Homeopathy Papers

Early Attempts by Homeopaths to Relate the Remedies

Sue Young
Written by Sue Young

Homeopathy historian Sue Young describes attempts by early homeopaths to identify and explain the relationship that remedies have to each other.

LCH Project Regent’s College

Hahnemann’s Thoughts on the Relationship Issue

Hahnemann’s theory of homeopathy helps us to determine a theoretical framework for disease, which allows us to understand the dynamics of the energy patterns in health and disease in the shapes of the remedy pictures.

Underlying this, the miasms themselves, contribute a base note. Combined with Hering’s Law of Cure we are allowed a clear image of the workings of the dynamics of disease and health.

We are not simply limited to diagnosis, but to a clearly stated understanding of the relationship between the symptom picture and the remedy picture. A perfect match between the two, the true similimum is a clear concept, which enables comprehension of the processes involved in disease and in cure.

There have been many attempts to relate the action of the remedies in homeopathic thinking; an inherent belief that the remedies are related in some special way is implied by the many attempts to relate them. This may reflect a deep subjective feeling of the relatedness of all things. Disease and health are related to each other as the fluctuating patterns of the vital force peaks and troughs in its journey through matter.

Many early homeopaths were chemists themselves, as Hahnemann was. Indeed, homeopathy grew out of Hahnemann’s’ fascination with the natural order. Hahnemann says that it is ‘… scarcely less foolish, to wit, the attempts, even of those of our own times, to guess the powers of medicines from their smell and taste[1]

Hahnemann tells us that no amount of “technical torturing” of substances, a reference to chemistry’s separation of substances into basic elements, will tell us what healing power it is possessed of. He also warns us about the Doctrine of Natures.

We can thus only determine the action of a drug or remedy via its morbid phenomena and symptoms, and its relationship to the organism in health and in disease. This is demonstrated and explained by the fact that we obtain our remedy pictures via provings on healthy subjects. So we can see the alterations in the pattern of health by the introduction of certain substances into healthy people.

Hahnemann himself classified remedies according to their relationship to the miasms. Hahnemann also studied the remedies in natural groupings. In Hering’s preface to Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, Hering mentions that the oxides, the salts of ammonium, potassium, sodium, calcium, aluminum and magnesium are the most important of Hahnemann’s anti psoric remedies. However, Hahnemann did not value the metals so greatly as his first line of defence against psora.

The “dual action” of the vital force is seen as creative in health and destructive in disease. Under the influence of the miasms, this fluctuation around an equilibrium becomes more unstable because the miasms affect the central balance, and thus affect the vital force’s ability to achieve equilibrium. NB: consider Heisenberg’s Uncertainly Principle 1927 and his Collapse of a Probability Wave Heisenberg 1932 ‘… Fission takes place when a thing separates into light and darkness[2]

Hahnemann’s view of the miasms is central to his approach and thus the anti psoric remedies are fundamental remedy groupings. The energy patterns of the miasms are thus central disturbances in health. As the miasms are so stubborn and ancient and ingrained in the vital force, the symptom pictures of the miasms and the way they combine must obviously be a basis of a relationship between remedy groups. They are thus the strongest influences on the vital force, and so they will impose very strong and definite symptoms upon it.

Hahnemann also noticed that certain remedies are commonly indicated and follow other remedies well. Thus, the idea of successive remedies was investigated. In the Organon, Hahnemann mentions that when two remedies contend in a case, due to their similarity, we need to decide very carefully between them and we may even need to give both remedies in succession, or even combined together as one remedy.

The overlap of similarity of symptoms thus gives us our real clue here to the relationships between remedies. If the vital force is a coherent field unifying all living things, then a continuum flowing into and out of this basic energy pattern is our model. The way this field behaves will be reflected in the many different remedy pictures. We assume that we have substances reflective of all possible states that the vital force can assume, contained within our materia medica’s?

If equilibrium is health, and oscillations reflect ill health above and below this equilibrium, with miasms affecting the vital force’s ability to achieve or maintain equilibrium, then we have a complete model. Psora, reflecting the first imprint upon the equilibrium would prevent this perfect state by causing a below par state.

The resultant antagonistic reaction of the body trying to regain equilibrium, but unable to because of psora, would result in overshooting the mark – sycosis, or reacting away from the mark – syphilis.

We should also remember here that some remedies are called tri miasmatic remedies, and are believed to cover more than one miasm, for example Staphysagria and Lachesis. Also there is the cancer miasm suggesting remedies like Kali Carb, Conium and many others, and today there are suggestions of other miasms – radioactive miasm (rad brom?), possibly an AIDS miasm and a heavy metals miasm, abuse miasm (?) overlaying us from a poisoned environment, all of which are so theoretical at the moment that we can only guess where the future health of our species and the planet are going.

Homeopaths find this grouping of the remedies very useful in ever day practice and it has proved itself over the years. Many attempts have been made to study this area subsequently, and more work will no doubt be done in this area in the future.

No one has really added more than a comma to Hahnemann’s original writings in homeopathy in over two hundred years. As we understand the energy universe more and more in the future, no doubt we may be able to actually understand Hahnemann properly at last.

The various repertories list remedies under miasmatic categories, though there are no lists of multi miasmatic or tubercular or cancer miasm remedies. It would be useful to compile these!

As yet, we have no real comprehension of the way the vital force acts in a unified field, incorporating individuals and matter, but we find these categories, and indeed all the systems and models we have identified so far are very useful to us in case management.

In homeopathic treatment, we need to keep track of what is happening in the vital force during treatment. We as yet have no universally agreed models here. Maybe this is a good thing as the whole concept is fluid in the first place.

Maybe we just need to keep sight of equilibrium! So we are continually trying to follow the ebbs and flows, peaks and troughs of the energy, trying to understand the movement and what it all means.


In the 1920’s and 1930’s, homeopaths were looking at relationships from a historical perspective. They were empirical scientists, and they approached the material methodically. They looked at every point of interface and possible category of occurrence. They were very thorough!

Farrington listed the remedies in positive and negative groups and Dr Grimmer added to this concept the idea of bipolar and neutral remedies. Farrington and Grimmer may well have been investigating a fascinating way of relating remedies to the pulses and ebbs of energy in the imbalances seen in disease. This avenue of thinking has also led to attempts to look at remedies in acute and chronic categories, long or short acting remedies and deep and surface remedies.

Hahnemann also divided the remedies into short and long acting remedies (this latter category corresponding to his list of anti-psoric remedies) as did Farrington, Boenninghausen and Hering. However, it is not a simple matter.

Aconite and Arnica are reputedly acute, brief acting remedies, but it is well known that both can act very deeply, indeed they can go back many years into an aetiological case. They may even prove to be constitutional in such cases. So these classifications are only useful in certain theoretical assessments and for research purposes, but certainly cannot be definitive at all in the question of relationships.

Dr Scholta expounded upon the idea of relating remedies in acid or alkali groupings, relating this to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in the body. He suggested that alkali remedies are always chilly < cold, and that acid remedies are always hot < heat.

Kent’s repertory has lists of remedies generally aggravated by heat and cold on pages 1348 and in generalities on pages 1348 and 1365-1367. This categorisation needs careful thought though, as some of the acids are chilly, eg nit ac and lac ac. However, fluor ac is very hot as a rule and phos ac appears in both of the following rubrics, Heat, sensation of, page 1366, and Heat, vital lack of, page 1366.

Boenninghausen also studied alkaloids, restating the importance of provings and how suspicious we must be about chemistry and signatures. Farrington studied the acids, dividing them into vegetable and mineral groups.

Boenninghausen’s lists of affinities of the sides of the body are also in Kent on pages 1425 – 1432. These lists are very useful in differentiation and confirmation of the choice of remedy. They are also very useful in case management, as equilibrium or balance is seen as nearer to health than a preponderance of right or left sided symptoms. However, the information such categories contain does not help us to determine any relationships between remedies.

In an attempt to study Nature, we need to first look at the way Nature structures Herself. The Natural Groupings have been pondered on endlessly as a key to some base line understanding, a starting point.

Farrington has written a great deal on the family and class relationships of the Natural World. Farrington explains that looking at the analysis of the drug itself is a good place to start. Also, a comparative view of the remedies is important as remedies impinge in their resemblances and separate in their differences. Farrington relates these groups initially according to their Grand Divisions in Nature, the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. He also includes the nosodes as a group.

This perspective does tell us that remedies share similarities and have overlaps in their action. Indeed, the whole repertory is a vast collection of relationships; each rubric gives us a group of remedies which share certain similar symptoms.

Clarke states that nothing in Nature is really unrelated to anything else, but that the remedies are inter related at the point of their therapeutic action. Some remedies facilitate other remedies (compatibles or complements) while others spoil the action of the preceding remedy (incompatibles).

Elizabeth Wright Hubbard tells us that the early homeopaths related remedies to each other to complete the cure. There are several classes of complementary relationships; sometimes the remedies are related via the close symptom picture, sometimes the relationship is due to their close occurrence when found in Nature.

She also looked at the relationship of chronic remedy pictures to the acute exacerbations, for example Belladonna and Calc carb or Nat mur and Bryonia. Wright Hubbard points out also that a remedy can have more than one acute complement, for example Nat mur can relate to Bryonia, Ignatia and Apis in the acute.

Wright Hubbard also discusses the “series” relationship; for example Sulphur, Calc Carb And Lycopodium, stating that more research needs to be done in this area. Of incompatibles, Wright Hubbard explains that these are recorded incidents by other homeopaths where adverse reactions have been noted;  for example Causticum And Phosphorus.

However, we also know that occasionally these inimical remedies have been prescribed following each other with no ill effect! Kent believed that some remedies were inimical to each other in their acute sphere, and others only in their chronic sphere.

Wright Hubbard quotes a widely held belief that a remedy from all three Natural Kingdoms needs to be utilised in every cure. She also suggests that  certain remedy groups all contain, for example Sulphur or Iodine which may link them together, and that we need to study this area carefully in the future.

Stramonium and Pulsatilla can be seen to oscillate around a peak and can be flip states. Stramonium can link with Cuprum with a picture of spasm. Lycopodium and Pulsatilla can cleave together, and are often found in a husband and wife scenario.

We often find similar remedies in the same family, so it can be seen that they do cluster together in their relationships in natural circumstances. In the Natural world we see anemone (Pulsatilla) growing in mossy (Lycopodium) ground.

Farrington defined five relations of the remedies:


‘… When drugs belong to the same family they must of necessity have a similar action…’

However the action of these remedies are so close, they may not follow one another well and they may not antidote one another, for example Ignatia and Nux Vomica.

2. CONCORDANT REMEDIES have similarity of action, but they do not originate from the same family, and we find that they do follow one another well in prescribing.

3. COMPLEMENTARY remedies will pick up and complete the cure which the other remedy begins but cannot complete. These remedies may be from the same family in Nature or from completely different groups.

4. ANTIDOTAL REMEDIES. These remedies do not stop the action of the previous remedy but modify the effects.

5. INIMICAL REMEDIES. Farrington simply states this category. He doesn’t offer any explanation here.

Sankaran senior has also studied this area. His main categories are:

1. COMPLEMENTARY REMEDIES. These remedies continue or complete the action of the previous remedy. This may be due to the limited sphere of action of the previous remedy, or that the first remedy fails to do the whole work. Interestingly, Sankaran senior mentions that complementary remedies may also be antidotal, and that this apparent paradox is explained by the fact that some antidotal remedies will antidote or correct the undesired effect of the first remedy and yet continue the beneficial reaction.

2. REMEDIES WHICH FOLLOW WELL. These are remedies which have been noted over the years to follow one another well. No explanation as to why is offered here.

3. INCOMPATIBLE REMEDIES. These remedies seem to have a “lack of harmony” with each other and do not follow each other well. Sankaran senior quotes Nash who did not necessarily believe in this inimical reaction, and who would use Causticum after Phosphorus if he found them indicated with no apparent ill effect. However, these remedies are rarely indicated after one another. Gibson Miller, quoting Kent, says that some remedies are inimical to each other in the acute sphere and others inimica1 only in the chronic sphere.

4. ANTIDOTAL REMEDIES. Sankaran senior says that we should choose our antidote by matching the symptom picture as we would when choosing the remedy initially. He also gives some good advice from Old who says that high potencies antidote low potencies and vice versa. Boger believed that the best antidote is a very high potency of the same remedy.

B.K. Sarkar has also considered this puzzle.

In his “Clinical Relationships of Drugs with their Modalities” B. K. Sarkar explains that as people suffer from “disease conditions” rather than finite “diseases”, homeopathy needs to use more than one drug to effect relief. Indeed a whole series of remedies are often administered in sequence to parallel the different stages of natural disease. Thus we need to study the inter relationships for clinical purposes.

Sarkar states that the relationships which stand out are:

1. COMPLEMENTARY. These are remedies which complete the action of the previous remedy. This is because cases are complicated and due to succession of disease and to previous allopathic drug use and suppressive factors, we have to untangle many knots one by one, maybe with a series of remedies. He identifies three classes of complementaryremedies:

  • Class One Remedies: related due to their being members of the same Natural Group, and remedies which share an identical chemica1 constituent. Sarkar also lists here remedies which are only similar in their symptoms picture, but these remedies are CONCORDANT in essence.
  • Class Two Remedies: These are acute complements of chronic remedies, for example Belladonna and Calc carb. Again, these are really CONCORDANT remedies.
  • Class Three Remedies: These are “series” remedies, for example Sulphur – Calc – Lyc. Again these are really CONCORDANT remedies.

2. CONCORDANT REMEDIES. These remedies have a marked similarity in action, although they belong to different Natural groups. Sarkar states the belief here that every cure must include a remedy from every Natural Group. These remedies may also follow one another well. Sarkar says that this group includes COMPLEMENTARY remedies and REMEDIES WHICH FOLLOW WELL.

3. ANTIDOTAL REMEDIES. These remedies resemble one another but they antidote the previous remedy.

4. INIMICAL REMEDIES. These remedies resemble one another, but they spoil the action of the previous remedy.

5. INCOMPATIBLE REMEDIES. These remedies are related to one another by their Natural group, but they do not follow one another, and they do not antidote one another. This seems to be similar to Farrington’s belief that these remedies are too close, but they are also defined in the complementary group, as Sankaran senior pointed out.


So we appear to have similar ideas but in slightly different groups stated by each homeopath. In an attempt to sort out the confusion, I have outlined below a preliminary list of a table for the relationship of remedies:

1. COMPLEMENTARY REMEDIES. Remedies which complete the action of the previous remedy: class one remedies related via their correspondence in Nature or via some shared chemical constituent. NB: it will be important to check that the remedy does not also appear in the. INCOMPATIBLE or ANTIDIDOTAL list.

2. COLLATERAL REMEDIES. These remedies are similar in their symptom picture, but they are not related in any way, as are complements. They may be possible alternatives to the originally chosen remedy: class 1, an acute of a chronic remedy. Class 2, a “series” remedy.

3. REMEDIES WHICH FOLLOW WELL. Many homeopaths over the years have devoted so much time and work to note down these similarities that it would be a great omission from any list of the relationship of remedies. These remedies will be COMPLIMENTARY or COLLATERAL remedies.

4. INCOMPATIBLE REMEDIES. (This section includes lNIMICAL remedies). Similar to class one COMPLEMENTS, these remedies are so similar that they can react against the previous remedy. They may spoil the action of the previous remedy but they may go on to cure.

5. ANTIDOTAL REMEDIES. Similar to class 1 COMPLEMENTS, or to INCOMPATIBLE remedies. These remedies may stop the action of the previous remedy but they may go on to cure.

So any remedy can be ANTIDOTAL, COLLATERAL, COMPLEMENTARY or INIMICAL, but not at any one time. This does not give us any great accuracy or predictability. It is only after the event that we can see the relationship – it is the event that describes the relationship.

It is only by noticing patterns of remedies that occur in sequences or in combination that we can say about them that there exists a relationship. It is the repetition of events that allows the relationship to be seen.

Remember Heisenberg’s Uncertainly Principle 1927 and his Collapse of a Probability Wave Heisenberg 1932, and we are again lost in obtuse Metaphysics.

Thus, our Relationship of Remedies tables allow us to benefit from the combined expertise and observation of homeopaths over the years. They by no means preclude other remedy pictures coming up, but they can guide us in our prescribing.

This allows us to antidote adverse affects, complement the action of our previous remedy, and to steer clear of inimical reactions. However, the rule of only prescribing on what we see in the symptom picture will always remain paramount, and it will also follow the patterns of universal energy reflected in the person we are prescribing for.

Copyright © Sue Young June 1991

[1] Hahnemann, Dudgeon, Hughes, Materia Medica Pura, Volume 1, (1881). Page 10.
[2] Ovason, The Zelator, (Random House, 2013). Page 393.

About the author

Sue Young

Sue Young

Sue Young obtained a degree in psychology from City University London and subsequently studied homoepathy at CPH and also trained with Robert Davidson. She has been a practicing homeopath for over 20 years and says she owes her life and health to homeopathy. Sue also studied history and archaeology at Birbeck College, which fueled her deep interest in the past. These days she spends much of her time researching and writing fascinating biographies of homeopaths throughout history. You can see the fruits of her labor here : http://sueyounghistories.com/

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