Therapeutics of the Respiratory System by MW Van Denburg

                  pastedGraphic.pngTitle: Therapeutics of the Respiratory System: Cough and Coryza, Acute and Chronic; Repertory With Index, Materia Medica With Index

Author:  M. W. Van Denburg

Book review by Dr. Namratha Lokesh Serigar

ISBN: ISBN-10: 0260174661

ISBN-13: 978-0260174666

Publisher: Forgotten Books ( 

Date of publication: November 15, 2017, paperback

Language: English

Price: Hardcover- $32.95

Paperback- $3.83

Where is available to purchase:

About the author:

  • Very minimal information is available regarding the authors life and times.
  • Some of his important literary contributions include:
  1. Which is scientific medicine? A comparison of allopathy and hoœopathy based on the study of arsenic by M W Van Denburg Publisher: Phila. 1891
  1. Therapeutics of the respiratory system, cough and coryza, acute and chronic ; repertory with index, materia medica with index by Marvin W Van Denburg Publisher: Philadelphia, Pa., Boericke & Tafel Year: 1916
  1. A homoeopathic materia medica on a new and original plan : a sample fascicle containing the arsenic group by M W Van Denburg; National Center for Homoeopathy (U.S.),; American Foundation for Homoeopathy, Publisher: Fort Edward, N.Y., U.S.A. : M.W. Van Denburg Year: 1895.
  1. Pamphlets – Homoeopathic. Practice. 4. Publisher: [United States] : [publisher not identified], [1889-1898] Articles: Clinical Asiatic cholera / M.W. Van Denburg
  1. Pamphlets – Homoeopathic. 17. Publisher: [United States] : [publisher not identified], [1844-1896] Articles: Has it been an oversight? / M.W. Van Denburg –  On philosophizing on the Homoeopathic law / M.W. Van Denburg

About the book:

  • Philosophical Background: Clinical Philosophy

The clinical school of philosophy

The clinical school of philosophy has among its patrons, homoeopathic luminaries as E. A. Farrington, J. C. Burnett, W. E. Boericke, J. H. Clarke and C. M. Boger who had a clinically oriented prescription.

In this method, the symptoms are classified as basic and diagnostic. The application of this principle operates at two levels:

The medicines which are not overtly indicated for a particular diagnostic condition are tentatively ruled out from consideration in prescription.

The diagnostic criteria are reckoned as bench marks. The symptoms which can be equated with the result of a pathogenetic process, represents the effects of the pathogenesis.

The symptoms which are actively attributable to the pathogenesis, i.e., those relating to the aetiology, sustenance or modification of the disease phenomenon in the patient , assume a greater significance.

  • General Layout of the book:
  • Title page
  • Copyright
  • Therapeutics of Cough and Coryza- Introduction
  • Indices:
  • General index
  • Shorter index

The title page contains a two line caption- 

“Similars can be cured by similars”

Proof- An intelligent application of the drug-symptoms in this book.

The above words clearly signify the confidence and faith of the author in the underlying principle of Homoeopathy as well as his understanding of the same which is reflected in this work.

The work was copyrighted by Boericke and Tafel in the year 1915.

The author states the primary objectives of the book as to save time by bringing together all the drugs applicable to a given case and to render the work of the therapeutist more efficient by enabling him to select the drug he will use, with greater precision.

The foundation of the book is based on Herring’s Guiding Symptoms, all the 10 volumes of which the author states to have referred cover to cover to include the most prominent, striking and peculiar symptoms of the drugs as well as those that most strongly and clearly indicate the same. The paragraphs in Herring’s Guiding Symptoms carefully reviewed include Mind, Nose, Mouth, Palate and Throat, Larynx and Bronchi, Respiration, Cough, Inner Chest and Lungs, Heart, Pulse and Circulation.

All the remedies having any respiratory symptoms have been included. With respect to the gradation of remedies, the author has avoided any grading system reasoning that the unmarked symptoms in Herring’s Guiding Symptoms are very often found to be very efficacious while the highly marked ones stand to disappoint. Cross references serve to avoid too many repertitons of the same symptoms.

The Universal plan of the dictionary or the alphabetical plan has been adopted in the arrangement of the content. 

The Introduction is followed by 2 indices, one General and the other Shorter , the latter intended to assist the beginners who aren’t familiar with the use of a repertory. Both the indices contain Keywords (rubrics) with their qualifying factors (sub rubrics) arranged in the alphabetical order. 

The methodology to be followed in order to use and get the maximum benefit out of this work, as mentioned by the author himself, includes the following steps:

  1. First run over the index for the leading symptoms manifested by the patient.
  2. Consult the repertory at the place indicated.
  3. If not satisfactory, try another leading symptom of the patient in the same way beginning with the index.
  4. In case further light upon the remedy is desired, turn to the condensed materia medica, finding your drug in the index.
  5. Should still wider knowledge be desired, consult the same remedy in Herring’s Guiding Symptoms.
  6. In order to learn the drug fully with regards to its nature and action, the Cyclopedia of Drug Pathogenesy can then be consulted.
  7. Finally, Lectures and Essays of stalwarts like Dunham, Farrigton, Huges can add further value to the conclusion thus made.

The author has shared a few pearls of wisdom especially for the beginners, starting with the sources of symptoms of sickness which include the sensations, changes in appearance, physical and physiological. Explaining the principle of Similia Similibus Curanter he states how any drugs or poisons capable of producing changes in a healthy person are entitled to cure the same symptoms in the sick individuals. Regarding daunting question of potency and dosage, the author puts a word of caution as to the use of certain drugs being beneficial in a particular potency, while being injurious in further appreciable doses as in the case of Arsenic. The size and frequency of dose is strictly subject to empirical tests and skill of the physician.

A drug that increases the symptoms will usually benefit, if given in sufficiently reduced doses.

The Repertory part does not contain any chapters, but is an alphabetical compilation, arranged in the Dictionary format, of all the symptoms in the form of rubrics and sub rubrics, related to the respiratory systems and the ailments thereof. The rubrics contain a limited number of remedies under each, most of them having a single remedy credited to them. The symptoms from the materia medica have been condensed, the meaning however is conserved as in the original text. 

The Repertory is followed up by the condensed materia medica of the repiratory symptoms starting from Aconitum napellus to Zizia. 

Though based on the exemplary authority of Dr. Herring’s work, a single source reference could limit the utility of this book. Lack of gradation is of little help for differentiation between close running allies of remedies for a given case. The arrangement format, though logical, seems to be quite confusing especially for beginners in the field. With limited number of remedies under each rubric, the probability of missing out on other seemingly similar remedies, more accurate for a given case, increase manifold. 

Therapeutics of the Respiratory System, Cough and Coryza, Acute and Chronic, Repertory with Index and Materia Medica with Index by M W Van Denburg, is thus a commendable effort in the field of Homoeopathic therapeutics in respiratory diseases. The author has left no stone unturned in making the work as complete and authentic as possible given the limited resources available in his time. 

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