There is often some confusion when someone is introduced to homeopathy, over the use of terms ‘medicine’ and ‘remedy’. The conventional world of course, always speaks of medicine, whilst in homeopathy we use the term remedy. This is not to be different, but rather emphasise the fact that the way homeopathy works is by encouraging the body to carry out its own remedial work. The medicines of the conventional approach, in contrast, act in the main by concentrating merely on the removal of the presenting symptoms and the physiology and pathology associated with them.
Sources of the remedies
Potentially a homeopathic remedy can be made from any substance animal, vegetable and mineral. Within this broad statement are a number of subdivisions, but in essence there is no limit to the healing potential within a substance that can be released by the homeopathic method. The sources may be classified as follows.
Animal either the whole animal is involved, as in the case of Apis Mellifica, where a complete homey bee is used, or else a product of a particular animal is taken as the starting point, for example, snake venom. There are two additional types of remedies which are of animal origin. Sarcodes are remedies made from healthy tissues e.g ovary. Nosodes are made from diseased tissues, discharges, and/or the causal agents of particular diseases.
Vegetable Various individual parts or all of a plant may be used.
Mineral These are obtained from a variety of sources as appropriate. The majority of these substances are used in their natural state, although man made materials such as chemicals and conventional medicines may also be used. Some are also prepared from X-rays and more imponderable pure energy sources such as the sun and magnetic forces.
There are various homeopathic pharmacopoeias in use which provide the standards for preparation of remedies. Although different countries may use slightly different references, there is broad agreement and increasing standardisation between them all and hence a common basis of standardised remedy manufacture is assured. There is control of the materials utilised as the sources of remedies, with detail of which part of a plant or animal is to be used, how a mineral is isolated and how it is to be prepared and stored.
Many of the substances used to produce remedies are highly toxic in their material state. However, it must not be thought that the resulting homeopathic remedy is in any way similarly toxic. Indeed the most toxic substances, once in remedy form, are frequently among the most powerful healing agents. At the other end of the scale, substances that are conventionally thought of as inert can be converted into extremely useful medicines.
Preparation of the remedies
The process of preparation of the homeopathic remedy is vital and is called potentisation and, as the term implies, it means the making of the original substance more potent as a healing agent, there are two essential stages in the process of potentisation – dilution and a procedure known as succussion (vigorous shaking).
Homeopathy is a therapy that works with the energy of the substances used rather than their physical form. The aim of potentisation is therefore to release the energy that is bound up in them and retain it in a useable form as in the remedy. It is by this process that the healing potential of a substance is retained and enhanced, whilst the harmful aspects of the material form are removed.
The potency of the end product is expressed numerically in relation to the degree of dilution employed. Hahnemann found the efficacy of the remedy increased with the degree of dilution, provided that the necessary succussion was also undertaken. There are three scales of dilution in use. Firstly, a decimal scale, based on a dilution of 1 in 10, is widely used in mainland Europe. This is denoted by the symbols ‘D’ or ‘X’. while the decimal scale is also used to some extent in Britain, the majority of UK prescribing is based on the Centesimal scale of 1 in 100, identified by the letter ‘C’. in everyday usage the ‘C’ of centesimal is often omitted and just the number is quoted. There is also a third series of dilutions known as the Q potencies, these are more commonly referred to as the LM (50 millesimal) potencies, as they are based on a dilution factor of 1:50,000, they represent Hahnemann’s final development in relation to potency. The major difference from the other potency scales lies in the method of dilution employed.
For the creation of the decimal and centesimal scales, one drop of mother tincture is then mixed with either 9 or 99 drops of solvent, as appropriate. This is then succussed (vigorously shaken and takes place after each stage of dilution) and a 1d (or 1x) or 1c potency is then created. One drop of the first potency is then mixed with a further 9 or 99 drops of solvent, succussion is repeated, and the second potency has been made. This process is then repeated as often as required. A 30c potency represents a dilution of 10 to the power of 60 and this is not considered to be an exceptionally high potency in practice.
Storage and dispensing of Remedies
As homeopathic remedies are essentially energetic in nature, various factors are important in relation to their storage and dispensing, which does not apply to the same extent to conventional drugs. However, any detrimental effects will only result in a loss of efficacy rather than inducing any untoward reactions in the patient. As with conventional medicines, they should be kept in a dry environment. A moderate temperature range is also advisable. Opinions differ as to the exact effect of heat, and some authorities maintain that there is no appreciable detrimental effect until temperatures reach around 150˚F (65˚C) on the other hand there is some evidence to suggest that 120˚F (49˚C) can be detrimental. Prolonged exposure will increase any detrimental effect. It is thus best to err on the side of caution and continuous exposure to elevated temperatures should be avoided. Remedies should not be stored in the fridge although the temperature will not necessarily harm them, the electromagnetic field created by the refrigeration process are potentially harmful. The ideal temperature range for storage of remedies should be between 41˚F (5˚C) and 100˚F (37.5˚C). The effects of light, handling, strong smells and electrical emanations are the most significant. Homeopathic remedies are particularly sensitive to light, so they should always be stored and dispensed in dark containers. Although plastic is acceptable for dispensing, long-term storage should always be in darkened glass. Even with suitable containers, storage in cupboards or drawers is preferable to that on shelves.
Handling should be avoided if possible and always kept to a minimum, as the energy of the handler will influence the remedy.
Strong smelling substances can have a detrimental effect on the remedies. Thus exposure to garlic, camphor, peppermint and volatile substances in general must be avoided. Microwaves, computers and other sources of energy waves are likely to be harmful to remedies and close contact should be avoided.
The process of remedy preparation described earlier results in a liquid remedy of a given potency (medicating potency). This is converted into the form required for administration. Oral forms of remedies are available as tablets, pilules, granules or powder. The common base here is lactose powder that has been impregnated with the remedy, sucrose or starch are occasionally used. The only difference is one of size, with pilules being between tablets and granules. The potentised remedy in liquid form can also be used as drops for oral administration. The most common route of administration is via a mucous surface usually the mouth, but any other may be used. Sprays can be used utilising the nasal passages, this is of particular use where groups of farm animals require medication.
In homeopathy, the dose of a remedy is not directly related to the body weight of the patient, no matter what the physical size of the dose given at any one time, the body treats it as just one dose. The usual instruction given to humans for taking remedies is to suck the tablet under the tongue until dissolves. The mouth should also be clear of food and drinks, many practitioners insist on a period of abstention for at least half an hour either side of taking the remedy and also put bans on the consumption of tea, coffee, alcohol etc. while using homeopathic medication.
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fairies through the site, courtesy of Gwynneth and Artist Amy Brown