Review on 
Materia medica of homoeopathic medicine Phatak

Dr Geethu KA                                                                                                                         

Dr Shankar Raghunath Phatak ,
A pioneer of Homoeopathy in Maharashtra,  was born on 6th September, 1896.

He did his MBBS from Grant Medical College, in 1924.
Started his practice but somehow not satisfied with Allopathic Treatment.

He was convinced about Homoeopathy while going through Sir William Osler’s writings on ‘History of Medicine’ .so switched over to an entirely Homoeopathic Practice in 1932.

He also started working on Homoeopathic literature along with his Practice.

He has contributed immensely to homoeopathic literature.

His books are available in 3 languages- English, Hindi and Marathi.
His book ‘Materia Medica’ is very popular amongst the students and Practitioners.
His literature is enriched with his own accurate clinical observations and experiences.

He was an ardent follower of Dr Boger. His Repertory is based on Boger’s ”A Synoptic key to Materia Medica’.

Important works of Dr S. R. Phatak are

  1. Repertory of Bio- Chemic Remedies [ English] , 1937.
  2. A concise Repertory of Homoeopathic Medicines, 1963.
  3. Materia Medica of Homoeopathic Medicines, 1977.

According to Dr Phatak:

“ ‘the Marks of Identification of the Drug are found in its GENERALITIES, MODALITIES and MIND‘”

His Materia Medica is compiled in this format.

It also has an“Index of Medicines which are useful to Surgeons.”

About the book

Year of publication: 1977

Latest  available -second edition revised by publishers

Original work is based on :boger synoptic key

                                             :borickes materia medica

                                             :clinical experience of author

Why this book  : some symptoms given under a particular remedy in one materia medica are not given by other.

In synoptic key Dr.Boger has selected the most important symptoms from various materia medicas.But the hidden meaning of words he used is often missed by the students. Also, has omitted many important symptoms given by other authors.

Eg:-the clinally successful symptoms not given in kent repertory

  • “Retention of urine after operation” under ‘Causticum‘ not mentioned by Dr.Boger.given in boricke.
  •  “Distension of abdomen after operation’ under Carbo animals which is not given by other authors.
  • “ Breathes through a metallic tube as if” under Merc. Cor. which is is not given by other authors.
  • he has made it a general symptom – under the heading “Tube metallic – Merc. Cor”.

– If well understood, Dr. Boger’s Materia Medica and repertory are quite sufficient for most of the cases.But we possess neither his intellect, not his acumen.

So,phatak in this book has

  • given all the symptoms given by Dr. Boger.
  • simplified by many of his ambiguous words by explaining these meaning.
  • collected many useful clinical symptoms from other materia medicas (which were not given by Dr. Boger)

PRESENTATION -schematic basis.

– Under generalities the profile picture of the remedy is given along with the regions on which it acts (sphere of action)and how it acts, diseases which it is liable to cure and causations.

  • then general modalities of the remedy are given,
  • after that regional symptoms with their particular  modalities follow.
  • complimentary remedies
  • related remedies

THANKSGIVING-Dr.Phatak expresses his gratitude for all those who helped him write this book.

Hints for the beginners

  • Materia medica and repertory are the twin pillars of succesful homoeopathic practise
  • when you read a drug each rubric should be seen in repertory.
  • ‘the Marks of Identification of the Drug are found in its GENERALITIES, MODALITIES and MIND’.
  • His Materia Medica is compiled in this format.

The most difficult thing in homeopathy is the interpretation of symptoms

When the patient is telling his story in his own words, you should be able to fix these, in terms of rubrics given in the repertory.

Causation, modalities are more important.

– The peculiar symptom – which, underlying pathology fails to explain – does many a time point towards the suitable drug.

eg-Bland discharges of Pulsatilla.

– ” Can’t throw things off ” in Zincum Met, “Great vatiety of symptoms” in Mercurius etc.

– these are the identification marks of the drug.

CERTAIN SIGNS. -.” agg.” means worse from or after;

“amel.” better or relieved by.

– Semi colon; is used in this book with care.

– eg.- in Calcera Carb under mind

Fears; disease, misery, disaster, insanity; of being poisoned.
– It means Fears (1) disease (2) misery, (3) disaster, (4) insanity and fear of being observed.


Three types-capitals,italics,roman
The relative importance of different symptoms is given by this.
Need not be carried away be the gradations.
Your experience is the best authority as far as you are concerned.

Index (drugs useful to surgeons)

There is no such thing in homoeopathy as surgical remedies.but certain drugs are useful pre or post-operatively.List of remedies more useful in different branches of medicine mentioned;(6 pages)

Name of the drug                    heading                    where useful

ABROTANUM                           GENERALITIES       PEDIATRICS

ACETIC ACID                            GENERALITIES     SURGERY


CONIUM                                    FEMALE              OBSTETRICS

HAMAMELIS                             EYES                   EYE SURGERY

NATRUM MUR                          FEMALE              GYNECOLOGY

ZINCMET                                  CONCUSSION OF BRAIN SURGERY



No.of medicines –413

In alphabetical order of medicines.


Generalities-most important part.

                     -the key points of the drug given together

                     -sphere of action of drug


                     -peculiarities of symptoms


                     -disease conditions

                     -full drug picture in one para

Modalities-all modalities affecting all parts of the drug are given together under headings-”worse” followed by “better”.

Mind important mind symptoms are mentioned together in one paragraph.No descriptive explanation.Gradations given in bold,italics and roman.No mind given In small remedies.

ParticularsAnatomical schematic arrangement .Symptoms of each region with particular modalities given.with gradation.

Head,eyes,ears,nose,face,mouth,throat,stomach,abdomen,urinary,male,female,respiratory,heart,neck and back,extremities,skin,sleep.

Complementaryall complementary medicines are mentioned.

Related remedies-other related remedies given


  • This materia medica contains more number of medicines (413)than synoptic key (323) but less than boricke ()
  • Modalities –both general and particular modalities of remedies are collected from synoptic key ,boricke materia medica ,other materia medicas and clinical experiences and enlisted together . eg:- remedies  like onosmodium in phatak gives numerous modalities not found in other books

Onosmodium -Worse – Sprains, Eyestrains, Sexual    excess,Darkness,Tight clothing,Warm.,Humid air,Jarring.
Better – Rest,Sleep,Eating,Cold drinks,Undressing. Kali bich –

Gradations-bold symptoms frm synoptic key is given in capitals in phatak.


  • The characteristics symptoms of all remedies have been included.
  • The generalities para gives entire drug picture
  • Gradations of symptoms given.
  • Modalities have given importance.
  • Old terminologies replaced,(example-cephal hematoma given instead of blood tumours of infants in calc flour boricke mareria medica.),clinical terms used.
  • Mind symptoms given with gradation.
  • Properly arranged symptomatology  in  head to foot  manner
  • Clinically confirmed symptoms given-eg:-Fraxinus  is said to be the medical pessary of the first order.
  • Useful for academic and quick reference for clinical practice.


  • Number of medicines less
  • No descriptive symptoms or explanations.
  • Common names mentioned in very few remedies only.
  • Source, preparation,dose etc not given.
  • Comparison of similar remedies in Boricke omitted.

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