When it comes to potency there are three avenues of knowledge, and these are the three main avenues of study in homoeopathy; cases, materia medica and philosophy. This is the triangle that makes up all homoeopathic study and knowledge. So, in my investigation of looking for ways to choose the optimal potency for the case, I took the approach of studying via the above three avenues.
When I began practice and wanted to have a feeling for the potencies, I used the tactic of prescribing only the 30c potency for my first year. For my second year in practice, I prescribed 30c and 200c and for my third year in practice I prescribed 30c, 200c, and 1M. Only after that did I go on to 10M and the whole range of potencies. So, by concentrating on one potency for a whole year, I got a feeling for what each potency is capable of doing. That was my approach to learning about potency via cases.
I was surprised how potent the 30c is and how long it lasts. There are cases where I have given one dose of a 30c and it has lasted two months, six months or even one year. I realised that the 30c was quite powerful and long acting and could touch most pathologies. As to the 200c, there is a myth that goes around that the 200c is very active and dangerous. I haven’t found that in my experience, but occasionally it will be more powerful than the 30c. In terms of length of action I cannot say that it lasts longer.
As to the difference between potencies, what is most significant is the nature of the jump between the potencies, i.e. from a 30c to a 200c, from a 200c to a 1M, from a 1M, to a 10M. For instance, in my experience, the jump from 200c to 1M is not as powerful as the jump from 30c to 200c.
My second avenue of approach is through Materia Medica and to me, the main investigation of the Materia Medica, is through provings. The principle of homoeopathy, like cures like, means we find out what remedies can cure from doing a proving. Why not apply the same rule to potency? Essentially, that is the most logical way to approach potency, by finding out in a proving what a potency can do. So, since to date I have done over thirty Hahnemannian provings and used a variety of potencies in these provings, I have also found out various things about them.
One thing I can definitely say from both the cases and the provings,
is that the notion that high potencies affect the mentals and low
potencies affect the physicals, is inaccurate. In provings, some of
the strongest mental/emotional symptoms have come from a 6c and yet with a 200c I have occasionally seen none of the mental/emotionals but more physicals, and also vise versa. This means that the mental/emotional/physical hierarchy does not apply to potency. I have had cases that are mental/emotional cases which have been greatly helped with low potencies; LM1s, LM2s, 6cs, 12cs and I have seen the opposite in terms of higher potencies and physical conditions. I have seen provings from a single dose of 12c last for months. I think that higher potencies do affect a higher dynamic plane, but a higher dynamic plane doesn’t necessarily mean symptoms of a mental or emotional nature.
In the old days, a high potency used to be considered as a gentle prescription. These days, people consider a high potency as an aggressive dangerous potency. In the old days homoeopaths often thought, I’d better be careful, I’ll give a 50M. Nowadays, people think I’d better be careful, I’ll give a 30c. And the truth is that both are right because it depends on the case and not the potency.
It is simplistic and leads to false impressions when we ascribe certain characteristics to specific potencies. Because the potency per se means nothing, it is the reaction of the potency with the living organism that counts. So a 30C will act very differently on different people according to their susceptibility, pathology vitality etc. It is also not the same to give a 200C as a first potency, as to give it after a few doses of 30C
To me, philosophy is the most important of the three, because that is the source and reason behind what we do. If there is no philosophy, the clinic and the materia medica will just go round in circles without true direction.
You are not going to find the philosophy of potency in the Organon, there are no precise rules on what potency will treat. In fact, there is some confusion in the Organon in this regard, and this is because of the confusion between the words, dose and potency which are often used inter-changeably. One does not know if dose means the quantity of the medicine ie, two granules, four granules etc or the potency of the medicine. Usually, it seems to actually mean a mixture of both, so it is very difficult to decide on potency according to Hahnnemann’s instructions.
In relation to potency selection I refer to paragraph 16 in the Organon. I have published a summary of my thoughts about that paragraph in my book on Syphilis. Paragraph 16 says “a dynamic disease can only be caused by a dynamic pathogen.” So what is a dynamic pathogen, and what does dynamic mean? Dynamic means capable of motion, something that moves, that lives. So, if the vital force is something that moves and is capable of change, it can only be affected dynamically by something that moves and is capable of change. That is Hahnemann’s first premise in paragraph 16. Hahnemann’s second premise in this paragraph is that if diseases are dynamic then they can only be affected by dynamic remedies, meaning remedies that are capable of change and movement. This is the reason we dynamise our remedies, put motion into them. Hahnemann’s logical equation is: disease is dynamic, vital force is dynamic, and therefore we need dynamic remedies.
From this I concluded that we should be able to decide on the potency of a remedy according to the dynamic level of disease that the person has. Meaning, we need to match the potency of the remedy to the disease. I don’t think potencies are entities on their own. What matters is the nature of the interaction between potency and the diseased person. So the 10M for one person is not a 10M for another person and therefore in my opinion generalising is impossible. For this reason I set about finding a way to measure the dynamic level of each person and their disease and then matching it to the various dynamisations.
LEVELS OF DYNAMIS
If we view health as the most the dynamic level, according to the Organon Paragraph 9, then the healthy dynamic person is in a state of constant vital motion which enables them to adapt immediately to every external and internal change in the environment and have total freedom of action.
In contrast, a person in disease becomes more and more static and restricted, not capable of motion, change or adaptation. A person who is dead has zero dynamis and therefore is not capable of adaptation, change or motion at all. To measure these levels I have created a scale from ‘dynamic to static’ represented by a rating from ten to zero. Ten is a totally healthy person, with maximum dynamic factor; zero is a dead person who is totally static.
If somebody is at their most healthy, they will need a higher potency and less dose. For example, a person is very healthy except that they get a sore throat once a year on a certain day, let’s say on a blue moon, and other than that they adapt easily to every situation. They are very dynamic and need a highly potentised remedy which is very dynamic like them. ‘Like cures like’ in potency. But a person with cancer, schizophrenia, arthritis or any other very stuck disease, is going to need a very static potency. That is why Cooper used (arbovital) mother tincture to cure cancer very successfully.
I have a mnemonic, which helps us to remember the various indicators of a patient’s vitality. I call it MOPMEC:
M stands for modalities. We can say that the more precise and sharp a patient’s modalities are, the healthier they are. So a person who has a headache that is worse at precisely 1AM is a healthier person than a person who is sick all night. A person who is worse only from one specific food, for instance celery, is healthier than a person who will be made sick from any vegetable. A person who has a headache all night or who is made sick from any food is very static and unable to adapt to the environment. So we can say that the sharpness of the modality is a good indication of the state of dynamic health.
Obstacles to cure
O stands for obstacles to cure, which always lower the dynamic state: – they tend to make the person more static. Obstacles such as coffee drinking, bad diet, smoking, lack of exercise, mobile phones, stress, and of course many others, will cause a person to become more static. However, more than any other factor, allopathic drugs will lower a person’s dynamic level. These medications are forceful impositions on a dynamic system..
P stands for pathology. The more organic the illness; the more entrenched the pathology; the more serious the organs involved- the lower the dynamic factor. Energy cannot flow properly through static organs, and no flow of energy creates pathology. Conversely, the more functional and less internal the pathology, the more dynamic a person will be.
M stands for mental state. Here we have to differentiate between a static mental state and a dynamic mental state. For instance, a person who only has a fear of heights is much more dynamic than someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, who is therefore constantly stuck in that state. It is analogous to having a slight pain in the joints after exertion, compared to a continuous arthritis with disfiguration. Everybody has mental issues – but we should be able to plot these issues on the dynamic – static scale.
This contradicts the idea of high potencies for symptoms on the mental and emotional plane. While it can be true that striking mental symptoms may reveal a strong vitality, it would be a mistake to think that a person with twenty phobias and a dozen anxieties or obsessions is focused on the mental plane, and should be given a very high potency. In fact, this kind of patient is in a very low, stuck state, and needs low potencies frequently repeated.
E is for energy, vitality. One has to differentiate between compulsive energy, such as hyperactivity, and true vitality. If a person has a constant need to exercise it may look like a state of high energy, but in actual fact it is a static state, because the person is locked into it. True vitality on the other hand, tends to flow gently with the harmonious play of life, as Hahnemann puts it. What he means is that a dynamic person has the ability to rest as well as the ability to be active, each manifesting in the right time and the right place. When we are synchronous with the universe, universal energy flows through us unimpeded, and we do not exhaust our inner resources.
C stands for creativity, meaning how close a person is to their higher purpose of existence. According to Paragraph 9, this ‘Higher Purpose of Existence’ is the ultimate manifestation of our health. We need to perceive if our patient is just surviving, totally unaware of why they are here, or if they have a clear sense of purpose and are close to achieving it. It is not for us to judge what their higher purpose is, but we can assess their perception of it and their corresponding actions, which should result in a personal sense of fulfilment, and hopefully better state of the world.
There are some additional factors which may influence our choice of potency, such as sensitivity. A person who is hypersensitive to all remedies or environmental factors actually has a low dynamic state. They might appear to be very reactive, but in fact they are quite stuck in that state of hypersensitivity. In an equal and opposite way, a person with no sensitivity to any environmental factors or remedies will also have a low score. A dynamic state of moderate and appropriate sensitivity will attain a higher score.
One other parameter for potency is the experience of the practitioner. It is better for an inexperienced practitioner to prescribe lower or medium potencies
For each of these categories, we choose a number based on the patient’s dynamic level. . Once we have all the scores, we can add them together and divide by the number of parmeters in order to find the average score. We match that score to the scale of potencies. For instance, if a person scored an average of nine, I would tend to use a 10m or 50m; whereas if a person scored a two or a three I would be inclined to repeat lower potencies like the 12c, or the lower scales of LMs. The more static the case the lower the potency and the more repetition it is going to need.
This system gives us a fairly reliable method of measuring the dynamic state of a patient. The usual ‘healthy person’ we encounter would be an eight or a nine, whilst someone in a state of severe pathology, such as terminal disease would be a one, two or three. By matching potencies or dynamisation to the dynamic level of the patient, we are treating like with like in regards to potency as well as remedy.
Some people get amazing results just working with very low potencies, while others get great results working with high potencies only. To my mind, what is important is to work with the whole scale; to use all those tools in our hand, and find what works for each individual situation. Of course, this is a very general summary of my method, if you want to gain more understanding of the system, come to the Dynamis School, where more information is available!
Adapted from: ‘Aspects of potency and repetition: – an interview with Jeremy Sherr’ by Nick Hewes The Homeopath 2004 and ‘Jeremy Sherr’ in What About the Potency? A Comprehensive Guide to Potency, by Michelle Shine Food for Thought Publications UK 2006.