When is a symptom not a symptom…

By Vera Resnick

There are certain things we all know about remedies, right?  Things that are like knee-jerk reactions.  Examples?

We all know that Belladonna loves lemons, or lemonade.  Right?  There it is, in the Synthesis, in 3 points, under desire lemons.  The most noticeable remedy of the bunch.

Well, a search in P&W’s Materia Medica appears to show that the closest connection Belladonna has to lemons in Hahnemann’s original proving is its “lemon-coloured urine”.  Not perhaps what the average lemon-lover has in mind.  Belladonna actually presents in the Materia Medica Pura as having an aversion to sour, and the desire for lemonade only appears later on, in Hering’s Guiding Symptoms.  Surely if it was so pronounced, it should have appeared in the original proving?

We all know that Rhus-Tox is ameliorated by hot bathing.  Right?  Here it is in the synthesis, in two points.  Only thing is – what about the proving?  Back to Hahnemann’s MMP, where we find “hot” referring to hot burning under the left nostril…so the breath seems to come out hot (symptom no. 173), cheek becoming hot (symptom no. 185) and hot swelling of the hands and face (symptom no. 630).  What about “warm”?  Something, anything in the Materia Medica Pura, the first major proving of Rhus-Tox?  Nope.  Nothing about warmth ameliorating, although warmth and warm sweat may be part of the proving picture.

Bathing?  Nothing in the MMP.  Washing?  Nothing.  Applications – warm or otherwise?  Nada.

Please, please prove me wrong.  Show me the place in the MMP where Belladona’s lemonade lust can be restored to the pantheon of sacred prescribing symptoms.  And Rhus-Tox’s amelioration from a good hot shower.   Without these and similar landmarks, remedies become uncharted territory, something a beginner may enjoy exploring, but an honest practitioner will find daunting at the very least – and much worse when he or she discovers how much of what he thought he knew he didn’t know at all.

When these landmarks of homoeopathic practice, these symptoms that most homoeopaths never question, become uncertain – where does that leave us in our knowledge of remedies?  In addition – what use are all the other writings when they present symptoms that don’t appear in the original provings?

It is here that prescribing strategy becomes crucial.  Symptoms used to narrow down the group of possible remedies should be as certain as possible, clearly relating to the changed disease state.  In order to harness the power of the Law of Similars those symptoms must come from clear, reliable provings.  Remedies should be ruled in or out of this group based on reading the provings,  seeing how much of the proving suits the patient.

If a Belladonna picture becomes clear from this initial sifting through of the proving, the patient’s love of lemons may strengthen the case for the remedy.  The same is true for other clinical symptoms.  They may strengthen or weaken the case for the remedy choice – but in order to practice certain prescribing based on the Law of Similars they should not be used in determining the smaller pool of remedies which should be investigated and from which the prescription should be made.

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