On The Proving of Drugs

IHA Transactions, 1885 page. 38

by Samuel Swan, MD

There can be no true homeopathy practiced without a knowledge of the therapeutic action of drugs, and this can only be obtained in the fullest, and most perfect manner by provings made on healthy persons; by healthy persons, we mean those who are well enough, to eat and digest their food, sleep well, and are able to attend to their daily duties.

There are very few individuals who are in perfect health, and it would be time lost to wait until such are found before making provings. Sufficient is it to know the chronic complaints of a prover, and these being know, due allowance must be made for them in summing up the pathogenesis. The best persons to prove drugs are physicians, and if they act wisely in the matter, they will find very little interference with their studies or practice. one of the finest modern provings, and one in which more of the symptoms have been verified, than in almost any other, and in which the symptoms assume an appearance of severity, that would lead one to suppose the prover must have been made very sick, did not confine her to the house one day. The symptoms were like shadows, sufficiently distinct to make an impression on the careful observer, but unless immediately recorded, of not enough intensity to remain long in the memory. I refer to the proving of Lac caninum by Dr. Laura Morgan.

Physicians intent on making a proving can find various methods of obtaining one, without the prover being aware of it. A patient may be told it is a new remedy that may benefit the case, or it is given for some slight ailment, with a request to report, should really new symptoms s appear; but every physician can find some patient, ready and willing to prove, on being assured that they will not be made sick, so that they will be able to attend to their usual avocations. There is no advantage in heroic provings; to know that a drug vomits or purges, gives very little knowledge that is useful in practice; besides it hardens the sensibility of the prover against the development of the more delicate mental symptoms. The finest and best results are obtained from the higher potencies.

The proper dose in proving, is that potency and quantity which produces a distinct reaction in the prover, without causing such severe functional disturbances as to interfere with his ordinary duties.

This cannot always be known at first, as no two persons are affected alike. I usually commence with the 30th or 200th, a few pellets dissolved in 12 spoonfuls of water, one spoonful to be taken every half hour till a symptom appears, or till 8 or 10 spoonfuls have been taken, then stop, and wait from 5 to 7 days, and often am rewarded by some marked characteristic.

If no symptoms appear I give the 1M in the same way, and continue with a higher potency each time till the organism is filled with the drug, and either develops no symptoms, or I ascertain that potency which causes a reaction in the individual. People are sensitive to drug action on planes of the nervo-vital principle, corresponding to certain potencies, and when once the right potency for an individual is ascertained, make a note of it, and you will find that in all their sicknesses, that potency will react the best. It makes no difference how it is made, no a priori selection of a drug can be made from its notation, the knowledge must come from experience.

Some persons are exceedingly sensitive to drug action. I obtained symptoms that have been verified with the DMM. of Medorrhin from my friend Dr. Joseph Finch, inside of ten minutes. I have given it to others without effect, while in some cases the symptoms did not appear for months and then continued a long time.

As I understand it, the symptoms in a prover are caused by an effort of the vital force to throw from the system the drug poison. So if a prover develops no symptoms, it is no evidence that the drug is powerless, but that the prover is positive against its action.

And here comes the question what to prove.

Before Hahnemann, remedies for various diseases were discovered by accident, while being given empirically; thus the accidental discovery that roasted sponge had the power to cure goitres, was due to empirical prescription, as was also the knowledge that mercury would cure syphilis, (cinchona bark the marsh ague, Arnica the consequence resulting from blows, falls, bruises and strains, but it was only after innumerable experiments with a great variety of drugs that these curative remedies were discovered. Under Hahnemann the process is reversed, and we first prove drugs on healthy persons to ascertain what sick making qualities they possess, and then apply them to sicknesses that have similar symptoms. Morbific products produce symptoms similar to the disease that produced them. As Hahnemann says, (Lesser Writing, pp. 515) "Every simple medicinal substance, like the specific morbific miasmata (smallpox, measles, the venom of vipers, the saliva of rabid animals etc. ) causes a peculiar specific disease, a series of determinate symptoms, which is not produced precisely in the same way by any other medicine in the world."

These are symptoms of the potentized morbific product, and have been abundantly verified in practice, but of no other drugs is this true, these peculiar miasmatic diseases set forth their toxical effects in certain specific symptoms, and they are always the same, varied only by the idiosyncrasies of the individual patient. The toxical effects of well known poisons are a series of determinate symptoms, and provings have shown that they cure similar symptoms in the sick when potentized — provings always verify toxical effects.

The empirical use of drugs show the intensity of their action, and the parts of the organism they most effect, the proving gives us a knowledge of the entire drug, on the entire organism. Among those drugs most prominent for their empirical action, and which promise great rewards from proving, I would mention Ovi gallina pellicula, Ova Testa, Avena sativa, Betonica aquatica, Bursa Pastoris, Verbena offic, Sedum acra, Sedum telephium, Sempervivens tectorum, Persicaria and Galleopside. The action of the two first I reported in a paper at last meeting. Avena sativa (the common oat) is one of the few remedies that has direct action on contractions of the os uteri, and nervous debility. The drugs subsequently mentioned have been used as common domestic remedies for hundreds of years, and are the remedies with which the celebrated Count Caesar Mattei of Bologna, Italy, makes his remarkable cures. Mattei takes great pains in the preparation of his remedies, and if it is desirable to prove them the original dilutions can be procured from the importer Richard Fingerhut, 404 Fourth Ave., N. Y.

I shall not urge the proving of morbific products. These powerful agents must be proved by those willing to sacrifice health and comfort, and though humanity will be the gainer, the services of the provers will not be appreciated, and there will be little sympathy for their sufferings.

The advantage of a daily record being kept by the prover, is, that it exhibits the sequence of the symptoms, gives a knowledge of the groups, and shows what minor symptoms are grouped about a central characteristic. when arranged, according to Hahnemann, the day each symptom appeared should be set against it, so that the groups can be readily re-arranged. A symptoms should be noted, for what may appear to the prover unimportant, may be the personal characteristic in case of sickness. Great care should be taken to record conditions, aggravations and ameliorations, the sides of the body in which symptoms appear, in fact every circumstance connected with the action of the drug.

It would be a great help if some Journal would devote as much space as is needed to provings, so that all the profession would know where to look for them, and to where to send those they have made. Fragmentary provings are of great value if they consist of but one symptom. There may be some one looking for that very symptom.