11. Hypericum-- Has red juice-- Used in hemorrhages.
12. Bryonia-- Root is fleshy, yellowish white, rough with a bitter taste-- Patient is also fleshy with yellow white colored tongue, rough irritating temperament and has bitter taste.
Pioneers on doctrine of signature:
Hahnemann- (1745- 1843)
Hahnemann was strongly against this concept because of his aversion to all sorts of speculations. In the 110th aphorism he denounced the doctrine of signature and mixture prescription. He had an intension that in future people should not liberally speculate on this basis. In the 110th aphorism he says
“..........and that the only possible way to ascertain their medicinal powers is to observe those changes of health medicines are capable of producing in the healthy organism; for the pure, peculiar powers of medicines available for the cure of disease are to be learned neither by any ingenious a priori speculations, nor by the smell, taste or appearance of the drugs, nor by their chemical analysis, nor yet by the employment of several of them at one time in a mixture (prescription) in diseases;....” (4)
C M Boger:
(1861- 1935) He says in his work Philosophy of healing, “The doctrine of signatures has been derided and said to rest upon pure fancy; but I know of no accidents in nature and everything has an adequate cause, hence we should not be too ready to attribute such things to mere coincidence. Such correspondences are too numerous as well as much too striking to be lightly passed over. It seems rather a case of not knowing just what they mean or what the real connection is”. (2)
H A Robert:
H A Robert says in his work on Homoeopathic philosophy
“Various doctrines of healing sprang up through the years; perhaps the most interesting of these was the doctrine of signatures, founded on the belief that each member of the vegetable kingdom carried within itself the likeness of some organ or part of the human economy, as a sign that this particular plant was applicable to disturbances of that organ. That was probably the most consistent method among all the very ancient systems of applying drugs”. (1)
J C Burnett: (1840-1901)
Dr J C Burnett had a supporting attitude towards this doctrine. He writes in his work on diseases of liver “The interaction of the human organism with its environment has generally been recognized in every age according to the views current at the time, the relations of the microcosm to the macrocosm used to be a big chapter in medical doctrine. The old doctrine of signatures is laughed at by almost all physicians, inclusive of the homoeopaths, and yet it is not without considerable foundation in fact; and, indeed, facts in great numbers may be drawn from homoeopathic literature in support of its real practical value. It has often helped me and I have long since ceased to ridicule it. Of course, it can easily be turned upside down and made to look silly, but still there it is and in the long run will most certainly be justified by science. I am very certain Hahnemann believed in it for it is manifest that he drew very numerous indications from it for his remedies. That Constantine Hering also believed in it seems pretty certain, and Hering knew his Hohenheim, of whose works he made a splendid collection. Von Grauvogl, too, shows that he was not uninfluenced by it.
Rademacher ever made merry over it, and yet many of his remedies came into use through it, Chelidonium to wit. Von Grauvogl years ago recommended Pulmones vulpecularum in asthma and I have followed his recommendation with advantage, he was laughed at a good deal at the time, but now science comes along and puts a stop to the ridicule so long cast upon Paracelsic organ feeding”. (3)
There are number of critical reviews against doctrine of signature. Some note worthy points are mentioned here.
1. The body of oyster is soft and needs protection from the hard shell. As per the doctrine of signature, the same mentality of Calc carb patient is expressed here. In Homoeopathy, the medicine is prepared from the middle layer of hard shell; hence patient should be hard instead of soft. If the medicine was prepared from the soft body then the comparison as per doctrine of signature would be appropriate.
2. “Chelidonium is good for jaundice because of its yellow juice”, what about other plants that are having yellow juice, why they don't act on liver? (7)
3. “Lachesis snake protrudes tongue frequently which is an indication for its use in protrusion of tongue in a patient”. Drugs for snake like protrusion of tongue are: - absin, crot.h, cupr, cupr.act, elaps, lach, lyc, merc, sanic, vip. Here, we can find a signature relationship only with drugs belonging to Ophidia group. What about other drugs indicated for the same condition?
4. “Pulsatilla flowers yield to wind, hence patient also having yielding disposition”, what about other flowers that yield to wind?
5. Those who support this doctrine highlight only few relations that are suited to their concept, but the features that are not matching are not expressed. (10)
Without any doubt we can conclude that it will be a waste of time to search medicines on the line of signatures, since each and every feature of a plant would not be matching with their medicinal properties. Above all, the scientific way of ascertaining the medicinal properties of any substance is drug proving by which we get the total drug picture and it can be applied to a diseased individual on the basis of similarity. The similarity in homeopathy is totally different from that of the doctrine of signature as the former can be proved and re-proved even today.
Instead of coming to a final conclusion whether there is any scientific backing behind the doctrine of signature or is it just a superstitious belief, better we assess how it was helpful and how it can be helpful in future. Undoubtedly, we can say that this concept helped us to introduce many drug substances in to the field of therapeutics. Apart from that, it helps to study Materia medica in a literal style and to compare and remember some symptoms thereby making the subject more interesting. It is now clear that the doctrine of signature helps us for the study of materia medica and not for the practical application of materia medica. As we know that there is no short cut in medicine, drugs selected on the basis of similarity with the totality of the case is the only way to cure.
1. Principle an art of cure by homeopathy: H A Robert. (B Jain, new Delhi)
2. Studies in the philosophy of healing: C M Boger (B Jain, new Delhi)
3. Diseases of liver: J C Burnett (B Jain, New Delhi)
4. Organon of medicine: Hahnemann (B Jain, New Delhi)
5. Homoeo times, chennai.
Dr Muhammed Rafeeque, BHMS.
Family Homoeopathic Clinic