What is Homoeopathic Potency ?
A great deal of mysticism prevails in connection with the potency of homoeopathic dilution. Existence of drug
substances in the higher homoeopathic dilutions has been not only under continuous challenge, but also the observation that,
higher the homoeopathic dilution stronger the medicine, is found to be scientifically inconceivable. Notwithstanding, repeated
provings of several potentized homoeopathic remedies by Hahnemann and his disciples,experimenting
both on healthy, as well as diseased human beings, no bridge could be established, so far, between the homoeopathic system
of medicine and the modern science.
Homoeopathic System of Dilution
Hahnemann, the propounder of the theory of similia similibus curantur ( likes are cured by likes ) developed
concurrently a special system of dilution, for use in homeopathy, with a view to minimize the toxic effects of the drug substances.
This was known to be effected by mechanical action upon the smallest particles of the drug substances, by
means of rubbing and or shaking, through the addition of an indifferent ( non-medicinal ) substance, powder or liquid, e.g.,
sugar of milk or alcohol, and by separating from each other. The process was thus known as dynamizing or potentizing and the
products were called 'dynamization' or potencies in different degrees.
Detailed method of preparation is as follows : One drop of the drug substance is put in a vial i.e., small
cylindrical glass vessel. To this are added ninety-nine drops of pure alcohol, when the vial used is two-third
filled. Stoppered with a velvet cork, one hundred violent shakings ( succussions ) are then given to the vial, against a hard
but elastic body, with hand or by machine. Thus hornoeopathic remedy of first degree of dynamization or one centesimal 1c)
potency is prepared. One drop of this 1c potency is then taken into a fresh vial, mixed with fresh ninety-nine drops of alcohol
and fresh hundred succussion strokes are given, when 2c potency is said to be produced.
Thus the process is repeated until 3c. 6c. 30c. 200c. or still higher potencies are obtained.
Alternatively, the medicines are also known to be prepared by rubbing ( trituratirrg ) rather strongly and
in a specific manner, one part of the drug substance mixed with nine parts of sugar of milk using a mortar-pestle and a spatula,
each made of porcelain. The degree of potentization, thus obtained, is said to be in the decimal level and are marked as 1x, 2x, 6x, etc.
Paradox in Homoeopathic Dilution
Homoeopathic system of dilution is popularly known to develop for its special use, the inner medicinal powers
of the crude substances, to a hitherto unheard of degree, by means of a process peculiar to it, which has hitherto never been
tried arid whereby the substances are said to become immeasurably and penetratingly efficacious and remedial . The effects
of higher hornoeopathic dilutions have also been verified on plants, animals and micro-organisms through different experiments.
Paradoxically, however, all attempts made so far to trace rnaterial existence of drug substances
in higher homoeopathic dilutions, by various physical or chemical methods, have failed. Howeverer, as per Avogadro's number,
a gram molecule of a substance is known to contain 6.023 x 1023 number of molecules, This on projection, leads to a theoretical
conclusion that, once the twelfth centesimal ( 12c ) or the twenty-fourth decimal ( 24x ) dilution is surpassed, the original
substance is diluted beyond the negative exponent of Avogadro's number
and consequently there cannot exist any molecule of the original drug substance. Even on probability consideration, it becomes
difficult to conceive scientifically the presence of any original molecule or atom. The preparations are, therefore, thought
to be simple alcohol or water and hence devoid of any therapeutic value.
Propositions in favour of Scientific Basis of Homoeopathic Dilution
Confronted with this fallacy, various attempts were known to be made at different times
to interpret homoeopathic system of dilution, in corroboration with modern scientific concepts. Hahnemann himself in this
connection, observed that several changes are known to be brought about in different natural substances by means of friction,
such as, development of heat, development of odor in odorless bodies, magnetization of steel bar, and so forth. A steel bar
is unable to draw magnetically or held on either end, even finest particles of iron. But when dynamized by rubbing it with
a magnetic bar in one direction, it soon becomes a true active powerful magnet, able to attract iron and steel to itself and
impart to another bar of steel the magnetic power and this in a higher degree, the more it has been rubbed. In the same way,
triturating a medicinal substance and shaking of its solution, develops the medicinal powers hidden within and manifest them
more and more .
In recent times, however, more plausible explanations have been put forward as it became evident that atoms
and molecules, the ultimate units of transaction in chemistry, meet quickly the Avogadrian impass, in the process of serial
dilution and succussion (potentisation). A physical factor of unknown nature was, therefore, apprehended which was thought
to be responsible for the dilution's activity. Earlier it was thought that the added kinetic energy in the
process of succussion, is retained in the vehicle, thereby causing the molecules to be more potent
or energetic. But soon it was realized that the kinetic/mechanical
energy will be fairly rapidly converted to thermal energy and consequently the energetic state of molecules will be short-lived
and the normal molecular modes will be restored as the heat energy is decayed.
!t was, therefore, proposed that, the potency phenomenon should better be viewed entropically rather than
energetically. Entropy is said to be a measure of the
heat t hat flows during a thermo-dynamic process or of the information that is transmitted during a communicating process
?. Change of entropy is known to indicate changes of unavailable energy in a system that rnay generally occur by addition
or substraction of heat or by frictional processes in the system. During frictionless process with no heat added or abstracted
the entropy is said to be zero. In this perspective, therefore, it was proposed that the change of entropy through the succussive
process, involved in the homoeopathic system of dilution,
is responsible for the specific information transmission.
Further, the cybernetic (communication) models were also put forward, for the process of serial dilution and succussion. Cybernetics is known to be the science of control
and communication in all of its various manifestations in machines, animals and organisations. The term was first introduced
by the mathematician Norbert Wiener, in a book called 'Cybernetics', published in 1948. Contrary to most other sciences, the
transfer of energy is of little consequence and the
transfer of information is said to be vital in cyberneticsr The cybernetic models for homoeopathic dilution, however, failed
to explain the significance of the term 'dynamization' or 'potentisation' and hence these were proposed to be dropped and
replaced by the words 'succussed dilution', as nothing was believed to be made more powerful in the process.
Further, in homoeopathic system of dilution, as the vehicle ,(ethanol) constitutes the only continuum between
the low and the high dilutions, it was proposed that the therapeutic activity of homoeopathic dilutions !ie in
the structure itself of the vehicle, in the form of specific arrangement of the ethanol molecules between thernselves. The
admission of a fresh supply of air, and therefore nun-polar oxygen molecules at each stage, in the dilution of the fluid phase,
followed by impacted succussions, was further proposed to serve to transmit the ' informational Templates ' of the original
molecules of the solute, from low to high dilution. The over-simplified model was, however, not only unacceptable due to various
points of disagreement but also it opened up fresh problems such as, the actual role of oxygen in the course of succussions
or the specific interactions between the liquid structures and the respective biological systems. Hence, the suggestions,
so far, put forward to interpret the scientific basis of higher homoeopathic dilutions were not only found to be based on
speculative theories but also were lacking in substantiation by experimental factors and universally acceptable data.
Potency Phenomenon in the Light of Modern Science
Atoms and molecules being the ultimate units of transaction in chemistry, it is, difficult to conceive, how
homoeopathic dilutions beyond the Avogadrian limit can still retain the chemical properties of the original substances or
become more powerful in the process. This may, however, be possible provided, infinitesimal atoms and molecules with identical
chemical properties are formed in the process of homoeopathie dynamization. Then only the so-called Avogadrian impass, the
historical stumbling block against any scientific acceptance of homoeopathic system of medicine can be surpassed, notwithstanding
the material existence of the drug substance still remaining undetectable by existing physico - chemical methods.
To elaborate, it may be mentioned that molecule is a unit of matter, the smallest portion of an element or
compound, that retains chemical identity with the substance in mass. It consists of a group of atoms, ranging from one in
inert gases, to very large numbers in organic chain molecules. Atoms are, however, largely empty, consisting of a small solid
core, the 'nucleus', which is surrounded by a nurnber of
negatively charged particles, 'electrons'. The electrons circulate around the nucleus in separate orbits, while nucleus is
a composite structure consisting of several sub - units, 'protons' and 'neutrons', held firmly together, The simplified picture
of the atom, therefore, involves three particles- the 'neutron' with unit mass and zero charge. 'proton' with unit mass and
unit positive charge and the electrons with infinitesimal mass and unit negative charge..
The chemical properties of atom is, however, known to be determined by the electronic configuration i.e.,
the mode of arrangement and the number of electrons required to make the atom neutral i.e.
atomic number and is said to be independent of the mass of the atom i. e.. atomic weight. Atoms of the same element, having
same atomic number but different atomic weights are known as 'isotopes'. Isotopes are identical in chemical behaviour and
distinguishable by small differences in atomic weight because of their having the same number of protons but different number
of neutrons in the nucleus. Similar!y molecules having the same chemical constitution and structure but differing in that,
one or more atoms in one, are isotopically different from the corresponding atoms in the other, are called isotopic molecules
. Many of the common elements are known to be mixtures of isotopes .
Existence of light Isotopes
Positron ( positive electron ) is the unit of elementary positive charge having the same mass, spin, magnitude
of charge and magnetic moment, as that of electron, but is extremely unstable in the presence of electrons. It is a comparatively
rare particle and is observed principally in cosmic radiation and also in the emission of some artificial radioactive (unstable)
isotopes. In the vicinity of an electron, a positron is known to be annihilated, giving rise to one or more quanta of gamma radiation, with a characteristic total energy of 1.0216 MeV, the
sum of the rest masses of the two particles.
Certain characteristics of the process is,
however, known to be influenced if the particles meet in an atomic environment In many cases, especially in gases, the annihilation
is known to take place not in a free collision but after formation of an intermediary system called Positronium, where the
' electron ' and the ' positron ' are bound to each ( e + e - ) by the electromagnetic force. Apart from its short life, the
mass and charge centers in the alliance are known to be coincident. In most gases, in some liquids and also in some insulating
solids . About one third of the positrons coming to rest, are said to form positronium. Positronium is
further known to be analogous to a hydrogen atom and the gross structure of its energy levels is like that of hydrogen, the
fine structure being rather different . In hydrogen atom, the simplest form of all the atoms of chemical elements, one electron
revolves about a single proton, whereas in ' positronium ' the part of the proton is played by a positron . In fact , positronium
is said to behave as a very light isotope of hydrogen . Apart from its stability, the properties of positronium are found
to be similar to that of hydrogen molecules . As with hydrogen molecules, two species, 'orthopositronium' and 'parapositronium'
have been identified . Optical emission spectrum of positronium is also expected to be qualitatively similar to that of atomic
hydrogen, but observation became difficult due to low concentration of positronium available and also due to considerable
Doppler broadening caused by the relatively high velocities of atoms of such small mass at thermal energies.
Existence of positronium complexes, such as, two electrons plus a positron, two positrons plus
an electron, a proton plus an electron plus a positron and the like have been theoretically supported and in some gases,
formation of positronium compounds have also been suggested". Moreover during its brief lifetime, positronium is said to be
capable of entering into chemical reactions, reacting especially readily with chemical compounds which have free valence bonds
left . Formation of positronium, elsewhere than in rare gases is, however, said to be more complicated and not yet
Stability of positronium is further known to depend markedly on the chemical composition of the surrounding
medium and also on the structure of the molecules, the electron-positron pair gets into. Formation of positronium is also
known to be promoted by application of an electric field . In sorne gases, the production of positronium is said to be enhanced
to almost hundred percent by applying electric fields..
Individual atoms or large group of atoms and molecules of many substances are known to have an affinity for
additional electrons. Electron affinity, the characteristic of non-metals is, however, said to be dependent upon the size
of the atom. Therefore, the affinity for more electrons varies from atom to atom and when two different substances are brought
into contact, the substance with greater affinity for electrons seizes nearby electron from the atom of the other substance.
The elementary character of the atom, however, does not change due to excess or deficiency of electron, as because this is
known to depend on the protons existing in the nucleus of the atom, which cannot be easily separated.
A substance, thus having on its surface more electrons than proton, is said to be negatively charged, while
the one having more protons than electrons is positively charged. Thus, electrostatic charge or static electricity
is found to develop in many non - metallic substances such as, glass, resins, plastics, etc. The excess type of charge, commonly
associated with resins was, however, originally termed as, 'resinous electricity' and the deficiency type characteristic;
of glass was called, vitreous electricity. A piece of amber (natural resin), as big as the end segment of a man's finger is
said to acquire and hold as many as 100,000,000 excess electrons in less than a second . As rubbing or friction, further increases
the charge, due to intensive contact between the surfaces of the two bodies, it is also called frictionless electricity. As
continued friction causes addition of more and more of electrons to a substance,so in the process, high voltages can be developed
due to high potential differences. Static electricity is ,thus, said to be of high voltage although of low-current type. Not
only an insulating or insulated solid body acquires frictionless electricity by rubbing it with other
bodies, whether insulating or conducting, but also charges are known to be generated when a liquid flows over a solid surface,
one or both of which may be an insulator. Large charges are also known to be produced by blowing powders against a solid surface.
Only good insulators are, however, known to show a net charge after rubbing, because electric conduction permits neutralization
of the charge very rapidly in other materials.
Probable Incidents during Homeopathic Dynamization
The foregoing applied to homoeopaihic system of dynamization points to a series of unforeseen incidents that
might be occurring during the process of serial dilution and succussion. Initially, however, the process of serial dilution
was adopted to overcome the toxic side-effects of homoeopathic drugs and the method of succussion and trituration was used
for homogeneity. The porcelain and glass vessels, alcohol, sugar of milk, etc. were used for their medicinal inertness. The
preservative power of alcohol was also possibly taken into consideration, as because many of the homoeopathic medicines are
known to be of herbal origin. Glass was further known to be insoluble in alcohol. By critical examinations, however, the following
additional events may be found to occur during homoeopathic system of dynamizalion.
Development of Electric Fields
The very specific and important role played glass vessels, commonly used in preparing hornoeopathic dilulions,
was never before seriously considered. From the earlier discussions
it may be easily observed that in the process of succussion, intimate contact between the alcohol molecules and the glass
surface takes place and thus frictional electricity is produced. Alcohol, due to stronger electron affinity, acquires excess
electrons and gets negatively charged while. the glass surface due to deficiency in electrons becomes positivery charged.The
charges so developed is, however, not neutralized by conducting through human body or machine, because the glasses , especially
the commercial glasses, are known to be highly resistive to electricity which is said to be extremely high, particularly in
room temperature. Velvet corks used in stoppering the vials are also known to be highly resistive to electricity.
Further, alcohol being a polar liquid, has high dielectric constant due to dipole moments of their molecules
and consequently it is known to possess an appreciable inherent conductivity. The greater part of the conductivity of polar
liquids is, however, said to be due to impurities, caused from contact with air. Hence it may be inferred that during the
process of succussion, carbon dioxide (CO 2) and moisture (H2 O) present in the empty airy space within the glass vessels
may be considerably absorbed in alcohol, thereby increasing its further conductivity, consequent to which the excess electrons
(negative charge) may be rapidly and uniformly dispersed in the alcohol medium.
Therefore, at every stage of serial dilution, when a fraction of the lower potency is transferred to a fresh
vial, for further potentization, along with the drug molecules a portion of the charged alcohol, is also carried over. This
causes a gradual increase in the total number of excess electrons acquired at every stage, resulting thereby increase in net
negative charge. Hence increasingly stronger electric fields are produced in the process of homoeopathic dynamization. The
glass vessels, particularly of straight cylindrical types, are further known to be capable of withstanding very high voltage.
Creation of Electron-position Pairs
It is further known that when an electron comes somewhere near the nucleus of an atom, where there are strong
electric fields, the electron is accelerated and in the course of that, it gives of a gamma ray and then the electron goes
on with a little less energy. Then, if the gama ray comes near the nucleus of another atom it makes a pair, an electron-positron
pair. Gamma rays are known as electromagnetic waves, similar to visible light, but with very short wave lengths and no change
in atomic number or atomic weight is said to be caused by emision of gamma rays.
Strong electric field immediately surrounding the nucleus of an atom is known to give rise to a cloud of electron-positron
pairs in the region close to the nucleus. In this perspective, therefore, it may be inferred that in the process of homoeopathic
potentization, strong electric fields are produced and at the same time by the above mechanism positronium or electron-positron
pairs are formed in such fields. Moreover the process becomes continuous, as at every stage fresh alcohol and glass vessel
are taken and the stability of positronium is also supposed to be increased in the vicinity of alcohol molecules.
Formation of Positronium Complexes
The positronium or the electron-positron pairs thus formed may clump together to give birth to
positronium complexes. It is known that relatively small atoms of molecules can clump together to form clusters known as 'micelles'.
The ability to form micelles depend on specific relations existing between the solvent and the solute. As per instance many
detergents form micelle in acqueous solution, but when placed in certain other solvents, the detergent molecules remain separated
as individual molecules.
It is further postulated in this perspective that in the vicinity of the drug molecules and induced
by their specific molecular fields, the positronium complexes formed become highly specific, imitating the electronic configuration
of the drug molecules. In the process of potentization the process is intensified due to more intimate contact. This reminds
one of the analogy of induction by magnetic field. A piece of unmagnetized iron, if placed in a magnetic field, becomes magnetized
and is known to exhibit induced magnetism, this being further enhanced when directly rubbed in one direction. The magnetic
power so achieved can also be imparted to another bar of iron and this in a higher degree the more it has been rubbed.It is
believed that the specific positronium complexes thus formed, due to their very light or micro-isotope like character retain
the properties of the original drug molecules, when they no longer exist,and this is imperted to next generation at every
higher stage of homoeopathic potentization. Further, due to the formation of positronium complexes is also beleived to be
increased proportionate to the degree of dynamization. Thus not only the Avogadrian impass, the historical stumbling block
against any scientific acceptance of homoeopathic system of medicine is overcome, but also the observation, higher the
homoeopathic potency stronger the medicine become scientifically conceivable.
Substantiation of the Concept
To substantiate, it may be mentioned here a recent observation that microscopic particles in
suitable environment act as mini magnets..The peoperties of such mini magnets, their strength and orientation and ability
to change either, are believed to depend crucially on the characteristics of the host, in the vicinity of the atom or ion.
The polarity has also been recognized as an important factor in determining the effects of specific interactions and orientation
of the different kinds of molecules. Polar solvents are not only known to induce moments in non-polar solute molecules, but
also such a polar molecule if placed in an electric field, is expected to become oriented in that field just as a bar magnet
placed in a magnetic field becomes aligned with the magnetic field. Further, positronium or electron-positron pairs are said
to be capable of interacting with other particles to form positronium complexes or compounds. Hence, their interaction with
'neutrinos', to form infinitesimal atoms and molecules cannot also be ruled out. Neutrino, the baby neutron is an elementary
particle, with no electrical charge and is of infinitely small mass and its existence has been confirmed by indirect evidences,
through some delicate experiments. Creation of 'neutrino' is said to require negligible energy, since its rest mass is close
to zero. A further curiosity is that nature seems to be making `xerox copies' of the basic pattern shown by the up and down
quarks, together with the electronic neutrino and the electron. The xerox copies seem to differ just in their mass and the copy number, that is electronic, muonic or tauonic. The copy number is also referred to
as 'generation'. The old question, `who ordered the muon?' thus becomes more acute and may possibly get solved in near future.
Positronium is also of particular interest because it is the two-body system to which quantum electrodynamic is applicable,
and its study has served as an important confirmation of the theory of quantum electrodynamics. Although no states of positronium
other than the ground state have yet been found, yet studies of positron anihilation in solids and liquids indicate that a
perturbed form of positronium exists under certain conditions .Preparation of homoeopathic potencies in the method of trituration
also comes under the same purview. Firstly, because electrostatic charges are produceabte by rubbing a powder against a solid
body, secondly, the porcelain made mortar-pestle and spatula used in the process are also incidentally resistive to electricity
and thirdly, although the vehicle used, i.e.sugar of milk is electrically non-conductive, the conductivity may increase to
some extent due to absorption of atmospheric moisture with other impurities such as C02. But as in the process the same mortar
pestle is used although, so it may so find a limitation and after certain degree of dynamization, there may not be any further
development of medicinal power. This may, however, be re-established as soon as the porcelain is allowed to regain the lost
electrons from the environment.
In connection with the use of alcohol (ethanol) as vehicle, it may however, be noted that pure alcohol
or rectified spirit inevitably contains at least 4.43 per cent by weight of water. Moreover, homoeo-pharmacists often use
87% ethanol-water + mixtures for preparing homoeopthic potenciesw. The electrical conductivity of water is said to be at least
1,000,000 times larger than that of most other nonmetallic liquids at room temperature43and many aqueous solutions are found
be good conductor of electircity. But, at the same time, many substances are known to be dissociated to form
ions when dissolved in water and moreover, water is a bad solvent for large organic molecules. Hence water alone cannot be
used as the vehicle. On the other hand, alcohol is known to dissolve appreciable amounts of many liquid and solid organic
compounds as well as inorganic solid salts'S. Further, ethyl alcohol is one of the rare substances, which is known to be completely
miscible with water, without getting ionized". Therefore, ethanol, mixed with small percentage of water seems to be the best
possible vehicle that may be used in preparing homoeopathic potencies.
Further, the structure of substances on the molecular scale is said to be determined by a balance between
the ordering influence of intermolecular forces and the disordering influence of thermal motion . Hence the comparatively weak electro-magnetic force binding together the positronium
units are expected to be easily destroyed by heat.. This corroborates with the observation made by Hahnemann and others that
the high homoeopathic potencies must be protected against sunlight and heat. This is said to be best preserved, when the liquid
medicine is absorbed in sugar pills,dried and then packed in glass vessels stoppered with velvet cork and finally kept closed
in wooden chests, specially prepared for the purpose. A dose of potentized homoeopathic remedy, in its paper envelope in the
desk, is also said to retain its medicinal virtue for years. Incidentally, it is to be noted, that sugar, glass, velvet cork,
paper and wood, all are very bad conductors of heat, Homoeopathic potencies therefore, may be further protected from body
heat, as if generally directed, it is administered in small pieces of dry paper instead of directly by hand.
Then again, many substances, such as common saft, sand, gold, alumina, etc., are known to have either insignificant
or imperfect medicinal action in their crude state, but all of them are said to develop extraordinary medicinal powers and
become highly curative by the preparation peculiar to homoeopathy i.e., by potentization. This fact is also explainable in
the light of the above postulate, as it is known that isotopic molecules often react at slightly different rates due to differences
in the activation .
energy. Thus water and heavy water are known to show drastically different biological effects. While water
is known to posses no toxic effect for any life process, heavy water is a retarder upto a poison.
1. Plant experiments with high homoeopathic potencies, beyond the negative exponent of Avogadro's number,
indicate that the bio chemical effects of the substances are still retained.
2. In the process of homoeopathic potentization, specific positronium complexes are formed, which due to their
micro-isotope like behaviour, retain the properties of the original molecules, even when they no longer exist.
3. A bridge between homoeopathy and the modern science can be very well found to exist and the system of medicine
can ever be.
1. Samuel Hahnemann : Organon of Medicine, pp. 100-296.
2. Samuel Hahnemann : The Chronic Diseases, pp. 242-257.
3. James Tyler Kent: Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy, pp. 210.
4. C. Hering : Condensed Materia Medica.
5. E.B. Nash ; Leaders in Homoeopathic Therapeutics. 6. Werner Brandt
: Scientific American, Vol. 233, No. 1, pp. 34, July, 1975.
This work is dedicated to all the true lovers of science.
Author: A.C. Dutta
Mobile Phone: 0176963793