Materia Medica or Homeopathic Software?

Of all the major advances to modern homeopathy, the single greatest has been bringing the Repertory and Materia Medica into a computer format. Now with very usable tools we can analyze and search mountains of homeopathic information and have results in a fraction of a second. This makes the homeopath's job so much easier, but there are risks to having so much information so quickly.

We can all thank David Kent Warkentin of Kent Homeopathic Software for bringing us homeopathic computer programs. He was the very first programmer and the pioneer of homeopathic computer programs. His programs, MacRepertory and ReferenceWorks, are still the industry standard for homeopathy. Since David's passing Kent Software is now under the new name of Synergy Homeopathic Software. I have been using these programs since the early 1990's and the advances since then are truly astronomical. I still have my very old, thick, Apple laptop computer with the program still working. Someday this will be a real homeopathic antique.

Learning the repertory and studying Materia Medica are challenges for any homeopath. Nothing can replace books for this. Having a full page to view, the tactile feeling of holding the book and the ability to kind of scan ahead are all part of learning from a book. I do not think computers will ever be able to replace this. There is not one homeopath I know who does not still consult their books.

I recommend computer programs to all of my students. But never right from the start. It is best to purchase the core books necessary for any practice and read them. Pick up the repertory and get used to it and learn to orient yourself within it. Learn where to find different symptoms/rubrics. This is essential to any practice. If we have the books we can always do homeopathy. It is not so easy to learn to navigate the repertory using a computer. But once you know what you are looking for it can help like no other tool.

The speed at which the computer functions allows me to work quickly and accurately. Seeing many clients in a day I can quickly repertize a case and investigate remedies from Materia Medica at the click of the mouse. If I am analyzing a case I can change analysis and see how the case changes very quickly. The element of speed and different approaches are what the computer brings to homeopathy.

One setback though that can occur to novice homeopaths especially,  is that this element of speed can bring results quickly but may be too fast for the homeopath to digest. Often I will bring two or three different case analyses for a single case. This can be done very quickly. If I were to be hasty in my selections then I might miss something very important about the case. I need the element of time to ponder, allow and digest the case. Even though the computer brings speed, it does not do our thinking for us. It is a tool only. We need time to consider the case still.

I see many homeopaths who have limited knowledge of Materia Medica want to give the top remedy that appears after the synthesis of the repertization. This is not good homeopathy. The computer will offer us as good of information as we select. Never any better. If our rubric selection is flawed, so will the results be flawed. And as you are becoming familiar with, homeopathy is not a one size fits all medicine. It is individualized medicine and must be approached with great care. Always the biggest challenge is knowing what is asking to be healed. Without that, no computer in the world can help us.

So a computer program can speed up the access to information but it is still our job to be the homeopath and use our powers of observation, discernment, and knowledge to do good homeopathy. Computer programs are a tool and a tool only. In this modern age, we are blessed with one of the most indispensable tools that homeopathy has ever had. I believe that computer programs are the single best advancement to homeopathy since Hahnemann.

One could never carry all of the books available to us, but we can in one laptop computer. Now we have the ability to search words, phrases, and remedies from thousands of texts with a click of the mouse. This is an astronomical leap in available information. As a result, we have at our fingertips the ability to really learn a lot from the texts that most likely we would never own in physical form. The digital age is here and homeopathy benefits from this as much or more than any other science.

Once we have collected information from Materia Medica searches we can create rubrics and import them into the repertory and factor this into the case analysis. Being able to search exact phrases can sometimes lead to a perfect remedy where the symptom had never been translated to the Repertory. We are now able to create new rubrics and extract new information from the simple word search tool. If we relied on scanning a book this is something that may never occur and would take hours to days, if not weeks, considering the many texts available in the computer programs.

So of all of the advances in homeopathy in the last 200 years, the single greatest advancement is the computer and processing programs. The digital age is here and homeopathy has benefited. We can all be better homeopaths as a result of the computer program. We can now work faster, utilize more information and synthesize it like never before.  Hahnemann I am sure would have agreed.


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