About Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic medicines (called "remedies") can be made from botanical, mineral, animal, or chemical sources; the one needed for a particular patient might be any of thousands.

Unlike botanical and nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies are regulated by the FDA through the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. Continuously updated since the 1800's, this publication defines manufacturing standards for these medications.

Although botanical and nutritional supplements are given in material quantities, homeopathic remedies are prepared through the process of "potentization": serial dilution and "succussion" (vigorous shaking) in water or a water-alcohol mixture. Dr. Hahnemann discovered that both dilution and succussion were necessary for his remedies to work.

Depending on the patient's condition, homeopaths use a variety of remedy potencies. Beyond 12C or 24X, no actual molecules of the original substance are present; only the energetic signature of the substance remains. While this mitigates the interactions and side effects often seen with allopathic and botanical medicines, it also raises questions about how the remedies could possibly work.

A medicine is homeopathic only if it is taken based upon the similar nature of the medicine to the illness. Even a medicine directly labeled as "homeopathic" will work only if it is clinically homeopathic ("similar suffering") to the symptoms presented.

A useful metaphor might be that of the DVD. If one's copy of "Harry Potter" were melted down and analyzed chemically, one would find plastic, plus a little aluminum and gold -- completely missing the information stored on it. From recent work in materials science, homeopathic remedies may act physically by transferring pertinent information to the organism in a way that catalyzes healing. Also, the information or 'movie' contained in the remedy must be similar to the patient's suffering in order to work.

How Potency is Calculated

A medicinal substance is mixed with alcohol or an alcohol/water mixture to create a mother tincture. One drop of tincture is mixed with 99 drops of alcohol (to achieve a ratio of 1:100) and the mixture is strongly shaken ("succussed"). The final bottle is labeled as "1C."

One drop of this 1C is then mixed with 99 drops of alcohol, and the process is repeated to make a 2C. By the time the 3C is reached, the dilution is 1 part in 1 million -- an infinitesimal amount of original substance.

Small globules made from sugar are then saturated with the liquid dilution; these medicated globules constitute the homeopathic remedy.

The "potency" or "strength" of a given remedy is designated by labels such as:
X [1 part in 10]]
C [1 part in 100]]
M [1 part in 1000]]

The number in front (6, 30, 200, etc) indicates the quantity of dilutions and succussions that have been done. The higher this number and the more dilution performed, the more potency or strength the remedy possesses.