Frequently Asked Questions about Homeopathy
What is homeopathy?
- Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like.” A substance that can cause an illness or a symptom can also treat the same illness when given in a minute amount in a homeopathically-prepared medicine. Homeopathic medicine requires a process of continuous dilutions and succussions (vigorous shaking) in order to be effective.
Can you give an example of how homeopathy works?
- For example, with the homeopathic dose of Rhus tox, or poison ivy, the body works to rid itself of irritations from poison ivy.
How is homeopathic medicine made?
- Homeopathic remedies are made from substances found mostly in nature (animal, mineral or botanical) through a process of dilutions and succussions (vigorous agitation). Each remedy is manufactured according to the Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States following strict formulation requirements.
What is the homeopathic manufacturing process?
- The homeopathic manufacturing process for most plant sources is to begin with a dilution of one part plant and nine parts alcohol and water. This original 1:9 dilution is called the tincture or a 1X potency. All the homeopathic potencies are then made from this tincture. In each step, the material is diluted in a specified amount and succussed (vigorously shaken) to make a wide range of potencies. The beginning potencies of other starting materials may be treated differently.
What do the potencies or strengths of X and C mean?
- You will see the homeopathic drug potency, or strength, on the medicine label as a number followed by a letter, such as X, C, M or CM. The number refers to how many times the base substance was diluted and succussed. The letters refer to roman numerals and describe the ratio in which the substance is diluted.
- For example, a tincture (1X) is diluted at a ratio of 1:9 (one part active to nine parts inactive – USP dilution alcohol) and succussed to make a 2X. The 2X will be diluted in a 1:9 ratio and succussed to make a 3X, and so on.
- C potencies are made by starting with a 2X and diluting in a 1:99 ratio (one part active to 99 parts inactive –USP dilution alcohol) and succussing. This makes a 2C potency. This process would be repeated in the same steps to create the higher C potencies. A 30C potency means the substance has been diluted and succussed 30 times, using the 1:99 ratio.
- There is only a minute amount of the original substance in homeopathic medicines, which adds to their safety. Due to the dilution ratio, an X potency has more of the original material than a C potency of the same number. For example, a 6X of Arnica montana has more of the original material, a plant commonly called Mountain Daisy, than a 6C.
- If you started a remedy using an X potency, for example, continue that remedy in an X potency. You might choose to go up in number, but you generally stay with either an X or C while taking the remedy. If you can’t get an X but can get a C in the same strength, do it if it’s urgent. Both have been potentized the same number of times, thus the strengths are similar.
- In homeopathy, the higher the number, the stronger the medicine. Although the actual material substance becomes less and less with each dilution, the energy of the medicine becomes more homeopathically potent.
How can less be more?
- The actual starting substance (plant or other) material becomes more and more dilute during the homeopathic manufacturing process, yet more homeopathically potent. Therefore, the strength of a 30X/C is said to be greater than a 6X/C, for example. There is less material substance; however, as a result of the succussion, the energy of the original material has been made stronger.
What is a constitutional remedy?
- A constitutional remedy treats an individual’s “personality picture,” which involves “looks, manner, voice, speech, gestures, responses, thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, tastes, strengths/weaknesses, disposition and temperament— as well as his common or idiosyncratic physical symptoms” according to Catherine Coulter in Nature and Human Personality.
- To find a constitutional remedy, consult a homeopathic practitioner, as there are many factors to consider.
What is a combination remedy?
- Combination remedies are prepared from several single remedies known for the problem indicated on the combination label. Combination remedies help in finding a remedy, as the most common remedies and potencies for a particular condition have already been selected for you.
- Combination remedies eliminate the guesswork and cut down the time it might take to find the right remedy. When they help but do not completely alleviate the symptoms, a change in the strength or a different remedy is usually indicated. If this is the case, consider consulting a homeopathic practitioner or serious self study.
Is homeopathy a form of herbal medicine?
- No. Homeopathy is a completely different form of medicine from herbal in that herbal medicines use a much larger dose of plant materials than in a homeopathic remedy. Herbal medicines are also prescribed very differently than homeopathic medicines. Additionally, unlike herbal supplements, which are regulated as dietary supplements, the FDA accepts homeopathic products as medicine and regulates their manufacture as such.
History of Homeopathy
How did this medical system develop?
- Homeopathy has been in clinical use for over 200 years. Homeopathy is a system of medical treatment developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann beginning in 1794. He published The Organon, his first compilation of homeopathy’s principles in 1810.
What is the history of homeopathy in the United States?
- The first American homeopathic medical college was established in Allentown, PA in 1835. At the turn of the 20th century 20% of all medical practitioners in the United States were homeopaths (approximately 15,000) and there were 22 homeopathic medical colleges.
- Homeopathy fell out of popular usage for a time in the 1900s in the United States though some companies like WHP continued. A homeopathic renaissance began in the 1980s and by 1999 more than six million people were using homeopathy. Its use has been increasing rapidly ever since.
Do people use homeopathy in other parts of the world?
- Worldwide, approximately 500 million people use homeopathy for their healthcare. Internationally, it is practiced by hundreds of thousands of medical and naturopathic doctors.
Can you give an example of the epidemiological evidence for homeopathy?
- Yes, there are literally hundreds of contemporary and historical examples of homeopathy’s value during epidemics of yellow fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, cholera and other deadly ailments.
- For example, it’s estimated that more than 50 million people lost their lives during the flu pandemic of 1918-19, making it the deadliest epidemic in human history. Five public health surveys from that time period show that among 61,060 patients treated homeopathically during the deadly 1918-19 outbreak, 427 died, a mortality of 0.7 percent. Compare that to an average mortality of 30% for patients treated with ordinary medicine during the pandemic.[i]  William A. Pearson. Epidemic influenza treated by homœopathic physicians. Homœopathic Recorder 1919; 34: 347. *Please note that this is a historical account of the influenza epidemic. Please consult a medical professional for any serious medical condition.
Homeopathic Safety & Regulations
What is the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS)?
- The HPUS tells homeopathic medicine manufacturers exactly how the individual remedies must be made. It provides the groundwork for safety: how to make a remedy, what to make a remedy from, the class under which it is made and so on. Homeopathic medicine manufactured in the United States must be made in accordance with the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).
Are homeopathic medicines regulated?
- The manufacturing of homeopathic medicines is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prepared by licensed companies like Washington Homeopathic Products using strict guidelines of the HPUS, and the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) of the FDA.
Is it safe and are there any side effects?
- Homeopathic medicine, when used as directed, is generally recognized as safe for babies, children, pregnant women, and adults. However, if you are pregnant or nursing, we do recommend that you consult a licensed practitioner before using any medicine, including homeopathy.
Can remedies expire or be ruined?
- While the FDA does not require homeopathic medicine to have an expiration date, our remedies in pill form and our homeopathic kits now come with an expiration date on the label which is 5 years from the date of manufacture. This is based on the stability assessment of finished products.
- However, in order to keep remedies effective for years, you should store them at room temperature in a dry, dark place and not in the refrigerator. Avoid touching/contaminating them. Also, do not put spilled remedies back into the container and avoid heat higher than 120°F, moisture and extended periods of sunlight.
How do I know whether to take a high or low strength/potency?
- It is generally recommended to start low and work your way up in potency if you are noticing improvement but not complete alleviation of the condition.
- The strength of a remedy is denoted by a number: the higher the number, the higher the strength. High strengths (200C, 1M and higher) are rarely taken as often as low strengths, but they certainly have their time and place. In urgent situations these higher strengths are often recommended as the initial potency.
- Whenever possible, you should follow the guidelines set forth by your practitioner as the best potency to use depends upon the symptom set.
How do I take this medicine?
- A dose is considered as the number of times a remedy is taken, not the number of pellets ingested. Each product’s label will provide general dosage instructions. Pour the pellets into the cap; from the cap, place the remedy under the tongue. Avoid placing the pellets in your hands. Allow the pellets to dissolve in your mouth.
- Although the labels on the medicine provide general dosage instructions, one should always defer to his/her practitioner’s instructions when under their care. How the medicine is taken is totally dependent upon the severity of the illness or symptom set that is being treated so working with a homeopathic practitioner or serious self-study is recommended.
How often do I take the medicine?
- The label will provide general information on the frequency of dosage; this is a safe and effective way to begin taking a remedy. Ideally you should follow the directions from your homeopathic practitioner or homeopathic reference book.
- As you start to see a measurable improvement, reduce the frequency of dosing or stop taking the medicine altogether. Repeat as needed. Rarely do you take homeopathic remedies every day for a long period of time. In an acute situation, you may see an improvement anywhere from immediately to 24 hours after taking the medicine.
Does it matter what pellet size I take?
- No, a homeopathic dose is considered a dose no matter the size of the pellet. Pellets cannot be cut or doubled to equal a greater or lesser strength/potency of the remedy.
What is an aggravation?
- An aggravation is an overstimulation of the healing process that occurs infrequently after taking a remedy. For example, your symptoms temporarily worsen.
- If, after taking the medicine, you experience an aggravation, stop the remedy. When the aggravation subsides, consider re-taking the remedy, especially if the condition has improved but no other improvement is forthcoming. The most important aspect of homeopathic treatment is the selection of the correct medicine. No matter what strength the remedy is, if it is the right one, it will have an effect on the body. Just remember, it is seldom necessary to take the medicine for a long period.
How soon should I notice a result and how often should I take a remedy?
- In an urgent situation (for example, a bee sting), results will typically be immediate if it is the correct remedy. Acute problems (for example, a cold) could take a few hours or a day for results to be realized.
- Repeat as directed by your practitioner or in accordance with the label. Typically people reduce or stop repetition as improvement occurs, repeating as necessary. Rarely are remedies taken for extended periods of time. Consult a practitioner for treating chronic problems.
Do strong odors or drinking coffee antidote homeopathic medicine?
- It is sometimes said that exposure to strong odors such as camphor or consuming coffee (including decaf) or mint can antidote (render ineffective) homeopathic medicines. Be aware of the possibility of antidoting and avoid where possible.
- If you think you have antidoted the remedy’s action, wait a few hours and retake the remedy. WHP has generally observed that in individuals who are accustomed to drinking coffee on a daily basis, remedies are not usually antidoted by coffee consumption.
Are remedies affected by x-rays or cell phones?
- There is little concrete evidence on the subject. However, some do believe that this exposure can cause remedies to become ineffective. At WHP, our personal experience has been that the remedies continue to work just as well after this type of exposure.
What can I use homeopathy to treat?
- Homeopathy effectively treats common ailments including hay fever, minor arthritic pain, colds, flu-like symptoms, cold sores, sinus problems, indigestion, minor burns, accidents, and a wide variety of other conditions.
- Homeopathy will not cause drug interactions, allowing it to be utilized in conjunction with other medicinal systems—allopathic or complementary alternative medicines.
Why should my family try homeopathy?
- Homeopathy is used by more than 500 million people worldwide for a wide range of ailments. The system is popular because it’s natural, it works, it’s non-habit forming and it’s comprehensive with no side effects.
- What’s more, it’s safe for the very youngest and oldest among us with a safety record unparalleled in the history of medicine. It’s a great option for family use because it’s easily adaptable for self-care. Find more articles on homeopathy for children here.
What do you recommend for…?
- We cannot diagnose your condition, but we are happy to refer you to our many resources. Our website has a helpful blog by Dr. Lisa Samet, ND, which has a series of homeopathy “how to” articles. We can also direct you to a combination or single remedy whose label indications match your symptom set. We also have a terrific selection of homeopathic reference books for further study. Be sure to check out our “How can I find out more?” FAQ to learn about organizations that will help you learn more!
- However, please remember unless you are a licensed practitioner, in most states it is not legal to recommend, suggest, or tell anyone what he/she should take unless it is specifically indicated on the medicine label. We are not permitted to give further guidance on how you should take a remedy apart from the general dosage instructions provided on each product’s label. Giving recommendations for a particular potency/strength is also not permitted.
How can I find out more?
We recommend the following organizations to find out more about homeopathy and to locate homeopathic practitioners in your area:
- The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) (856)-437-4752
- The North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH) (206)-720-7000
- American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH) (888)-445-9988
- Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH) (866)-652-1590
Don’t forget, we also offer a great variety of homeopathic reference books!
Remember...As with all medications, keep homeopathic medicine out of the reach of children. If nursing/pregnant or if relief is not established after seven days, consult your licensed practitioner.
* Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.