What about the potency? Finding ‘the’ remedy is one thing, but then the elusive question that hangs off every student homeopath’s lips is ‘what potency shall I give’ and ‘how often’? Most homeopaths will have a slightly different answer and although there are consistent themes, such as low potency for physical symptoms and high for mental symptoms, what does this actually mean in practice? What is low? What is high? And will ‘just one dose’ actually do the trick?
This post below is my personal take on potency, which no doubt may evolve. First off let’s get one thing straight, for the record the remedy will always be the most critical component of a homeopathic prescription – choose a remedy which doesn’t properly match the patient’s symptoms and there’s unlikely to be any reaction*. Get the ‘wrong’ potency and you’ll likely get a reaction but it may not hold. So now that little chestnut is out of the way, I move on…..
I often find it helpful to think of remedies using the following analogy (bear with me here) Remedies are like music, potency like volume and dosage is akin to how many times you hear the song.
We are all familiar with how certain songs can help lift a person out of a particular mood, release pent up emotion, calm, relax or even irritate. Take the example of a person who has just been dumped by their relatively new partner – the song ‘You Can Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac played once or twice at 100 decibels may be just the trick to release some pent up emotion and help them move out of the sad, mopey state. The song is like the remedy (maybe Natrum Mur, Ignatia, Staphisagria or Phos Ac, for example). The volume is like the potency – go too low, such as a background whisper at 30 decibels and it’s not going to do much, it could even be slightly annoying. Played at a loud 100 decibels (maybe like a 1m or even 10m in homeopathic terms) and it will be loud (or deep) enough to have an impact on the vital force. And now for repetition, if you play a few times loudly it may really help shift you out of that low, depressed ‘disappointed love’ state. However, play every day for days and weeks on end and after a while it could quite frankly start to get on your nerves or even serve as a reminder of those feelings that you have now moved on from. So this brings us make to the aged old law in homeopathy of the magic of the minimum dose and less being more!
The above example illustrates a patient presenting with a clear, deep mental complaint with a direct cause (or aetiology as it is otherwise called) so a very specific song (or remedy), played loudly (akin to potency) and assertively a few times (dosage) is likely to have a very beneficial effect.
What about a case where a patient comes in with slightly more vague symptoms – for example, they feel a bit stressed out and get low level anxiety every day before going to college or work. Here, in the absence of really specific symptoms or a clear cause behind the anxiety, we may play a more universal type of healing music, such as 10 minutes of relaxing meditative music each day (akin to maybe a homeopathic prescription of aconite 30c daily). This may work on a more superficial level and help palliate the symptoms. As the patient explores with the practitioner the reasons behind their anxiety and more detailed symptoms are shared, the homeopath can work to finding a more specific remedy – for example, it may come to light that the root cause of the anxiety was due to low self esteem cause by bullying and a remedy chosen to deal with these precise symptoms.
Finally, what if a song is played again and again but it doesn’t match the mood. The first answer may be it will do a big fat nothing. Well my friends you obviously haven’t watched ‘The Walking Dead’ when Daryl is tortured by listening to the extremely twee and joyous ‘Easy Street’ by The Callapsable Hearts Club at an ear bending volume. Any takers for trying a homeopathic prescription of a Nitric Acid 10m, 5 times a day for months on end? No, I thought not….