AH: Let’s talk about provings. Who are the provers in your provings?
KL: Well, first of all, without the participants who are students in the Homeopathic Master Clinician (HMC) course, these provings would not take place. So it is really the HMC provings we are talking about. By the way, being a student in the course does not mean that you are “required” to participate in a proving. It is definitely something outside of the course, that a few students volunteer to do on their own volition. I believe this consent is fundamental to provings; that the prover makes an active choice to become a prover or supervisor. We sign an agreement that is based on the Helsinki Human Experimentation Accord that basically lays out the intention of everyone’s involvement and what can and cannot happen. It has worked very well.
AH: What kinds of things does your Helsinki Accord-based agreement say about what can and cannot happen during the course of a proving, and what prompted you to establish the agreement as part of the protocol for conducting a proving?
KL: This was prompted by some problems that I saw at the beginning of the course, in some other provings that were not supervised by myself, where the provers didn’t really know what they were in for and subsequently felt powerless during the proving. The provers and supervisors in one proving got into altercations that were never repaired by the master prover. In another proving, the provers felt quite resentful because the proving took place while they were at a seminar that was also a holiday for them. The agreement lays out what is required by everyone and when the prover can decide to pull the plug, so to speak. With this knowledge and a sense of control, each prover feels that they are much more of a willing participant. In the HMC Course, I also spend a great deal of time discussing the effects of taking a homeopathic remedy and “proving” it, versus a curative response from a remedy. With this knowledge, what seem to be “long term” effects of provings are better understood.
AH: What remedies have you proven?
KL: HMC Provings have been done on Loxosceles Reclusa (the brown recluse spider), Carbon BiOxygenium (Carbon Dioxide), Coriandrum (Coriander), and Helodrilis Caliginosis (Earthworm).
AH: How do you generally determine what remedies to prove?
KL: The reasons for choosing each remedy varied. A lot came from input from various people or practitioners-just things that they or I always wanted to prove. For example, Coriander was a result of the fact that it’s one of the most widely-used herbs in the world, yet it has never been proven. Loxosceles Reclusa was chosen because a lot of veterinarians came to me with problems with animals who had brown recluse spider bites. It was kind of intriguing to explore what a brown recluse spider did.
And then Earthworm; that was at the instigation of a number of acupuncturists in Chinese medicine. These practitioners said earthworm was a major ingredient in a lot of the herbal preparations that are used in Chinese medicine, so I wanted to prove it. It went against what tended to be very popular in the homeopathic community-to prove remedies that are venomous or dramatic in a sense. My experience was and is, that a large portion of our patients feel very small and vulnerable, like worms. It made more sense to prove Earthworm.
Carbon Dioxide was chosen in a different way, by Michael Quinn, the head of the Hahnemann Pharmacy. In this proving, I wanted to see what it was like to be a master prover and not know what the remedy was.
AH: Have you seen any Earthworm cases?
KL: Yes, I have had some excellent cases and some of my students and other practitioners have had good cures using this remedy. One of the things that is gratifying after working on a proving is for practitioners to give me feedback following the use of the newly-proven remedies. A number of people have emailed me or have written to tell me that they took the remedy or gave it to a patient. One practitioner who took Earthworm had a very severe back problem-I think it was a compressed or herniated disk-and had previously taken a few of the more traditional homeopathic remedies. He finally took some Earthworm at the suggestion of one of my students, and he said it was remarkable. Within a day, he was much better.
AH: What grouping of remedies do you see Earthworm fitting into?
KL: I would fit Earthworm into what I call soft-sided animal remedies. There is some similarity to some of the remedies that are made from fish, like Oleum Jecoris and even Salmon, as well as Bufo and Salamander. There is also similarity to the remedy Amphisbaena, which is “worm” lizard. Both this remedy and Earthworm have herniation as important physical pathology. There is some similarity as well to other sorts of vulnerable, soft-sided remedies, because I think there is an element of vulnerability in Earthworm.
AH: Some modern homeopaths are not in favor of proving new remedies because they feel the materia medica is vast enough, and that there are plenty of remedies we’re already prescribing that need to be re-proven. How do you feel about that?
KL: It’s interesting because a lot of the practitioners who suggest that we shouldn’t be doing new provings are the ones who claim to be “Hahnemannian classical homeopaths.” Really, what they are is “filtered Hahnemannian classical homeopaths.” I emphasize “filtered” because their view of Hahnemann is filtered through some bizarre self-centered prejudice. Somehow, these individuals seem to suggest that Hahnemann was a conservative sit-on-your-ass type of guy, and in fact, he wasn’t. He was quite the opposite. He was the ultimate experimenter and researcher and practitioner. He was off his ass and he was out there, treating people, doing provings, developing new ideas, and really working at annihilating chronic disease. I think this desire for some homeopaths to go back and to halt homeopathy’s development, and keep it in some sort of box that they’ve conceived as what homeopathy is, is just an attempt to justify their own torpor and laziness. Hahnemann urged everyone to prove and keep proving remedies. He proved not only medicinal substances of the time, but substances which he said had non-medicinal qualities, and he states that very clearly in The Chronic Diseases:
“Some of these medicines in their crude state seem to have a very imperfect, insignificant medicinal action (e.g. , common salt and the pollen of Lycopodium). Others (e.g. , Gold, Quartz, Alumina) seem to have none at all, but all of them become highly curative by the preparation peculiar to Homeopathy.”
As homeopaths, it is our opportunity to contribute something back to the homeopathic community by doing and publishing provings. This idea of classical homeopathy being a certain grouping of remedies, like fifty remedies or something, strikes me as part of the Luddite movement in homeopathy. Basically, it’s a kind of anti-computer, anti-modernism in homeopathy. I do think we have to do very careful work and stick to some fundamental principles, especially when we’re incorporating new remedies into our materia medica. At the same time, I don’t think we should limit our prescribing to such a small number of remedies.
I had a student who told me that she had been treating a number of patients that another practitioner had treated (who espouses this Luddite view), and almost all of the patients either got Sepia or Ignatia from this other practitioner. Some of the people that are promoting this methodology of giving very few polychrest remedies are claiming to be Hahnemannian homeopaths, but in fact, what they do is really an insidious form of allopathic medicine. I think this is really subverting the general momentum of current homeopathy. Overall, currently, homeopathy is moving in a very exciting way. Personally, I’m seeing real pathology being effectively treated with homeopathy, not theoretically treated, but effectively treated. I know that students in my class see these cases of severe pathology getting better, and don’t feel that it’s a theory.
I think some of the theories of the “polychrest-only prescribers” that have been promulgated at the moment are actually theories that come from a number of teachers from the 70’s and the 80’s. These teachers were some of the people that I originally studied homeopathy with, who, in the final analysis, had very little clinical experience since homeopathy was so new to them. So a lot of what they repeated was stuff that they heard from other teachers or books, and then theorized about. I’ve been in continuous practice for twenty-four years. So what I try to teach is from my longer practical experience and from what I’ve learned from other senior practitioners. I have also learned from my mistakes, and take from the longer view of the patients that I have treated for over twenty years.
Homeopathy has traditionally, in terms of textbooks and a lot of the information that’s out there, come from what I call historical textbooks-a materia medica that simply repeats what someone else has written. Worse yet, one of the most popular of these texts simply copies verbatim what someone else has written and doesn’t even bother to put quotes around it. What ends up happening is that there is no real way of discerning the source of the information and of creating a clinical perspective from the information. That’s a big problem.
AH: I’ve had homeopaths explain to me that they don’t have very many cases in which a single Simillimum was found to be curative in a patient, but that their patients tend to need a series of remedies over time. Yet some of the modern homeopathic scholars and practitioners who utilize a large number of remedies, yourself included, seem to be teaching something different in that regard. Could you comment on that?
As homeopaths, it is our opportunity to contribute something back to the homeopathic community by doing and publishing provings.
KL: I don’t necessarily believe that everyone needs just one “simillimum.” But sometimes the number of so-called “layers” that other homeopaths go through is mainly due to the fact that they have missed a deeper acting remedy, one whose effects will last for a much longer period of time.
AH: Do you think that it’s feasible for homeopaths in practice today to be able to effectively utilize a much broader palette of remedies?
KL: Yes, absolutely. With the use of computers we are able to access much more information very quickly. I use MacRepertory and Referenceworks. Prior to the existence of these programs, it would take me almost a half hour to just go through my library and look at each book and find out where the remedy was to study. Well, with a computer, I can do that in less than ten seconds! That’s the difference. This frees me up to actually explore each textbook in a very effective way, and to really perceive that remedy, particularly if it’s a remedy that currently is not commonly used. I emphasize the word current because there is another prejudice that has developed. For example, one of the main remedies that we tend to think of for children with high fevers is Belladonna. But if you actually look at the old textbooks, a lot of the old practitioners’ first choice of a remedy for such fevers would be Veratrum Viride. But this information is somehow buried under this modern-day filter of the so-called polychrest prescribers.
AH: How many different remedies do you use in your practice?
KL: It’s growing all the time and it would be hard to put a number on it. Lets say it’s over 1000 at least.
AH: I understand you’re in the process of writing a materia medica?
KL: Yes, I’m writing a materia medica that will be based more on my clinical experience with the remedies than on simply repeating someone else’s information, although there will be some information on the traditional use of the remedies. But essentially, I hope to do something based on my own clinical experience.
AH: I have found it interesting that, in your course, students learn how to utilize vast libraries of information, yet you only select one or two rubrics when repertorizing a case.
KL: Well, technically speaking, I use one or two rubrics. But in reality, I’m perceiving many things that I don’t necessarily narrow down into rubrics. So, in actual fact, I use hundreds of observations. When I go, though, to the repertory, I want each rubric that I carefully choose to encapsulate something of the totality of the case or the totality of my perceptions. So I may, in fact, choose a rubric that appears kind of like a small rubric, but I feel it encapsulates something much larger. We had a case that we were discussing in class today of a woman who had intolerable itching of the genitalia. The idea of “intolerability” was so strong in the totality of the case (in her personality and other characteristics), that even though this was a particular rubric, it held a great amount of significance in the case.
AH: Speaking of encapsulating perceptions, could you comment on the role of the master prover when it comes to encapsulating the themes of the new remedies they prove?
KL: Yes. When summarizing the remedy and putting this summary into words, I want every word to count. One of the problems with homeopathy is that there is so much verbiage, which creates all this information. Then what do you do with it? That’s really part of the fundamental goals of the course that I teach-to help people deal with that, and to ultimately be able to perceive succinctly what is important in materia medicae and what is important in the patient and then match this effectively. Materia Medica is growing exponentially as we sit here and talk. How are we going to handle all the information, both old and new? This is what we should be preparing for as the millennium approaches. I am still unsure, though, whether creating themes or even organizing the information under titles right after a proving is such a good idea. I find that it takes some clinical experience before the real theme and importance of the remedy comes out. This is generally the difficulty or limitation with the thematic approach, because it can prevent or prejudice another aspect of the remedy from appearing.
AH: Which proving symptoms should be added to the repertories?
KL: Well, all the symptoms that come up. But I’m not sure if it’s helpful to have the whole phrase of the prover, especially if it’s something like, “I was frustrated today because my son went pee-pee on the floor as he held his fuzzy wuzzy bear”-that’s not very helpful. Especially when you get off the point and enter “son clings to fuzzy wuzzy bear” as the symptom.
AH: You have spoken about how patients have to make a conscious decision to have a disease stop affecting them. What does this mean?
KL: Well, it’s not necessarily a conscious decision for the disease to stop affecting them. It’s more of a conscious decision to participate in homeopathic treatment or get cured. Frequently, after a month or two, even after a profoundly curative response from a homeopathic remedy, the patient will attempt to antidote the remedy by various means, or they’ll start another therapy. A large part of that has to do with them wanting to keep the status quo of their disease. The status quo refers to the social aspects of the disease. One difficult situation is when someone is on a disability pension; their disease is very important to them as a source of income. It’s the main way they earn their income. So they have a vested interest in the disease. With a patient like that, they have to be very willing to give up that income in order to move on to a different level. There are other kinds of things like that, perhaps not so dramatic, and these are all parts of managing patients who are disabled by their diseases in some way, or have socially adapted to the disease.
[O]ne of the main remedies that we tend to think of for children with high fevers is Belladonna. But if you actually look at the old textbooks, a lot of the old practitioners’ first choice of a remedy for such fevers would be Veratrum Viride.
AH: It seems that, because of the very nature of the repertory, symptoms end up being separated from the context in which they arose. Specifically, each remedy can be associated with different symptom complexes that arise in different provers/patients. In current repertories, these symptom complexes are not identified or differentiated.
KL: I think the ideal way of writing up a proving is in a database, which the user can change. In fact, I’ve done this with Loxosceles reclusa. It’s in a FileMaker database. So you can view the proving from the perspective of individual provers. You can also view the proving from the perspective of specific body symptoms and times. So you can view it from many perspectives. When you view it from the perspective of an individual prover, you really get a sense of what each individual prover went through. When you view it from the perspective of body symptoms, you get a sense of totality, “as if one prover.” And then there’s another way of viewing it, which is on a time line from day one to the end of the proving. The time line is very helpful because you can see how symptoms are evolving. But when you have a very large proving with lots of symptoms, like say, Bamboo andusa, which is a very large proving with a tremendous amount of symptoms, it would be very difficult to publish it in a paper book in these various ways. But I think, eventually, it would be great to electronically publish our provings and for the practitioner to be able to change the way the information is sorted and viewed.
AH: Where are you publishing your provings?
KL: We are just about to put our complete provings on the internet, free for all to use and download. It won’t be in database form but in a text file that can be downloaded for free. This will be on the HMC Course internet site, which is www. homeopathycourses. com. It will be free to use and reuse, in keeping with the spirit and the intent of doing provings as a service to the homeopathic community. The provings will also appear in some upgrades to some computer programs. Eventually they will be published in book form. We’re working on this.
AH: How do you feel about the meditation and dream provings?
KL: There is a seed of the remedy there. But if you’re going to do a job, why don’t you do it really well? Seminar and meditation provings help the participants in the seminar, or the meditators, more than other people. To Hahnemann, the whole idea behind provings was that it took away the conjectural aspects of a substance, which breeds theorizing. By carefully proving a remedy or substance, there should be little room for conjecture. The meditation provings depend on conjecture by the meditator, and then you get what I consider to be a second-best result. I put this in the same category as signature ideas-they may be necessary to work with, but are really conjectural and second-place to good proving symptoms.
AH: Are you in favor of any of those seeds of information being included in the repertories, or should we have certain standards of what can be included in the repertory and what shouldn’t?
KL: Unfortunately, what’s included in the repertory now tends to be what is published, so if journals publish meditation provings, then it’s fodder for inclusion. I would certainly prefer that not to be included in the repertory.
AH: For how long does a proving need to be carried out and why?
KL: I believe for a minimum of two months. This allows both initial and reciprocal symptoms to come out.
AH: How would you suggest students study a proving?
KL: That’s a very complicated question that I spend quite a few sessions in the course discussing. So I don’t think that there is a simple answer. It requires an understanding of the mechanism of provings and that requires some study and elucidation of sections in the Organon on provings.
AH: Do you have any humorous or amazing stories of synchronicity that occurred during any of the HMC provings?
KL: One incident had to do with a prover in the Earthworm proving going to a California spa that specialized in cedar loam baths where you are buried in hot earth. She was completely ecstatic after this day. Of course, she didn’t know she was proving Earthworm and really getting into their natural habitat!
Louis Klein has been studying and practicing homeopathy for over 25 years. He is a sought-after senior practitioner, lecturer, teacher, and professional consultant. He was also the founding president of NASH. Lou’s initial studies included the Bay Area Study Group, seminars and personal study with George Vithoulkas M.I. H. at the Athenian School of Homeopathic Medicine, Bill Gray MD., and other masters of homeopathy. He has a private practice in Vancouver, New York, and on Bowen Island B.C. , where he lives with his wife and two children. He currently is the primary teacher of the Homeopathic Master Clinician Course, a post-graduate course in North America, with various locations in the U.S. and Canada. New HMC courses starting in Fall 2000 are Washington D.C. and San Francisco. For more information contact:
HMC Course, Aryana Rayne, Administrator
F-31, Bowen Island, B.C. , VON 1G0, Canada
Tel: 604-947-0757 • Fax: 604-947-0764 • hmcwimsey. com
Seminar and meditation provings help the participants in the seminar, or the meditators, more than other people. To Hahnemann, the whole idea behind provings was that it took away the conjectural aspects of a substance, which breeds theorizing. By carefully proving a remedy or substance, there should be little room for conjecture.