Types of Homoeopathic Materia Medica

Since the discovery of Homoeopathy and proving of symptoms, different authors represent it in different  ways. If we look back to the history  of material  medica,  an evolution takesplace  in presenting  materia medica by different authors. With the advancement of time number of proved drug increased, a lot of clinical symptoms  of many drugs  are introduced  by different  Homoeopaths.

So many scholars of early and  mid nineteenth century  like Dr.Hering Dr. R. Hughes, Dr. J.T. Kent  tried to systematize the writings  of materia medica symptoms  which resulted  in  different types  of Materia  medica.

Broadly Materia  medicas can be classified into two.

  1. UNMODIFIED Type of Materia Medica 
  2. MODIFIED  type of Materia Medica.

It is difficult to typify the types of MM. But according to the ways of representation they can be  grouped into different types.

UNMODIFIED  MateriaMedica
Symptoms  were mentioned in an unmodified  form is directly in the form in which it was  obtained from the prover.

MODIFIED MateriaMedica

  1. Schematic MM
  2. Keynote MM
  3. MM of pharmaco dynamic type
  4. MM of physiological action
  5. Clinical MM
  6. Therapeutic MM
  7. Picture  type MM
  8. Picture method of MM
  9. Comparative type
  10. Psychoanalysis
  11. Approach through periodic table
  12. Study of drug by analyzing the group
  13. Combined type
  14. Specialized MM



  1. Materia Medica Pura by Dr. Hahnemann
  2. Chronic disease their peculiar nature and their homoeopathic care by Dr. Habnemann
  3. The Encyclopedia of Pure  MM by TFallen
  4. The Guiding  symptoms  of our MM by C- Hering (10 volumes)
  5. A dictionary of practiced MM by J.H. Clarks.

Merits of schematic type

  1.  As the drugs are systematically written against each organ, if facilitates  to memorize  such multitude  of symptom of each drug.
  2.  A ready reference  can be made easily and quickly for a particular symptom  while searching it for a particular  part of the body.

Demerits of Schematic type

  1. It is very difficult  to give value to the  symptoms  according to their intrinsic  worth. It is  because the real unexpected  deviations are lost  due to its fragmental study. For eg : Chilly patient but likes cold drinks  is peculiar to us but if it is separately mentioned in different  section the real peculiarity  of symptoms cannot be ascertained  immediately.
  2. Dr. R. Hughes criticized  this arrangement as “An artist  painting  a family  painting  keeping all eyes of all the members of family in one part of the picture all the nose in one another and so on.

After the age of schematic MM a new school of thought  was founded who were the sponsors of kenote characteristic  of symptoms. They attached  special importance to these peculiar  rare and striking  symptoms. It was introduced  by Guernsey. Hahnemann, Lippe told it  as characteristic symptoms.

Definition of Keynote symptom

In  comparing the symptom  of medicine we find that each medicine present peculiar difference  from other medicines. These difference  by which one remedy is distinguished  from another are key notes of the remedy .

As there is only one key note  to any piece of music, however,  complicated  and that note governs all others in various parts, no matter how many variations are there showed in the remedy to be selected, there must be a  peculiar symptom or combination of symptom  which is known  as characteristic  keynote symptom. The key note generally  falls under the following categories.

  1. Very peculiar symptoms
  2. Mental concomitant  with bodily disease, Eg. Ars
  3. Precise locality Eg : Capsicum –Mastoiditis
  4. Course  and direction of pain sensation Eg : Chel
  5. Alternative symptoms – alternate constipation& diarrhea-opium
  6. Modalities


  1. Keynotes on leading remedies by H.C. Allen (304 drugs)
  2. A primer of MM – TF Allen (265 drugs)
  3. A synoptic key to MM – By CM  Boger (323 drugs)
  4. Leading symptoms of thousand remedies – by M. Bhattacharya and Co.
  5. Characteristic MM – by W.H. Burt
  6. Keynote and redline symptoms of the MM – A.V. Lippe (235 drys)
  7. Characteristic of Hom MM – by M.E. Douglas.

Merits of Keynote MM

  1. To quote B.K. Sarkar “The keynote is simply the predominating  symptom  or feature  which direct  one’s  attention to the totality  of the symptoms  in & through which an  individual case is expressed.
  2. The function of keynote in the process of finding similimum  is suggestive.
  3. Its utility  lies in the fact that  when prescribes  has become familiar with these keynotes  he will be  able more quickly  to find the  similimum because the field of selection is narrowed.


  1. Keynote  prescribing is no doubt is a short cut and time saving  device  but it is often misused. We court  failure if these keynotes are taken as final and generals do not conform.
  2. It tries  to narrow down the number of likely similar medicine.
  3. It is also liable to misfire as it  ranks one or two symptoms very high  and practically ignores other.
  4. List of keynotes though of very great  value cannot take the place of full schema. The prescriber  is constantly requiring  to know the exact symptoms produced and curved  by the drugs and often these are not to be found among the keynotes. Again when a prescriber has found correspondance in some leading symptoms he must refer other particulars also.
  5. That’s why Dr. Tyler apthy remarks that the keynotes symptoms are invaluable often to give the costing vote.


After the age of schematic MM, few authors and some genius of Homoeopathy interested  in MM of pharmacodynamic type.


  1. The new comprehensive system of MM &therapeutics by Dr. Hempel (2nd Edn 1865)
  2. Lectures on MM  – Carol Dunham (5th Edn. 53 med.)
  3. A manual of Pharmaco dynamics by R. Hughes (6th Edn. 1880 medicines.


In these books  particularly in pharmaco dynamics  by R. Hughes  the main object is to set forth the sphere of action of each drug. Every medicine even though  if it is great polychrest  which seems  to embrace nearly the whole organisms within the circle of their influence  has one or more centre of action. These centers sometimes from the pathogenic  sometimes  form the clinical  side. Many authors are of view that if these centers can be traced out for each drug, the understanding  and remembrance of the drug become easy.

Eg : Nausea and vomiting of Ipecac.


            Many symptoms of the drug could have been overlooked in this type of study.


Eg : 1. Physiological Materia Medica by W.H. Burt Ist Edn. 1881, 3rd edn – 1882 (no of drugs 281)

  1. Characteristic Materia Medica by D.C. Dasgupta Ist Edn. 1936 (no of drugs 176).

This type of books deals with the kind of action of each drug. Here attempt is made to describe the central theme of physiological  action or actions of each of them.


  1. It is a retrospective study from stored drug pathogenesis collected from proving on human beings and clinical  practice. This type of MM produce a new method for Homoeopathy, to receive a scientific base from physiological and pathological stand point.
  2. By knowing  the physiological and pathological action ie, on which tissue it acts and how it affects them give direct knowledge of its curative  action. The knowledge of its physiological or local action gives the key to its therapeutics.
  3. When summoned to court, sphere of action of remedy must be known by the physician to protect him.


            Many symptoms of the drug could have been overlooked in this type of study.


In this type of books discussion is emphasized on therapeutic aspect with other symptoms

Eg : 1)A clinical MM by E.A. Farrington

Ist  Edn 1887, 536 drugs.

2)A dictionary of practical MM by E.A. Farrington

3)Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic MM with repertory by W. Boericke 9th Edn 1927-1414 drugs


  1. A quick selection of a drug can be  made as the  medicines are compared  on its clinical aspect.


            Complete  picture of the drug cannot be compared on its clinical aspect.


Here the drugs are studied under the headings of different diseases.

Eg : Drugs producing pain in different joints are described under arthritis.


  1. Quick selection of drug can be made.
  2. It reduces the choice  of remedy to a limited number


            Whole picture of the drug cannot be studied.

Eg : 1)Practical  Homoeopathic therapeutics by W.A. Dewey

2) Select your remedy  by Dr. R.B. Bishambar Das.  Ist Edn. 1956

3) The Prescriber 9th Edn 1947 (427 med) – Lilienthel


Here the pathogenesis of drug is presented in a comprehensive manner so that an individual picture of a drug comes out.

Eg : Homoeopathic drug picture by M.L. Tylor – 1952, 125 med.

Lectures of Homoeopathic MM By J.T. Kent – 1904, 174 med.


  1. Understanding of the whole drug can be possible in this type of MM.
  2. Comparative study also can be possible.


  1. As it is vast, a quick reference cannot be  possible.

Hahnemann’s case taking was rather a bit crude. He used to jolt down the symptoms  and indicated remedies for each symptom. He laid stress in the numerical totality of the symptoms and selected a drug which covered the majorities  of the symptoms  including strange, rare and peculiar symptoms. This method  is tedious and painstaking  job. Perceiving  these difficulties Hahnemann’s and Bornning hausen’s contemporaries  evolved a new  technique for assessing  the totality of symptoms  with regards to its sensation, location modality and concomitant. This method also has certain  limitations. This method is useful where there is lack of prominent mental symptoms. But presence of prominent mental symptoms  open a new approach  to arrive at a totality  of symptoms it is done by Dr. JT. Kent. Swedenborg’s philosophical ideas influenced Kent to form a concept  regarding  sole, innerman & personality. According to him soul mind and body are degrees of existence in descending order and the entitative   existence of a higher degree creates and moulds that of lower degree. So in order to cure  disorders of the lowest  plane of  existence  ie, matter in the  human body we have got to influence the higher plane. So according to Swedenborg’s, Mind precedes  body,  mind  regulates  body and thus mental symptoms. We must try to find the clue to  disorder in human economy. So, Kent emphasized  the idea that the man is  to be taken as a whole  whether he is in a healthy  or sick state.

Kent introduced a method of presenting drug picture by which the  personality of a drug  was made out in boldest headlines— its action on the man as a whole and its action on different  organs, tissues and parts of the human body. So that  each drug can be individualized  for its administration  to an  individually sick person.

The scheme that the followed as follows.

  • Will – Love, Hate, Fear
  • Understanding with delusions and delirium
  • Memory
  1. STRANGE RARE AND PECUliAR SYMPTOMS -These may occur among mentals, generals  or particulars and must therefore be for varying importance and of ranks.
  • Sexual perversion (Love, Hate, Physical)
  • Stomach – desire and aversion for food.


  • Reaction to heat  and cold
  • Characters of discharges


Referring different  anatomical  points of the body

So, by this method we can bring out in bold outlines  the picture of  a drug in such a way as to pick  out the individual drug as we pick out the individual being from a group of men.

This is what is known as a picture type materia medica ie,  personification  of remedies  by artistic character, delineation which is an interesting form of material medica.

Demerits :   As it is vast, a quick reference cannot be possible.


In this type of MM, drugs having similar  pathogenesis are compared with their differentiating points.

Again they are studied with similarity of pathogenesis at different level which  are as follows.

a..At symptomatic  Level

All clinical MM are of this type. Comparison of the drugs are made on peculiar signs and symptoms  present in a drug.

Eg : Comparative MM by E.A. Farrington

Comparative MM by Gross (no. of drugs 115)

b.Comparison at Organ Level  :

Drugs are compared with here indication  for a particular  organ. Those are otherwise known as “organopathic type”.

Eg : Therapeutics by K.C. Bhanja

c.Comparison  at organ level : Drugs  having a resemblances to each other are compared.  Eg : Cina and Chamomella in the book -children types by Douglas.

Merits :  Easy  to understand the differentiating  features of each drug. Useful when cases comes with apparently  similar symptoms.


  1. All the symptoms can’t study by this way.
  2. Understanding of the whole  drug cannot be possible in this type of MM.

In this type of MM mental symptoms and psychological sphere  are analysed and probed  so that drugs are individualized  on the basis of their personality , temperament  understanding etc.

Eg : Essence of Homoeopathic MM by George Vithoulkas

Portracts of Homeopathic  MM by Catherine Coulter.

Homeopathic psychology by (35 drugs) Philip M. Barley.


  1. Understanding of drug at psychic  level in possible, useful in cases with  more of mental symptoms.


  1. Physical  symptoms  not included.

This type of MM is introduced  by Jan Scholten.

Periodic table consisting  of 7 horizontal  rows and 18  vertical columns. Dr. Scholten  introduced a  novel  approach that drugs in each horizontal  row bears some similar characters though  differing  in continuity. As example, the first horizontal row known  as hydrogen series from hydrogen to helium. This  series corresponds  with concept of the period of un born child in the  development of life. Similarly number of horizontal row is carbon  series, Lithium to Neon  corresponds  toddler etc. 3rd series  corresponds  to teenager etc. like were the table  shows the theme, age area, sense  of tissue affection of medicine belonging  to each  horizontal group. The 18 vertical  rows as described  by him are stages in a cycle.

Similarly  Dr. R. Sankaran attempted to explain  symptomatic relations of drugs belonging  to horizontal of vertical group.


  1. General features of the  each row can be  understood  .
  2. Easy to remember.


  1. Action of each drug is not explained  well .
  2. All the elements in a raw is not proved  only a few are proved and using in our practice.

Drugs  belonging to same family is vegetable  Kingdom , belonging  to same group in  mineral kingdom and same species  in animal Kingdom bears many similar  relations  as regards symptomatology is concerned,  though bearing  their own individuality to be differentiated. Eg : Ophedia group having  common symptoms like sepsis, haemorrhage,  ordema etc.

Egs : a. clinical MM by EA. Farrington

b.Homeopathy and Homoeopathic prescribing by Harvey Farrington.

Harvey Fariengton made groups accordings  to his own  choice  not including drugs of same family but drugs  bearing similar spheres  of action is a group.

c.Text book of Homoeopathic MM by Otto lesser. He grouped  as alkalies, halogens, Sulphur gr, carbon  gr, heavy metals etc.


  1.  General features of each group can be  studied.
  2. Features  differentiating  each other  can be  studied.
  3. Easy to remember


  1. Some drugs  will be entirely different  from the group.

In the  age of 20th  century many genius  of Homoeopathy try to represent  all types described above, in gist with emphasis  on important aspect relating to each  drug.

  • Text book of MM by S.K. Dubey
  • Text book of MM by M Mohanty
  • Systematic MM by K.N. Mathur.

Merits : They are  ready made, easy to remember  giving an overall idea of a drug.

Demerits :  Even though all points are given in brief  still they are not of the type in Jack of all  trades, master of none. A clear picture of the drug  cannot be understood.


  • Drugs of Hindustan – SC Ghosh (47 drugs)
  • MM of nosodes – O.A. Julian Ist edn 1982 contants 66 drugs.

His MM of new homoeopathic  remedies (revised  Edn. 1979) contain  106 medicines.

Merits :Given drugs can be studied  thoroughly

Demerits :  Number of  drugs are very less.

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