A synoptic key of the materia medica

Book review by Dr Mansoora K

The author of the book is Cyrus Maxwell Boger.

  • I edition – 1915
  • II edition – 1916
  • III edition – 1928
  • Fourth edition – 1931
  • Augmented edition – 1935  by Dr. Banerjee of Kolkata

The book is divided in to three parts. Repertory proper, Materia medica part & a section of four appendices.


  • Foreword by C M Boger
  • List of remedies in the materia medica portion with their page number
  • Part I – Repertory proper
  • Part II—Synopsis
  • Part III
  • List of remedies & abbreviations

Foreword is written by Boger. Most of the part of the foreword is taken from the book “ Studies in the philosophies of healing”. It is the second part of the chapter “Some thoughts in prescribing”

Correct prescribing consists of-

  • Fitting pathogenetic symptom to clinical symptom
  • Grasping essential points of symptom images
  • Mastering working knowledge of materia medicca
  • Skillful use of books of reference

Aim of this book is to introduce method to find the curative remedy so that it can be worked out with ease & certainty.

A combination of  analytic & synoptic methods are the best method

Clinical symptoms are best obtained by asking the patient to tell his own story. It is then amplified & accurately defined by the questioner who should first try to elicit the evident cause & course of sickness. The prescriber  adds all things which seems to interfere with the sufferers comfort. The modalities ie. natural modifiers of sickness should be very definitely ascertained.  Most important modalities are   Time, Temperature, Open Air, Posture, Being Alone, Motion, Sleep, Eating & drinking, Touch, Pressure, Discharges etc

Mental state comes next in order of importance. Presence of Irritability, Sadness, or fear is the ruling factor.

Third step includes the Patients own description of sensations.  Primary sensations like Burning, Cramping, Cutting, Bursting, Soreness, Throbbing & Thirst are more important & overshadows other sensations.

Objective aspect or expression of the sickness — Facial Expression, Demeanor, Nervous Excitability, Sensibility, Restlessness or Torpor, State of the Secretions and any abnormal coloring that may be present.

Next importance is to the part affected

Differentiating factor to reach the similimum may belong to any rubric.

  1. MODALITIES  —  causation. time. temperature. weather. open air. posture. motion. eating and drinking. sleep. if alone. pressure. touch. discharges.
  2. MIND —  irritability. sadness. fear. placidity.
  3. SENSATIONS — burning. cramping. cutting. bursting. soreness. throbbing. thirst.
  4. OBJECTIVE ASPECT —  demeanor. restlessness. nervous excitability. facial expression. torpor. secretions. color. odor.
  5. PART AFFECTED —  Organs. Right. Left.

THE SYNOPSIS,e ie the materia medica part  helps to grasp the general expression or genius of each remedy. Most nearly affiliated remedies are bracketed after some of the more important symptoms which  helps in making differentiations.

Ignoring the disease picture & laying importance on some particular factors makes the path to cure distractible.

Whenever the chosen remedy excites little or no reaction, the selection is  faulty, or  there is underlying  fundamental miasms which calls for either Psorinum, Sulphur, Medorrhinum or Syphilinum.

Whenever the general benefit derived from a single dose lags, the remedy should be repeated in the next higher potency & a new remedy is chosen only when  new symptom picture-disease phase-takes on a fairly definite or settled form.

To the fifth edition only changes of proven valve in co-ordinating and assembling the significant features of seemingly disassociated symptom groups, have been made. They should reflect a speaking image of the correctly indicated remedy.

Rubrics from Bogers private files have been added. The symptom features of many remedies have been clarified in order to increase their usefulness, especially in precisionizing differentiations.

The Repertory is only intended to orient the searcher.

Utmost care must be given in the selection of similimum Referring to the  Paracelsus   “Erste buch von blatern,”  — “Just so, Mercury, (etc.), -cures- things Mercuric” only.

List of remedies in the Materia Medica portion with their page numbers

It consists of 323 remedies starting with abrotanum to Zinc Valerianate which is given in the order of serial number, name of the remedies, & page number. It is given in two columns.

Serial no

Name of remedies

Page no




Part I is called analysis which is a short repertory containing:

  1. Periods of aggravation
  2. Conditions of aggravation & amelioration
  3. Generalities
  4. Regional repertory.

Repertory part is printed in two columns in each page.

The name of the chapter  is written on the top of the page in bold capitals. Rubrics are represented in bold capital.

Sub rubrics are represented in bold roman letters.

Synonyms are given soon after the rubric in bold roman letters with the prefix ‘see’

Cross referernces are given below the medicine  at the right side in bold roman letters with the prefix ‘compare’.

Medicines are given in alphabetical order after the rubric.

It consists of 3 gradations.

  • I – Capitals – AETH
  • II – Bold roman – aeth
  • III – Ordinary roman – aeth

It consists of 4 sections

It consists of  time periods of aggravations. It starts with the rubric periodically in general which contains the periodical aggravation. Time is given in the order of sunrise to sunset.

Time periods given are

  • Morning – 6 am – 12 noon
  • After noon – 1 pm – 5 pm
  • Evening – 6 pm – 8 pm
  • Night – 9 pm – 5 am

Conditions of aggravations & ameliorations
They are given in the alphabetical order starting with the rubric ‘Air’. These rubrics can also be taken for causative factors.

It consists of the consideration of the drug affinities of the entire organism. It includes sensations, complaints  pertaining to the whole organism. It also contain rubrics relating to the nervous system, constitution, miasm, side affinities. Rubrics are arranged in alphabetical order starting with Aching.

It consists of subchapters. Each subchapters are separated by a horizontal line. Subchapters starts with intellect & end with sweat. It is one of the repertories whose regionals or locations starts with intellect ( usually starts with mind).

Subchapters are Intellect, mind, head, External head: bones & scalp, eyes, vision, ears, hearing, nose & accessory cavities, face, teeth, gums, palate, tongue, mouth & throat, saliva, taste, appetite, aversions, thirst, cravings & desires, water brash, heart burn, qualmishness, hiccough, nausea,  regurgitation, retching & gagging, vomiting, eructations, epigastrium, stomach & abdomen ,external abdomen, hypochondriae, flatulence, groins, anus & rectum, perineum, stool, micturition, urine, sediment, urinary organs, genitals, male organs, female organs, sexual impulse, menstruation, leucorrhoea, respiration, cough, larynx & trachea, voice & speech, external throat, nape of neck, chest & lungs, external chest, axillae, mammae, nipples, heart circulation & pulse, back spine & cord, scapular region, dorsal region, lumbar region, sacrum, upper limbs, lower limbs, skin, sleep, chill chilliness, coldness, heat, sweat

Most of the subchapters starts with the medicines in general for the particular subchapter no rubric so the name of the chapter is considered as the the first rubric.

It is followed by rubrics for sides (right ,left, alternating etc)

Locations of the particular chapters follows the sides.

Sensations & complaints in alphabetical order follows locations which is separated by a horizontal line.

After s&c concomitants are given in  some chapters which are separated by a horizontal line.

Eg. Menstruation, leucorrhoea, micturition

Part Two – Synopsis
Synopsis is the Materia medica part. It consists of 323 remedies starting from abrotanum to zinc valerianate. It consists of the important & characteristic features of the most important remedies of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica with their  physiological spheres of activities, modalities & relationships.

3 gradation of symptoms. CAPITAL LETTERS are of highest grade. Bold roman follows next succeeded by ordinary roman. Symptoms are given in following order

  • Region
  • Worse
  • Better
  • Characteristic features
  • Antidotes.
  • Complementary
  • Related

Under each remedy the region affected by the remedy are given at the left side & modalities are placed on the right side. Most nearly affiliated remedies are given in brackets after some of the  symptoms.

Part III
It consists of 4 parts

  1. Table of approximate duration of action of remedies.

Approximate minimum duration of action of remedies are given in weeks
2  — 2 weeks

It also contains two quotes of Boenninghausen & Hering

“As long as old ailments reappear or are worse without the appearance of essentially new symptoms which lie outside of its sphere of action, we should guard against a repetition of the remedy, or changing to a new one.”-Bluoenninghausen

“Symptoms appearing last in a proving have the highest value” – Hering

2) Complementary remedies

A list of complementary remedies of 150 remedies are given with gradations starting with abrotanum to Zincum. The introduction of gradation in the complementary relationship is the uniqueness of this list

Two gradations are given. Bold roman & ordinary roman.

3) Antagonistic remedies

It contains 35 remedies with antagonistic remedies starting from Acetic acid to Zincum.

4) Supplemental reference table

It contains a foreword by C.M. Boger which mentions that it has been enlarged considerably espcially by transferring most of the comparisons to it from the text of respective remedies. It adds clearness & facility of reference. It is a valuable additional table for ready reference to the reportorial portion of the text.

Supplementary reference table contains index to the locations, clinical conditions to the repertory with page numbers. It also contain rubrics with medicines, to the repertory.

List of remedies & their abbreviations

It contains 489 medicines starting from Abies Canadensis to Zizia Aurea with abbreviations.

A synoptic key of materia medica – C M Boger

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