Errors in Homeopathic Practice

Advise on the selection of crude substance for preparation of medicine. Some precautions that to be noted in drug proving….


The problem is extremely vast. On the one hand it has a general point of view and on the other hand there is a particular point of view. It is evident that there are first of all some general rules which we must know well in order to avoid the errors in homoeopathic practice. I will deliberately leave aside this general point of view. What is of more particular interest to us is all that is of clearly practical order and I will deal in five chapters what we must not do in homoeopathy from the particular point of view regarding :

1. The remedies.

2. The diseases.


The results obtained in homoeopathic therapeutics are extremely variable according to the method of application of remedies. The medical science is an art with two principles: The principle of prescription and the principle of practice. The same is the case with homoeopathy as well as with other sciences of medicine. We know that the results may be excellent or on the contrary negative or even replaced by violent aggravations if we make mistakes about the following :

1. The drug sources.

2. The dose.

3. The repetition of dose.

4. Time of the application of the dose.

5. Finally some particular cases for some particular remedies.


The part played by a homoeopathic doctor does not consist only in treating the patients. He should at the same time control the quality of the preparation of medicines supplied to him by the pharmacists from different laboratories. One error that one commits in this regard is the result of ignorance of the origin of a remedy and this is very important. It is therefore, necessary that we must know how the homoeopathic medicines should be manufactured. Hahnemann gave a solution of the problem in a very simple manner during his time. He completely ignored the part which a pharmacist can play in the preparation of medicines. He himself used to prepare his medicines and even now there are number of homoeopaths in different countries who, faithful to the principle of their master, prepare their medicines themselves and directly apply these medicines to their patients. This is not only illegal but also not progressive. We must call it a regression because it is not possible for us to have all the up- to-date machines and the necessary personnel employed for the preparation of two or three thousands of medicines.

It is however necessary that we should know how the homoeopathic medicines are prepared. If not, we may be victims of a wrong preparation. It is for this reason that the homoeopaths in France have in the beginning decided that the homoeopathic medicines are to be prepared by the specialised homoeopathic pharmacists. But the doctors as well as the specialised homoeopathic pharmacists ought to know how to prepare the Homoeopathic medicines.

(At present homoeopathic medicines are prepared in France by some pharmacists authorised by the Government, according to a pharmacopoea prepared under the control of the Government by a group of homoeopathic doctors. Homoeopathic medicines up to the 6th dilution, i.e. up to the 22x which is physical dilution limit, can only be obtained in France. Preparation of Isopathic remedies is completely stopped.)


As regards the mineral kingdom the control is easy. A mineral substance should be taken as a remedy. You may say that is should be taken pure and well prepared. But this is not all and neither it is true. When Hahnemann and other obtained a pathogenesis using a substance, it is necessary that we should use the identical substance even if it is in an unpurified state, while the pharmacist, obsessed by the principles of modern chemistry, tries for purifying in an absolute manner the substances of mineral origin, though some times they find that the resulting substances are less active.

A classic example : Hahnemann prepared Calcarea Carbonica from the shell of the egg of ostrich (Calcarea Ostrum), from the portion which is found in-between the external and the internal surfaces of the egg shell. It is no doubt carbonate of lime but it also contains traces of other minerals and marine substances. Therefore, it is not necessary to use the absolutely pure Carbonate of lime but the egg-shell of ostrich itself for the preparation of Calcarea Carbonica. This may be considered as a general rule for all substances of mineral origin. It is preferable to use the mineral substances in their natural state. The mineral substances are valuable medicines in the form as they are found in the natural state. They act generally better on the living organism. On the contrary, the synthetic chemical substances are of secondary importance. Why? This requires no explanation. If we use some dilutions of Pyramidon or Arsenobenzol we will find that they are rarely useful. But there are exceptions. As for example the Arsenic compound of Bayer 205, has been very successfully used in dilutions of 200 and 1000 in Azotemia, at least in some cases of Azotemia. (Dilutions of Penicillin are also now used in France with very interesting results).

It should therefore be a principle that we must not have our mind haunted by the idea of absolute purity. There are some homoeopaths who go further and say that when water is used, it should be used as it is in the place of distilled or bi-distilled water. It should also be decided whether for some products, the water from the source containing Carbonate of Calcium should be used instead of bi-distilled water. Some researches are to be made in this regard.

From the point of view of the mineral kingdom we have yet another rule which requires elucidation. It is the frequent necessity of replacing the pure metal by its oxide. It seems that Cuprum oxide is more useful than Cuprum itself, both having the same indications. The former is more active. The case is the same with the Bromides.

Prof A. Berne E.P.C.I. has shown that when we use a metal for the preparation of some medicines, we cannot be absolutely sure whether the substance will remain pure in the course of the preparation. Thus Zincum metallicum will transform itself in Zinc Oxide in the process of preparation. The same may be said of Aluminium, Iron, and of all the metals (except Gold and Platinum).

Besides, except for the very heavy metals, there is hardly any difference between the metal oxide and metal pure. For this reason it is better to oxidise the metal before preparing a medicine from it. In practice, for example, when you use a remedy having for its origin Cuprum metallicum, which has not given expected results, you must try Cuprum Oxide, which may prove to be more active, having the same indications as that of Cuprum metallicum.

Sometimes it is necessary to prefer some salts to others. This is not a rule in homoeopathy; this is a rule in chemotherapy. In homoeopathy we have two such examples. A classical example: Argentum nitricum, the Nitrate of silver, a remedy having an action though different from that of silver metal, yet deeper and much more important. For this reason this remedy is very frequently used. There is another example which I have very often pointed out, is that of Plumbum aceticum. Since two or three years I have replaced my prescription of plumbum metallicum by Plumbum aceticum which is much more active. Lead is a metal whose action is very well known to us because since long time, the pathogenesis of lead and of all its salts have been enriched by symptoms of poisoning. On the other hand we also know extremely well the morbid anatomy and pathology of the lesions caused by lead. But when we apply our knowledge to homoeopathy we very often meet with some failures even when Plumbum is indicated, while Plumbum aceticum has at least a much more interesting action in muscular atrophies, neuritis and polyneuritis. Plumbum metallicum does not act well in these cases. The acetate of the metal can provoke some pains and other acute phenomena which its metal cannot. Can we explain this fact by the help of chemical reaction? This is also a case of research.

On the other hand simple acides are not the remedies of first importance in homoeopathy. They are less important than the metalloids. Phospheric acid is not as valuable as Phosphorus. Sulphuric acid has very much less value than Sulphur, and its indications are not so extensive. The acids have for themselves some common indications which are primary to all acids. As for example the general symptom of Debility, thus some cases of debility and burning sensation may be covered by Muriatic acid as well as by Sulphuric acid. Thus you will get amelioration of pains resulting from hyperacidity by prescribing Muriatic acid, Sulphuric acid and Nitric acid, Sulphuric acid acts longer but it should be remembered that you may apply the one or the other but their action is secondary and functional which will ameliorate hyperacidity but will not cure it.

It is necessary that we must have close contact with the chemists. The difficulty is that Chemistry is a practical science having no general consideration. Take any book on chemistry you will find that is is experience pure and simple and the chemists act according to a tentative procedure.


As regards the vegetable kingdom there are two important guiding principles. The first is that the plants should be collected in their milieu i.e. to say in their wild state. Take care of the plants grown in gardens for using in the preparation of tinctures. A big laboratory of Germany has a big botanical garden where plants growing on mountains and in plains are grown in order to avoid the cost and to set up a better organisation. It is possible that such plants may give results, but it is an error of a priori because the plants should be collected in their milieu or in their wild state.

The second rule is the following. We must begin with alcoholatures (tincture made in alcohol) and not from tinctures i.e. to say tinctures made from fresh plants. This is easy to do for indigenous plants but for plants growing in hot countries it is very often difficult to be certain of its origin. The rule for the fresh plants has its value. In a word the alcoholature, in order that it may be of any value, should begin as much as possible on the spot of collection of the plant itself. As for example an exotic plant sent to France in dried condition may not have any action. It is necessary that the person who collects the plants should make the alcoholic tinctures on the spot and then send them to another place, otherwise the tinctures may not have equal value.

(The time of collection has also some importance. The general rule is that the plants should be collected in blooming state. There are plants that grow in shade and there are others that grow in the open. The degree of insolation must have some influence on the quantity of the juice of the plant and the quality).

To us, homoeopaths, our perfection in the practice of homoeopathy has no value if we are not sure of the original drugs which we use for the preparation of our medicines. If we do not get the desired effect of a medicine we prescribe, we do not apply it any more thinking that the prescription is defective while perhaps it has not given desired effect because it is not prepared from a good source. Let us then be absolutely sure that the sources are good in order that we may not accuse the medicine for being ineffective. We should, on the contrary, accuse ourselves because we have failed to take the proper precautions. This is of course a difficult question.

It may be noted here that when we apply the globules dissolved in water mixing it with a spoon for 5 to 10 minutes we get much more rapid results.

The are some laboratories that have replaced Psorinum of Hahnemann which is scrapings of the itch, by scrapings of eczema. This is an error because Hahnemann established the pathogenesis of Psorinum preparing it from the scrapings of itch.

Similar is the case with Hydrophobinums. It should be made from the saliva of a rabid dog, and not from the marrow of a rabid dog. The remedy prepared by the Pasteur Institute may be interesting but it is not the Hydrophobinum which contains other organic substances, found in the saliva.


In the animal kingdom there are other rules. Hahnemann, as for example formulated the rule that the entire body of the animal is to be used. For the serpents and other big animals only the venom is used but for the small insects the whole is to be used to start with.

However as regards the serpents we must know that the venom of the animal has no value if the animal is not caught in its country of origin and if possible in liberty. The venom of the serpents kept in captivity in Europe has not as much value. When these animals are not in freedom, but are in conditions comparable to those of a free state, we may get some results. This is the rule for all the venoms of serpents kept in captivity in the antivenomous Institute of Rio de Janero. The Institutes of this kind are famous in Brazil.

There the serpents live as if in liberty in gardens and for preparing the Antivenomous serums the venoms are gathered during the time of the year when they are more active.

The case of Apis is interesting. Sometimes Apium virum acts better in oedema than Apis. In this case also we must be sure of the stock used by the pharmacists. The Germans have found out the active principle of Apium virus which they have isolated in the form of Apisine. You may use it by subcutaneous injections in 6x. This 6x dilution of Apisine is much more active than Apium virus in rheumatism. We must be very careful about Apis. Many homoeopaths very easily get the idea that Apis acts in all cases of oedema. This is one of the causes of failure with Apis because the oedema of Apis is painful, rosy, hot and inflammatory. It is for this reason oedema of cardiorenal origin does not come within the sphere of Apis.

The question of the stocks of medicine is very important and very delicate to deal with because finally it leads us to the question of the “Trade mark” This question arises in homoeopathy and it also arises in pharmacology. We are forced to apply Digitalis of such and such “Trade mark” because the action of Digitaline is variable according to the region where it is produced. But the question is more grave and more delicate in homoeopathy for the very reason that we have no means of control. We can control the efficacy of a homoeopathic medicine only by its application to our patients. Our question is always a relative one. We may think (and the anti homoeopaths actually think so) that there is a coincidence if they have an amelioration and naturally we may always doubt the value of our medicines. A particular case does signify nothing. We cannot be sure until and unless we experience the effect of a drug in several thousands of cases. In a word we may say that we have to have a certain confidence in our suppliers.

The case is the same with opotherapy where the question of “Trade mark” is important. As regards hormone such as the Testosterone the “Trade mark” may play an important part. The laboratories that prepare them do more controlled physiologic experiments.

(The problem of physiological experiments is less important in the case of Testosterone because it is a crystallised salt, but for a complex powder the question is different).

As regards homoeopathic remedies it is not possible because we have no criterium of control. We know that such and such product is good when we have experimented on several patients.

(There would have been a rediasthesic control. But it has not yet reached perfection).

But such experiment will vary according to the person who is entrusted with the control.

(Is it possible for us to know the value of stock).

We have in that case no scientific basis.

(By the principle of Boyd?)

There is also a personal factor. The case is the same with the apparatus of Abrums for diagnosis. Emanometre is a transformation of the apparatus of Abrums which in the hands of Boyd and Mac Care, produces marvellous results.

(Lastly we may say that in our colleges, with the teaching of the different branches of homoeopathic medicine, we must have a course of pharmacology also. We must not forget that in India we cannot accept in to the rules laid down in foreign pharmacopias. We must try to establish our own pharmacopea always with special consideration of our Indian herbs growing in a climate which is so different to that of other lands. Secondly it is also necessary that we have our own materia medica for the very reason that the drug action is variable according to the climate of its origin. In other words we, Indian homoeopaths, must have our own Materia Medica and our own Homoeopathic Pharmacopea. R.M.).

Mauritius Fortier-Bernoville
Mauritius (Maurice) Fortier Bernoville 1896 – 1939 MD was a French orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy to become the Chief editor of L’Homeopathie Moderne (founded in 1932; ceased publication in 1940), one of the founders of the Laboratoire Homeopathiques Modernes, and the founder of the Institut National Homeopathique Francais.

Bernoville was a major lecturer in homeopathy, and he was active in Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis, and a founder of the le Syndicat national des médecins homœopathes français in 1932, and a member of the French Society of Homeopathy, and the Society of Homeopathy in the Rhone.

Fortier-Bernoville wrote several books, including Une etude sur Phosphorus (1930), L'Homoeopathie en Medecine Infantile (1931), his best known Comment guerir par l'Homoeopathie (1929, 1937), and an interesting work on iridology, Introduction a l'etude de l'Iridologie (1932).

With Louis-Alcime Rousseau, he wrote several booklets, including Diseases of Respiratory and Digestive Systems of Children, Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic Rheumatism, treatment of hay fever (1929), The importance of chemistry and toxicology in the indications of Phosphorus (1931), and Homeopathic Medicine for Children (1931). He also wrote several short pamphlets, including What We Must Not Do in Homoeopathy, which discusses the logistics of drainage and how to avoid aggravations.

He was an opponent of Kentian homeopathy and a proponent of drainage and artificial phylectenular autotherapy as well.