FOR more than a century the question of potencies has been a stone of stumbling to homoeopaths. There are high potency men, low potency men, medium potency men and all potency men. There are those who say that it is unhomoeopathic to give medicines in mother tinctures or in low dilutions and there are those who say that the high potencies are a delusion, that they either contain no drug at all, or that a so-called high potency is in reality a low or a medium potency.
In view of there being no agreement as to the potencies which should be used, the writers of many homoeopathic handbooks do not mention any potencies at all and leave it to their readers to select the potency they fancy.
Hahnemann, the founder of homoeopathy, used at the beginning the strong tinctures undiluted. Then he found them too strong and diluted them more and more and at last he acted apparently only with high potencies, the 30th potency being his favourite. One of his most eminent disciples, Boenninghausen favoured the 200th potency, Jahr, another disciple of Hahnemann favoured the 30th potency. Other homoeopaths use any potency up to the millionth.
In spite of all discussions, doctors have not arrived at unanimity with regard to the potency question. Dr. John H. Clarke, my eminent predecessor in the editorial chair, told me that the question could not be settled, that any potency would cure if the medicine was correctly chosen, that some men did the most wonderful cures with high and very high potencies, while other men did equally excellent work with low and very low potencies and mother tinctures.
Dr. Clarke himself used all potencies from the mother tincture to the very highest, but he recommended beginners to use low potencies, high potencies being somewhat risky, if used without adequate knowledge.
I share the views of my late friend and teacher and favour all potencies and recommend beginners to start with the low ones. Some people are highly sensitive to medicine people are frequently of a nervous type. There is stubborn type of people who react only to low and very low potencies. If one gives high potencies to those who are not easily affected by medicine, treatment may have no results and the patients will be disgusted with homoeopathy.
I think that it is safest, especially for beginners, to begin treatment with low potencies and to raise the potencies when they have acted well, when it has been discovered by actual experiment that the right medicine has been chosen.
As this journal is addressed impartially to all, to homoeopaths and allopaths, to doctors and laymen, to experts in homoeopathy and to beginners, we shall describe cures effected both by high and by low potencies. There are many roads, which lead to Rome and there are many ways which lead to the homoeopathic cure.
High potencies are sometimes exceedingly efficient and sometimes very risky. A lady who had suffered from attacks of gallstone colic had always found prompt relief by taking Belladonna in low potencies. During a recent attack frequent doses in low and very low potencies failed to act. She suffered terribly.
She was then given a single dose of Belladonna, 200th potency, prepared by Dr. E. B. Nash, which acted like a charm. A lady with numerous and very painful abscesses was always greatly relieved by Hepar sulph. in low potency, but the abscesses kept recurring. She was then given a single fearful and alarming aggravation. It was followed by a cure. However, the risk had been too great. She ought to have been given a lower potency, perhaps the 200th.