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John Henry Clarke
Dr John Henry Clarke

The British Dr. John Henry Clarke (1853–1921) Clarke was a consulting physician to the London Homoeopathic Hospital, and the editor of the 'Homoeopathic World' for twenty-nine years. The busy doctor used to test out poisonous stuff (nosodes) from various contagious diseases on himself, wrote plentifully about the effects, and stood out as one of the most active homeopaths in England. He

He collected much information by others in his three-volumed A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica. (3 Vols. London: The Homeopathic Publishing Co., 1900 (Vol 1), and 1902 (vols 2 and 3)). - He culled content from Dr. Timothy F. Allen's (1837-1902) Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica in 12 volumes; Dr. Constantine Hering's (1800-80) Guiding Symptoms (completed by Calvin B. Knerr, MD); and Dr. Edwin M. Hale's (1829-99) The Characteristics of the New Remedies in his Dictionary.

Clarke says in his preface, "If some are inclined to object that I have included too many, I reply that my work is a Dictionary, and I have never yet found a Dictionary that explained too many words." Well, for practical handling a slim book might work better. Many who publish dictionaries are aware of that. Therefore the Oxford University Press publishes a wide range of dictionaries, starting from dictionaries for learning English, dictionaries for children and students, and through the scaled down Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in two volumes to the twenty-volumed whole Dictionary.

About a thousand preparations are shown in Dr. Clarke's work, which is still sold.

About John H. Clarke

Clarke published other books too. Among them are:

  • The Prescriber - A Dictionary of the New Therapeutics . . . with an essay on "How to Practice Homoeopathy." That book's indications of remedies are based on personal experiences of a number of homoeopaths.

  • A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of Materia Medica was specifically designed by Dr. Clarke for the study of his bulky Dictionary of Homoeopathic Materia Medica, a work that Robert Séror considers "the most authoratative of our discipline." But how far is a claim reliable? That is what matters to inspect.

There is information about all three of them at the bottom of the page. Now, under what main conditions are the remedy symptoms of Clarke valid, for example? Are the listings documented according to standard procedures of scientific research? Think twice. Still, that a thing does not meet the strict criteria of scientific research does not mean the thing does not work. It means that testings have not given any significant, valid, and reliable results so far.

Symptoms Revealed

Instead of trusting sillily in writings, learn to inspect.

Can you trust all the remedy information that Dr. Clarke brings? What sort of evidence do we have that it is fit, conclusive, undistorted, the best information, and so on? Well, consider this before you decide in the matter:

The scarce amount of information about some Clarke remedies means inconclusive information. Many potential remedies go untested so far, by far most of the potential remedies there are. After the untested remedies we find the little tested remedies. Their symptom pictures are very likely full of holes, and much inconclusive. A lot of them could work just as deeply and broadly as the more tested remedies that are called polychrests. Polychrests are remedies for many uses and are held to cure many diseases.

This goes to say that a remedy that has got many guiding symptoms listed, may not necessarily work better, deeper or cover an broader range of symptoms than other remedies that are mentioned only briefly in books on homeopathy, and not mentioned at all. Moreover, remedy information that is missing among currently listed remedies, could be essential information. The possibility is there, and is rather overwhelming too. Besides, a lot of inconclusive provings (testings) imply accuracies, and perhaps errors. Also, inconclusive testings may be a source of bias and of confounding people.

Conclusion: The work of homeopathy depends on remedies that are made from a seemingly wide range of "things" - a few thousand such remedies have entered the field of homeopathy. But there are millions of plants and plant components to make homeopathic remedies from.

Dr. Clarke tends not to weigh the symptoms he presents; he does not tell which symptoms he considers the most reliable or "best" guides to choosing remedies. Other homeopaths, like Drs. William Boericke and James T. Kent, uses grading of symptoms in their works to present their remedies by. Fit grading (ranking) of symptoms for each remedies is very helpful in surveying the case and matching remedies, and skipping the grading of symptoms may become a source of error in the wrong hands. But so can wrong or largely biased ranking be. Very many things may turn out badly in the wrong hands. Anyway, Clarke drops the grading of many, many of the remedy symptoms.

Clarke also states that he has deliberately chosen to have no grading of symptoms by differences in [asserted character] type, since he has so often found his indications in symptoms not distinguished by type. And some homeopaths think differently, as does Dr Andrew Lockie.

The sheer mass of information in Dr. Clarke's remedy descriptions makes it difficult to select the remedy that could help the most if you are not well acquainted with his work, and works of other homeopaths. Few people take the time to study them all.

Also consider that homeopaths disagree among one another as to which guiding symptoms are to be listed under different remedies or remedy headings. Further, they disagree about which symptoms they think weigh the most when a remedy is to be selected. There are different tales told in different books, that is. There is no unison agreement among leading homeopaths about remedy descriptions. However, there are "groups of consensus", that is, homeopathic "schools".

Not all the remedies that Clarke mentions, have not been extensively tested by controlled, systematic or scientific procedures. Some remedies are said to be "clinically tested". A clinical trial is, ideally at last, a scientifically controlled study of how safe and effective a therapeutic agent may be, using consenting humans to try it out. There are sources of error embedded in this approach too. It may be observed when medical drugs that have been tested, are found to have unwelcome side effects.

As for testing of homeopathic remedies outside of the "safe range" above D6 or so, there are several things to consider. First, general mechanisms of the organism against general poisoning effects - or the organism being overloaded - could have crept into the remedy descriptions. That may be one of the reason why purely physical symptoms many not always be good guiding symptoms to those in search of a homeopathic remedy. It is also a curious thing that the standard procedure of preparing homeopathic remedies potentizes water and/or alcohol along with each remedy. So you really get homeopathic ethanol and water "for free" with a lot of remedies. No one so far seems to have taken this funny fact into account, and that is strange. It suggests that if you react adversely to ethanol, there may be hundreds of homeopathic remedies against it, and no one seems to care to tell it . . . It is one of the oddities of many homeopathic remedies.

As mentioned already above, the obvious fact of inconclusive provings (tests) means that many, many remedies listed might very well have more and other qualities than those hitherto described. This means that a great many current homoeopathic remedies can harldy be fully "mapped" (understood), even today. However, a cure depends on choosing the best possible remedy, the one that appears to match the symptoms you visit the doctor with etc.

Not all the remedies used and sold today, are not described by Dr. Clarke in his Dictionary from the very early 1900s, but some of the common ones are. New remedies have emerged during the last century too, and are encompassed in revised books of remedies. The updated, enlarged Indian version of Boericke (see book list) shows findings nicely. May I add, I have sincere respect for such work.

A Scheme

There is a basic presentation scheme that is used by Dr Clarke in his three-volumed set. The items and their order go back to a scheme made by Samuel Hahnemann. Listings into such schemes include:

  1. Symptoms said to be reached by the remedies if conditions follow suit.
  2. Grading of symptoms. Unlike Boericke, Clarke chose not to grade (rank) remedy symptoms, as he often found his symptom indications were not according to the gradings of other homeopaths.
  3. Clarke also informs whether the homeopathic drugs have been subjected to so-called provings or not. A little caveat: It is said about Dr James T. Kent's provings of homeopathic remedies that many of them were not real provings, but were presented as it to satisfy an editor's demands (!) [◦Link

Clarke introduced the following new homeopathic preparations to the Homeopathic Materia Medica: Pertussin, Carcinosinum, Epihysterinum, Baccillinum Testicum, Morbillinum, Parotidinum, Scarletinum, and Scirrhinum.

As encompassing and welcome as Clarke's Dictionary is, it does not include all the remedies that are used today, and just a fraction of all homeopathic remedies that are possible to make. Nature abounds in items and specimen to explore - there are millions of specimen to look into.


John Henry Clarke, homeopath, Literature  

The books are at Google Books:

Boericke, William and Oscar. Homoeopathic Materia Medica. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Boericke and Runyon, 1927.

Boericke, William. Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Comprising the Characteristic and Guiding Symptoms of All Remedies (Clinical and Pathogenetic). 9th ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1993.

Boericke, William. New Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica and Repertory Enl. ed. (Click on the title) New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 2002.

Clarke, John Henry: A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica. 3 vols. The Homeopathic Publishing Company. London, 1900 (vol 1) and 1902 (vols 2 and 3).

Clarke, John Henry. A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica. Vol 2. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 1997.

Clarke, John Henry. Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of Materia Medica. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 2003.

Clarke, John Henry. The Prescriber: A Dictionary of the New Therapeutics. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009.

Clarke, John Henry. Homoeopathy Explained. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009.

Kent, James Tyler. Repertory of the Homoeopathic Materia Medica. Reprint ed. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 1991.

Lockie, Andrew and Nicola Geddes. Complete Guide to Homeopathy: The Principles and Practice of Treatment. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

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