Every symptom of a proving or series of provings may be genuine, and yet all genuine symptoms are not equally valuable. Some are vague, indefinite, or common-place, while others are peculiar, distinctive, characteristic….

Among the agreeable duties of the active practitioner is that of confirming symptoms; for thereby he materially aids in contributing to the construction of a reliable and stable Materia Medica.

Every symptom of a proving or series of provings may be genuine, and yet all genuine symptoms are not equally valuable. Some are vague, indefinite, or common-place, while others are peculiar, distinctive, characteristic. It is the latter we desire to see confirmed. And yet, before clinical experience lends its aid, we are often at a loss to premise which effects of a drug are probably characteristic. Many of the prominent features are so plain that they are easy of recognition; but in nice prescribing we need fine qualities and it is the recognition of these latter that is so difficult.

Who, before testing it, could expect such a simple symptoms as pain at the costal cartilage of the third right rib to indicate a remedy in haemoptysis and in enlarger liver? Who, until he has tried it would believe that Tuberculosis could be retarded by a drug, the characteristic of which is merely pain in the apex of the left lung? It is clinical confirmation, then, confirmation made in accordance with the rules of Homoeopathic institutes that we most need for the firm establishment of our system of proving and prescribing.

1. Several months ago I had the pleasure of reporting to the club of which I am a member, a confirmation of the Carduus Marianus in Jaundice. The patient was suffering from chills and fever, tertian type. Several remedies failed when finally, guided by a painful liver, full feeling, stool void of bile, and urine surcharged with bile-all symptoms in the provings of Carduus, I prescribed it. To my gratification, not only did the Icterus disappear, but also the chills and fever; so, if in future I shall be called upon to treat Ague with Jaundice, I shall think of Carduus, along with the other more tried remedies. The drug was given in the tincture, three or four drops in a glass half-full of water, two teaspoonful every two to three hours.

2. Recently, a consumptive was attacked by haemoptysis no rarity; you will say. True; but its stubbornness was very unwelcome, if not uncommon, and I failed with such oft-used remedies, as Hamamelis, Erigeron and Pulsatilla. After repeated careful inquiries, I finally elicited from my patient this peculiarity, that the bleeding was always worse while she was lying down. Several remedies have this symptom, but of the list only Sepia has harsh night cough and suppressed menses-additional symptoms in the case under consideration. The 30th potency was sufficient to cure the Haemoptysis, and to give my patient so much strength, that she is now able to go out and take comfortable walks.

In Gregg’s useful illustrated Repertory- I wish he would give us a second and enlarged edition, will be found the following symptom, an exact counterpart of which I cured with Arnica: “Stitch at every inspiration in the right side of the back, extending from the last rib up to the axilla”.

Would not many of us, in the hurry of business, hastily give Bryonia for such a symptom? In my case, the patient had unsuccessfully tried the later drug, and so I was saved the humiliation of a failure.

3. We are accustomed to regard nausea as a sort of sine qua non of Ipecacuanha and almost, if not quite correctly.

The other day, I had an opportunity of seeing it work promptly in case without nausea. The lady had miscarried or rather was in the midst of her expulsive efforts, and there was much bright- red haemorrhage. An annoying attendant was a violent cutting pain across the abdomen above the umbilicus, a cutting going from left to right; no nausea. Ipecac. Was given, and effected a speedy relief of both pain and haemorrhage; the embryo, however, did not come away for several hours.

Cutting at or near the navel is very characteristic of Ipecac.; and especially it is indicative of this drug, if worse to the left of the centre, or going from left to right. Lycopodium has cutting to the right, or, as Dr.Guernsey has confirmed it, going from right to left.

4. And now, having mentioned several instances, embracing potencies from the tincture -if I may call this a potency -to the 30th, I purpose relating a confirmation with a very high potency.

A boy who had suffered for five years with stomachs, never well, though occasionally much better than he was when his disease was fully-developed, came to me for treatment. He had been prescribed for by Allopathists and Homoeopathists, but always with unsatisfactory results. His symptoms were plainly those of Sulphur, and I doubt not, had received that medicine, though probably not in so high a potency as the one I purpose using, namely, the 10,000 th.

Under this preparation the patient is improving, and has enjoyed more complete immunity from sore-mouth than for years.

I do not refer to this experience as an isolated one, but as confirmatory of the emphatic assertion, which a few make and many deny, that high potencies can and do cure.

But talking about attenuated drugs, one has reason to look with distrust upon the provings of Thuja made by Wolf with one single globule of the 1000th potency, and extending over a period of two years! Think of the vicissitudes in twenty-four months, of the diversities of season, of weather, of modes of living, and then expect it to be possible to record the pure effects of a single, tiny pellet of the one-thousandth attenuation of the Arbor Vitae.

And yet, what am I to do? Wolf says Thuja caused diarrhoea daily, in the morning, after breakfast; foul diarrhoea; and others, as well as myself, have cured it with Thuja 6th.

That watery stools are caused by this drug is confirmed by the heroic provings of Watzke with 900 drops of the tincture. Is it all a coincidence?

Some of Wolfs symptoms are, as Hughes truly declares, “quite beyond the range of the drug’s action,” and so we must conclude with the author last cited, that Wolf’s symptoms must be regarded as dubious, until otherwise confirmed. I hope that the diarrhoea symptom is now “otherwise confirmed”. but time and rigid tests are needed.

E. A. Farrington
E. A. Farrington (1847-1885) was born in Williamsburg, NY, on January 1, 1847. He began his study of medicine under the preceptorship of his brother, Harvey W. Farrington, MD. In 1866 he graduated from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. In 1867 he entered the Hahnemann Medical College, graduating in 1868. He entered practice immediately after his graduation, establishing himself on Mount Vernon Street. Books by Ernest Farrington: Clinical Materia Medica, Comparative Materia Medica, Lesser Writings With Therapeutic Hints.