The homoeopathic of drug potentiation may be considered as an extension into medicine of what is known in physical science as the “Theory of the Potential,” a function of fundamental importance in the theory of Attractions, under which the greater part of the modern progress in invention has been made.
To give Hahnemann his just dues as an original investigator in science, however and to place his dynamical theory in its right relation to modern scientific thought, it should be remembered that he promulgated his theory of potentiation long before the Theory of the Potential was announced. It was pointed out even during Hahnemann’s lifetime that his experiments and the theory based upon them opened the way for an entirely new consideration of the subject of dynamics, and led to new conceptions of the constitution of matter. It would be permissible, therefore, from the chronological standpoint, to reverse the opening statement of this article and say that the modern scientific Theory of the Potential is an extension into physics of Hahnemann’s pharmaco- dynamical Theory of Potentiation.
For the clearest and most concise definition of the Theory of the Potential I quote the Standard Dictionary:
” Potential exists by virtue of position, as opposed to motion said especially of energy.”
1. Potential is a condition at a point in space, due to attraction or repulsion near it, in virtue of which something at that point, as a mass of electric charge would possess potential energy or the power of doing work: in the case of electricity, measured by the work done in bringing a unit of positive electricity thither from an infinite distance against an electrical repulsive force.
2. If any system of attracting bodies, a mathematical quantity having at each point of space, a value equal to energy acquired by a unit mass in falling from an infinite distance to that point.
Potential regarded as something distributed throughout space, determines by the difference of its values at neighboring points, the intensity and direction of the force acting through the region. Its variation from one point to another thus constitutes or at least measures force, the law being that a material body always tends to move in the direction of increasing potential and a positive electrical charge in that of decreasing potential. The function in the former case is called *gravitation potential, and in the latter *electrical potential, which is taken from the opposite algebraic sign.
Electrical potential, which determines the flow of electricity, has been compared to *temperature, which similarly govern the flow of heat. The potential due to the earth’s attraction in like manner determines *level, which governs the flow of water.”
To this we may now perhaps add that the drug potential due to the attraction of the living organism, determines in a similar manner, the direction and kind of action of the drug prescribed or taken.
Have we not here suggested in this contribution from an allied science a possible means of measuring the power and action of infinitesimal doses of medicine in the living organism? In physiological experimentation we have to deal with living organism, energized by a power which exerts a force akin to, if not identical, with, electricity- but one which, in its physical manifestation, is demonstrably governed by the laws of motion. that force should be measurable by the methods and standards used in physical science.
Here is a suggestion for our research workers. Let them lay aside for a time their unfruitful studies of serums, vaccines and micro-organisms and devote their attention to the subject of vital energy as manifested in living organisms. Let them learn how to measure the actions and reactions of that fundamental, entitative power and principle called Life in the same way that the electrical scientist, measures the force with which he deals in his department.
The idea of a drug potential analogous to the electrical and gravitation potential, has never been advanced before, as far as I know; but it appears to be one capable of being worked out mathematically by some one who is competent. It is merely presented here as a suggestion which may lead to the discovery of a new means of measuring the dynamic energy and mode of action of potentiated homoeopathic medicines.
Something determines the intensity and direction of the force of a drug acting within it sphere in the living organism; and its variation from one point to another, or from one condition or state to another, might be made to mathematically measure its force, if such a measurement were desirable for any purpose.
Does a crude drug in massive does act under the same law as a material body and tend to move in the direction of increasing potential? And does an infinitesimal does obey the law which makes a positive electrical charge tend to move in the opposite direction toward a decreasing potential and thus effect cure of disease? We know that the direction of action of the massive dose is opposite to the action of the infinitesimal dose, as we know that the direction of the organic forces of health is opposite to that of disease.
We know that a peculiar affinity or attraction exists between a sick organisms and the drug which is capable of producing symptoms in a healthy organism similar to those of the sickness.
The theory of the symptomatically similar medicine as a curative is, therefore, also “a phase of the theory of attraction,” of which the theory of the potential is another phase.
A dose of medicine placed on the tongue in contact with the sentient nerves of the organism, from which it is distributed throughout the entire nervous system, is a “something at the point in space at which there exists a condition of attraction or repulsion caused by its presence there.” The dose according to its size and quality may be a “mass,” or it may be an “ion,” an infinitesimal dynamic quantity comparable to “an electric charge.”
The action of a drug upon the living substance is analogous to the action of electricity and has often been compared to it. There are some who even believe that life and electricity are identical.
When Hahnemann adopted the plan of proving drugs on the healthy and thus brought drug action within the category of observable phenomena, he opened up a new field in physical science and made possible the formation of a dynamical theory, by which their action may not only be physically explained, but measured, modified and controlled.
In the scientific sense then we say that Hahnemann through drug- proving and potentiation, was enabled to formulate a dynamical theory, and raise materia medica to the level of a science. In other words, he might be said to have discovered the *drug potential, and brought materia medica and therapeutics into alignment with the other sciences which are based upon the theory of the potential.
The Hahnemannian theory and process of potentiation makes it possible to modify and govern, as well as to measure, the action of drugs submitted to proving, or prescribed under the principle of *similia, to any extent required. As the development of the modern sciences of electricity, hydrostatics and engineering has been due largely to the application of the theory of the potential, so has the development of homoeopathy been due to the application of a similar theory in medicine.
The theory of the drug potential appears to be a logical corollary of the dynamical theory of life, the law of similars and the law of potentiation. Taken together they make up the great trait of fundamental principles in the Hahnemannian philosophy. If we view life from the standpoint of dynamics, considering health as orderly, balanced and harmonious action and disease as unbalanced or disorderly action of the life principle, then we must also consider the agents which change or modify the action of the life principle from the same standpoint. Any agent or substance which modifies the action of the life principle medicinally must do by virtue of its inherent dynamic energy; and that action must be governed fundamentally by the same dynamical laws which govern the operation of the life principle physiologically and pathologically.
These laws are related to all the vital functions, and to all the agents which act upon and modify them. The organs of nutrition, growth and repair; digestion, absorption and excretion; innervation and enervation; respiration, circulation, sleep; intellect, emotion, memory, reason, judgment and will all react to appropriate stimuli under the law of attraction and mutual action, stated by Sir Isaac Newton in the formula, “action and reaction are equal and opposite.”
These same laws, in the last analysis, govern all the agents and substances which act upon the living organism. They are related to the germination, growth and reproduction, and the development of the inherent properties of all the plants and forms of vegetable life from which we derive our drugs; to the functional and organic development and existence of all the insects, reptiles, and other forms of animal life which furnish their secretions for our medicinal use; and to the origin, formation and constitution of all the minerals and inorganic substances which make up a part of our materia medica. The embodied dynamic energy of each and all of these becomes available and useful through Hahnemann’s discovery of the drug potential and his invention of the mechanical process of homoeopathic potentiation.
The form or manner in which the dynamic energy of any particular substance manifests itself depends upon its physical condition and upon the condition of the organism which it acts.
The knowledge that drugs act upon the living organism and that the organism react to drugs; and the further knowledge that the organism reacts in a different manner to each drug led to the recognition of the specific character of drug action and to the doctrine of elective affinities; that each drug had a specific or peculiar relation to or affinity for the living organism, differing from the action of every other drug.
Prior to Hahnemann’s time, with only a very few exception, the idea was limited in its application to diseased conditions alone. Drugs were used to modify diseased condition upon fanciful or theoretical grounds, without any knowledge of their action upon the healthy organism. Empiricism reigned in medicine. Deluded and hampered by the idea that disease was an entity the futile search for specifics for diseases began and has continued to this day, regardless of the obvious fact that no two person affected with the same disease are affected in exactly the same manner, and that, therefore, there can be no such thing as a specific for a disease. Disease is not an entity but a process – a constantly changing condition or state.The doctrine of specifics applies to disease as well as to drugs, but it is limited to the *individual. It does not apply to the class. The direct, Producing causes of disease are entities, but the cause can only become active under certain condition, and the action of any disease-producing substance is always modified by the peculiar character and conditions of the individual and his environment. This modification must always be taken into consideration in practice. The practical problem is to find the remedy for the individual and correctly measure its power and action.
Hahnemann attacked the problem from a new standpoint when he began to investigate the action of drugs upon the *healthy human organism. By his tests or “provings” he showed that the healthy organism has an attraction for drugs and that it will react to their influence., under proper conditions, in the production of objective and subjective phenomena, or symptoms. By observing these phenomena the peculiar or specific properties and character of drugs may be definitely determined and measured. Drug action is thus proven to be dynamical and brought within the scope of the general law of attraction.
Knowledge of the existence of this attraction or affinity of the living organism for drugs and of the phenomena which they produce, taken with the conditions under which they are produced, opens the way for the formulation of a dynamical theory of how they act. The power which they exert, or the power which the organism exerts in reacting to them may be both measured and controlled. Considered from the standpoint of dynamics we have here *quantities with which to deal, the same as in any other department of physics. Power of a specific kind is generated, applied and expended for a specific purpose-drug or medicinal power for proving or cure. The drug possesses potential energy, or the power of doing work of a certain kind in the living organism under certain conditions. The quantities dealt which are assignable quantities and may be measured mathematically or otherwise.
Hahnemann’s First great discovery was that *the quality of the drug action is governed by the quantity of the drug used.
In order to control drug action, therefore it was necessary to find and adopt a scale of mensuration for drugs which should be both quantitative and qualitative. The centesimal scale of dilution adopted by Hahnemann practically fulfills the requirements for quantitative measurement of drug action and satisfies the pure therapeutist even as a qualitative yardstick; but for the scientist it leaves something to be desired in accuracy for qualitative measurement.
It remains true, however, that Hahnemann’s conception of the dynamic nature of drug and disease action brought their phenomena within the scope of the universal laws of motion and made possible the development of an efficient system of therapeutic medication.