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How to study Materia Medica

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  • How to study Materia Medica

    The following method was suggested by Boenninghausen, and I used it to great advantage for myself and with my apprentices.

    The plan is to establish knowledge of the most important points—the characteristics—of each remedy. The way it is achieved is by comparison and underlining.

    COMPARISON: each symptom from the collection of CHARACTERISTICS is looked up in the REPERTORY.
    UNDERLINING: if the symptom is found in the REPERTORY, the symptom is underlined in the CHARACTERISTICS.

    In Detail:
    For this study we took Boenninghausen’s Characteristics, which are printed in: Boger: Boenninghausen’s characteristics and repertory, or are available also in a separate print at a lower cost. We took as a repertory: Boenninghausen’s Therapeutic pocketbook original 1846, where the English students wrote the English titles over the German ones.

    We use the following Key for underlining:
    Double underlining= fifth grade in the repertory
    Single underlining= fourth grade in the repertory
    Broken line underlining= third grade.

    Sulphur page 170 Head section
    Head:--Congestion from chest to head, with burning heat and gurgling, pulsating pain in brain, throbbing in neck, and cardiac region, diminished hearing and flushes of heat to face.
    We have to look up each bit in the REPERTORY:

    Head internal: page 9: Sulph in 4th grade—underline Head with pencil single
    Congestion: page 140: Sulph in 5th grade – underline congestion twice
    Chest: internal page 115: Sulph in 5th grade – underline Chest twice
    Head: see above and remember
    Burning inner parts: 143, 5th grade—underline Burning twice
    Heat inner parts: 283, 3rd grade—underline Heat with a broken line
    Gurgling: 156, 3rd grade – underline gurgling with a broken line
    Pulsating internal: 172 3rd grade – underline with a broken line
    In brain: there is no rubric
    Throbbing : 161, 4th grade – underline with single line
    Neck: 114, 4th grade -- underline Neck once
    Cardiac region: 116, 5th grade – underline Cardiac region twice
    Diminished hearing: 29, 5th grade – underline diminished hearing twice
    Flushes of heat: 285, 4th grade – underline Flushes of heat once
    Face: There is no general rubric for face.

    It take quite some time in the beginning to find the things in the repertory, but after a few remedies worked out in this manner, one knows exactly where to find what.
    It took at the start about 10-12 hours to go through one remedy in this way, but after a few its down to 2-4 hours.

    The same exercise can be done with the proving and the repertory. I did it for most of the antipsorics against the TT. For Sep alone it took me about 30 hours.

    Imagine to do it with Synthesis and Allen’s—a lifetime would not be enough to do a few remedies.
    Over and all, I found this the quickest way to establish a good working knowledge of the remedies and as a side-effect ended up with a very sharp collection of characteristics and a good knowledge of the repertory. This all helps tremendously in case-taking, because once the main complaints are expressed one knows which remedies are probably necessary and can then ask specific question to establish whether it’s the one or the other by knowing in advance where the remedies for the given case differ.
    Hans Weitbrecht

  • #2
    This is how I study Materia Medica:

    I make mind maps of the remedy. They stick in the memory because of visualisation. I also 'get into' the remedy and experience in my mind/body the symptoms produced (like acting out). Also studying the remedy in its natural form and how it acts, where it is found, its composition. If you really get inside the remedy you don't forget it. And if you see a symptom picture of a remedy in someone, you never forget it.

    These are my ways and they work for me. My two cents worth. Not denouncing any other way. Just thought I'd share my way.

    Cheers Scruffrat


    • #3
      Other one forms:

      We study the Medical Pure Matter, which is the original source of which I think that it is necessary to to begin start.
      He was saying the Dr. Eugenio Candegabe in a course, which when one accustoms to reading Medical Matter, it is like a novel, slightly equally of interesting and I agree. To a little time to be reading patogenesias, one is impregnated with the topics that go repeating itself along the symptoms of the experimenters, so much mental as physicists. The substance shows his face, an individual and peculiar face.
      This allows to do a classification of the symptoms for themes.
      When we have the themes, we prune to continue finding the essence, the coherence of the remedy, obtaining big themes inside the themes.
      We are leaving of side the literal symptom and rescue the themes, the big essential themes of every remedy.
      We study also the substance, as says Scruffrat, so interesting.
      We identify with the substance, think that we are a gold to understand Aurum, think that we are a flower of the mountain to understand Pulsatilla, think that we are a clay to understand Alúmina.... We Look for information it brings over of composition, habitat, structure, etc... This way we are discovering for example, that the structure of the arsenic, is totally tidy, as the order that Arsenicum needs. We are finding the coherence of the remedy, his themes. The image comes also from someone, enclosedly prominent figures of novel, movies, biographies, all that has to form a part of our arsenal of study.
      As Scruffrat says, a personage does not forget. For example, it is easy to remember the essence if we think that Dracula is Arsenic, with the whole subject matter of Arsenic:
      Theme of the death that comes of inside and the rot (... the gentleman Dracula dead living ...)
      Theme of the loneliness (... condemned to remain in the loneliness of his coffin ...)
      Theme of the misfortune and the penalty (... condemned to the glooms ...)
      Theme of the desire to be loved (... to the search of an affection that never manages ....)
      Theme of the dependence of other persons (... having to suck the blood of his victims to remain intact, to escape to the rot of the death ...) or as Vithoulkas says, with a need of other one that is not an interaction, but egoist, mere need other one to live.
      Possessive of the people (... that vampiriza to his victims, obtaining of them any food to remain incorrupt ...) The image of the perfect one Lord, arranged, exquisite, methodical, fearfully to dying and this cherry of symptom in which Arsenic is the only remedy: " desire to be killed with a stake in the heart after midnight ". (The only way of killing our personage Drácula who probably in his interior wishes the death to reach the rest that never had, with this restlessness for so typical nocha of the remedy).

      It is clear that this form serves for the search of a simillimum of the totality of a person, not to treat syndromes or morbid pictures to physical level.

      Also I, with the only intention of sharing. Regards.


      • #4
        Dear Members
        Interesting to see, how students are already encouraged to go away from the primary sources and to come up with interpretations when studying the MM, even to the extend to give the interpretation more waight than the actual proving.

        Hahnemann certainly speaks unambigously in Paragraph 144 Org.:

        From such a MM, everything that is conjectual, all that is mere assertion or imaginary, should be strictly excluded; everything should be the pure language of nature cartefully and honestly interrogated.

        That's the source and foundation of homeopathy, and this is where true homeopathic prescribtions rest.

        May Mr. Candergebe study the Organon before giving such illfated advice to students.
        Hans Weitbrecht


        • #5
          Thank-you for your post Hans, I'm sure I will find it useful.


          • #6

            don't know who you are referring to as 'students', I'll always be a student whether 'qualified' or not. You can never stop learning, unless you're dead (then who knows?).Just for the course , all my knowledge comes from the 'primary sources' as you put it.There are no other true sources. And they are not 'my interpretations' . They are true remedy pictures. Nothing added, nothing taken away.

            I shared my way of learning the remedies/MM. That is all. Dont' judge and make assumptions. Who said they deviated form primary sources?

            HAVE A NICE DAY


            • #7
              dear Scrufrat
              Well put-- I am sitting here with the ruler and a pen, the repertory and the MM and study phos-ac.
              Hans Weitbrecht
              HOMEOPATH / IRELAND


              • #8
                Dr. Candegabe does NOT recommend the study of Materia Medica in the way that I had described. He only said in a course that when we get used to study Materia Medica Pura, its study is as interesting as a novel. And this is what I said, and not anything different (sometimes we read the letter of what is written and at other times we prefer to interpret what we read).
                The way of studying Materia Medica which I had described, is the one I myself follow, the one followed in my group and in other groups that I know. I did not judge other ways of studying, but, since Hans is inviting me to, I will do it now:
                Dear members: a fountain is the beginning of a great river, but only if we allow its waters to advance. If we don’t, at most, it will become a puddle, but it will never get to be a river. Besides, a river, enriches itself with other fountains as it flows, it widens and progresses towards its goal, which is to join the sea. This is the richness of homeopathy, that it can be interdisciplinary, open, encompassing of the totality. In fact, the contrast between Hans’ point of view and mine, rises the problem that, while I can learn from Hans, because I study the totality, in which the part is included, Hans cannot learn anything from me, because in the part you can not fit the whole.
                If we were to think like Hans, or Hans would manage to convince us, we would have to close this and every other forum, because in the forums we debate diverse points of view, given that there are different interpretations of the same things.
                We would also need to burn all homeopathy books, except, of course, the Organon and Chronic Diseases, which would be elevated to the rank of Mao’s Little Red Book or the Bible. Actually, Hans, your attitude is more religious than scientific. We would have to, to sum it all up, reject all research and put on blinders in order not to look sideways or be polluted with any idea around us.
                I cannot imagine Hahnemann, the man who wrote six editions of his own Organon, revising himself time after time, telling us that we should remain there, that we should not revise stray away from his strict doctrine. It is easier for me to imagine him telling those who follow him with praise and acclaim: “Sh, Sh, you better shut up and listen to what these other people have to tell us!”
                Hans defends, by reasons of orthodoxy, “the letter”, and I defend, by reasons of identical orthodoxy, “the spirit” of that letter.
                My dear fellow members, as homeopaths, you know well that idiosyncrasy matters, and that some people, because of their idiosyncrasy, are excellent observers with at the microscope, because their minds have a special penchant which makes them ideal for detail, for small and concrete things. But in order to see a bit further, it is necessary to leave the microscope and to look around, to look in a different way. And there are also other type of people with a different idiosyncrasy ready to do this. For example, Kali people, as you know, are inside the cell (delimited), they find very fitting dogmatic ideas like the ones that Hans defends, but: what are we to do with the other kind of people? All of us who are not Kali?
                We would have to fit some corrective device into our minds in order not to think, or we would have to gag ourselves in order not to ask questions, to punish ourselves with self-flagelation every time that we would have a doubt, every time that we would feel intrigued by this or the other theory.
                Hans, as I told you, I learn from you, as I learn from all and everyone of the homeopaths that I have met and I know, whether I share their ideas or not, and this is the reason why I not only accept you, and everyone else who doesn’t think like me, but also defend you. I understand that you can not let yourself flow from the sources of Hahnemann and Boeninghausen, and that you need to remain there, in your class platform, as a teacher, in order to defend what you consider the one and only truth. And I can even understand that you would, as if we were at an elementary school, admonish prestigious professor renown internationally like Dr. Candegabe, telling them that the should study. Yes, Hans, I do understand you, after all I practice homeopathy.


                • #9
                  This entire thread can be summed up this way:

                  Question: How do you study materia medica?
                  Answer 1: I study it this way. It works really well for me!
                  Answer 2: I study it this way. It works really well for me and I feel confident that I know it well.
                  Answer 3: This is how I study it.

                  Questioner's response: You are ALL DOING IT WRONG!! YOU HAVE TO DO IT MY WAY!!!
                  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.<br />C.G.Jung


                  • #10
                    Oh my goodness, I think we are being a little unfair. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but we keep getting back to the debate of should we "modernize" homeopathy. I believe that Hans has always said that in order to move forward with our knowledge we need to understand our past knowledge; ie: start at the beginning, truely learn the information that H. gave us, before exploring alternate routes. I'm sure if more homeopaths took the time to understand the fundamentals they wouldn't waste so much time on theories that clearly go against the founding principals and in fact search to "modernize"homeopathy based instead on a strong foundation. But I'm sure I don't need to defend Hans (he does fine on his own). As a student I do feel alarmed that so much of the information I have gleaned is evidentally wrong (and in my limited experiences have proved themselves to be wrong and hurtful); but then I never started at the beginning either until now. Quite frankly, (no offence), I would rather follow a study tactic of boenninghassen (tried,tested and true)at this point and again thank Hans for the information which I believe he was re-posting after a specific request to do so.


                    • #11
                      We all study the fundamentals. At least we're all taught to do so.
                      Whether we all study like Hans explained is a different thing.
                      Also I don't think the debate should be that Homeopathy needs to ne modernized. And also that does not mean one should not explore the boundaries of percieving the similimum.

                      I do appreciate HAns explaining his method of study of the MAteria Medica. It is useful and often important to be guided by stong characteristic physicals of a remedy when making the decision on a remedy. I have to wonder which homeopath does not do that?
                      And for animals its even more important to be able to recognize these PQRS sympotms to prescribe.

                      The bulk of good Indian homeopaths give importance to physical chracteristics to make their prescriptions, single remedy often just a few doses. Then the next remedy, when the next lot of characteristics come up. I've never heard it termed the "Boger Boenninghausan" or "Hahnemannian" approach though.

                      Study of remedies by the "modern" thinkers should come only after that, as the interpretations many times are partial and do not cover the whole dimension of the remedy or presentation of the patients that can require that remedy. Rg. Every patient needing Sulphur will not appear like a "Ragged Philosopher".

                      As Opium stated, modern approaches of study and prescription add to the fun of the study of the Materia Medica, but need not be SOLELY relied on for prescription. This depends on the individual case.


                      [ 17. March 2003, 11:54: Message edited by: doctorleela ]


                      • #12
                        I've seen various explanations on how to study the MAteria MEdica during our training.
                        BUT We were not told to study it using the BB repertory to map out the characteristic symptoms. This is an interesting way.
                        Does this then give CLinical importance to the MAteria MEdica Symptom, this method of Study?

                        Also I'm slightly blurred on why your way of prescription is termed HAhnemanian or Boeger Boenninghausan's method. IT is the method we're always taught to use in cases at the beginning. LAter when one has this ability to prescribe, then we also start looking at other "modern" ways of analysis and interpreting the patients history. At least that is the way I learnt it.
                        OF course in clinical practice one then just uses what comes most easily, and from experience.

                        Could you tell us what exactly is the Boeger Boenninghausan method? IS it the use of the BB Repertory?
                        I ask this becasue I went through some of the Boennighausan cases in some archives and I don't think I would have prescribed very differently in those cases.


                        [ 13. March 2003, 14:38: Message edited by: doctorleela ]


                        • #13

                          If you have a copy of Materia Medica Pura have a look in Volume 1 (B.Jain edition) at the chapter called 'Preamble'. Hahnemann provides a couple of case examples to explain his method of prescribing.
                          Each and every symptom builds up a symptom-combination, a kind of grand characteristic, that is truly unique to one remedy. There is no guesswork. There is no piecemeal organization of symptoms. Each and every individual symptom is correlated to the proving symptoms referenced by numbers in the MMP. There is a differential done on each distinguishing symptom.

                          Boenninghausen was not satisfied with the Repertories of his day. The TPB was designed as an index for beginners to access the growing Materia Medica. Boenninghausen was able to see order where other people only saw a chaotic mass of unrelated symptoms. In many instances provings were fragmentary or incomplete. He formulated a way to generalize symptoms through analogy, breaking down characteristics and positioning them generally throughout the index, so that - this is the truly genius part - when recombining them, the potential was created to form many new characteristic combinations that are not necessarily in the provings, but can be clinically verified. In order to use Boenninghausen's method of repertorization you have to FIRST study the characteristic distinguishing symptoms so that you can recognize them in the patient and, just as importantly, know how to combine them in the rubrics of the TPB. It is not just a matter of flicking through pages of the TPB and wondering if this rubric suits...and hoping to fall into the right prescription. You would probably end up with Sulphur or a remedy that can't be correlated in any sufficient manner to any proving.

                          Boenninghausen's method requires exactness and precision. You have to be very precise about the symptom you hear and observe in the patient before applying it to the index. A case might come down to 3 or 4 general rubrics, and it-is-a-simple-matter then, of finding the correct remedy based on a grand characteristic combination. Any remaining symptoms in the case are prescribed for in the same fashion but also taking into account the remedy relationship of the previous medicine to the next. Boenninghausen charted these overlaps between remedy actions in the TPB Chapter VII, Relationship of Remedies, also known as Concordances (but with further additions) in the Boger-Boenninghausen Repertory.

                          Boenninghausen gives directions in the original foreward to the TPB on how to study the characteristics of remedies and relate them to the Therapeutic Pocketbook and the MMP. This foreword is reproduced in English in Dimitriadis' TBR.

                          One main difference I can see is that Hahnemann and Boenninghausen used symptom-combinations to build up characteristics that made them truly unique to a remedy. They did not reduce characteristics down to their lowest common denominator as an essence or a theme.



                          • #14
                            Hi Chis,

                            Thanks a lot!
                            Yes I knew about these 2 basic methods:
                            Hahnemann matched the symptoms completely with the proving symptom in the MAteria MEdica.
                            Boenninghausan's method consisted of a generalization of a peculiar (?) symptom to complete an incomplete symptom from the proving.

                            SO lets say the patient's symptoms are as below:

                            The baby's cough and runny nose have cleared up by Tuesday this week,
                            but at the same time he has developped loose stool and complains
                            occasionally of his stomach (or abdomen?)

                            The stool was loose on Tuesday, and he also had little pieces of this
                            loose stool going out with flatus, but not much of this. He lost
                            appetite, was quite pale and very sleepy. He did not have loose stool,
                            but continued to have occasional pains in the stomach on Wednesday and
                            Thursday, and this morning, quite early he had again diarrhoes, a
                            large amount of loose stool, smelling somewhat sour.

                            The appetite is decreased, but he drinks well, and the stool is loose
                            in the morning, at 5 a.m. and he complains more about the stomach in
                            the evening.

                            The tongue is not much different from usual, but the papillae look
                            more red and prominent than usually.
                            It seems it started when he got chilled at night on MOnday, when the
                            temperatures went suddenly down.
                            He is continually sleepy, but today's complexion is better than
                            He did not have fever.

                            (frm one of our cases)

                            How will you go about analysing this?

                            [ 15. March 2003, 07:15: Message edited by: doctorleela ]


                            • #15
                              I would first want to know if any other remedy had been given previously that may have stopped up the runny nose. I think I would place the most weight on any modalities that I could find upon examination, like the Stool &lt;5am + Stomach pain &lt;evening. The concomitant &lt;change of temperature is interesting. Sleepiness and loss of appetite might be considered if I thought they were out of proportion.

                              Is this a real life case of yours that you treated or a paper case you had to study?