Dr Ria Thukral, homeopathic materia medica, dr samuel hahnemann

The Importance Of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms And Other Source Books

Authored by:

Dr Ria Thukral

MD Scholar, Department of Homeopathic Materia Medica

Bakson Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital

With every new Materia Medica being published since the origin of Homoeopathic science, all our eminent and experienced Homoeopaths have come forth with their own understanding and clinical assessment of the original symptoms given in the sources of Homoeopathic Materia Medica.

They have provided the young and lesser experienced Homoeopaths with an easier yet often poorly understood interpretations of the original Materia Medicas.

The need of the hour is to go back to the dependable symptoms recorded by the founder of Homoeopathy Dr. Samuel Hahnemann and his followers to have a better and deeper understanding of this subject. That’s why a study based only on the original source books of Homoeopathic Materia Medica is necessary.

 For Dr. Hering, a symptom did not acquire the status of a guiding symptom unless, apart from its appearance in a prover or provers, it has been verified on the bedside a number of times.[1]

That is the reason why the verified symptoms stated as more important by Dr. Hering proves to be highly beneficial in Homeopathic Practice.

The most utilised and at times abused Keynote Materia Medicas of today’s time, are based entirely on the Guiding Symptoms of Our Materia Medica by Dr. C. Hering (HGS). The authors selected some of the symptoms from HGS according to their own sense of priority and personal experience leaving some important symptoms unnoticed. Hence, a deeper study of the original source books will ensure that no important symptoms are neglected.[1]

Moreover, Dr. Hering started believing in the science of Homoeopathy when going through Dr. Hahnemann’s works for the sake of making quotations against it, he came across the famous ‘nota bene for my reviewers‘ in the preface to the third volume of  ‘Materia Medica Pura‘, which said, “This doctrine appeals not only chiefly, but solely to the verdict of experience repeat the experiments,” it cries aloud, repeat them carefully and accurately, and you will find the doctrine confirmed at every step and it does what no medical doctrine, no system of physic, no so-called therapeutics ever did or could do, it insists upon being “judged by the result.” [2]

Here is a short overview on Hering’s guiding symptoms and other source books in Homoeopathic Materia Medica:

  • The Homoeopathic Materia Medica came of age only when Dr. Hering published his work. Before that, the works on Materia Medica were rather collections of innumerable symptoms from proving and poisonings and not applied Materia Medica. Dr. Hering provided the symptoms that were repeatedly verified on the sick.[1]
    • Dr. Hering gave the ‘matured’ Materia Medica.[1]
  • MATERIA MEDICA PURA (1811- 1833) by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, Translated by R.E. Dudgeon

Third edition (1830-1833) – 64 drugs ( + 3 Magnets) Translators copy (by R.E. Dudgeon) – 67drugs

  • It was the first Materia Medica prepared by Dr. Hahnemann himself. Most of drugs were proved by Dr. Hahnemann and his colleagues. The proving contains symptoms in the form of altered sensations and functions felt by the prover after taking a drug. The symptoms are collected as they appeared according to the time factor  and according to the schema of Dr. Hahnemann.[3]
    •  Every care was taken to secure the true and full action of the medicines. Proving were made upon persons in perfect health, and living in contentment and comparative ease.[3]
  • The Chronic diseases – Their peculiar nature and their Homoeopathic cure by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, translated by Prof. Louis H. Tafel

(Second edition – 1835-1839, 5 volumes, 47 drugs)

  • Proving symptoms, clinical symptoms & few toxicological symptoms are recorded in this book in a modified way.[4]
    • Dr. Hughes followed the references given by Dr. Hahnemann and found many of them were made upon the sick for assessing the real value of symptoms. So Hughes writes, “I am compelled to draw the conclusion that the great bulk of the pathogenesis of the Chronischen Krankheiten (Chronic Diseases) are not to be relied upon as genuine physiological effects of the drug”.[3]
  • The Encyclopedia of Pure MM edited by Timothy F. Allen    (1874-79, 10 volumes, 715 medicines)
  • The sources from which this compilation has been made are:[5]
    • Experiments made upon healthy individuals for the purpose of noting the effects of the drug.
    • Effects observed after poisonous doses (accidentally or maliciously administered).
    • Symptoms (cautiously admitted) observed in the sick after the administration of the drug.
  • Under the heading of each drug, are collected all the symptoms obtained from it by every prover who has tested it, from Dr. Hahnemann down to the latest student of the American colleges.[5]
  • A CYCLOPAEDIA OF DRUG PATHOGENESY issued under the auspices of the British homoeopathic Society and the American Institute  of Homoeopathy edited by Dr. Richard Hughes, MD and J.P. Dake, MD

 (1886-91, 4 volumes, 304 medicines)

  • American ‘Hahnemannian Monthly‘ described the Cyclopaedia of Drug Pathogenesy as “a work without parallel in all medical literature”[6]
    • This book was a unique attempt to present a truly critical collection of the materia medica and demanded a high degree of dedication from its readers.[6]
    • The British Homoeopathic Society held a meeting regarding the need of such a work and appointed Dr. Hughes for it, who, with the help of other dedicated homeopaths completed this book in 1886.[6]
    • It gives the narratives of all the provings, the known cases of poisonings and also the results of experiments on the lower animals.[6]

The Remedies studied from the source books will be useful to understand them in totality. Even better if they are studied with comparisons. The comparison of the source books will assess the differences and similarities in gradations of the symptoms providing a better insight into the respective experiences of the authors.

The source of the characteristic symptoms will help in understanding the relative significance of various symptoms in a prescription based on characteristics, providing an analysis regarding the type of symptoms which should be given higher priority in drug picture formation.

Further, a Repertorial assessment of the identified symptoms can give an authentic data regarding the conversion of symptoms into rubrics and the differences between the gradations in them. This will provide a better understanding about the formation and usefulness of repertory as well.


  1. Hering C., The Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica, Volume I, B. Jain publishers pvt. Ltd., New delhi, 1997
  2. Hahnemann S., Materia MEDICA PURA, Volume I, Third edition, translator’s copy by R.E. Dudgeon, B. Jain publishers pvt. Ltd., New delhi, 1999
  3. Hughes R., A Manual of Pharmacodynamics, sixth edition, B. Jain publishers pvt. Ltd., New delhi, 1999
  4. Hahnemann S., The Chronic diseases – Their peculiar nature and their Homoeopathic cure, Volume I, Second edition, translation by prof. Loius h. Tafel, B. Jain publishers pvt. Ltd., New delhi, 2001
  5. Allen Timothy F., The Encyclopedia of Pure materia Medica, Volume I, B. Jain publishers, pvt. ltd., New delhi, 2000
  6. Hughes R., Dake J.P., A CYCLOPAEDIA OF DRUG PATHOGENESY, volume I, Boericke and Tafel, New york, 1886. available on https://books.google.co.in/books?id=Sf-qhec1UnUC&pg=PR15&dq=cyclopedia+of+drug+pathogenesy&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_j8zop9DcAhVFS7wKHcUwCf8Q6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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