What Homeopathy Means (1920)

Last modified on December 6th, 2012

What Homeopathy Means (1920)

That likes seemed to cure likes was noted in the earliest times, but that similia is the law of cure is not generally accepted, even now in spite of an ever increasing evidence in its favour. It seems that truth can only become truly active through conviction.

Science has greatly broadened the scope of Homeopathy so that it does more things now than formerly, but it does them no better. It was Hahnemann himself who predicted the successful treatment of cholera as well as demonstrated that of typhoid fevers. A little later Homeopathy triumphed decisively over every other method, including no treatment, in pneumonia, in the Vienna Clinic. Still later it surprised and confounded its adversaries by the record it made in yellow fever, while recently we have all seen how surprisingly efficient it can be in influenza. It is a proud and convincing record.

We might recite victory after victory over acute diseases, epidemics and opposition only to finally realise that every day medicine remains firmly wedded to strongly materialistic ideas and that sanitation is gradually showing us how much better prevention is than even the best of cures. At the other extreme surgery is removing one after another of the end products of disease, so that at last we are left to choose whether it be better to rely upon the unfettered recuperative powers of nature, upon surgical relief or upon the stabilising power of dynamic drug action, without which there can be no real Homeopathy.

The Homeopathist knows that the governing life principle but seldom reacts directly and specifically to strong measures, but will respond quickly and effectively to a similar or more or less synchronously acting force. It may be well to remember here that the calming down of disturbed vital action is a daily task that can not always wait upon the decisions of the microscope or the knife.

To my mind there is necessarily a close relation between things able to excite and other things capable of calming down similar vital disturbances. Reaction, whether to drugs or disease is clearly of a kind; it not only discloses susceptibility, but its speed is governed by its adaptability, the amount and convertibility of vital energy present and the obstacles to be overcome. Viewed in this light there is certain to be a vast difference between recovery and cure, while susceptibility is finally resolved into one of the great miasms.

When the life forces vibrate in an unusual way, symptoms which we may finally call disease, appear; they serve as indices for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, as the case may be. The coarser ones are of more diagnostic and the finer ones of therapeutic import. That they unfold gradually should argue strongly against a hasty prescription.

The mind which is trained to sense material things only takes to the giving of strong drugs like a duck takes to water. For it the supersensible world is a void, that absurdity of physics; it is not fitted to comprehend such ideas. This is the real reason why the dynamized potency looks absurd and impractical and its seeming effects are viewed with suspicion. Such ideas are viewed with a feeling akin to that which caused the burning of witches and the flogging out of sins, only we hate to admit that many of us are still bound hand and foot by such bigotry, narrow-mindedness and conceit. Because we can’t rapidly see the other side we would fain make ourselves believe there is no such thing.

I take it that many of you have come here with an open mind; not quite satisfied with your former results you are looking for better things and perchance Homeopathy looks worth while. If this is your idea, let me beg of you to remember that all things contain only what we patiently work out of them, and Homoeopathy is no exception.

All true science is really grounded in philosophy, and the only therapeutic guide which has stood the fire test of painstaking investigation is the natural law of similia, whose various aspects, ramifications and philosophy, dovetail most intimately with most of the sciences, in itself a fact of momentous import. It must be mastered from this point of view, which will then soon show how little it encourages the idea that the adaptabilities of millenniums of years can be lightly set aside by the brainracking concoctions of the modern therapeutic laboratory.

Nothing happens without an adequate cause and successful remedial measures carry their own evidence of correctness. The use of simples as well as the selection of curative herbs by animals most assuredly arises from impulses, themselves born of the prompting of and the involuntary obedience to this same law. In the nature of things it can not be, nor is it otherwise.

How easily we carry a load of nascent poison until vital resistance falls, when it suddenly expands its scavenger hosts and overwhelms us. In a panic we hunt microscopic life into its remotest recesses and consult the pathological findings of the dead house for an explanation; but an indefinable something has escaped us. The distress signals thrown out by nature can’t be answered, because in our mad rush after material things we have not learned her code.

It took ages to realise how the apparently sinking ship on the horizon proves the earth’s rotundity. Just so, you who see mostly with the pathological eye, objective phenomena exclusively or mental states only, etc., all partial and often variable factors in the sum of the evidence, must finally come to see that these are but expressions of a single central disturbance before you can grasp the full significance of sickness and how it must be handled.

We speak glibly of the liver being out of order or the kidneys effected, of fevers, apoplexy’s, blood pressure and so on interminably, as tho these things really explained something, which needs only to be adjusted when the machine will run again, just as it did before. Worse than all we have gotten the laity to believe the same thing and some of you may even think it is so too. It is really difficult to think of anything more lamentable, than to have chased away evil possession only to have made room for the physical mechanic who dabbles first with this organ then with that. It never seems to occur to him that the central life giving power is showing distress by the only signs it is capable of making, and which must be read as an unit of expression.

I might harp on the subject of telling you how to read life a long time, and you be none the wiser unless I also tell how you may go about it; which is, after all, not telling you what to do, but only hinting at how it may be done. This should open to your minds a glorious vision, which can be yours also, not for the asking, but by the most strenuous getting of knowledge. You must persevere, work and then work some more. At last understanding will come and you will know.

Your knowledge of your patient must be of the most comprehensive sort. You must discover his attitude towards his surroundings, the elements, mobility or anything that affords him an opportunity to express himself; for it is him that you are dealing with, and not his big toe or his nose. He reacts to disturbing factors in his own way, which you must learn if you wish to succeed. His mentality moves along certain lines; these you must learn if you wish to be of the utmost service. His symptoms take on a definite course or expression, this you must grasp if you wish to help. His whole action bespeaks an underlying life principle which shows the man, him that you must know if you wish to cure radically and finally.

You will coapt these elements and see what the picture reveals in its totality of expression. It may look like a part of this proving or that clinical record; if it does, beware and step warily for it is not a true likeness and will disappoint you. A real cure is not made by the lopping off of symptoms, however entertaining it may sometimes be.

The general symptoms being worked down to a few remedies by the use of a good repertory the correct selection is made by consulting the materia medica text so that the sense of the finer symptoms may correspond to those of some one of these provings. A single dose is given and the effect awaited. in very acute affections the response will come in a few minutes or hours. If the disease is of a more prolonged nature from the fourth to the twelfth day will develop a crisis and show us our bearings. In chronic diseases periods of aggravation may come and go like waves even until the sixteenth week, while the patient shows a gradual general improvement. When however each of these waves is followed by increasing weakness the case is usually hopeless.

Theoretically there should be no repetition of the dose as long as reaction lasts, but practically many of us are guilty of rather indiscriminate dosing. This arises mainly from three causes; inability to visualise a true perspective of the disease, ignorance of what constitutes reaction and impatience. The larger the number of doses or remedies given, the greater is evidently the uncertainty of the prescriber or the more firmly is the disease fixed upon the organism.


A weakly Miss, aged 19, had repeated chills across the hips at irregular times, followed by heat with sweat. The nose was obstructed yet there was occasional slight nosebleed, with hawking down of post nasal mucus. There was a craving for piquant things and a sense of dryness of the lower legs with restlessness of the whole limb. From day to day she showed the characteristic step ladder temperature, sordes appeared on the teeth and the right inner conjunctiva became red. She tried to escape from bed and a general aggravation after midnight appeared. Here you will easily recognise the oncoming of a severe type of typhoid, but the indications for Arsenicum were so clear that I decided to give a single dose in spite of the warnings of authors against giving this remedy too early. For several days there was no change, then a slight aggravation came on, followed by steady improvement so that by the twenty first day her temperature returned to normal.

A laundry worker, aged fifty, was suddenly attacked by a violent transfixion pain in the epigastrium, spreading backward and upward to the cervical spine and along the left clavicle. She sat bolt upright in bed, gasped for breath and was overcome by a deathly agony. There was considerable left ventricular dilatation and a loud mitral regurgitant sound heard over a large area. Four doses of Aconite DMM quieted her twenty-four hours only; then came a relapse with the information that she had drunk much cold water while overheated, but Bellis did nothing. Because of the symptom “Gasps, fears to lose the breath and die,” Lactrodectus was now chosen. The first few doses relieved her greatly and in one day she felt pretty well. This shows what can often be accomplished even in the presence of an irremovable lesion.

A lady aged 87, complained of burning in hands and feet. A hard ache with soreness in the right lower leg < lying on it. Cloudy weather causes stupidity with rheumatic pains < on the right side. She received a single dose of Sulphur followed by plenty of Sac. Lac. and at the end of twelve weeks wants more of the same remedy because it still helps her greatly.

J. R. V. age 60. Dismissed from Johns Hopkins Hospital as incurable from enlarged liver. Malaria years ago. Shoulders stiff, ache and get cold. Dyspnoea. Tongue feels coated. Chills in the evening. Memory bad. Easily worried. Water is tasteless. Can’t sleep with much cover. Right foot cold. Pale about mouth. Grey stools. Constriction about waist. Aggravation from cold and lying on left side. He received a single dose of Natrium mur. 12 and at the end of seven months he is still improving, more rapidly of late, having gained seven pounds in six weeks.

An elderly maiden lady of 68 years, confined to her chair for two years from rheumatic stiffness of back, hips and ankles with soreness of the bone. Pains from the ovarian region down the face of the thighs. Numbness of both hips down outside of thighs to toes < in heels and < at night. Vertigo in morning, seeming to ascend into head, with momentary blindness. Easy sweating. Night sweats on back, upper arms and thighs < after 11 P.M. Formerly had migraine beginning over either eye and moving to the opposite side, < in the sun. As of cold water flowing over hips and thighs. Itching eczema on ankles. Severe constipation. Puts feet out of bed at night. Aggravation from wind, drafts, dampness, cold and exertion. Better, continued motion. she received a single dose of Sulphur 12, on November 1st, 1919 and is still improving. She now walks well, goes up and down stairs and out on the street. Here a single dose is still acting at the end of seven months.

A merchant, aged 60. Forgetful, irritable and fidgety. Weak attacks. Easy sweating; foul foot-sweat. Sore, stiff neck; soreness of small of back. Pains ascend from nape to vertex. Sleeplessness. Emptiness at stomach. Oxalates, phosphates, spermatozoa and trace of sugar in urine. Sour flatulence. Nightmare. A single dose of Silica 12. At the end of six weeks no sugar in urine and wants more of that same medicine which has especially helped him lately.

Mrs. L. P. M., age 68. Wakeful at night. Irritable caruncle at meatus. Ulcer on heel. Numbness of hips and lower limbs < on lying down. Cold feet at night in bed. Oppressed breathing if lies on left side. Red conjunctiva. Blisters between toes. She received two doses of Sulphur first 12 then in three months the CM and in nine more weeks the MM. The caruncle was cured and only sudden bloating attacks and as of a weight on chest with shortness of breath on every exposure to wind, cool air or fatigue remained. The arteriosclerosis remains the same, but these attacks of dyspnoea have been relieved more than she, her friends or her two allopathic physicians believed could be done, by a single dose of Actea spicata 12.

Man aged 40. Has had flu followed by a dull heavy then a cutting pain at heart going downward and backward. Choking attacks on falling to sleep. Dim vision in lamplight. Like drops of water floating before vision. Vertigo on stooping. Aggravation; lying on left side; after eating. Heat. Has taken much Aspirin. Rx Kali-carb. MM. At the end of seven months he remains well and looks unusually well.

Woman aged 56. Backward going pain (to scapula) in liver, epigastrium and right chest; it compels motion and is < stooping or touch. Sense of hardness in gall bladder. Heaviness at heart. Sweat about waist; clammy sweat. Clothes feel wet; as of cold cloth across shoulders. Craves sweets. A little food fills her up. Burning working in bowels. Acrid leucorrhoea. Urine stiffens or destroys the clothes. Aching like a band about ankles. Soreness all over; everything bruises her. Anxious dread. Aggravation; ascending. April 4, 1920. Received a single dose of Sepia MM; the symptoms were irregular until June 1st, when a rapid improvement set in; Sepia characteristically acts this way.

I wish to emphasize that we will obtain the best results by far by scrupulously avoiding any repetition or change of remedy as long as improvement continues, even intermittently, even if it runs into many months; but in order to do this the prescription must be most accurately fitted to the symptoms and we must know how to wait intelligently upon the ceasing of the reaction which we have called forth.

Do these results look strange and improbable to you? Then you have not sensed the real meaning of my arguments and it is up to you to learn more about such things, only do not go at them with a lot of preconceived opinions and prejudices or your work will all be in vain.

About the author

C.M. Boger

C.M. Boger

Cyrus Maxwell Boger 5/ 13/ 1861 "“ 9/ 2/ 1935
Born in Western Pennsylvania, he graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and subsequently Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia. He moved to Parkersburg, W. Va., in 1888, practicing there, but also consulting worldwide. He gave lectures at the Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati and taught philosophy, materia medica, and repertory at the American Foundation for Homoeopathy Postgraduate School. Boger brought BÅ“nninghausen's Characteristics and Repertory into the English Language in 1905. His publications include :
Boenninghausen's Characteristics and Repertory
Boenninghausen's Antipsorics
Boger's Diphtheria, (The Homoeopathic Therapeutics of)
A Synoptic Key of the Materia Medica, 1915
General Analysis with Card Index, 1931
Samarskite-A Proving
The Times Which Characterize the Appearance and Aggravation of the Symptoms and their Remedies

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