That the doctrine of “dynamization”, as understood by high potency Homoeopathists, is not sustained or even encouraged by a single fact yet discovered in the whole range of physical science….


DR. Dudley’s Open Letter to Samuel Potter.

I have red the paper on “The Logical Basis of the High Potency Question”. Not having the pleasure of your personal acquainance, I I must ask you to pardon my familiarity, in saying that you are a man after my own heart; not because you are evidently a low potency man, but rather because you bring your medical principles to the bar of reason and logic, a custom all too rare among medical men, Homoeopathist especially. Your temerity, however, is amazing. Have you no conception of the nature of the dangerous elements you have invoked? Hail, thunder and blitzen, cyclones, volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, profanity, scurrility, “open letters, and nitro-glycerin; yet one thing you need not fear, and that is logic. Your opponents are too sharp to take the field in strange armour or to fight with unknown weapons.

Your article ought to be widely read. It is high time that the origin and the basis(?) of some of the so-called “doctrines of Homoeopathy”, which have done, and are doing, so much to retard the progress of our system, should be thoroughly and universally known. There are hundreds of Homoeopathic physicians who have all along been decided with the idea that these “principles” were constructed on a foundation of preliminary observation and experiment, nor dream that they had their origin, some, in the purest and most baseless speculation, some in a desire for cheap notoriety, and some in a lofty ambition to defy the adverse criticism of Allopathy and Allopathists to the last extreme degree.

Until these facts are made plain to all our colleagues, and Homoeopathy subjects her doctrines, one and all, to the test of rational experiment, and verifies them by positive demonstration in in the presence of hostile critics, we cannot expect or ask that our system should receive a general public, much less a scientific recognition. When that is done, the very natural prejudice with which we now have to contend will rapidly disappear, and the final result of the rivalry between the two schools will be no longer doubtful.

The writer has never been foolhardy enough to declare that, the use of high potencies cannot be instrumental in curing disease, any more than he would make a similar assertion respecting clairvoyance, mesmerism, triturated moonshine, or any other unlikely thing. But I am ready to go on record with you upon the following:-


1. That the doctrine of “dynamization”, as understood by high potency Homoeopathists, is not sustained or even encouraged by a single fact yet discovered in the whole range of physical science.

2. That the latest investigation in Physics render in probable that matter cannot be diluted beyond the tenth or twelfth centesimal.

3. That consequently it is probable that no dilution above the tenth or twelfth centesimal contains either the material presence, or the dynamic property of the drug employed in its preparation.

4. That in view of the probability that dilutions above the tenth or twelfth contain neither the material nor the properties of the original drug. their regular use is not warranted, until they shall have been subjected to the most thorough and exhaustive crucial tests that human ingenuity can devise.

5. That until high dilutions are shown to be capable of curing as regularly, as certainly, and as quickly as do appreciable quantities of medicine, their use is not justifiable in any case until after a lower dilution has been tried without success.

6. That no cure effected with any potency above the twelfth can claim to be Homoeopathic, because there is no evidence that the remedy administered contained any portion or property of the similimum. Such cures for the present must stand beside those occurring under the influence of clairvoyance, mesmerism, spiritualism, and other occult agencies.

Your paper is exactly in the line of a good deal of modern Homoeopathic thought, and is, therefore, timely. It will accomplish much in directing our young men into the only correct methods of therapeutic investigation. It ought also to do good by showing our high-potency friends that, if they are actuated by the true spirit of reform, they will avail themselves of every possible chance to demonstrate the truth of their opinions so conclusively that all of us will be forced to accept them. No considerations of pride, no false idea of personal dignity can exempt the true reformer from the duty of promulgating his new doctrines at every opportunity. He must be “instant, in season, out of season”. The Milwaukee test furnishes an occasion, which ought to be made the most of.

Besides the “high potency” question, may dear doctor, there are others looming up for our examination in the near future. One is; “can a drug be persuaded to hasten its curative action simply because the case is urgent or desperate?”. Another is: “Where oh, where is the line between the broad realm, where the law of similars wields the sceptre of its beneficent empire, and that other contracted field of disease and of accident., over which it has no control?” I tried to answer this latter question in 1872, and when! what a tornado I aroused! An ill wind that blew nobody any good. That’s what makes me tremble for you.

You have shown our “High potencies” that the evidence they furnish in favor of their methods of practice is deficient, not in quantity but in quality. You might also have pointed out to them that any single “potency” of the different drugs would require for its proper testing and experimentation, at least one year of the undivided attention of the whole profession; that, if the eighty years of the existence of Homoeopathy had all been devoted to this work, we should still be below the one-hundredth dilution, and that, therefore, the indiscriminate use of the high dilutions, with our present limited knowledge of their potency, is rash beyond measure.

Editor Hahnemannian Monthly: Dr. Dudley’s “Open Letter” in your August issue is the most remarkable paper against high potencies that has yet appeared. He charges the advocates of these potencies with being illogical and, yet, he lays down six “principles” which are supremely absurd, and altogether opposed to the plainest forms of logic. Surely, Dr. Potter, whom hearsay reports as astute and shrewd, will not “go on record” with Dudley upon such an insecure platform.

His first plank is, that dynamization “is not sustained or even encouraged by a single fact yet discovered in the whole range of physical science”. Now, this is not true; but if the were, what is its application? Is it the fault of the doctrine, or of Science? Hahnemann established the doctrine of dynamization, just as he did Homoeopathy itself, by experimentation. He cared not whether science said yea or nay. His was an inductive Philosophy. Will the doctor assert that the doctrine under consideration is at all affected because physical science does not sustain it? Who made physical science, and now formulated by man, a supreme judge? And who dare claim that this science has yet grasped the full extent of the physical universe? The plank, then, is wholly inapplicable to the subject; so, Dr. Potter don’t trust it.

As to the remaining planks, did I not know Dr.Dudley so well and so favorably, I should think that they were intended as a travesty on the whole question.

If the high potencies contain neither the material presence, nor the dynamic properties of the drug, they are mere nothings, yet we may resort to them “after a lower dilution has been tried without success”. And again, as if to complete the fiasco, “No cure effected with any potency above the twelfth can claim to be Homoeopathic, because there is no evidence that the remedy administered contained any portion or property of the Similimum. Such cures must, for the present, stand beside those occurring under the influence of clairvoyance, mesmerism, spiritualism, and other occult agencies.” So, then failing with the low, we may use the high even though they are not material, not dynamic, not Homoeopathic, not the similimus! And if they stand beside occult agencies, by parity of reasoning if one’s religion fail him, let him seek consolation in spiritualism; if the detectives fail to recover his stolen property, let him consult a clairvoyant; if Coffea Cruda fail to cure sleeplessness, let him use the c.m. and if this fail send for a mesmerist. Don’t trust these planks either, Dr.Potter.

I, for one, welcome this “Milwaukee Test,” because it will, if persistently and honestly conducted, add more evidence of the validity of Hahnemann’s priceless boon, “The Dynamization of Drugs”.

Experimenting with high potencies, having ample opportunity every Winter I have proved satisfactorily that they produce symptoms severe enough to seriously incommode the prover, and even to compel him to keep his bed. I have proved the 20 m made on the Hahnemannian Plan of 1 to 99, and I have produced symptoms in many incredulous students annually.

I look forward then with no other concern than a fear lest the test fail for want of support. I am eager to place its confirmations along with the invaluable papers furnished by Watzke, Eidherr, ad lately by T.F. Allen, in his able criticism of Houat in the N.A.J., Aug.1879.

I have cured patients with high potencies, and so has Dr.Dudley. I can assure you he is vastly better as a practitioner than he is as a theorist.

Genial, candid, able as a lecturer, and instructive in the Hahnemann Club meetings, I am all the more astonished that he should permit his pen to play such wild freaks with his better judgment. And I am still more surprised that he should accuse, among others one-half of his club of being a set of illogical fellows, who dare not rationally defend high potencies, because such an armour would be strange to them, such weapon unknown to them.

E.A. Farrington, M.D.

E. A. Farrington
E. A. Farrington (1847-1885) was born in Williamsburg, NY, on January 1, 1847. He began his study of medicine under the preceptorship of his brother, Harvey W. Farrington, MD. In 1866 he graduated from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. In 1867 he entered the Hahnemann Medical College, graduating in 1868. He entered practice immediately after his graduation, establishing himself on Mount Vernon Street. Books by Ernest Farrington: Clinical Materia Medica, Comparative Materia Medica, Lesser Writings With Therapeutic Hints.