LAY readers insufficiently acquainted with Homoeopathy are occasionally mystified by certain figures and signs employed in homoeopathic articles and books.
Homoeopathic medicines may be given in the liquid or in the solid form. The strong tinctures from plants are called mother tinctures. These tinctures are usually diluted and with the dilution sugar powders or pills are moistened.
The strength of the medicine is indicated by a figure which is followed sometimes by the sign “x”.
The dilution of the medicines is done either on the decimal scale or on the centesimal scale. If on the decimal scale there is the sign “x” following the figure. The sign “x” is chosen because the sign “x” and the Roman figure ten are identical.
If a medicine is marked “1x” it means it contains one-tenth of a grain in a dose. If marked “2x” it means it contains one- hundredth of a grain in a dose. If marked “3x” it means it contains one-thousandth of a grain and so forth.
The higher potencies are usually marked on the centesimal scale.
Aconite 1 means that one-hundredth of a grain of Aconite is contained in a grain of the medicine. The indication Sulphur 3 means that there is a millionth of a grain of Sulphur in a grain of the medicine. The indication Ferrum 6 means that there is a billionth of a grain of iron in a grain of medicine.
In homoeopathic literature we see frequently the sign <. It means “worse by”. For instance, we may read “Rheumatism < by rest,” which means it is worse by rest. This symptom is, of course, an indication for Rhus tox. Or we may find “Rheumatism > by rest,” which means it is better by rest. That would be an indication for Bryonia.