we have discussed some finer details of the meaning of "totality of symptoms" in the previous issue of our newsletter. When it comes to practical reality of prescribing, the ideal principle we strive to realise can be often only imperfectly imitated due to existence of various deficiencies. While inadequacy we can more often than not find on the side of practitioner, we need to admit our tools of the trade (materia medicae and repertories) also leave much to be desired.
Without claiming completeness, here is our list of issues, which we need to be aware of while aiming to address the totality of symptoms of a case:
1. Provings are incomplete. Remedies need to be proved and reproved many times with many provers before their record can be considered fairly complete. When you read the symptoms in the materia medica, always try to imagine you are only seeing a partial image of the final puzzle. If the symptoms of your case do not all fit the remedy record, it can still be the curative remedy – provided you hit enough of the characteristic symptoms of the remedy and assume the rest will also match. Read this for a small practical example of the point – using Cyclamen with only a partial match of the symptoms.
With some remedies being much better proved than others, you should always consider the SIZE of the remedy when evaluating how far the similarity goes. You would like to go for a much closer match when selecting Sepia and settle for much looser similarity with a comparatively smaller remedy such as Arsenicum iodatum. For example, Kent used this remedy in a case where the only matching symptom (from a very small proving) was "thick, yellow discharge resembling honey." This type of assuming is obviously (if not obvious, read this) not without risks, that's why we tend favor the BIG remedies – and also fail. Unfortunately, the remedies do not care how much we know about their use and the curative remedy for a troublesome case might be found in some obscure little remedy – searching for the like usually involves failing several times with the (not-so) obviously indicated remedies and failing to produce a desired change.
2. A symptom recorded in the materia medica might be an artefact i.e. it is not a symptom caused by the influence of the substance, but may be a random fluctuation, caused by other external or internal influence or simply erroneously included.
For the named reason, we like to see every symptom confirmed and re-confirmed either clinically or by other provers. Which, of course, does not mean you should a priori dismiss such a symptom, as illustrated by Lippe in the Recommended article (see below). On the other hand, if the symptom is highlighted and listed in many books, it can still be a non-sense, which leads us to the next point.
3. There is only a limited amount of original data, most authors copy from each other, including the errors. The vast majority of symptoms of any value come from Hahnemann, T.F. Allen, Hering and Clarke; many of the modern books are either rehash (or verbatim copy) of the old stuff or author's speculation. So, if you read about Silicea propensity to "think only of pins, fear them, search and count them" in many of our books, it does not mean the symptom is real and that it does not originate in a single reference, and a horribly misrepresented one too. (According to André Saine, the 'fear of pins' has the following origin: "The case was a woman – and that was reported a long time ago, like 1835. It was a woman that was preparing a cake. She made food for the family and she noticed that there were pins in the kitchen that she couldn't find afterwards. She had fear that the pins went into the cake that she baked and she searched the cake to look for the pins and then she couldn't find them. So she searched all over the rest of the food, she was sure about that they were in the food. ... That was a cured case with Silicea and it was reported: 'fixed ideas because thinking of pins.'" )
To be continued...
André Saine's answer to a post-debate question - Part II
André Saine debated Steve Novella of Yale on whether homeopathy is a great medicine or a dangerous pseudoscience. We have already published the first part of his answer to the question "What do you consider to be the best clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of homeopathy for any indication?", now comes the second part. The text is rather long and worth to ponder upon, so we omit the usual question-and-answer rubric and invite you to read this article instead.
Read the article here. »
Recommended article – (HOW TO STUDY) MATERIA MEDICA
Another quality article from Ad. Lippe, presenting the essentials for understanding, studying and using materia medica. To facilitate understanding, Dr. Lippe provides specific examples and draws a line connecting totality of symptoms, the essence of the case and the characteristic symptoms of the remedy – the notions which naturally stand closely connected and complete one another.
Read the article here. »
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