Since homoeopathy was developed by Hahnemann hardly anything has changed in principle. The Law of Similars, the development of remedies based upon healthy people and the Theory of Dosage have remained unchanged and still provide the basis of the therapy. However, homoeopathy has been extended by the use of remedies with degrees of dilution exceeding Hahnemann’s by far. No remedy higher than C30 has been found in Hahnemann’s estate (1).
Even though he always spoke of remedies potentized up to C30, he did not rule out the possibility of using higher dilutions on patients as well. For him the only parameter to do so was his experience with patients.
“It is only experience that can decide whether this tiny particle has become too weak to fight an illness, too weak to turn illness into health in this particular case. This is no matter of consideration based on theories but a matter of experience which is the only competent judge to make a decision.” (2)
This consideration made other homoeopaths deal with high potencies in more detail, manufacture them and test them in therapy.
The C200- Remedies
Still in the days of Hahnemann, Clemens Franz Maria von Boenninghausen (1785-1864) potentized remedies up to C200. In 1859 he wrote, “Just like allopathy, which used experience – because experience is the one and only means of deciding i.e. knowing to which degree the dose can be increased safely, homoeopathy also relied on experience to find out up to which amount the dose could be reduced to still have a healing effect.”
Boenninghausen also motivated Lehrmann, another of Hahnemann’s students, to manufacture C200 potencies following Hahnemann’s method. At each step Lehmann shook the vial vigorously 25 times. (4)
After all, the reason for using higher and higher potencies was the desire to reduce the initial aggravation of symptoms, which occurs in the course of any homoeopathic treatment. Before long it was realized that this goal could not be reached, but that a new effect occurred with these remedies:
The period of action was extended considerably and the remedy then developed effects which had been hidden in the range of lower potencies. (5)
Julius Caspar Jenichen
Jenichen was introduced to homoeopathy by Hahnemann’s student Gustaf Wilhelm Gross. He was one of those manufacturers who produced the first high potencies by hand. He was of the opinion that the shaking strokes in particular were responsible for the different potency levels of the remedy. For a long time he kept his method a secret because he wanted to manufacture high potencies of his whole stock of remedies and test them in therapy before publicizing his theory (6). This way of doing it was criticized by numerous of his contemporaries, but finally Berridge found out about the secret:
Jenichen started with the C29, he let the contents evaporate and thereafter refilled the vial with ethanol. Then he shook it using 12 shaking strokes for each potency step. The first 800 steps were diluted in a ratio of 1:300 and shaken 12 times each, then the ratio was 2:12,000 and the vial was shaken 30 times (7).
This method led to the development of various potentizing machines. Since the construction of such machines was based upon different attempts and considerations the results were similarly divergent.
Like the potentizing machines of those days, today’s potentizers also share the principle that only one vial is used for potentizing. At that time this single-vial method using the centesimal scale developed by Count Korsakoff , represented a revolutionary divergence from Hahnemann’s potentizing method. There is no evidence however, in reports of the year 1829 based on personal contacts with Korsakoff , that Hahnemann criticized this method.
Should a 10M be prepared today using the multi-vial method, the cost of the vials and tops alone would amount to approximately EUR 2180.- These vials would cover a surface of about 10 square metres if set down close to each other and would have to be disposed of after single use. This pioneering work also showed the homoeopaths of that time, that it was not only possible to prepare higher potencies than Hahnemann’s C30 remedies, but also to increase their efficacy by doing so. Then it was only a short step towards potentizing higher dilutions by machine. Mure broke the ice and built the first potentizing machine.
Potentizing by Machine
There are basically two types of potentizing machines: Fluxion potentizers, which potentize using turbulence in liquids, and succussion potentizers, which use shaking strokes for potentizing. In the case of fluxion potentizers, which work discontinuously, the vial is repeatedly filled and emptied (Skinner, Boericke, Kent); The continuous method measures the potency level from the amount of medicine carrier continuously passing through (Swan, Allen, Fincke). Due to the wide dissemination of the fluxion method at the turn of the century most case studies are about remedies manufactured in this way.
Benoit Mure (1809-1858)
A contemporary of Hahnemann is likely to be the first who built potentizing machines. It was in Palermo in 1838, when he constructed 3 machines for the manufacture of homoeopathic remedies using the succussion method. So far no comment by Hahnemann on their efficiency has been known, neither were those remedies to be found in Hahnemann’s pharmacy in Paris.(8)
Bernhardt Fincke (1821-1906)
In the year 1865, B. Fincke published a paper on the invention of his potentizing machine with which he produced fluxion potencies. Earlier he had dealt with mechanical potentizing in a series of preliminary experiments, where he tried to use the force of a steel spring under tension. With his fluxion potencies, Fincke was also the first manufacturer who prepared far higher dilutions than C200.
The first machine, which he used until 1869, consisted of a thin tube, a glass and a graduated vessel. Tap water flowed through the tube into the vial. From there the water flowed into the measuring vessel whose graduation showed the respective potency level. With this system Fincke produced rather irregular potency levels such as 16C, 11M, 19M, 23M, 37M, 47M, 103M etc.
In the course of time the inventor started doubting the efficiency of his method:
By injecting the liquid into the potentizing vial the remedy could easily be soiled.
The uncommon range of potency levels
The measuring of potency levels based upon the water passing through
In 1869 he therefore disposed of all his remedies prepared up to then and developed a machine with which he manufactured his well-known “Fincke High Potencies”: There it was essential to measure the volume of the medicine carrier before it would flow into the vial. (9) As he had his machine patented in 1869, it was not possible for a long time to find out closer details on the method of potentizing. Kent, however, reported on their properties, “The Fincke High Potencies never failed me; they act quickly, long and deeply”. (10)
Fincke writes about his method, “It differs in many respects from the other methods known – but in one essential point the Hahnemanian mode of preparation has been preserved and perfected, and that is by adhering rigidly to the centesimal scale.”
And exactly there he was mistaken, because his method differed considerably from Hahnemann’s multi-vial method. He used the continuous method where the glass is continuously passed through, thus “steps” were simply out of the question. He did not use lactose for the trituration of the basic substances, because he thought it would have too much medicinal efficacy itself. Ethanol would evaporate too quickly and therefore increase the potency level unintentionally. Moreover, it would be too expensive because for a Fincke CM 5000 Drachmen ~ 17kg ethanol (1 Drachme = 3 Scrupel = 3.888g) would be needed.
He manufactured the initial potencies up to C30 with ethanol, then he worked with distilled water, which he soon replaced by Nassau-water from Brooklyn, i.e. tap water from his surgery, which was the cheapest way. The increasing success of his remedies was proof of his theory that by potentizing a C30 the spirit of the remedy becomes an integral part of the carrier to such an extent that it cannot be destroyed by external influences. Thus he was of the opinion that possibly existing contaminants in the Nassau-water would not influence the efficacy negatively. “Each water has an individuality of its own that does not interfere with the action of high potencies in using it as vehicle for potentization.”(11)
When potentizing the first steps, Fincke diluted with ethanol in a ratio of 1:100 and shook the vial 180 times in dactylus rhythm. Then he emptied the vial with two vigorous downward strokes and refilled the vial with 99T ethanol. In case of watery remedies he potentized up to C6 using this method and in case of fatty remedies, up to C30, which now represented his “initial potencies”.
Now he continued working with the apparatus depicted above. It consisted of a stock vessel (500ml, 5l or 20l) with graduations. A glass tube was placed inside which extended to the bottom of the bottle and rose out of the bottle ending in a U-bend. It was used for emptying the bottle. It stretched beyond the bottom of the bottle by approximately 2.5cm and a rubber tube connected it to the regulator, a glass tube tapering considerably at its end.
This tube stretched to the bottom of the vial which was set in a wooden holding device on a draining channel. When starting, the outlet was filled with water from the stock vessel, the regulator tube was connected and put into the vial moistened with “initial potency”. When the potentization had been completed, Fincke emptied the glass with two vigorous shaking strokes and refilled it with 95% ethanol. After that he vigorously shook it two times in dactylus rhythm.
He sealed the vial with a cork and labelled it as follows: