Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

What is a Proving?

Homeopathy is not tested on animals. The information we have on our remedies can come from traditional uses and accidental poisonings, but largely comes from humans volunteering to take a remedy – these are called provings. 

That is even the way that Hahnemann first tested his theory that like cures like, by taking a substance (China) himself and noting the effects it caused in high doses were the same that it treated in small doses. 

Hahnemann, his friends, family and colleagues proved all our original remedies – all still in use today – including Belladonna, Nux Vomica, Mercurius Solubilis, Chamomilla, Ignatia, Ledum and many more. The information from the proving was also expanded by adding reports of accidental poisonings, and after using the remedies, cured cases. 

In fact what Hahnemann did was create a scientific method for checking the validity of a substance for use in medicine, and this is how they now conduct Phase 1 drug trials, by selecting healthy volunteers, giving them a substance and seeing what happens. 

Homeopathy was also decades ahead of orthodox medicine in conducting blinded trials, where the provers and supervisors do not know the name of the remedy and stops any pre-conceived notions about what a remedy should be used for, or interpretation of the symptoms. This was first mentioned in homeopathic literature in the late 19th century, but was not incorporated into pharmaceutical testing until the 1920s. 

Some provings are also conducted as placebo- controlled, where some provers take placebo and not the remedy, in order to rule out any effect from general things happening – for an example if a proving happened over the period of time when mandates were brought in in New Zealand, without placebo-taking provers it would be impossible to tell if feelings of grief, anger, injustice, and powerlessness was due to the remedy or what was happening here at that time. 

In 200 years the number of remedies has expanded considerably, and the methods which they are proved also varies, I will discuss different types below. 

Traditional provings are conducted in a similar way to Hahnemann’s method. The provers are each assigned a supervising Homeopath who starts by taking their case to establish a baseline. The provers should be in reasonable health and not under any out if the ordinary stress or circumstance that may affect the results. Provers take the remedy in potency until symptoms develop, then stop. They maintain a diary of symptoms, particularly noting any changes in their normal state as well as any symptoms that resolve (cured symptoms) or old symptoms that return. 

Triturations are another method that information about a remedy can be compiled. The process of trituration takes an insoluble substance and grinds it with lactose up to (a minimum of) 3c until it is soluble and can be dissolved and increased in potency further. Each dilution – from crude substance to 1c etc – takes one hour, and in that time a sensitive persona can develop feelings and sensations associated with the remedy itself. While traditionally insoluble substances have been triturated to 3c, in recent times there have been much higher triturations, and each level has a different effect. 

Meditative provings are another, somewhat controversial method, where a group of people meditate on the substance and what the healing properties of it are. This usually involves a group who meditate together frequently so are able to collectively tap into a field and experience that remedy. This is not a classical homeopathic proving, but there have been some great cases published about the effect of these remedies, and I have used a number of the remedies myself with good results. 

Regardless of the method, a useful proving will give you symptoms that allow you to accurately prescribe this remedy for a person (or animal). This means it is important to differentiate what is normal for the prover, and what has changed. However a proving with too many general symptoms or those that do not take into account the normal state or what else is happening in the world are not useful. 

In 2023 I took part in a proving. New Zealanders were invited to take part in a proving at the same time as Homeopaths in Germany. A remedy was posted to me from Germany, just labelled as the proving remedy, with no name. It was really interesting to take part in, and having done so I do feel I have a better understanding of the makeup of our Materia Medica.  A huge thank you to Nathanael Schwartz, Cat Simpson and everyone else involved at the Materia Medica Pura (MMPP) Project for the huge amount of work in conducting this proving. 

Would you like to be a part of a proving? MMPP is conducting another proving this year starting in April, and is interested in having New Zealanders take part again. Please comment here, message me, or email me at if you would like to take part. 

Come back tomorrow to read my post on Ganoderma Tsugae, the remedy that I took part in proving last year.

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