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This question was posed to me by Dr Tiwary :
" i have just completed intership i need ur help n guidne sir .how to study materia media n remember it for long sir"
I thought it might be helpful if we opened a public discussion around this topic.

Before i can begin to give some advice I have some questions for you.

I am not so familiar with the various ways in which Homeopathy is taught in India so maybe you could give me some description.
How were you taught materia medica? Over how many years?
About how many remedies were you expected to know well?
What did " knowing well ' mean to your teachers?
Which books were you expected to study for this?
Which repertories do you use.

Not only will it be interesting for me to learn what you have to say about all this but it will give me some idea of how to advise you, or at least to find something  from my own experience which may be of assistance

I look forward to your answer

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This is very generous of you to share your experience and wisdom.

Dear Jonathan, dear members

Here is my advise on how to study Materia medica:
Homeopathy Study Guide: Materia Medica 2

Best of success, Hans

hello sir, I am sorry for late reply, its very true that how come you know that how its taught in India, as different colleges and different teacher have their own method for teaching, as in our college materia medica is taught from the first year. It is taught in the form of lectures based on Allen's keynotes and Boericke's materia medica. In our college, you are expected to know all the polychrest medicines well, and "knowing well "mean knowing the characterstic sympoms of the medicines. Mainly, we were expected to study fron Allen's key note, Boericke's materia medica, but a few teachers also suggested to study Kent's materia medica and Farrington's materia medica. But I like Kent materia medica and The Essence of materia medica by George Vithoulkas, which i like most. I use Kent repertory, thats all sir. i'll be waiting for your reply sir

Dear Vinita,
Thank you for your response.
It is a long time since I have had to address such issues and my situation is very different from yours. I will do my best to add something which might be useful to you.

It is very important to know the basic facts on all remedies, especially the polychrests. For this purpose Allens Keynotes and Boericke's Materia Medica are as good as any. Phatak is similar to Boericke and is also good. Another book which is really excellent and may be obtainable from Jain publishing is the Desktop Guide by Roger Morrison. He spent many years on this work, carefully sorting out the most reliable characteristics of each remedy and adding to this the knowledge he gained from George Vithoulkas during his 2 years in Greece.

Kent's lectures are, of course, a basic text and are especially useful if one studies carefully the introductory 2 or 3 paragraphs ( this is also true of Boericke ) in which he gives his own experience. I believe that the material which follows this is simply him reading from Herings Guiding Symptoms

I do not have Vithoulkas's Essence book but I was present at most of the original lectures or got the notes from my colleagues so I am very familiar with this.
Another book which I would highly recommend is " The Soul of Remedies " by Rajan Sankaran

I have had access to computer programs such as ReferenceWorks and MacRepertory for so many years I have forgotten the titles of the books I used to use. I believe it is very helpful to be able to see all the rubrics ( symptoms) of any remedy all together as a whole. Thus any book which lists the rubrics of each remedy as a whole, like all the Calc rubrics of the mind section etc is really good to have. Maybe someone else can help me out here - I know that Jain publishing has such a book as I used to have it. Something like ' Materia Medica of the Mind' by Agrawal

I do believe that as essential as this knowledge of these basic facts are, it is in a way just a beginning to a deeper understanding of Materia Medica.
Of course people are very different - some are excellent memorizers and can store a vast number of unrelated facts in their brains.
I cannot really do this and thus my pathway to knowledge is through understanding the relationships between the facts - through being able to follow a line of investigation in which one can see how one fact is connected to another.

Thus the idea of " essence " or core idea of a substance, to the extent that it allows for all the diverse and apparently unrelated symptoms of a remedy to form a coherent pattern, can be a great help. Of course to really grasp the essential nature of a substance is no simple task and takes years of practical experience. However we all have to begin somewhere and so I suggest the following approach.

It is better to do one's own work first and then read what the experts have to say.

So the initial approach is through the repertory. Identify all the unusual rubrics in which the remedy appears - that is rubrics with less than 5 or better less than 3 remedies, noting of course especially the single remedy rubrics.
Taking all these together
- what are the main peculiarities of the remedy especially on the mental level
- is there any relationship between these mental symptoms and any generals or particulars which have been identified.
- make a best guess at what might be an essence ( no matter if it is completely wrong )

Now read Allen, Boericke, Kent, Vithoulkas, Sankaran and any other books you have and see what they have to say
- Find and list the rubrics which support their position

Gather information about the physical substance itself - its chemical, physical properties, its uses by humans etc
Are there any rubrics which reflect this information
To what extent can this information be correlated with what you understand as the " essence"

Let us take a remedy - say Phosphorus. If you work it out according to the schema and present it to me then we will see how we can continue this discussion. There is more to say but I'm sure what I have already said is enough for the moment

Best wishes to you

hello sir
thank u so much sir for your advice and method for studing materia medica,i will follow your words and schema and try to present to you very soon
thank u sir

your student
vinita tiwary
Hello sir
First of all I am sorry for late reply due to some personal problem, I have gone through repertory and many materia medica to read phosphorus.i have note down the rubric which have single medicine ‘phosphorus’ of mind
The Rubric of mind
Mind, Anguish, alone, when
” , anxiety, excitement, from
” , anxiety, lying, side, left
” , delirium, manical, love ,from disappointed
” , delusion, chair, is rising up
” , delusion, corners, sees something coming out
” , delusion, hanging, or standing high, seems as if
” , delusion, island, is on a distant
” , delusion, noble, think, he is
” , delusion, obsence, action of, which she had not been guilty, accuses herself
” ,ecstasy,amorous,sleep,during
” ,fancies, night,going to bed after
” ,fancies,vivid,followed by heat
” ,fear,night,stormy weather, in
” ,fear,death ,grieving,as if
” ,fear,piano,when at
” ,fear,thinking of disagreeable thing,when
” ,fire,flame of,seemed passing through him
” ,frightend,weeping,amelio
” ,indifference,alternating weeping
” ,irritability,when alone
” ,irritability,before,dinner
” ,laughing,when sad
” ,prostration of,noon
” ,triffle,from
” ,rage,aroused,when
” ,rage,sleep, in
” ,restless,thunderstorm during
” ,sympathy,desire,for

sir there are many symptom which has relation between mental and general or particular symptom, here I am trying to present the ‘essence of phosphorus’ which include the symptom which has relation with mental and general
--phosphorus best suit to feeble constitution who have been born sick, grow up slender and grown too rapidly, due to this patient rapidly emaciating and going into marasmus
it has increased action on development of bone and nervous system ,it rectifies derangement of nerve functions such as malnutrition and exhausion of nerve tissue.

--phosphorus is chilly patient, all symptom are worse in cold weather and better by hot and warm application except the head and stomach which are relieved by cold application and drink. there is great craving for cold refreshing drinks such as ice cream. And lemonade, diarrhoea of phosphorus is better by cold drink and vomiting is relieved by cold drink but as soon as water become warm in stomach again vomited.

--there is great weakness and prostration physically and mentally both from slight mental effort.
--all the trouble are worse lying left side

--There is intense heat and burning in all over the body especially palm of hand, chest, lung and other organ and tissues of the body
--there is great destruction of the cell and tissue of any part of the body which bleeds easily. the blood from these hemorrhages is very fluid and difficult to coagulate, even small wound bleeds profuse

--diffusion is theme of phosphorus and it is in mental and physical both, physically the blood vessels are weak and easily allow the blood to diffuse into surrounding and on mental level emotion freely go out towards others.
There is great loquacity, with great flow of idea which is due to excessive stimulation of nerve center

--there is fatty degeneration of the organs such as stomach, liver ,lung muscles etc .the
genital organs hangs down, in women relaxation of the pelvic organs, prolapse and other displacement

--necrosis is another features of phosphorus especially of the lower jaw but it is useful in necrosis of any part of the bones

--they are extremely susptable to external impressions, light, sound, electrical changes and thunderstorm. All the problem are worse in thunderstorms

--there is great indiffrence to friends, surrounding and to his children. apprehensive during thunderstorm which brings on many complaints, palpitation, diarrhoea and trembling, trembling of the whole body, there is attack of indigestion due to fear,

--fear of phosphorus start from pit of stomach, he fears of strange old faces looking at him from corner, there is great fear that something will happen .fearful in twilight and when in alone.

Phosphorus is colorless or pale yellow, semi-translucent with a waxy, lustrous consistency .it has disagreeable odur,it is brittle and crystalline at low temperature but soft and paliable at ordinary temperature, when expose to air it emits white fumes which are luminous in dark and of garlicky odor ,it is insoluble in water but dissolves in alcohol, ether and fatty oil .it should be kept carefully underwater and moderately cool place protected from light otherwise there is danger of fire .it is also one of constituent of bone.
There are many symptoms which are co related with is physical character such as—
As this element is solid body in appearance and its consistency is of wax ,the very same way phosphorus patient is also tall, slender in appearance there consistency is weak, there bone are spongy and weak nervous system.
Phosphorus diffuses as smoke when come in contact with environment, the same way happen with phosphorus patient the diffusion of energy, emotion and even blood also.
Phosphorus as element is sensitive to light, air and it turns into flame when come contact with air, same is with phosphorus patient they are very sensitive to external impression light, sound , open air and thunder storm and there symptoms are worse when they are expose to these environment.
Sir I have tried to work according to schema n presenting to you, please go through n rectify my mistakes,I will be waiting for your reply
Good work Vinita
This is just what I had in mind
I am working on a response.

Maybe while I am doing this, you could take one more step and organize the material around the main categories which are expressed in the rubrics you have found. This is the next step in the process.

For example:

Does this relate to any of the other rubrics you have listed, say
delirium, manical, love ,from disappointed
In which way does it relate?

Grief? or Rejection? or withdrawel/suppression of sex?

Now go the the repertory and find all the rubrics and especially sub rubrics ( the more a remedy appears in the subrubrics, the stronger the symptom is for that remedy ) and see whether any of your thoughts can be supported by the rubrics.

List these rubrics which are in support of your idea.

Do this with all the rubrics you have listed.
Some lend themselves to this much more than others. This shows that some are just more important than others. Even if I cannot make a final judgment on the relative importance I can try and understand the issue a bit more

Also consider broad categories from the rubrics you have presented:
For example I can make a category called


delusion, noble, think, he is
delirium, manical, love ,from disappointed
( These are all different aspects of Relationship with people )

and another called

and another and another.

The idea here is not to 'get it right' but to exercise one's thoughts and feelings in relation to the data of the remedy so the facts all have little hooks in my mind to hang on, hooks which are in relationship to other hooks and slowly I begin to development a more and more coherent picture and before I know it I actually really know something about the remedy and I can remember it when I need to.

Anyway just try this and we will have the opportunity to go further.
phosphorus is very reactive and does not remain alone as an element in natural form.

-Company desire for 4
-Anguish when alone
-Anxiety when alone
-Fear of being alone 3
-Fear of being alone, lest he die
-Fear of death when alone
-Irritability when alone
-Restlessness when alone
-Sadness when alone

Del: Flame of fire passing through him.

A/F Celibacy, emotions, emotional excitement, excitement, fright, grief, moral excitement, sexual excesses, jealousy

associated themes:

sex, love, sympathy, heart -left side, fancies, affection, ecstasy, full of desires

Phos named after planet venus -for its glow.. and venus is traditionally linked with love, affection, heart, sympathy, imagination, creativity..

Phos has many forms. White being most unstable, reactive, high energy and electronically excited... reacts with air and burns - causes luminescence.. the glow..

It has the delusion
being noble, of high rank, distinguished, being alone and happy on a distant island..


as if chair is rising, standing or hanging high

phosphorus vertigo has the sensation

as if elevated, too high, intoxicated, sinking, falling

Its high reactivity can be seen in the features like:

senses active, watchful of every movement,
sensitive to all external impressions
affectionate, returns affection
impressionable, suggestible

excitement aggravates..
fancies, exaltation of, preventing sleep, sensuous,
sexual excesses, sexual mania, nymphomania
barking when alone
thunderstorms, earthquakes, approaching vehicles agg
insanity during delivery
Lewd looking for young girls
Nymphomania during pregnancy
Wants to be naked in the bed

undertakes things opposed to his intentions
slander disposed to
desire to play dirty tricks
delusion he has murdered someone
accuses himself of obscene action he has not commited

as if seized

anxiety of conscience, day and night, preventing lying down

full of anxieties:
when alone
about future
about friends at home
about health, hypochondriacal, about his heart
about others
family members
loved ones
from disagreeable thoughts

Full of fears:
when alone
of death, impending
of disease,impending
something will happen
being run over by locomotive
accident of loved ones
death of baby in utero
separation from children
of cementaries

more delusions:
fingers are thumbs
being choked, by forms
creeping things, coming out of corner
faces looking from every corner

excitement a/w deep sleep
anxiety followed by indifference

Indifference: to loved ones, family, close friends, reserved, taciturn, averse being touched, approach by others agg
Thinking aversion
Concentration difficult
As if could not grasp any thought, confusion of mind on waking
Answer slow, refusing to answer, reflecting long, wrong answers, unsatisfactory

Magnetized desire to be
sympathy desires
affection, yearning for
weeping amel


Loathing of life, weary of life
OK, just starting to work on this.
Together we should be able to come up with a great description of Phosphorus from many angles.
Here are a few comments I have added to your outline.
More later:
Does not tolerate being alone.

The point of departure for this is the single remedy rubric Mind; ANGUISH; alone, when (1) **
On closer examination this indication has substantial confirmation as you so rightly pointed out.
This is very strong as you pointed out.
The strength is emphasized by the broad coverage - the 3 degrees of fear: anxiety, then fear, then anguish. Also the qualifiers of alone are, irritability, sadness and restlessness.
In addition the confirmation comes from the nature of the substance itself which as you say does not remain alone in its natural form but has a very strong tendency for combination.

Thus we can safely assume that this intolerance is a central feature of the remedy. Further confirmation of this can be gained by looking for the opposite polarity. Almost all significant symptoms in a remedy which is well proven will exhibit a polarity.
Here it truly comes out beautifully in another single remedy symptom:
Mind; DELUSIONS, imaginations; island, is on a distant, enjoying the tranquillity (1) *
In a way we can say this is the last thing one might expect from the previous symptom constellation.We can follow this up further
Mind; COMPANY; aversion to, agg.; alone; amel. when (52) *
Mind; INDIFFERENCE, apathy; children, to her (9) ****: aur-ar., choc., hydr-ac., kali-i., lac-h., lyc., nat-c., PHOS., SEP.
Mind; INDIFFERENCE, apathy; neighbors, towards (2) *: phos., sep.
Mind; INDIFFERENCE, apathy; parents, to (2) *: phos., sep.
Mind; DISTURBED, averse to being (43) *

It is fair to raise the objection at this point that indifference is not exactly an opposite of need for company. We will return to this later but just note that the indifference centers around those who are close.

The next issue which we should take up is the high degree of reactivity
Very sensitive to a wide variety of influences
This is interesting.
I really missed the delusion being alone on a distant island as the polarity of need for company.
I was seeing it as an other expression of being noble and elevated.
How to study Materia Medica

In India it is taught differently by different people following different schools of thoughts..(sadly there is no common way)

But the increasing trend I see around or what i am seeing in HWC or going through issues of link i feel that the study is made more complex with addition of lesser proved remedies and OVER DEPENDENCE on THEMES of the remedies............................
the worse is added in modern repertories which is more sadder

nobody wants to quote remedies from simple books like Nash, Margret Tyler Kent, Bhanja, Boericke Phatak because sadly enough they don't carry attractive themes which are sadly just hypothesis based on certain observations...........
(homeopathy would certainly look boring without some interesting dream or theme wouldn't it)

OVER EMPHASIS ON MIND rather than the entire totality of characteristic generals or particulars or modalities is made......
( kindly go through issues of Homeopathic links over the ages)

only few Homeopaths of later of renowned fame :eg: Dr Prafull Vijaykar lays emphasis on the man as a whole...and his prescriptions are of mostly polychrests.....

books like Boger Synoptic Key are replaced by more complex books for the poor student..... he ends up reading a more interesting XYZ book full of themes then a simple boericke...or phatak or Kent.....
without even knowing what the pathogenesis of the drug ( ie what it is capable of doing at physical and mental level )
the people who speak of themes have a very sound base of the materia medica eg: even Dr.Rajan Sankaran.( his father late Dr P.S Sankaran was one of the truest followers of Boger.)..and you see that in his earlier all these books have a sound base of materia medica.... but what the student is attracted to is the cherry rather than the base of the cake
It is really amazing very few people actually go through his books which are compiled into one lately...

If i have troubled any one i am sorry....but these are the issues that need to be addressed...... in homeopathic schools wherever......

the way to study materia medica should be from the basic pathogenesis of the remedy , provings to cases treated and later and the last the themes or new ideas.....

aude sapere....
Dear Dr,
I am in agreement with much of what you have written
Although the paper which I have attached entitled " The Salt of the Essence - an exploration of the relationship between totality, essence and central delusion " does not address all of your points it does address some and I would appreciate your comments.

This was written about 12 years ago and although my focus of interest has changed I do believe the points presented are still solid and valid.

On the point of smaller or rather we should say, lesser used remedies, there is something to be said for a change in the depth and presentations of pathologies.

It is my impression that in general the population of India is definitely healthier than in the USA. Certainly in the urban areas of California where I have spent the last 30 years the people who come to see me are in bad shape. Not so much in bad shape because of the severity of their physical pathology.

It is definitely possible to have severe pathology with a strong and organized vital force.
Here the vitality is often terribly disorganized and the folks are mentalized and quite out of touch with their organisms. Thus the totalities/ remedy images produced are very hard to recognize and may well require more uncommon remedies. Almost by definition polychrests are those remedies which fit the most common patterns.

As one small example of this when George Vithoulkas came to the USA in the mid 1980's and consulted on many, by himself, carefully taken cases, the results achieved were nowhere close to the results which were and are being achieved amongst his own patient population in Greece.

Another example from a simpler point of view is that I found over the years that food cravings were being less and less helpful and that the simple craving for eggs in Calcarea carbonica children was almost always absent and thus useless as a confirmation.

Having said all this I am in total agreement with the feeling that fashion and the need for ' something new ' is a very powerful moving force and significantly undermines the discipline of study of the foundational basics needed for a solid structure.


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