Effective Learning and Teaching of Homeopathic Materia

Interaction between teacher and children, funny class in schoolHistory, Classification, Evolution and Effective Methods of Learning and Teaching of Homeopathic Materia Medica

The Pre-History: –
Dr. Hahnemann has accepted in his codex of homoeopathy Organon of Medicine, that it was Abrecht Von Haller (1708 – 77) who suggested that medicine should be proved on human beings and the symptoms thus obtained will form the basis of a real materia medica, useful in the treatment of human beings. Haller’s suggestions were to no use, probably it was not known to HAHNEMANN that in 1829 Johanes Evangalista Purkinje (1787 – 1869) of Bohemia, a renowned physiologist of Purkinje’s fibers fame experimented upon himself the action of camphor, belladonna, strammonium and turpentine.

However it was Hahnemann who started this new line of materia medica by testing the drugs on himself, his friends and family members. He called this process by the name of Drug proving which literally means proving the (curative) properties lying in drugs.

The History:-
After coming across that remark of William Cullen about Cinchona bark which he was translating in 1790. Dr. Hahnemann tested drugs one after another and this process of drug proving became the basis of his ‘Materia Medica Pura’, the first part of which containing drugs was published 1811. In his Organon of medicine, he describes the process in detail in regard to selection of the provers, their mode of life, food, regimen and the recording of symptoms in Paragraphs 105-145.

Dr. Hahnemann called his materia medica MATERIA MEDICA PURA – because it contains the pure effects of the drugs as observed on healthy human beings of different ages and both the sexes. It did not contain any information collected from any other sources. After him many individuals, like Dr. Hering and thus a vast, real vast materia medica for homoeopathy was created. Latter on symptoms other than found during proving were also incorporated.

1.  Fragmenta de viribus (1805) : Dr. Hahnemann has given pathogenesis of 27 drugs in this materia medica.

2. Materia medica pura (1811 – 1821) : In these books Dr. Hahnemann has recorded purely the proven symptoms of the drug, which are proved by Dr. Hahnemann on himself, friends, disciples, colleagues and relatives. He recorded all these symptoms in a systematic manner and according to anatomical schematic representation. As the book contains pure proved symptoms of the drugs that is why the name of the book is Materia Medica Pura.

Previously materi medica pura was published in six volumes (1811 – 1821) but for the sake of convenience now it is published in two volumes. The first volume was published in 1830 and the second in 1833.

3. Chronic diseases (1828 – 1830)
After the long practice of 30 years Dr. Hahnemann observed the obstacles to the way of treatment and recovery. He found the obstacle is in the dynamic level obstructing the path of cure. He considered that something as the fundamental cause which played the highest role in the complication of disease.

He classified this fundamental main cause behind the chronic diseases as Psora, syphilis and Sycosis. Thus, he discovered the doctrine of miasm as a concept and placed in his book chronic diseases.

4. Proving by the austrian soceity (1842 – 1846)
Members of the Austrian society ha started proving and reproving of the drugs as their own way and published these valuable provings in a journal published by Austrian society (1842 – 1846)

5. Encyclopedia of pure materia medica (1874 – 1880)
The provings done by Dr. Hahnemann were verified by Dr. T. F. Allen. He also added some new symptoms from poisoning and overdosing available in the prevalent literature in the post Hahnemannian era.

6. The guiding symptoms of our materia mdica (1879 – 1891)
Hering collected verifications and confirmations from all the reliable sources. He presented the world a voluminous book, containing only the verified symptoms through cure in the form of characteristics which he made from all available resources and this work of Dr. Hering is a great contribution in the evolution of materia medica.

7. Cyclopedia of drug pathogensy (1886)
In the year 1883 the British society has organized a meeting to revise and represent the existing material. The result of such conference was to recommend the formation of a “Cyclopedia of Drug Pathogensy” with following instructions,

They have narrated all the provings stating the symptoms in the order of their occurrence. The drugs were headed under scientific names, synonyms and natural order, experiments were done on lower animals, no drug that has not shown pathogenetic power in two or more persons, included the symptoms only coming from the proving of 12x potency.

8. Dictionary of practical materia medica (1900)
Dr. J. H. Clarke has arranged all the drugs in this book in the Hahnemannian schema. Each remedy is given in such a fashion that it may be at once distinguished and recognized from other medicines. He also included indications of some medicines according to nosological diagnosis. He has tried his level to give the keynotes and predominating symptoms o the medicine.

Q.1. What is Materia Medica? Give sources of Materia Medica. Give different types of Materia Medica?
Ans.    Homoeopathic Materia Medica is a compilation of various symptoms collected mainly from proving from healthy human beings and from other sources.

The sources of homoeopathic materia medica.

  • Proving on healthy human beings
  • Proving on healthy animals
  • Clinical observation
  • Accidental source
  • Toxicological source
  • Chemical source
  • Empirical source
  • Proving on plants
  • Doctrine of signature

1.  Proving on healthy human beings:  We can obtain signs and symptoms of homoeopathic medicines by proving them on healthy human beings. This is the real and most scientific way of getting signs and symptoms of the medicine. By this way we can record the same in a systematic way. It is a very good source to build Materia Medica.

2.Proving on healthy animals: By proving homoeopathic drugs on healthy animals we can get few objective symptoms upto some extent. By proving on lower animals we can also get the knowledge of the pathological changes occurring in the animal body. It is also a good source to build Materia Medica.

3.Clinical observation:  In practice after application of the medicine to the patient, we can observe some new symptoms produced by the medicine which have not been produced y the medicine while its proving. These are clinical symptoms and they also help in building the Materia Medica.

4. Accidental source: Some medicines are prepared from substances whose curative action is discovered accidentally, e.g. Blatta Orientalis in asthma

5.Toxicological source:  Signs and symptoms produced due to the toxic effect of the drugs are obtained where unfortunately overdosing has occurred. This may be helpful in understanding the action of the drug upto some extent.

6. Chemical source: We can understand and get the knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the drug by the knowledge of chemistry. I.e. physical and chemical properties. Action etc. but as the human body itself is too big a chemical factory; the actual signs and symptoms produced by the drugs in the body may be different. But by studying the chemistry of the drugs we can get some idea of its action on the body.

7.  Empirical source: It is traditional source. This can be observed from the general therapeutic study of the medicine. In olden days, the medicinal values of many medicines were known.

8.  Proving on plants:  Some symptoms of the drugs can be studied by means of proving them on plants. As homoeopathic drugs act well on the living beings like human beings and animals so as action on the plants is also marked. By doing experiments on the plants one can study the changes taking place on the morphological and histological planes. By this means one can get the idea of the pathological symptoms produced by the medicine.

9. Doctrine of signature:  It is the relation between the external physical properties of the drug substance and the signs and symptoms present in the patient. Doctrine of signature is one of the oldest and most important sources of Materia Medica. This is present in a few drugs and by studying it we can study the pathogenesis and symptomatology of those drugs to a certain extent.

This can be observed from the general therapeutic study of that drug. Since olden days we know a few things regarding that drug i.e. from the day of discovery we know certain medicinal properties of that drug.

A few examples of Doctrine of signature are as follows:

  • The drug prepared from the plants which flower in summer will be producing an aggravation in the summer season.
  • The drug prepared from the yellow flowers of Chelidonium acts well in jaundice.
  • All red looking plants or red extracts act well on blood.
  • Tarentula Hispania is prepared from the Spanish spider which is very sensitive to drum beats, similarly patient is oversensitive to music.

Different types of materia medica
Different authors have written various types of Homoeopathic Materia Medica. In different fashion or according to their own views and ideas, out of which some are given below.

Indian Homoeopathic Materia Medica

  1. Characteristic type of Materia Medica – Dr. D. Dasgupta
  2. Systemic Materia Medica of homoeopathic Remedies – Dr. K. N. Mathur
  3. A study of Materia Medica – Dr. N. M. Chudhry
  4. Constitution – Dr. K. C. Bhanja
  5. Master Key book of Homoeopathic Materia Medica – Dr. K. C. Bhanja
  6. Text book Homoeopathic Materia Medica – Dr. S. K. Dubey
  7. A New Text book Homoeopathic Materia Medica – Dr. N. Mohanty
  8. Oushad Parachay (Bengali Version) By Dr. N. Bandopadhyay
  9. Homoeopathic Materia Medica (Bengali Version 5 Vol.) – Dr. Ghosh
  10. Homoeopathic Materia Medica (Bengali Version 5 Vol.) – Dr. C. S. Kali
  11. Homoeopathic Materia Medica (Bengali Version 3 Vol.) – Dr. A. Ghatak
  12. Text Book Homoeopathic Materia Medica – Dr. T. C. Mondal
  13. Expressive Drug Picture of H. M. M. (2 vol.) – Dr. R. K. Chauhan

 Foreign Homoeopathic Materia Medica
1. Clinical Materia Medica

  • Clinical Materia Medica – Dr. E. A. Farrington
  • A Dictionary of practical Materia Medica – Dr. Clarke
  • Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica with Repertory – By Dr. Willium Boricke
  • Special Pathology and Therapeutics – Dr. Raue 

2. Schematic (Anatomical) Homoeopathic Materia Medica

  • Materia Medica Pura – Dr. Hahnemann
  • A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica – Dr. Clarke
  • Textbook of Materia Medica – Dr. Lippe
  • Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica – Dr. T. F. Allen
  • Hand Book of Materia Medica of Homoeopathic Therapeutics – Dr. T. F. Allen
  • The guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica – Dr. Hering

3. Picture type of Materia Medica

  • Homoeopathic Drug picture – Dr. M. L. Tyler
  • Lectures of Materia Medica with New Remedies – Dr. J. T. Kent
  •  Homoeopathic Materia Medica of Graphical Drug Pictures – Dr. Pulford.

4. Therapeutic type of Materia Medica

  • Homoeopathic Therapeutics by Dr. Lilienthal
  • Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics – Dr. Dewey

5. Key-note Materia Medica

  • Key note of leading Remedies – Dr. H. C. Allen
  • A Primer of Materia Medica – Dr. T. F. Allen
  • Synoptic Key to materia medica  – Dr. Burt
  • Characteristic Materia Medica – Dr. Burt
  • Key note and Red line Symptoms of Materia Medica – Dr. Lippe

6. Materia Medica of Physiological Action

  • Materia Medica Pura – Dr. Hahnemann
  • Condensed Materia Medica – Dr. Hering
  • Textbook of Materia Medica & Therapeutics – Dr. Cowperthweite
  • A Manual of Pharmacodynamics – Dr. Hughes
  • Physiological Materia Medica – Dr. William Burt

7. Comparative Materia Medica

  • The Comparative Materia Medica – Dr. E. A. Farrington
  • Comparative Materia Medica – Dr. Gross
  • Leaders in Homoeopathic Therapeutics – Dr. E. B. Nash

Q. Write sources: construction: contribution of Dr. Hahnemann for construction Materia Medica Pura?

Ans. Sources of Materia Medica Pura
(1)  Proving on Healthy Human being – Dr. Hahnemann has obtain sign & symptoms of Homoeopathic medicines by proving them on healthy Human beings. This is the real & scientific way of getting sign & symptoms of the medicines. It was very good sources to build up the materia medica.

(2) Proving on Healthy Animals – In this we can get few objective symptoms up to some extent. By proving on lower animals we can also get a knowledge of the pathological changes occurring in the animals body.

(3) Clinical observation – After application of medicine to the patient Dr. Hahnemann can observed come new symptoms produced by medicine.

(4) Chemical source – Dr. Hahnemann get some clue of sign & symptoms of the drugs by studying its chemistry i.e. Physical & chemical properties. He gets idea of its action the body.

(5) Empirical source – It is a traditional source. This can be Observed from general therapeutic study of a drug. In olden days therapeutic value of many drugs where known.

Construction of Materia Medica Pura:
After testing the Homoeopathic medicines on healthy human beings, carefully and faithfully recording all altered function experienced by the prover and observing all subjective and objective symptoms; can build up a real Materia Medica Pura.

Thus Materia Medica Pura is a storehouse of each & every action of drug in a healthy human being.  

Dr. Hahnemann called its Materia Medica Pura because it consist of the symptoms written in the unaltered language of the provers themselves and admits no misinterpretations with changing medical terminology, altered biological conceptions and never scientific attitudes.

Dr. Hahnemann followed an anatomical schema from Head to foot in recording the positive drug effects and under each heading he collected & put all the symptoms from as many provers as there where in each case. Dr. Hughes does not agree with Hahnemann’s schematic methods & in writing his Materia Medica comments. “Its is an unnatural and artificial arrangement of the features of many allied morbid portraits, as through an artist should paint a family group arranging all the eyes of all the members of the family in one part of the picture, all noses in another; the ears all together and so on.”

Thus with various permutation and combinations of disease – elements as recorded in the Materia Medica Pura; the adaptability of it may be increased to a great extent in the art of finding a similar remedy for natural diseases.

(6) Doctrine of signature – It is the relations between the external physical properties of drug substance & sign and symptoms present in patients / drug. Doctrine of signature is one of the source of Materia Medica Pura. This is present in few drugs & by this we ca remember & learn Materia Medica Pura of the drug upto a certain extent. Eg:

1)  The drug prepared from the plants flowering in summer season produces aggravation in summer.

2)  The drug prepared from the yellow flowers of Gelsemium work well in Jaundice.

3)  All red looking plants & red extracts of plants act on blood.

Construction and Concept of Dr. Hahnemann for Contribution of Materia Medica Pura
The Materia Medica Pura was written by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It has six volumes.

In all volumes Hahnemann own observation are put 1st & by themselves & separately numbered. He proved approximately 99 drugs in his life time, on himself, friends colleagues, disciples and relatives of different ages and both sexes. What ever the sign and symptoms i.e. Subjective & Objective observed and experienced by himself have been written in this book. So in a true sense all the symptoms are pure that’s why the book was named Materia Medica Pura.

Remedes proved by Dr Hahnemann

  • 1) Aconite
  • 2) Ambrea grisea
  • 3) Angustura
  • 4) Argentum
  • 5) Arnica.
  • 6) Arsenicum
  • 7) Asarum
  • 8) Aurum
  • 9) Belladona
  • 10) Bismuth
  • 11) Bryonia
  • 12) Cal. Acetica
  • 13) Camphor
  • 14) Cannabis
  • 15) Capsicum
  • 16) Carbo. Veg.
  • 17) Chamomilla
  • 18) Chelidonium
  • 19) China
  • 20) Cicuta
  • 21) Cina
  • 22) Coculus
  • 23) Colocynth
  • 24) Conium
  • 25) Cyclamen
  • 26) Digitalis
  • 27) Drosera
  • 28) Dulcamara
  • 29) Euphresia
  • 30) Ferrum
  • 31) Guaiacum
  • 32) Hellaborus
  • 33) Hepar. Sulph.
  • 34) Hysoscyamus.

Scope and limitations of homoeopathic materia medica 
Scope of homoeopathic Materia Medica
1. Symptoms are collected by proving the drugs on healthy human beings of different ages, both sexes and different constitutions. Medicine is applied on the sick individual on the basis of symptoms similarity. Without clearly knowing the pathogenesis, drug substance and it’s effects on healthy human beings, it is not rational to apply it on human being for curative purpose. If more drugs are proved the physician is in position to find out required drug for matching the natural disease. This scope of homoeopathic Materia Medica is not found in the other systems of therapeutics.

2. We get a wide range of symptoms from one person to another during proving. This is the greatest scope in the homoeopathic system not found in other systems of treatment.

3. There are several symptoms in the homoeopathic Materia Medica so there is no difficulty in choosing the similimum. The Materia Medica comprises of a large number of drugs, each drug having many symptoms. Hence in any disease, it is possible to find a similimum without much difficulty.

4. In drug proving, the medicine is withdrawn before any organic changes take place. The altered symptomatology is purely functional. Hence homoeopathy is useful for treatment even before any pathological changes can take place, or before a diagnosis is made. Whatever may be the disease, if we get symptoms of the dynamic pathology of a drug in that particular symptoms, administering that drug will cure.

5. While receiving a case, the patient usually narrates his subjective symptoms. As drugs have been proved on human beings, the exact sensation, location, modality and concomitants are collected, so there occurs no such difficulty in choosing the nearest similimum.

Limitations of Materia Medica
1. No proving records are available on pathological changes in homoeopathic Materia Medica; there is no medicine, which has been proved upon the production of pathological changes in proper application on these drugs.

2. Pathological structures based on inter relation from symptoms obtained from dynamic pathological change.

3. In organic diseases the changed pathology is not covered up by one prescribed Homoeopathic Medicine.

4. No proving records on lower animals are available. We do not have much objective symptoms to a pathological extent. It is because there has been no provision till date in Homoeopathy to have regular proving on lower animals.

5. Very often we come across few pathological symptoms. There is no special proving of dynamic drug with an intention to get pathological changes. Pathological symptoms are not being much characteristic.

6. It is unimaginably vast. Nobody can remember all the symptoms. This large number is due to different way of thesis presentations varying from author to author.

Trinity of homoeopathic system of medicine – “The materia medica, repertory and organon”

Dr. Hahnemann’s masterpiece ‘The Materia Medica, Repertory and Organon’ is boon to the Homoeopathic system of Medicine. These form strong foundation and base for the Homoeopathic system of medicine.

The Materia Medica, Repertory and Organon are ‘inter-related and inseparable tools’. One cannot succeed in practice without these three tools given by our master Samuel Hahnemann.

Thus, Materia Medica, Repertory and Organon form the “Trinity of Homoeopathic System of Medicine”, having Organon as the base.

Study of materia medica in relation to repertory 
Homoeopathic Materia Medica consists of genuine, pure, reliable and authenticated symptoms of simple substances ascertained after complete proving on relatively healthy human beings.

‘Knowledge of Materia Medica is quite essential for repertorisation’. But it is impossible to keep in one’s head the mass of symptoms as recorded in an encyclopedia of symptoms. No mind can memorize all the symptoms of all the drugs with characteristics and gradations. Many practitioners find it difficult to practice.

Homoeopathy is a straight way. Any attempt to find out a similar remedy by going through the provings of the drugs is a thing of despair.

Repertory is a valuable help as “It is a index, a catalogue of the symptoms of Materia Medica, nearly arranged in practical form and also indicating the relative gradation of drugs” but it is also not the final answer to find the similimum.

‘Repertory is an aid to Materia Medica’. When you find indicated medicine or medicines through repertorisation, you should not be satisfied with it and consider the work done.

You must read the pathogenesis effects of the medicine in the Materia Medica to see that other symptoms including those we have taken for repertory work are found in the same medicine and get confirmed in the medicine by comparing the symptoms of the case.

‘The remedy comes through repertorisation is best described in Materia Medica and not in repertory’.

Only by such procedure we can come to the similimum. Materia Medica should be studied carefully and the selection of the remedy finally made on the basis of the picture based on it.

From the comparative study of our drugs, we many of course, at times recognize a suitable remedy for a given case. But to do this we must process a ‘Sound knowledge of Materia Medica’. Without a good command on the subject-drug pathogenesis, it is impossible to arrive at a right remedy.

By close and persistent study of drugs of our Materia Medica as individual personalities, it is possible to become familiar with them and retain a mental picture. When you see a case, immediately the picture of the drug is awakened in your mind. If you had not had the idea in your mind, you would not also see it in your patient. And you have to study and restudy the remedies and perceive the personality of each one intelligently.

You can know one drug from one another by studying their points of difference; drugs impinge in their resemblance and separate in their difference.

Drugs, which produce similar symptoms or affect similar organs and tissues of the body, are similar to one another. They can only be differentiated by the study of their mentals and modalities of the drug.

Study of materia medica in relation to philosophy
The Materia Medica of Hahnemann is on the bedrock of natural law. It is constructed on the cut stones of accurately observed facts, laid up in the cement of irrefragable logic. Over its portal are graven the words, “Similar Similibus Curantur. Simplex, Simili, Minimum”

The only way to acquire the knowledge of Materia Medica is to read it thoroughly and practice it faithfully according to the principles laid down in the Organon of medicine. Unless the study of Materia Medica is ‘Organon oriented’, the scope of Materia Medica is bound to be very much limited.

“It is the Organon of medicine, which teaches true homoeopathic physician how to utilize the knowledge of Materia Medica in order to dilate its scope”.

Materia Medica is the maiden work of Hahnemann, the master of Homoeopathic philosophy and practice. The merit of this monumental work lies not so much in the prodigy of its illuminating contents as in it’s heralding a new epoch in the domain of treatment. “Construction of homoeopathic Materia Medica is based on Organon philosophy.”

Individuality forms the basis of Homoeopathy. The key to this individualization is the Organon of medicine, which deals with all necessary instructions for the same.

It is impossible to divine the medicinal properties of remedies from any chemical hypothesis or from their smell, colour, taste it is possible only with drug proving.

Materia Medica is a book of collection of symptoms, which are the provings of healthy human beings, conducted on basis of principles laid out in Organon by Dr. Hahnemann and Repertory forms a systematic arranged index of this Materia Medica.

Thus ‘The Materia Medica, Repertory and Organon’ are ‘inter-related and inseparable tools’ forming strong foundation and base for the Homoeopathic system of medicine.

Q.  What is the necessity of Reproving the Polychrest Remedy?
Ans.  At present we need the Reproving of Polychrest Remedies. Because these Remedies are proved at the time of Dr. Hahnemann around 200 years before and during this period lot’s of changes took place.

1. Susceptibility of Individual:   Susceptibility is the general quality capability of the living organism of Receiving impression and the power of Reaction to Stimuli.

Susceptibility of people 200 yrs. Back at the time of Dr. Hahnemann & susceptibility of people now is total change. Susceptibility is the fundamental attributes of life. All the physiological, pathological function depend on this basic quality of life. Digestion, assimilation nutrition, repair, secretion excretion, metabolism, catabolism as well as all disease process arising from infection depend upon the power of organism to react to specific stimuli.

An organism in perfect balance represent health. It is always exposed to various adverse internal and external influences. Human being are susceptible to infection is totally change. So we need Reproving pf Polychrest Remedies.

2.Environmental changes:       Environmental at the time of Dr. Hahnemann and the present condition of environment is totally change. If the environment is affected it also affect on Human Health.

Eg. 1. Water pollution much of ill health in the countries is largely due to lack of safe drinking water. At present water contains impurities of various kinds both dissolved and suspended impurities. Amore serious aspect of water pollution is that caused by human activity, urbanization and industrialization. Men health may be affected by ingestion of contaminated water either directly or through food. 200 yrs before environment was not such polluted. The king of life in present era & in that period, a vast different at all levels.

2.Air pollution – Truly speaking there has never been pure air. 200 yrs back people was lived in pre healthy environment. The present air pollution affect on human health and it reduce the immunity and invite no of allergic and occupation hazards.

The mentality of present day people and Dr. Hahnemann era, a huge difference.

Proving of Polychrest remedies at 200 yrs back on healthy human being, in present era human being suffered from one or other disease means dimension on health goes down.

At the time of Dr. Hahnemann the medicinal plant grow in health environment. At present due to polluted environment their medicinal properties are also changed even some plant are endangered or not available in pure form or rarely available.

200 yrs back proving done on healthy human being while present era the dimension of health goes down.

So considering change at all levels of human being it’s necessary to go for Reproving of Polychrest drug.

Different approaches to study materia medica
Materia Medica is a vast subject which cannot be memorized but can only be understood. It is very difficult to remember all the symptoms of Materia Medica, which are millions in number. It is necessary to study Materia Medica in a systematic manner. Because of its complexity and uniqueness large number of books were written on its each other tried to present the drugs, as he understood them. Every one of us want to study Materia Medica and get knowledge in a simple way. Each one of us has his own method of studying Materia Medica. Each doctor has his own method of studying Materia Medica. If this were true, it surely confirms once more the statement that homoeopathy is intensely individualistic. Let each one have his own method, go on his own way; the main thing is that he goes at it and pursues it eternally through professional life. In a search for golden threads running throughout several different methods of study, let us try to list those most generally used.

Perhaps the distinct method came when causes were formed for the study of Materia Medica. The lecture method became the usual one. Many professors have left us treasures in lecture form. Of course the personality of the teachers enters in largely to help impress characteristics of remedies on the student’s mid. We think of Dunham, Farrington, Allen, Kent, as names connected with the lecture form in the classroom. This method is very good for beginners, to get acquainted at the start with remedy characteristics. Also it becomes valuable for reference in after years.

Then there is a study of remedies by classes for instance, chemical groups, botanical families, nosode groups, reptiles and insect remedies etc., This becomes valuable after the student’s introduction to the remedies singly. It will help the older practitioners to decide between remedies most similar to the case in hand.

Another method bringing satisfactory reward to those whose minds follow such sequence well, is the search through the proving or through several kinds of Materia Medica for the general symptoms of the drug being studies, with a comparison of emphasis by different provers. This is to be followed by a pursuit of particulars in the same way. Such study gives one a deep sense of the roots of our Materia Medica and a new confidence in homoeopathy. One cannot easily forget the general symptoms after hunting them out in this fashion. Then there are rich gems of Materia Medica knowledge to be found in perusing the repertory.

The beginners in homoeopathy generally has Hering Condensed Materia Medica. Cowperthweite Textbook, Nash’s Leaders, Allen’s Primer, Boericke Materia Medica. Anyway, the study of Materia Medica is almost half the armamentarium of the homoeopathic physician.

From the above conclusion it is clear that there are various methods of studying Materia Medica.

Some methods are as follows –

  • 1. Anatomical study
  • 2. Physiological
  • 3. Pathological
  • 4. Comparative study
  • 5. Therapeutic study
  • 6. Reportorial study
  • 7. Combine study
  • 8. Remedy relationship study
  • 9. Group study
  • 10. Study of Materia Medica at bedside
  • 11. Monogram study
  • 12. Typological study
  • 13. Schematic study
  • 14. Synthetic study
  • 15. Analytical study

Anatomical Study
First time in Homoeopathy Dr. Hahnemann has studied Homoeopathic drugs in this way. After proving, he collected and arranged all symptoms organ wise from head to foot. This is called Anatomical Schematic Presentation. It is a very systematic way of studying Materia Medica from which we can understand the whole remedy in a very simple manner. Here each drug is studied organ wise. This method is later followed by Dr. William Boericke.

Physiological Method
Physiological effects as developed through proving and being recorded in Homoeopathic Materia Medica make the study of the drug easier to understand. Dr. W. H. Burt’s physiological Materia Medica is based on this method. This method has a limited scope and is mainly for the diseases-oriented prescription.

Pathological Method
Homoeopathic drug proving has no records of the pathological changes. Most of the pathological records are from clinical proving and also from records of poisoning. The Homoeopathic Materia Medica contains pathological symptoms that are more of general  character and are not very characteristic.

When the qualified mental, physical, generals are lacking, one has to go by the pathological method. Sometimes if the same pathology is present in two or more than two organs, one can upgrade its value as a pathological general.

Comparative Study
In this type of study we can compare different remedies with their similar and dissimilar symptoms. We have to distinguish one drug from another drug by studying their points of difference and points of similarity, this can only be done by repeated comparative study of different drug and repeated comparative study of single drug by different authors and repeated comparative study of a particular disease or disorder of different drugs by their characteristic symptoms or distinguished symptoms. This method was adopted by Dr. Farrington, Dr. Kent, Dr. Nash.

Comparing and contrasting are two methods necessary for deciding an appropriate remedy. The comparative study can also be done at different levels viz.

a) Symptom level – general or particular. Common or uncommon.

b) Organ level – Many remedies have action over the same organ e.g. Bryonia, Chelidonium and Lycopodium have their action on liver.

c) Disease level – While applying the drugs therapeutically, the disease condition becomes a source of comparison.

d) Action level – Many times symptoms are the same but the remedial action is different. Or action of remedies is almost the same but symptoms have different modalities. E.g. Ambra grisea is an depressing irritant as from tobacco. Gelsemium has paralytic catarrhal congestion like Am-c or Zinc.

e) Typological level – Here the comparison is made at the constitutional level. E.g. Lean, thin constitution of Calc – c, Phos or Sil. 

Therapeutic Method of study
There is propensity of some drugs in terms of their action to wards some specific organs as well as some specific diseases. For example, a continuous fever such as in enteric fever is covered by Bryonia, Baptisia etc. hence they are popular as Typhoid remedies. This made this method popular.

In this method a collective portrait is not given importance. Disease Pathognomonic symptoms are held in high rank rather than individualizing characters. If only this method is followed, the practice becomes a routine work. The success rate with this method is not high as homoeopathic prescribing is based on host-oriented not disease-oriented.

Reportorial Method
Homoeopathic Materia Medica is a vast subject it is impossible to memorize all the symptoms, drugs, characteristics and their gradations as recorded in encyclopedias and various text books.

Repertory is a valuable help as it is an index, a catalogue of the symptoms of the Materia Medica, neatly arranged in a practical form and also indicating the relative gradation of drugs.

Repertory is an aid to Materia Medica. The comparison of many remedies can be done with this method. We can know one drug from another by studying their points of difference. Drugs impinge in their resemblance and separate in their difference. Drugs, which produce similar symptoms or affect similar organs and tissues of the body, are similar to one another. They can only be differentiated by the study of their mental and modalities of the drug. One can develop the personality profile of drugs through the study of rubrics. However, for such a study the author picks up only those rubrics that fit into his limited scope.

The Repertorial method provides an easy and simple way of studying, comparing, differentiating and memorizing the homoeopathic Materia Medica.

Method of combine study
In this type we can study a particular drug from various angle at a time

  1. Anatomical schematic presentation
  2. Therapeutic aspect
  3. Physiological action
  4. Comparison of symptoms
  5. Key note symptoms
  6. Picture type of method

(a) Picture type of Method – In this type of method one can understand and grasp the knowledge about drug very easily because drug symptoms are presented through the picture, by this Materia Medica becomes very much comprehensive and easy to study. It has very great scope in the field of Materia Medica.

(b) Physiological type of Method – In this type we can study the drug by observing physiological actions of a particular drug on healthy human being. This type of study makes the drug very easy to understand. This is very basic and helps to understand any remedy in a very simple manner.

(c)  Keynote type of Method – In this type of study one can understand the characteristic symptoms of each drug. In this method we can study peculiar striking and very much important symptoms. 

Remedy relationship study
Study of Materia Media increases our knowledge of drug relationship depending upon the totality of symptoms we prescribe first prescription then if we have deep knowledge of our Materia Medica it will help us and guide us to select the complementary or the follow well remedy and complete the case, secondly it helps us in preserving the case and completing the case, as some remedies hold inimical to each other though they resemble satisfactorily to each other they do not follow well of each other.

e.g. Silica and Mercurius,China and Psorinum,Apis and Rhus Tox

So the study of Materia Medica with drug relationship is not only necessary, but it gives the satisfaction of practice when patients comes back with relief of his complaints.

Group study
When a group belongs to same family they hold certain similar character as they have similarity in their origin.

Ex: Ophidians it is difficult to tell difference between Lachesis, Elaps, Crotalus except for few symptoms though they belong to same origin they do not follow well each other. E.g. Though Nux Vomica and Ignatia come from same order of plant loganiaceas having botanical similarity but they differ from each other symptomatically and they do not follow well each other and they do not antidote each other.

There are also drugs which present marked similarity in action though dissimilar in origin which are said to be concordant like Puls and Silicea.

Study of Materia Medica at the bedside
Study of Materia Medica by observations behavioural assessment were application of Materia Medica can be demonstrated during case taking in OPD wards and Bedside i.e. in IPD wards, this can be done when we go through large Materia Medica like Hering Guiding symptoms were Apis mel has covered 64 pages and Sulphur is covering 99 pages in Allen encyclopaedia.

Attitude of the patient and body language of the patient, behaviour assessment of the patient these depends completely upon the prescriber’s observations.


a)  Phosphorus patient shakes his hands while entering and leaving the clinic, specially while leaving he often clasps both his hands between yours conveying his warmth and regard for you.

b)  Zinc. Met patient who keeps on moving his legs beneath the table. Which clearly shows the fact that the system of Homoeopathy is intensely individualistic.

Monogram study
It is one of the best ways of understanding the nucleus of the remedies. With the different words, a student is able to decipher the inner most character or the essence of the drug. However, the meaning of the word must be adequately understood. One can understand the drug well with the concept of monogram.

Typological study
Our Materia Medica contains innumerable, typological, physiognomic, psychological and other types. They are helpful to some extent in selection of an appropriate remedy. When the case is one-sided, these types can be of considerable help. They also help a physician for clinical correlation and for linking symptoms at the level of constitution. To illustrate Arg Nit has makeup of whitered, dried up, old looking type. It has problem both at nutrition and absorption level. This could explain the typology of Arg Nit.

Schematic study
It means study of a medicine in relation o the reflection of the character of the constituent of that particular medicine. E.g. the ink of cuttle fish is essentially melanine. Melanine has very high content of Sulphur and Calcium salt. We can find many symptoms of sepia similar to Sulphur symptoms. Nash says there is no other remedy which comes closer to sepia than Sulphur.

Analytical Study
It means the study of symptoms of a medicine from the character, behaviour and appearance of its source.

For Ex: The dark cloud of ink of cuttle fish resembles with the mood of sepia, its irritability, depression and indifference. The indifference and its shameful negligence to her own young ones, resembles to the indifference of sepia to the near and dear ones.

From the time of discovery of Homoeopathy, till today Homoeopathic materia medica has been viewed and represented by various scholars in different ways

Different types of Homoeopathic materia medica
From the time of discovery of Homoeopathy, till today Homoeopathic materia medica has been viewed and represented by various scholars in different ways. In view of increasing number of proved drugs and clinical symptoms, various types of materia medica have emerged. Each type has its own utility in day to day practice.

“The fact is, we need any and every way of finding the right remedy, the simple simile, the simple symptomatic similimum & the farthest reach of all the pathological similimum & I maintain that we are still well with in the lines of Homoepathy that is expansive, progressive, science fostered &science fostering” – J.C.BURNETT.

Various types of materia medicas, as per the mode of presentation are :-
1.Unmodified Materia Medica : The one in which the symptoms are represented directly in the form & order as expressed by the prover.
Ex :- Cyclopedia of drug pathogenesis. –R.HUGHES & J.P.DAKE.

2. Modified Materia Medica :
A) Schematic Materia Medica : The symptoms obtained during proving are arranged as per the anatomical schema (Head to Foot) – 1st introduced by Dr. Hahnemann in his “Materia Medica Pura” ((1811-1821) with 64 drugs)

Eg :- of schematic materia medica are :-

i)   Materia Medica Pura – Dr. S.Hahnemann.

ii)   Chronic diseases – their peculiar nature & their Homoeopathic cure –Hahnemann.

iii)  The Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica – T.F.Allen.

iv)  The guiding symptoms of our Materia Medica –Hering.

Hahnemann represented each drug under 57 chapters from Head to Foot.

Merits :- i) Easy reference of symptoms of particular parts of the body can be done.

             ii) The task of memorizing a large amount of data becomes easier due to its division into various chapters.

Disadvantages :- i) Determination of value of symptoms becomes difficult when they are represented fragmentally under various chapters. (Ex :- chilly patient but desires cold drinks when mentioned under different chapters, evaluation becomes difficult.)

R Hughes criticizes this arrangement by quoting “An artist painting a family painting keeping all eyes of all the members of family in one part of the picture, all the nose in one another & so on”.

B) Keynote Materia Medica :-

  • It was introduced & the word “Key Note” was coined by Dr. Guernsey.
  • Hahnemann described key note symptoms as “striking, singular, uncommon & peculiar symptoms” in his Organon (aphorism – 153).

A key note may be :-

  • A precise locality
  • A peculiar sensation, course & direction of pain.
  • Alternative symptoms
  • Concomitants (mental with bodily disease etc.)
  • Modalities.

Few examples of keynote materia medica are :-

  • Primer of materia medica – T.F.Allen.
  • Keynotes on leading remedies of materia medica – H.C.Allen.
  • A synoptic key to materia medica – C.M.Boger.
  • Characteristic materia medica –W.H.Burt.     

“The object of this work is to aid the learner to master that which is characteristic & guiding in the individuality of each remedy and thus utilize more readily the symptomatology of Homoeopathic Materia medica”. –H.C.Allen. (Keynotes to leading remedies)


i) Selection of similimum can be done more precisely & quickly, if one is familiar with the keynotes .

  • a) Thirst for small quantities of cold water at frequent intervals – Ars Alb.
  • b) Intense thirst with moist tongue & profuse salivation – Merc sol.
  • c) Must be covered in every stage of fever – Nux vomica.
  • d) Thick, milky white coating on the tongue – Antim crudum. 

But prescription based on keynote alone, with out considering the generalities may not yield good results always.

C) Materia Medica of Pharmacodynamics :
The “SPHERE OF ACTION” of each drug is emphasized.

Ex:- i) The new comprehensive system of materia medica & therapeutics – Dr. Hempel.
ii) A manual of pharmacodynamics – R.Hughes

MERITS:- By knowing the seat of action of each drug, the understanding, remembrance & application of a drug becomes easy.

D) Materia Medica of Physiological Action:
Is based upon mode of action of the drugs upon various tissues of the body.

Ex:- i) physiological materia medica – W.H.Burt.
iii) Characteristic materia medica – D.C. Das Gupta.

MERITS:- Knowledge of the seat & mode of action of each drug gives indications of its curative action.

Ex:- Apis venom causes irritation & inflammation every where, which is reflected even in its dynamic action.

E) Clinical materia medica :- This type of materia medica, includes therapeutic utility of drugs in various clinical syndromes, along with the symptoms of proving.

Ex:- i) clinical materia medica – E.A.Farrington.
ii) pocket manual of homoeopathic materia medica with repertory – W .Boericke.

MERITS:- The clinical suggestions & the therapeutics indices of this type of materia medica, aid the beginner to reach the indicated remedy.

F) Therapeutic materia medica:
The drug indications are given under the headings of different diseases.
Ex:- ( Vertigo, Diabetes etc)

Few Examples for therapeutic type of materia medica are:-

  • i)   Practical Homoeopathic therapeutics – W.A.Dewey.
  • ii)  Select your remedy – R.B.Bishamber das.
  • iii) Pointers to homoeopathic therapeutics –   M.L. Tyler.
  • iv) Loelienthal – Therapeutics.

MERITS:- Quick selection of a remedy for a given case.

DEMERITS:- No comprehensive drug picture.

G) Picture type/method of materia medica:-
The individual picture of each drug is represented in an artistic & comprehensive manner.

First substantial work of this kind was “Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica” by J.T.Kent, based on the lectures given by him at Hering Homoeopathic medical college.

In this work kent followed a definite schema while representing each drug as follows:-

  • Mental symptoms – with will, understanding & memory
  • Strange, rare & peculiar symptoms – Among mentals, generals and particulars.
  • Physical symptoms – desires & aversions, sexual perversions etc.
  • Physical generals – reaction to heat & cold, character of discharges.
  • Particulars.

MERITS:- Picture type of materia medica gives a comprehensive picture of the sick individual, rather than enumerating the vast number of symptoms, which makes the study of materia medica more interesting.

H) Comparative Materia medica:-
Represents the comparative study of drugs having similar pathogenensis.
As per the field of comparison, this type includes 3 sub types.
At symptomatic level:- comparison based upon signs and symptoms produced by a drug.

Ex:- i) Comparative materia medica – E.A.Farrington
ii) comparative materia medica – Gross

At organ level:- drugs are compared with their indications at a particular organ.
Ex:- i) Therapeutics by K.C.Bhanja

At drug level:- drugs with much resemblance to each other are compared.
Ex:- children types – Douglas

MERITS :- help to differentiate between seemingly similar remedies & to reach a similimum.

I) Psycho analysis type:– In this type, the psychological aspect of each polychrest is analysed through various phases of development of symptoms.

Ex:- i) Essence of materia medica – G.Vithoulkas
ii) Homoeopathic psychology – Philip.A.Bailey.
iv)  Portraits of homoeopathic materia medica – C.Coulter.
v)  Soul of remedies – Rajan Shankaran.

MERITS: Understanding the core/ essence of a remedy and applying it at emotional, mental and physical levels, not only gives a complete picture, but also makes the study of materia medica more enlightening.

Ex:- Delayed action i.e., slowness of function and paralysis (at mental and physical level) – Alumina
Blandness – Physical – thick skinned, calloused, lack of sensitivity to any stimulus.
Emotional – irresolution
Mind- memory weak, especially for short term and recent events  – graphites.

As this type of materia medica describes the state of mind in  health as well as in disease, it helps to select a constitutional remedy, which may help to prevent the future acute / chronic illnesses.

J) Group study of Materia Medica:
In this type of Materia Medica,the drugs are grouped together based on certain criteria like the family of origin,the position of a mineral in the periodic table & their common as well as differentiating features are described.

1) Approach through periodic table-J.Scholten.
2) Clinical Materia Medica by E.A.Farrington.
3) Universal Mineral Materia Medica –Dr.Ramesh D.Jain.


  • Systematisation of data into groups lessens the task of memory.
  • Knowing the common features of a particular group narrows down the the field of selection in a given case.

Ex: 1.Haemorrhages of dark decomposed blood,
2.Foetid discharges,
3.Increased excitability of nervous system etc

         All point towards OPHIDIA

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