Last time we discussed Hahnemanns insights into the law of similars and how this led to the proving, the first systematic attempt to describe the impact of a medicine on the organism and, more importantly, how to apply this information in medical practice.
This contrasts with the practice of allopathic medicine (commonly called conventional medicine in Canada) in which remedies are designed to oppose the disease progress.
This however is not what most people associate with homeopathy. In truth very few people understand this aspect of homeopathy. The idea most people have of homeopathy is that of the ultramolecular dose, or the dose of a medicine that contains no molecules of the substance it was originally made from.
When Hahnemann was in practice (1790’s to the 1840’s), the medicines were generally very toxic, and used in extremely high doses. Typical medicines were Cinchona bark, mercury, tartar emetic and others, most of which had profound side effects and, in the allopathic medicine of the time, very vague indications for use (indications are the reason a physician has for use of a medicine).
Hahnemann equipped with his new discovery of provings now had excellent indications for use of these medicines. But the side effects, even when the medicines were correctly used, still troubled Hahnemann. What good was it to have a patient get better from a medicine if they were troubled afterwards by permanent toxic effects afterwards? In addition to this, he began noticing that a patient was peculiarly sensitive to their similar medicine, and thus would respond to much lower doses than were normally used.
So Hahnemann began using smaller and smaller doses of his medicines. Due to the impracticality of giving microscopic doses of medicines, he began triturating his medicines with lactose and then after 3 triturations began diluting the triturated mixtures with alcohol. In order to provide for an easier administration method, he would drip the alcohol onto lactose pills and administer these pills to his patients.
The critical factor here was Hahnemanns methodological rigor in pharmacy. In order to ensure equal distribution of the medicines he was working with he triturated and scraped the remedies, and shook the remedies repeatedly when working with alcohol dilutions. In contemporary homeopathic pharmacy, these two steps are seen as essential to developing the medicinal power of an ultramolecular medicine. This will be discussed further in a later blog.
As Hahnemann began working with these new triturated and diluted remedies, he noticed his patients responded more strongly to medicines that had been through the process of trituration and dilution. Over time he began serial dilutions of his remedies, that is, he began taking 1 part of alcohol from his remedies, and further mixing that one part with fresh alcohol, then using this further dilution of the remedy to soak the lactose pills used in therapy. These new further diluted remedies produced even more powerful responses.
Eventually Hahnemann started using a notation system to count how many triturations and diltuions he had preformed. C referred to a 1 to 100 dilution level. A remedy of 12 C had been triturated, diluted and shaken 12 times, each time diluting it in a 1 to 100 ratio.
At the level of 12C there is statistically very little chance that any molecules of the orginial substance are left in the remedy.
Contrary to popular opinion, Hahnemann was a contemporary of Avegadro, the chemist who determined that mass was not infinitely divisible. In all likelihood Hahnemann was aware of the fact that there was almost none of the original substance left in the remedies. Hahnemann did not ascribe the curative powers of remedies to their physical or chemical properties. In his own words: “Our life force , as spirit like dynamis, cannot be seized and affected by damaging impingements on the healthy organism (through inimical potencies from the external world that disturb the harmonious play of life) other than in a spirit-like dynamic way. In like manner the only way the medical art practitioner can remove such morbid mistunements (the diseases) from the dynamis by the spirit-like (dynamic, virtual) tunement altering energies of the serviceable medicines acting upon our spirit-like life force” (Aphorism 16, the Organon by Hahnemann, Trans: Wenda Brewster O’Reilly).
Hahnemann though disease was a dynamic vital process which could only be cured by the energetic process of medicines on the vital force. The vital force, while present in a crude substance, was vastly developed by the process of dilution and trituration that Hahnemann stumbled upon and later embraced. This idea makes clear that Hahnemanns idea of disease wasn’t dependant upon material or chemical causes, but upon the “spirit-like dynamis” and can only be affected by the dynamis of medicine, developed and amplified by the process of trituration and dilution.
This insight, and the technology that goes along with it are completely separate from Hahnemanns insight into the law of similars. Either discovery on its own would have been impressive, but to make two such discoveries in one life was an amazing achievement.
Now, in medicine, it was possible to both have accurate knowledge of the curative properties of medicines, and to utilize them in such a fashion as to arouse the curative ability of the vital force without the risk of extensive side effects of crude doses.
This principle has become further developed over time through the development of the concept of the state, and in the new development of the trituration movements. Both these subjects will be covered in future blogs.
Take care of yourselves!!!
Coulter, H. Divided legacy Volume 4. Twentieth-Century Medicine: The Bacteriological Era. North Atlantic: Berkeley.
Hahnemann, S. The Organanon of Medicine (6th ed.). Trans by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. Birdcage. Palo Alto, CA.