Last modified on January 11th, 2019

In order to practically interpret a drug’s pathogenesis and apply this knowledge in a practical manner symptoms are divided into two great classes : (1) Basic, (2) Determinative or Characteristic or PQRS Symptoms.

Every disease is expressed by symptoms. When an outstanding group of symptoms are exhibited regularly in certain order by a sick individual, they are spoken of as a disease. Certain diseases are so well known that they immediately bring to mind a vivid and relatively constant picture as, for instance, Pneumonia. Others like Lethargic Encephalitis, although possessing a name, has such a varied and inconstant symptomatology that the name conveys nothing of a definite nature.

The recognition of these symptom-syndromes was of actual value only when medical research was able to determine the cause, whether infective, metabolic, or organic. The treatment is directed, if feasible, to the cause in the logical hope that eradication of this will lead to cure. When the cause may be treated effectively, Homoeopathy is in entire agreement with this doctrine of medicine.

Unfortunately, however, there are many diseases where the cause is well known but, in spite of this knowledge, they cannot be effectively combated directly in the sense that we combat Cretinism with Thyroid or relapsing fever with Salvarsan or Malaria with Quinine. Some very common diseases come under this class as : Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Influenza, and Typhoid Fever. In these diseases, the etiology helps Therapeutics but little.

There are then many, indeed the majority of diseases, which can only be treated on a symptomatic basis, much as we deplore the fact. Now the point is that the only method which can properly capitalize this purely symptomatic approach and make this method curative rather than merely palliative is Homoeopathy.

It must be emphasized that where Homoeopaths treat symptoms it is always with a curative end in view. Immediately the query arises-by what right do we claim curative results from symptomatic treatment ? Is not the only logical curative medicine that which is known to affect the cause ?

Homoeopaths claim this right by using the symptoms of a case and applying the principle of Similia (See previous chapter). The cause is always removed or treated, if possible, and failing this, the only dependable alternative is a Homoeopathic prescription. This principle or law has been fully discussed else-where but, at this time, we reiterate that it enables us to turn the destructive and toxic action of drugs into a benign and curative force.

This is accomplished by the dynamic use of total drug influence. Or, putting it in another manner, making use of the surface development of a drug (potentizing) and the totality of the symptoms as a guide for administration. Now, if only physiologic use of drugs is recognized or practiced there can be no such result-as only certain gross symptoms or effects, particular to that drug, could be manifested and, while these might modify some complaints of the patient, such modification is usually accomplished only at the expense of untoward action on other organs or systems of the body. One medical author rather naively speaks of such actions as ” bye- effects.”

It is quite impossible by the physiological method to treat a totality of symptoms of any severity with one drug. For example, take a Syndrome that includes insomnia, headache, hypertension, deficient elimination. If we quiet the nervous system, we disorganize the renal system. If we endeavor to increase elimination, their insomnia becomes worse. If we try a vasodilator, the chances are the headache is intensified.

The statement made shortly before, that, by the application of the Homoeopathic principle, we can turn into a power for good a drug which to regular medicine is only known as a destructive agent, like lead, for instance, carries with it the question, ” Would a Homoeopath treat lead poisoning by giving a dose o lead? The answer is most emphatically, ” No.” This would not be Homoeopathy but Isopathy (the same ).

Discussed in chapter on Applied Homoeopathy. Homoeopathy established a similar relationship not an identical one. In the use of lead, for instance, he would use this agent as a remedy in a case of Interstitial nephritis because this disease resembles very closely the toxic action of lead on the kidneys but it follows always that such a case of kidney disease must be caused by some other agent, whatever this might be.

The intense practical importance to the Homoeopath of symptom groups is thus clear. He uses these not only to establish a diagnosis but also as a basis on which to select a drug for curative treatment, provided always that medical therapy seems indicated. For this reason, one studying Homoeopathy goes into the analysis and classification of symptoms much more minutely than regular medicine thinks necessary. They are the very life blood of a Homoeopathic prescription and the efficacy of such a prescription is usually directly proportional to the pains expended in taking the case.

The symptoms of the patient having been noted, these are then referred to the record of direct provings which is made up of four sources of symptoms, the relative value of which should be understood in order to apply them for curative purposes.

There are four classes as follows :

Toxicology – Violent cases of poisoning never yield a profitable symptomatology on account of the violent invasion by foreign destructive agents. The organism throws it off by all routes outward and away from its distinctive life, hence vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions, etc., common to all kinds of poisoning. On the other hand, the records of poisoning give us the ultimate action, the tissue and organic changes that the provings can only indicate, and thus they illustrate and interpret the provings.

Provings on the Healthy – The provings with comparatively small doses avoid these violent, crude, and extreme effects, and instead of producing them, rather indicate them by mild disturbances. We thus obtain the finer and more characteristic action, and thus a much more utilizable picture of drug effects.

Fortunately, the bulk of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica is made up from this source. The symptoms obtained from toxicological observations and from provings are also called pathogenetic symptoms and the full record, in the order of their development, is called the drug’s pathogenesis. The ” Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy ” gives these in their fullest and most accurate form.

Drug Effects Observed on the Sick – These are known as clinical symptoms and will be fully discussed in a later paragraph.

Animal Experimentation – This last source has of recent years attracted much attention and it is especially suggestive for illustrating the disease-producing power of drugs. Most of our important drugs have been so tested and the lesion and tissue proclivity noted.

It has two great advantages-personal equation is eliminated, and the drug may be ” pushed ” without regard to the severity of the symptoms. On the other hand, subjective symptoms, sensations, modalities, and mental changes of course are absent from these provings, The further objection that animals do not react like men to drugs and that the same drug may affect both quite differently is true enough as a general statement, but all men who do this research are familiar with this drawback and select species whose systems in good general health react as does man for their specific experiment. The grouping of all these sources together constitute the Symptomatology of a drug. This is usually arranged in an anatomical order called ” The Hahnemannian Schema ” for ready reference.

In order to practically interpret a drug’s pathogenesis and apply this knowledge in a practical manner symptoms are divided into two great classes : (1) Basic, (2) Determinative.

(2) Determinative.

Basic or absolute symptoms are those that appear in every proving (also in most diseases) and are of a general nature and usually diagnostically important. They are of little value to determine the specific Homoeopathic drug indicated, but taken together furnish a suggestive beginning. Such symptoms are : malaise, headache, weakness, anorexia, eructations, fever, and pain.

Determinative Symptoms are individual or personal one if found in a patient or a characteristic, ” Key-note or guiding symptoms, if found in a drug’s Pathogenesis.” We learn to distinguish drugs very much as we learn to distinguish men, not by the general features, which are common to all, but rather by the personal modification of these general features in shape, habits, and reactions.

Determinative symptoms whether encountered in disease or a drug proving are alike and usually consist of :

1. Modalities;

2. Mental symptoms;

3. Qualified basic or absolute symptoms;

4. ” Strange, rare, or particular symptoms” as mentioned by Hahnemann.

Characteristic Symptoms may be either basic or determinative depending on the particular drug’s propensity. If the drug produces marked pathology, the chances are that its characteristic symptoms would be basic in nature such as, the anaemia and nephritis of Lead or the thick, cracked skin of Petroleum; on the other hand drugs like Bryonia or Nux would be more apt to show these characteristics in the determinative group of symptoms, such as a particular modality or sensation.

This is because every drug is a medicinal force and can expend its disease-producing properties in a way peculiar to itself. There is no rule for this. It is a matter of pure experiment and Homoeopathic provings are especially prolific in bringing out such characteristic symptoms.’ We learn to look for such symptoms in one of the three divisions of the drug’s Pathogenesis, thus :

1. Location of tissue proclivity(elective affinity);

2. Sensation or kind of action;

3. Modalities (influences which aggravate or ameliorate).

Locality or Seat of Action – Every drug affects some organ or system of organs or tissue or region more decidedly than others, and there especially or primarily expends its power. This is not a local action merely, but a localization of the drug’s specific nature.

It appears, no matter by what avenue the drug is introduced into the body. A drug may come into direct contact with the blood, and thereby with every part of the organism, and yet only certain tissue or organs will be affected by it – that is, only these tissues or organs will react against the foreign element. This specific localization, or seat of a drug, is known as its elective affinity, by which it preferably chooses certain cells, tissues or organs, to manifest its action.

In a general way, we see that Belladonna affects principally the brain as its arena for action, and this organ, therefore, has a preferred relationship to Belladonna. So, in the same way, Aconite affects the heart, Ergot the uterus, Bryonia the serous membranes, Podophyllum the duodenum, Rhus the skin, Tellurium the tympanum, Glonoin the vaso-motor centre in the brain. This elective affinity cannot be explained, but it exists.

It was recognized even before Hahnemann and Homoeopathic provings, and has been made the foundation of a system of practice by Rademacher, a German physician and contemporary of Hahnemann, who himself traces the thought to Paracelsus.

While each drug has a preferred locality, based on its elective affinity, still it must not be forgotten that the whole organism – the whole man, mentally and -physically – is affected. This is so, because the various functions and organs are not independent instruments but wonderfully bound together by nerves and blood vessels, and parts most remote are in direct communication with each order.

Diseases are produced and continued along this network of lines when once they have fond a foothold, and drugs act in a similar manner along these tracks. We ought to get a mental picture of a drug as a whole – the drug personified, and thus the typical patient corresponding to the drug. Such study gives a reality and practical utility to the Materia Medica.

Sensations or Kind of Action – While the special seat of action is the first marked fact about the pathogenetic properties of drugs, the special kind of action is the second fact. This may be seen in the sensations and modalities of a drug. Thus, the burning pains of Arsenic, the coldness of Camphor and Veratrum, the sticking pains of Bryonia, the stinging pains of Apis and Theridion, the plug sensation of Anacardium, the soreness of Arnica and Hamamelis, are all characteristic.

Frequently, the character of these pains indicates the seat of the action and thus points to the elective affinity of the drug, as burning pains in general indicate the mucous membranes; dull, boring, gnawing pains, the bones; sticking, cutting pains, serous membranes, etc. In many drugs, these conditions may be so expressive of their special character, that we nearly always expect them to be present when they are Homoeopathically indicated and therefore prove to be the curative remedy.

Such characteristic conditions are the restlessness and anxiety of Aconite and Arsenic, the chilliness of Pulsatilla, the thirstlessness of Apis, the dullness and drowsiness of Gelsemium, the hysterical contradiction of its symptoms of Ignatia, the melancholy of Aurum, etc.

Modalities – Modalities are conditions which influence or modify drug action. Just as a plant thrives best in certain conditions of soil, climate, elevation, in short, a suitable environment, so a drug must be similarly situated to enable it to express itself clearly and fully.

It is of the greatest importance in drug proving as well as prescribing Homoeopathically to note the modalities. The main group of modalities are : time, temperature, weather, motion, menstruation, position, perspiration, eating and emotion. Thus, Lycopodium has a time aggravation in the late afternoon. Sulphur cannot bear heat. Natrum sulph is aggravate by wet weather. Bryonia is aggravated by motion, etc.

A practical point is that there are two types of modalities:

1. Those the apply to the person as a whole;

2. Those that apply to a person’s particular complaint or involve an organ.

The first class is by far the more important and a few general modalities should always be present in the outline of symptoms. We obtain general modalities by asking, ” Are you,” instead of ” Is your.” Thus we ask, ” Are you sensitive to cold weather?” ” Have you a craving for sweets?” ” Are you weak?” etc.

Now it is quite possible for a man to be generally better from heat yet a headache is much worse from heat. It is similar with drugs when studied minutely : Lycopodium generally is better from open air yet craves warm food, but Phosphorus is just the reverse. We shall have more to say on the whole subject of symptoms in the chapter on applied Homoeopathy.

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Garth Boericke

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