The spirit of the Homeopathic Materia Medica, the spirit of homeopathy that is, is the spirit of Liberty, the Spirit of Truth, the spirit of Self-sacrifice. Absolute allegiance is the smallest homage it can demand. No trouble, no suffering must be counted in its service, or in the cause of its advancement.

WHEN an allopath is first confronted with Hahnemanns Materia Medica Pura, he cannot tell what to make of it. It certainly is not literature. It says little or nothing about the disease which each remedy will cure; it offer no scientific theories to explain how the remedy acts; it simply presents the reader with a bare list of symptoms! From the allopathic standpoint this is at once ludicrous and contemptible.

And if the readers glance should first alight on one of those “funny” symptoms, which we know are of such enormous importance in prescribing-like the “imagines himself made of glass” of Thuja, for example-an explosion of merriment is very likely to arrest all further desire to explore the new domain.

But let us look a little closely at those symptoms-lists of Hahnemann and see if we can discover something of their essential import.

Taking a broad view of the field we find, first of all, that the symptoms are arranged in a definite order. This order is mainly anatomical, and, as a result of this, it is possible to find all the symptoms of any drug which are related to any particular part of the body.

These symptoms-lists, as we all know, are a record of the effects of the various drugs as observed in the persons who have tested them, by taking the drugs when in health. But the order in which they are arranged in then Materia Medica is not the order in which they occur in the provers. This has given rise to no little criticism on the part of some authorities. This is not “scientific”, say they.

But theoretical questions do not enter here; the only point we have to consider is: Are the symptoms available for individual use, in their individual capacity? Or, in using a symptoms, is it necessary to have not only the symptom itself, but the other symptoms of the prover, in the same sequence in the case we are treating, before we can successfully prescribe the remedy? The only test here is the test of practice. That test answered for Hahnemann, and it answers for us, that each individual symptom has its face value for prescribing purposes, independently of the other symptoms it may have been associated with in the prover who first noted it.

Therefore it follows that Hahnemanns arrangement, like most of his practical deductions, is the truly scientific one.

Now what is the result of all this? It is really, when we come to took at it, of most tremendous importance. The whole life and soul of homoeopathy resides in it. The Spirit of Homoeopathy is the Spirit of Liberty. The beauty, the grandeur, the glory of homoeopathy is its freedom.

If we were tied up to the “scientific” explanations of drug action which appear in allopathic text books; if we were tied up to any sequence of occurrence as the symptoms appear in the day-books of the provers, the uses of our Materia Medica would be so curtailed that our liberty would not be worth a moment;s purchase. As it is, every individual symptom of the Materia Medica is a separate coin stamped with natures own insignia, and available always for its face value.

We all know the difference between paper bonds and liquid assets, and how convenient it is sometimes to convert former into the latter. Well, in Hahnemann;s Materia Medica we have the drug powers of the world converted into liquid, with the individual advantage, that no matter how much we spend of them, the funds are never exhausted. On the contrary, the more we spend the more we possess.

Take another and allied simile. You know the old adage: Corpora non agunt nisi soluta- “Bodies dont act except in solution”. It is not absolutely true, but it is true enough for our purpose. Look at the difference between ice and water for instance. Ice has a thousand uses-but we must turn it into water before we can wash our hands with it our sail our ships, or make our tea, or quench our thirst.

In the matter of utility and adaptability, compared with anything else which the world has produced in the way of books on drugs the Homoeopathic Materia is as water compared to Homoeopathic Materia Medica is as water compared to ice.

Let us take Hahnemanns account of a drug and follow it symptom by symptom. What do we find? It is not exactly an epic poem that we read, but there is in, it something of the epic nevertheless; for every time line of it, every individual symptom is instinct with life. It is indeed the reaction of the living human organism against the assault of the drug, willingly, encountered by the prover.

The Homoeopathic Materia Medicas is built up, in the first place, of the sufferings of Hahnemann and his friends, accurately observed and recorded. So that the spirit of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica, in another of its aspects, is the spirit of self-sacrifice-which is the spirit of life itself.

How different is this from the spirit of the so-called “scientific: Materia Medicas of the present day! In these was have all drug reactions reduced to terms of the pneumogastric nerve, and build up on a foundation of experiments on animals. You have heard of the man who approved of a certain war, and was so keen about it that he was willing to sacrifice every drop of blood his wifes relations possessed rather than that the war should not be prosecuted. I am reminded of this man when I think of the methods of research adopted by old school pharmacologists.

They seek their ends through the sufferings of any creature except themselves. And I am not astonished at the poverty of curative results they have to show for their labours. Hahnemann on the other hand, like Pope,m concluded that the “proper study of mankind is man” not dog or cat or frog. And as Charity is said to begin at home, so Hahnemann made his first experiments on himself. In the aches and pains of his own organism he spelled out for the world the first chapters of the new language of drugs.

I have recently noted in the British Medical Journal some quite pathetic articles lamenting the decay of clinical medicine, and the tyranny of the pathological laboratory. It is urged that patients should be studied rather than diseases, that the art of prescribing should be restored to the medical man, and that the practice of medicine should be really taught in the schools, rather than be left to those excellent young men who travel for Messrs. Burroughs & Welcome and the other wholesale drug houses.

Now, for my part, I have very great regard for these same excellent young men; and though I fully sympathize with the British Medical journal in its lament over the lost art of prescribing in the allopathic school, I an bound out to the Journal, that until the school it represents is willing to learn from Hahnemann, and to accept the liberty he own for the practice of medicine, the sensible general practitioner will be wise to rely on the intelligent traveller for his clinical instruction rather than on his Materia Medica professor. For it is Hahnemann who first showed us how to study our patients as well as how to study our drugs.

It is all very well for the British Medical journal and its friends to appeal for the study of the individual patient, but so long as they refuse to accept the only method which has been discovered by which this can be accomplished, there is no hope for them. They remind me of a man lost in a forest-utterly unable to find a way out. After wandering round and round in hopeless attempts he finds himself very near the point from which he started, when a stranger appears on the scene. The stranger knows ever tree of the forest and offers to lead the lost one out into the open. One would have thought that Perditus-as we will name him-would have jumped at the chance, and have accepted the offer with the utmost utmost gratitude.

But not at all! On the contrary, he begins to ask questions: “Are you an authorized guide?” he asks. “My only authority,” replies Ignotus, “is my knowledge of the way.” “Is the way easy?” “No; it is somewhat difficult; but you know the old adage Per as per ad astra!” “But what is the name of the way?” “It is called, via homoeopathical.” “Good gracious,” he replies, “you dont ask me to go that way.” “It is the only way, nevertheless.” “But what is your name?” “My name is Hahnemann.” “Oh! horror of horrors! get out of my sight, and leave me to live in the forest on such roots and nuts and fungi as I can find, or die in the odour of orthodoxy”.

But Hahnemann will not leave him there for all that. He commands us who have trod the way after him to go and fetch him out. That we havent done it yet is patent to everybody. That it is an integral part of our duty to do it, is equally undeniable. Homoeopathy is destined to spiritualize, to civilize medical practice. That the medical practice of the old school is barbarous and chaotic enough at present we have the allopaths themselves to testify. In fact it is in extremes; and medicines extremity has proved to be surgerys opportunity.

Surgery had reached a degree of perfection which can hardly be bettered and the ready recourse to surgery in modern times is an irreputable evidence of the failure of medicine. It is the bounded duty of homoeopaths to remedy this state of affairs. Hahnemann has forget for us the instrument-his Materia Medica-we cannot make use of it for our own private ends, and make yet no effort to rescue by its aid some territory from the realm of chaos. And we must not attempt this without counting the cost. The cost is not very great, it is true, but it is not very pleasant.

John Henry Clarke
John Henry Clarke MD (1853 – November 24, 1931 was a prominent English classical homeopath. Dr. Clarke was a busy practitioner. As a physician he not only had his own clinic in Piccadilly, London, but he also was a consultant at the London Homeopathic Hospital and researched into new remedies — nosodes. For many years, he was the editor of The Homeopathic World. He wrote many books, his best known were Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica and Repertory of Materia Medica