This section is from the book "A Compend Of The Principles Of Homoeopathy", by William Boericke. Also available from Amazon: A Compend of the Principles of Homoeopathy as Taught by Hahnemann.
The medicinal substance which is to be proved must be tested singly, without any admixture of any foreign substance, except an inert vehicle when necessary for its administration. Nothing of a medicinal nature should be taken so long as it is desired to observe the effects of the proving.
Each drug should be proved, not only in its crude form and lower material dosage, but with higher attenuations as well. When the latter are used and symptoms obtained, a special susceptibility on the part of the prover probably exists and some of the most important characteristics may be elicited from him. Only actually observed facts should be recorded, free from all theories of drug action. Such purely positive observation is for all time, and possesses the same value after the lapse of centuries as it does at the time when first observed. If any deductions be drawn from the observed facts, they should not be incorporated into the text, but kept separate and distinct. For this reason, Hahnemann called his Materia Medica "Pura" (pure), because free from all theories, only a record of observed facts. Hence, in making a proving, great precaution, control experiment, accuracy, close observation, and the strictest conscientiousness are essential.
The prover should not depart in any material way from any of his ordinary habits of life, because his life is based on these habits and conformed to them, and any marked change in these must result in changes more or less important, which might be put to the account of the drug; hence, his food, drink, sleep, exercise, and habits generally must be such as he has been accustomed to. He should observe himself before beginning a proving, as every one is liable, even in the best state of health, to slight variations in his sensations and functions. Having thus discovered what symptoms he is liable to naturally and without any drug influence, he must avoid attributing these to the drug to be proven, unless, indeed, they are more pronounced than ever.
As a general rule, begin with a comparatively small dose and increase it gradually till distinct symptoms make their appearance. The most useful doses are those that are just sufficient to produce distinct symptoms.
It is very important to test all drugs in regard to their effects on the female organism, hence women, married and unmarried, should contribute to provings. "Before beginning the record of a proving, she should inscribe in the note-book a statement of her age, temperament, the sicknesses which she has had, and those to which she has an inherited or acquired tendency; also, whatever pains or sensations she may be habitually subject to; also, any peculiar susceptibilities she may possess to external influences of any kind, or to mental, or moral, or emotional excitements, depressions or perversions. Her constitutional peculiarities, respecting the menstrual function, should be carefully recorded; regarding frequency, quantity, character, and whatever inconveniences or sufferings precede, accompany or follow menstruation, such as headache, backache, colic, leucorrhcea, etc., with peculiar states of mind or emotion". *
No special rule can be given, but it has been the custom of most provers to repeat the dose every few hours until symptoms show themselves. It is best to give a single, rather large, dose and watch its effects. This plan is chiefly useful with some vegetable medicines, whose sphere of action is small, and of which the first dose sometimes exhausts, for a time, the susceptibility of the system to the action of the substance. The continuous repetition of the dose is applicable, if we want to ascertain the special action of a drug on some organ or function by continued dosing.
Age and sex are modifying factors in drug proving, and all drugs should be tried on individuals of both sexes and different ages. Some drugs possess marked affinity for one sex, as Crocus and Platina for the female, and Nux preferably the male.
Different temperaments should be chosen, for certain medicines are especially adapted to certain temperaments, and here find the most favorable environment for developing their specific effects.
The provings should be repeated in different individuals and in the same prover. In order to avoid the admission of accidental symptoms, it is a safe rule, although not absolute, not to adopt any symptoms unless it has been found in several provers. By comparing one proving with another, and ascertaining the constancy with which the different symptoms appear, the characteristic symptoms are made manifest. It is to be remembered that all individuals are not alike susceptible to all the effects which a drug is capable of producing; therefore, the need of a large number of experiments is apparent, in order to obtain a complete view of the action of a drug.
(1) Make a first experimental test with a single, moderate-sized dose.
(2) If no symptoms are produced, take it every two or three hours, or change the time of the day for taking it.
(3) If still no symptoms, try higher potencies, to which might be added this rational, additional rule: if still no symptoms appear, go lower in the scale of attenuations and give material doses, increasing size until symptoms appear.
In the nature of things, some of the symptoms take time to develop, therefore the first experiments with small doses should not be hurried. The prover should learn to wait, for some of the late appearing symptoms are frequently the most characteristic.