Potentisation and The Infinitesimal Dose

Struck by the idea of the development of latent powers through what Hahnemann had at first considered merely as dilution, he ceased calling the process : dilution,” and named it “potentization” or “potentiation”…

*Homoeopathic potentiation is a mathematico-mechanical process for the reduction, according to scale, of crude, inert or poisonous medical substances to a state of physical solubility, physiological assimilability and therapeutic activity and harmlessness, for use as homoeopathic healing remedies.

The primary object of potentiation is to reduce all substances designed for therapeutic use to ” a state of approximately perfect solution or complete ionization, which is fully accomplished only by infinite dilution.” (Arrhenius.) The greater the dilution, the higher the degree of ionization until, at infinite dilution, ionization is complete and therapeutic activity *conditionally greatest.

For the reduction of minerals and inorganic substances and certain other substances, it employs mechanical trituration of one part of the substance with nine, or ninety-nine parts of pure crystalline sugar of milk, according as the decimal or centesimal scale of dilution is used. The process is continued long enough and in such a manner as to reduce them to an approximately impalpable powder, soluble in water. These and all other soluble substances it reduces to liquids, or tinctures which it still further reduces by dilution with water or alcohol in the same proportions of drug to vehicle (one to nine, or one to ninety- nine) to any degree determined upon, recording, numbering each step of the process in order that the degree of dilution and potentiation of each preparation may be known.

The resulting products of these operation are known as “potencies” or “dilutions.” bearing the name of the medicine and the number of the dilution.

Originally all homoeopathic remedies were prepared by hand, using the ancient and time honored mortar and pestle and the ordinary glass vial. Hand made potencies are still regarded by some are most reliable; but the products of time saving triturating and diluting machines, which have been invented and improved from time to time, are used by the majority of homoeopathic pharmacists or potency makers.

By this process the most virulent and deadly poisons, even the serpent venoms, are not only rendered harmless, but are transformed into beneficent healing remedies. Substances which are medicinally inert in their crude natural state, such as the minerals, charcoal, or lycopodium, are thus rendered active and effective for healing the sick. Other drugs, more or less active in their natural state, have their medicinal qualities enhanced and their sphere of action broadened by being submitted to the process.

Arithmetical enumeration of the particles or proportions into which potentiation is supposed to divide a given quantity of the drug is insufficient and misleading. The facts go to show that the result of the process is not only a division of the matter into particles, *but a series of differentiations and progression by which successive reproduction or propagations of the medical properties of the drug take place. The powers and qualities of the drug are progressively transferred to the diluting medium. Recognizing this fact, Garth Wilkinson proposed to call them “transmissions.:

Fincke explained the action and efficiency of infinitesimal doses by applying the “law of the least quantity,” discovered by Maupertius, the great French mathematician and accepted in science as a fundamental principle of the universe. That principle is stated as follows: *”the quantity of action necessary to effect any change in nature is the least possible.”

“According to this general principle, ” says Dr. Fincke, ” the decisive moment is always a minimum, an infinitesimal.” And to our therapeutics it will be perceived that the least possible is always the highest potency sufficient to bring about reaction and effect the cure, provided always that the selection of the remedy is homoeopathically correct. “The Law of the Least Action *(Maxima Minimis) appears to be an essential and necessary complement of the Law of similars ( *Similia Similibus) and co- ordinate with it.”

“According to this principle the curative properties and action of the homoeopathic remedy are governed by its preparation and application; in other words, *the quality of the action of a homoeopathic remedy is determined by its quantity. Consequently, the law of the least action must be acknowledged as the posological principle of homoeopathy.”

Potentiation and the minimum dose is a subject upon which it is exceedingly easy to form hasty and incorrect notions- no subject in homoeopathy is more so. It is one of those subjects upon which the average medical minds seems to have a peculiar natural bent for forming opinion without due knowledge and examination – in one word, prejudice. It may be said, however that when the philosophy of homoeopathy is understood, and its method of selecting the curative remedy has been mastered, decision as to the matter of the dose may be left safely to individual judgment, based upon observation and experience. The whole range of based upon observation and experience. The whole range of potencies is and should be open to every man. The beginner need be no more afraid of a thirtieth potency than of a third when he has decided upon the similar remedy; for he may be sure of this- *neither will cure if not indicated. No one can make up his shortcoming as an accurate prescriber by increasing the size or frequency of his doses.

The idea of potentiation, or dynamization, as it is sometimes called, did not like Minerva, spring “full armed and grown from her father’s brain;” nor was the idea, like Minerva, “immediately admitted to the assembly of the gods.” It was a gradual growth, a development. In some other respects, however the idea was like Minerva. ” The power of Minerva,” we are told, ” was great in heaven; she could hurl the thunders of Jupiter, *prolong the life of men, bestow the gift of prophecy and was the only one of all the divinities whose authority and consequence were equal to those of Jupiter.”

The greatest and keenest minds in homoeopathy, the minds which have possessed insight in the highest degree, have always recognized the vital importance and fundamental relation of the doctrine of potentiation to homoeopathy. It is at the same time the most vital and most vulnerable part, the very heart of homoeopathy.

To quote only one of many authors, Prof. Samuel A. Jones of Ann- Arbor : As long ago as 1872, when editor of the American Homoeopathic. observer, he wrote these prophetic words, which have since been literally fulfilled. ” Let us guard our homoeopathic heritage most jealously. The provings on the healthy, the simillimum as the remedy, the single remedy, the *reduced dose, may be and will be filched from us one by one and christened with new names to hide the theft. What will become of homoeopathy? It will live, despite, them *in Hahnemann’s posology. The very infinitesimal which many are so ready to throw away are all that will save us.

This is only the recognition that, in its highest aspects, the doctrine *and the fact of potentiation is one of those “mysteries of the faith” which have ever been the strength and at the same time the weakness, of every great church or school of thought; the strength because in their highest and broadest reaches they exercise the highest powers of the human mind; the weakest because they are the most liable to misunderstanding and perversion.

We may always rely upon our enemies to discover and attack the most vital and weakest part of our defenses. The proof of this statement lies in the fact that the doctrine of potentiation and infinitesimal does has always been the central point of attack upon homoeopathy by its enemies.

Homoeopathy was not created by the discovery of the law of similars. Many before Hahnemann, from Hippocrates down, had glimpses of the law, and some had tried to make use of it therapeutically; but all had failed because of their inability to properly graduate and adapt the dose. The principle of *similia was of no practical use until the related principle of potentiation and the minimum dose was discovered; and that was not until Hahnemann, anticipating by a hundred years the modern conceptions of matter and force, hit upon the mathematico- mechanical expedient of preparing the drug by *dilution according to scale in a definite proportion of the drug to inert vehicle. Homoeopathy became practicable at the moment that discovery was made and not before. But for that Hahnemann would have progressed no further than Hippocrates.

The tremendous scope and importance of his invention did not dawn upon Hahnemann at once. For a number of years in his original medical practice he had used drugs in the usual form and in ordinary doses. But as soon as he began applying medicine in such doses under the newly developed homoeopathic principle, he found that the aggravation and injury followed their use. Naturally this led him to reduce the size of the doses.

“Naturally,” we say, although no one up to that time had ever thought of so simple and apparently obvious an expedient to overcome the obstacles to successful homoeopathic practice. Finding that he obtained better results he continued to reduce the dose.

Stuart Close
Stuart M. Close (1860-1929)
Dr. Close was born November 24, 1860 and came to study homeopathy after the death of his father in 1879. His mother remarried a homoeopathic physician who turned Close's interests from law to medicine.

His stepfather helped him study the Organon and he attended medical school in California for two years. Finishing his studies at New York Homeopathic College he graduated in 1885. Completing his homeopathic education. Close preceptored with B. Fincke and P. P. Wells.

Setting up practice in Brooklyn, Dr. Close went on to found the Brooklyn Homoeopathic Union in 1897. This group devoted itself to the study of pure Hahnemannian homeopathy.

In 1905 Dr. Close was elected president of the International Hahnemannian Association. He was also the editor of the Department of Homeopathic Philosophy for the Homeopathic Recorder. Dr. Close taught homeopathic philosophy at New York Homeopathic Medical College from 1909-1913.

Dr. Close's lectures at New York Homeopathic were first published in the Homeopathic Recorder and later formed the basis for his masterpiece on homeopathic philosophy, The Genius of Homeopathy.

Dr. Close passed away on June 26, 1929 after a full and productive career in homeopathy.