Installment 14 of a series on case analysis
© Will Taylor, MD 2001 (bio)
Safety in Numbers
It would seem self-evident that the reliability of a proving symptom would be increased by seeing it repeated in multiple provers, across multiple provings; that a symptom seen only once, in only a single proving subject, would be suspect and require verification for our use.
In the example above, although "fear he would not reach his destination" was seen in only a single prover, our confidence in this symptom is increased by noting that a similar apprehensive anxiety was reported - although in rather different expressions - by other provers of Lycopodium.
In another example, we can find Kali carbonicum listed in bold type in the rubric:
COUGH - NIGHT - midnight - after - 3 h
Which derives from the proving symptom:
She begins to cough as early as 3 A. M.; repeated every half hour
The 3am cough of Kali-c has become recognized as a keynote symptom of this remedy, even though it was only observed in a single prover. Although we do not have "safety in numbers" for this specific symptom, we can find that coughs were seen in several provers.
And a 3 am aggravation was seen in the provings for several other symptoms, including such diverse expressions as Eructations, Diarrhea, Rheumatic pains, Sweat, Dryness and burning of the mouth, Griping in the abdomen and Numbness and heaviness of the extremities. Other provers have not directly provided confirmation of the 3am cough, but we have ample confirmation of its separate elements.
Provings on the Healthy
"Therefore there is no other possible way to unerringly experience the peculiar actions of medicines upon the human condition … than to administer each single medicine experimentally … to healthy persons …"
(Hahnemann, Organon aphorism 108)
Despite Hahnemann's admonition to perform provings on the healthy, many of our valuable symptoms have been brought out on those whose illnesses predispose them to specific sensitivities.
Among the provings of Viola tricolor, we can find:
"I once saw the disease (eczema) in fifteen year-old child, who had also suffered from it in infancy, and at the 8th year; and now, for the third time, was suffering severely.
The worthy mother drew from her pocket the prescription that, she said, had already twice cured her son of the eruption.
It proved to be the jacea [Viola tricolor].
When the eruption appeared for the third time, with little vesicles on the forehead and cheek, she believed that the evil had returned, and forthwith administered two cupfuls of strong jacea tea morning and night.
The vesicles began to dry up, the eruption became less evident, and the tea was discontinued.
After 8 or 10 days, however, the eruption again came to the front.
The tea was resumed, but its effects were quite different.
The skin of the face became tense and swollen, and the eruption broke out in fresh spots, and spread all over the face and even behind the ears.
The glands in the neck were swollen, and the patient, in consequence of the severe tension of the skin, could hardly turn his head.
The eyes alone remained clear.
Now, after several days, the entire face became covered with a thick crust, which here and there cracked, and gave issue to a yellowish viscid matter, which thickened and hardened like gum.
Owing to the overhanging crust, the patient could with difficulty open the eyelids.
Together with the eruption there was an insufferable itching, which caused the youth to scratch and tear the crusts, even in his sleep, and when morning came it was found necessary to tie his hands to the bed to keep him from scratching.
The urine increased to an unusual amount, and stunk horribly, pervading the entire room with an odour like that of cats' urine."
[Hufeland's Journal, ii, 4, 128;
in Hughes and Dake,
A Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy]
Two of the most important guiding symptoms of Viola tricolor - symptoms that have guided effective clinical use for over 150 years (its characteristic eczema and cat-odor urine) - derive from this proving on a chronically ill subject.
Next: Langhammer's Symptoms