This book review is reprinted from the New England Journal of Homeopathy with the permission of Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP.
New England School of Homeopathy
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Homeopathy is undergoing a major rebirth and in that process there is the coming to life of many new and wonderful resources for student and doctor alike. During the middle years of this century, there was a drought of new information in homeopathy, reflecting a long pause in our growth and development. Happily, we are beyond that now with a growing group of homeopaths who have extensive experience and are able to articulately share their knowledge and expertise. We will focus this column on those books which will thankfully be moving homeopathy into the twenty first century.
Proving of Hydrogen
by The Dynamis School
Reviewed by Julian Jonas, C.A.
In the beginning there were provings: the experiments that provided a raw database of homeopathic information. They formed the basis for understanding the effects and uses of our pharmacopeia. All homeopaths are familiar with the voluminous accounts of these investigations in some of our most cherished literature.
How are we currently using this information? For the most part, most students learn the materia medica through the perceptions and interpretations given to us by our past and current masters. Bits and pieces of the provings are quoted by Boericke, Kent and in other works, but they are rarely used as textbooks.
In comparison to the insightful images and characteristic symptoms that are provided by our best teachers, the provings themselves seem much more cumbersome to study. It is difficult to extract the information that will be clinically useful, and often the psychological picture is difficult to apply to modern day patients. Provings are sometimes useful as reference material for challenging cases, but they are secondary sources for learning.
Today, very few people (at least in the West) are even undertaking this formidable type of research for a variety of reasons. First, it demands an enormous amount of work and time to organize the provers, monitor the process over several years, and finally collate the data. Then, there are other possible complications such as lack of financial resources and liability concerns. Finally, there is the question of whether or not we need to add more remedies to the materia medica when most of us feel we are not adequately acquainted with what we already have.
Jeremy Sherr seems undaunted by these concerns. He has followed in the tradition of our most respected predecessors by continuing to introduce new remedies to the materia medica through extensive provings. His work on Scorpion a few years ago set the stage for provings conducted on Hydrogen and Chocolate over the last four years.
Why Hydrogen? Well, "in the beginning was hydrogen." It is the primordial element. What could be a more profound medicine? In his introduction, Jeremy relates that he investigated the relationship of the periodic table and homeopathy. He discovered that, "the more primary an element the more anti-psoric and deep acting it appeared to be." So he decided to start at the beginning with "the mother of all substance, the most simple manifestation of matter."
Now, the task of reviewing "The Homeopathic Proving of Hydrogen" appeared at first to be somewhat daunting. The product of Jeremy Sherr and his Dynamis School, its one hundred plus pages contains over one thousand symptoms and an accompanying repertory of the remedy. I had never before looked over such raw data in detail, let alone tried to bring some sort of coherence to its content, and then comment on it.
It reminded me of a project I had in college when the professor in an art history class asked (forced) all of the students to describe and comment on a piece of ancient Chinese pottery of our choice. I remember picking out one blue vase from the university museum, placing it on a stand in front of me, and sitting down to contemplate it. Untrained and inexperienced in the world of art, my only thought was, "What on earth am I going to say about this thing?" We sat and faced each other for quite a while before some perceptions, thoughts, and feelings began to flow. As time passed, I relaxed into my assigned task and soon there was enough material to fill six or seven typed pages.
Well, the proving book also turned out to be less formidable than I had imagined. Its format is actually quite user-friendly. First, all the symptoms are organized according to the schema of Kent's Repertory. This formats the information in a familiar way, making it easier to organize mentally.
In addition, the symptoms are printed tripled space, so the pages are not crowded. Although it might seem a needless waste of paper or an attempt to artificially stretch the information into a book, this technique actually makes a study of the material much less intimidating. Those large spaces between the symptoms allow the reader to feel more leisure, to contemplate a bit more before going on to the next bit of information. It seems to give the data a flow that is akin to a poem just as much as a scientific work ... One thousand homeopathic haiku.
The introduction that Jeremy provides is short, useful and interesting. It gives his reasoning for selecting the remedy along with insights into the methodology and some of the lessons learned from the project. It is followed by more detailed information on the scientific aspects of hydrogen itself. This may be a bit difficult for the scientifically undereducated (like myself), and its relevance to the work seems somewhat indirect.
Only time will tell whether or not Hydrogen is going to be a valuable addition to our materia medica. If prescribers make an effort to learn the remedy and begin to accumulate clinical experience, the remedy could potentially find a useful niche in our practices. Hydrogen certainly does have an interesting mental picture that seems to fit somewhere in the realm of Cannabis indica and Lac caninum. It may turn out to be the simillimum for a good number of those ethereal patients who tend to patronize our profession.
Turning to the recorded symptoms, let's see what we can actually learn about Hydrogen. The focus of its action is clearly on the mental level. There is a strong sense of an altered reality and altered perceptions. "Life doesn't fit." "I left myself behind." This perception is characterized by feeling spacey, lighter or airy. Intellectually, there is difficult concentration, mental confusion and forgetfulness. A peculiar symptom is the mistaking of left and right. There are mistakes in writing and the sense of time is distorted.
Emotionally, there is much depression along with lethargy. They can feel detached and indifferent with a desire to be alone. This can lead to irritability and anger. They often feel hurried, suffer from nervous anxiety and feel fear in the stomach. Confidence is lacking and there is a general sense of vulnerability. They can become suspicious, feeling betrayed or that "people don't like me."
On the other hand, a sense of the absurd is also strong. There is laughter at ordinary things, or at serious things. "Everything seems ridiculous." They may be restless and impatient or, quite to the contrary, possess a feeling of relaxed peacefulness. Other characteristic symptoms are feeling pregnant (emotionally), confusion over sexual identity, and sighing.
There are frequent headaches. The nose is often obstructed with either watery or a thick colored mucous discharge. Sneezing is common. Inside the nostril there may be tingling or peppery sensations. Flushes of heat in the face are also a strong symptom. The mouth and throat feel dry and the sense of taste may be perverted. There is also a sensation of pepper in the throat. Toothache was a commonly reported symptom.
Digestive symptoms are sparse. The appetite may be slightly increased or more frequently decreased. Food desires are minimal save a slight craving for spicy food and a thirst for cold things. There is nausea, especially from food. Constipation is a common symptom. But sometimes there is an urgent diarrhea.
Menses may be quite heavy and sudden. "They felt as if they poured out." There is pain or tenseness in the back, especially in the cervical region. The extremities may also be painful with aching, burning, shooting or pulsating sensations. Numbness and coldness are strong symptoms in the limbs. The legs feet weak. Another peculiar symptom is inflammation of the fingers. This takes the form of swellings, eruptions or poor healing of wounds.
The voice can be low. There is anxiety and tightness in the chest along with heart palpitations. Sleep is deep with lots of varied dreams. Sometimes there is waking at night or waking early. There may be perspiration during sleep, on waking, or with anxiety.
Generalities are: worse from wet weather, better from fresh air, better from warmth. There are sensations of heat, hot flushes, or chilliness. Also, a tendency to take cold is common. Weakness, fatigue or lethargy are strong characteristics of the remedy. There is trembling, pulsating pains and a predominance of right-sided complaints. Many local complaints are characterized by a "sensation of pepper" (in the nose, mouth, throat... ).
Following is a fuller list of symptoms extracted from the proving which are divided into bold, underlined and regular type:
changed perceptions, out of reality,
different dimension, been elsewhere
spacey, out of body, I lighter, clearer, airy, numbness
loving, released-catharsis, "left myself behind"
nothing is normal, "life doesn't fit,"
desire to move (physically move house)
confusion, difficult concentration, poor focus, forgetful,
irresolution, absent-minded, mistakes left and right,
mistakes in writing, sense of time distorted, messy, clumsy, accident prone, feeling old
hurried, slowed down, nervous anxiety worried,
fear - in stomach / insanity, exhilaration, lack of self-confidence, feels vulnerableness,
thoughts related to death - dead things / killing / suicide
delusions of color / things or self larger or smaller, detached, indifferent, cut-off, depressed, lethargic,
desires being alone, silent, "does not want to get out of bed in the morning," dreamy,
irritability, anger, quarrelsome,
laughter - at ordinary, serious things, "everything seems ridiculous,"
loquacious, suspicious, betrayed, "people don't like me," feel pregnant, religious, restless, impatient, senses are acute, confusion over sexual identity, sighing, sympathetic, generous, relaxed and peaceful, calm
dizziness, worse upon rising in the morning
formication on scalp, eruption on back of head,
heavy, headache - on waking, forehead,
watery, aching behind eyes
feel blocked, itching - behind ears, ringing, pain - aching, sharp
clear coryza, watery discharge, obstruction, catarrh - thick colored discharge, sneezing, tingling sensation, peppery sensation in nostril
flushed, dry - lips, facial hair in women, pain - aching, jaws, formication
dry, ulcer, perverted taste - dry, metallic, peppery
mucous, dry, peppery sensation, sore throat - waking, raw
queasy, appetite increase / decreased
nausea - evening, from food, waking,
pain - lower right quadrant
constipation, straining, diarrhea - urgent
menses heavy, "poured out," late
low voice, rough
worse in the morning, worse at night, barking
"tickles like pepper,"
cough from tightness / constriction in throat
anxiety, tightness, heart palpitations, "conscious of heart beating"
pain - neck, lumbar, on sneezing or coughing, stitching,
tenseness - shoulders, back of neck
inflammation of fingers - suppuration, septic,
cold - hands, knees, foot, with numbness, parts of body,
numbness - fingers, hands, arms, soles of feet,
pain - aching, burning (especially in soles), shooting, pulsating,
restless legs, stiffness,
tingling in legs,
legs weak - wobbly, heavy
deep, sound, busy dreams,
sleepiness during the day,
sleeplessness from thoughts,
waking at night, waking early
feverish at night
during sleep, on waking, with anxiety
better from fresh air, tendency
to take cold,
weight loss, sensation of heat, flushes of heat, chilly, better from warmth, lethargic, pains - throbbing, right sided symptoms, trembling - with anxiety, weakness, tired, worse from wet weather.
Julian Jonas, C. A., graduated from the Meiji College of Oriental Medicine in Osaka,Japan. He has practiced in Japan and Sri Lanka, holding licenses also in California, Massachusetts and Vermont. He completed the NESH course in 1991. Julian currently practices in Saxtons River, Vermont. He is one of the instructors at the New England School of Homeopathy and is currently providing clinical supervision to NESH students.
New England Journal of Homeopathy Volume 2 Number 2