The best repertory anyone can have is in his own memory.

John H. Clarke | The Prescriber


Repertory = index, list, catalogue. This method embraces a variety of techniques whereby a repertory is employed to determine a small group of remedies, from which the most similar one to the case may be chosen.


Repertories were introduced into homeopathy because the expanding materia medica became, even in Hahnemann’s lifetime, too voluminous to allow quick and easy reference. A repertory provides an efficient means of accessing the materia medica, without having to read and compare endless lists of symptoms. The purpose of repertorisation, however, is not to replace materia medica study. Rather it is designed to provide a bridge between the case being worked on and the remedy pictures in the materia medica. A successful repertorisation takes the prescriber to those few remedies bearing close similarity to the case, which may then be studied and compared in the materia medica to determine the final choice. Some practitioners are highly skilled in the use of a repertory and are able, by selecting the rubrics very carefully, to narrow the choice down to one remedy using the repertory alone.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a repertory should be considered as a complement to, not a replacement for the materia medica. Those practitioners I have met who are repertory technicians of the highest order are first and foremost, without exception, masters of the materia medica.

Repertories in Use

Kent’s Repertory has dominated the scene for the best part of this century. Kent is said to have laboured for over sixteen years to produce it, and many homeopaths still rank it as one of the standard works of reference. It is, however, seriously outdated now in its original form, so thankfully there have been numerous attempts to update, revise and replace it.

The Synthetic Repertory of Barthel and Klunker is basically an updated version of Kent’s Repertory, with additional material from a wide variety of sources. This repertory is produced in three volumes, but unfortunately contains no particular symptoms whatsoever. Other modern repertories following the same format as Kent but with much additional material have been produced by Eizayaga and Kunzli. Yet another modern repertory based on Kent’s which has gained a strong following amongst classical homeopaths, is the Synthesis Repertory of Ed. F. Schroyens. Containing around 200,000 additions to Kent’s original version and based on the RADAR computer repertory programme, this is probably the best Kentian-style repertory currently available in book form. Another Kentian repertory, which is not for the faint-hearted, is the Complete Repertory of R. Van-Zandvoort, based upon the MacRepertory computer programme.

Robin Murphy’s Homeopathic Medical Repertory is, for me, the most user-friendly and versatile repertory currently available. It was first published in 1993 and was quickly sold out and replaced by a considerably revised second edition. The format has been a source of some controversy, as Murphy took the radical step of replacing the Kentian schema with a completely alphabetical layout. Whilst it takes a bit of getting used to for those raised on Kent, it is, in my experience, much quicker and easier to access once you are familiar with it. Those who have never been exposed to a Kentian-style repertory should, in my opinion, save themselves a huge amount of unnecessary labour and simply start off with this one.

Another criticism levelled at Murphy is that his repertory lacks the references scattered throughout repertories such as Kunzli’s, which enable the user to trace the source of remedy and rubric additions. Personally I find these references superfluous, and Kent himself never saw the need to include them. To me, a repertory will always be a dynamic, imperfect and incomplete reference work, and I feel that any homeopath’s clinical experience is as valid as anybody else’s. There is a kind of elitism within homeopathy these days which suggests that certain ‘masters’ are to be trusted, and clinical experiences coming from any other source must be treated with suspicion – a delusion of superiority if ever there was one!

Although there are more comprehensive repertories available now, Murphy’s has several key features that make it a favourite amongst thousands of users worldwide. Apart from the alphabetical format, it also contains a large number of clinical rubrics and modern-day terms such as Raynaud’s Disease, Allergic Reactions, Multiple Sclerosis, Endometriosis, Chemotherapy agg., etc. Murphy’s repertory also has some wonderful new chapters which gather together a mountain of information scattered throughout the homeopathic literature. These include Environment, Food, Blood, Children, Diseases, Toxicity and Emergencies.

About the author

Ian Watson

Ian Watson


  • Thanks Ian [and h’pathy] for reproducing this chapter from ian’s “Methodologies of Homeopathy” [rev. ed.]

    To one who began studying Homeopathy as a hobby and for family acutes etc, it took years to make sense of how Kent’s homeopathy went 90* from Hahn and Boeninghausen and other founding Homeopaths.

    This article helps lay a foundation for clearing the ‘kentian hom. = classical hom. ‘ inaccuracy.

    *Robin Murphy for basic 6th Organon homeopathy [and all his advanced courses I hope to get into!] and his repertory and MM

    *Ian Watson for a big picture and modernising faux ‘classical’ homeopathy.

    *Matthew Wood for Organ Remedies and ‘the six tissue states’ and a spiritual understanding of plants and their homeopathic effects, even in tincture.

    *David Little [see his online course] for ADVANCED teaching in 6th Organon classical homeopathy

    Until I read most of the major works by these folks I had a very confused/confusing view of Homeopathy.

  • I have been using Boenninghausen’s Characteristics and Repertory, revised and updated by Boger quite well with good success for around 5 years now. So I wish I could know why exactly Ian thinks “it is probably doomed to stay on the back shelves of most homeopathic libraries these days.” I mean I wish I could know the exact nature of superiority of some of the other repertories mentioned over this one. Hoping the author would oblige to share his thoughts.
    -Ram, India

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