Homeopathic Aggravations and Provings

Homeopathic Aggravations and Provings ….what on earth are they?

You’ve heard them mentioned, but you are not really sure what this is about? They sound worrying perhaps, but do you need to feel scared about Homeopathic Aggravations and Provings at all? Let me explain and give some practical examples to relate these concepts to.

Provings

Sometimes rising the dough for your bread is called proving. Or we prove that someone is guilty or a fact is right. But what does Proving mean in relation to homeopathy?

A homeopathic proving refers to a situation where new symptoms arise that are ‘of the remedy’.

A proving can occur in several ways as set out below.

1. A substance or remedy is tested on healthy human beings

for the purpose of understanding what effects that substance has on the body and mind (e.g. what symptoms it can cause.)

This kind of Proving is intentional and serves research into the medicinal properties of substances. Its how we know what remedy to use for which symptom.

A Proving of this kind results in a document that is like a toxicology report. This report lists all the measured and observed effects, that have been meticulously recorded from this trial. These descriptions together with data gathered from using this substance or remedy in practice have been collated in encyclopaedia-like books. We call these books “Materia Medica”. And us homeopaths refer to these remedy descriptions as ‘remedy pictures’.

All those symptoms recorded during the trials are at the same time, also systematically listed in books. We call these books “Repertory” (book of symptoms). Repertory help us to easily search for a symptom and find the remedies indicated for it after which we read in the Materia Medica for more details and to see if it would fit your situation well.

In homeopathy we match your symptoms to a substance that can cause those specific symptoms and use the remedy derived from it to encourage your healing.

2. A remedy was taken incorrectly

E.g. In too high a potency or for too long a period or with too many repeats. Or a combination of those, and this can be achieved with an indicated or not indicated remedy.

This then unintentionally results in the situation described above under point one. They have inadvertently conducted their own little ‘experiment’ and test and have consequently started displaying symptoms that are ‘of the remedy’. In most cases these symptoms will be new to the person in that situation.

This can result in surprising, uncomfortable or unpleasant symptoms. But the good news is that these are temporary and will subside once the remedy is stopped. If required, in an intense proving , it is possible to counter act the effect with an ‘antidote’ (that’s a topic for a whole different blog post). However leaving the body to overcome this on its own if at all possible will also help strengthen its resilience for the future. Provings will not leave any permanent damage or side effects, they will just wane given time.

Aggravations

The word Aggravation does not have a good sound about it. You never want to aggravate an already angry person or a situation that is threatening to get out of hand, right? So what is an aggravation in homeopathy? Is it bad? Do we want to avoid it? And what do we do if it happens? Read on ……

An aggravation means something that already exists gets worse by your action.

Say you have a head ache and on taking a remedy instead of getting better it gets worse. You have angry feelings and they get more intense, etc

When an indicated remedy is taken; We may see a Homeopathic aggravation, which will show in a worsening of the situation, with the existing symptoms worsening. This may happen immediately on taking the remedy or the remedy initially works well and improves matters but suddenly there is a worsening of the same symptoms when you take another dose.

Too high a potency, too many repetitions, or too lengthy a use of a suitable remedy can all be reasons for a response that is ‘over the top’. Although this is similar as with Provings; with Aggravations the remedy is definitely indicated.

We know the remedy is indicated, because it has initially had an effect in this case. But the potency match may not be ideal or you may be more sensitive to a remedy than originally anticipated or you may have been taking too many doses. With a mismatched remedy you would in general and initially see no positive result.

Just stop the remedy and assess

Generally after an aggravation has happened, if we stop taking the remedy this will subside and what follows is almost always an improvement in the original situation we began with. It is said that; an initial mild aggravation on taking a remedy is a sign of a favourable healing effect. So the saying ” it gets worse, before it gets better” applies in life in many situations and here as well; It will get better.

If your remedy was a prescription and an aggravation occurs it is a good idea to stop taking it and to notify your homeopath who can then help you decide how to proceed. Were you self prescribing, you should also stop taking the remedy (at least for the moment) and assess what could have caused this to happen before deciding what the best next step will be. Generally no repeat of the remedy should be needed until all aggravation and improvement has seized and there is again a worsening in symptoms that had got better so far.

Some examples of Aggravation

The annoying child effect

If an aggravation happens due to too frequent or too many a repetition I explain that as ‘ the annoying child effect‘.

Imagine you are busy doing something and your child comes along and interrupts saying “Mum?”. You feel annoyed but sweetly say “hang on darling” they go away for a while (improvement) but return and say “Mum”, you feel annoyed and say “Hang on!” (slight worsening) they are quiet for a minute, you again try to concentrate. They are getting impatient and say “mum”….. “mum!”….. “mum!!”….. “mum!!!” each time also poking their finger into your arm.

Now it won’t be long before you SNAP and your reaction will be way over the top! DANG you’ve said something out of proportion (aggravation!!!). If the “Mum” in this example is replaced with “a dose of a remedy” you can see there may come a point where the complaint ‘ targeted’ says “Dang” too. And it intensifies (temporarily) as a result.

With taking a remedy we stimulate our body into a healing response. As soon as this response has been triggered and we see change; we have to give our body time and opportunity to show off what it can achieve for us. If we interfere too early with another dose it just does not get that opportunity.

The sledgehammer effect

Aggravations may also be triggered by using too high a potency for the situation which is like “killing a midget with a sledge hammer“. As an example of this effect picture the situation where you have spend all afternoon cleaning up the kitchen, while the kids have been difficult, the mother in law is on your neck and you don’t know what you are going to cook for dinner. The husband comes in and dares to leave his used coffee cup on the kitchen bench…….

Lets see the husband as the ‘little problem’ you are dealing with here; and you go and fly off the handle to him, hurdling all your frustration his way in this one moment ( Too high a dose) and then he starts yelling and everything is downhill from there for a while, (eg the issues is getting worse) he won’t help putting the kids to bed and won’t talk to you for a good hour perhaps, resulting in more problems for yourself. (aggravated situation).

They are just existing emotions and symptoms that are being pushed too much, and made worse; There are no new symptoms arising.

Don’t be afraid of Homeopathic Aggravations and Provings

Aggravations are much more likely to happen than a Proving especially if you are sensible about matching the remedy, the potency and the dose to the situation you are dealing with. But we are human and sometimes don’t get it quite right, it happens. In both situations the effects will subside when you stop the remedy. An aggravation shall lead you to a much improved original situation. And the Proving will leave you with an interesting experience and learning about what a remedy can effect and therefore what it can cure. Which may be handy for a future situation.

So homeopathic aggravations and provings are not something you really need to be terrified of. They are not necessarily a bad thing at all and will definitely not lead to permanent nasty side effects although they can make your situation more uncomfortable for a bit. It is good to know that like in life with Homeopathy we can be forgiven. We can learn from the situation and ‘make up’ to each other and often good things will come from the situation as a result.

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Please feel free to share your thoughts here!

Esther Ritmeester DipHom, RCHom

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