By Dana Ullman MPH, CCH
Books on Materia Medica
“Materia media” are Latin words that mean “materials of medicine,” that is, the various medicines used in homeopathy from the plant, mineral, animal, or chemical kingdoms. Homeopathic medicines are listed in Latin so that homeopaths (and patients) can be precise with the exact source of the medicinal substance.
There are hundreds of homeopathic materia medica, and there are different styles in which they are written and organized. Since materia medicas are full of detailed information about a medicine, it is necessary to study each medicine in a systematic way so that you can retain as much information about it as possible. Each person develops his or her own systematic way to study the materia medica. One common method is to summarize the key mental and physical general symptoms along with the characteristic physical symptoms on an index card or a sheet of paper. In general, students of homeopathy learn the medicine more effectively when they try to memorize key features of the medicine and when they get a deep feeling about it. Some people make up mnemonic devices. Others may meditate on a medicine’s characteristics. Some people even make drawings of the person who would typically need this medicine. And some people dramatize this medicine in a short play. It’s good to encourage study group members to discuss a medicine without the use of their notes, and ultimately to check with notes only when someone questions the accuracy of a symptom or at the end of the discussion.
One systematic way to learn about a medicine in a study group is to discuss its most characteristic symptoms first. Afterwards, there should be discussion of the psychological symptoms, then noteworthy physical general symptoms, then noteworthy physical symptoms, and finally, the less characteristic symptoms. When discussing the physical symptoms, it is helpful to talk about them in the order of head to toe.
INTRODUCTORY MATERIA MEDICA
The following are the materia medica to consider getting first:
- Pocket Manual of Materia Medica with Repertory, William Boericke, MD (This is a classic book that virtually every homeopath has. A good basic materia medica.
- Homeopathic Remedy Pictures: Studying with Cartoons, Alexander Gothe and Julia Drinnenberg (This book provides insightful words along with clever cartoons that are helpful in studying a medicine
KEYNOTE MATERIA MEDICA
- Studies of Homoeopathic Remedies, Dr. D.M. Gibson (Written in the 1960s, this semi-modern book provides an excellent overview of 100 remedies)
- Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, by Roger Morrison, MD (This modern textbook is used by almost all of the homeopathic schools as an important way to learn the leading features of 300 or so medicines.)
- Synoptic Materia Medica, volume II, Frans Vermeulen (Written in the late 1990s, this is the best materia medica of the new and little known medicines. This materia medica is a follow-up volume to PRISMA, described in the next section)
- Materia Medica of Homeopathic Remedies, Dr. S. Phatak
PROFESSIONAL LEVEL MATERIA MEDICA (see also materia medica on “constitutional types”)
- Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica, James Tyler Kent, MD (a classic)
- Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica (3 volumes), John Clarke, MD (a classic with lots of details)
- Concordant Reference, Frans Vermeulen (This is one of the leading materia medica textbooks. This is the 2011-2012 edition)
- Prisma: The Arcana of Materia Medica Illuminated, Frans Vermeulen (This book brings our medicines to life by describing the nature, behavior, chemistry, applications in medicine or technology, history, and folklore.)
- Drug Pictures, Margaret Tyler, MD (This book is a classic. The author synthesizes the thoughts and experiences of the original classical homeopaths.)
- Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica (10 volumes), Constantine Hering, MD (This is an enormous body of information and experience.)
- Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica (12 volumes), Timothy Allen, MD (This is an enormous body of information and experience.)
- Nature’s Materia Medica, Robin Murphy, ND (This is an almost 2,000 page reference book that includes many little known medicines.)
- PLANTS: A four-volume set. Frans Vermeulen and Linda Johnston, MD. (This set of books is a literal “magnum opus” on the subject!)
MATERIA MEDICA OF NEW MEDICINES
- Comparative Materia Medica. Richard Pitt, RSHom. (This is a truly excellent materia medica that well-describes the classic remedies and then, cleverly enough, the author describes similar less commonly known remedies and what you should know about them! Highly recommended!
- Synoptic Materia Medica, volume II, Frans Vermeulen (Written in the late 1990s, this is the best materia medica of the new and little known medicines.)
- Carbon: Organic and Hydrocarbon Remedies in Homeopathy byRoger Morrison, MD, DHt (a cutting edge textbook on the carbon medicines, with a refined integration of modern scientific information and homeopathic applications).
- Animal Minds, Human Voices, Nancy Herrick, PA (7 new provings of animal remedies, including horse, wolf, elephant, butterfly, rat, dolphin, and dinosaur bone)
- Sacred Plants, Human Voices, Nancy Herrick, PA (new provings into plants used in ritual, including peyote, ayahuasca, ginseng, lotus, mandragora)
- Materia Medica of Milk: Collected Articles (a collection of article of various medicines made from the milk of various animals)