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


(From vol. ii, 3rd edit., 1833.)

(Filings of soft iron are powdered by sufficient triturition in a cast iron mortar, then sifted through linen, and of this dust-like iron powder (in the pharmacopoeias called Ferrum pulveratum) one grain it triturated for three hours with milk-sugar (in the manner taught for arsenic) up to the million-fold or third attenuation, and then brought to the thirtieth potency (X) through 27 dilution phials.)

Although most of the following medicinal symptoms were observed from the employment of a solution of acetate of iron, it is beyond doubt that they correspond essentially with those of metallic iron as exactly as do the symptoms obtained from dry calcareous earth with those of acetate of lime.

This metal is said by ordinary physicians to be a strengthening medicine per se, and not only innocuous, but entirely and absolutely wholesome.

How far from being true is this dictum pronounced without consideration and testing, and handed down by teachers to their disciples equally without consideration and testing, we are taught by the reflection that, if iron possess medicinal power it must also for that very reason alter the health of human beings, and make the healthy ill, and the more ill the more powerfully curatvie it is found to be in disease.

Nil prodest, quod non loedere possit idem.

The actual sanitary condition of persons residing near waters impregnated with iron might have taught them that this metal possesses strong pathogenetic properties. The inhabitants of chalybeate (It is mere charalatanry to call solutions of iron steel-drops, and chalybeate mineral waters steel-waters, steelbaths. By these expressions it is intended to convey the notion that they indubitably possess an absolute strengthening power in a high degree; for to steel is a metaphorical expression for to strengthen. But iron only becomes steel when its peculiar elasticity and hardness are developed. In its solution by acids the steel disappears; the solution then only contains a substratum of iron, and the oxyde (iron ochre) collected from chalybeate waters, when smelted, produces nothing but ordinary iron.) watering places, where all the springs and wells in the neighbourhood usually contain some of this metal, show marked signs of its morbific influence.

In such localities there are few persons who can resist the noxious influence of the continued use of such waters and remain quite well, each being affected according to his peculiar nature. There we find, more than anywhere else, chronic affections of great gravity and peculiar character, even when the regimen is otherwise faultless. Weakness, almost amounting to paralysis of the whole body and of single parts, some kinds of violent limb pains, abdominal affections of various sorts, vomiting of food by day or by night, phthisical pulmonary ailments, often with blood-spitting, deficient vital warmth, suppressions of the menses, miscarriages, impotence in both sexes, sterility, jaundice, and many other rare cachexies are common occurrences.

What becomes of the alleged complete innocuousness, let alone the absolute wholesomeness of this metal? Those who are constantly drinking chalybeate waters, called health-springs, and the other iron-impregnated waters of the neighbourhood, are mostly in a sickly state!

What prejudice, what carelessness has hitherto prevented physicians from observing these striking facts, and referring them to their cause, the pathogenetic property of iron?

How they can, ignorant as they are of the action of iron and its salts, determine in what cases chalybeate waters are of use? Which of their patients will they send thither for course of treatment? Which of their patients will they send thither for a course of treatment? Which of their patients will they send thither for a course of treatment? Which will they keep away? What, on short, seeing that they know nothing accurately concerning the peculiar effects of this metal on the human body, leads them to determine the cases suitable for chalybeate waters? Is it blind fancy? Hap-hazard conjecture and guess work? Fashion? Do not, indeed, many of their patients come back from the chalybeate springs in a more miserable (The attempt of the common run of practitioners to produce a purely strengthening effect is a capital mistake. For why is the patient so weak? Obviously because he is ill! Weakness is a mere consequence and a single symptom of his disease. What rational man could think of strengthening his patient without first removing his disease? But if his disease be removed, then he always, even during the process of the removal of his disease, regains his strength by the energy of his organism freed from its malady. There os no such thing as a strengthening remedy as long as the disease continues; there is no such thing as a strengthening remedy as long as the disease continues; there can be none such. The homoeopathic physician alone knows how to cure, and in the act of being cured the convalescent regains his strength.) and diseased condition, showing that iron was an unsuitable remedy for them? God preserve patients from a doctor who does not know, and can give no satisfactory reasons, why he prescribes this or the other drug, who cannot tell beforehand What medicine would be beneficial, what injurious to the patient!

Only a thorough knowledge of the characteristic primary effects of medicines. And whether they present a great similarity to the symptoms of the disease to be cured (as homoeopathy teaches), could protect patients from such fatal mistakes.

The following list of morbid symptoms which iron causes is far from being as complete as it might be, and yet it will contribute not a little to prevent such mistakes being made by those who will refrain from prescribing medicines in a hap-hazard manner, and from feeling no scruples of conscience whether they draw death or life for their patients in the lottery.

Large and oft-repeated doses of iron, as also frequent baths in chalybeate waters, have a very long duration of action, extending to months even. Doses of even the thirtieth potency (X), such as the homoeopathic physician now gives in ordinary cases, act for a good many days.

Chronic ailments caused by iron are mostly ameliorated by (calcareous) hepar sulphuris ((1/100 or 1/1000th of a grain in one or several doses), and most of the remaining sufferings by pulsatilla, when the symptoms are not (as sometimes happens) of such a kind and complexity as to require some other medicine according to the rule of similarity of action.


Symptoms are derived from the following old-school sources:

HARCKE, in Hufel. Journ., xxv.

LENTIN, Beitr.

NEBEL and WEPFER, Diss, de Medicamentis Chalybeatis. Heidelb., 1711.

RITTER, in Hufel Journ., xxiv, 1.

SCHERER, in Hufel. Journ., iii.

SCHMIDTMULLER, in Horn’s Archiv, ix, 2.

ZACCHIROLI, in Kuhn’s Magazin fur Arzneimittellehre, I, St. Chemnitz, 1794.

In the 1st edition ferrum has 264 symptoms, in the 2nd edit, 290, and in this 3rd edit. 295.]


Confusion and stupefaction of the head. [RITTER (Observations referring to the employment of the waters of Pyrmont and Schwalbach, in which the carbonic acid is to be taken into account.) in Hufel, Journ., xxiv, 1.]

On lying down a vertigo as if he were knocked forwards, or driving in a carriage (especially when the eyes are shut).

Vertigo on going down hill, as if she would fall forwards.

When walking staggering and as if intoxicated, as if she would fall down.

5. When walking, very whirling and sick: he feels as if the head inclined always to hang to the right side.

On looking at running water she becomes reeling and giddy in the head, as if all went round with her.

Great rushing up to the head.

Intoxication. (Not found.) [RITTER, l. c.]

Undulating headache, like waves, for an hour (aft. ½ h.). [Rz.]

10. Drawing headache. [Rz.]

A rush of blood to the head; the blood-vessels of the head were swollen for two hours, with severe flushes of heat in the face.

A momentary, giddy blow in the brain (immed).

The cool open air gives her a peculiar pressure on the top of the head, which gradually went off in the room.

Disinclination to think and confusion of the head.

15. Headache every evening; dulness about the root of the nose.

In the morning very dull in the head.

Headache, as if the brain were lacerated (also in the morning during slumber before awaking).

Empty feeling in the head.

The head is dull and stupid.

20. The head is dazed and stupid.

Heaviness of the head.

(Pressive headache in the forehead, as if it would burst.)

A cutting shooting in the forehead.

Violent shooting pain in the left side of the head, in the afternoon, for five hours.

25. (Every two or three weeks, for two, three, or four days, headache, hammering and beating, so that she must sometimes lie down in bed: then loathing of food and drink.)

Falling out of the hair, whereby the scalp is painful, with formication.

A drawing from the nape up into the head, in which there is then shooting, roaring, and rushing.

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.