Drug Study

A “red hot” feeling to one prover may mean the same as “burning” to another; “Shooting and darting” “pounding and beating,” “pulsating and trembling” may mean the same thing or similar things. …

In two former articles I made a study of “How to Secure and Arrange Symptoms for the Purpose of Grouping and Ranking Them” and “How to Study a “Symptom.” Now I wish to present my methods of studying a drug. As the component parts of a drug consist of symptoms, I may repeat in substance a few things I said about symptoms in the above-named articles.

Let us at the beginning fix in our mind the difference between a drug and a remedy so as to present confusion of the two words as I use them.

A drug is any substance which when introduced into the human body has the power to produce some abnormal condition of one, many or all the tissues or organs of that body.

A remedy is a drug, which given to a person suffering from some abnormal condition of some tissue or organ has the power to restore that tissue or organ to its normal condition or to check the progress of the abnormal condition.

The above is the distinction which I am in the habit of making between a drug and a remedy. Our chief object, then, is to formulate some method or method by which we may ascertain the action of any given substance on the living human body.

The method employed by us homoeopathists is to introduce the substance under consideration into healthy human beings and observe and record the results. This process we call “proving of drugs” or a “drug proving.”

By healthy we mean a person who is not aware that any of his tissues or organs are functioning abnormally. In addition to the examination by specialists should be made of every organ or tissue of the person or animal that is to prove the drug.

The examination by specialists should be for the purpose of verifying the statements of the prover and director. The most important specialist is the psychologist. This is true because our mental, subjective symptoms, when reliable, are the ranking, determining symptoms of every group.

The provers should be of both sexes nd of all ages. There should also be some of different races and some living in different climates. Provings should also be made at different seasons of the year.

Other things being equal, I feel that medical students make the best class of provers.

The prover should record his symptoms in the order of their appearance, and in the narrative form. The arranging of the symptoms should be left to the supervisor of the proving and his assistants, the specialists. The prover should observer himself for two to four days before he takes any of the drug.

I am opposed to giving sugar of milk or any placebo during the preliminary observation of provers. The suggestion from such a procedure is bad. Do not change any of the habits of the provers as regards eating, drinking, sleeping, exercise, etc., etc., during the proving. A change of habits will cause symptoms, either real or imaginary, and often it is hard to tell which is due to change of habits and which to the drug.

The different provers of a class should be given different potencies as well as different doses of the same potency. One or two, according to the number of the class, should be given placebo during the proving, but not before the others begin taking the drug. Some of the class should be given as large a dose as is safe for the purpose of securing the action and reaction of the drug if it has both. All drugs do not have a reaction. While proving Strychnia phos. some of the class were given five tablets of the 1x, enabling us to study the action and reaction of that remedy. Plus See results in Medical Century, 1909

The provers should report regularly at stated intervals to their examiners, and at such times the specialists should have the prover assume any and all positions, as well as take exercise, to note the effect upon the provers. This is the best way to secure most of our modalities. Have the class appear before each professor at the regular schedule hour of that professor and let the entire hour be devoted to the proving. This is the great advantage of having student provers; another is that they express their symptoms in medical terms. Not less than three weeks should be given to a proving.

The director and his assistants should record the symptoms in the exact words the provers give them. The provers should also report their finding in writing so that there may be unity of expression for the preliminary and actual provings.


The arrangement of the symptoms, as from recorded in the day books of the provers, and supplemented by the director and his assistants, is of most vital importance. The first thing for directors to do is to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary of each prover. This must be done if each symptom is to be properly evaluated.

As was stated in my former articles, a “red hot” feeling to one prover may mean the same as “burning” to another; “Shooting and darting” “pounding and beating,” “pulsating and trembling” may mean the same thing or similar things. The prover’s temperament, his habit of expressing himself, should be carefully studied. To one the slightest pain is “just awful,” “excruciating;” while another will say of a lacerated muscle or broken bone, “Oh, yes, is hurts a little, but not much.”

The symptoms of the crude drug or low potency should be carefully studied for the purpose of getting those which are the direct result, the action, as well as the reaction, of the drug.

The make-up, i.e., the temperament, the color of the skin, in the family history, his occupation, residence etc., of each prover should be as fully ascertained and as accurately recorded as the sensations and modalities.

Having the entire list of symptoms of each prover of the class before him, the director should divide them into two groups. 1st, a general group. 2nd, a specific group, e.g., every sentence or symptom containing the word HEAD should be put into a group. This being done, every sentence or symptom should be studied and divided into specific groups representing the different tissues which make up the head, i.e., brain, skull, scalp, etc. And finally each symptom of the individual tissue or organ should be studied for the purpose of ascertaining whether the particular tissue has been irritated, inflamed, or had its function or structure changed by the drug which is being proven. How can this fact be ascertained? By a study of the sensations and modalities. Again let us give an illustrations, say, of a functional change. Hyoscyamus has caused a normal person to see bugs, black beetles, etc., crawling over the walls and ceiling of the room and jumping at him and upon him.

Lycopodium has caused a red brick-dust sediment in the urine.

Another point to be made in studying the day books of the provers is the order in which the symptoms appeared. By doing so we have found that certain certain drugs do produce symptoms developing in a certain order the same as certain disease do so produce symptoms, e.g., Bryonia has produced headache, epistaxis, constipation, delirium, agglutins in the blood, etc., corresponding in every particular to the same symptoms as produced by the germ of typhoid fever.

Hence, Bryonia may be the simillimum and indicated remedy for a patient at any stage of the disease. We may learn, therefore, that both Bryonia and typhoid fever present symptoms in groups. Bearing this group idea in mind may help us understand why and how a drug may have both constipation and diarrhoea, profuse and scanty urine, high and subnormal temperature, etc., among its symptoms.

The second important thing in the study of a drug is the verification of the symptoms the drug has produced in a healthy person, a prover. The verification of a symptom is as difficult as the production of a symptom. Let us get together on the meaning of the word verification by an illustration. W

hen the O.O. & L. were proving Belladonna the senior class of our college at the State University of Iowa took part. After the proving I often heard such expressions as the following in my clinic: “The patient’s throat looks just like classmate’s when he was taking Belladonna.” Or, “His mouth looks as dry as mine felt;” or again, “His arteries throb just as mine did,” etc.

The students were informed that such symptoms were verified symptoms. Symptoms which could be relief upon. What we did with symptoms elicited by Belladonna we also did with those produced by Hypericum, Kali phos., Scutellaria, Chionanthus and other drugs proven at the State University of Iowa. But these are only a very few of the many drugs which have been proven and which we now use as remedies.

For the verification of the symptoms and groups of symptoms of our other remedies I have studied the following books, also reports founding our homoeopathic journals.

Books-Clarke’s Dictionary. Clarke claims to have put into this work all symptoms which had ever appeared in our literature up to the time the dictionary was published. The sources of these symptoms are also given; whether provers, from clinical cases or from poisoning.

Gentry’s Concordance Repertory. In this I look for all the remedies which have produced the symptom or group of symptoms I am studying. Neither of these works, however, indicate the rank of the symptom. I use Boenninghausen (Allen’s), Boger, Kent and Hering’s Condensed Materia Medica, and the reports in the journals to help determine the rant of the symptoms.

The above for the single or isolated symptom. For the group; Burt’s Materia Medica which helps me determine what tissue or organ is affected and for the purpose of learning the order in which the symptoms appeared in the provings. In addition to the above I look up the clinical cases, given in their books and the journals, of our specialists like Ludlam, Wood and Southwick in diseases of women; Norton, Vilas, Moffatt, Bellows and Suffa in eye, ear and nose; Dearborn and Douglas, in disease of the skin; Ward and Gilchrist, in surgery; Talcott, O’Connor and Wilson, in mental and nervous diseases; Carleton and Mitchell, in genito- urinary diseases, and last, but by no means least, my experience which has been greatly directed and moulded by working for many years with that grand old man whose two greatest qualities were a most remarkable memory and an unusually large fund of common sense, Professor W.H. Dickinson.

For a good idea of the value of the latter quality read the article by my old friend, Clarence Bartlett, in the May, 1929, Journal of the A.I.H. Bartlett fully and forcibly expresses my opinion in that article.

There is another division, which for the past decade has come more and more into use, viz., a pathological symptom. This symptom bears the same relation to the structure of tissues or organs that physiological bears to the function of tissues or organs i.e., whether hypertrophy or atrophy exists as against vomiting of diarrhoea. To me, a through knowledge of the changes which have taken place in structure of any tissue or organ is very important in helping determine the rank of a symptom. This subject is referred to in another chapter of the book.

George Royal
George Royal M. D, born July 15, 1853, graduated New York Homœopathic Medical College 1882, served as president of the American Institute of Homœopathy, professor of materia medica and therapeutics, and also dean of the College of Homœopathic Medicine of the State University of Iowa.