” explains Fabian, “you use different parts of the plant for different kinds of herbal remedies. The alchemical idea is to understand that there are different alchemical properties to all of these parts.” Alchemy recognizes three principle elements of a plant: mercury, salt, and sulfur. The spagyrical process involves the separation, purification, and recombining of these key elements. Only the spagyric approach captures the totality of the plant.
Fabian illustrates this concept by invoking the Rumi quote: “You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.” The same way any drop of ocean water contains the totality of the ocean, any drop of the spagyric will contain the totality of the plant.
Standard herbal medicines — such as tinctures and essential oils — include the sulfur and mercury elements. Sulfur refers to the volatile parts of the plant that evaporate quickly. We can find these in essential oils, which are liquids that contain the aromatic compounds.
To illustrate this, Fabian provides the example of a rose: “If you take the most fragrant piece of a rose and boil it in a pot, at the end, the water would not smell of roses anymore. That’s because the sulfur element is gone. What actually makes a rose a rose is the smell — the sulfur element.”
Mercury is the water element found in tinctures which are alcoholic extracts. Only spagyrics, however, preserve the salt, or minerals, of the plant.
“Once you’ve extracted the sulfur and mercury element, you’re left with the fiber of the plant,” explains Fabian. “There are minerals locked in the fiber. The fiber is incinerated into a white ash in order to extract the minerals, which are like crystals. They are like the DNA of the plant. Without it, the plant doesn’t know what plant it is.”
Spagyrics are often compared with homeopathic remedies, but their differences outweigh their similarities. Homeopathy, which was founded 200 years after spagyrics, only works with plants on the mercurial level. Engaging all the components of the plants is essential to the spagyrical process. Homeopathic medicines are also considerably weaker than spagyrics due to successive dilutions. As Fabian explains, “they are made in a completely different way which is just energetic.”
“Nature has already made these things perfect,” says Fabian, suggesting that the spagyrical process requires us to have a certain humility and deference to nature’s designs. All aspects of a plant work together to create a complete effect that’s larger than the sum of its parts, sometimes referred as the entourage effect. It’s common for people to extract specific elements from nature that they find valuable, such as opting for vitamin C pills over the whole orange. By doing this, “we are taking away from what nature has created over millions of years,” says Fabian. “All these things need to stay together to work.”
The spagyric process is not limited to herbal remedies; Fabian is pioneering the use of a spagyrical approach for microdosing sacred plant medicines. Microdosing, which is the consumption of sub-perceptual amounts of psychedelics, has seen a surge in popularity in the past few years. Instead of full on “tripping,” these fractional dosages induce subtle effects that include heightened creativity, productivity, and a state of well-being. Unlike normal psychedelic trips, microdosing is easily integrated into everyday life. As Alternet recently reported, “anyone from harried professionals to extreme athletes to senior citizen businesswomen” are claiming “serious benefits.”
Fabian is producing a line of spagyrics of sacred plant essences called Soul Drops for ayahuasca, san pedro, and ibogaine. Traditionally, working with these powerful sacraments necessitates at least a few days retreat from the outside world. By turning them into spagyrics, the ceremonial state can be introduced to one’s regular routine with tempered effects that are profound in their own right.
The spagyric is between the normal dose and the homeopathic. You would need to ingest 1000 spagyric or “micro” doses to come close to a normal single dose of a plant medicine. In contrast, you would need about a million homeopathic doses to get there.
The unique merit of microdosing, whether it’s through spagyrics or otherwise, is its ability to bypass your body’s normal defense system. “If you take a large amount of something, the body recognizes it and sees it as an alien substance,” Fabian explains. “Your mind knows. If you take something at such a small dose that your mind doesn’t even notice, it can’t defend itself against anything. Microdosing undermines the body’s defense mechanisms and brings those healing substances deeply into yourself. It’s sub-perceptual, below the threshold.”
Fabian’s line of spagyrics, Soul Drops, are currently available at The Alchemist’s Kitchen.