Homeopathy Papers

On Choosing The Potency

Last modified on December 6th, 2012

On Choosing The Potency

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.

Cases

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.

Materia Medica

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

PHILOSOPHY

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:

Modalities

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..

Pathology

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.

Mental state

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.

Energy

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.

Creativity

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.

Sensitivity

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!

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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.

About the author

Jeremy Sherr

Jeremy Sherr

Jeremy Sherr was born in South Africa and grew up in Israel. He has taught in most of the British schools of homeopathy and began the Dynamis School in 1986. Jeremy has also taught in Spain, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, China, Russia, India, Japan, South Africa, and Australia. He maintains busy practices in London, Tel Aviv, and New York. He was awarded a fellowship from the Society of Homoeopaths in 1991 and a Ph.D. from Medicina Alternativa. He was also awarded an honorary PhD from Pioneer University and an associate Professor at University Candegabe for Homoeopathy, Argentina. He is the author of numerous homeopathy textbooks and journal articles and has proved 32 new homeopathic remedies. His latest book is Dynamic Materia Medica: Syphilis, a Study of the Syphilitic Miasm through Remedies. He is currently working on a book on the Noble gases. Recently, he released The Dynamic Case Taker, a new software program for homeopaths to assist in everything from casetaking to perceiving what is to be cured in a case, analysis, synthesis and case management. He is also the Author of Q-Rep, the repertory of Mental Qualities.

5 Comments

  • Very interesting philosophy.
    I am new to homeopathy, after reading this article it looks like skillful art to me.
    I wish this school was in US, Florida 🙂

  • I love my ND and her homeopathy is always spot on for me. I had a virus last week and she gave me something that had the name of the remedy and “4000x”. After the worst of my virus was over, I thought I”d be cute and find out if changing her number to “14,000x” would have any effect. I had a most interesting trip into other realms (?). Not sure where I went. It was pretty terrible though. Maybe the virus was still clearing out? Or maybe the 14000x did this? Can you speak to this? Thank you! Mary

  • A very good morning to you. I read about your great work with homeopathic medicines on the internet and would dearly like to purchase the correct medicine for our two dogs – one is medium size, the other a small dog. Both pets are very dear to us… but we nearly lost our medium-size dog yesterday because of billiary. She is a doberman-whippet mix; I’m sure she has a whole lot more in her of unknown breeds. I did treat her with phenamidine but were horribly shocked when within a couple of minutes of the injection she lost near all energy levels and didn’t want to walk; worse than this, five minutes later she developed scary dark grey gums… and her eyes appeared as if she was about to die. Honestly, my wife and I thought she was gonna die and minute. Really traumatizing to say the least. This was not pleasant at all to watch.

    We drove rather hurriedly and did nothing but prayed and watched her extremely closely for the next hour. Thankfully, she did start to regain her energy levels before the vet saw her. The vet did check and found no trace of parasites in her system. Still, I don’t think this should be a normal reaction. We still haven’t calmed down and do still wonder if she is alright. I do not know what damage her darkening of the gums indicate and wish very much to rebuild what may have been damaged in her system. Under normal circumstances she does not handle the simplest of dog dips very well; with even these dips she goes terribly timid for several days afterwards.

    Our other little dog is a wire-haired terrier/poodle/jack russel mix. With all our animals we have tried numerous veterinary medicines over the past fifteen to twenty years but with little satisfaction. I understand that Ledum in 1M is specially indicated for billiary – our present and greatest concern. I am not sure which method to use as I understand there is a second option. Further research revealed that Borrelia Burgdorferi 60x is another method of treatment by beginning with 1x dose daily for a week; then, once a week for one month; and then one dose every six months thereafter. Please may you advise us.

    In this area we have several different types of ticks: small red ticks, blow-up grey ticks, and then some really nasty larger striped-leg tick. This striped-legged tick we find from time to time on our Jersey cow which we milk. We take ticks off her twice a day to lessen their infection on her; well as best we can. We try, as much as possible, to avoid any chemicals to our animals to try grant them the healthiest, painless life.

    Would very much appreciate any advice you could offer us and the opportunity to purchase from you the correct medication to prevent any further infection to all our animals. The cold climate should have knocked out some of these horrible viruses but strange weather patterns seem not to have done this last season.

    Kind regards

  • This is just a wonderful article. I’ve never read this perspective on potencies before but it makes great sense. Saved, thank you.

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