Review on Homeopathic materia medica by A Teste

Jaimin R. Chotaliya (Pursuing M.D. Part -II)
Dr. V. H. Dave Homoeopathic Medical College and Research Centre, Anand, Gujarat, India.

Every Physician in Homoeopathy is always eager to learn Materia Medica in more lucid and Exhaustive way. From neophytes to Experienced one, all wants to improve their Materia Medica for better Prescription and Successful Practice. There are many ways to Study Homoeopathic Materia Medica and each Physician is having their unique choice to study Materia Medica. From the different types of Materia Medica of Homeopathy, logical arrangement of groups by A. Teste is occupied its special place among Physicians of old times. Nowadays many Physicians are not well aware about this book and its valuable content. So, let’s explore this hidden treasure of Our Homoeopathic Literature.

KEYWORDS: Homoeopathic Materia Medica, Alphonse Teste, Groups      

  • Title: The Homeopathic Materia Medica: Arranged systematically and Practically by A. Teste, Translated from French and edited by C. J. Hempel
    • Author: Alphonse Teste
    • Editor: Charles J. Hempel
    • Publisher: Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library, 2006
    • Length: 648 pages
  • About original Edition:
    • Title: Systématisation pratique de la matiëre médicale par A. Teste
    • Language: French
    • Publishers: Paris J-B. Baillière;1853
    • Physical description:  616 p. 22 cm
  • About Author:
    • Name: Joseph Alphonse Teste, J. Alphonse Teste or Alphonse Teste
    • Life span years: 1814 – 1888
      • Alphonse Teste was a Homoeopath and Mesmerizer. He was Honorable Doctor in France. 
    • Other writings:
      • He wrote several titles related to Homeopathy and Mesmerism. Among them following is one example. Manual Pratique du magnetisme animal
  • Construction of Book:
    • Editor’s Preface by Charles J. Hempel
    • Dedication section of Book by Alphonse Teste
    • Introduction
    • Group of Remedies (20 Groups)
  • Editor’s preface:
    • Editing of book was done by Dr. Charles J. Hempel NEW YORK January 1854.
    • Dr. Hempel’s Description about book reflects his thoroughly acquired knowledge about this materia medica and its utility. He mentioned about need of this materia medica in Homoeopathy as all the materia medica were arbitrary and complicated during that time. Observing this difficulty in Homoeopathic Practice, Dr. Teste was gradually led to arrange the principal remedies of our Materia Medica into twenty classes, which he terms groups. Each group is headed by a leading remedy or type, to which the other members of the group are related, not only by a similarity of symptoms, but likewise, the internal affinities of the drug-disease which these remedies are respectively capable of exciting in the healthy organism.
    • According to Hempel, generalization of natural phenomena is easiest way to study any phenomena and this applies to drug and disease phenomena and their application in treatment of disease. Any phenomena understand under the context of law would be better than any other method. Dr. Hempel was agree with this, and mentioned its importance in following lines, “To investigate the law under which drugs and their dynamic properties are combined into a series; a knowledge of this law would imply, or lead to, a knowledge of their orderly application in the treatment of disease, and would put a stop to the unjustifiable abuse which many homoeopathic practitioners are guilty of, in prescribing a number of remedies not only successively, but simultaneously, in a case where one or two only, would prove amply sufficient in the hands of a scientific physician.”
    • Most interesting portion in this Materia Medica is contributions of old school in study of drug pathogenesis and its uses. Another feature is its detailed symptomatology with primary and secondary actions of drugs. Application of any drug in corresponding disease counterpart needs matching of symptomatology at both levels primary and secondary. So, details regarding that aspect makes this book more Interesting to study.
    • Lastly, he (Hempel) mentioned about some instructions regarding translations matter, “I have endeavored as much as possible, to preserve the expression of the original, except where a strictly literal rendering of the text was incompatible with English grammar and a correct and fluent style. In all such cases, I have deemed it my privilege so to modify the original text, as would leave the author’s meaning unimpaired, and, at the same time, be considered an acceptable phraseology in our own language
  • Dedication section of Book by Alphonse Teste


  • Introduction by Alphonse Teste
    • Homoeopathic Materia Medica contains primary facts and fundamental principles, its laws of development and practical application, i.e. reason of its existence.
    • Dr. Teste mentioned about 4 practical obstacles to study the classification of drugs that were presenting during his time. Systemic arrangement was a primary necessity in construction of Materia Medica.
      • A vague and even erroneous notion of the drug in general.
      • Ignorance of the law governing the true relation between the drug and the disease.
      • Ignorance of the law which governs the relations of drugs to each other 
      • Blind, absolute and final submission of therapeutics to the abstract speculations of general pathology.
    • He mentioned about the faulty arrangement of materia medica that was not having practical utility in the Homoeopathy.
    • In introduction he mentioned about philosophical part of the Homoeopathy and tried to explain four propositions in brief. i.e.
  1. Diseases are dynamic alterations of healthy life-principle.
  2. Drugs are likewise dynamic modifiers of the healthy life-principle, and, by reason of the principle subsequently expressed, dynamic modifiers of disease.
  3. Likes cure likes, or similia similibus curentur.
  4. Every disease is necessarily and rigorously individual.
    • Let us examine these four propositions as briefly as possible.   
  1. He mentioned about Dr. Hahnemann’s view regarding the entity of life. For Dr. Hahnemann he said, “He distinguishes in man, three substantial principles, namely: Matter, The soul proper, and another substance, immaterial like the soul, a sort of intermediate principle between the soul and body, to which he refers all diseases, and all our vital functions.”
  2. He believed that disease phenomena were Spiritual (dynamic) and based on this dynamic action of drug. It is necessary to produce cure in dynamic disturbance of the sick. He describes about 3 actions of drugs and their differentiation of actions when they were applied to organism.
  1. Three types of action of drugs:
        • Mechanical
        • Chemical
        • Dynamic
  1. He mentioned about importance of dynamization of drugs, he distinguished between the chemical action and dynamic action of drugs and their effect on the human organism. For example, arsenious acid, for instance, is capable of causing death dynamically, when given in small quantities of the crude substance, would be just as deleterious in the thousandth attenuation as it was before undergoing the process of dynamization.
    • Theory of miasm was also described in following manner:
      • Miasms, those subtle emanations, which Hahnemann represents as purely dynamic forces, are, probably, nothing else than the material effluvia of organic substances in a state of decay, dynamized by nature, and floating though the atmosphere which becomes their vehicle, together with the gases produced by the putrid fermentation that gives rise to the effluvia. In my opinion, therefore, there is no radical difference between miasms and drugs, Both are germs. Nevertheless, Hahnemann protests against this assimilation of drug diseases to miasmatic diseases. But the difference which he establishes between these two classes, seems to me without any real foundation. Hence, we are obliged to conclude, that the influence of drugs, as well as that of any other morbific cause, is only perceived on condition that a sort of peculiar receptivity should pre-exist, or, in other words, that the organism should be endowed with a certain aptitude, to be impressed by the action of the drug.
    • Following concepts were discussed by Dr. Teste to describe the fundamental concept of Homoeopathy in detail.
      • Disease force is conditional and medicinal force is unconditional.
      • Doctrine of substitutions (He mentioned about established fact, that there is no essential difference between the dynamic drug and the contagious miasm, no essential difference between the drug disease and the natural malady.)
      • Concept of specific remedy for specific disease.
    • In second part, before he introduced about concept of his classification few words were mentioned about Dr. Hahnemann’s concept about primary and secondary action of drugs with examples like coffee and opium with their primary and secondary actions.
    • I have consulted the following sources in the arrangement of my materials:
      • The natural history of drugs.
      • Their known effects on animals of different species.
      • Lastly, and principally, the history of their empirical applications.
    • Above mentioned each part of arrangement of its reason behind the placement was described by him in following words.
    • Natural history
      • “By the natural history of the drugs I do not here mean the designation of the kingdom whence they are drawn, nor of the family, genus, etc., to which they belong in the systems of naturalists. although I have deemed it necessary to mention these indications in front of the history of every drug, yet I think that they are only of secondary importance to the physician.”
      • What is, in my opinion, of far greater importance to a practitioner is, that he should be acquainted with the regions of the globe whence the drugs are obtained, and with the special nature of the localities which produce them spontaneously.
      • I say spontaneously, for everybody knows that plants can be, and are transplanted every day, and that those which grow spontaneously in the South, can be made to grow in the North ; that plants which naturally prefer a damp and marshy soil, can be made to grow in a dry soil ; that those which are met on slopes and mountain-plains, can be made to grow in valleys and low regions, and vice versa.
      • But independently of the well-known fact that drugs which have been thus transplanted, lose either totally or partially the medicinal properties of which we know they are possessed, it is really only by studying their geographical and topographical conditions that we can hope, as we shall soon see, to discover certain special peculiarities of their destination.
    • Their known effects on animals of different species,
      • In relating the observations of toxicologists, or the accidental cases of is easily seen how the proving of the same poison on different species of animals may have suggested to me every now and then a variety of useful hints.
    • Empirical application of drugs,
      • In every age physician have constituted two classes of minds, speculative and practical. The former, who are disposed to indulge in abstract generalizations, have almost been mediocre practitioners. The letter, on the contrary, who do not attach much importance to systems, and never submit to them blindly, do not recognize any other truths but those of an immediate and evident use, without even always caring to know upon what grounds their usefulness is founded.
    • A note on groups and arrangement:
      • Rejected all the symptoms that are derived from poly pharmacy or multi-drugging.
  • Groups of Remedies:
    • He arranged the 102 medicines in 20 groups. – These twenty drugs are so arranged, agreeably to the order indicated by the general relations which the various groups that are governed by these remedies, respectively occupy towards each other.

These groups are as follows: –


  • Type: Arnica montana.
  • Analogies: Ledum palustre. Croton tiglium. Ferrum Magneticum. Rhus toxicodendron. Spigelia anthelmia.


  • Type: Mercurius solubilis.
  • Analogies: Argentum foliatum. Arsenicum album. Sulphuris acidum. Mercurius corrosivus. Crocus sativus. Creosota. Plumbum. Stannum. Nitric acidum.


  • Type: Sulphur.
  • Analogies: Croton tiglium. Mercurius corrosivus. Bovista. Aethusa. Creasota. Lobelia inflata. Mercurius solubilis. Asterias. Cicuta virosa. Ratanhia.


  • Type: Arsenicum album.
  • Analogies: 1st series. Argentum. Mercurius. Nux vomica. Sepia. Alumina. Indigo. Sulphur. Veratrum album. Zincum. Lycopodium. Colocynthis. Copaivae balsamum. Plumbum. Bryonia alba. Cina. Lachesis. Ferrum metallicum. Petroleum. 2nd series. Belladonna. Carbo vegetabilis. Capsicum. Cedron. 3rd series. Argentum. Zincum. Plumbum. Capsicum. 4th series. Lobelia. Alumina. Sulphur. Mercurius solubilis. Carbo vegetabilis. Bismuthum. Nux moschata. Bryonia. Opium. Aconitum. thuya. & Ferrum metallicum. Arnica. Sepia. Ferrum. Argentum. Merc. corrosivus.


  • Type: Pulsatilla.
  • Analogies: Silicea. Calcarea carbonica Hepar sulphuris. Graphites. Phosphorus.


  • Type: Sepia.
  • Analogies: Capaivae balsamum. Alumina.


  • Type: Causticum.
  • Analogies: Cocculus. Coffea cruda. Corallia rubra. Nux vomica. Staphisagria. Arsenicum.


  • Type:  Ipecacuanha.
  • Analogies: Pulsatilla. Nux vomica. Arsenicum. Chelidonium majus. Iodium. Chamomilla. Phosphorus. Felix mas. Tartarus emeticus. Silicea. Dulcamara. Bryonia. Spongia tosta. Zincum. Ignatia. belladonna. Antimonium crudum.


  • Type:  Bryonia alba.
  • Analogies: Allium sativum. Colocynthis. Digitalis. Lycopodium. Nux vomica. Ignatia.


  • Type: Dulcamara.
  • Analogies: Sulphur. Corallia. Bryonis. Chelidonium. Pulsatilla.  Calcarea carbonica


  • Type: Chelidonium majus.
  • Analogies: Capsicum. Hepar sulphuris. Allium sativum. Dulcamara. Digitalis. Pulsatilla. Viola odorata. Corallia rubra. Cannabis indica. Cina. Bryonia alba. Silicea.


  • Type: Acidum muriaticum
  • Analogies: Agnus castus. Hyoscyamus niger.


  • Type:  Lycopodium clavatum.
  • Analogies: Natrum muriaticum. Viola tricolor. Hyoscyamus niger. Antimonium crudum.


  • Type:  Zincum.
  • Analogies: Plumbum. Sambucus. Argentum. Nitri acidum. Mercurius. corrosivus. Colchicum. Arsenicum. Drosera. Ferrum metallicum. Platina.


  • Type: aconitum napellus.
  • Analogies: Cocculus. Chamomilla. Ducamara. Cannabis. Conium.


  • Type: Conium maculatum.
  • Analogies: Jatropha curcas. Phosphoris acidum. Solanum nigrum. Chamomilla. Senega. Cantharis.


  • Type: Thuya occidentalis.
  • Analogies: Platina. Castoreum. Bismuthum.


  • Type: Chamomilla vulgaris.
  • Analogies: Gratiola officinalis. Viola tricolor. Helleborus nigra.


  • Type: Belladonna.
  • Analogies: Agaricus. Cedron. Opium. Arnica. Ruta graveolens. Aurum. Cannabis. & Bryonia alba. Lachesis. Stramonium. Clematis erecta. Tabacum. Camphora. Hyoscyamus.


  • Type: Ferrum metallicum.
  • Analogies: Plumbum. Phosphorus. Carbo animalis. Pulsatilla. Zincum. Secale cornutum. Magnesia muriatica. Ratania. Bovista. China. Baryta carbonica. Cuprum.

Special note regarding the study of group by Dr. Teste:

Each of these twenty groups represent a series of drugs, or rather of drug diseases, which resemble each other more or less, by their course and symptoms.

If they develop themselves in physiological conditions that are similar; or, in certain cases, the appearances of an almost complete similarity, if they develop themselves in physiological conditions that are different.

Hence, we may infer, that diseases occasioned by the drugs of one and the same group, may, to a certain extent, be abstractly considered as the various shades of one and the same malady, the most acute form of which, (almost in every group,) would be represented by the type. I have described at the head of each group, under the title of “common characteristics,” the principal symptoms, but not the course (this I found impossible,) of this artificial malady which any other member of the group is likewise capable of producing with more or less completeness.

  • MERITS: –
    • Systematic arrangement of groups helps to understand Materia Medica more thoroughly as compare to anatomical schema.
    • In Groups, medicines were arranged according to logical application and analogous actions towards each other, which helps to study medicinal group of particular (Specific affinity).
    • Disease conditions (Common Characteristics) section helps to study the disease aspect of particular medicines as well as group affinity towards particular kind of morbid phenomena.
    • Helps to study some aspects of Materia Medica i.e. Remedy Relationship and Therapeutics.
    • Natural history and habitat of drugs helps to find some hidden characteristic as well as affinity of drugs.
    • Proving data and observation from old School explore the new symptom groups that increase the knowledge about particular drug and its utility.
    • This type of arrangement will help us to understand drug phenomena and corresponding disease phenomena under on heading.
    • Lack of exhaustive symptomatology which was found in Materia Medica based on Proving.
    • Arrangement was difficult to study during bed side Prescriptions.
    • References from old school and other empirical sources were hard to find during this time as many literatures are not available easily for verifications.
    • Lack of anatomical arrangement of symptomatology is difficult for neophytes to read without understanding the concept of book. (i.e. Generalisation)

Some old literature of Homoeopathy and materia Medica were like Real Diamonds in world of stones. Materia Medica by A. Teste is one of the Diamonds from the old Literature. Its logical Group arrangement helps to explore Practical Homoeopathy as well as Information regarding Empirical Use help us to learn new dimension of Drugs and their way of application. So, this Materia Medica may help us to study the Drugs more logically and scientifically that improve our Practical Aspect of Homoeopathy.


  1. Teste A. The Homoeopathic Materia Medica. 1st edition 1854. New York: Kessinger’s Legacy Reprints; Retrieved from Encyclopedia Homoeopathica, Version 2.2.1, RADAR.   

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.