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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homeopathic Remedies: Potency preparations

Homeopathic medicine was not designed to be the self-help approach that Bach flower remedies or Perelandra essences is. It was medicine in it's own right well before the introduction of pharmaceuticals that we have today. Homeopathic medicine is still taught as a profession and practitioners are licensed in it's use. Naturopathic physicians sometimes incorporate homeopathics in their treatment approaches, but not all naturopaths use homeopathics. It can be well worth your while to consult with a licensed practitioner to get you on the right track with the remedy that makes the most sense for your condition.

Having said that, I am a big believer is self-help of any kind, and I appreciate the ability to be able to experiment on my own to identify alternatives that might be helpful. Individual and combination homeopathic remedies are fairly readily available in most countries. The world of the Internet and on-line ordering also means you can use homeopathics in a self-help style.

A factor that discourages this self-experimentation is that although the remedies are often found in health food stores, pharmacies and even food stores, it can be difficult to find directions for use as they were designed to be distributed by a physician who instructs you in their application. The remedies rarely come with any kind of labeling or instructions that is typical of other conventional over-the- counter solutions. A basic understanding of potency and typical dosage regimes is required if you are going to try this own your own.

In conventional medicine, you find different strengths of medicines. They are usually labeled to tell you how much "active ingredient" is contained within the pill, tablet, or in a certain measured amount of liquid. In homeopathic remedies, there is nothing in the tablet or pellet other than the active ingredient so the label is much less obvious. The "strength" in homeopathy is referred to as potency.

Regardless of the type of remedy, homeopathic preparations are created the same way. The starting substance, often a plant or mineral base, such the Belladonna plant, is collected, often ground, and then steeped in alcohol for a period of time. This alcohol mixture is then strained so only the liquid remains. The strained liquid is referred to as a mother tincture.

Depending on the potency desired, an amount of this mother tincture is diluted. For low potency preparations the tincture is diluted in ratios of 1: 10- 1 part mother tincture with 10 parts alcohol. The first dilution of this 1:10 ratio is called 1X. After each dilution, the mixture is shaken or "successed". A low dose potency of 6X has been diluted in a 1:10 ratio a total of six times and has been successed after each dilution. A 9X remedy (common in some of the flu combination preparations) has been diluted in 1:10 ratios 9 times and successed 9 times.

Stronger potencies are diluted more and successed more. Yup, you read that right, and no, I didn't get that backwards. The greater the dilution (less amount of initial substance) the stronger the dose. This is opposite to conventional medicine where more is stronger. In homeopathy- less is more, or less initial substance means a stronger potency.

Common preparations for self-help use are diluted in a 1:100 ratio. When the mother tincture is diluted as 1 part mother tincture in 100 parts alcohol- the strength is assigned as a C or sometimes labeled as Ch. A 6C remedy has been diluted 6 times but in a 1 to 100 ratio, not the 1:10 ratio of a 6X remedy. Therefore, any remedy with a C after the number is stronger in potency that any remedy with an X after the number. A common potency used in self- help, particularly first aid preparations is 30C. This remedy has been diluted 30 times in a 1:100 ratio and successed after each dilution. A 30C is stronger in potency that 6C.

The strongest potency that can typically be purchased for "home use" is the 200C series. These remedies are commonly used for serious conditions that need sudden and immediate attention. Belladona 200C might be used for a high fever for instance and could be recommended rather than a less serious condition such as a sore throat where Belladonna 30C or even 6X might be more appropriate.

Preparations are made in even greater dilutions. A 1 in 1000 dilution is labeled as IM. Dilutions of 1 in 10:000 are labeled M, and 1 in 100:000 is labeled CM. The IM,M and CM preparations are reserved for licensed homeopaths. These preparations are very potent and would be considered "by prescription only" by conventional medicine standards and not available over-the-counter.

Once the liquid has been prepared to the desired strength, it is commonly applied to a sugar pill form. The type of sugar used is either cow's milk sugar, or more commonly saccharum lactose (sac lac). The sac lac sugar can be formed into soft tablets, hard tablets, or globules. The type of format used, tablet, hard tablet or globule depends on the manufacturing company for the most part. Tissue salts are often found in the soft tablet formulation and they easily dissolve under the tongue. The hard tablets don't dissolve as easily and may need to be chewed or held in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. The globules are tiny round pills as opposed to a flat tablet. They are easily dissolved under the tongue.

For people with sensitivities, other preparations may be available as liquid tincture preserved in alcohol or in powered or rice paper wafer formats. These usually need to be specially ordered.

We are a society that is conditioned to think more is better. So right about now, if you have been able to follow my explanation above, you probably want to buy all your remedies in the 200C potency because, although it is the most diluted, it is the strongest you can buy without a license. Or you're already searching the Internet for those potencies reserved for licensed practitioners only. However, if you are treating a long term condition where symptoms are mild and less serious, you may actually get better results if you go with less potency.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry where I'll try to explain how much and how often to take the remedies...

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