Homeopathy: Study of Symptoms

The Materia Medica (prepared from the record of provings) contains such a vast number of symptoms that one would fail to understand how to use them for the treatment of patients. Therefore after considerable study, research and experience, the masters have classified the symptoms under the following heads:

(i) GENERAL symptoms which pertain to the patient as a whole (both physical and mental). They take the highest rank if they are marked (spontaneously expressed by the patient) and unambiguous (clear). They represent the patient in the highest degree.

Symptoms pertaining to parts of the body (such as headache, pneumonia, diarrhoea) are PARTICULARS; they may be found in several patients and as such do not by themselves help us to select the remedy for the INDIVIDUAL, unless qualified by “Causation”, Modalities or Concomitants.

The symptoms of Mind and Disposition, which are also GENERALS, are a surer guide to the proper selection of the remedy, because they are the most peculiar, the most striking and uncommon, since they have no pathological or diagnostic value. They are more indicative of the patient than the physical symptoms.

Stressing the importance of GENERALS Dr. H.C. Allen approvingly quotes Dr. Caroll Dunham, who says :”The fact cannot be too often called to mind, nor too strongly insisted upon, that our most characteristic indications for the use of a drug, which presents well-defined GENERAL symptoms, as Ars. does – as indeed every well-proved drug does – are derived not from the local action upon any organ or system, not from the knowledge of the particular tissues it may affect, and how it affects them, but upon the GENERAL constitutional symptoms, their conditions and concomitants.

If this were not so, in the presence of how many maladies, of the intimate nature of which we are wholly ignorant and which we nevertheless cure, should we be utterly powerless for good.” He then concludes : “Whatever then may be the local nature of the disease, whatever pathological name it may bear, if the GENERAL symptoms correspond to those of Ars. (or the remedy thought of) in the way that I have pointed out, DO NOT HESITATE A MOMENT TO GIVE THAT DRUG.”

(ii) PARTICULAR symptoms which pertain to the parts of the body which is suffering, such as head, stomach, bladder, are actually common, since a large number of remedies cover these parts. The symptoms of these parts can guide us to the remedy only if they are “qualified” by modifying factors such as :

(a)Location, the part affected;

(b)Sensation of the complaint, such as : burning, cutting, stitching pain, or nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or stiffness of joints, etc.;

(c)Modalities : This part of information, such as “What factors make his complaint WORSE or BETTER (cold, heat, open air, pressure, first motion, continued motion, etc.) is MOST IMPORTANT as it relates to the INDIVIDUAL patient and helps us to narrow down our search for the remedy. These factors are too numerous to be stated here, but will be found in the “CHARACTERISTICS of individual remedies (and they are different from remedy to remedy), given in the following articles.

(d)Concomitants : These are symptoms which accompany the chief complaint, such as involuntary urination while coughing, nausea with vertigo. They are an essential part of Totality.

(e)Causation : This is a most prolific source of many complaints, such as diarrhoea from rich food, headache from concussion of head, aversion to company or talking from disappointed love, etc.

(f)Peculiar, uncommon symptoms : Hahnemann emphasised in Aphorism 153 of the “Organon” : “The more striking, uncommon and peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms of the case must be chiefly and almost solely kept in view”. The process of identifying these uncommon, peculiar symptoms led Guernsey and H.C. Allen to describe them as KEYNOTE symptoms.

They said that in sickness the symptoms that cannot be explained are often very peculiar. For example, thirstlessness during fever, or amelioration of headache from urination or aversion to members of one’s family and loved ones or painlessness of ulcers, and so on. When two or three of these symptoms are presented, they form the characteristic features of the remedy.

Lippe points out that the truly characteristic symptoms of the patient exist exclusively outside of the pathological groups of symptoms… It is important to find the characteristic symptoms both of the remedy and of the patient.

Guernsey adds: It may seem like prescribing for single symptoms, whereas such is not the fact. The fact is that they are only governing symptoms, and on referring to the materia medica all the OTHER SYMPTOMS of that remedy will be there, if this one is. Guernsey says : The Keynote to a case often consists of a COMBINATION… STRIKE that peculiar Combination and all other features of the case and of the remedy are easily touched, just as one Keynote to a piece of music governs and is in harmony with all the other notes.

Dr. Frost says : “We must not expert all the characteristic symptoms of a remedy, even of the right remedy, to be present in a given case since different constitutions are variously affected in different degrees by the morbific influence…. and in some cases are altogether hindered from appearing. He also emphasised that the remedy suggested by the truly characteristic symptoms will be found to have other characteristic symptoms of the remedy, as well as of the patient.

(g) Personal or Family history of Tuberculosis, Syphilis, gonorrhoea, cancer (chronic miasms – taints). Unless these taints are treated, the remedies based on presenting symptoms alone will not help. Development history of childhood (Milestones, etc.), In children history of mother during pregnancy.

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