Homeopathy Papers

Factors Affecting Homeopathic Remedies

Written by Robert Medhurst

A summary of what can or cannot affect the action of homeopathic remedies.


The principles that underpin homeopathy were laid down clearly by the founder of the art, Dr Samuel Hahnemann in his Organon of Medicine1. In a footnote to Aphorism 260 of the sixth edition of this venerable work2, he outlines the factors that are likely to adversely affect the activity of the Similimum, or remedy whose proving picture best matches the presentation of the patient.

Of these, he notes that coffee, herb teas, beer, punch, spices, “odorous waters”, perfumes, flowers, tooth powders, asparagus, celery, onions, strong cheese, decomposed meat, heated rooms, woollen clothing next to the skin, sleeping in, passive exercise, reading in bed, dwelling in marshy districts and unnatural debauchery, are all obstacles to cure2.

Since this was published there has been furious debate over whether or not Hahnemann was correct on these points. A great deal of confusion exists over whether this is the case. The Organon is the ultimate authority on the subject of homeopathy, but practical experiences don’t necessarily back Hahnemann up on the points made in Aphorism 260.

My own experience has been that most of the lower potency remedies, i.e. mother tincture to 30C, are generally unaffected by the things mentioned above and that the closer one is to the actual similimum, the less it’s affected by anything at all.

Some people have found that some of the higher potencies can be antidoted or have their action stopped by aromatic substances such as coffee, but this may be due to the medicinal action of coffee in a homeopathic fashion swamping the effect of the similimum, rather than it being inactivated. In my own practice, LM potencies seem to be the most susceptible to antidoting.

Following are some of the more common categories of factors that may affect the action or stability of Homoeopathic medicines.

Several years ago, Australian Homoeopathic Association mounted their first national Case Conference. One of the presenters at this event was Dr Roland Conte, a noted researcher in this area, who has spent some years looking into the physics related to homeopathic medicines and has found that temperatures of 1200C are required before the remedy itself is adversely affected3.

Aromatic substances
There is some support for the idea that storing homeopathic medicines near aromatic substances can be detrimental to the effects of the medicine, but only if the medicine itself is open and exposed to the aroma. As to the ingestion of aromatic substances, Elizabeth Wright Hubbard, one of the old-time masters of the art, reportedly gave her patients their homeopathic remedies in their coffee.

It’s notable that France, one of the countries with the highest per capita homeopathic medicine consumption, also has one of the world’s highest levels of coffee consumption. It is also apparently possible to buy toothpaste in India that contains homeopathic medicines (for the treatment of gingivitis etc.) as well as peppermint oil. Apparently it works quite well.

There are recorded cases of electrical fields affecting the action of the remedy once it has been ingested, particularly where these fields are generated by electric blankets, but these are generally medicines in high potency. At this stage there appears to be little support for the idea that electrical fields can inactivate the remedy whilst it’s still in the bottle.

I know of several people whose dispensaries are in very close proximity to mains electricity lines and their medicines are quite active. Electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones are another thing altogether and anecdotal evidence suggests that they may well affect the activity of a homeopathic medicine.

As is the case with many issues that relate to homeopathy, this has been the subject of vigorous discussion. Correspondence from a chap who doubles as an X-ray technician and enthusiast of homeopathy states categorically that X-rays will not influence the activity of the medicines.

My own experience and that of others tends to confirm this, although at least one Sydney homeopath has found the opposite to be the case. The jury is still out on this one but the volume of anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that X-rays do not affect remedies.

In addition to this, anyone importing their medicines from other countries will often have had these substances X-irradiated when they come into the destination country as part of normal airport security processes. I’ve yet to hear of any of these not working as a result of this process.

In regard to food as an aggravating factor, if you have access to the internet you may like to dial up the website of a very well respected homeopath, Miranda Castro ), where she talks about giving her patients their remedies in their food.

The action of the medicine is unaffected. Someone writing to an international Internet discussion list on homeopathy has mentioned cases in India where remedies have been mixed into curries which were subsequently given to large numbers of people in the village as a means of dealing with local epidemic diseases.

On the subject of antidoting the effect of a remedy, where the medicine has caused an unwanted aggravation of the symptoms, as a general antidote Camphor appears to be an almost universal antidote and can be used in low potency when required.

However, if this is required, an examination of the Materia Medica under the heading Antidotes should also be made. If, for whatever reason, neither of these choices are suitable, the lower potency of the same remedy can be useful. For example, an aggravation caused by Sepia 200C may be dealt with by a prescription of Sepia 30.

Interestingly, some people have antidoted lower LM potencies with a higher LM of the same remedy. In my own practice, when all else has failed, retaking the case (including the aggravation symptoms) and prescribing the similimum, usually clears up the problem, if not the original condition.

1. Hahnemann S., (1921) “Organon of Medicine” 6th Ed, Translated by Boericke, Indian Books and Periodical Syndicate, New Delhi, India.
2. op cit, footnote to aphorism 260, 262.
3. Conte R., Berliocchi H., lasne Y., Vernot G., (1996) “Theory of High Dilution and Experimental Aspects”, Polytechnica, Paris, France, 94-96.

About the author

Robert Medhurst

Robert Medhurst BNat DHom DBM DRM DNutr is an Australian Naturopath & Homeopath with 40 years of clinical experience. He has written many articles and lectured on homeopathy throughout Australia and the U.S. Robert previously set up and operated 5 natural therapies practices in Sydney and Adelaide and was involved in teaching and medical research. He was formerly the Expert Advisor on Homeopathy to the Federal Government of Australia, Dept. of Health & Ageing. He specialises in homeopathy and is the author of The Business of Healing, the definitive guide for clinical practice establishment and management, as well as The Concordant Clinical Homeopathic Repertory. For more information see adelaidehillsnaturopath.com.au.


  • The said topic is an good for homoeo gossip considering the ‘possible risk’ of medicine not becoming effective. Better to follow what Hahnemann told for the benefit of the Patient. Once a Woman is given a single dose of constitutional medicine on every visit with an advise to take in the next morning. It never worked for 3 months even though it is correct remedy. Potency was increased but it did not work. On detailed inquiry asking what she does with that medicine, She told that going home she always kept it in the tadka Box (Box containing spices, used for recipe in India) for her convenience. We were aghast. But some times it may not have proved.

    As far as the patient is considered, it is the susceptibility,sensitivity and reactivity that play role. As far as Homeo medicine is considered – it is an energy medicine. It stores aura(kent). Let it not be deranged by inimical forces. Every time it may not happen. But it is prudent to avoid the ‘possible risk’.

    VNB, New Jersey, USA
    [email protected]

    • Sir, as per my experience over 30 years with homoeopathic medicines, whenever we give constitutional remedy , depending upon individual constitution and lifestyle, mental aspects and above all faith on Homeopathy, medicines will work by taking long time to react. Also if the patient was under Allopathic medicine for prolonged period, due to low immunity is also the reas for taking long time. My instruction to patient is to give half an hour gap before taking any food or water. Also to avoid alcohol, non veg, smoking, spicy oily food.

  • Dr. Robert has outlined an interesting aspect where a number of factors can influence the Homeopathic remedies. However there is a varied opinion on this since some people carry on with their daily coffee and have medicines, others use deodorant/aromatics along with the medicines. Regarding the foods, certain spices have become a part of the daily routine in the food of some people and hence may not have any harmful influence on the remedies. Hence this is a subject which needs to be studied in more details. We certainly cannot edit and correct the organon (footnote 260) but can surely publish new studies to change these. Today the lifestyles have changed from what it used to be during Dr. Hahnemann’s time.
    Dr.Rajiv Chopra,

  • It doesn’t make any difference whether you take homeopathic medicines before or after or with the meals. Only the remedies in their original form which is called the drug will get effected when you mix them with any substance other than water, sugar or alcohol. That is the precise reason why black Coffee or black Tea are as good as medicines which have only water & sugar and not milk. The moment medicine touches the tongue it gets absorbed into the blood and gets circulated.

    If Dr.Hahnemann was with us today he himself would have discarded 99 per cent of the symptoms mentioned for each drug in the Meteria Medica which are redundant today and unrealistic.

    There are 1000’s of symptoms mentioned in the Meteria Medica for any drug, take for eg,Belladonna, which can not be treated as constitutional. No Homeopath will know or ask for these symptoms. These symptoms are combination of symptoms of a number of individuals-males, females, children and of different types and age groups. Then how can you combine all these constitutions into one.

    There are so many, one symptom-one remedy, which are accurate, and will not require any case taking or reference to Meteria Medica. Will the so called conventional/classical/orthodox Homeopaths digest this-? or should I give details of all the remedies-?

  • This article is very useful in clearing many dobts regarding the medicines being antidoted by strong odours coffea etc mentioned in Hanneman’s Organon.In my experience repeat the common working dose of 30x. you need not give a list of dont’s to your patients which will liked by your patients, And ofcourse it works!

  • A very interesting topic! A friend of mine complained of a homoeopath giving her the most horrendous instructions with regard to care and taking of a remedy – it turned her off homoeopathy for a long time,.

    So thanks for clearing up some myths –

    Hahnemann, living again today, would have time to deduce effects more clearly. He and fellow homoeopaths were tapping in the dark trying to ascertain such things as potencies as well as testing all the remedies-

    Virtually all his life he was fighting German authorities both professional (including apothecaries)and governmental as well as other (half-) homoeopaths. Only while living in Köthen from 1821 to the time of his departure for Paris was he was partially protected in the tiny province of Sachsen Anhalt.

    He did a monumental job. Do we expect perfect truths in all he said and wrote?
    He was human and lived in a different time and age. So we need to experiment and keep learning.

    • Interesting as I had a similar experience with someone early on in my practice. Making things complicated seems to be a human failing. Now, I don’t bother with giving any instructions other than keep the remedy away from mobile/cell phones. I do suggest safe keeping of a remedy collection, but not the remedy they are taking.

  • I bear a positive sentiment with the article.It is lucid and elaborate.Some times superstition over power practical approach.I think this article will be an incentive for the Homeopaths to lead further case studies and stand on facts.
    Many thanks to the Honorable contributor.

  • The Homeopathic Research Institute (www.homeoinst.org) published an article in one of it’s newsletters, showing that cellular phone and microwaves DO affect remedies, but that airport X-rays do NOT.
    As for the “reading in bed” and “onanism”, I can’t comment on that… 😉

  • If airport x-ray scanners had any negative effect on homeo medicines (liquid dilutions), none of the medicines I use should be working, as I got pretty much all of them while coming from India (to US), in checked baggage. I am a novice in homeopathy and trying to learn the science, but I can say with 100% confidence that the medicines are still effective.

  • can anyone tell me how far a away should I keep my mobile phone from my remedies. I carry my remedy in my handbag, but I also put my mobile phone in my handbag. Is this a problem?

  • Living in a hot country, it was a relief to know the high temperatures the remedies can survive! I hear of my patients leaving their remedy in a hot car!

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