A Brief Study Course in Homoeopathy

Theoretically any substance or force may become a homoeopathic remedy. In a large number of instances of so called physiologically inert substances in the crude state varying degrees of potentization are necessary to bring our the remedial powers. At present no complete list of all homoeopathic remedies exists. At a rough guess some two or three thousand remedies are in use and new ones are continually being developed.


Theoretically any substance or force may become a homoeopathic remedy. In a large number of instances of so called physiologically inert substances in the crude state varying degrees of potentization are necessary to bring our the remedial powers. At present no complete list of all homoeopathic remedies exists. At a rough guess some two or three thousand remedies are in use and new ones are continually being developed.

Only relatively small number of these are thoroughly proved according to the Hahnemannian standard, and but few according to a modern scientific homoeopathic standard.

The remedies in accepted use are divided for convenience into certain groups as follows: (1) Mineral remedies, including elements, metals, compounds, salts, etc. (2) Vegetable remedies. (3) Animal remedies. (4) The nosodes, which are remedies derived from morbid tissues and secretions. (t) Sarcodes, which are remedies prepared from healthy animal tissues and secretions, such as Uric Acid and Thyro-Iodine. This also includes endocrine remedies. (6) Imponderabilia, which include positive and negative magnetic force, electricity, sun force, etc.

The information about these remedies is obtained form the following sources: From provings, which means experimentation on the relatively healthy; from toxicology, which contributes the extreme symptoms and in part of pathology; from experimentation on animals, organs and tissues in the laboratory; from clinical verification of symptoms by cure; from clinical appearance of remedy symptoms during medication; and from human pathology which has cured. The main classical source of the knowledge of remedies is, of course, the proving. The subject of how to make correct provings and standardize them is an important one, but it does not come in under this elementary course.

Now we come to actual methods for acquiring and retaining the general picture and detailed knowledge of this bevy of remedies, This is no simple task as anyone reading the proving of a polychrest, such as Calcarea, will realize. No mind can retain such a mass of symptoms which often seem unrelated and contradictory. One must learn how to study a remedy.

The most important thing to get in the study of a remedy is the feel of it. The essence of homoeopathy being individualization, and each well proved drug having a definite personality, the student must get acquainted with the different remedies in the materia medica as if they were friends. He must be be able to recognize them from partial expressions even when the cannot see the whole picture, as he would know a well-known person in a group across the room. Experts in prescribing are so saturated with the remedies they can often choose them intuitively and although this is dangerous to the beginner it should be the goal of all,.

We suggest the following plan for systematic remedy study:.

For those who do not contact humans in this way, and indeed for all the first, the study of a remedy must begin with a knowledge of its mentals. The innermost of man being the most important, the psychic characteristics and peculiarities of each remedy individual must be thoroughly mastered. You could not conceive of giving Sulphur as a chronic remedy to a woman in whose linen closet the towels and napery were tied neatly with rose-coloured ribbon, You would not give Phosphorus to one who was abnormally modest, nor Arsenicum to a sloven. Unfortunately many of our remedies have not a fully-developed proving of mental symptoms, but where these exist they are of prime importance.

Many more drugs have clearly marked modalities, in other words aggravation from or amelioration by, meteorological conditions and such things as motion, heat, jar, position, classes of foods or special substance, etc. The marked desires and aversions, aggravations and ameliorations should become etches on the mind of the student, both those which affect the personality as a whole, and those, often agreeing but sometimes contradictory, which modify the affected part.

Of particular importance, in the knowledge of materia medica, and often difficult to find in books, are the causations of disease typical of the different remedies. These may be mental or general. The student should pay particular attention to the symptoms of ailments from emotion (such as mortification in Staphisagria; anger in Chamomilla, colocynth, Nux vomica; grief in Ignatia; fright in Aconite, etc.) and also to ailments from injury (Arnica, Natrum Sulph.).

Ailments from suppressed discharges are of paramount importance, whether they be from mucous membranes, such as leucorrhoea, etc., or from the skin as in the case of perspiration or eruptions, of from operations which close natures vents, such as fistulae or haemorrhoids. The fourth important variety of causation is that due to chilling of various kinds, non-mechanical dietary indiscretions, etc., these being applicable more frequently in acute diseases.

When the student has mastered these various points about the remedy the he would study the localities of the body to which the remedy especially applies, and make a chart of a figure with the vulnerable points of the remedy suitably drawn in. In this connection he would do well to make a diagram of the tongue, its condition often being characteristic and giving valuable hints for prescribing. He may also make drawings of different parts of the body such as the eyes, representing the various conditions in those organs cured by the remedy. These schemata aid memory by visualization. Not only the organ influenced by a remedy should be learned, but also the tissues, as for instance that Bryonia is suitable to inflammation of serous membranes, where Belladonna is rarely so.

The student should then pick out from among the welter of particular symptoms those which are “strange, rare, and peculiar”, the so-called “keynotes” of the remedy, and have these at this fingers ends as signposts to point the way to further study. In this connection he should pick out similes from literature (such as the analogy between the precocious Lycopodium child and Paul Dombey) and expressive epithets such as “mince-pie fiend” Carbo veg., The “human barometer” Rhus tox., “gloomy Gus” Natrum carb., “the false, ragged philosopher”-Sulphur.

He should pay especial attention to the pictures of acute disease in chronic remedies and to the different types of chronic personality in each remedy.

He should get clearly in mind the important details relating to the bodily functions such as menstruation, pregnancy, digestion, sleep and exertion whether by skin, bowels or urinary tract.

He should make a remedy clock, a diagram showing the time of general aggravation and special aggravations of the remedy in question.

Picking out the alternating conditions and the concomitant conditions, and keeping them clearly in mind is of great help, although rarely done. (The second edition of Kents repertory has a separate heading for alternations, which, in the third edition, are sprinkled through the book). It will be very helpful to the beginner to make a note of them in contradictions in symptoms in each remedy and to think through why this should be so.

By this time the student is in a position to note, without danger of beings unduly influenced by pathology, the different “diseases” in which the remedy under study is especially useful; and after thoroughly mastering polychrest he should go back and compare their action in each of the diseases. Very little has been written anywhere about comparisons between the physiological action of drugs and their homoeopathic action, but in the study of each remedy its pharmacology and uses in regular medicine should be looked up and compared. Useful hints and analogies are often forthcoming.

The student should correlate the homoeopathic remedy picture with endocrinology, metabolic tests and morphology.

Study one polychrest each week, beginning with relatively easy ones such as Aconite, Belladonna, Bryonia, and then, when the habit of assimilating the remedy is acquired, tackle the essential drugs, such as Sulphur, Calcarea, Silica, Phosphorus, etc.

Each remedy should be studied in the least ten different books so as to different authors. No human being sees all aspects of another individual or of drug. A composite picture is necessary to completeness. We would recommend the following books for study in the order mentioned:.

Kents Materia Medica, which, though informal in style, gives a compelling and permeating picture of the remedies.

Nashs Leaders, a dangerous books if used alone, but stimulating and comprehensive.

Allens Keynotes, in a class with the above.

Clarks Dictionary of Materia Medica, not the symptoms of the provings themselves, but the “characteristic” which give interesting varied information and sparse salient features.

Herings Guiding Symptoms, with especial attention to the symptoms with heavy and double heavy marks, this being the most solid and practicable of all our materia medicas, although it does not give the picturesque individuality of the drugs as Kent does.

Dunhams Lectures on Materia Medica, very lucid.

Hahnemanns Materia Medica Pura, the prime source of the subject, placed late on the list because of the mass of symptoms.

Testes Materia Medica, giving suggestive groupings of the remedies, a unique book.

Allens Encyclopaedia of the Materia Medica, difficult reading because of the mass of material, but invaluable.

Jahrs Manual, which has many symptoms not to be found elsewhere.

When the nosodes are studies. H.C. Allens Materia Medica of the Nosode should be added, and for unusual remedies Kents Lesser Writings, Hales New Remedies, and Anshutzs New, Old and Forgotten Remedies. For those who read German, Stauffers Homoeopathische Arzneimittellehre, as yet untranslated, is a classic.

The student should also read Farringtons Clinical Materia Medica, although it is confusing, and Hughes Manual, or better his Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy. Cowperthwaites Materia Medica, Pierces Plain Talks on Materia Medica with comparisons, Woodburys little Materia Medica for nurses, Rabes Therapeutics, and Bogers Synoptic Key.

The student would do well before finishing his study to outline the emergency uses of each of the remedies and commit them to memory.

As a check to his study he can take the Kent Repertory and run through for the rubrics in which the remedy he is studying appears in the third (highest) degree.

If the student will follow this outline and get the habit of recognizing remedy types in street cars at meeting, wherever he may be, his knowledge will be solid and broad, and his time saved.

Elizabeth Wright Hubbard
Dr. Elizabeth Wright Hubbard (1896-1967) was born in New York City and later studied with Pierre Schmidt. She subsequently opened a practice in Boston. In 1945 she served as president of the International Hahnemannian Association. From 1959-1961 served at the first woman president of the American Institute of Homeopathy. She also was Editor of the 'Homoeopathic Recorder' the 'Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy' and taught at the AFH postgraduate homeopathic school. She authored A Homeopathy As Art and Science, which included A Brief Study Course in Homeopathy.