Drug Provings Homeopathy Papers

Proving of Heloderma (Gila Monster)

Written by Robert Boocock

Reading lists of proving symptoms never gives the flavor of what the prover experienced. Here is the dramatic firsthand account of homeopath Dr. Robert Boocock’s proving of Heloderma.

I am feeling like a man who had just come from under a deadly risk”

The oppression round my heart and chest producing a suffocating feeling that makes me afraid”

I fear sometimes that the trembling in my hands may never fully leave me now.”

I know it looks cowardly to give up, but my family compels me to do something to enable me to keep about.”


The proving that follows is from the virus of the Gila monster obtained by Dr. Charles D. Belden, of Phoenix, Arizona, in 1890, who suggested it as a possible remedy for paralysis agitans and locomotor ataxia.

A supply of this poison was sent to Dr. Robert Boocock at his request for Proving. He made three different trials of it, the results of which were published in the Homeopathic Recorder for March and April, 1893. Here is a portion of the nearly 30 pages of notes he took.

The following is from Dr. Boocock’s notes:

I am in my sixtieth year, sanguine, bilious temperament, fair complexion and weigh 160 pounds ; height, 5 feet 6 inches. My normal pulse rate is 72, full, round and regular. I am in very good health. I do not drink alcoholic beverages of any kind, neither do I smoke nor drink strong coffee, or tea, or cocoa.

When I received the first bottle of Heloderma horridus I took a one drachm vial and filled it with the 6x trit., and dissolved it in four ounces of diluted alcohol, of which I took a few drops and dried my fingers on my tongue. A severe feeling of internal coldness, so intense as to cause me to fear being frozen to death, ensued. I had some twitches about my heart, as if the blood was hard to get in or out. I was somewhat alarmed, but as I had no trembling I sat over the register and tried to get warm. The day was a very cold one, but my office was comfortably warm, and I had no consciousness of having taken cold.

I was not surprised at feeling this so soon after taking the few drops, for I know that I am very sensitive to any medicine and have a bad habit of tasting medicine, but never without being conscious of its effects, sometimes very unpleasantly so.

Now, today is warm and damp, thunderstorm this morning, although it is December 9th. The storm lasted three or more hours; lightning very vivid. I had already taken one drop of the 30th, with a very severe nervous headache, but I forgot that when I took the medicine. I have medicated 2 oz. No. 35 globules with 30th dilution, and have taken six globules as a dose before they were dry.

A feeling of heat in head and face, some headache over the right eyebrow. Cold feeling in my legs; after two hours a numb feeling around and down my left thigh ; feeling very drowsy, so took a short nap in my chair. Was awakened suddenly with a jerking in my head. Central part of frontal bone so queer as to awaken me.

When my office bell rang it threw me into a startled and trembling condition, something new to me. At 5:30 took four globules more.

8 P. M. The pressure at my heart and in my head and scalp is very great A feeling of great heat and some pressure. Not so much burning in my face, but a feeling on my left cheek as if being pricked with points of ice. A very severe and tired feeling, with coldness of legs and feet a slight dryness of my lips, with a tingling feeling and great dryness in my throat. Gurgling in the region of the spleen.

9:30 P. M. The pressure and heat on the top of my head appears like an inflammation of the meninges. It does not affect my mind. That remains clear, and I can think and read as well and as long as ever. No more medicine.

December 29, 1892. No medicine. Some trembling, but not so great or so extensive; it does not now extend along the whole limb. Parts of right arm and left thigh hemiplegial; no acute feeling, but some muscles will twitch and tremble for a few seconds. Just enough to arrest my attention and amuse me and feel like saying, “Hello, Heloderma! Have you not done with me yet?” For it is a great surprise to me how these feelings will come on and creep over me. And I am inclined to ask myself, can it be that all these strange and to me new feelings can be the effects following the taking of these few doses? And yet, if it were necessary, I could swear they were.

I have my fears if I will ever be free from these nervous trembling spells, and the feeling in my head and heart. (The foregoing gives the gist of the first trials. The third and last now follows. It was made with repeated doses of the 30th potency. )

Sensation as if a cold, freezing wind were blowing upon me from the bend of my knees. Head feeling as if the scalp were being drawn tight over my skull, and my facial muscles were being drawn very tight over the bones. A giddiness and a cold pressure from within the skull. A cold, running chill from superior maxillary down to the chin. Trembling of limbs. Coldness extending from the knee into the calf of the leg. Pain and pressure within the skull from crown to occiput, and from back forward over the left eye. A very drowsy feeling. I could sleep if I gave way to the feeling.

January 4, 1893, 7:45 a. m. Took another dose of six globules. Pulse, 72, Temperature 97 . A flush of heat in my face. A feeling as if I were walking on sponge or as if my feet were swollen. Dull headache. The arctic cold feeling is more in my right arm, elbow joint, and right thigh and left foot. A great trembling of my arm. It is hard work to steady my hand, which holds my book, enough to continue reading or writing.

The feeling of swelling in my feet of walking on sponges sensation, continues ; a springiness, with a sense of looseness in stepping out, which requires some caution, as if I were not sure of my steps. The trembling of my hands is on the increase; feeling of soreness in my heart, more under left nipple; pain in my back, lumbar. Some little scalding of urine; flow not so free and full, intermitting slightly, as if I had some calculus in the bladder which interfered with continuous flow. Stool more free and full. Ear wax, which had been very dry now flows from both ears but is more free on the left side. Left nostril sore, ulcerated. Throat sore and tender to outside touch.

9 p. M. Very weak feeling, with pain in my heart; same place, under left nipple. Head aches and arctic rays in various parts of my body.

January 5, 12 noon. Took twelve more globules. Numb feeling in my head. A feeling as if I would fall on my right side. A good drive this morning in the snowstorm and felt a desire to bear to the right side and could not walk straight because of this, and had repeatedly to stop or step to the left to get a straight course on the causeway. A good deal of the same feeling, but very weak and sleepy; was compelled to lie down, but did not sleep, although feeling very drowsy; laid very quiet, as if I was in a stupor ; the old feeling in various parts of my body, only more acute; a feeling in various parts as if a needle were being thrust into my flesh.

4:45 P. M. Took thirteen globules. A very stiff neck the most prominent feeling. All the previously recorded feelings, only more intensely. I have a painful boring feeling in the middle third of left thigh.

8:30. Flushed, hot feeling in my head and face, but no increase in color; but then I have just come out of the storm.

9:30. Took twelve globules more and retired to rest; very tired ; slept very profoundly until 1 a.m., then could not sleep. My back, in the lumbar muscles, ached so and my left leg that I could not sleep for hours, and my brain felt as if scalded; an intense burning feeling in the meninges, for this did not affect my power to think. This hot feeling commenced and spread down my back. An intense pain over left eyebrow, through my left eye to base of brain and down my back.

The pain in the back of my head caused me to bore my head deep into my pillow, and reminded me of cases I have seen of cerebro-spinal meningitis. An intense weakness, as if I had no power to move, and no wish to do so, and yet I was afraid I could not attend to my business. Yet, strange to say, I was not alarmed, but passively indifferent, I could not open my eyes without great effort; it was hard work to keep them open and the easiest thing for them to close, as if there were a great weight upon them, keeping them down. I begged to be allowed to remain in bed until someone wanted me professionally, and yet I could not thus give way to my feelings, and so got up.

7 A. M. Feeling very weak and giddy. Staggering about my bedroom trying to dress. It was all that I could do to lift a hod of coal to the stove. The pains in my head and lumbar muscles, back of my head near atlas and middle third of left thigh and right elbow are the most noticeable from the great pains; and arctic coldness in my feet and hands and arms; have had a transient feeling of pain in the little finger and little toe of right side. Very feverish or parched in the night, and my breathing was hard and sounded as if I was drawing my breath through iron pipes. I feel that I must not take any more medicine at present. When I remember what a long time I was in getting to the end of the previous proving, I feel that I dare not go any further.

The dose I have been taking, a No. 35 globule, is as large as ten such as is ordinarily used for the 30th or for high dilutions, so that I have taken as good as six high dilution globules as a dose, and lately as high as one hundred and twenty-four and sometimes oftener daily.

I was surprised at these hot flushes and burnings in my head and along my spine. And these strongly reminded me of some feeling a proving of Gelsemium caused, only that has sweat, whilst this has no moisture, everything being dried up…saliva, tears, nostrils, and earwax; the great weakness and pain in the body reminds me of cerebro-spinal meningitis. My pulse rate is 68. 8:15. Temperature, 97 only.

1 P. M. What fearful aching in my body! Arctic feeling throughout my body, except my head and face, and oh so tired! A feeling as if it were almost impossible to keep my eyes open. While out on my professional rounds a feeling came over me as if it would be far easier to lie down in the snowy streets than to keep trying to get along. The trembling is very persistent.

9 P. M. Oh this bad feeling in my head, the aching, aching in my bones, in every part of my body, head to feet!; no part entirely free from pain, my body so cold; a feeling as if I had holes in my garments, and cold, frosty winds were blowing through and freezing my flesh; cold penis and testicles, no feeling but coldness. A slight gluey discharge; a fluent discharge from nose, with great sneezing.

January 9th, 8 A. M. Pulse rate 68; is not so full or jerky, but it is some. Temperature under the tip of the tongue, 96; deeper in, 97. This morning awoke at 3 A. M. and got up to urinate, but I could not stand without I had hold of something. Oh, such a weak, giddy feeling! I never fainted but once, from loss of blood, and these sensations are similar. Plenty of strength to hold me up, but unable to balance myself, and when I put forth an effort I staggered about like a man trying to walk with paralysis or locomotor ataxia. This idea was the most prominent in my mind, but I have a patient recovering from paralysis who has to swing his body as he walks, to get his feet forward, and is very weak and shaky about his knees, and these sensations very strongly reminded me of his efforts. His weakness is in his knees, but mine was from the base of my skull – cerebrum – where the pains have been so persistent near the atlas extending downward.

When I arose, at 7 A. M., it was very hard work for me to balance myself enough to complete dressing myself, and very hard work to carry my head. If I bent forward, then it required great effort to keep from falling on my face or backward. This lack of balancing was accompanied by a sensation of nausea, as if I were going to vomit. I persisted in my efforts to work, in hopes of shaking off these very alarming sensations, and by effort got through my morning work. Whilst shaving, a severe jerk of my right arm caused me to gash my face; very strange, but I ought not to have tried to do this.

I have now some numbness in my right hand and arm, and a good deal of trembling. Arctic feeling in my feet and in various parts of my body. This feeling of want of balancing power does not entirely leave me; a full, pressing feeling in all parts of my head. And when I walk I notice I lift my feet higher than usual, or than is necessary, and I put my heel down hard, as if I was not sure of holding on to the ground. I notice some twitching, as if my feet would spring up, making me walk as if I had the cock’s gait, as it is described.

7 A. M., January 1o, 1893. Thank God I began this day with more comfort and more control of myself ; my limbs are easier to manage ; a little giddiness and staggering, and stiff, bruised sensation in my back and lower limbs. My cervical vertebra is less sore and have little pain and altogether feel very much better. My pulse rate is 80 this A. M, full and round , no jerks perceptible. Temperature 98 under the tongue by the root..Mercury very slow in rising and had to keep the thermometer in a long time. I have a flushed, hot feeling in my face and head ; no trembling, less staggering, and can manage my limbs fairly well. I feel as I dared not trifle with myself any further, for I am very weak. A very little exertion would make me feel very ill. I am feeling like a man who had just come from under a deadly risk ; am very weak and prostrated, with every nerve on the jump. Oh, so very weak ! A sinking feeling. A parched thirstiness in my throat and mouth. My tongue is clean ; bowels regular , a good deal of flatus; very fetid, pale yellow, greenish urine (specific gravity 1008), smelling very fetid ; same smell as the flatus ; more like the smell of rotting sweet fruit or vegetables.

January 14, 1893. Could not get out of bed at my usual time ; very severe pain in head and back of neck, going down my back and right leg; twitches, with cold, stinging, ice needle pricks. My right hand is feeling as if it were frozen. Pulse rate 64 ; full, round, but appears to have a pendulum motion or twitch. Temperature 96 3-5. Mind clear, but very weak in my body, and I cannot get warm over a hot register or with hot fluids. This constant arctic cold is very hard to bear and makes me this morning feel as if I had a cake of ice on my back. My hands are blue with cold and my feet feel like lumps of ice. Headache and giddiness; could not keep from trembling while some patients were in my consulting room, and had a good deal of difficulty in steadying and controlling my voice ; when excited could not get hold of the right words I wanted, and dropped some when speaking, from a want of flexibility or a catch in my tongue.

Pains in various parts of my body, the same locations and character. Quite a rush of business today and very ill-fitted to attend to it. My hands and feet blue and aching with cold, even while I was sitting over a hot register that scorched my boot leather, yet no feeling of warmth in hands or feet. A good deal of throbbing and aching in the upper part of my kidneys, the right one the sorest. Sharp pains in my bowels near the caecum ; some trembling (when asleep it awoke me) in my right arm and left leg, with a sharp pain near the ankle joint.

January 20. Awoke this morning in a shivering fit, trembling, giddiness and headache, but not very severe. Cold arctic feeling. Pulse 68. Temperature 97. My feet, 8 A. M., cold. Severe pain in left testicle, extending through to the back to anus. Bleed very much from old piles. An aching at end of penis, and no sexual desire. A feeling as if the testicles were swollen and painful, as in orchitis . This is only a transient pain, and comes and goes at infrequent periods, or remittent in their character.

About the author

Robert Boocock

Dr. Robert Boocock (1833-1903) was born in York, England and was a homeopathic physician and an ordained minister in the Baptist Church.

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