Before Homeopathic remedies are released into general practice, they are trialed by healthy human volunteers. During a trial, each prover records their experiences of how they felt, what they did, what they thought, what they dreamt about and believed, hand-written in journals.
What symptoms a remedy can produce, in a healthy volunteer, is then an indicator of what it may cure in someone suffering from that symptom.
For instance. If you never suffer from headaches and during a proving you develop a hammering migraine, then we know that the remedy has an affinity with headaches.
The Origins of Provings
When Hahnemann the originator of Homeopathy took repeated doses of Cinchona Bark (Cortex Peruvianus), after translating a medical text-book, to find out why it cured malaria, he discovered:
“I became languid and drowsy; then my heart began to palpitate; my pulse became quick and hard; an intolerable anxiety and trembling; prostration in all limbs; pulsation in the head; redness of cheeks; thirst. Briefly, these were all the symptoms usually associated with intermittent fever and they all made their appearance.” 
He had accidentally discovered the major principle of Homeopathy, that ‘like cures like’.
The journals the provers keep are then analyzed by the master prover/s. They are then carefully graded, sifted through and analyzed then added to the ‘Materia Medica’, (the Homeopathic listing of remedies), written-up and published. The symptoms are also converted into ‘rubrics’ and added to the Repertory (the book of symptoms).
There are now over 2,000 Homeopathic remedies that have all gone through a similar rigorous process. Some provings only involve a few people. Some have larger amounts of volunteers. I have conducted eight provings to date. They are time consuming, frustrating, amazing and wonderful experiences and they also need devotion and focus. Most colleges now expect 3rd year students to take part in a proving so they can experience first-hand what it actually feels like to sample a new substance and have it do strange, weird and wonderful things to your body and your mind. This is a collective encounter and knowing that your whole college-year is going through the same feelings as yourself is in some ways more comforting than doing it all on your own.
Provings can vary considerably in their format and while one proving might be classified as analytical and logical another might be considered more poetic or creative. I aim for the more creative side of provings because what fascinates me is how there is always one prover who ‘speaks’ the remedy. They touch-in completely with its source, its function, it expression.
One of the foundations of Homeopathic philosophy is the experience of the remedy, expressed through the person taking it. We don’t know how humans/people are going to be healed by a remedy until we discover what the remedy brings out in them in a healthy state.
How a Homeopathic proving works.
“Provings are the pillars upon which homeopathic practice stands. Without accurate provings all prescribing indications are bound to be vague guesses at best, and pure fiction at worst. There is no other way to predict the effect of any given substance as a remedy with any degree of accuracy, and the use of signature, toxicology or fancy ideas cannot approximate the precise knowledge gained by a thorough proving.” 
Substance is obtained.
Proving substance is sent to Helios or Ainsworths or other Homeopathic Pharmacy and made into remedy.
The only person at the pharmacy who knows what the remedy substance is, will be the person who actually makes it, sometimes they don’t know either.
Numbered remedy bottles are sent to master prover and allocated to each prover.
One will be placebo.
No-one will know which one is placebo, only the pharmacist.
Supervisors and volunteers (provers) also don’t know what substance is.
Gather together a number of people, usually a minimum 10.
Appoint supervisors to each volunteer.
Ask provers to commence keeping a journal before the proving starts.
Supervisors interview each prover and ascertains certain characteristics. Food likes, weather preference, feelings, current situation, best time of day, previous illnesses, previous medical history, current medication, energy levels, hates, likes, dreams etc.
Supervisors continue to keep in contact with provers during the proving and phone them regularly to have them ‘feed-back’ how they are feeling.
Substance is posted to each prover.
They are given a time and a date to take first dose of substance.
Provers write in journals everything that happens to them over the proving weeks.
Supervisors are on call to help provers understand their feelings and ensure they are supported through-out the proving.
Most of the provers won’t know the other provers, so they don’t exchange ideas or compare notes. This is a solitary process of working with what feelings/symptoms are produced during the proving weeks.
Stage Four : “Entering the dragons den”.
Dreams are recorded, feelings noted, symptoms written down, weather conditions noted, family upsetments, arguments, emotions, etc.
After 3 weeks generally provers have reached a place of being ‘inside’ the feeling of the remedy. Now they don’t know what is the remedy and what is ‘self’.
More questioning happens. ‘Why me?’, ‘Why this?’, ‘Why now?’. This is a very self-reflective process and demands a lot of the provers. It might not be an enjoyable process and the supervisors are there to support the provers on their ‘journey’.
The remedy begins to ‘take shape’. Supervisors meet with master prover and discuss ‘what is coming-up’ for the provers and themselves.
Proving finishes, provers complete their journals, and post/give them to master prover or supervisor.
Stage Five Conclusion
Provers and supervisors are told what the remedy was/is.
Supervisors and master prover collate notes.
Provers journals are written onto computer and symptoms compared to the ‘before’ picture of the provers.
Editing, collating, symptom differentiating, discussion, symptoms weighting.
Proving is ‘written-up’ and published for peer debate.
Remedy is available at the pharmacy.
Symptoms are then converted into Repertory language.
This is the most time-consuming aspect of a proving as the words the provers used have to be converted into succinct, short key-words.
Such as: ‘Head, pain, worse from heat’ and submitted to editors of the Repertory.
The Homeopathic Proving of Aquae-Sulis the Roman Bath Spa Water
This prover recorded these images after allowing the energies of the remedy to ‘take her over’ during a meditation after taking one dose of the remedy. She succumbed to the feelings rather than fighting them.
9am Took Remedy
9.20am Meditate “Image of green, tall grass as if I am inside a swamp-breeze blowing the grass above my head. As if I am very small-looking up to this grass and the sky beyond. My Guide took me up and we looked down on tall grass stretching out below us, some bulrushes in there as well. Water-small streams running through.
Now set me down in a deep dark forest-makes me think of rainforest. Very wet, I’m still small, some branches, things seem huge. I could be frightened but I feel secure at the moment. It’s warm & damp. This forest, the grass has been here forever, since the planet began.
Stepped into a swampy hole, sucked down. Mouth, ears, eyes filled with swamp. Hands above my head, travelling very fast down a channel of light, feet first. Deep into the earth, into its core.
Hit rock with a bump. I’m me, but more elemental than who I was, more the essence of me, part of a shaft of light. (Feel tired, heavy-the meditation).
Rock is cold, dark like jet, jagged, glistens in the light. Rocky landscape, no sky but light enough for me to see. Textures important-smooth rock, sharp, jagged rough not easy to walk so I sit in one place. No sound, sulphur smell-volcanic? I slip into a crevasse and become part of the rock- shaky, shard, brittle, easily broken …Stepping back from meditation now.” 9.53am
As she relates how she feels after taking the remedy, she is ‘sucked down’ to the source of where the Bath Spa Water comes from and even notes a smell of sulphur. The Roman Bath Spa Water smells of sulphur as it contains 1015 mg per litre of Sulphate.
Bath Spa water rises at 46° Celsius, the temperature of a hot bath, and contains 43 minerals. The water comes out of the ground at a point where a geological fault (the Pennyquick fault) fractures impermeable strata above the water bearing rocks, allowing it to rise up from great depth.
This proving ran along-side a proving of the same substance in New Jersey in the US with Homeopath Kim Kalina.
Each prover was given a number between 1 and 12 and is the only way to identify them afterwards. Confidentiality is paramount. Things can ‘come up’ during a proving that volunteers don’t want to share. Talking it through with the supervisor and verbalizing it, can ensure that only relevant symptoms are published.
Keeping a journal can be tedious. Having to write everything you do and feel for weeks on end can seem tiresome but the more the provers can record, the more we will understand the healing potential of a new substance.
We don’t tell the provers what the substance is until after the proving finishes. This is to ensure we don’t influence their mental state and make them ‘imagine’ symptoms.
As they have no idea what the substance is, they can just assume that everything they feel is because of the remedy. However, humans are complex beings and during a proving will justify a symptom that has arisen maybe by saying; “I feel tired because I stayed-up late”, forgetting that they’ve had a new remedy. This is where the supervisors help the provers process their feelings and their symptoms.
This prover kept writing that she wasn’t feeling different and nothing was happening:
Lots of trouble with the house and a flooded garage-lots of phone calls-I can think of a better way to spend an evening but it did not really affect my mood.
So, even though she thinks “nothing is happening”, (as her mood wasn’t affected) she’s taken a remedy made from water and her garage floods!!
The proving commenced on Monday 23rd January 2007. The provers were asked to take the remedy at 9am. Before the proving started my Homeopathic peers Usha Pearce and Mabel Smith and myself ‘took the cases’ of all the provers. This was a ‘before’ analysis, then we could see, if during the proving, anything changed.
We asked them their best time of day, their likes and dislikes, weather, food, sleep and most important, Dreams.
Dreams from an Aquae-Sulis Prover
This is based on my concern for a great niece. The dream is set in her house and in the sea. There is contamination in the sea. The great niece collects water in a plastic container and continues to fiddle with it in the house- I didn’t recognize her but her Mum was there. The great niece develops sores on her arms and she is taken to hospital with smallpox. Her mother is told to clean the house, wash everything. I can’t keep awake so occupy a room to sleep. In the early hours, the doctor + other people bring their car with the niece into the entrance hall and have to wait as I have to clean the room I am in-very dusty, messy. In the midst of this, my father goes out, stays out all night and returns to sleep in the early hours.
In charge of a school having to organize a day of events. Events happen, everything goes smoothly, I have nothing to do. I give a speech, which no one can hardly hear, but those who do think it’s good. A happy contented dream! Needed to find a toilet in the dream.
Very mixed with images + people from the day before + unknown + family. The main feeling was getting ready for the wrong thing, in the wrong clothes which kept unravelling + no-one seemed to be able to help, basically not being ready. I needed to wash my hair + in the dream someone gave me a shampoo which made my hair fall out-public place like a swimming pool.
It’s amazing how things change for a prover as the proving progresses. For instance, in the Homeopathic proving of Naufragium Helvetia (Shipwreck) prover number 7 recorded:
Prover 7: Tues 30th Oct ‘I woke in the night for a wee.’
Thurs 31st Oct ‘I woke up in the night for a wee.’
Fri 1st Nov ‘I woke up in the night for a wee.
Sat 2nd Nov ‘Took 5th and final pill before bed last night. I woke up in the night for a wee.’
……….after he’d finished the pills this didn’t happen again.
In the Homeopathic proving of Ruina Castellum (Old Wardour Castle) prover number 2 recorded:
I didn’t want to eat much when I got home. I seem to have lost my appetite lately. I also don’t want to drink coffee. I can’t seem to finish a whole cup. I want to eat light foods like salads or vegetables. We have hardly any food in the house because I haven’t been bothered to buy any.
She is picking-up the energies of where the sample was taken-the grand Dining Hall…
This is why we talk to provers before the proving starts, so we can establish ‘who they are’, because as the proving goes on, they become more influenced by the remedy.
In the Homeopathic Proving of a sample from The Great Wall of China:
Remedy taken at 9am. Since I wasn’t working today, I knew I wouldn’t be awake at 9am. So set my alarm. Took one tiny pill as instructed. It’s like candy! Quite sweet. Sucked and chewed on it and returned to sleep.
I was in my room, here at home (watching a DVD) when a few Oriental guys came in with power tools to do some maintenance. Drilling holes in the wall or something…..
This prover has taken a remedy made from a wall built by the Chinese and dreams of ‘oriental guys….drilling holes in the wall.’
You couldn’t make this stuff up!!
In the proving of sand from the Karnak Temple in Egypt this prover had a ‘sand’ inspiration:
1.20am ‘Before going to sleep last night I asked if there was anything else to know about this remedy. The word GLASS sprang into my mind. I felt intrigued, feel there is something in glass to do with this remedy (looks like I’m repeating myself here!)
What else beside sand?’
This prover dreamt about a Temple;
‘I was in a Temple in Kensington – a real place I’ve been to a number of times with C. It’s a small group of people who follow a mystic (dead now) who founded it after he was given visions of a realm of powerful angels who live and work above the stratosphere to try and keep the planet healthy and who gradually revealed wonders and truths to him which he shared with his followers. It has a Christian base, but without the trappings such as clergy. I don’t follow the group but support C who does. It is a very genuine group of people who are open and generous and straightforward.
In the dream the Temple was different, but the same. I was there on my own, because I wanted to see if they could help C, but in order to do so I had to join the group. Another woman joined with me who I hadn’t met before, but she and I shared a slightly irreverent approach to part of the experiences.’
In addition to being amazed by how someone can dream about a remedy they’ve not been told about, each remedy has physical symptoms that can alleviate symptoms sick people are suffering from.
This is Homeopathy’s innate strength: Curing Like with Like in the quickest possible way, using the Least Amount of medicine to Effect a Lasting Cure.
 Samuel Hahnemann, The Founder of Homeopathic medicine, Trevor Cook, 1981, Thorsons Publishers Limited, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, p.59.
. The Dynamics and Methodology of Homeopathic Provings, Jeremy Sherr, 1994, Dynamis Books, Malvern, UK
About the author:
Mary English was born in London and educated in Switzerland at The American International School of Zurich. She comes from a large family and is one of 5 children. She was Resident Astrologer for the bi-monthly green parenting magazine ‘The Green Parent’ for 5 years and appeared for 2.5 years to ‘Do the Stars’ on the Emma Britton Morning Show on BBC Radio Somerset.
She now Resident Astrologer on the Hannah Murray Show on Talk Radio Europe, Spain’s largest English language radio network, broadcasting on the Costa del Sol/Axarquia and Costa Blanca/Costa Calida and reaching 1,000,000 English speaking consumers.
She has also appeared as a guest on BBC 2 Heaven and Earth and Kilroy and she is a regular guest on BBC Radio Bristol in her capacity as a Homeopath.
She writes a Sun sign column for the local publication Pukka Bath. Mary lives in Bath UK with her small family and her black cat. She sees clients face-to-face and writes personal Birth Charts for visitors to her website. In May 2001 Mary gained a Diploma in Homeopathy and as well as helping clients with their spiritual development, she is also qualified to help them with certain health issues. It is with this background ‘on-the-front-line’ with real people that devised her Proving series starting with Tempesta, that remedy that helps you find your Soul-Mate.
Marys’ latest book ‘A little at a time – Homeopathy for you and those you love’ will be available as of 27.11.2015 at: http://www.ayni-books.com/books/little-at-time