Book review by Dr Prathibha.K.C BHMS,MD(Hom)
Medical Officer,Dept. of Homoeopathy, Govt. of Kerala
Materia Medica of homoeopathy is the collection of the pathogenic effects of drugs and of the derangements they are capable of causing in the healthy body, by means of which is worked the principle – ‘ Let likes be treated by likes’.
There are six volumes of Materia Medica Pura.
1st Volume: 1811- Contain pathogenesis of 12 medicines, 6 of which are new, the pathogenesis of all of those which had already appeared being considerably increased.
2nd Volume: 1816- Contain pathogenesis of 8 medicines together with those ascribed to the magnet.
3rd Volume: 1817- With 8 medicines.
4th Volume: 1818- With 12 medicines.
5th Volume: 1819- With 11 medicines.
6th Volume: 1821- With 10 medicines.
Volume I Bell, Dulc, Cina, Cann.S, Cocc, Nux, Op, Moschus, Oleand, Merc, Acod, Arn.
Volume II Caust, Ars, Ferr, Ign, Puls, Rheum, Rhus, Bry, Magnes, North and south pole.
Volume III Cham, Cinch, Hell, Asar, Ipec, Scilla, Stram, Ver-Alb.
Volume IV Hyos, Dig, Aur, Guiac, Camph, Led, Ruta, Sars, Con, Chel, Sulph, Arg.
Volume V Euphr, Meny, Cycl, Samb, Calc, Acetica, Mur-acid, Thuja,Tarax, Rhos Acid, Spig, Staph.
Volume VI Angustura, Mang, Caps, Verb, Coloc, Spog, Dros, Bism, Cic, Stannum.
There are 61 medicines contained in these volumes. Besides, the magnet (3), 22 of them transferred from fragmenta with their pathogenesis enlarged. The remaining 39 are new.
There were 37 provers. Some occur comparatively rarely, but, some with great frequency. Eg. Franz, Gross, Hahnemann’s son Freidrich, Hartmann, Herrmann, Hornburg, Langhammer, Ruckert, Staph,
Of the few exceptions of this rule.
1) Longhammer’s symptoms both mental and moral.
This prover deformed in body and unfortunate in his circumstances, was so depressed and altogether morbid in his disposition that his psychical state could at no time be fairly ascertained to the medicine he was taking. His moral symptoms are of very similar character under every drug he proved.
2) Staph’s Erotic Symptoms- Taken with caution.
Proving has been made up on persons in perfect health, living in a contentment and comparative ease. When an extraordinary circumstance of any kind for eg., fright, chagrin, external injuries, excessive enjoyment, of any pleasure, or some event of great importance supervened during the proving, then no symptoms were recorded.
When they were of mild variety (slight importance) the symptoms have been placed (-thus informing the reader that they could not be considered decisively genuine). No information of dose and mode of administration.
Second Augmented Edition of Reine Arzneimittellehre.
Volume I – 1822
Volume II – 1824
Volume III and IV – 1825
Volume V – 1826
Volume VI – 1827
Each contains the same list of medicines as before, save that in the sixth Ambra, Carbo Animalis, Carbo Veg were introduced for the first time. Total 66 medicines.
In the first edition the volumes contain no contributions from the fellow provers. But, when these medicines appear in the second edition, their pathogenesis have been freely supplied from fellow provers and largely augmented accordingly. We can see that names of about 37 provers of which some occur comparatively rarely, but some with great frequency.
Third Edition of Reine Arzneimittellehre.
1830 & 1833 respectively
The two volumes contain the same medicines as before save that causticum is omitted from the 2nd having been transferred to the ‘Chronic Diseases’. The chief change that has taken place has been the amalgamation of all symptoms of Hahnemann’s own observations with those of others in to one continuous schema. Pathogenesis increased in most instances.
Hahnemann’s Way of Conducting Proving
Hahnemann’s Way of Conducting Proving was the following.
After giving the instruction of proving to his fellow workers, he handed them the bottles with the tincture and afterwards they brought him their day-book. He examined every prover carefully about each particular symptom continually calling attention to the necessary accuracy in expressing the kind of feeling. When handling their papers to him after they had been cross-examined, they had to affirm that was the truth and nothing but the truth to the best of their knowledge by offering their hands to him.
The present ‘Materia Medica Pura’ was translated from the latest German edition by Dr. R.E.Dudgeon. The six unequal volumes were made as to two volumes of equal size. The medicines are arranged alphabetically. The essays scattered among the six volumes were divided into two and put as preface in two volumes.
The first English translation of ‘Materia Medica Pura’ was done by Dr.Hempel in 1846, but was imperfect. He omitted many medicines. He did not follow Hahnemannian arrangement of symptoms.
Later Dr.Quin translated ‘Materia Medica’. The first volume was completed and printed, but was destroyed by a fire at printing press. The only copy saved is in the library of British Homoeopathic Society. It has neither preface nor even a title page. The first volume is translated from the second edition. But, the medicines it contains do not altogether correspond with the original. The arrangement of symptoms is not that of Hahnemenn. He arranged all the symptoms of Hahnemenn and his disciples and arranged in a separate list, those obtained from old school authorities.
Materia Medica Pura – Volume – I
1) Translator’s preface.
2) Author’s preface – From Vol. I of third Edition.
3) Spirit of Homoeopathic Medical Doctrine – From Vol. II of third Edition.
4) Preamble – From Vol. II of third Edition.
Aconite to Ipecac- 37 medicines.
Materia Medica Pura – Volume – II
1) Nota Bene For My Reviewers.
2) Examination of the sources of the common Materia Medica. Vol II – 2nd Edition.
3) A reminiscence. Vol IV – 2nd Edition.
4) The medical Observer – A fragment. Vol IV – 2nd Edition.
5) How small doses of such very attenuated medicines as homoeopathy employs still possess great power. Vol VI – 2nd Edition.
6) Medicines Ledum to Verbascum.
The Materia Medica Pura as left to us by Hahnemenn consists of six volumes, two of which (Vol I and II) had reached a third edition while the remainder did not get beyond the second.
In the earlier editions, the pathogenesis of the various medicines are not arranged in the same way as they are in the latest. Thus, in the former editions, Hahnemann’s own observations are put first, separately numbered. The symptoms obtained by his disciples under his superintendence and those derived from the work of other observers being arranged together in a different list and specially numbered.
In the third edition, to which only the first two volumes attained, the arrangement is different. Here, all the symptoms of each medicine whether observed by Hahnemann himself or his disciples or taken from old school authorities are combined in one schema and numbered continuously.
Hahnemann’s own observations being distinguished by having no name or sign attached. While those of his pupils are indicated by an abbreviation, the name of each appended to their respective observations. The authorities of the old school are named after the symptom for which they are responsible.
Another peculiarity in the work as it has been left to us is that the medicines are not arranged alphabetically. Each volume contains a varying number of medicines arranged alphabetically according to their common German names. But, there is no attempt to maintain the alphabetical arrangement in respect to the whole work.
If the work had been translated as such (German original) this would give six volumes of various sizes and their contents differently arranged. It would reproduce the work, as it exists in the German original. But, it would like that be difficult to as a book of reference and if the minor details of the German words were also preserved, it would involve a considerable additional amount of printing without any advantage there from.
Merits of Translated Work
1. Medicines arranged alphabetically, symptoms arranged in the plan adopted in the latest editions.
2. To give out the work in two handsome volumes of equal size.
3. Greater utility and literacy homogeneity of the work.
Plan Adopted for the work.
The essays distributed throughout the original volume has been divided between the two volumes of the translation, so as to form appropriate preface to each.
The alteration introduced by Hahnemann in his latest editions with regard to the indication of the name of the prover by an abbreviation, has been extended to all the medicines in this translations, these abbreviations are printed in italics.
4. Hahnemann’s abbreviations of his provers name are not always the same, but uniformity has been maintained in this translation.
There are certain German words and phrases used by Hahneman for which we have no precise English equivalent. Sometimes two totally different things are expressed by one English word only.
Eg.The German Hals – Used for both throat and neck.
Brust – Either chest or mammae.
Fuss – Denotes Foot, sometimes leg up to the knees, sometimes the whole lower extremities.
Schenkel – Thigh, sometimes leg occasionally the whole lower limb.
Schooss – The groin or iliac region, occasionally the whole hypogastrium.
Gesicht – Sight or face.
Druckend – Pressive, sometimes aching.
It gives a detailed account of the futile endeavors hither to made to determine the powers of the medicines from their colour, taste and smell. It shows how Chemistry has been applied to extract from medicinal substances.
The true knowledge of medicines and of true healing will be obtained when the physicians trust the cure of complete cases of diseases with single medicinal substances whose positive effects include a group of symptoms very similar to those presented by it on healthy persons.
With respect to the duration of action, it is determined by repeated experiment on the healthiest possible persons.
Spirit of Homoeopathic Medical Doctrine
As the condition of the organism and its health depends solely on the health of the life, which animates it, it follows that the altered health, which we term disease, consists in a condition altered originally only in its vital sensibilities and functions. All the different medicines known and thoroughly tested as to their peculiar symptoms must be the most certain remedy in every case of disease.
As every case is a distinct individuality, independent, peculiar, a complex of symptoms always differing in nature – to affect a cure we should take every aggregate of morbid symptoms as complete as can be met within any single known drug. For the convenience of treatment we require merely to jot down after each symptom all the medicines which can produce such a symptom with tolerable accuracy, expressing them by a few letters and also to bear in mind the circumstances under which they occur, that have determining influence on our choice, and proceed in the same way with all the other symptoms, noting by what medicines each is exited. From the list so prepared, we shall be able to perceive which among the medicines homoeopathically covers most of the symptoms present, especially the most peculiar and characteristic ones – and this is the remedy sought for.
MATERIA MEDICA PURA – VOLUME – II
Nota Bine for my Reviwers
This is to show how much enmity the better healing art had to endure from the allopathic doctors up to 1817. There were several unfair criticisms on the 2nd part of Materia Medica Pura especially on the essay “ spirit of homeopathic medical doctrine.
A case is taken according to the direction given in organon and administered pure, unmixed, the most appropriate according to the principle of homoeopathy. Then if a speedy permanent cure is not obtained, we will be able to give a public refutation of this doctrine. Then homoeopathy is as good as lost.
The homoeopathic medical doctrine will stand out in more prominent relief appear to great advantage against the foil of this nonsense and will dispel the nocturnal darkness of antiquated stupidities for it teaches how to afford certain benefit in diseases.
Examination of the Sources of the Common Materia Medica
1 The first source is mere guesswork and fiction, which set forth the general therapeutic virtues of drugs – By Dioscorides. These substances are resolvent, deodstruent, diuretic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative, antispasmodics, cathartic etc.
2 The second source of virtue of drugs in the Materia Medica is their sensible properties from which their action may be inferred.
Eg. 1) Testicle Shaped Orchis root to restore the manly vigour.
2) Phallus Impudicus to strengthen weak erections.
3) Yellow Turmeric to cure jaundice.
3 The third source is by Chemistry – by Geofroy.
To attain the knowledge of real pure action of remedies on the human frame by means of vegetable and animal chemistry. Animal chemistry can merely separate from animal substances such inanimate matters as show a different chemical action with chemical reagents. They act dynamically on the spiritual animal organism.
Chemical constituents shown by vegetable chemistry to exist in plants also act in the same way.
Thus, chemistry can only give chemical information with respect to medicinal substances. But, cannot tell what spiritual dynamic changes they are capable of affecting in the health of the human being.
4. The fourth source – The most common of all the sources.
It is from the practice of the physique, namely the employment of medicines in actual diseases where by it was imagined that information could be obtained with respect to the diseases in which the different medicines are useful.
5. By accident.
Eg. a) The inhabitants of deep valleys were found to suffer from goiters. After thousands of drugs and domestic nostrums had been tried in vain, the roasted sponge found to be the best thing for it.
b) Venereal Diseases – After other drugs – Mercury was lip upon and proved itself specific.
c) Intermittent fever – after other drugs with Cinclona Bark.
These specific cannot be always because the diseases were not constant in their nature.
6. Testing experimentally their pure effects – which form the pure materia medica.
The actual morbid state was attributed to pathology by the old school of medicines and it was given special names and recorded in nosological works. For these specially named diseases they gave special modes of treatment and this constituted science of therapeutics.
Diseases are nothing more than alterations of the sound, normal state of health, manifested by signs and symptoms. So, the honest physician should investigate the peculiar character of the disease before him in order to restore the patient with certainty. The simple natural way alone remains for us to ascertain with certainty the power of medicines to healthy individuals. Such a medicine will never fail to cure the disease.
The Medical Observer
In order to be able to observe well, the medical practitioner requires to possess the capacity and habit of noticing carefully and correcting the phenomena that take place in natural diseases as well as those that occur in the morbid states artificially exited by medicines when they are tested upon the healthy body and the ability to describe them in the most appropriate and natural expressions. We should direct our powers of concentration upon it.
How can small doses of such very attenuated medicines as homoeopathy employs still possess great power.
When a small portion of medicine is added to water or alcohol, it liberates the dynamic powers of the medicine by means of succussion or trituration. Every part should contain an equal portion of the drop of medicine.
This effect is developed by friction by which not only the internal physical properties are roused but also the dynamic medicinal powers are released.
Scheme of Arrangement in Each Medicine
1) Name of the drug – Common Name / Latin Name.
2) Brief description of its preparation – its part used, its properties, poisonous effects etc.
3) Names of Hahnemann’s disciples – who assisted him in the proving of drugs.
Eg. Abner, Gross, Staph, Frederic Hahnemann.
Authorities of traditional medicines quoted by Hahnemann for the recorded effects of the drugs.
Eg. Albert’s jurisprudence.
4) Name of the drug in capital.
5) Order of Symptoms.
5. Symptoms are numbered 5,10,15,20…
6. Time of occurrence of some of the symptoms after taking the medicine is given at the end of the symptoms in brackets (Eg. Shooting in the frontal bone like a saw drawing (After six hours) Page No.185 of Materia Medica Pura Vol I)
7. Symptoms got by Hahnemann, his disciples and other authorities are put together. Symptoms got by Hahnemann without any distinction; Symptoms got by Hahnemann’s disciples (Abbreviations – E.g. Staf); Old school authorities (Name in capitals)
8. Two Grades ordinary and bold (frequently occurring symptom)
9. Some symptoms are given in brackets. These are the doubtful symptoms, when circumstances like fright, chagrin etc that are supposed to interfere with the action of the medicine. The symptoms are placed in brackets for the purpose of informing the reader that they could not be considered genuine (a drawing tearing in the fore part of the urethra when not urinating) Page 175 of Materia Medica Pura Vol I .
10 Notes by Dr. Richard Hughes. At the bottom of the page designated by small figures like * , 1,2 etc
Forward by Hughes Who Assisted Dr Dudgeon in this Work
To make this translation of The Materia Medica Pura as accurate as possible, it should be desirable that all the citations contained in this work should be verified from their original sources and renewed from thence. Often adds to the value of a symptom that we should know the object and circumstances of its occurrence, the dose by which it was produced and so forth Hahnemann rarely give such information. All these matters will be found in the notes by Richard Hughes in the bottom of the page.