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Friday, 3 August 2012


The answer to this most vexing problem is neither easy nor obvious and is very individual in nature. The study of the Materia Medica is one of the greatest challenges for every student of Homeopathy. It is a dry subject which cannot be illustrated satisfactorily especially to first year students. This makes it difficult to memorize. I believe the M.M. cannot be understood by freshers as they have no concept of cause and distant effect which is the essence of the subject. Provings are not demonstrated to the students. This makes the M.M. appear like a hotch-potch collection of symptoms with no head or tail. The more you read, more the similarity between drugs. This similarity is only superficial. Every drug seems to have a head-ache, nausea, vomiting, fever etc. The first thing a student must understand is that the symptoms collected under a single drug are not present in any single prover or patient. It is a collection spread across scores of patients, provers and doctors; a labor of many years.
Hence it is said `Find the patient in the materia medica and do not look for the materia medica in the patient’.e.g. An Arsenic patient is known to be thirsty. Yet in the repertory under Stomach: Thirstless: Arsenic appears as a 1 mark drug. This only shows that Arsenic can have the effect of thirstlessness in a small percentage of provers as well.
The other point to be remembered is that any substance given in large doses is a poison; the same substance in minute quantities can be a medicine. This is the basis of the Materia medica and Homeopathy itself. This is different from the adage- “One man’s medicine is another man’s poison”.
To remember the large collection of symptoms under every medicine is a herculean task. Read five drugs and everything starts to seem similar. There are therefore two ways of remembering each drug.
1.             1.  To find the thread that runs through the myriad symptoms.
          2. To differentiate between the drugs.
       (Other hitherto popular methods were pnemonics and limericks, both have severe limitations.)
Neither of these tasks can be done by memory alone. It requires that the views of several authors are studied. Begin from the key notes (Allens) through Nash and onto authors like Kent and then M.L.Tyler whose descriptions are probably most graphic. Every symptom in the M.M. is recorded at a location with a sensation, time of occurrence, modalities and concomitants (accompanying symptoms whose occurrence cannot be explained and which may present themselves in a distant, apparently unconnected organ). Yet the common effects of the drug pathogenesy can be seen to run through the patient or prover. I divide all symptoms for convenience into toxic and dynamic symptoms. Most drugs will display the former prominently and mildly as well. These symptoms are easier to remember. I also divide drugs into infective and non-infective categories. I.e. drugs capable of causing an infective pathology or otherwise. The former can then be easily memorized by remembering the organ affinity, the miasmatic effect, the type of eruption, discharge, consistency, fistulous or ulcerative tendency. From a clinical point of view, I like to remember the drugs with decreased thirst and the very thirsty, this divides the MM into two easily differentiated groups, making drug selection that much easier.
You will find a common pathology (Miasm) running through the entire drug which is peculiar in its effects on the mind and on the body. This is what I call the thread of the remedy. If it is extrapolated over the M.M. of the particular body parts, you will find that the thread explains most of the effects of the drug. Hence if a drug is Syphilitic, its effect will be to destroy every organ in the body: The brain through vascular malformations, hypodense lesions on CT scan, the Mind through insanity, delusions, hallucinations irrational ideas and extreme fear. Every organ in the body has its anatomy which the miasm will destroy through ulceration. The discharges will be purulent (Yellow, thick), offensive and corrosive. This ulceration and infectious pathology will present is dysfunction or malfunction depending on the organs basic function. e.g. The Eyes- retinal detachment, hemorrhage,  ulceration with discharge from Cornea, Conjunctiva, Infections of Aqueous humor and Vitreous humor leading to disturbance of vision and blindness etc. Hence the miasm will dictate to you many of the symptoms and signs which are peculiar to it. Every drug also has its affinity to certain organs which must be remembered.
This leaves out the sensations, concomitants and modalities which are  to be memorized. Lastly the Key-notes which are some peculiar or unique effects which are easily committed to memory due to their ridiculous or unique nature. Do read the threads of various drugs I have analyzed in my blogs which I put up periodically. As you have realized, there is no single and sure shot method for this task. Adapt and persist, read and re-read and soon  you will be surprised about your ability to recall drugs and symptoms when needed.


  1. Superb article about memorizing medicines

    1. Thank you. You may share any difficulties you have and I will be glad to answer them.