Observations Regarding Selection of Potency

Observations Regarding Selection of Potency…

    I must apologize to the association for not having written a paper, but I have been too tired and too ill to prepare one; I made the mistake of putting its preparation off too long, until when College closed I had a little break-down and since I have not been able to write a paper, I will, however, make a verbal report.

The question of what is the best potency for a given case and the question of what is the potency that is best for habitual use is a broad subject. When I was a boy, I played with chickens feet when they were being prepared for the family dinner and it was my first study in anatomy. I found that by pulling certain tendons or strings as I called them, that the corresponding toes would double up. Every one of the toes could be made to contract by pulling certain strings but it was a very clumsy motion compared with the natural orderly movements 6f the toes when they were on the chicken. This leads me to jump a long way, to say that I have been in the office of many homoeopathic physicians who have in their armamentarium nothing but tinctures, and I think that that is clumsier than pulling the strings to make the chicken toes move.

I have been in other physicians’ offices where nothing could be found but CM’s. In my opinion, that too was a somewhat arbitrary selection; it showed a partiality for a certain potency that was too arbitrary and not sufficiently based upon judgment. There is a wonderful latitude between the tinctures and the CMs and in my judgment the selection of the best potency is a matter of experience and observation and not as yet a matter of law. There is an almost endless field here for speculation and observation, ranging from the tinctures to the highest potencies, with the possibility of bringing out some useful rules for the guidance of others. The various potencies are all more or less related to individuals and it is the individual that we should study. We might well begin with Hahnemann’s statement that the 30 is low enough or strong enough to begin with. For many years I have found it strong enough to begin with. Individualization, in regard to potencies as in other branches of homoeopathic work, furnishes us with an additional element of accuracy and success, enabling us to reach certain cases that we otherwise could not reach. Some patients are very sensitive to the highest potencies and are cured mildly and permanently by the use of the 200th or 1000th. There are other individuals who are torn to pieces by the use of the highest potencies. The indiscriminate use of any one potency is very likely to bring reproach upon our art. They all, from the 30th to the millionth, have their place, but no single potency is equal to the demands made upon it by the diseases of different individuals. Then the nature of the disease makes a difference; patients who have heart disease, or who are suffering from phthisis are apt to have their sufferings increased and the end hastened by the highest potencies; they do better under the 30th or 200th. Some times very sensitive patients will do well on a high potency if they have been prepared for it by the use of a lower one. I have frequently seen patients recover from their symptoms for a while under the 1000th and then the remedy would cease to act. A repetition of it would be followed by no effect. The 10,000th would then produce a very beneficial effect and make the cure permanent. Give the necessary doses at long intervals until the repetition brings no effect; then if you are sure that it is the similimum give it in a higher potency until that ceases to act and finally the highest. In this way we can put a patient upon a series of potencies and keep up a prolonged curative action lasting for several years.

The prolonged action is sometimes necessary in very chronic deep-seated diseases. A few months would exhaust the action of a drug if only one potency was used. Any potency, no matter what it is, high or low, will cease to act after a time. That shows at once the usefulness of knowing about more than one single potency of a medicine. Hahnemann gave us an axiom in this respect; it was “when the remedy ceases to act, give a single dose of Sulphur to awaken the susceptibility.” This would not be so often necessary if the potency was properly varied. It was also more necessary with the earlier practitioners of homoeopathy because they had a limited number of medicines to handle compared to us. I have not used Sulphur as an intercurrent for a long time because the indicated remedy will not so often cease to have a curative effect if the potency is properly varied. I have been told by many homoeopathic physicians that they have used the 3rd, 6th or 12th, and obtained a fair result and then it ceased to act at all. Such prescribers have no range of potency and they fail to make a complete cure. Several times I have seen patients on repeated doses of the right remedy in a low potency make no improvement, simply because their susceptibility to that potency-not to that remedy by any means-had been exhausted. I have taken such patients and without changing the remedy but simply the potency got a curative result.

When a patient returns and upon examination you find the old symptoms still there although the patient says that he or she feels much better, that is not the time for repeating the dose. It is only a question of time when a cure will result. When a patient returns and says that he is losing ground, then it is the remedy that has ceased to act, not the potency. Now you need to hunt up another remedy and not a change of potency. Remember that these things are not as yet matters of law but simply the results of some observation. I have always been interested in experiments and observations upon this question, and there is a great deal of work for all of us to do in this field.

Of course it is only the men who grew close to the line that can furnish observations of value. I am always willing and glad to listen to such a man’s experience with the greatest interest. One of the important uses of a society like this is to bring out the experience and observation of trained men such as make up the bulk of its members.

James Tyler Kent
James Tyler Kent (1849–1916) was an American physician. Prior to his involvement with homeopathy, Kent had practiced conventional medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He discovered and "converted" to homeopathy as a result of his wife's recovery from a serious ailment using homeopathic methods.
In 1881, Kent accepted a position as professor of anatomy at the Homeopathic College of Missouri, an institution with which he remained affiliated until 1888. In 1890, Kent moved to Pennsylvania to take a position as Dean of Professors at the Post-Graduate Homeopathic Medical School of Philadelphia. In 1897 Kent published his magnum opus, Repertory of the Homœopathic Materia Medica. Kent moved to Chicago in 1903, where he taught at Hahnemann Medical College.