Q: What is meant by potency and how can I tell if something I buy is homeopathic?
A: Potency means the latent curative strength of a homoeopathic substance. To potentise a remedy there are three essential processes required - serial dilution, succussion and trituration. Dilution allows us to reduce the toxicity of the original crude substance by simply increasing the volume of the solvent (e.g. alcohol, water or both), which makes the original substance become more dilute or weaker. Serial dilution means that each dilution is prepared from the dilution that immediately preceded it. Succussion employs a downward shaking motion with impact. When done by hand, one holds the diluted remedy and strikes it downwards on an elastic surface such as a thick book for between 40-100 strokes. This then renders the dilution as potentised, also known as dynamisation. Trituration is used to break down substances such as solid metals in order for them to become soluble in liquid. Triturating is done with a mortar and pestle in a sequential process using sugar of milk as the neutral vehicle for the substance to bind to, and like succussing it releases the medicinal powers of the remedy to become dynamised. Once a triturated substance has reached the potency level of 6x or 3c it is then fit to be converted into liquid potency.
We know that dilution alone is not sufficient to produce this dynamic effect; it takes the crucial effect of succussion to add kinetic energy to the solution. If we were to merely succuss a solution without diluting it further, a raise of one potency only occurs, no matter how many times it is succussed. It is both succussion and serial dilution that are needed to obtain this phenomenon.
For the preparation of potencies that we know as homoeopathic medicines, three serial scales are used - the Decimal, Centesimal and Millesimal scales. The decimal scale is denoted as 'x' (or in some parts of the world by D for Deci) meaning that the serial dilution is in 1:10 proportions. So the first 1/10 dilution is a '1x' created by 1 part of substance, or mother tincture, and 9 parts dispensing alcohol and then potentised by succussing. The second decimal potency, '2x' or 1/10 to the power of 2 = 1/100, is created by taking one part of the '1x' solution and adding this to 9 parts of dispensing alcohol, succussing and so on. So a '6x' would be 1/10 to the power of 6 = 1/1,000,000.
The Centesimal scale proceeds in the same manner but in proportions of 1:100. So you would take 1 part mother tincture and add it to 99 parts of dispensing alcohol, then succuss 40-100 times to create a '1c' potency. One part of the '1c' added to 99 parts of dispensing alcohol and succussed produces a '2c' potency and so on. Each centesimal potency is equivalent 'in dilution' to two decimal potencies, making a '6x' potency the same as a '3c' ... i.e. '6x' is (1/10) x (1/10) x (1/10) x (1/10) x (1/10) x (1/10) = 1/1,000,000...likewise '3c' is (1/100) x (1/100) x (1/100) = 1/1,000,000. You will find that the centesimal scale is most frequently used by professionals and from this has developed the fact that often you will see the numerical code behind the remedy name missing the 'c' denotation. So whenever you see a remedy only stating 'Euphrasia 30' with the 'c' dropped off, this will denote a 'c' potency, or the 30th potency! There are times when you will see the 'c' written as a 'CH'...this still means a 'c' potency but it is described as 'c' Hahnemannian (there is another method to produce remedies called the Korsakoff method, denoted as 'K').
As the numbers become higher and too unwieldy, rather than saying 1:10 to the power of 2,000, the Roman numeral designation 'M' is used to call it a '1M'. 1:10 to the power of 200,000 is called a CM.
Professional homoeopaths also use what is known as the '50-millesimal scale', or Quintesimal scale, which is 1/50,000 dilution. This is designated again by a Roman numeral, that of 'LM' (LM1) but can also be seen to be written as 'Q1' or even 0/1 for the first 50-millesimal potency.
This is how you will see remedies described in your local health food store, chemist, homoeopathic pharmaceutical supply company, or direct from a professional homoeopath. It differs from herbal preparations in that the labeling should not only include the wording 'Homoeopathic Medicine' but the remedy name and the potency level of that remedy. E.g. - a popular remedy for treating eye complaints both herbally and homoeopathically is Euphrasia; the homoeopathic form will state, 'Homoeopathic Medicine', Euphrasia 12x. The herbal form should say that it is an 'Herbal Medicine' and will say Euphrasia but without the potency numerical symbols following.
Tanya Nolte (better known as Tan) lives in NSW, Australia. Animals have always been in her life. She is a veterinary nurse of 7 years and a classical homoeopath of 6 doing consultations at the veterinary clinic, a human clinic, and privately. She has worked with and trained horses for 25 years, has been involved with other animal welfare and care for almost that long, and has been a competitor in a multitude of riding disciplines since childhood She also breeds horses and currently owns nine.
Tanya Nolte, Classical EquiHomoeopath.
Whispering Horse Therapies
P.O. Box 22, Nimbin
NSW 2480, Australia
Phone (02) 66 897296
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