The grouping of remedies is a problem that presents itself to the mind of the homoeopathic student as soon as he beings to gain some insight into the personality of remedies and their application in individual cases. The first step along this line of thoughts is the inevitable comparison of remedies as brought out by the study of even a few remedies, and the necessary differentiation between remedies as soon as the beginner begins to comprehend the similarities that exist in almost any group of remedies.
Usually the beginner learns to recognize Aconite and Belladonna among the earliest remedies in his armamentarium; to the older student of materia medica they present marked differentiating symptoms, but the novice sees chiefly marked similarity.
The comparison of symptom similarities as exhibited by drug provings undoubtedly set the minds of the early homoeopathic students into the problem of remedy relationships. There is no question but that the problem of the similimum as against the similar arose even in the mind of Hahnemann, as may be inferred from his reports of cases, especially that of the mental case in which he prescribed first Belladonna and then Hyoscyamus – remedies which certainly have many similarities.
Whether or not Hahnemann himself devoted serious consideration to remedy relationship is a point we have not been able to check definitely. We do know, however, that from his ear on careful observers and students have given much thought to the problem of remedy relationship, and with all the statement of observations, little explanation has been advanced.
Even a cursory examination, however, seems to indicate that the key to the problem of complementary, inimical and antidotal remedies lies in similarity in some form – similarity of derivation, or similarity of symptom grouping.
Knerr, in his Repertory to Herings Guiding Symptoms, heads his interesting chapter on Drug Relationships (Indian ed., v.2, chapter 48, p.1697) with the following definitions:.
Collateral. Side relations (congeners) belonging to the same or allied botanical family or chemical group.
Compatible. Drugs following well.
Complementary. Supplying the part of another drug.
Inimical. Drugs disagreeing, incompatible, do not follow well.
Similar. Drugs suggested for comparison by reason of their similarity; usually compatible, unless too similar, like Nux vomica and Ignatia.
There is a well defined standard by which we can compare any two well proven remedies for similarity. This is a problem which takes in but two major factors: the sifted symptoms of each remedy, so that (insofar as possible) personal idiosyncrasies do not interfere with the comparison.
Hahnemann, in his preface to the Materia Medica Pura, tells us how carefully symptoms were sifted so that none might appear that were not pure drug effects; how all symptoms were derived from healthy provers who were under similar conditions and on a similar regime; how all symptoms which appeared after deviation from the normal regime (such as fright, shock, or other psychic or physical causes) were not recorded in the provings; and how such symptoms as appeared after lesser deviations from the normal were included in brackets as being of doubtful value.
Unfortunately, not all later provings have been so carefully guarded, and we are not always sure of the symptom – whether it be of the remedy or of the prover himself – unless there have been enough provers under similar regime to provide adequate control conditions. However, clinical verifications have tested some symptoms which were brought out under seemingly uncontrolled conditions to the point where the verifications have provided a sound basis for the elimination of the idiosyncrasic element in comparisons.
Collateral is a term so basic in our consideration of remedies as to admit of little question. It frequently provides a similarity simply because of this common derivation: between plant remedies, for instance, of similar or closely allied groupings, or between plant and mineral remedies when the plant shows marked selectivity for certain chemical reactions in the soil; or between chemicals having a similar or related formula; or between groups of elements having approximate atomic weights.
A notable illustration of the similarity that exists in a collateral botanical group are the symptoms produced by the provings of the Anacardiaceae: the tendency to certain mental symptoms (or to mental symptoms having a general trend), the universal restlessness, the universal skin symptoms, and the similarities of the modalities marking the group; while the individual differentiations mark the specific indications for the individual member of the family.
The relationship between plant and soil is well known fact, and while we may find a fairly wide range of symptoms present in provings of different parts of a plant because of localized functions, Hahnemann himself noted the similarity of action produced by the chemists of his day, as he put it, by torturing the substance to produce different reactions from the different parts. Thus certain characteristics of the individual plant will run through provings of both root and branch, and provide interesting comparisons with provings of the basic soil elements. Thus Belladonna and Calcarea have symptom relationships; we find the mineral is compatible and complementary to the vegetable.
The relationship between any individual members of the groups of compound salts furnishes evidence of collateral relationship, and provides the solution for the similarities which exist within any chosen group. The compounding element, too, furnishes the link between the primary group and the outside member, and with this element, also, we expect to find, and do find, certain family likenesses.
Still another relationship of which we do not often think is that which exists between elements having approximate atomic weights. Thus Phosphorus and Sulphur, coming next to reach other in the Mendeleev scale, have certain symptoms closely similar while maintaining definitely individual characteristics; just as these elements occur in nature under similar conditions, so in their provings their indications trend toward similar conditions.
We have suggested why the collateral relationship of plant and mineral remedies may provide the basis for complementary relationship, because we recognize that just as the plant reaches into the soil which is rich in certain elements, and partakes of those elements and the same elements become a part of the plant itself and necessary to its very existence – its very essence is dependent upon those deeper elements which it assimilates. So it is with the double or compound salts, which partake in varying degrees of the nature of the parent elements; and very frequently we find that these compound salts are complementary to the individual element which offers itself as the basic element.
Thus we realize that some remedies are complementary to others because they have certain characteristics in common, certain similarities, yet they probe deeper into the constitutional state than the first remedy to be given, which may have been more superficial in nature, more acute in its indications, or possibly more single track in its applicability. Complementary remedies usually have a certain similarity, their basic action must be in a similar direction, yet they are not so closely similar as to be presumably antidotal in action.
Of course, in considering the complementary relationship we must consider the provings and their similarities, aside from the symptomatology of the sick individual, and we must also take into consideration the symptoms of our sick patient before we can tell which remedy, among several possibly indicated remedies, may be complementary in that individual case. It is not sufficient to say that Calcarea carb. complements Belladonna; the remedy called for in a sick patient may be quite different in its deeper action than those classically considered in the textbooks. In each case the individual must be considered first and most prominently.
In spite of family relationships and even in spite of close symptomatic similarities, we cannot assume that remedies will always be compatible or complementary. According to Knerrs definition, “Similar drugs are usually compatible, unless too similar, like Nux vomica and Ignatia.” There are many differences of opinion as to these relationships, especially as to compatibility of drugs, and perhaps no definite standard has been set up whereby we may judge them with any degree of assurance.
It has been said that many of our authorities differ in almost every particular when it comes to judging the safety of following one remedy with another. It may e like the sage advice given by Hering as to the administration of Lycopodium – that we should never open a chronic case with Lycopodium unless that remedy is overwhelmingly indicated. We submit that Lycopodium, or any other remedy, should never be given in any acute or chronic case unless in our best opinion it is truly indicated.
Therefore, we may say that compatibility is a problem that is based upon several factors: Similarity and the degree of similarity of the remedies; the characteristic symptoms of the patient and the degree in which they present and call for a certain remedy; whether any remedy is really indicated to follow one already given; whether the indications of the patient are sufficient to call for a remedy against which there is any adverse evidence which might prevent its administration in the present relationship.
This matter hinges largely upon the matter of the first prescription: whether it was indicated; how much reaction resulted; how far we have taken the patient on the remedy? And again, what are the idiosyncrasies of the patient – his personal reactions in the matter as reflected through the symptoms produced? And the question turns searchingly upon ourselves: How well have we prescribed? Does the patient require another remedy? How soon are we considering another remedy? If soon after the administration of the first, have we failed to elicit all the symptoms, or have we neglected our study of materia medica? If some time has elapsed, the question of compatibility need not arise, because the remedy given some time ago has probably ceased its action if the patient is now calling for another remedy.
Compatibility and incompatibility are two facets of the same problem; and incompatible and inimical apply to the same angle of the problem differing only in degree. Granted that a second prescription is required within a short time after the first remedy has been given, and the problem of inimical remedies must be considered, we find ourselves inquiring why some remedies seem to be inimical to others. We can only answer that occasionally certain remedies, frequently those having similar action and perhaps from a congenial source, seem to have the power not only to thwart each others action, but to throw back upon itself in disorder the natural flow of vital energy in the patient as stimulated by the remedy first given. The vital energy of the patient in its individual expression in sickness, and the vital power within the remedies which has been developed by potentization, are the underlying factors.
Remedies listed by some of our observers as having inimical relationships show a close relationship symptomatically, such as Nux vomica and Ignatia; Lachesis and Ammonium carb.; Zincum and Nux vomica; Rhus tox. and Sulphur; Rhus tox. and Phosphorus – and others classically considered as unfriendly in sequence. In many of these groupings we trace the symptomatic relationship through more than one sphere of action, or it may come with peculiar force through the nervous system, the glandular system, or some other derangement that has its basis in a deeply reactive function in the individual. Thus we find that the animal remedies are very frequently contraindicated in close proximity, and the greater the similarity of the symptoms the greater the risk; the more closely similar the remedies, the greater the antagonism between them and the more certain the second remedy will injure the case.
Antidotal remedies are such as may have a similar potential power to inimical remedies, but in this case the adverse action of the first remedy is checked without the impact, and the vital energy which was thrown back upon itself in disorder by the first remedy is now met with a similarity which meets the disordered pace symptomatically and the natural order is restored. Moreover, in the case of an antidotal remedy, we rarely use one of similar morbific trend. Thus we would not consider using an animal remedy to antidote another animal remedy; we would go to a different basic derivation. Antidotal remedies have definite symptomatic relationships; usually, however, the general action of the antidote is of a milder character and it meets the disordered condition with greater sympathy.
Some remedies which have a wide range of action are very effective antidotes for a wide range of remedies; this antidotal action seems to be a part of their symptomatic picture without such marked similarity to the remedy requiring antidote. Or perhaps we may say that such remedies as Nux vomica and Pulsatilla, having naturally a wide range of action, have a certain similarity to many other remedies and because of that similarity are frequently used with great success as antidotes.
The problem of remedies in their relationships, compatible, complementary and inimical, have to do with several factors of which few offer fixed standards. Here we are dealing with the proven remedy, applied in a flexible condition as reflected in the patient, and we cannot gauge accurately the reaction we may receive from any combination of remedies in any sequence.
The solution lies in our case taking – accurate observation and careful recording; in our knowledge of materia medica – the selection of the remedy and accurate prescribing – with all factors well considered. Then we shall have the minimum cause for having to consider the relationship of remedies, except such as may be complementary to carry through a protracted case, for we shall have the least number of cases that will demand the consideration of a close sequence of remedies.
DR. KAPLOWE: Dr. Roberts has presented a subject that is very difficult and that requires a lot of study.
I remember one case where Causticum given after Phosphorus produced such a terrific aggravation that the patient was swept off her feet, and I guess I was with her. It was strange in that case that Causticum didnt even come close on the repertorial analysis by Boenninghausen. I dont know how Phosphorus would follow Causticum. I repeated that, tried Causticum again on the patient, and it worked the same way.
DR. HUBBARD: Could I ask Dr. Roberts a question? He made the statement that animal remedies should not be given near together, often, particularly if they are very similar, and he made the statement that the antidotal remedy is often found in a different kingdom. Is there any set relationship, whether a vegetable remedy is more frequently the antidote, or is there any interplay between the kingdoms?.
DR. DIXON: Dr. Roberts has reentered a field which evidently received considerable study from the older homoeopaths and of later years has been neglected. If this had not been so we would never have had these relationships given in our textbooks. It shows how much more of an insight the older men had in the materia medica and how they studied the finer points of homoeopathic prescribing.
DR. FARRINGTON: Some of them even went deeper. I have a letter from Dr. Timothy F. Allen to my father in which there is mentioned the color, the natural color, of the flowers of plants, and in regard to some relationship between remedies made from those plants. Those men almost split hairs, you see, in studying the various means of differentiating their remedies.
In the same letter the idea was expressed which Dr. Roberts gave in his excellent paper about the effect on a plant of the soil in which it grew. I dont remember what the plant was, but it was some plant that grew in a soil rich in iron.
I think this is a useful discussion, and a very useful paper.
DR. MOORE: Dr. Burnett, of England, was one of the greatest users of the nosodes, and I have frequently seen where he has repeatedly used one following another, and I was just inquiring, the same as Dr. Hubbard, on this same point of the nosodes following each other. Dr. Roberts evidently has some very good reasons for what he said.
DR. GRIMMER: Speaking of the animal remedies not being given together, they may be and likely are, as Dr. Roberts says, inimical under these conditions, but I have seen a case of rattlesnake bite that was very quickly relieved and cured with Lecithin.
DR. ROBERTS: Answering Dr. Hubbards question with regard to the statement that animal remedies should never be followed by another animal remedy, you do well to go to another kingdom. You are very apt to aggravate and bring out all of the poisonous effects of the condition and of the remedies and mix the case. It is probably better to go from the animal kingdom to the vegetable kingdom and get a similar remedy. Even the vegetable kingdom is much better than to go into the mineral kingdom. It is a transformation of the elements that are in the vegetable kingdom that will help to make up and complement the animal. The animal assimilates the vegetables, the vegetable assimilates the mineral. There is a matter of progression – relationship.