The totality of the symptoms is the sole representation of the disease, to the physician; but that totality has to be studied to ascertain what there is, among all the symptoms, that characterize the disease, or marks the symptoms as peculiar….

The third point in the duty of the physician is to employ those medicines whose pure effects have been proved upon a healthy person in the manner best suited to the cure of natural diseases homoeopathically.” We will take this up in our next talk.

This third point in the duty of the physician referred to in Par. 146 really takes up the balance of the Organon.

Par. 147: “Of all these medicines that one whose symptoms bear the greatest resemblance to the totality of those who characterize any particular natural disease ought to be the most appropriate and certain homoeopathic remedy that can be employed; it is the specific remedy in this case of disease.” It is not an uncommon thing in this advanced day of science to read of specific remedies. The old school distinctly affirms that there are only three or four species, but almost every off-shoot who starts at something for himself has to a great extent the idea of specifics in him.

One of the first things the quack physician seems inclined to do is to commence advertising specifics for headache, for diarrhoea, for this or that. This is altogether opposed to Homoeopathy. There are no specifics in Homoeopathy except at the bedside of a patient when the remedy has been wrought out with great endeavor and care. Then it may be said that that medicine which is found to be similar to the symptoms which characterize this disease is specific.

Now, please note that there is an emphatic sense in that word “characterizes.” It is not ordinary expression. We have read in the earlier portions or the Organon that the disease makes itself known to the physician by signs and symptoms, and that the totality of the symptoms is the sole representation of the disease, to the physician; but that totality has to be studied to ascertain what there is, among all the symptoms, that characterize the disease, or marks the symptoms as peculiar.

Now Hahnemann commences to analyze the totality of the symptoms for the purpose of giving it character. It has been said in these lectures that it is necessary to do that, that the information that leads up to characterizing it really the information that makes the homoeopathic physician wise, by which he has the ability to intelligently understand that which he has to treat.

That medicine which is best adapted is the most similar, but you cannot demonstrate beforehand that it is the specific homoeopathic remedy; for you may be deceived in you idea of the nature of the case. But when that remedy has acted, then it maybe seen that that remedy was homoeopathic, or specific, or that it was not homoeopathic. You have no idea as to what remedy will be homoeopathic to the case until you have examined all the symptoms, and then proceed to find out that which characterizes.

Put that word characterizes in large type, in red letters. You cannot dwell sufficiently long upon that, because it grows greater and grander with every study of the case, that idea of the characteristic. What is there in this case which makes it an individual, what is there in it that makes it unlike any that ever existed? In the case of the remedy ascertain that which characterizes it.

When these two occur before the perception, before man’s mind, so that he can think upon them, and he realizes that the remedy is the most similar of all in the Materia Medica, then he is assure that that remedy will cure, and it only requires to be administered to prove that it is the specific. The homoeopathicity is thus sustained, the similitude has been borne out by the medicine having cured.

We cannot have the demonstration that the remedy is homoeopathic until it cures the sick man; we may only presume that it is homoeopathic, or say it appears to us that it is homoeopathic, because that which is characteristic of the disease is most similar of all other things to that which is characteristic of that remedy, or vice versa. We may reasonably assume that that remedy is the specific, but the homoeopathicity can only be demonstrated by cure. So it does not make a remedy homoeopathic simply to be carried in my case. Homoeopathic remedies are not homoeopathic simply because they have been used by a homoeopath. Remedies are not homoeopathic because potentized and attenuated or prepared after the fashion of our school.

What constitutes a remedy homoeopathic? The answer is: It has demonstrated its curative relation to the patient, after having been prescribed in accordance with his symptoms, the recovery taking place in the proper direction, from above downward, from within out, and in the reverse order of the symptoms. That constitutes a remedy homoeopathic and that constitutes the prescription homoeopathic. It is then a specific remedy, and in no other sense can a remedy be called a specific. Hahnemann gives his theory of cure in paragraph 148, but you are not compelled to adopt it. Hahnemann himself says it is only a theory, and he offers it as simply the best in view, but not as binding upon you to accept.

But Par. 149 is something that must be accepted, that is, it must be known, and then accepted because it is true. It is a general statement of the results of the homoeopathic remedy in the cure of disease. The rejection of this paragraph must effect a separation amongst those who do not believe, and those who do believe. “When a proper application of the homoeopathic remedy has been made, the acute disease which is to be cured, however malignant and painful it may be, subsides in a few hours, if recent, and in a few days, if it is somewhat older,” etc.

From this I am placed under the plain necessity of acknowledging that if under my treatment such diseases do not subside, I have not found the right remedy. That will force the honest homoeopathic physician to seek the proper remedy. Let not the blame be placed upon the failure of the system and of law and order, but let it be placed upon the one who practises it.

Just so sure as you find the homoeopathic remedy in a case of scarlet fever, just so sure you will see that fever fall and that child improve; while the rash will remain out, nothing of the malignancy of the case will remain, in an ordinary case of scarlet fever; we find that in a few days the child is so much better he wants to go to school. But then we treat the child and not the fever.

Just so sure as the physician has in mind the rash of scarlet fever or of measles as the main element of the disease, he will make a failure, and the patient will not recover so speedily; but as a matter of fact, the homoeopathic physician prescribes for the patient on that which characterize the sickness, even though it be what is called a self-limiting disease.

$ 150. This treats of one of the difficulties we have to contend with. “If a patient complains of slightly accessory symptoms which have just appeared, the physician ought not to take this state of things for a perfect malady that seriously demands medicinal aid,” etc., etc. It is right for you, when your patients are under constitutional treatment, to prescribe for a cold, but only when it is not an ordinary one. If the cold is likely to cause serious trouble, then you must prescribe for it; slight indisposition, however, should not receive remedies.

You will have patients that will come to you at every change of the wind, at every attack of snuffles the baby has, at every little headache or every little pain. If you then proceed to change your remedy or prescribe for each one of these little spells of indisposition, you will, in the course of a little while, have such a state of disorder in the individual that you will wonder what is the matter with this patient.

You had better give her no medicine at all, and if she is wise and strong and can feel confidence you can say to her that she does not need medicine for this attack; but occasionally give her a dose of constitutional medicine when these little attacks are not on. While you are young and cannot hold these patients with an iron grasp, when they come to you, you had better give them placebo, and let the indisposition pass off of itself. Watch it, however, and it may at the close develop some constitutional manifestations and throw light upon the patient that you have been treating.

On the other hand, it is an easy matter to prescribe for severe acute diseases; they are decisive, they strongly manifest their symptoms, they are sharp cut in their expressions, the symptoms are prominent, and you will not be confused as you will be in the slight indispositions. The slight indispositions are nondescript, you do not know what to do for them. In vain you seek to find that which characterizes them, and hence it is doubtful about any remedy that is administered being of any value.

You will be astonished after prescribing a number of years, and your patients have gained confidence in you, that when they come in with these little trivial ailments they won’t have them after a few powders of sugar. They will say: “Doctor, my trouble went off splendidly.” This is what is meant by letting the little things alone. Severe diseases exhibit a strong degree of symptoms, and hence you have something to do. Par. 151. “But if the few symptoms of which the patient complains are very violent, the physician who attentively observes him will generally discover many others which are less developed and which furnish a perfect picture of the malady.

James Tyler Kent
James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods.
In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.