The term Posology originates from Greek words ‘posos’ meaning ‘how much’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘study’. In homeopathy, Posology means the doctrine of dose of medicine. A homeopathic dose means the potency, quantity and form of medicine as well as repetition. As it is a very lengthy topic to explore, I will just focus on the potency selection part of Posology.
Before we try to learn more about the potency selection, let us first summarize what potencies are available to a homeopath.
1. The Centecimal Scale, evolved by Hahnemann, denoted by the numerical designation of the potency or by the number followed by the suffix C or CH, e.g., 30C or 200C.
2. The Decimal Scale, evolved by Hering and denoted by the suffix X, after the number, e.g., 200x.
3. The 50 Millesimal or LM Scale – also known as Quinquagintamillesimal or Q potencies. Hahnemann evolved this scale in the last years of his life.
Potencies can be broadly classified as low, medium, and high. Low potency designates anything from Q to 12C, medium from 12C up to 200C and high from 200C upwards to DM, MM, DMM.
It is believed that the higher potencies were first prepared by Korsakoff in 1834 but came in popular use with Jenichen’s high potencies after 1844.
Now coming back to the question of potency selection, we will start exploring the views of renowned homeopaths of various eras. It would be appropriate to begin our tour with Hahnemann himself – the person who conceived homeopathic potencies.
Hahnemann first started to employ ‘similar’ medicines around 1790 and 8 years later began to experiment with gradual reductions in dosage. As a physician, he clearly became increasingly satisfied with the results of using dynamized medicines, because he continued to use them in preference to material doses until the end of his long life.
He started to conduct the very first experiments with dose reduction in the year 1798. This includes 2x, 4x and 2c. According to Peter Morrel’s research, In 1799 Hahnemann began to reduce the dose further, using 5x, 6x, 3c and 8x. In 1800 he begins to use 10x and in 1803 12c appears for the very first time. In 1805 the 18th centesimal dilution appears, which was to prove one of the most consistently favourite potencies that he used throughout his long career. In 1816 30c makes its first appearance and this remained his most extensively used and most highly recommended potency of all time.
Further developments include the first mention of 6c in 1819 and the first mention of 60c in 1824. In 1830 he first mentions Olfaction as a means of drug administration and this remained a very popular method with him until the end of his life. Finally, in 1838 the LM potencies make their first appearance. Towards the end of his life, he was moving more and more towards the use of LM potencies but still gave Centesimal potencies to majority of his patients.
During Hahnemann’s lifetime, he is known to have generally used only potencies up to 30C. But Farrington quotes Madame Hahnemann as saying that he had used the 200th and the 1000th when necessary. The 1000th, however, he seems to have used only once.
Even during the life of Hahnemann there was a split among homeopaths. A section believed in the use of potentized remedies and another believed in crude doses on the basis of Simila. Among those who used the potentized remedies, most were not in favor of very high potencies. During the later years of Hahnemann, the proponents of the crude doses decreased and the higher potencies came into greater use.
Homeopaths of all times have remained divided over the question of potency selection and even 160 years after Hahnemann’s death, the question of potency selection is still open-ended. Let us take a look at the views of some leading homeopaths of different eras.
Boenninghausen, a contemporary of Hahnemann, was clearly in favor of high potencies. He wrote many papers in support of high potencies and listed therein many advantages like –
1. The sphere of action continually enlarges with high potencies so that in chronic ailments they hasten the cure,
2. In acute diseases, the effect appears quicker, and
3. They act in spite of discretion in diet.
Homeopaths like T. F. Allen, Richard Hughes, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Henry Dearborn, J. H. Clarke, Dr. George Royal, Boericke, Pierce, Edgar were in favor of low potencies and advised the same in most cases. On the other hand homeopaths like Boenninghausen, Hering, Lippe, Guernsey, Raue, Dunham, H. C. Allen, Kent, Boger, Nash, Roberts were all in favor of medium and high potencies. We can add to this list the names of Bell, Beronville, Borland, Stuart Close, Curie, Dewey, Gross, Fincke, Swan, Skinner, Jenichen, Ghose, Grauvogl, Hubbard, Sir John Weir, Margaret Tyler, Pulford, Templeton, Yingling, Waffensmith, P.P. Wells and Pierre Schmidt etc. All these homeopaths used the higher potencies with great success.
Most modern homeopaths like George Vithoulkas, Rajan Sankran, Jan Scholten, Prafull Vijayakar, Bill Gray, Robin Murphy, Alfons Geukens, Vesalis Ghegas, Massimo Mangilavori, Banerjeea, Anne Schadde, Luc de Schepper, Andre Saine, Eileen Naumann, Jayesh Shah, Jermey Sherr, Tinus Smits, Wolfgang Springer, Alize Timmerman etc. seem to be in favor of using higher potencies. Being in favor of high potencies does not mean using the high potencies to the exclusion of lower ones. The master homeopaths of the past and the present have been able to use the full range of potencies, from lowest to the highest, depending upon the case. The potencies most commonly used now a days are 6C, 30C, 200C, 1M, 10M, CM and the LM scale.
The LM scale has not been very popular among homeopaths, primarily due to historical reasons. It now seems to be coming into greater use as modern homeopaths are experimenting with it more and more. The likes of Schmidt, Kunzli, Voegeli, Patel, Chaudhary and Sankaran etc. have reported many cures with the use of LM potencies.
Now let us go through the views of some of these homeopaths in detail.
Boger seems to have utilized all potencies but was partial towards very high potencies. His favorite prescription appears to have been a single dose of DMM.
Borland says that in treating purely local conditions, remedies for the organ or tissues may be used in low potencies, as also in advanced pathological conditions and sensitive patients. When there is general similarity in addition to local indications, medium or high potencies may be preferred. He also says the more acute the disease, the higher the potency.
Clarke says that for ordinary practice, with acute illness, the lower dilutions from the 1C to 3C will be most useful. For chronic diseases, the higher dilutions would be required.
Close gives the following considerations that influence the choice of the dose –
1. The greater the characteristic symptoms of the drug in the case, the greater the susceptibility to the remedy and the higher the potency required.
2. Age: medium and higher potencies for children
3. Higher potencies for sensitive, intelligent persons.
4. Higher potencies for persons of intellectual or sedentary occupation and those exposed to excitement or to the continual influence of drugs.
5. In terminal conditions even the crude drugs may be required
He also writes “Different potencies act differently in different cases and individuals at different times under different conditions. All may be needed. No one potency, high or low, will meet the requirement of all cases at all times.”
Curie opines that in acute diseases the low dilutions are to be preferred but in chronic diseases, the high dilutions promise greater success.
Edgar reports having treated cases successfully for twenty-five years with low dilutions and mother tinctures.
Gentry feels that in progressive diseases such as fevers and contagions, remedies must be given in medium or low potencies.
Blackie reports that in cases of real organic change due to infective causes a high potency might clear them up.
Grauvogl enumerates some rules for the use of potencies. He writes –
1. If we have to act on single parts, against single qualitative cause, we had better use low dilutions, as in haemorrahge before or after childbirth.
2. With high potencies, symptoms pass away quietly leaving no trace.
3. In dealing with a change of process of reduction or of oxidation or vice-versa, we must use the low dilutions.
4. But to dissolve process of retention, high potencies are indicated.
5. Nutritive remedies act better in low dilutions, functional remedies in high dilutions.
6. A chronic case, esp., when based upon retention in a carbo-nitrogenoid constitution, can be cured best by high potencies.
Kent was not only an exponent of medium and high potencies but was also the preceptor of a generation of high potencists. It was because of his students that high potencies came into vogue in England. Kent is still considered the person who has influenced the use of high potencies the most among the homeopathic community. Kent has written: