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Materia Medica von William Boericke (short version)
Materia Medica von Cyrus Maxwell Boger
Materia Medica von Adolf zur Lippe
About the Revision of the Materia Medica
[Dr. Klaus-Henning Gypser]
When on the 10th of April 1844 under the auspices of Constantine Hering (1800-1880) the American Institute of Homoeopathy was constituted the central purpose of the society was expressed as follows in the first paragraph of the founding articles: “The revision and the augmentation of the materia medica.” Thus the pages 13-253 of the first volume of the proceedings already included new provings (Benz-ac. Fla-ac. Ox-ac. Elat. Eupat-p. Kalm. Lob-i. Lob-c. Podo. Sang. Trios-p.). Even with an reportorial analysis in the addendum.
But what about the fate of the announced revision of the materia medica? In spite of various efforts up to the present day, it remained unexecuted. At a first glance it might surprise that Hering, who again and again made this project an issue, considered the execution of it necessary already in 1844. If you consider the status of the materia medica at that time it might not even appear so extensive. But still it had reached a scope that did not permit the individual practitioner to make use of it for his daily work to its full extent. Beside the numerous works published as books journals had also been added, that contained more remedy provings, but mainly case histories, i.e. clinical experiences. The latter are of considerable importance when you have to render fuzzy proving symptoms precise and to determine polarities. But even a practitioner who possessed all publications couldn’t possibly study all scattered provings and case histories of the remedies that came into question for a given case to decide on a
Against this background it becomes understandable why Hering considered a collection of all reliable sources of the materia medica, sorted by remedies, distinguishing between pathogenetic and clinical symptoms, and arranged according to the traditional head-to-foot schema, an indispensable tool for any practitioner.
What about the state of affairs today? In spite of the support from the area of electronic data processing it is not possible as a routine in a given case to gain access to the provings and to the clinical experiences, whose numbers increased significantly since Herings’s times and which are recorded in more than 700 journals. The goal set by the materia medica revision project is to remedy this deficiency.
In 1982 the author, encouraged by the monographs of one of his teachers, Georg von Keller (1919-2003), and supported by colleagues, started to lay the first foundations for this revision:
The worldwide published homeopathic journals were listed, provided with three-letter abbreviations and published as “Bibliotheca homoeopathica” by Baur, Gypser, Keller, Thomas (Gouda 1984).
Thus it became possible to investigate which literature beside the one published in books, had to be mastered and how the corresponding sources had to be abbreviated in a consistent way.
The next step was to collect the literature as originals, photocopies or on microfilm. This endeavor was often time consuming and not seldom dependent on fortunate coincidences, but meanwhile it was possible to learn from Keller (1986-1990) how he proceeded to compile his monographs.
Simultaneously, we started with the sighting of the literature in journals was started with the intention to compile directories ofpublished provings and case histories, sorted by remedy names, whereby from 2000 on first collaborators helped.
Meanwhile an appropriate schema to arrange the symptoms was being worked out, including the bibliographic documentation and the first monograph - Dulcamara - compiled,
which was essentially completed as early as 2000.
But its publication could not be dared yet because the overall concept, which should not be something of a fleeting start, had first to stand a thorough examination by others.
With Dr. med. Robert Goldmann and Dr. Peter Minder the author won engaged collaborators. After being properly introduced to the procedures they compiled monographs of rhododendron and capsicum respectively. In the course of the successful compilation of these monographs the overall concept proved to be sustainable and workable, so that special acquisition software could be commissioned
and all could be established on a broader basis.
By this time the number of diligent collaborators involved in the project, carried out at the “Gleeser Akademie homöopathischer Ärzte”, rose to more than 20 and in different fields: indexing, acquisition and administration of literature, allocation of sources, design and maintenance of software, data acquisition, proof reading, publication and organization.
On this solid basis the preparations for further monographs could be undertaken.
Just recently the time-consuming work received generous financial support from homeopathic circles, for whose commitment we are very grateful.
By the end of 2007, 25 years after the beginning, the first volumes could be presented to the colleagues: “Einführung” [Introduction], “Dulcamara”, and “Rhododendron”, meanwhile followed by “Capsicum”, “Clematis” and “Cyclamen”. Numerous others are at the stage of being printed or of collating the symptoms.
Information about the current state of publication is available under www.gypser-verlag.de
The significance of the History of the Materia Medica homoeopathiae for the contemporary Homeopathy
In 1805 provings on healthy persons were added, recorded in the “Fragmenta de viribus medica- mentorum” and which later on were systematically continued in the
“Pure Materia Medica” (1811- 1821). Meanwhile Hahnemann not only performed provings on himself and his family, but during his time in Leipzig (1811-1821)
also faithful disciples had converted to his new curative art, and took part in the detection of the powers of the remedies with great eagerness.
In 1822 the “Archiv für die homöopathische Heilkunst”, a journal published three times a year, founded by E. Stapf and G.W. Groß, was established, among
other things to make the remedy provings available to the medical profession faster and more directly.
This prepared the ground for further journals and periodicals that promoted the enlargement and the widening of the homeopathic materia medica. To mention just a few of the numerous periodicals:
The “Praktischen Mittheilungen der correspondierenden Gesellschaft” were founded in 1826. In 1832 the “Annalen der homöopathischen Klinik” which reported from Germany’s first homeopathic
hospital. In 1832 the “Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitschrift” [General homeopathic journal] was added, which continues up to this day without interruption, thus being second regarding its duration
of publication among medical journals worldwide; and in 1855 the “Correspondenzblatt der homöopathischen Ärzte”.
It’s obvious that the homeopaths also published a vast number of their cured cases in these journals, which on one hand verified the proving symptoms and on the other hand, paraphrasing the words
of Georg von Keller, provided the raw material obtained from the healthy in the provings with the necessary contours and the right finish.
Additionally toxicological reports from traditional medical journals were noted and incorporated, because one knew that their value equals the one from proving symptoms.
In the meantime Hahnemann published his “Chronic Diseases” (1828-1830) which incorporated a part of the remedies from the “Pure Materia Medica” in extended form, as well as remedy provings
published in journals. At the same time C.G.C. Hartlaub and C. F . Trinks made their appearance with a “Pure Materia Medica” (1828-1830).
Other remedy provings published as books followed. Among others “Die Muskatnuß” [Nutmeg] (1833) by Helbig, the “Amerikanischen Arzneimittelprüfungen” [American Remedy Provings] (1857)
by Hering, “Homöopathische Erfahrungen” [Homeopathic Experiences] (1862) by Wolf, “Der Phosphor” [Phosphorus] (1862) by Sorge, the “Materia Medica of American Provings” (1866) again by Hering, “Materia Medica - Physiological and Applied” (1884) by Drysdale et al., and “A Materia Medica of Nosodes” (1888) by Swan.
It is obvious that soon the necessity of collections of the wealth of published material arose, in order to ensure an overview of what was available for practical use. Therefore works like the following
were published: “Systematische Darstellung der reinen Arzneiwirkungen” [Systematic Account of the Pure Effects of Remedies] (1826) by C.G.H. Hartlaub; the “Materialien zu einer vergleichenden Arzneimittellehre” [Materials for a Comparative Materia Medica] (1826) by Schweikert, and “Ausführlicher Symptomen-Kodex der Homöopathischen Arzneimittellehre” [Extensive Symptom Codex
of the Homeopathic Materia Medica] (1843) by G.H.G. Jahr .
The latter was one of the first to see the necessity to differentiate purely patho-genetic from verified and purely clinical symptoms and to distinguish them visually.
T.F. Allen succeeded in publishing the first “monumental work”, the “Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica” 1875-1879, which comprises ten volumes and contains most of the remedies that had
been proved till then.
Another homeopath, who saw the necessity to collate all material accrued and to arrange it systematically, “so that everybody is enabled to see more at a glance (of the capability of a remedy)”
was nobody less than the great Hering. In order to accomplish his project he appealed to the colleagues to build an association already in 1832 in an article “Über eine gemeinsame Aufgabe einer
Arzneimittel” [About the Common Task of a Materia Medica] because he was aware that the enormous amount of material would be difficult to master alone. In the end Hering’s meritorious activity
resulted in the ten volumes of the “Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica (1879-1891), which after his death in 1880 was finalized by his collaborators Raue, Mohr, and Knerr.
Although the last mentioned standard works are of great significance and incalculable value, at the time of publication they were incomplete already and also contained not trifling deficiencies.
More than 100 years passed since then. Many new contributions further enriched the literature. About the end of the golden age of American homeopathy, i.e. after 1910, the remedy provings decreased
both in quantity and quality. A search for important works which pick up Hering’s idea and unite old and new sources as well as clinical symptoms and try to make them assessable, is to no avail.
To some extent the only exception worth mentioning are the three volumes of “A Dictionary of Materia Medica” (1900) by J.H. Clarke, but this work is also not much more recent than the other two standard works.
The homeopath Georg von Keller (1919-2003), who practiced in Tübingen, was the first to point out again the necessity to revise the materia medica. Therefore he made it his business to extend
his private homeopathic collection of books by purchasing books from all over the world. Over the years his library attained a considerable size, which finally could be used to “scrutinize” the literature
now accessible to him for remedy provings, case histories and toxicological reports of a remedy. The praiseworthy fruits of his work are 14 symptom collections of homeopathic remedies (1973-1987), including remedies like conium, psorinum and ignatia.
Unfortunately not everyone recognises the necessity of the materia-medica-revision-project fully.
Nevertheless with the publication of the first volumes of the “Materia Medica Revisa Homoeopathiae” obviously the moment has come to write a further chapter of the history of material medica.
A Joint Venture of Homeopathy
[Dr. R. Robert Goldman]
I. The Initial Situation
It’s no secret that the present state of the homeopathic materia medica has long been unable to fulfill the needs of daily practice. For historical reasons the deficiencies arise in different areas, only some of which shall be mentioned:
- Remedy provings, repeated provings and case histories are scattered over a period of 200 years in international journals and are unavailable to most homeopathic practitioners.
- The materia medica is not structured in such a clear way that symptoms will readily be found were you would expect them.
- The repertories give the desired references to the materia medica only in a fuzzy way or even incorrectly.
- A separation of pathogenetic from clinical symptoms as originally required has been achieved inadequately by categorizing them in grades and thus making the symptom difficult to evaluate.
To further explain the two latter points: In the early days of homeopathy a separation of the symptoms elucidated in remedy provings in healthy persons from the symptoms cured at the sickbed was
a matter of course. G.H.G. Jahr differentiated in his “Symptomen-Kodex” the verified proving symptoms from those cured in sick people, but not the symptoms that appeared in the proving, a fact that
1. C. Hering emphasized as a peculiarity of Jahr’s work.
2. J.T. Kent, on the other hand, marked the symptoms of his cured patients carefully in Allen’s Encyclopedia
3. and planned to consider only these verifications in his repertory beside the proving symptoms, whereby he discarded clinical symptoms that contradicted his provings.
4. But such a distinction regarding the origin of symptoms has been neglected in the further development of homeopathy. Unfortunately the classification into degrees often fails us and the prescription of remedies too often are built on sandy ground if we rely only upon the repertories for the choice of the remedy.
II. An Example
A case from daily practice shall illustrate this problematic issue: A 12year old boy with migraine recurring for years at regular intervals comes to the first anamnesis accompanied by his mother . Already when making the appointment by phone the mother mentioned the inexplicable aversion to butter which her son had developed recently.
The later repertorization of the symptom led to DD.: Mag-c. and Sang. Consulting the sources for Mag-c. it’s striking that obviously there occured a change in meaning regarding the affinity towards “butter”.
Hahnemann slightly changed the symptom from Hartlaub and Trinks “she doesn’t like warm food, she has an inclination toward butter and bread”
5. into “she doesn’t like warm food, she only wants butter and bread (Htb. u. Tr.)”
6. In Allen’s Encyclopedia you find: “She does not relish warm food, has no inclination for bread and butter”
7. obviously resulting from an error of translation and which probably explains the erroneous entry in Kent’s repertory (by the way: “butter” now stands at “aversion” and “desire”), which unfortunately persists in contemporary repertories like “Synthesis” or “Complete”. By the way, Mag-c. has been entered correctly in the other lineage of repertories by Bönninghausen and Boger: “appetite, inclination for butter”
8. and “appetite, desire for butter”
9. Since the symptom, as far as we know, did not appear in the proving of Mag-c., the young patient received Sang., which turned out to be a helpful remedy. This may mean that even after careful anamnesis and correct weighting of the symptoms, there is no therapeutic success only because of the poor quality of our tools. In spite of many publications and an inflationary amount of homeopathic secondary literature during the past two decades, the essential basis of the homeopathic praxis, i.e. the remedy proving, is not reflected adequately in the repertory.
III. Getting acquainted with the literature once the necessity of a revision of the materia medica is recognized, access to the primary literature is necessary as well as training how to analyze these sources. The “Gleeser Akademie homöopathischer Ärzte” [Gleesian Academy of Homeopathic Physicians], founded in 2004, which defines itself as a place for scientific study and training, has at its disposal the most comprehensive library of homeopathic literature worldwide, especially after the incorporation of the collection of books and journals bequeathed by G. v. Keller (1919-2003).
A staff of homeopathic colleagues has grouped itself around this extraordinary literary fund and set itself the goal of analyzing this collection and in due consequence started the task under the supervision of the editor, Dr. med. K.-H. Gypser, who has been preparing the revision for many years.
To get an idea of the task you may start by reading all volumes of a homeopathic journal, preferably from the German speaking or Anglo-Saxon area.
During the process of reading all remedy provings mentioned should immediately be sorted alphabetically in a separate file.
In a second file all case histories are to be recorded sorted by the name of the remedy.
In order to get acquainted with the subject matter, years ago the author examined the 60 volumes of the “Zeitschrift des Berliner Vereins homöo-pathischer Ärzte” and in doing so created the two
above-mentioned files for this journal. At the same time, other collaborators went through other journals along the same lines, so that now there is a solid collection available for remedy provings and
case histories that haven’t been published as books; this collection goes on growing and serves as an index to the remedies in preparation. By way of illustration, here is the register of Gels. for the
ZBV 13(1894)256, 262-263, 344
ZBV 18(1899)81, 227-228
At first sight going through the literature might look like a tedious exploration of a remote terrain, hardly appropriate to our modern, fast moving age of electronic word processing and simultaneous processes. But the one who really becomes engrossed in it, in many respects soon will find himself awarded by further outlooks on his way: knowledge of remedies will be consolidated, developments in the history of medicine and prevailing diseases become intelligible, working with international homeopathic literature from two centuries soon becomes an easy job, and quite obviously the
quality of the elicitation of symptoms in your own practice is trained, which again benefits the patients.
IV. Entering a remedy
At this stage there is a supervised introduction into the actual materia medica project. There you learn how to handle the electronic acquisition software which is put at our disposal and was programmed especially for this revision. The first step consists of entering the chosen remedy proving into the modified head-to-food schema with the help of this computer program that is rather matured by now.
When entering the case histories later on, one has to take care only to include case reports which are as reliable as possible. Treatments where several remedies had been administered in close proximity or where other non-homeopathic therapies had been applied (e.g. parallel administration of an antibiotic beside rhododendron in a case of orchitis) will not be recorded. Also such case histories where the change of symptoms has not been described exactly enough, so that it remains open which symptoms disappeared after the administration of the remedy continue to constitute a problem.
In case of doubt a manual with detailed information about the compilation of sources and symptoms helps the compiler along.
In the beginning of the collaboration in this revision project it is advisable to choose a smaller remedy with a reasonable number of symptoms for processing, which at the same time has its place in clinical practice. Thus our understanding of materia medica is deepened and at the same time widened, without unduly overstraining our capacities regarding time or loosing sight of the envisioned goal.
Questions arising during the processing of remedies are discussed with experienced collaborators directly and then decided in the spirit of the project, so that everybody partakes in a continuous learning
process together with the others, which again has a positive effect on one’s own homeopathic work.
Hering, 1864 C, the nestor of American homeopathy, announced a big encyclopaedic project both in the Old and in the New W orld, which should be “indispensable” for any “really artistic therapy”
he certainly had a smaller timeframe in mind than almost one and a half centuries until such a compilation would be available at least in outlines. But, on closer inspection, the timeframe seems rather
of secondary importance from today’s point of view: After all, homeopathy itself is at issue. For us medical doctors, who have recognized in the methods and the results of this kind of treatment more
than a sophisticated system of therapeutic devotion in accordance to human needs, the task is set to review the scattered remedy provings and case histories and to arrange them in a clear manner.
With good reason the training to become a homeopathic physician should be connected with a participation in a remedy proving, because one’s own experience gives security and develops critical
skills which cannot be gained in seminars.
Then why not also work out a remedy from the proving at the healthy person up to the analysis of the reports of cures from the abundant literature? In this way, and independently from the different contemporary schools, the standard of homeopathy could be put on a safer, more reliable and modern basis.
The “Materia Medica Revisa Homoeopathiae”
[Dr. Dominik Müller]
Lac caninum is a remedy which in daily practice often has quite a narrow “field of application”. Typical is the proverbial change of sides of Lac caninum and a frequent indication is sore throat.
In other sources you find numerous case histories about rheumatic complaints. Finally Lac caninum is a remedy often applied successfully in cases of premenstrual mastodynia. In the course of the revision of Lac caninum, I came across a really remarkable case history from Frederick William Payne (1845-1903) from Boston.
Payne shows in an brilliant exemplary manner how even in a difficult c hronic case, seemingly poor in symptoms, the simillimum can be chosen with certainty.
The [associated proving symptoms] from the “Materia Medica Revisa Homoeopathiae” are quoted in square brackets:
“This is the case of a lady, 66 years of age. Six months before her visit to me she wakened, after a good night's rest, with a noticeable blur before the left eye, accompanied by a dull pain with sense of fullness and pressure and luminous flickerings in the whole visual field. She was subject to Hayfever, and at the time of the occurrence of the visual blindness, had had an attack of hard coughing, followed by the condition of blur, flickering and pressure, which rapidly increased until vision was almost entirely obliterated; though peripherally, in all parts, she was conscious of light and of moving objects, centrally no perception of vision remained. Accompanying the eye symptoms was much feeling of weight in the vertex extending to the forehead, with sense of tightness around the head, as of a band tightly drawn; in the blind retinal area she had occasional flickerings, as of the extinguishing of the flame of a lamp at intervals, while, always present, and occupying the same blind area, was a rolling motion, as of dark and light colored smoke, constantly curling before her. On ophthalmoscopic inspection, striae of opacity in both lenses were noticeable, while the left eye gave every evidence of having been subjected to a haemorrhage within the sheath of the left optic nerve, though no haemorrhagic spots were visible occupying any part of the retinal area. The symptoms of the case seemed difficult to cover, and owing to their profundity, gave much apprehension of a possible cerebral apoplexy supervening. On account of the central amblyopia, and the condition of vertigo with confusion, Crocus 200 was given, and the patient kept under its influence, with occasional repetition of the dose, for the four following months; during which evident gain in the pressed feeling of head and eyes, and relief to the vertigo were markedly noticeable, though the eye gave no signs of clearing, and the objective manifestations in the visual field continued. Causticum, Conium and Crotalus horridus were prescribed at intervals, one at a time, of course, in succession, during the following seven months, and still the eye symptoms persisted. On carefully reviewing the symptoms I found:
the mind considerably confused, rather slow in collecting her thoughts [cannot collect here thoughts; confused feeling, so that she neither can note down symptoms nor write a letter];
she had a constant dread, as if she would become unconscious [very excitable, constant anxiety; sensation she would become unconscious];
had severe pressure in the vertex, as if pressing downward upon the brain [marked sensation of heaviness in the region of the vertex; pressure at the vertex from 18.15 till 19.15; slight pressure at the vertex; slight pressure at the vertex and above the eyes];
[...] Round, bright lights, red and green ones before left eye, especially in when looking into the light. Left eye was sensitive to light, especially to sunlight. Cataract. [Occasionally small, floating
disks appear in front of the eyes, that show primary colors at the margins; square or round green or brown spots in front of the left eye when the sun is shining bright; sometimes luminous spots
in front of the left eye. Cataract.]
Although these symptoms are rather indefinite, and more or less present under other remedies, I chose Lac caninum as the Similimum, for all the above symptoms appeared under its proving, and the choice proved the solution of the problem.
In an extract from a letter received from the lady, in three weeks after Lac caninum was prescribed, she said:
“My eyes have been quite comfortable for the last two weeks; I have suffered less from all the disagreeable symptoms, like weight in top of the head, dryness of the eyes in the morning, and sensitiveness to light. They are surely no worse and I think vision is a little clearer in the left eye.”
Three weeks after this report the gain had continued, the visual area having become still brighter, and the discomfitures largely abated. Vision thereafter gradually improved, the cataractous lenses growing steadily clearer, until with the aid of compound myopic cylinders to correct the refractive error, vision has become useful, and the crystalline lenses, when last inspected, practically, were perfect in translucency .
The cure of such a case of extreme profundity, after having been subjected to an apparent haemorrhagic pressure for over a year, is in itself a subject for much wonderment and amazement, so that one can truly feel that nothing is impossible under the astonishing influence of our law of similars.”
Various aspects become clear after studying this case:
A mere repertorial analysis of the case especially with current means would not lead to the simillimum. As Payne correctly states, the symptoms available for the choice of the remedy are not very characteristic and rather vague.
Payne does not speculate, he analyses the case exactly. He sticks to the symptoms - especially in this deep pathology - as the patient describes them. In a masterly manner he follows the guidelines for
taking a case as specified by Hahnemann in the Organon.
The case history clearly shows that for a certain choice of the remedy recourse to the original proving symptoms is not only desirable but absolutely necessary. Only this way an a priori certainty of cure
can be achieved. This exact procedure can be found in countless case histories which I analyzed in the course of the revision of Lac caninum. Contemporary currents and schools of thought in homeopathy have left this comprehensible path, which is easy to learn and to teach, in favor of ideas which in part are highly speculative. Normally nowadays the study of primary materia medica after analyzing the case is neither taught nor applied in practice. This inevitably has to lead to unsatisfactory results.
Payne proceeds very deliberately. He doesn’t fritter away neither by fast nor by ill-considered changes of remedies.
Last not least this case history shows how immense the importance of the revision of the materia medica is for daily practice. An enormous quantity of remedy provings, case histories and toxicological
reports which up to now are difficult to trace or not accessible or unsorted, now is made available to the colleagues in a clear and structured edited version.
Lac caninum has not been published in Allen’s Encyclopedia. In Hering’s “Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica” under Lac caninum mainly cured symptoms are described, proving symptoms are largely missing. This and other deficiencies are eliminated in the course of the revision. Proving symptoms and experiences from case histories (clinical symptoms) are displayed so that they are clearly distinguished and recognizable at a glance. Therefore the “Materia Medica Revisa Homoeopathiae” is an indispensable tool for “true practitioner of the healing art”
(Organon § 3)