Definitions of Homeopathic Terms
Acute Illness—A condition that is usually brief in duration and self-limiting; that is either the illness runs its course or the patient dies—as opposed to chronic illness that usually develops more slowly, lasts indefinitely, results in deterioration of health, and does not resolve without some sort of healing intervention. Examples of acute illness—colds, flu, ear infections. Examples of chronic illness—arthritis, hypertension, diabetes.
Characteristic Symptom—a symptom of an unusual nature—strange, rare, peculiar—that gives the case a pronounced individuality (i.e. “characterizes” the case). For examples, chilliness with desire for ice cold drinks, or dizziness that is better from motion. Such a symptom often points directly to the curative remedy.
Chronic Illness—A condition that develops slowly, lasts indefinitely, results in deterioration of health, and does not resolve without some sort of healing intervention. Examples of chronic illness—arthritis, hypertension, diabetes.
Common Symptoms—Symptoms that are commonly found in a particular disease, for example, spots in measles or swollen glands in mumps.
Constitutional Treatment—Treating the whole person, rather than the symptoms alone, thereby attempting to enhance the general level of health rather than just getting rid of the symptoms.
Materia Medicca—Latin for “materials of medicine,” a reference book listing homeopathic medicines and their therapeutic actions/indications. This information comes primarily from the provings of the medicines; also from clinical observation.
Miasm—a block to health, usually left by a disease. This can be inherited or acquired and is an obstacle to cure.
Organon—The Organon of Medicine, by Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy, is the book in which he set down the fundamental principals of homeopathy. He wrote six editions, the last in 1842; current homeopaths refer primarily to the sixth and sometimes the fifth editions.
Potency—The strength of a homeopathic remedy according to the number of times, during preparation, it has been diluted and succussed (i.e., potentized). Potency is represented as a number attached to a remedy name (e.g. Aconite 30C or Arnica 6X—the letter C or X refers to two different methods of dilution during remedy preparation).
Proving—The testing of a substance, either in crude form or in potency, on healthy volunteers to discover the symptoms it is capable of producing, and therefore able to cure. Participants in a proving record their symptoms; the symptoms are collated and used as therapeutic indications for prescribing that substance.
Repertorize—To look up symptoms in a repertory, in order to determine which remedy or remedies is common to the presenting symptoms.
Repertory—An index to the material medica; an index of symptoms (based on the material medica) with a list of remedies indicated for each symptom.
Rubric—A symptom listed in a homeopathic repertory.
Samuel Hahnemann—The German physician who developed the principals of homeopathy into a system of medicine. (1755-1843)
Simillimum—The “most similar” remedy corresponding to a case; the remedy that most closely matches the totality of the symptoms of the patient, and therefore, is curative according to homeopathic principles.
Suppression—The driving inward of disease symptoms, so that a person experiences more serious symptoms than they originally had.
Vital Force: Term used by Hahnemann to describe the energy that animates all living beings. The vital force is stimulated by the homeopathic remedy to enable the body to heal itself.
The above definitions were largely adapted from the following excellent references and compiled by Homeopathy Today Magazine: The Complete Homeopathy Handbook (its glossary), by Miranda Castro, FSHom, CCH, and Yasgurs Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference, by Jay Yasgur, RPh, MSc.