Homeopathic Materia Medica by Farrington


( )

I have now reviewed the majority of the medicines derived from the animal kingdom, and also the most important of those from the nosodes. We next come to the second grand division in natural history, the vegetable kingdom. The vegetable kingdom offers us many varieties of medicinal substances, some of great practical utility and others having but a limited sphere of usefulness. Drugs obtained from this kingdom owe their medicinal effects to the juices which they contain, or to certain properties which reside in the roots, in the flowers, or in the seeds. You may obtain the medicinal qualities of a plant from various parts of it, and these qualities may vary with the part. It is said, for instance, of Belladonna that one part of the plant gives us more of the acrid qualities of the drug, while another gives more of the narcotic properties. We must then be careful in making a proving of vegetable drugs that we are certain of the part of the plant we are using; and in publishing our proving of the same, we should state the part used, or whether it was one alone or all of the parts combined.

A study of the vegetable kingdom involves somewhat that of the mineral, because many of the medicinal properties of the former owe their existence to substances derived from the mineral kingdom contained in the remedy. The principal effects of some of the grasses are the result of the large quantity of Silicea they contain. Ninety-nine one-hundredths of the effects of Laurocerasus come from its Prussic acid. The same may be said of Amygdala persica. Now these substances derived from the mineral kingdom and contained in the vegetable kingdom, become more active than in the mineral kingdom; that is to say, a given chemical, if made in the laboratory, would not present as marked medicinal virtues as the same obtained from a plant. The above remarks also apply to the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Substances existing in the animal kingdom and found also in the vegetable, are far more active in the former. Thus the Colorado potato-bug which feeds on potato-plants and derives from thence Solanine, presents more powerfully the symptoms of the latter, than does the Solanine itself.


We shall study the remedies derived from the vegetable kingdom according to the classification of botanists. There are some incongruities in the botany of today; for instance, in the leguminous order of plants from which we get peas and beans, from which man may obtain nourishment, is also placed the LATHYRUS, which has very poisonous properties. Because there is an outward resemblance between the Lathyrus and sweet-pea, it seems not a little incongruous to put them together, when their effects are so opposite.

The five relations of drugs, which I have already mentioned, apply here as in the animal kingdom. There is this to be remembered, that substances having the same origin, generally do not follow each other well. For example, if you have given Ignatia, it is not well to follow with Nux vomica, and VICE VERSA, because they both contain Strychnia. Though they have many symptoms in common, they act too much in the same line. Another example may be noted in Glonoin and wine. When Glonoin was proved, it was found to have a decided action on the pulse. All the symptoms were aggravated when the provers took wine. Wine produces an excitement very similar to that of Glonoin but its action seems to be in the same direction, consequently, it intensifies the effects of the latter.

But the different orders, sub-orders and classes into which botanists divide plants, are so extensive and cover such vague resemblances, that we cannot confine ourselves strictly to this rule and, taking the drugs in a large order of plants, say that they CANNOT follow each other well. Take the Ranunculaceae, from which we obtain Pulsatilla, Aconite, Helleborus, and Staphisagria. Now the resemblances between these four drugs, are not such that they cannot follow each other without injury If we find, then, from our study of the symptomatology of the drugs that there are no resemblances between them, the rule does not apply. The rule would not apply to the Anacardiaceae with Anacardium and Rhus tox. These drugs bear a family resemblance, but their points of divergence are so great, that one drug may act as an antidote to the other. The rule would apply to Ignatia and Nux vomica, and to Pulsatilla nuttalliana and Pulsatilla prsetensis. I will now take up the consideration of the individual drugs derived from the vegetable kingdom.