Tag Archives: materia medica

“I knew that…” – the agonies of unlearning

By Vera Resnick

I knew that…

This is something I and other IHM practitioners often hear, or see on people’s faces when we talk about homoeopathy to homoeopaths. I can feel the thought echoing through the ether (so to speak…) when I write about homoeopathy to homoeopaths.

However, to warp an old idiom, knowing is as knowing does. If you really knew that – why don’t you do that?

Let’s start with the first basic tenet of homoeopathy: like cures like. Continue reading

Viewed through proving: the alternating Pulsatilla

alternatingMost of us are very familiar with Pulsatilla as a remedy with wandering symptoms, when the patient says that the pains keep moving from place to place. But Pulsatilla is also a remedy with alternating symptoms. Even though it did not appear as one of the specific examples presented in Aphorism 251 of the Organon, the proving of Pulsatilla in the Materia Medica Pura is full of examples presenting the alternating nature of the remedy.

So what are alternating symptoms? Here’s Hahnemann, explaining in the Organon:

Aphorism 115:

Among these symptoms, there occur in the case of some medicines not a few which are partially, or under certain conditions, directly opposite to other symptoms that have previously or subsequently appeared, but which are not therefore to be regarded as actual secondary action or the mere reaction of the vital force, but which only represent the alternating state of the various paroxysms of the primary action; they are termed alternating actions.

Within the context of provings, it is particularly important to understand whether the prover is exhibiting symptoms that are the first or secondary actions, or whether they are alternating symptoms that can be produced by the remedy.

Aphorism 131:

If, however, in order to ascertain anything at all, the same medicine must be given to the same person to test for several successive days in ever increasing doses, we thereby learn, no doubt, the various morbid states this medicine is capable of producing in a general manner, but we do not ascertain their order of succession; and the subsequent dose often removes, curatively, some one or other of the symptoms caused by the previous dose, or develops in its stead an opposite state; such symptoms should be enclosed in brackets, to mark their ambiguity, until subsequent purer experiments show whether they are the reaction of the organism and secondary action or an alternating action of this medicine

Just to round things off – here is Aphorism 251, quoted above:

Aphorism 251:

There are some medicines (e.g., ignatia, also bryonia and rhus, and sometimes belladonna) whose power of altering man’s health consists chiefly in alternating actions – a kind of primary-action symptoms that are in part opposed to each other.

So does that mean we have to see an alternation of symptoms in order to prescribe Pulsatilla? It seems to me that although alternating symptoms would be a good reason to look carefully at the remedy for prescribing, what may more frequently happen is that in the process of a Pulsatilla case, we will observe symptoms switching from one modality to the opposite, from one state to the other. In other cases we may see this as curative action – but where the patient has been given Pulsatilla (and other remedies including Bryonia, Rhus-T, Belladonna, Ignatia etc. as mentioned by Hahnemann) we may be seeing case progression – but not necessarily directly curative action.

From the material it appears that while we may see the symptoms alternating, we also may see one or the other state prevalent in the patient. Each practitioner has to observe carefully in every individual case.

What are some of the alternating symptoms in the proving of Pulsatilla? Some may be surprising:

Pulsatilla is always better for open air, correct? Not exactly.

Look at:

895. The symptoms are ameliorated IN THE OPEN AIR (895, 897, 898. Three alternating symptoms of Pulsatilla, the first of which is the most important, i.e. the most frequent and most severe.) (aft. 1/2 h.).

And these are perhaps less frequent, less severe, but they were observed in the proving.

897. He longs for the open air, and yet the abdominal pain and inclination to vomit in particular, are aggravated in the open air (aft. 10 h.).
898. Sufferings from open air; he dreads it (aft. 6 to 8 h.).

We’re usually familiar with the “wet” Pulsatilla cough, and when the patient “dries up” we may think Pulsatilla’s work is done.

618. Dry cough, with difficult expectoration (618. 620. 621. These and the preceding symptoms of dry cough seem to be in alternation with the symptoms of copious expectoration with the cough (625-627. 629-632), but the latter seem to be the principal symptoms, so that diseases, which in other respects are suitable for pulsatilla are removed more readily and permanently when the cough is attended by copious expectoration than those with dry cough. In 624 the chief alternating action with copious expectoration occurred only after dry cough, which is rarer.) (aft. several h.).

And here’s symptom 624:

624. First, for half a day dry cough, and then for several days mucus constantly in the anterior part of the trachea which can be expectorated in quantity by voluntary coughing.

What about the mental state?

The following alternating example that Hahnemann notes in the proving does not sound exactly like the “mild and yielding” temperament he mentions in his introduction to this proving::

1142. Everything disgusts him; everything is repugnant to him. (1142, 1144, 1154, alternating states.)

1144. He is not indifferent to external things, but he has no respect for them (aft. 1 h.).

1154. Extraordinarily whimsical and cross with everything, even with himself.

Alternating symptoms raise questions in treatment. We don’t always see the full alternation, but even if what is considered the “rarer” side of the symptom is all we see, and all other symptoms point to Pulsatilla, this remedy should be in focus for prescription..

Viewed through Proving: The Perfidious Poppy

red poppies

“It is much more difficult to estimate the action of opium than of almost any other drug.”

By Vera Resnick

You may already be familiar with my penchant for tables.  There’s a quote below which in usual unwieldy translation of originally unwieldy German is difficult to read.  Here’s the information in table form, and then read the quote: Continue reading

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