How to Study the Materia Medica

Symptoms are the only manifestation by which disease can make itself known to an intelligent physician. Disease beings in an individual prior to the development the pathology or something that can be find by the pathologist….

Homoeopathy is an art and a science of life because it is a study of living objects. The law is revealed by phenomena evolved in living people, not in dead substances. Observations on dead substances are so far removed from living things, and from life itself, that they may properly be considered entirely outside of a science of living beings. They form a purely external science, an abstract science, and should be considered removed and apart from the object to which the Law relates.

In the laboratory has been discovered no remedy for living people, and its investigations have not benefitted the dead. The laboratory conducts study not of life, nor of disease, but of results of disease. That causes are sometimes continued into effects is true, but knowledge of the endings of causes is useless except in relation to knowledge of their beginnings and the course by which they develop. The beginnings of perverted life are not found in pathology nor in the laboratory, not even by use of the microscope.

Symptoms of sickness, are the only discoverable manifestations of the perverted vital economy. In the symptoms we can see clearly the likeness of every disease and the likeness of the curative remedy for each. Symptoms are the only manifestation by which disease can make itself known to an intelligent physician. It is not the fault of nature’s God that man is not wise enough to read these symptoms.

Men who are the victims of self-intelligence think that they can work out of dead matter the cause, the progress, and the curative agents of sickness. This never has been done; in time this idea will be looked upon as the whim of antiquity.

The law of cure known as the Law of Similars is a law of God; it was always so acknowledged by Hahnemann. It has always dealt with manifestations, not with results of vital changes, dead substances; so must it ever be. When man knows the Law and the significance of the phenomena he will perceive the relation of sick-images in sick people and in our pathogeneses.

When he knows the science of Homoeopathy he will perceive beginnings of disease in childhood, its progress through life, and its ultimates after death. When these are considered collectively they make one grand whole; when they are considered separately there is always something lacking. When the ultimates, only, are known, there is a dead science worked out on the dead, useless to the living.

An eminent pathologist once said to me: “We shall know how to cure this patient when we know the pathology.” I then asked him: “When shall we know the pathology?” He replied: “When we have made a post-mortem.’

Nothing has been discovered on the dead separated from the living subject to which it was related, that has ever lead to a remedy for sickness. Only dangerous palliatives and makeshifts, that kill as often as they cure, and harm more than they benefit, have ever been discovered. Any that can be mentioned will be found to be of small value in comparison to remedies that conform to real remedial action whereby all living manifestations have been called into use through intelligent application.

When the laboratory can tell us what man loves and what he hates; when it can give us a complete image of his rational mind with all its deviations from the normal; when it can tell which are sensitive to cold, to heat, to dry weather, and to storms; then may we look to this dead science for help outside of symptomatology.

The sooner we learn to see the true classification and individualization by life-signs during sickness, the sooner shall we cure sick people so satisfactorily that we shall not hunt for remedies in results of disease.

Contemplate the millions of dollars squandered in laboratory research without yet yielding knowledge of the cause of bacteria

Has it ever shed any light upon the soil or the precise condition of our vital fluids, to furnish us knowledge of the lack of resistance and of susceptibility?

Has it told us of the real condition of inherited tendency; what is that weakly condition which ends in tuberculosis, cancer, and wasting disease?

Yet these conditions that tend toward tuberculosis and cancer are so well known to the wise followers of Hahnemann, by signs and symptoms, that at this day all can be cured, yes, cured, of their inheritances. They can be tested and cured: tested not by laboratory discovery, but by methods familiar to the modern followers of the immortal Hahnemann.

These things must be discovered by studying the things of the will, the understanding, and the physical signs and symptoms, as they exist in the similarity of drug-provings. Study of the living must aid us to cure the idiotic and weak-minded children; laboratories cannot do it.

A physician is one who knows how to heal the sick. To be a pathologist and not to have a careful knowledge of materia medica and of how to use it, is not being a physician. I have known some good prescribers who did excellent curing of sick people and had a limited knowledge of pathology.

The thoroughly-rounded physician is one who adds to his knowledge of the art of selecting remedies according to the Law of Similars a knowledge of diagnosis and pathology. There are times when he must give advice to patients that are incurable; he must know pathology and diagnosis. There are kinds of pathology most useful to the intelligent prescriber, but this knowledge never is useful in the mind of the man ignorant of the art of prescribing.

The pathologist considers the disease instead of the patient; the physician considers the patient, and perceives the sick patient in the symptoms that represent the personality of the sick man. Diseases and results are much the same in all beings, both man and lower animals, and no individualizing is possible by studying a disease or its pathology. All people produce the same pathology when affected with the same disease. What is common will never lead the physician to perceive what is peculiar in any individual.

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.