Category Archives: Remedies

Viewed through proving: Sepia has left the gym…

exercise sudoku“… It is a sluggish state of the body which requires exercise, and violent exercise to keep it in a state of comfort. …The … symptoms are … better from exercise in the open air…”

What remedy does this describe? Sepia, of course. We all know that Sepia is better for lots of exercise. Don’t we?

This is where it gets interesting. In the proving, for the most part when any physical exertion is mentioned, it’s actually a cause for aggravation. Not amelioration. Walking is mentioned over 90 times in this proving. Around 7 instances are in the introduction, and amelioration from walking appears around 8 times in a proving containing 1655 symptoms. All the rest – approximately 75 mentions of aggravation from walking by my count. Around 21 on these mentions relate to walking in the open air, and Sepia provers did note sensitivity to cold, but that still leaves us with over 50 instances where walking aggravated.

The opening sentences are quoted from Kent’s lectures – most of those reading this probably first met Sepia through Kent. We met this unfeminine female, who is cold, angular, depressed, worn out, and needs violent exercise to keep her human. Add to that the image of the ink-spitting cuttlefish, attacking with sudden sarcasm and retreating – it all gets very picturesque, so to speak. The problem with all these images is that they stick so firmly in memory that even once you know they are fallacious they are very difficult to dislodge. I remember a live case where the homoeopath pointed at the patient, who shrank back in dismay, and declared in tones that brooked no argument – “behold Sepia, fix the image of this patient in your memories!” Needless to say (after such an intro) Sepia didn’t work…

It gets even more interesting however when we look at the therapeutic pocket book, where Boenninghausen included Sepia in amelioration from physical exertion – in 4 points. This brings us to the issue of the grading in the TPB, which is often erroneously considered to reflect the intensity of the symptom. The significance of the grading relates to the extent to which that symptom was verified in clinical use. A symptom appearing in 1 point is a completely valid remedy symptom – just one which has been used less and therefore verified less in the clinic. Sepia in 4 points in amelioration from physical exertion means that Boenninghausen saw this amelioration over and over again, sufficiently so to include it in his carefully and meticulously crafted TPB. Sepia also appears in the TPB under different expressions of aggravation from physical exertion, but only appears in one, two or three points.

So we have the proving – pointing to aggravation from physical exertion, repeated over and over again by provers and by Hahnemann himself in his introduction to the proving. And we have Boenninghausen’s TPB weighting the balance in the direction of amelioration from physical exertion. What’s the “take home” from all this?

I’d suggest the following:

1. Blank out the Kentian “image” (and those presented by other homoeopaths before and since). This image is not helpful for accurate, focused prescribing.

2. Amelioration from physical exertion was presented by Boenninghausen – a master clinician. This strengthens a modality which only found moderate expression in the proving. There is nothing to negate the symptom, and many clinical cases, together with Boenninghausen’s grading in the TPB, to support it.

And possibly most importantly:

3. If Sepia looks like a good fit but the patient is not ameliorated from physical exertion, or is even aggravated by it – don’t rule out Sepia. If it looks like the best remedy for the case, give it. Even if the patient is fair, round, has blue eyes, and is a 15 year old boy…

Hahnemann’s First Provings

hahnemann111Hahnemann’s First Provings.

by Peter Morrell

For the full original article click here
From the earliest beginnings until now, the materia medica has consisted only of false suppositions and fancies, which is as good as no materia medica at all.” [The Organon, v.110]

“Medicine tests [provings] constitute one of the most critical points of Hahnemann’s teachings. This grandiose attempt to acquire unhypothetical medical experience was outwardly justified by the complete lack of objective methods of investigation and experimental systems in those days…[Hahnemann had] the courage to break away from hypotheses and systems…” [Gumpert, 122]

This essay explores the early provings of Hahnemann and attempts to place them into some kind of historical and conceptual context.


The first provings of Hahnemann really need to be measured in two ways… first, against what came after them and the way homeopathy unfolded forwards from that point, which is the view most homeopaths adopt. And second against what existed before the provings and where he got his remedies from. The plain fact is that most of the remedies initially came from the allopathic materia medica. Without doubt also, translation work opened up for him “a world rich in the most glorious prospects,” [Goethe] of medical data, therapeutic hints, clinical observations and notes about drug actions, which must have enormously enriched his medical thinking and which practically no-one else was party to. So, Hahnemann must have been imbibing a wealth of clinical and therapeutic ideas from his many translations and historical researches, during the 1780s and 1790s.

Measuring backwards from what followed is an inherently deceptive approach as it fails to fully illuminate certain crucial aspects of the project as it must have been conceived in Hahnemann’s mind. The idea of experimentation on healthy subjects was more or less floating in the air in that epoch: Haller expressed it clearly, Stork also and Alexander, for example, made in 1766 a proving of Camphora some years before Hahnemann’s experiment with Cinchona bark. The idea of conducting provings probably came to Hahnemann from Von Haller:

“Indeed, a medicine must first of all be essayed in a healthy body, without any foreign admixture; when the odour and taste have been examined, a small dose must be taken, and attention must be paid to every change that occurs, to the pulse, the temperature, respiration and excretions. Then, having examined the symptoms encountered in the healthy person, one may proceed to trials in the body of a sick person.” [von Haller, 12]

However, four key points seem clear about the first provings. Firstly, they derived from his studies and detailed knowledge of drugs in use at the time; secondly, that as the project evolved empirically he must have been made acutely aware that the number, subtlety and diversity of symptoms produced by a drug were much greater than the clinical records had initially suggested; thirdly, that he involved members of his family and circle of close friends from an early stage: “the family…and every free moment of every one of them, from the oldest to the youngest, was made use of for the testing of medicines and the gathering of the most precise information on their observed effects.” [Gumpert, 114] Fourthly, he realised that the instructions to provers had to involve them recording everything, every subtle change in their psycho-physical totality and consciousness and not just the main physical symptoms. Hahnemann gives “pure experiment, careful observation and accurate experience alone,” [Gumpert, 144] as the sole determining factors that can generate any authentic medical theory. He “demanded a complete break with everything,”[Gumpert, 149] that had gone before.

He sought “to discover the specific relations of certain medicines to certain diseases, to certain organs and tissues, he strove to do away with the blind chimney sweeper’s methods of dulling symptoms.” [Gumpert, 99] He “instituted “provings” of drugs upon himself, members of his family, friends, students and fellow practitioners, keeping all under the most rigid scrutiny and control, and carefully recording every fact and the conditions under which it was elicited.” [Close, 147-8]

“If one has tested a considerable number of simple medicines on healthy people in this way… then one has for the first time a true materia medica: a collection of the authentic, pure, reliable effects of simple medicinal substances in themselves; a natural pharmacopoeia…” [The Organon, v.143]

The second and fourth points meant that Hahnemann was more or less forced into a deeper appreciation of the reality of holism in the organism simply by conducting provings, in other words from his empirical studies. This must have been a wholly unexpected aspect for him. What started as merely a test of one drug soon became a revelation as it “ceased to be a little trickle…it became a broad flood,” [Wells] and an entirely new materia medica took birth, unfolding before him in incredible and undreamt-of detail. The third point suggests that he realised at a very early stage that a drug’s impact upon the female system is rather different from its impact upon the male, and though complementary to each other, these two aspects of a proving reflect entirely different dimensions of the same drug. From the minute details of a proving, a new sense of completeness eventually developed in his mind, so spawning a synthesis: the drug picture. Likewise, in accordance with his initial aim in conducting provings, he obtained for each drug a reliable database, based on experiment and in which personal responses as well as general effects were all compiled into the final picture.

The importance of the first point simply means that he obtained his first hunches about the therapeutic activity of drugs partly from using them himself, and partly “as he explored the muttering tomb,” [Auden, New Year Letter, 217] of his translation work, during which he ‘saw into’ the apparent sphere of action of a drug from reading the accounts of many others in the past who had observed their action or seen them cure specific diseases or symptom clusters. Thus, he probably realised in advance of the actual provings that most drugs tend to have a multi-faceted action upon the organism.

Always intimately tied in with his views of drugs was his interest in and study of poisonings: “I found from the toxicological reports of earlier writers that the effects of large quantities of noxious substances ingested by healthy people…largely coincided with my own findings from experiments with those substances on myself or other healthy people.” [Hahnemann, 1810, v.110] “He collected histories of cases of poisoning. His purpose was to establish a physiological doctrine of medical remedies, free from all suppositions, and based solely on experiments.” [Gumpert, 92] The proving is in fact merely a mild and subtle form of poisoning, what we might term a ‘micro-poisoning,’ during which the power of the drug ‘takes hold’ of the prover and so reveals its therapeutic ‘sphere of action’.


First Proving

His studies of drugs had led him to the realisation that ‘single drugs in moderate doses’ offered up the best if not the only hope of creating a gentle and effective system of curative medicine. That point implicitly involved a prior and firm rejection of the Galenic diktat of using mixed drugs in strong doses, because instinctively and temperamentally he was “a most passionate opponent of mixed doses that contained a large number of ingredients.” [Gumpert, 96] This sets the scene for the first proving, of Cinchona in 1790, deriving as it did both from a translation work and from his own intimate knowledge and personal use of the drug in question. Here we have to note a possible peculiar sensitivity of Hahnemann himself to Cinchona bark, as he had contracted malaria in his youth, during his Hermanstadt journey.

It is important to recall that the first proving was not actually designed at the outset to study the effect of a drug on the entire human system, to prove a drug, as is often claimed. No, rather it was specifically designed to test a claim by Cullen that Cinchona acts curatively on fever because of its bitter action on the stomach. It is precisely this point which Hahnemann set about to test for himself: “in the following year, 1790, Hahnemann translated Cullen’s Materia Medica. Cullen (II. 108) explains the efficacy of Cinchona in intermittent fever by the “strengthening power it exerts on the stomach,” and adds, ” that he has never met with anything in any book which made him doubt the truth of his view.” [Ameke, 62] It is this point which inspired Hahnemann to see if the drug would indeed affect the stomach as Cullen suggested. To his surprise, he found it did not do that and his testing of it proved to be a revelation in other ways.

Hahnemann disagreed with Cullen’s theory of the action of Cinchona upon the stomach and so resolved to test the drug on himself. He “criticised the opinion of Cullen that the action of Peruvian bark [quinine] was that of a tonic to the stomach…and proceeded to argue that quinine acts in malaria because in healthy people it can produce symptoms similar to intermittent fever.” [Bodman, 3-4] In this first proving experiment, Hahnemann observed symptoms broadly similar to those of malaria, including spasms and fever. [Cook, 59; Haehl, I, 37, 39] With Cinchona, he had “produced in himself the symptoms of intermittent fever.” [Haehl, vol. 1, 39]

Much has been written about the first proving that need not be repeated here, but the main consequence of it conceptually for Hahnemann was that after ‘single drugs in moderate doses,’ the first proving firmly and irreversibly established his third axiom of homeopathy: the law of similars, and realisation of its significance must have finally extinguished any remaining fragmentary attachments Hahnemann may still have harboured concerning the therapeutic possibilities of contraries: “dying to embers from their native fire!” [Keats, line 366] The “similia similibus principle,” [Gumpert, 96] was indeed Hahnemann’s “brilliance of idea,” [Gumpert, 97] and was also “the doctrine which was to redeem him from the medical nihilism of despair.” [Gumpert, 104] This new principle, “was to him what the falling apple was to Newton, and the swinging lamp in the Baptistery at Pisa was to Galileo.” [Dudgeon, xxi] As Dudgeon says, “from this single experiment his mind appears to have been impressed with the conviction that the pathogenetic effects of medicines would give the key to their therapeutic powers.” [Dudgeon, xxi]

With the three axioms comprising the core of his newly emerging system: single drugs, moderate doses and similars, the drug proving thus became the fourth homeopathic axiom and around these axioms homeopathy not only more sharply crystallised and defined its doctrines and methods, but in this manner it finally separated itself entirely from its Galenic predecessor, emerging “from the ashes as a new phoenix,” [Hirsch, et al] and shaking off any remaining association with the dreaded ‘bleed and purge’ method of mixed drugs in high doses that Hahnemann had so detested and which had filled him with horror even from his first medical lectures in Leipzig and Vienna, for Hahnemann was indeed, “a most passionate opponent of mixed doses that contained a large number of ingredients.” [Gumpert, 96]

1790s Provings

Now, it would seem, Samuel Hahnemann towered like a colossus over the medical past and potentially over its entire future. It was doubtless at this “a crucial moment,” [Doren, 7] that he finally becomes a truly great pioneer, engaged in something momentous, prior to which he was only a potentially important figure. At this point, he probably first received “a hint of his future greatness,” [Doren, p.7], because it can hardly have escaped his attention that here was a magnificent moment, a turning point not only of solving a huge problem he had first set out to explore in 1783 when he gave up medical practice, but because in those moments had he not heard the “loud hymns that were the royal wives of silence?” [Auden, Kairos & Logos, 309] and seen the “shadows and sunny glimmerings,” [Palgrave, Wordsworth] of a new plan before him, the germ of an entirely new system pinned out like an architect’s drawing: “my system of medicine has nothing in common with the ordinary medical art, but is in every respect its exact opposite…the new method of treatment, called homeopathy, being the exact opposite of the ordinary medical art hitherto practised, has no preparations that it could give to the apothecary, has no compound remedies…” [Gumpert, 176-7] He had also manifested, “the courage to break away from hypotheses and systems…zones fatal to the human spirit.” [Gumpert, 122]

All he now needed were more provings—many more provings—and the opportunity to utilise these newly proven drugs on patients, on actual cases of sickness. “Day after day, he tested medicines on himself and others. He collected histories of cases of poisoning. His purpose was to establish a…doctrine of medical remedies, free from all suppositions, and based solely on experiments.” [Gumpert, 92]

“Many before Hahnemann, from Hippocrates down, had glimpses of the law [of similars], and some had tried to make use of it therapeutically; but all had failed because of their inability to properly graduate and adapt the dose.” [Close, 1924, p. 215]

The bright prospect that emerged from the provings meant that everything that had gone before was only theoretical, but now he stood on the brink of a new practical method and the exultation of being able to go beyond and take forward the work of his vitalist predecessors, Stahl, van Helmont and Paracelsus [“Paracelsus’s system…was a rude form of homoeopathy…but it was not equal in value to Hahnemann’s system…” [Dudgeon, 14]], in being able to adapt that previously elusive and will-o-the-wisp ‘law of similars’ into a practical working method, rather than just a theoretical aim, a hopelessly wistful medical dream: “he fought with redoubled energy for the purity of medicine,” [Gumpert, 96] and “strove to do away with the blind chimney sweeper’s methods of dulling symptoms.” [Gumpert, 99] The grim and ground-breaking task before him in the 1790s was therefore to conduct as many provings as possible. And that is precisely what he did: “undeterred by the magnitude of the task, Hahnemann set about creating a materia medica which should embody the facts of drug action upon the healthy.” [Close, 147]

It is worth stating that very little of a hard factual nature is known about precisely which drugs he proved and when. We have to try to piece that together from only “a few crumbs.” [Adams] Although in 1790 Hahnemann had only proved one drug in Cinchona, yet he had proved 27 by 1805, when he published his Fragmenta: “Hahnemann’s ‘Fragmenta de viribus medicamentorum positivis’…gives us, for the first time, an insight into the remarkable, and so far unknown, methods of investigation, which he employed. It supplies reports on the tests of twenty seven medicines the results of years of experiment on himself and his family.” [Gumpert, 122]

Given that the Fragmenta probably contained work completed up to the year 1804, when he settled in Torgau, then he had proved 27 drugs in only 14 years…almost two per year. Even by modern standards that is impressive progress. Indeed, such impressive progress for a “a cautious man, notwithstanding his utmost circumspection,” [Wollstonecraft, p.12] like Hahnemann suggests that he knew very clearly in his own mind that he was engaged in something “supremely important,” [Columbia, 7] and which demanded his complete attention at all times. Otherwise, such progress would inevitably have been slower, far less impressive, less driven and presumably much more haphazard.

The actual situation is complicated by the fact that in the same decade he was moving about all over Saxony with his growing family. The decade of the 1790s sees Hahnemann living in many different places and coincides with his most intense period of “wandering, yearning, curious—with restless explorations.” [Whitman, line 91] He changed town or residence fifteen times between 1789 and 1805: He lived in Leipzig, [1789-92], then “in 1791, poverty compelled him to remove from Leipzig to the little village of Stotteritz.” [Bradford] In 1792 he was in Gotha [1792], then Georgenthal [summer 1792 to May 1793], nursing Klockenbring; Molschleben [1793-4], Gottingen [1794], Pyrmont [Oct 1794-Jan 1795], Wolfenbuttel [1795], Brunswick [1795-6], Koenigslutter [1796-8], Hamburg, Altona [summer 1799], Molln, near Hamburg [Sept 1800-1801], Machern & Eilenberg, nr Leipzig [1801], Dessau [1802-4], Torgau [June 1805 to summer 1811]

It is also complicated by the fact that in 1792-3, for almost a whole year, he was resident in Georgenthal treating the insane patient, Herr Klockenbring. All such factors reduce the time he could have devoted solely to provings to something like 12 or 13 years and means he either proved several drugs back-to-back or he managed to prove several simultaneously using different groups of people. Furthermore, the remedies in the Fragmenta do contain a few surprises and it is very informative for us to scour the 1790 decade for other hints of what remedies he was scrutinisng at what point. For example, Bradford mentions [p.57] that Hahnemann was using Hepar sulphuris c.1794.

In 1796, in his “Essay on a New Principle,” Hahnemann mentions the following 46 remedies, of which 19 [41.3%] later appear in the Fragmenta as fully proven drugs: Nux vomica [p.318 p.278] Mercury [287], Chamomilla [267], Achillea [269], Valeriana [269], Viscum [269], Conium [270], Aethusa [271], Cicuta [271], Cocculus [271], Paris [271], Coffee [271], Dulcamara [272], Belladonna [273], Hyoscyamus [275], Stramonium [276], Tabaccum [277], Ignatia [279], Digitalis [279], Viola [281], Ipecac [281], Arbutus [282], Rhododendron [282], Ledum [282], Opium [283], Plumbum [287], Arsenic [291], Taxus [290], Aconite [291], Helleborus [292], Anemone [293], Geum [293], Drosera [294], Sambucus, [295], Rhus [295], Camphor [295], Ulmus [298], Cannabis [298], Crocus [298], Scilla [299], Veratrum alb [303], Sabadilla [302], Agaricus [303], Nux moschata [303], Rheum [Rhubarb] [303]

That Valeriana, Hyoscyamus, Stramonium, Ignatia, Mercury and Belladonna, were among the first drugs proved in the 1790s, might arouse curiosity and raise a few eyebrows. It somehow implies that Hahnemann regarded such predominantly ‘mental’ drugs, and perhaps mental symptoms in general, as highly important aspects of health and sickness in general. The degree to which this might also derive in part from his treatment of Klockenbring in 1792-3 seems also to be an interesting point to raise. After the Cinchona proving of 1790 he spent some time treating an insane man in 1792-3 but no mention is made of remedies…then in 1795 he mentions remedies like Ignatia and Hyoscyamus which MIGHT have been needed for his insane case…it is thus tempting to presume some undisclosed connection between that insane case of 1792-3 and his apparent use of remedies like Hyos and Stramonium and Ignatia with such very strong mental profiles. It also seems to suggest “entirely changed points of view,” [Whitman, lines 8-9] with him coming to regard mental symptoms as very valuable in all remedies around this time. It implies that he was widening his concept of the nature of sickness beyond a small compass of physical symptoms, which was at that time the standard allopathic conception in which he had been trained. It is difficult to discern exactly when he abandoned specific allopathic concepts and then placed his adherence solely upon specifically homeopathic ones. All these conceptual changes arguably derive from the provings.

The drugs in this list are ones he was using, ones he had read about and had an interest in, and some that he was proving or had proved. These were all drugs that stood out as significant to him; they were clearly all on his ‘shopping list’ for deeper investigation. It is clear that he was focused at this time on 40-50 drugs which he believed, when used singly, acted by similars and which he could add to his growing materia medica.

In 1798, the remedies mentioned in the essay “Antidotes to Some Heroic Vegetable Substances,” [Lesser Writings, pp.322-29] are as follows: Camphor, Mezereum, Coffea, Ignatia, Verat alb, Gamboja, Ant tart, Stramonium, Cocculus ind, Arnica, Opium, Cantharis, Scilla = 13 remedies of which 9 [69%] appear also fully proved in the Fragmenta of 1805.

The Fragmenta

The 27 drugs proved in the Fragmenta are as follows [Haehl, vol 2, p.82]:[followed by number of symptoms obtained by Hahnemann and those by others]

Aconitum napellus 138 75 [h got 65% of sx]
acris tinctura (Causticum) 30 0 [he got 100% of sx]
arnica montana 117 33 [he got 78% of sx]
belladonna 101 304 [he got 25% of sx]
camphora 73 74 [he got 50% of sx]
cantharis 20 74 [not listed by Bradford, p.80] [he got 21.3% of sx]
capsicum annuum 174 3 [he got 98% of sx]
chamomilla 272 3 [he got 99% of sx]
cinchona 122 99 [he got 55% of sx]
cocculus 156 6 [he got 96.3% of sx]
copaifera balsamum 12 8 [he got 60% of sx]
cuprum vitriolatum 29 38 [he got 43.3% of sx]
digitalis 23 33 [he got 41% of sx]
drosera 36 4 [he got 90% of sx]
hyoscyamus 45 290 [he got 13.4% of sx] [104 478 according to Seror]
ignatia 157 19 [he got 89.2% of sx]
ipecac 70 13 [he got 84.3% of sx]
ledum 75 5 [he got 93.8% of sx]
Helleborus 32 25 [he got 56% of sx]
mezereum 6 34 [he got 15% of sx]
nux vomica 257 51 [he got 83.4% of sx]
Papaver somniferum) opium 82 192 [he got 47% of sx]
pulsatilla 280 29 [he got 90.6% of sx]
rheum 39 13 [he got 75% of sx]
stramonium 59 157 [he got 51% of sx]
valeriana 25 10 [he got 71.4% of sx]
veratrum album 161 106 [he got 60.3% of sx]

As we can see, the number of symptoms which Hahnemann recorded for each drug ranges from 12 for Copaifera to 280 for Puls. Perhaps as an insight into his personality, or constitutional type, Hahnemann himself obtained the maximum number of symptoms from Chamomilla, Pulsatilla and Nux vomica; and the least number from Cantharis, Copaifera, Digitalis and Valeriana.

The Materia Medica Pura

This work was published 1811-31, and contains the following 65 fully proven drugs:

Aconitum napellus, Ambra grisea, Angustura, Argentum, Arnica, Arsenicum, Asarum, Aurum, Belladonna, Bismuthum, Bryonia, Calcarea acetica, Camphora, Cannabis sativa, Capsicum annuum, Carbo animalis, Carbo vegetabilis, Chamomilla, Chelidonium, China, Cicuta virosa, Cina, Cocculus, Colocynthis, Conium, Cyclamen europaeum, Digitalis, Drosera rotundifolia, Dulcamara, Euphrasia officinalis, Ferrum, Guaiacum, Helleborus niger, Hepar sulphuris calcareum, Hyoscyamus, Ignatia, Ledum, Magnes, Magnetis polus arcticus, Magnetis polus australis, Menyanthes trifoliate, Mercurius, Moschus, Muriaticum acidum, Nux vomica, Oleander, Opium, Phosphoricum acidum, Pulsatilla, Rheum, Rhus, Ruta, Sambucus, Sarsaparilla, Scilla, Spigelia, Spongia, Stannum, Staphisagria, Stramonium, Sulphur, Taraxacum, Thuja, Veratrum album, Verbascum

The Chronic Diseases

Contents of the Chronic Diseases [1829]

Agaricus, Alumina, ammon carb, ammon mur, anacard, ant crud, arsenic, aurum, Aur mur, Bar c, borax, Calc carb, Carb-an, carb-v, caustic, clem, coloc, conium, cuprum, digitalis, dulc, euphorb, graph, guiacum, Hepar sulph, Iodium, kali-c, lyc, mag-c, mag-m, manganum, mez, muriat ac, Natr carb, Natr mur, nitr ac, nitrum, Petroleum, Phosphorus, phos ac, Platina, sars, sepia, silicea, stannum, sulph, sul-ac, zincum [48 drugs]

A comparison of the remedies listed in the Fragmenta, the Materia Medica Pura and the Chronic Diseases is most informative and “throws a totally different light on,” [Berger] some interesting questions about Hahnemann’s methods and why certain remedies seem to ‘come in and then go out’ of favour. This is a very interesting study and presumably throws to light aspects of his changing views as the provings progressed. My own tentative view of this is that though he was initially excited by every new proving, as time wore on he sometimes saw few applications, or few successful applications, of some drugs in cases of sickness.

In this sense, his initial excitement for a freshly proven drug must have given way to a sense of disappointment about, say, its limited therapeutic application. In such an eventuality he was forced to downgrade such remedies as ‘lesser’ while retaining his enthusiasm for those ‘higher’ remedies, which tended to match many disease states and which had thus shown an ability to produce some successful cures. This seems be the best explanation of why remedies do appear to come and go across the visor of homeopathy as it evolved. I hold this view primarily because he was above all else an empirical and pragmatic man and nothing seemed to have impressed him more than results. He wished for a medicine “without the superfluous rubbish of hypotheses.” [Gumpert, 26] Everything “that savoured of theory was swept dramatically out of his mind. In his opinion there was only one criterion: success.” [Gumpert, 24] It also reveals the basic nature of the materia medica as it exists today with some 50 or 100 remedies doing most of the work and dozens of others that are very rarely used. That the materia medica is like this would simply seem to be an “inexorable law of nature.” [Harding, 20]

Another issue concerns the provings he published. For example, why does Hahnemann fail to include the Fragmenta drugs in the Materia Medica Pura or the Chronic Diseases? It seems strange that he does not aggregate these separate publications as he goes along into a growing and expanding work showing all provings in one volume: a growing homeopathic materia medica. He even updated the MMP and CD as separate works as time went on and failed to add some of the drugs in the Fragmenta. This would seem to reflect a mysterious and undisclosed attitude on Hahnemann’s part in relation to the provings. Why leave drugs out of later works that were fully proved in earlier publications? It does not seem to make any sense.

The following analysis of the drugs he proved yields many interesting facets of this subject.

1. Remedies mentioned in 1796-8 and then appearing in the Fragmenta are:
acon, bell, canth, camph, cocc, dig, dros, hell, hyos, ign, ledum, mez, nux-v, opium, rheum, stram, val, veratr
= 19/27 = 70.4% match between previous mention and proving in Fragmenta

2. Remedies mentioned in 1796-8 and appearing in MMP
acon, arn, bell, cann, camph, canth, cham, cicuta, cocc, con, dig, dros, dulc, hell, hyos, ign, ledum, merc, nux v, opium, rheum, sambuc, scilla, stram, taxus, val, veratr
= 27/65 = 41.54% match between previous mention and proving in MMP

3. Remedies mentioned in 1796-8 and appearing in CD
Dig, dulc, agar, arsen, con, hepar, mez
= 7/48 = 14.6% match between previous mention and proving in CD

4. Remedies mentioned 1790s but never proved by Hahnemann:
achillea, aethusa, anemone, arbutus, crocus, gamboja, geum, paris, plumbum, rhodo, sabadilla, tabacum, taxus, ulmus, viola, viscum
= 16/51 = 31.4% mentioned 1790s but never proved later

5. Remedies in Fragmenta never previously mentioned
caust, copaifera, cupr, puls
= 4/27 = 14.8% no previous mention and proving in Fragmenta

6. Remedies in MMP; never previously mentioned
ambra, argent, angustura, asaraum, aurum, bism, bry, calc-ac, carb an, carb veg, chel, cina, coloc, cycl, euphras, ferrum, guiac, magnetis arct, magnetis austr, manganum, mur ac, oleandr, phos ac, puls, ruta, sarsap, spig, spong, stann, staph, sul, thuja, verbasc
= 35/65 = 53.85% of MMP Remedies never previously mentioned

7. Remedies common to Fragmenta and MMP
acon, arn, bell, camph, cham, china, coccul, copaifera, dig, dros, hell, hyos, ign, ipecac, ledum, nux v, opium, puls, rheum, stram, val
= 22/65 = 33.85% overlap between Fragmenta and MMP

8. Remedies in CD also in MMP
aur, carb an, carb v, coloc, con, dig, dulc, guiac, hep, manganum, mur ac, phos ac, sars, stram, sulph

= 15/48 = 31.25% overlap between MMP and CD

9. Remedies in Fragmenta and CD
caust, cupr, dig, mez
4/48 = 8.3% overlap Fragmenta to CD

10. Remedies with no previous mention but in CD
agar, alumina, ammon carb, ammon mur, anac, aur-m, bar-c, borax, calc-c, clematis, coloc, euphorb, graph, iod, kali-c, lyc, mag-c, mag-m, nat-c, nat-m, nit ac, nitrum, petr, phos, platin, sep, sil, sul-ac, zinc
= 29/48 = 60.42% CD Rx totally new and previously unmentioned

Phosphoric Acid

head pain

by Vera Resnick

What headache is your patient dealing with? What makes it better, and what makes it worse? Does it extend, and if so – where to? Here’s Phosphoric Acid’s headache from Hahnemann’s proving in Chronic Diseases. Bold italics are mine.
Look through the symptoms and you will see the strong aggravation modalities – in particular different kinds of motion, whether turning the head, bending the head forward, the slightest motion, or treading firmly and walking. This is also a headache that doesn’t stay in one place. It extends into the brain, into the eye, into the forehead. Pressure can aggravate – but it can also ameliorate. Pressure is mentioned around 29 times in these symptoms – that’s 29 times in around 67 symptoms, i.e. a lot. Even this brief breakdown of modalities already gives a partial picture of Phosphoric Acid which we can use in differentiation between this remedy and others.

  1. Headache, at once early in the morning on awaking ; it goes off on rising.
  2. Headache, in the forehead, when quickly turning the head and when treading firmly.
  3. Headache, in the occiput, obliging one to lie down.
  4. Severe headache, causing one to lie down, with stiffness of the nape.
  5. Constant headache. [Hrm.].
  6. Headache, excessively increased by the slightest concussion or by noise. [Hrm.].
  7. Severe headache above the eyes, so that she could not open them.
  8. Headache, as after straining in lifting, sensation of heaviness in the head.
  9. Heaviness of the head. [Gtm.].
  10. Great heaviness of the whole of the head, with violent pressure, drawing toward the left frontal eminence. [Htm.].
  11. Heaviness and pressure forward in the occiput on inclining the head forward ; it goes off by inclining it backward. [Htm.].
  12. Dull headache in the forehead and the temples, with considerable cheerfulness. [Frz.].
  13. Dull, crawling headaches in the sinciput, with perspiration on the forehead. [Fr. H.].
  14. Stupid headache, when he comes into the warm room in the evening.
  15. Stupid headache with humming in the head; then while coughing pain as if the head would burst.
  16. Pressive pain in the right occiput, partly also extending forward, all day, aggravated by pressure and by turning the head (aft. I h.). [Gtm.].
  17. Pressure in the brain, behind the left ear. [Gtm.].
  18. Painful pressure in the right side of the occiput, outward (aft. 1 1/2 h.). [Htm.].
  19. Intermitting dull, shooting pressure, deep in the left side of the crown. [Gr.].
  20. Pressive dull pain above the orbits, with shooting behind the ears, in the afternoon. [Tth.].
  21. Severe pressure on the left side of the forehead. [Hrm.].
  22. Violent pressure outward in the right frontal eminence. [Htm.].
  23. Pressure in the forehead, as after a spree. [Mr.].
  24. Severe pressure above the left temple, extending into the occiput, with aversion to moving. [Mr.].
  25. Pressure in the head, especially while going up stairs.
  26. Severe pressure, almost like bruised pain, in the forehead or in the temple, seemingly on the surface of the brain, on reflecting especially in the evening, not however preventing thought.
  27. Violent, excessively severe pressive pain, as if in the surface of the brain and in the periosteum of that part of the skull on which he is then lying, after midnight on awaking ; aggravated so as to become unbearable, by remaining lying on the same side, and when he turns to another side, it begins there with the same fury, while ceasing in the former spot.
  28. Severe pressure, extending from the forehead down toward the nose.
  29. Pressure in the head, as from a load, from above downward, or as if the head was shattered at the top.
  30. Severe pressure in the forehead, in the morning on awaking, so that she was quite stupefied and could not open her eyes ; the pain hardly allowed her to speak, and was aggravated by the slightest motion.
  31. Excessively severe pressure in the head, in the afternoon.
  32. Headache, as if the brain was being pressed upward, with painfully pulsating throbbing therein
  33. Pressive and shooting pain in all parts of the head, in paroxysms.
  34. Severe pressure in the right temple outward. [Htm.].
  35. Squeezing pressure in the parietal bones, more violent on moving. [Hrm.].
  36. Pressure in the occiput, as if it was lying on something hard. [Mr.].
  37. Squeezing, dull, severe pressure in the left temple, in rhythmical intervals. [Gr.].
  38. Squeezing pressure and tearing in the brain, now here, now there. [Hrm.].
  39. Squeezing tearing pressure in the occiput, aggravated by noise and by the slightest motion. [Hrm.].
  40. Squeezing pressure in the right temple. [Gr.].
  41. Squeezing pressure in and on the right temple, more violent when moving. [Hrm.].
  42. Pain in the whole brain, as if it was squeezed together. [Gtm.].
  43. Pain as if both the temporal bones were being pressed together with a pair of tongs. [Gr.].
  44. Pain in the evening, in bed, as if both the temples were being constricted in various parts. [Frz.].
  45. Violent forcing and pressure out at the crown, for three days.
  46. Twitches through the head, from behind forward, in rhythmical intervals, like pulsations. [Wsl.].
  47. Twitches in the head.
  48. Drawing pressure in the right crown and in the occipital bone, more violent on moving. [Hrm.].
  49. Drawing in the left temple and in the anterior cartilage of the ear, on moving ; it turns into pressure. [Hrm.].
  50. Tearing in the crown and the occiput. [Hrm.].
  51. Tearing in the left temple, extending into the forehead, worse when moving. [Hrm.].
  52. Shooting above the left eye, upward in the head.
  53. Dull shooting, out at the middle of the forehead. [Gtm.].
  54. A dull stitch darts, as from an arrow, into the right temple, extending deep into the brain, in repeated paroxysms. [Gr.].
  55. Violent shooting in the right temple, extending into the eye. [Mr.].
  56. Severe shooting in the right temple. [Htm.].
  57. Shooting with drawing in the crown, diminished by pressure. [Wsl.].
  58. Single sharp thrusts in the right temple. [Htm.].
  59. Single blows in the head, as from a hammer.
  60. Hacking in the head, as with a hatchet (Staphis. cured this.). [Hg.].
  61. Pricking headache, early on rising, till noon.
  62. Burning headache in the upper part of the brain.
  63. Burrowing boring in the right side of the occiput. [Gtm.].
  64. Boring with pressure in the left temple. [Frz.].
  65. Boring in the head, as if holes were being bored into the skull, especially in the vertex. [Fr. H.].
  66. Painful concussion in the head, while walking.
  67. Buzzing in the head.

Hahnemann nails the argument…

By Vera Resnick

Thinking-Man-RodinIn his preface to the proving of Arsenicum Album in Chronic Diseases, Hahnemann really nails many of the arguments we face in our own, modern allopathically brainwashed societies today. Rather than comment, here is Hahnemann in his own pithy, erudite, and very sharp words. I’ve highlighted some words in bold. This is only an excerpt. There’s more. Go read.


“As I write down the word Arsenic, momentous memories seize upon my soul.

“When the All-merciful One created iron, He granted to mankind, indeed, to fashion from it either the murderous dagger or the mild ploughshare, and either to kill or to nourish their brethren therewith. How much happier, however, would they be, did they employ His gifts only to benefit one another! This should be the aim of their life; this was His will.

“So also it is not to Him, the All-loving One, we must impute the wickedness practiced by men, who have dared to misemploy the wonderfully powerful medicinal substances in diseases for which they were not suitable, and besides this in doses so enormous, guided only by frivolous ideas or some paltry authorities, without having subjected them to any careful trial, and without a well-grounded selection.

“If now a careful prover of the effects of medicines arise, they inveigh against him as an enemy to their comfort, and do not refrain from the most dishonest calumnies.

“The ordinary medical art has hitherto employed in large and frequently repeated doses the most powerful medicines, such as arsenic, nitrate of silver, corrosive sublimate, aconitum napellus, belladonna, iodine, digitalis, opium, hyoscyamus, etc. Homoeopathy cannot employ stronger substances, for there are none stronger. Now, when ordinary physicians employ them, they evidently vie with one another who shall prescribe the largest possible doses of these drugs, and even make a great boast of their mounting to such enormous doses. This practice they laud and approve in their fellow practitioners. But if the Homoeopathic medical art employ the same drugs, not at random, like the ordinary method, but after careful investigation, only in suitable cases and in the smallest possible doses, it is denounced as a practice of poisoning. How partisan, how unjust, how calumnious is such a charge made by men who make pretensions to honesty and uprightness!

“If Homoeopathy now make a fuller explanation, if she condemn (as from conviction she must) the enormous doses of these drugs given in ordinary practice, and if she, relying on careful trials, insists that very much less of them should be given for a dose, that where ordinary physicians give a tenth, a half, a whole grain, and even several grains, often only a quadrillionth, a sextillionth, a decillionth of a grain is required and sufficient, then the adherents of the ordinary school, who denounce the Homoeopathic healing art as a system of poisoning, laugh aloud, abuse it as childishness, and declare themselves convinced (convinced without trial ?) that such a small quantity can do nothing at all, and can have no effect whatever, is, indeed, just the same as nothing. They are not ashamed thus to blow hot and cold from the same mouth, and to pronounce the very same thing to be inert and ludicrously small, which they had just accused of being a system of poisoning, whilst they justify and praise their own enormous and murderous doses of the same remedies. Is not this the grossest and most wretched inconsistency that can be imagined, invented for the very purpose of being shamelessly unjust toward a doctrine which, they cannot deny, possesses truth, consistence and agreement with experience, and which practices the most delicate cautiousness and the most unwearied circumspection in the selection and administration of its remedies?

Not very long ago a highly celebrated physician [Marcus of Bamberg] spoke of pounds of opium being eaten every month in his hospital, where even the nurses were allowed to give it to the patients according to their fancy. Opium, mind! a drug that has sent several thousands of men to their graves in ordinary practice! Yet this man continued to be held in honor, for he belonged to the dominant clique to which everything is lawful even if it be of the most destructive and absurd character.

And when, a few years since, in one of the most enlightened cities of Europe almost every practitioner, from the physician of lofty title down to the barber’s apprentice, prescribed arsenic as a fashionable remedy in almost every disease, and that in such frequent and large doses in close succession, that the detriment to the health of the people must have been quite palpable, yet this was held to be an honorable practice, though not one of them was acquainted with the peculiar effects of the semi-oxide of this metal (and consequently knew not what cases of disease it was suited for). And yet all prescribed it in repeated doses, a single one of which, sufficiently attenuated and potentized, would have sufficed to cure all the diseases in the whole habitable world for which this drug is the suitable remedy.

Which of these two opposite modes of employing medicines best deserves the flattering appellation of a “system of poisoning” -the ordinary method just alluded to, which attacks with tenths of grains the poor patients (who often require some quite different remedy), or Homoeopathy, which does not even give a little drop of tincture or rhubarb without having first ascertained whether rhubarb is the most suitable, the only appropriate remedy for the case? Homoeopathy which, by unwearied, multiplied experiments, discovered that it is only in rare cases that more than a decillionth of a grain of arsenic should be given, and that only in cases where careful proving shows this medicine to be the only one perfectly suitable ? To which of these two modes of practice does then the honorary title of “thoughtless, rash system of poisoning” properly apply ?

There is yet another sect of practitioners who may be called hypocritical purists. If they are practical physicians, they, indeed, prescribe all sorts of substances that are injurious when misused, but before the world they wish to pose as patterns of innocence and caution. From their professional chairs and in their writings they give us the most alarming definition of poison; to listen to their declarations it would appear unadvisable to treat any imaginable disease with anything stronger than quick-grass, dandelion, oxymel and raspberry juice.

According to their definition, poisons are absolutely (i. e., under all circumstances, in all doses, in all cases) prejudicial to human life, and in this category they include (in order to prejudice against Homoeopathy), as suits their humor, a lot of substances which in all ages have been extensively employed by physicians for the cure of diseases. (sounds familiar? vr)But the employment of these substances would be a criminal offence had not every one of them occasionally proved of use. If, however, each of them had only proved itself curative on only one occasion -and it cannot be denied that this sometimes happened- then this blasphemous definition is at the same time a palpable absurdity. Absolutely and under all circumstances injurious and destructive, and yet at the same time salutary, is a contradiction in itself, is utter nonsense. If they would wriggle out of this contradiction, they allege, as a subterfuge, that these substances have more frequently proved injurious than useful.

“But did the more frequent injury caused by these substances come from these substances themselves, or from their improper employment, i. e., from those who made an unskillful use of them in diseases for which they were not suitable ? These medicines do not administer themselves in diseases, they must be administered by men ; and if they were beneficial at any time, it was because they were at one time appropriately administered by somebody ; it was because they might always be beneficial, if men never made any other than a suitable use of them. Hence it follows that whenever these substances were hurtful and destructive they were so merely on account of having been inappropriately employed. Therefore all the injury is attributable to the unskillfulness of their employers…”.


The following are short notes by Allen on the remedy. The highlighted text are the symptoms that we find useful in prescribing at the I.H.M.


Generalities :
Bruised feeling over the whole body.
Symptoms < evening and after eating, also by changes of temperature and alternations of warmth and cold, also touch, moving about and stretching the body.

Head :
Pain over the right eye, like a pressing asunder ; < lying down, > walking and standing.
Headache particularly < changes of temperature.
The whole head feels enlarged and distended.
Smarting and burning in the eyes and canthi, as from smoke.
Eyeballs sore on moving them.

Nose :
Nose swollen and inflamed, red.
Nostrils scabby.
Profuse discharge of tenacious mucus.
Tingling internally from the tip to the root, even extending to the right temple.

Clinical :
Attack like hay fever, smarting and burning in the eyes, stuffy nose, aggravated in evening ; particularly tingling and crawling, which the patient tries to relieve by hawking and blowing the nose.

Stomach :
Scraping burning from the palate through the throat to the stomach.
Obstruction by tough mucus in the throat and œsophagus, especially in the evening.
Increased thirst.
Nausea and eructations, < afternoon and evening.
Burning at the cardiac orifice of the stomach.
Aching and sore pain at the pit of the stomach when touched.
Gastritis from alcohol.

Abdomen :
Sore, bruised pain in the hypochondrium, and shooting pains from the liver into the right side of the chest.
Sticking in the right ribs, arresting breath, even extending to the top of the right shoulder.
Bruised pain in the region of the liver, sore to touch.
Sharp, pinching pains below umbilicus after eating.
Sensitiveness to touch.

Stool :
Diarrhœa, watery, painless, (dysentery, with pains in the lower rib-regions).

Chest :
Sharp, sticking pains, particularly in the lower right ribs, extending even to shoulder, or at times, above left nipple, all < touch and motion, with bruised pain ; cannot move the arms or body.
Locality of pain sensitive to touch.
The region of the lower ribs on both sides becomes extremely painful to touch, with sharp, sticking pains on motion or inspiration, with tightness.
Pain in the muscles of the chest as from subcutaneous ulceration, with soreness and difficult breathing.
Violent bruised pain in the region of the short ribs, with backache, lassitude and ill humor ; the pain spreads over the whole chest, with short breath, can hardly speak, < moving the arms or body or breathing.

Clinical :
Intercostal neuralgia.
Inflammation of the diaphragm.
Pneumonia and pleurisy, with the above peculiar pains, aggravated by changes of weather ; always with great soreness to touch, as if bruised.
The pains seem rather external, as if in the muscles.

Back :
Stitches in and between the scapulæ.

Extremities :
Sudden jerking or tearing pains in the forearms.
Sticking burning pains in the sciatic region ; < morning and stormy weather.

Skin :
Vesicular eruption ; blisters, often dark blue, in groups or along the course of nerves, with burning, shooting pains (herpes zoster).

Fever :
Frequent chilliness after dinner.
Chill in the evening, with heat of the face, but without general fever.

Thuja Through Allen: Hints by I.H.M. clinical observation


In general, good for bad effects of vaccination.

Melancholia, with a fixed idea that he is made of a brittle substance, will not allow persons to touch him, for fear that he will be broken.

Great emotional sensitiveness, music causes weeping and trembling (Ign.).

Fixed idea of a living animal in the abdomen; of the soul separated from the body; of strange people by his side, etc.

Neuralgic headache in the occiput, extreme soreness and screaming, cannot sleep nor chew.

Violent neuralgic headache, as though a nail were driven in.

Neuralgia of the head and face from tea-drinking.

Neuralgia at night, extending from vertex over the whole head.

Ciliary neuralgia, pain extends over the face and head, with great soreness, cannot lie on the face nor chew.

Keratoiritis, with excessive photophobia, opacity, etc.

Episcleritis, with great soreness and violent pain.

Iritis, especially syphilitic, with gummata on the iris, severe nocturnal pain.

Polypi of the ear, with otorrhoea, easy bleeding, shooting pains.

Otorrhoea smelling of putrid meat.

Nasal catarrh, with quantities of thick, green mucus, pus and blood that seem to come from the frontal sinuses.

Painful scabs in the nostrils.

Warts on the nose.

Violent toothache from decayed teeth, particularly useful when the teeth decay next the gums, with retraction of the gums, leaving a healthy crown; teeth extremely sensitive to cold water.

Aphthous sore mouth.

Warts about anus.



Excessive perspiration on perineum.

Chronic diarrhoea.

Stools forcible, pale, copious, greasy, expelled with gurgling, like water from a bung-hole, < after breakfast; particularly diarrhoea after vaccination.


High-colored, strong smelling urine.

Gonorrhoea, with thin, greenish discharge and scalding during micturition.

Repressed gonorrhoea, especially with rheumatism or inflamed prostate.

Secondary syphilis; roseola, iritis, with condylomata, etc.

Chancroidal ulcers on the genitals.

Epithelioma of the vagina and uterus.

Uterine polypi, with terrible pain.

Ovaritis, l.

Chronic ovaritis following gonorrhoea.

Prolapsus, < driving, with great pain in the back.


Vagina extremely sensitive in coition (Kreos., Sulph.).

Polypi of the vocal cords.

Cough in the morning after rising and during the day, sometimes in evening after lying down; immediately after eating.

Sciatica of l. side from fright.

Toe-nails crumble, are very brittle.

Fungoid excrescences from various parts of the body, which bleed easily on the slightest touch.

Molluscum, tubercular, umbilicated.

Numerous crops of warts, and condylomata, which bleed readily.


Varicose ulcers.

Pemphigus, eczema.

It was used by Boenninghausen in variola as soon as the vesicles filled; he believed it caused rapid desiccation and prevented scars.

Extremely fetid sweat on feet.

Viewed through Proving: Platina – tamed…

Lady Platina feels an arch smile coming on…

Ever experienced this?  You prescribe Platina for a homoeopathy student, or for someone who has read up about remedies.

She looks up and raises an eyebrow (or tries to), with an attempt at an arch smile.
“Really?” she asks, incredulously but with a measure of pure delight, “Platina? I’m Platina?” (in itself a wrong description, no person “is” a remedy)

It’s tantamount to telling a female patient she still has “it”.  And try telling a homoeopathy-savvy patient that Platina is definitely not for her – she will often be deeply insulted…

Definitely time to read the proving, Hahnemann’s notes, and some others who didn’t allow the illusion of Platinum-coated sexuality go to their… well… minds…

The proving symptoms are really fairly tame.  There are some extreme-seeming mentals, such as the classic:

35.          Illusion of the imagination ; on entering the room after walking for an hour, everything around her seemed very small and all persons physically and bodily inferior to her, but she herself great and lofty in body ; the room appears to her gloomy and disagreeable ; attended with anxiety, gloomy and cross humor, a whirling vertigo and discomfort in her surroundings which before were pleasant to her ; in the open air, in the sunshine, everything vanishes at once.[Gr.].

Quite frankly – I was disappointed…with 15 mentions of flatulence (which can ameliorate), no seriously lascivious dreams, more of a strong emphasis on localized discomfort than anything else, the proving just didn’t live up to my lurid expectations (just read any modern materia medica and you too will have lurid expectations…)

What about this one then:

847.        Extraordinary sexual impulse (aft. 6 and 14 d.).

Oops – that’s Lycopodium.  No one gives an arch smile when prescribed Lycopodium.

Hahnemann noted in the introduction:

“When Platina is properly homoeopathically indicated in a case of disease, it relieves simultaneously the following ailments, if present : Lack of appetite ; eructation after eating ; constipation while traveling ; emission of prostatic juice ; induration of the uterus ; weariness of the lower limbs ; cold feet ; stuffed coryza.” (bold print is mine – vr)

Still not very exciting.  But what does “properly homoeopathically indicated” mean here?  Does it mean if there are no extreme mentals or the kind of sexuality that comes more from those teaching Platina rather than the proving itself – Platina cannot be prescribed?

I’d like to quote Carroll Dunham (1828-1877) here.  His words reverberate through the centuries with the steady tone of common sense:

Whether Platina is suitable only for irritable, excitable females, with predominant activity of the sexual functions, as the majority of writers assume, and among them Stapf and Gross, the provers of it, who, by the way, made their provings on a very excitable young woman, I shall leave undetermined.

For myself, I have had frequent occasion to administer Platina, and have obtained the very best curative results in… phlegmatic women of lax fiber…. On critical review… we find that all or by far the greater part of its symptoms bear the character of depression, but not that of erethism...”

And by the way, in case you were wondering:

1. Excessive sensitivity or rapid reaction to stimulation of a part of the body, esp. the sexual organs.
2. A state of abnormal mental excitement or irritation.

Hahnemann and study of drugs: What they dont teach you in college. (More background thinking to the Mallorca Seminar)

398869_10151814864274148_1123956388_nHahnemann’s objection to the physiological approach to the study of drug-actions seemed to lie in the fact that the moment an attempt to establish the action of the drug from its supposed physiological effects, one was entering into a mystery that would give rise to various conflicting ideas and theories.

That is why the Homoeopathic Materia Medica consists of the collective statements of perceptible reactions of the healthy human body, recorded in the words of the persons acted upon by drugs and eschews all concepts, physiological and pathological and thus admits no misinterpretations with changing medical terminology, altered biological concep­tions and newer scientific attitudes.

In so far as Hahnemann’s method remains on the plane of description of observations, it attains TOTAL stability to the extent that the observations are correct. When orthodox medicine attempts to “explain”, whenever these explanations are premature, each newly discovered fact will cause a shifting of emphasis and a conse­quent appearance of progress that is more of change than an advance; whereas the essentially descriptive view-point tends to account for the relative stability of Hahnemanns Materia Medica and his doctrine in general. And has done so for nearly 2 centuries.

However,there are many who, while affiliating with Hahnemann in his work, accepting the law of cure and the theory of drug provings, nevertheless are inclined towards the thought that a more thorough knowledge of the effects of drugs upon the organism should be established, more so than that which comes through the perceptible signs and symptoms caused by the drug. Further they want to explain that the modus operandi of the drug action has the capability of producing certain prominent physiological effects, or in other words, pathological alterations in the tissues.

We must ask why Hahnemann practically ignored these possible changes in tissues, and instead depended entirely upon the symptoms which provers recorded. We may note that this physiological approach to the study of drug-actions necessarily leads to the pathologising of remedies. The study of pathology and pathological anatomy shows how the study of connection of symptoms in the patient may greatly facilitate the discovery of symptoms by showing their mental connection, dependence and succession just as the study of physiology enables us to grasp the pheno­mena of healthy persons. This study aims at integrating all the symptoms into harmonious whole. But it would have been completely successful were our present knowledge of remedial actions perfect. However as the matter stands, neither physiological concepts nor the pathological symptoms completely cover the totality of symptoms in diseased conditions of the human organism, though these methods (e.g., physiological and pathological), no doubt help us greatly to marshal the facts in an orderly manner and to retain them in memory.

These methods of study attempt to grasp the conceptual whole, which are never co-extensive with the perceptual whole,

It is a fact that as yet there is not one single remedy in the whole of materia medica whose physiological action is completely understood and this being the case it becomes at once apparent that we cannot base our knowledge of drug-action upon that which we do not know or at least know very imperfectly. Then too, the study of the physio­logical effects of the drug to the entire disregard of indivi­dual symptoms necessarily leads to the pathologising of our materia medica.

study-drugs-300x225Thus, when one studies the action of a drug. only from the effects to which he finds or supposes that he finds it to produce upon the tissues and organs he natura­lly concludes that when we find those alterations of tissues present in a manner similar to that which was supposed to be accomplished by the drug under consideration, that such a drug is the remedy regardless of any individual symptoms.

This leads to adoption of specific methods, which being once established everything pertaining to the pathogenesis which does not fall within the circle of this established specific drug-action is thrown away and cannot be considered of any more account;

It may be asserted without hesitation that whenever a remedy has been received as a specific in the sense which I have just mentioned, it has proved a curse both to the remedy and the physician as well. It is simply an impossi­bility for the action of any one remedy to be brought into any single recognised physiological or pathological process, at least in our day and without imperfect knowledge of drug-action. The continued study of drug-action upon this basis may give us eventually so perfect a knowledge of drug patho-genesy and disease pathology, if I may use such a term, that we may be able to establish a system of therapeutics based upon physiological action of drugs. That time has not yet come and it is very probably in the far distant future.

Our present knowledge of the pathology is not and can never be a guide to the administration of remedies. Object as we may, it is an undoubted fact that is becoming more apparent that we cannot understand the action of a drug from any other standpoint than that of the individual symptomology. We may theorise to as to the conditions which give rise to the symptomology; it is perhaps eminently proper that we should do so, but when it comes to the application of the drug itself itself we should not allow any theory that we may hold to stand against the indications that may be given by pure symptomatology. As the same rule holds good here as elsewhere in the study of various branches of medicine, that is, while extremes are sometimes useful in leading us to the consideration of effects, nevertheless they are seldom a safe guide in the study of either diseases or drug-actions.

It may be pointed out in this connection, that the so-called Hahnemannians of to day who ignore physiology and pathology in their study are found to be making the most ludicrous mistakes in their treatment of diseases, mistakes that might be avoided by a very simple knowledge of the other two important sciences which they leave entirely out of the question. On the other hand there may be a class of men who claim for themselves the title of homoeopathic physicians, but who have no knowledge whatever of symptomatology and never studied their materia medica carefully, but go upon the assumption that they possess a perfect knowledge of the physiological effects of the drugs and of pathological effects in disease; and they are found to be prescribing certain drugs for certain conditions under any and all circumstances regardless of the symptomatology or indeed regardless of any specific ideas whatsoever excepting only those relating to the pathological effects of the drug itself. It is very evi­dent that such physicians are liable to err; and that there is not one who does not make mistakes at times in his supposed knowledge of the physiological effects of drugs. He therefore stands upon an uncertain ground and is neither scientific nor safe in his methods of practice.

It may be concluded therefore that the physiological effects of a drug must ever be, so far as known, the scientific basis of our knowledge of drug-action, and we should lend every energy to increase this knowledge and at the same time, we should realise how weak and lame we are in this direction before accepting as a fact that which almost every physician has established as unsatisfactory if he has given the matter any thought at all. This is why the theory expounded by Hahnemann in the early days of drug study holds equally good today, that symtomatology is the only safe language of a drug-action, wherein we are never liable to make a mistake and upon which we can at all times depend. One who closely follows the symptomatology of the drug and the patient we shall more nearly arrive at the indi­viduality of the drug and the patient.

We should not ignore the very important rela­tion that exists between the homoeopathic materia medica and physiology, but at the same we should not allow the relationship to become so great as to blind us to the true and only scientific method of drug-study: symptomatology, the science of semiology.


Viewed through proving: Bryonia – expect the unexpected

bryonia_albaViewed through proving: Bryonia – expect the unexpected

In a recent facebook post I asked readers where they would least expect to see the following symptom:

“It is intolerable to him to keep the affected part still, he moves it up and down.”

Understandably, most opted for Bryonia.  Of course.  We know of Bryonia as the remedy for those who have to keep completely still.  For those who are so sensitive that even if you jar their beds slightly they go into paroxysms of whatever they are suffering from at the time.

It is true that when symptoms agree, Bryonia will be relevant in this need to keep still.  Rhus Tox will be relevant in the need to move.  However, to quote from Porgy and Bess – it ain’t necessarily so.  The above symptom appears as symptom 593 in the proving of Bryonia.

Hahnemann writes about this possibility in his introduction to the proving of Bryonia:

The similarity of its [Bryonia’s] effects to many of the symptoms of Rhus Toxicodendron cannot fail to be noticed; in the preface to the latter medicine I have sufficiently dwelt upon this. At the same time Bryonia affects the disposition quite differently, its fever consists chiefly of chilliness, and its symptoms are mostly excited or aggravated by corporeal exertion, although its alternating effects, when the symptoms are relieved by movement, are not very rare.

Hence, when using Bryonia in diseases, there occur cases where the remedy, although chosen as homoeopathically as possible and given in sufficiently small dose, does not render adequate service in the first twenty four hours. The reason of this is that only one, and that the wrong series, of its alternating actions corresponded. In such cases a fresh dose administered after twenty-four hours effects amelioration by the production of the opposite alternating actions. …. This happens with only very few other medicines having alternating actions (vide the preface to Ignatia), but it occurs not rarely with Bryonia.

Rhus Tox and Bryonia are very similar remedies.  This is often overlooked in the way the “better/worse for movement” issue is emphasized by so many.  I have a case at present where I gave Rhus-Tox but it would have been easy to give Bryonia instead.  The differential between the two in this case (which I’ll write up in the future) rested on other modalities and symptoms, not on anything to do with movement.

Although Bryonia’s symptoms are mainly worse for movement or exercise, you can have cases where the patient will be better for movement and all other symptoms will be pointing to Bryonia.  And Bryonia will be the right remedy.

But because Bryonia is one of a group of remedies, which includes Ignatia and Rhus Tox, which produce alternating effects, the first time you give Bryonia, you might get no positive response, no action.  This is because the “flip side” of Bryonia’s actions was called into play, which may not have had relevance to the symptoms.  Hahnemann recommends giving a second dose after 24 hours to call up the alternating process, and bring improvement through the right set of symptoms.

It’s always important to be certain of the prescription, but especially where remedies with alternating actions are concerned, as it may often be necessary to prescribe a further dose of a remedy that does not seem to be helping, and it’s essential to understand the reason why it is not helping.

And with Bryonia, Hahnemann tells us, this can happen quite often.  It is certainly not rare.  Forewarned is forearmed!

I.H.M. senior homoeopathic Practitioner Vera Resnick

Viewed through proving: Nux Vomica

This is the first post in a new category in this blog: Looking at remedies through Hahnemann’s original provings, to be found in the Materia Medica Pura and the Chronic Diseases.

These provings were carried out by members of  Hahnemann’s Provers Union – which I’ll write more about in a future post – and also included some material from poisoning reports from older sources, all documented carefully by Hahnemann in this work.  Some  clinical and curative symptoms are also included.

The proving of Nux Vomica consists of 1301 symptoms.

In terms of the number of symptoms in each section, stomach and abdominal symptoms lead the field, with a whopping 169 symptoms, 22 of them presented in bold type which indicated the frequency and certainty of the symptom amongst the provers (and not as commonly believed, the intensity).

Interestingly, the next in line is the lower extremities section, with 107 symptoms, 8 of them in bold.  And a further interesting twist is that the bold symptoms constitute approx. 13% in the main stomach abdominal section, but they also form 13% of the mind and emotional section, which itself contains 75 symptoms.

We know that patients requiring Nux Vomica are often very sensitive to external inputs, and more or less anything can irritate and aggravate them.  The proving symptoms highlight the aggravation such patients experience during and after walking in the open air, eating, and in the morning to name a few.  The Nux headaches are well represented, as is to be expected, with 76 symptoms, 11% of them in bold.

Can the Nux patient feel better – ever?  From anything?  The proving shows that there are a few little things that can help the Nux patient, such as stretching, sitting quietly, resting, and sometimes from lying down.

Laziness – the art of resting before getting tired

There is a tendency to see patients requiring Nux as driving, forceful personalities, workaholics to the detriment of their personal lives and their health.  The mental-emotional picture presented in the proving is – as to be expected – more complex than that.  Although Hahnemann himself states that “it is more frequently required by those persons who are of an anxious, zealous, fiery, hot temperament, or of a malicious, wicked, irascible disposition”, we can also see deep sadness, irresolution, laziness and lack of desire to work from the proving symptoms.  There are those who say that people who are apparently lazy and avoid large projects and ambitious activities are actually perfectionists, who are convinced that they can’t do the thing properly and therefore avoid doing it at all.  From the proving it seems very possible that those people can also fall into the Nux-Vomica orbit, and this should be taken into consideration.