potencyHomeopathic remedies are transformed from the material form by dilution, succussion and potency. Potency can be high or low – or in between!

Hahnemann discovered potency when he first began to dilute the medicines he was using. He began to dilute the medicines because he found that they cased significant side effects, for example using mercury in its raw form to cure syphillis. Most patients suffered very badly from the cure, they even died from the cure! Hahnemann was the first person to enquire just how small a dose of medicine could you admnister and still achieve cure? He found the answer was infinitesimal!

Hahnemann knew the medicine must be similar, but stronger than the dis-ease. This is why mercury was used to cure syphillis, because raw mercury caused symptoms just like syphillis. Hahnemann found that he could reduce the dose of mercury, and reduce it and reduce it and reduce it…. he was trying not to poison his patient. He diluted and diluted the mercury and diluted it… and he found it still cured the patient. However, no matter how much he diluted the mercury, it still caused side effects. He spent the rest of his life trying to remove the side effects of medication, but it is not possible to remove a dam without getting drenched in the consequent release. Dis-ease is like a dam, and when the energy is released, the resultant unleashed aggravation as the body restores health is inescapable. There is a great deal of fear around aggravations, because no one wants any worsening of symptoms. However, unleashed suppression can only result in a worsening of symptoms until the dam burst clears. It is part of common belief that “things often get worse befor they get better”, but Hahnemann never accepted this. Today, though we understand this better, modern homeopaths don’t like aggravations either, and the “art” of homeopathy as opposed to the “practice” of homeopathy is still the pinnacle of homeopathic practice that we all strive for. Today, we try and drain the water before we remove the dam, but in truth, this is still quite a difficult trick to achieve. Today, homeopaths will go to great lengths to avoid an aggravation, but they do still occur, eg. a cold after taking a remedy, so we always warn people about this possibility.

Hahnemann tells us that if mental and general symptoms improve, but specific physical symptoms improve, then cure is on the way. It particular symptoms get better, but mental and general symptoms worsen, we have chosen the wrong remedy and we must start again! The Law of Cure and the Heirarchy of Symptoms guide us through the maze of symptoms to cure. It is also vital to assess the constitutional strength of the person, the strength of individual organs and the strength of the vital force. All these factors go into the choosing of potency, method and remedy. This is not a game or an academic hobby when you are dealing with dis-ease and people’s lives. I was told it takes forty years to learn the “Art” of homeopathy!Hahnemann first invented dilution and then he discovered sucussion – this is the art of shaking the diluted remedy – which increases the potency or strength of the remedy. He began by diluting the medicinal substance, and obviously once you dilute something, you shake the bottle! He understood that this shaking activated the medicine, hereinafter called a remedy.Over time, homeopaths have studied this Art obsessively. Some homeopaths are low potency prescribers, preferring remedies diluted up to 30 to 200 times. Other homeopaths prefer high potencies, remedies diluted and successed many times, up to 1000 or 10,000 times, even higher – LM potencies can be diluted and succussed hundreds of thousands of times. We are all trying to achieve what Hahnemann sought so long to achieve. To heal without aggravations.

Hahnemann used the 30th dilution in his later life, but mostly he confined himself to low potencies. Later in his life, he began to experiment to LM potencies, but his widow was very much afraid that people would condemn him for this “weirdness”, so she hid the 6th edition of his Organon to protect his reputation. It was only rediscovered after the Iron Curtain finally came down. Meanwhile, Dunham and Boenhausen discovered the 30th and the 200th dilution. Kent never got to know about high potencies, so he used rythym to set up the harmonic scale of potencies, which is the most commonly used method today. This method uses 6th dilution, 30th dilution, 200th dilution, 1000th dilution, 10,000 dilution, 100,000 and 1000,000 dilutions.

There is much we still do not know avout potency and the treatment of disease, so many different methods have sprung up in homeopathy today, with practitioners choosing their method depending upon the type of homeopathic college they attended, or their own personal preference. As a rule of thumb, the folowing guidelines are all used at some point during treatment:

  • the more internal the dis-ease, the higher the potency
  • the further back in the person’s time line you wish to influence, the higher the potency
  • if you are tyring to heal the mind or the spirit, use higher potencies
  • make sure you match the potency to the strength of the vital force
  • the clearer the remedy picture, this higher the potency
  • the lower the potency, the less accurate the remedy match
  • patients will have a succeptibility to certain potencies which work best for them
  • once you find the correct remedy, give it while slowly ascending the harmonic scale
  • go up in potency in one remedy, but do not then suddenly use a lower potency of the same remedy
  • different potencies have different “flavours” eg. 30th, 1000th and 100,000th are reputed to be gentle, whereas 200th potency can ‘kick’ and so it is most efficatious in acute states.
  • different remedies work best at individual potencies and a little can go a long way, whereas some remedies need to be used in high potencies and often
  • always give nosodes high… or low… (opinions differ)
  • there are always furious disagreements about potencies amongst homeopaths
  • low potencies are not necessarily gentle
  • the right remedy will work despite the potency
  • the centesimal scale (1 part in 100 dilution more dilution than succussion) and the harmonic scale is preferred in England and America and the decimal scale (1 part in 10 dilution – more succussion than dilution) is preferred in Europe. The LM (1 part in 50,000 or even more extreme dilutions with little succussion) is still mostly an experimental method, though some homeopaths do use this method exclusively
  • if an organ is weak, use low potencies and use organ supports, or just use organ supports instead of remedies at all to begin with
  • if the vital force is weak, use low potencies or use emotional, mental and spiritual support to strengthen the person alongside the remedy
  • if the constitution is weak, use low potencies and diet and herbal tinctures to nourish the person alongside the remedy.

LM Potencies

Specified in the 6th edition of the Organon, LMs are reputedly the most gentle method of administering homeopathy. However, they cannot bypass aggravations altogether – these tend to occur right at the end of treatment when the person is stronger and close to cure, but they can then be very strong indeed. This may be preferrable to aggravations at the beginning of treatment when the person is less able to cope with them or understand them.

Instead of giving a single dose in either the centesimal or decimal scale and then waiting for the reaction from the vital force, the LM method allows the homeopath to repeat doses and to very slightly adjust the potency with every dose. This is reputedly quicker, gentler and more effective.

LM1 = 1:50,000 dilution succussed once

LM2 = 2:unlimited dilution succussed twice

LM3 = 3:unlimited dilution succussed thrice

etc up to LM 30 or above – there is no limit!

From the LM1 bottle (100mls of water to one granule of LM 1,2,3) take one teaspoonful of the liquid from the bottle and mix in one glass of water. This is the first dose. The second dose requires you to shake the bottle several times before you take another teaspoonful into another glass of water. The third dose requires that you shake the bottle…etc. This dosing can be done hourly, 2-3 hourly or daily, or every three days, or every seven days, or at any inteval the homeopath determines during the analysis of the case. In acute dis-ease, this may even be every five minutes for a short period of time, or every fifteen minutes for a short period of time.

For very sensitive persons, LMs can be diluted further, eg. the first dose into a glass of water, the second dose taken from the first glass of water into a second glass of water or a third glass of water etc. The person can then take one teaspoonful of the 3rd, or even 4th or 5th glass of water etc.

The remaining water from the glasses should be thrown away after the dose has been taken. It is possible to pour the water from the glass directly onto skin lesions, for example.

If any aggravation does occur, then it is best to wait until the symptom picture clears before any subsequent dose is taken. If the person aggravates again, the use the 2nd or 3rd or 4th glass method for sensitive patients described above. Keep diluting the remedy until you get amelioration of symptoms only. (Don’t panic about the fact you are diluting the remedy hundreds of thousands of times! If you get aggravations, then the remedy is still potent!)

Once you find the dilution suitable to you, with a steady amelioration of symptoms, then work right the way through the first bottle of LM1 this way. When this bottle is finished, proceed to bottle LM2 to continue to match the rise in potency caused by shaking the LM1 bottle every time you took a dose. The only reason to stop is if the symptom picture changes into another remedy. If it does not, then you can proced right through to LM30 or beyond if needs be. People do tend to go straight into another remedy, but not everybody. Your homeopath will match the remedy picture to your symptom picture. A similar sequence can occur with low potencies in the centesimal scale. Some homeopaths consider that the first bottle is a “singe dose” given over a very long period of time – a collective dose. You may be given a LM harminic scale – LM 1, 3, 6, 9 etc.

You may be asked to try a spoonful straight from the bottle. The reason homeopaths like the LM method is its infinite variety and flexibility! LM potencies are very good for very sensitive persons, and also in chronic conditions, if there is steroid suppression in the case, or pathology, or your homeopath considers centesimal or decimal low potencies “too crude and material”, or if there is a drug layer, or a lot of suppression in your case.

Hahnemann refined the LM method from 1784 to 1833 over six editions of the Organon. He spent a lifetime trying to avoid aggravations, experimenting with 1 granule of the remedy in one bottle to seven granules and every different combination. In 1827, Hahnemann found that a dose of the remedy drosera succussed twenty times could be too strong for a child with whooping cough, wereas one dose of drosera 30c succussed twice was very gentle. He discovered that carrying the bottle of LM potency around in your pocket or handbag will shake the potency to a much stronger dose and cause aggravations. He discovered that a ten fold succussion is too stimulating but not as effective. The double shake of the bottle was weaker but more penetrating and gentler, more accomodating and easier on the vital force. The 6th edition of the Organon maintains that machine made remedies are too violent, but who is going to succuss up to 5000,000 times by hand without a machine nowadays? One granule or tablet is not the same as two granules or tablets taken together, as this is still just one dose. It is complicated and Hahnemann worked on this all his life! Subsequently, many homeopaths have spent lifetimes working on this. Homeopaths still argue about it today!

Hahnemann had problems with the centesimal scale and his 5th edition is full of warnings about repeating the dose too frequently. He was so frustrated with having to wait before he could repeat the dose, he went on to work with LMs. He was impatient with repetition of doses and potency selection. His writings are fascinating because of the fine obsessional detail of observation he put into each stage. Who today would work in such a painstaking manner?Hahnemann gave all his remedies in liquid form towards the end of his life. He never gave up in his quest to eliminate aggravations. He was also experimenting with letting the person simply smell the liquid remedy, hoping that olfaction woiuld prove a better method! This can be a very good way of giving a remedy in some cases. If you wonder sometimes why your homeopath is messing around like this, Hahnemann’s obsessive experimentation may well be the cause. All homeopaths have to read this detailed research when they train and it can leave an indelible mark!

Hanemann came to understand that you can never give a dose so small it will have not effect! Each dilution has a different effect and some homeopaths become fascinated with this experimentation and become extremely good at it.

Other homeopaths will find contentment with the harmonic scale and become very clever with it.

Other homeopaths will prefer to use combination remedies, which are commonly used in Europe where they are taught the decimal scale and other techniques. They do all seem to work very well, it simply boils down the the method the homeopath feels best able to manipulate. It would be wrong to say there is a right or a wrong way to use potency, dilution and succussion.

It is confusing when homeopaths argue so much about it, but it is our hobby and our fascination, so please forgive us!

We have such an amazing legacy to live up to.