Potency can defined as power or influence or the strength of an intoxicant as measured by the amount needed to produce a certain response. Yasgur defines this as the power, vitality, strength or dynamis which a remedy possesses. Aspects of Yasgur’s description, I feel accurately defines potency within Homeopathy and this added to the word influence could further reflect how the potency of the remedy can influence the patient’s healing process.
Within the Homeopathic field, potency can be defined in many different levels from the material substance or mother tincture to high levels of dilution such as CM or indeed MM. It is here the varying debates occur as many practitioners will have preferences and a draw to specific potencies they feel work, have confidence in working with or indeed have an evidence base from which their preferences are born. However, there appears to be common ‘rules’ and specific clinical indications to the potency prescribed as a core thread within the Homeopathic community. This essay will endeavour to highlight the key indications and relationship between the patient and potency to support effective treatments of disease in clinical practice.
Diagram 1 illustrates an overview of the core thematic approaches to prescribing of specific potencies in line with key writers such as Hahnemann, Vithoulkas and Sankaran.
Hahnemann asserts in his Organon that the dose of remedies should follow three cardinal principles when prescribing. Law of similars, law of simplex and the law of minimum and the selection of the potency should take into account the susceptibility of the patient, nature of disease, nature of medicine, similarity of disease and previous treatment. Applying these principles to the diagram, Hahnemann’s models can be clearly seen. For example the susceptibility of the patient, also can be related to the immune system strength, the symptomology picture that is presented during the case and the nature of disease, for example pathology are all indicated on the potency continuum illustrated.
The introduction of LM potencies were highlighted by Hahnemann in his sixth edition of the Organon and although cannot fully be compared to other potency strengths such as C strengths etc, the theoretical comparison as described by Robert Barker are indicated on Diagram 1. LM potencies are ideal for sensitive patients where deep pathology or hyper reactions to remedies are indicated they are based on a dilution of 1:50,000 with daily succussion of the bottle to raise the frequency further prior to a dose being taken. After approximately 100 succussions, the next LM potency would be taken if required.
Vithoulkas, describes the potency of a remedy as an accessory factor to healing, with the law of similars primarily being the curative process. He continues to advise that a correct remedy selection will facilitate the direction of cure, whatever the potency; however, echoing Hahnemann’s original guidance, describes the use of lower potencies (up to 200c) for weaker constitutions, older patients or indeed those with a hypersensitivity, or those cases where the case is difficult to define.
A patient who is hypersensitive to remedies also poses a challenge to the homeopath for an initial prescription. Vithoulkas advises that for these patient types initial prescriptions, dependant on the factors highlighted on the diagram, should commence with a potency of between 30 and 200c. Dependant on physical or emotional reactions post first prescription, the homeopath can adjust the potency either by increasing or reducing it accordingly. The diagram illustrates the lower and higher potency relationships with the layers of human kind and beyond. Vithoulkas describes the lower potency to mother tincture being related to the physical layer, with higher potencies such as CM and MM having correlation with the mental/ emotional and spiritual layers. The physical/ spiritual aspects of the potency theory can be easily remembered by the understanding of how remedies and potency models are applied. Mother tincture, for example, is the remedy consisting of the physical form of the remedy source, and the higher the potency along the continuum, the more energetic the remedy becomes and the further away it moves from the original substance, with the energetic pattern of the source remaining. This is the controversy that he critics of homeopathy pray on with the assumption that nothing remains as science is unable to ‘prove’ in the purist scientific form that energetic patterns remain in diluted remedy forms due to technology not being that far advanced.
Vithoulkas, also continues to state that acute conditions are best treated with potencies of 200c in the first instance. Some homeopathic thought is to repeat the remedy on regular basis, Vithoulkas on the other hand, considers this unnecessary and advises that should repeat prescription be required then the case should be retaken to assess whether the patient picture has changed and consideration of another remedy should be considered.
Both Hahnemann’s and Vithoulkas’s potency theory are reflected by Sankaran when he states, that potency or power of a remedy is it’s ability to cause a central disturbance to the patient. Vithoulkas’s model of human layers clearly defines the central part of the human being as mental and emotional aspects. It is with such symptomology that Sankaran recommends a higher potency to support a quick response, echoing Hahnemann’s first aphorism of then highest ideal of cure being the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health. He also affirms that if in doubt, a lower potency should be prescribed, the patient observed and remedy adjusted accordingly throughout the case.
By triangulating three main writers and influencers in homeopathic treatment, the homeopath can assess the key elements in potency and prescribing of remedies in support of a patient’s journey back to health. Diagram one, is a good reference point for key elements of the relationship between the patient’s case and potency of remedies prescribed. Diagram 2, the flow chart of prescribing illustrates further guidance on appropriateness of repeating a remedy, waiting, changing the remedy if required and the patient’s case to further support effective prescribing techniques.
As the definition of potency stated and the beginning of this essay, it is the power of a substance to influence a certain response, in this case the healing process. By following the key thematic approaches described in this essay and supporting diagram and flow chart, the homeopath can effectively act as a conduit in finding the correct remedy, at the correct strength when prescribing on an acute case or longer term case management for a patient’s journey to cure.
A Gentle miracle post by David