What’s the Deal with Potency?
(“My Homeopath Gives Almost Every Remedy in 200C”)
Well, I’m back again; because as always, there are questions and more questions! Here we have the interminable question about potency! What potency should I take? Why does my homeopath only prescribe the 200C? Is that good or bad?
Some of you will be surprised to hear that Hahnemann was actually serious about that “rapid and GENTLE” cure thing he mentions as being the physician’s highest calling. How we went from there to “Aggravations are a good sign, keep it up!” I don’t know, but I can tell you that Hahnemann would be outraged! Don’t believe me? Look at what he says here in Aphorism 253 of The Organon (my “translation” is in red):
Among the signs that, in all diseases, especially in such as are of an acute nature, inform us of a slight commencement of amelioration or aggravation that is not perceptible to every one, the state of mind and the whole demeanor of the patient are the most certain and instructive.
Hahnemann is saying, if you want to know if a remedy is aggravating or ameliorating, just look at the demeanor of the patient.
In the case of ever so slight an improvement we observe a greater degree of comfort, increased calmness and freedom of the mind, higher spirits and a kind of return of the natural state.
If the remedy is ameliorating, you will observe that the patient feels calm, natural and comfortable.
In the case of ever so small a commencement of aggravation we have, on the contrary, the exact opposite of this: a constrained helpless, pitiable state of the disposition, of the mind, of the whole demeanor, and of all gestures, postures and actions, which may be easily perceived on close observation, but cannot be described in words.1
If a remedy is aggravating, you can surely tell just by observing the demeanor, the gestures, posture, etc.
1 The signs of improvement in the disposition and mind, however, may be expected only soon after the medicine has been taken when the dose has been sufficiently minute (i.e., as small as possible),
You will only see amelioration soon after the remedy’s been given if the dose has been as small as possible. Remember homeopathy’s motto, “the minimum dose”? (Now, what is “dose”, exactly? It is the potency, the size, and frequency of repetition of the remedy. The proper dose is always relative to the patient’s sensitivity and what the problem is. So, minimum dose means: using only the force that’s necessary and nothing more.)
an unnecessary large dose of even the most suitable homoeopathic medicine acts too violently, and at first produces too great and too lasting a disturbance of the mind and disposition to allow us soon to perceive the improvement in them.
If the dose is too large–unnecessarily large–the remedy acts violently, causing a disturbance in the mind and disposition.
I must here observe that this so essential rule is chiefly transgressed by presumptuous tyros in homoeopathy,
It is arrogant beginners who constantly make this blunder of causing aggravations with the highest potencies and unnecessary repetitions, thinking this will get the person better faster.
and by physicians who are converted to homoeopathy from the ranks of the old school.
And former MD’s who think side effects and other worsenings are normal and to be expected.
From old prejudices these persons abhor the smallest doses of the lowest dilutions of medicine in such cases,
They won’t use the lower potencies out of habit and a prejudice against them.
and hence they fail to experience the great advantages and blessings of that mode of proceeding which a thousandfold experience has shown to be the most salutary;
So they cause more harm than good. How does deliberately causing aggravations with unnecessarily high potencies and repetitions fit in with the Organon’s philosophy of rapid and gentle? I try to prescribe according to the 6th edition of The Organon. A very hypersensitive patient came to me recently from a “200C-for-all” prescriber, suffering from aggravations and proving symptoms and I prescribed for her a 6C, single dose, of the indicated remedy in a large bottle of water, and in less than one day, all the SIGNS OF HEALTH were there! Who would believe it? A 6C? One dose? In a large bottle of water? Where did this idea of 200C-for-all come from? I don’t know! What are the SIGNS OF HEALTH? Being able to sleep, decrease in pain, return of appetite and all the things Hahnemann mentions above: calm demeanor, comfort and lifting of spirits. When do you repeat the remedy? At the first sign of relapse.
they cannot effect all that homoeopathy is capable of doing, and hence they have no claim to be considered its adherents.
They don’t deserve to be called homeopaths.
How to summarize this…. Your potency selection has to be based on:
1. What’s wrong
2. How sensitive is your patient?
Is your patient robust or is he sensitive to everything? This has to be part of the consideration in chosing potency. Is the complaint recent and intense, like an injury? Or is the complaint of long duration?
A robust person comes down with the flu. He’s dizzy, sleepy, droopy and dull. What’s your prescription? Gelsemium 200C, one dose, wait to see results. If no change comes about soon, in an hour or 2, let’s say, no change at all, retake your case. Gelsemium 200C or 1M should act quickly if it’s the right remedy. If you gave a 30C or 200C and it didn’t work and you’re convinced you had the right remedy, try the next higher potency. Sometimes, the next higher potency is the same potency in water! If a change for the better is observed, repeat the dose at the first sign of a relapse or if the case stalls. Put a few pellets in a bottle of water and succuss five times before each dose. (See my previous article “Why Do We Have To Put the Remedy in Water?” in last month’s issue.)
A weak and sensitive person has arthritis that is worse for first movement, better for continued movement, and better for hot showers, what’s the prescription? Rhus tox 6C, one pellet, in a medium bottle of water, one sip, wait 24 hours to make sure no aggravation occurs. If no aggravation occurs, Rhus tox 6C, 5 succussions before each dose, twice a day, if patient gets worse, stop dosing. When patient recovers, cut back to once a day and 3 succussions. If patient makes a striking improvement, stop dosing. Start again at first sign of relapse.
The homeopath’s job is to “shadow” the vital force of the patient. If the patient changes, you change! What tools do you have at your disposal to keep pace with the patient?
1. increasing or decreasing the number of succussions
2. increasing or decreasing the frequency of dosing
3. increasing or decreasing the size of the dose (from a sip to a swallow, from teaspoon to tablespoon, etc. or increasing the size of the bottle.)
4. increasing the potency (plussing your bottle–and by that I mean, dumping out bottle almost entirely, refilling half way, succussing 40 times, and now your potency is one degree higher)
What are you looking for after a remedy to evaluate whether it’s correct or not? The Signs Of Health! If you get the signs of health but don’t see an improvement in the physical case, what do you do, change the remedy? No! If you see The Signs of Health, stay with the remedy, the rest will come around in due time!
You can probably tell from aph. 253 that Hahnemann abhored aggravations. He said that if you cause aggravations deliberately, you don’t deserve to be called a homeopath. Think about it: If you cause aggravations deliberately and you’re not inclined to stop them because you think “they’re a good sign”, what’s going to happen? Not only will you lose your patient, but what does this do to our reputation? What is your patien going to say about homeopathy? “Don’t try homeopathy, whatever you do, it’s really dangerous!” Now, when the aggravation wears off and the patient gets better, who’s going to get the credit for that? Certainly not you, the homeopath!
How do you stop an aggravation? Diane Fuller and I wrote an article about that called “The Aggravation Zapper”, and here it is now:
Now, you might ask, when is it appropriate to use the highest potencies? It is all relative! You could give Cactus 1M for a heart attack, and you should have gone higher, or, you can give a 10M and be UNDER-dosing because you didn’t give it often enough! The patient was fine for 15 minutes and then relapsed, and instead of repeating the remedy, you said, “I guess Cactus didn’t work….” Again, you have to “shadow” your patient and meet force with force.
In general, think of the high potencies for acutes, and the low potencies for chronics (repeated daily, if need be, in water with succussions before each dose). But again, remember: meet force with force, and shadow your patient.
I hope that makes sense. See you again next time!