Installment 13 of a series on case analysis
© Will Taylor, MD 2001 (bio)
Hahnemann Publishes His Provings
Hahnemann published the volumes and editions of his Reine Arzneimittellehre (Materia Medica Pura) between 1820-1827. Included are the provings of 62 remedies, with expanded provings of many from his Fragmenta.
Details of how the provings were performed are not available, but in addition to the toxicological symptoms included and documented as such, Dunham suggests "From the few glimpses we get here and there it seems probable that insoluble substances were proved in the first trituration, and vegetable drugs in the mother tincture - repeated small doses being taken until some effect was produced."
By the time of the publication of his Chronic Diseases
(1828-1839), with 30+ years of experience under his belt, and the intervening discovery of potentization, Hahnemann advocated provings in potency rather than crude dose. Regarding his 1830 proving of Natrum muriaticum in the 30C potency, he related "it is only in such a highly potentized form that this and all other drugs display the whole of their power to alter the condition of the organism."
28 new remedies were introduced with provings in Chronic Diseases, with expanded provings of 19 previously-introduced. Including those provings published in Stapf's Archives, Hahnemann left us eventually with approximately 100 remedies well- or partially-proved.
In the 5th and 6th editions of the Organon (Dudgeon's translation) Hahnemann observes:
"The most recent experience has taught that medicinal substances, when taken in the crude state, do not for a long time display the full extent of their virtues, as they do when taken in higher developments.
Thus any one, even of those medicines whose virtues are considered weakest, is now found to be most advantageously studied if four to six globules of the thirtieth dilution be taken every morning for several days."
Dunham elaborates on the issue of potency and dose in provings in The Science of Therapeutics, suggesting "In order to obtain an exhaustive proving ... we must prove the drug both in dilutions and in massive doses."
Provings in crude dose and in higher potency bring out the full range of a remedy's actions on the organism, offering complementary aspects of the potential of a remedy to cure. This can be readily seen where we have adequate provings across the ranges of potency.
For example, compare the pathogeneses of Latrodectus mactans (the North American Black Widow spider) in the Homeopathic Recorder, July, 1889 by Samuel. A. Jones (reprinted in Anshutz, New, Old and Forgotten Remedies) which is based on toxicological observation of accidental bites, to the provings done at the 200x and 500x potencies by the Hering Proving Committee (Pacific Coast Journal of Homoeopathy, 1933; reprinted in O.Julian, Materia Medica of New Homeopathic Remedies.)
In this comparision we see that the crude doses tend to bring out more obviously the gross pathologies and organ/tissue affinities of remedies - but they lack the refinement of sensations, modalities and mental/emotional symptoms provided by provings at higher potency.
Other Historical Provings
Hahnemann's provers' group provided us with a large number of remedy provings, but there have been other highly productive proving groups as well. Johann Christian Gottfried Jorg, an "old-school" physician in Leipsic during Hahnemann's tenure at the University, instituted a number of provings with the express purpose of disproving the principle of similars.
His provers' group conducted provings of 15 remedies, including Arnica, Laurocerasus, Opium, Digitalis and Valerian, which Hahnemann subsequently adopted as some of the most thorough and productive provings in his collection - clearly supporting, and not discrediting, the practice of homeopathy. These were published by Jorg in 1825, in his Materialien zu einer kunftigen Heilmittellehre durch Versuche des Arzneyen an gesunden Menschen.
Between 1842 and 1848, the Austrian Provers' Union conducted a series of re-provings of remedies introduced by Hahnemann, which generally supported, and in many cases extended our knowledge of these remedies. Most of these provings were done in both crude and potentized doses.
The Advantage of Self-Proving
In his essay The Medical Observer, Hahnemann suggested "The best opportunity for exercising and perfecting our observing faculty is afforded by instituting experiments with medicines upon ourselves."
Provings not only add to homeopathy's library of materia medica, they may also provide the individual prover with a window of direct personal experience into the pathology they'll be facing in the clinic. Many of the bearers of our homeopathic heritage held an intimate knowledge of their remedial substances, born in this way.