Topics covered on this page include:
- What is a proving?
- History and evolution of provings
- Provings method tested using conventional research techniques
- Homeopathic provings guidelines
- Online resources for provings
What is a proving?
A homeopathic drug proving or ‘homeopathic pathogenetic trial (HPT)’ is a form of investigative clinical trial used to establish the potential therapeutic action of a new homeopathic medicine.
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A pre-defined number of repeated doses of the homeopathic remedy are given to healthy volunteers until symptoms are experienced. These are collated by observers and distinctive symptoms common to multiple participants (which are most likely to be related to the medicine) are identified. According to the central homeopathic principle that ‘like cures like’, the remedy may have the potential to treat these specific characteristic symptoms.
To avoid influencing the results, depending on the precise trial design used, participants and/or those collating and analysing the results may be unaware of what substance is being tested and/or whether they are receiving placebo, until the trial has been completed.
There is a long tradition within the homeopathic profession of underpinning clinical practice with a well-developed, clear, tested and replicable method. In fact it is impossible to discuss homeopathic medicine without addressing the process of homeopathic provings. The first provings were conducted by Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, in the late 1700’s. As he refined his method he and his early followers conducted further trials to the extent that at this death in 1843 there were 96 medicines comprising the homeopathic materia medica.
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For the remainder of the 1800’s, and as homeopathy spread to the rest of the world in the 20th century, provings of new substances flourished and were added to the pharmacopaeia to include more than just northern European flora and fauna. Provers ‘unions’ were established in many countries.
The 1990s saw a revival of the homeopathic proving in homeopathic curricula. As well as testing and understanding new medicines, there has been a focus on reproving older remedies, both to confirm findings and refine the method to bring it in line with contemporary academic research rigor.
This aspect of sound research method and design, plus the accuracy of the extracted information is crucial to the confidence homeopathic clinicians have in their remedies and consequently their prescriptions in daily practice. While not the only approach to remedy selection, matching patients symptoms to the primary symptoms extracted from well conducted homeopathic provings is still the bedrock and fundamental key approach to best homeopathic practice today.
For further information on historical and modern provings click here
Provings method tested using conventional research techniques
A study using a conventional scientific trial design (double-blind randomised controlled trial) found that homeopathic medicines, when taken as part of a homeopathic proving, produce different symptoms from placebo. Statistically, these results were highly significant (p=0.0002).
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25 healthy volunteers were randomly allocated to one of three groups and given either Arsenicum album 30c, Natrum muriaticum 30c or placebo. An independent expert in homeopathic medicines was given the collated list of all symptoms recorded, which did not enable him to attribute symptoms to groups or individuals. The expert identified symptoms characteristic of both Arsenicum album and Natrum muriaticum within the results.
In the groups given homeopathic medicines (or remedies), participants frequently experienced symptoms known to be characteristic of the remedy they had been given and did not experience any symptoms associated with the alternative homeopathic remedy.
The placebo group produced approximately double the number of symptoms compared with the homeopathic groups, but these symptoms were non-specific.
Statistical analysis found that the differences between groups were highly significant (p=0.0002) and that the likelihood of the results being obtained by chance is 2:10,000.The authors conclude that the data suggests homeopathic remedies have specific effects beyond placebo and call for further research.
Homeopathic provings guidelines
The European Central Council of Homeopaths (ECCH) has produced the ECCH Recommended Guidelines for Good Provings. These guidelines provide an overview of the subject, but the authors’ recommend further in-depth study of the methodology before undertaking a proving.
To download the guidelines and find out more click here.
|Systematics & Homeopathy||Database of provings by Jörg Wichman.
Some information freely available; more extensive collection accessible by subscription (25 Euro/yr)
|Provings.com||Collaborative website by multiple experts presenting information on contemporary provings (post 1980). ~ 1200 provings, some with information or email contact||http://www.provings.com/|
|Homeopathy Home portal||List of links to other websites publishing proving information||http://www.homeopathyhome.com/reference/provings.shtml|
|World Health Now Books||Wide range of literature on provings||http://www.wholehealthnow.com/books/homeopathy-provings.html|
|American Medical College of Homeopathy||15 provings carried out by the college – some with information||http://www.amcofh.org/Research/Provings.html|
|Alastair Gray’s website||Individual books on 13 provings||http://grayhomeopathy.com/_catalog_591/Individual_Proving_Books|
|Patricia Hatherly’s website||Information on 3 provings||http://www.patriciahatherly.com/proving.html|
1. Möllinger H, Schneider R, Walach H. Homeopathic Pathogenetic Trials Produce Specific Symptoms Different from Placebo. Forsch Komplementmed 2009; 16: 105-110