Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica - med

Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica - med

  • James Tyler Kent, MD


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The archetypal and defiinitive repertory of several generations, Kent's repertory serves as the kernel of most of the modern repertories. Medium Size
1455 pp hb

Also available in large and mini sizes


As the development of homeopathy accelerated in the 19th century, it became virtually impossible to access all the material found in the various materia medicae. A systematized approach to cross-referencing remedies and their symptoms was necessary.

The repertory is just such a structured catalog of symptoms and their associated remedies.

Two main types of repertories have been developed over the years: the alphabetical and the philosophical.

An alphabetical repertory lists symptoms in alphabetical order, from A to Z. Though this may seem at first to be a natural, common sense approach, it can be difficult to use. The homeopath must guess which part of the symptom has been alphabetized.

Philosophical repertories (such as Kent's) organize the symptoms according to some plan. Usually this is either starting with the general to the particular or vice versa.

Though initially requiring an effort to understand the order employed, a philosophical repertory gives the homeopath greater discerning power when it comes to choosing specific symptoms, especially as they relate to the whole.

Samuel Hahnemann developed the first repertory in 1805 but it went unpublished. Baron von Boenninghausen's repertory, published in 1832, was the most useful early repertory.

The first repertory published (1838) in the English Language was Jahr's Manual, edited by Constantine Hering. Truer to the actual symptoms and less focused on disease categories this was to be the forerunner to Kent's later work.

Over the next half-century many repertories, specific and general, large and small, were developed. The Repertory of Homeopathic Materia Medica by James Tyler Kent, MD, became the standard and remains so until this day.

Kent first developed his repertory by writing notes into his copy of Constantine Lippe's Repertory to the More Characteristic Symptoms of the Materia Medica, (published in 1879). Allen's Symptom-Register and Jahr's Repertory were also incorporated into the work.

Originally published in installments as each section was completed, Kent's first edition was published in book form in 1900. Up until the time of his death in 1916, James Kent (along with his wife Clara and others such as Franklin Powell) worked on expanding and refining his Repertory.

Ehrhart & Karl published the third edition, the last that Kent himself worked on, in 1924. All modern repertories, computer or book, trace their lineage to Kent's work.

Along with the Organon, Kent's Repertory belongs on the bookshelf of every practicing homeopath or student. Though repertories such as Synthesis have corrected errors and improved content, Kent's opus remains viable to this day.

Dr. James Tyler Kent, M.D.

(1849 - 1910)

Dr. Kent was born in Woodhul, New York. He graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati, and started practice in St. Louis as an Eclectic. He became interested in homoeopathy in 1878, when his wife's illness failed to respond either to eclectic or allopathic treatment and was cured by a homoeopath.

Kent began practice with low potencies, but he was not satisfied. Later he resolved to test the 30th potency to see if there was any medicine present. He prepared with his own hands the 30th potency of Podophyllum according to Centesimal scale after the method of Hahnemann.

One day a child was brought in to his clinic in emergency and it appeared that the child would not live long. While it lay in the arms of its mother, a thin yellow fecal stool ran all over his carpet. The odor was like that of the Podophyllum stool. It was horribly offensive, and the stool was so copious that the mother made the remark that she did not know where it all came from.

Dr. Kent thought to test Podophyllum 30 prepared by him for that case. Next morning he was surprised to learn from the grandmother of the child that he was doing well. One dose of Podophyllum cured a dangerously ill patient. He then realized the power of the potentized remedies, and he thought of using increasingly potentized remedies in his practice.

He became famous as a high potency homoeopath, as most of the homoeopaths before him were using low potency remedies. He advocated the use of the 30th, 200th, 1M, 50M, CM, DM and MM potencies made on the Centesimal scale. Dr. Kent introduced the doctrine of 'Series in Degrees' in the treatment of chronic diseases.

He found that one potency was not sufficient for chronic cases, though it would generally do for acute illnesses. Many chronic illnesses were cured by keeping the patient under the influence of the one indicated remedy for two or more years. But this cannot be done with continuous curative action, unless the doctrine of 'Series in Degrees' is fully understood and used.

Dr. Kent discovered that "just as there are octaves of musical tones, so there are octaves in the simple substance, through which severally it is possible to correspond with the various planes of the interior organism of the animal cells."

These planes correspond to the similar remedy in 30th, 200th, 1M 10M 50M, CM, DM, and MM potencies. He found that when the action of the 30th is completed the patient needs the 200th potency, but when the action of 200th potency is exhausted, the patient requires the 1M potency; and so on till the same remedy in higher and highest potencies cures permanently.

Dr. Kent also discovered the 'Law of Vital Action and Reaction' as pointed out by Dr. Hahnemann. "A medicine is not too high to cure so long as it is capable of aggravating the symptoms belonging to the sickness; in the first hours in acute, and in the first few days of a chronic sickness."

He also thought that a homoeopathic aggravation was essential from the application of the Simillimum in chronic cases. Dr. Kent felt that if there was relief without homoeopathic aggravation, the chronic sickness was only superficially affected and would require a deeper acting remedy to remove the vital disorder.

Dr. Kent laid greatest importance to the will, understanding and memory of the patient. They form the innermost of the man, and are extended outward through the general physical organism.

Cure takes place from center to periphery, but if the symptoms retreat from periphery to center the prescription is wrong and must be antidoted. Hence in order to treat successfully, the homoeopath should know the correspondence of organs and direction of cure.

Dr. Kent proved many new medicines, which he described in his book: 'New Remedies, Clinical Cases, Lesser Writings, Aphorisms and Precepts'.

Dr. Kent was famous for teaching Materia Medica. He taught Materia Medica at the Homoeopathic Medical College of St. Louis, from 1881-88, at the School of Homoeopathy, Philadelphia from 1890-99, at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, Chicago from 1903-9, and Hering Medical College Hospital. Students from England, European countries, India and other parts of the world sought admission to the institution where he taught the subject.

Sir John Weir, A.H. Grimmer, Pierre Schmidt, B.K. Bose, and other famous homoeopaths from all over the world were his disciples. He was the President and Trustee of Chicago Homoeopathic Hospital. His lectures on 'Homoeopathic Materia Medica', 'Homoeopathic Philosophy', and the 'Repertory of the Materia Media', are fundamental texts still utilized today.


This has become the archetypal and definitive repertory.

Kent attempted to pull together all the repertories that were in existence at that time. After several years of work he realized that there was no way to bring together works which approached the subject from so many different points of view.

He abandoned that project and started again- this time with the original provings and information gathered till that time.

The work existed as an interleaved book in the office of his Post-graduate School. His students asked him to make it generally available. It was issued as one section at a time.

Originally it was printed in 12 fascicles, sold individually as they were compiled and printed. It was not until 1900 that all 12 sections were bound together into a single book. The result was the repertory that is still in use today by homeopaths the world over.

The second edition (1380 pages) was printed in 1908; the 3rd edition (1423 pages) was printed by Ehrhart and Karl in 1924. Kent said, "The third edition completes my life work."

It was proofed by his wife Clara Louise Kent, MD. All subsequent editions were printed by Ehrhart and Karl.

The 4th edition was issued in 1935; The 5th edition in 1945; the 6th edition in 1957. There were no changes made in the content after the 3rd edition.

Julian Winston writes:
Ehrhart and Karl printed one of the editions on "Bible Paper" allowing its thickness to be reduced from 2 1/2" to a bit less than 1 1/2". The book came in a slipcase. Henry N. Williams has the only copy of this edition I have ever seen.

In 1930, a young Elizabeth Wright, spoke to the IHA about "Revamping the Repertory" outlining some of the shortcomings of the work. The text of her talk was printed in the November 1930 issue of the Homeopathic Recorder. These were the faults she saw with Kent's work:

1. Many rubrics are out of place- pulse is under generals instead of being with the heart, lips are under the face instead of the mouth, etc.

2. There is no section for circulatory system, glandular system, lymphatic system, or nervous system.

3. Certain headings are misplaced: i.e., awkwardness under generals when it is a mental, desires and aversion under stomach when they should be in generals, etc.

4. Pathological, diagnostic, and objective symptoms are scattered throughout. They should be in a separate section.

5. Many common symptoms (such as vomiting, restlessness, etc.) are so large as to be useless.

6. Repetitions abound. They should be cross-referenced.

7. There are many more remedies that need to be included.

8. Confusion over the rubrics being "aggravated from" whereas "ameliorations" are clearly mentioned.

9. Many rubrics could be eliminated as being useless.

10. Lack of an index and good cross-referencing.

She proposed working on a new, abridged edition which would, she hoped, be printed on bible-paper and bound in two small volumes like the Boericke Books- The first volume being Generals and the second Particulars.

It is of note that George Royal commented when he asked Kent why he had not provided an Index, Kent replied, "A man with brains won't need it."

Many of Wright's ideas have finally been implemented in the Complete and Synthesis Repertories- but the books have become larger instead of smaller as Wright intended.

The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature
copyright 2001 by Julian Winston
Reprinted with the permission of the author