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.


The following are the materia medica to consider getting first:


PROFESSIONAL LEVEL MATERIA MEDICA (see also materia medica on “constitutional types”)


  • 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.)
  • Healing Complex Children with Homeopathy: ASD, PANDAS/PANS, Lyme, ADHD, and More.  by Angelica Lemke, ND (a truly excellent book for serious students and practitioners of homeopathy who want to treat these complex health conditions that children experience; this book discussed both the “classic” homeopathic medicines as well as many of the newer ones!)
  • 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)