Hahnemann’s proving symptoms of homeopathy remedy Camphora from Materia Medica Pura, which Samuel Hahnemann wrote between 1811 to 1821…

(From vol. iv. 2nd edit., 1825.)

[The alcoholic solution of the almost crystalline substance resembling a solified aetheral oil, derived from the camphor-tree, Laurus camphora, L.]

I give here the symptoms hitherto observed from camphor, not as a complete list of all the effects to be expected from it, but only as a commencement thereof, so that at some future period the remainder of its effect may be added to this list.

From the earliest times this medicine has been blindly used and improperly employed in large and massive doses, so that its true action has never been ascertained, nor could it be acertained, as it has almost always been given only with several other drugs, either mixed up with, or administered at the same time with it, and moreover, and this is the worst, it has only been employed amid the tumult of the symptoms or diseases. For the pure effects of it, observed by ALEXANDER, (WILL, ALEXANDER, Medical Essays and Observations, 1755.), are very meagre and confined to mere general expressions.

The action of this substance is very puzzling and difficult to determine, even in healthy organisms, because, its primary action more often rapidlyalternates and becomes mixed up with the reactions of the life (secondary action) than is the case with any other medicine, so that it is frequently hard to distinguish what is to be ascribed to the reaction of the body, and what to the alternating action of the camphor in its primary action.

But, at all events, commencement of a pure proving of it must be made, and as such I offer the following symptoms.

In its curative action camphor is just as puzzling and wonderful, for it removes the violent effects of very many, extremely different, vegetable medicines (and even those of the animal drug cantharides and of many mineral and metallic drugs), and hence it must have a sort of general pathological action, which, however, we are unable to indicate by any general expression; nor can we even attempt to do so far fear of straying into the domain of shadows, where knowledge and observation cease, we, in short, abandoned by the guiding of plain experience, grope about in the dark, and with every desire to penetrate into the inner essence of things, about which little minds so presumtuously dogmatize, we gain nothing by such hyperphysical speculations but noxious error and self-deception.

Camphor, as I can testify from experience, removes the too violent action of very many drugs, whether unsuitably employed or given in too large doses, but generally only in the primary action, as a kind of contrarium, as a palliative. For this purpose it must be given very frequently, but in very small doses – when requisite every five to fifteen, or when there is great urgency every two or three minutes, about one drop of the saturated alcoholic solution (one eighth of a grain) shaken up in half an ounce of water until dissolved, or by means of olfaction of a saturated alcoholic solution of camphor every three, four, six, ten, fifteen minutes.

One grain of camphor (dissolved in 8 drops of alcohol) combines with 400 grains of tepid water, and when shaken becomes completely dissolved, contrary to the assertion in almost all works on materia medica that is quite insoluble in water.

I have not found camphor suitable as an antidote to the violent effects of ignatia. (In the preface to Ignatia, camphor is said to be the antidote to some of its effects.)

The rapid exhaustion of its action and the quick change of its symptoms render it incapable of curing most chronic diseases.

That cutaneous inflammation, which spreads in a radiating manner, is bright red, the redness disappearing for an instant when pressed with the finger, commonly called erysipelas (rose), when it arises from internal causes is always only a single symptom of the disease. Now, as camphor when applied externally excites a kind od erysipelas, so, in acute diseases accompanied by erysipelas, it is useful as an external application, if the other symptoms of the internal malady are present among the symptoms of camphor.

When the influenza endemic in Siberia comes among us, as it does occasionally, when the hot stage has already commenced, camphor is of service, only as a palliative, seeing that the disease is one of short duration. It should be given in frequent but ever increasing doses, dissolved in water as above described. It does not shorten the duration of the disease, but renders it much milder, and hence it conducts the disease innocuously to its termination. (On the other hand, nux vomica, in a single dose, and that the smallest possible, will often remove the disease homoeopathically in a few hours.)

When dangerous effects ensue from a large dose od camphor, opium is useful as an anitdote; and, on the other hand, camphor is a prompt antidote in opium poisoning; thus each of these substances removes the effects of the other, It is therefore astonishing how opium and camphor have hitherto been given in combination in one prescription!

[ In this proving HAHNEMANN was assisted by FRANZ, HERRMANN, STAPF, WILSLICENUS.]

The following old-school authorities are quoted:

ALEXANDER, Experim. Essays.

BREYNIUS and PAULINUS, in Murray’s App. Medorrhinum

COLLIN, Observat, circa morbos.

CULLEN, W., Mat. Medorrhinum, ii.

GEOFFRAY Matriere medic., iv.

GRIFFIN, Diss. De Camphoroe viribus, Edin.

HEBERDEN, Medic. Transact., i.

HERGT, in Hufel. Journ., xxvii.

HOFFMANN, FR., Diss. De usu int. Camph., 1714.

HUFELAND, Journal fur pract. A., i.

KOOLHAAS, in Med, Not. Zeit., 1799.

LOSS, Obs. med.

MEZA, DE, Compend. Medorrhinum pract.

MURRAY, Appar. med.

ORTEL, Med, pract.

POUTEAU, Melanges de Chirurgie.

QUARIN, Method med. febr.

SOMMER, in Hufel. Journ., vii.

SPONTIZER, in Hufel. Journ., v.

TODE, in Acta Haffn., iv.

UNZER, Medorrhinum Handbuch, ii.

WHYTT, Works.

In the Frag de vir. Canphor has 147 symptoms, in the 1st Edit. 344, and only one additional symptom in this 2nd Edit.]


He staggers to and fro when walking, and must catch hold of something in order to stand firmly. [Ws.]

He rubs his forehead, head, chest, and other parts, knows not what is the matter with him; he leans against something, his senses leave him, he slips and falls to the ground stretched out quite stiffly, the shoulders bent back, the arms at first somewhat bent, with hands directed outwards and somewhat flexed, spread-out fingers, afterwards all parts stretched straight out and stiff, with head bent over to one side, with stiff open lower jaw, witn incurved lips and gnashing teeth, closed eyes and incessant twitchings of the facial muscles, coldness all over, and breathlessness for a quarter of an hour (aft. 2 h.). [Ws.]

Vertigo. [UNZER, (Not accessible.) Medorrhinum Handbuch, ii, 25. – ALEXANDER, (Proving with large doses.) Experiment. Essays, p. 227. – COLLIN, (Proving with large doses.) Observat. Circa morbos, pt. iii, p. 148.]

Vertigo, he must hold on by something, he felt as if he could not stand firmly. [Hrr.]

5. Intoxiation. [COLLIN, l. c. – GRIFFIN, (Proving with large doses.) Diss, de Camphore viribus, Edin. – DE MEZA, (Not accessible.) Compend. Medorrhinum prac., p. 3.]

Heaviness of the head with vertigo, the head sinks backwards (aft. 10 m.) [Hrr.]

Giddy heaviness of the head (aft. ½ h.). [Hrr.]

When walking he staggers as if drunk. [Hrr.]

Vertigo recurring at difeerent times. [GRIFFIN, l. c.]

10. Frequent short attacks of vertigo. [HUFELAND, (From large doses in rheumatic patients.) Jour. fur. Pract. A., i, p. 428.]

Confusion of the head with perfectly clear consciousness. [Stf.]

Want of memory. (With Alexander, this describes the state of his mind after recovering consciousness.) [ALEXANDER. – UNZER, l. c.]

After the attack of tetanus with unconsciousness and vomiting, complete want of recollection, like loss of memory (aft. 3 h.). [Ws.]

The senses vanish (aft. a few m.).

15. Loss of consciousness.

His senses leave him. [Alexander, l. c.]

Heaviness of the head. [GEOFFROY, (General statement from authors.) Maties’s medic., iv, p. 30.]

Headache. [HUFELAND, l.c.]

For several successive days headache after rising in the morning. [.]

20. Severe headache. [UNZER, l. c.]

Throbbing headache.

Aching feeling in the head. [Stf.]

Aching tearing headache.

Headache like bruised feeling or soreness of the brain.

25. Headache as from constriction of the brain.

Aching in the occiput. [Stf.]

In the evening, aching headache over the left eye (aft. 9 h.). [Fz.]

Throbbing shooting headache in the forehead, which lasts all night, with general dry heat, but without thirst.

In the temples, throbbing aching. [Stf.]

30. Transient headache, as if the brain were compressed from all sides, but only left in semi-consciousness when he pays no attention to his body; when, however, he becomes conscious of his pain and thinks of it, it immediately disappears (aft. 4.1/2 h.). [Fz.]

Pressure in the middle of the forehead (aft. 3.1/2 h.). [Hrr.]

Obtuse headache over the frontal bone, with inclination to vomit.

Headache pressing from within outwards (immediately). [Ws.]

Samuel Hahnemann
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was the founder of Homoeopathy. He is called the Father of Experimental Pharmacology because he was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases.

Hahnemann's three major publications chart the development of homeopathy. In the Organon of Medicine, we see the fundamentals laid out. Materia Medica Pura records the exact symptoms of the remedy provings. In his book, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homoeopathic Cure, he showed us how natural diseases become chronic in nature when suppressed by improper treatment.