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Collecting Clues: Is This Symptom Important?

In homeopathy, not all symptoms are equal...

Woomen with MagnifierChoosing a homeopathic remedy for an acute problem is easy—just match the symptoms of the person-in-need with the indications of the homeopathic medicine, right? But wait a minute...not every symptom will help to point us toward the curative remedy, so how do we know which symptoms to pay attention to?

Striking, strange, unusual, peculiar

Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy said:

”...the more striking, strange, unusual, peculiar (characteristic) signs and symptoms in the case are especially, almost exclusively, the ones to which close attention should be given, because it is these above all which must correspond to very similar symptoms in the medicine being sought ... More general and indefinite symptoms, such as loss of appetite, headache, weakness, troubled sleep, discomfort, etc., if not more precisely qualified, deserve little attention, because one finds something general of the kind in almost every disease and almost every medicine.”

—The Organon, sixth edition, aphorism 153.

An art

Determining which symptoms are characteristic and important versus common and less important is an art that gets refined the more we practice. Understanding coughs (or whatever illness we are treating) from a physiological/ medical perspective can help us; for example, if we understand what is typical of whooping cough, we can then spot an atypical or unique symptom.

And a science

But we also need to be familiar with the homeopathic literature to know which symptoms are unique to just a few remedies (i.e.,”keynote symptoms”). For example, when we look at a symptom in the repertory and see that many remedies are listed, this indicates that the symptom is a common one, not unique to a small number of remedies (e.g., in the repertory chart on page 26, 165 remedies are listed for whooping cough). If the symptom has just a few remedies listed, however, then it is usually a unique, characteristic symptom (e.g., in that same chart, only 2 remedies have the indication, “cough ­better passing flatus”). And if a remedy is listed in “bold type” in the repertory (or given the numeric value of “3” in the chart), it means that remedy is strongly noted for the symptom—a “keynote” (as Sanguinaria is for “cough, better eructations.”)

The more you do it...

Once you know which symptoms to pay attention to, choosing the right homeopathic remedy for acute, everyday problems actually does become a simple process. So keep at it—and you’ll find that it will get even easier over time.

About The Author

Pearlyn Goodman-Herrick, ND, DHANP
Pearlyn Goodman-Herrick, ND, DHANP, has been in private practice for nearly 30 years. She has taught at the NCH Summer School, Southwest College of Naturopathic ­Medicine, and the University of Bridgeport, and has been a board member of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. She practices in New York City, Park Slope, NY, and Westport, CT, and can be reached at 203-256-9091 or