How To Take Homeopathic Remedies

Words: Dr Deborah OLENEV

There are as many opinions on the subject of ‘how to take homeopathic remedies’ as there are homeopaths. Understanding homeopathic posology, or the part of medicine concerned with dosage, is not easy. It really takes years of practice to get a feeling for it. The goal of Dr Samuel Hahnemann, MD, the founder of homeopathy, was to prescribe in a way that would be as gentle as possible, while keeping the healing moving forward.

In fact, Dr Hahnemann’s advocacy of the minimum dose, which is one of the cornerstones of homeopathy, was to try to find a way to eliminate the toxic side-effects that people would experience from crude doses of medicinal substances. Hence, his preferred use of highly diluted remedies. He tended to work with lower potencies throughout his life, like 6C and LM potencies. It was only towards the end of his life did he begin to use 30C potencies — and, I believe he only used the 200C a few times.

The American homeopaths, like Dr James Tyler Kent, MD, tended to use much higher potencies, because they wanted quick and dramatic results; they were, perhaps, not as concerned about gentleness as Dr Hahnemann was. I was extremely influenced by Dr Kent in the early years of my practice, but now I am leaning more towards the gentleness that Dr Hahnemann advocated. Here is how I try to achieve ‘that’ gentleness.

How Soon To Repeat The Remedy 

Never follow the dosage instructions on the bottles of homeopathic remedies that you buy in the health food store. The FDA requires this information to be printed on the bottles, but it is ‘overdosing’ for homeopathic remedies.

For constitutional treatment, a single dose of a homeopathic remedy can hold for many months without needing to be repeated. I would only repeat a remedy if the symptoms that had improved after taking the remedy begin to relapse. After taking a remedy there is usually an initial reaction period that can last several weeks, or months, depending upon how deeply rooted a symptom is. I allow this initial reaction period to unfold without any interference. At six to seven weeks after taking the remedy, I evaluate the response and make a baseline chart of the patient’s symptoms. I would only then repeat the remedy, if the symptoms that had improved on the baseline chart begin to relapse, as this is one indication that the remedy has gone full circle and run its course, and it is now safe and advantageous to repeat.

I stress the above point, because many people treat the fluctuations in the initial reaction period as indications necessary to repeat the remedy. This is not accurate and slows down — or, interferes with — the healing process.

For acute ailments, I observe the patient for 48 hours, after administering the remedy. In most cases there should be noticeable improvement within 24 hours. In other cases, it can take longer. I do not repeat the remedy during ‘acutes’ [short-term illness] frequently, as many homeopaths do, because I have found that if the remedy is working and the person is feeling better, repeating the remedy can aggravate the situation unnecessarily.

I find it extremely rare that a repetition of a remedy is needed during an acute illness. I would only repeat if the symptoms that had gotten better were definitely moving backwards for quite a while.

When a remedy is taken, the remedy will cycle through the patient’s repertoire of symptoms as it looks for what it needs to work on. It will find the most recently experienced symptoms first; it will work on older symptoms later.

Generally, you will know that the remedy has located a symptom and is working on it, because you may experience a brief intensification in that symptom. This is a sign that the symptom is being worked on and that it will be better soon. Many people misinterpret this and regard the aggravation that occurs in the first few days, or weeks, after taking the remedy, as a sign that the remedy is not working, and then change the remedy, or repeat it too soon.

This is a common mistake. When changes are taking place, whether you interpret them as good or bad, the rule is not to interfere, but watch and wait to see how things settle. Do not interfere during transitions.

Evaluating Sensitivity Levels Of Patient & Adjusting The Remedy Accordingly 

Following the maxim of Dr Hahnemann in the Organon of Medicine, I always administer the remedy diluted in water. When given in water reactions are tangibly gentle and aggravations are minimised.

The potency of the remedy used, the quantity of pellets used, the amount of water used to dilute the remedy in, the quantity of the liquid dilution that the patient takes, or drinks, are all factors that the homeopath can adjust based on their intuition about the strength of the ‘vital force’ of the patient, or their sensitivity levels. The goal is to keep aggravations, or reactions, to a minimum, while moving the healing forward in as gentle a manner as possible.

For a highly sensitive person, I would use a low potency remedy, choosing between a 6C, 12C, or 30C potency, or LM potency. I would use only one pellet, diluted in two, four or more ounces of water and give one teaspoon, or more, of the liquid to start with, as the patient gets accustomed to the remedy. I then reassess the quantity when a repetition is needed.

For strong individuals/patients I would use a 30C potency, or possibly 200C. I tend not to go to higher potencies unless the person has worked up to it over time. In this case, I may dissolve 2-3 pellets of a 30C, or 6-8 pellets of 200C, as the 200C pellets tend to be much smaller than the 30C pellets, from certain pharmacies, in 4oz of water, and have the patient drink between 3-6 tablespoons of the liquid.

I have found that the quantity of the remedy taken can affect the duration of action of the remedy, but not always. For some people, one teaspoon of the remedy can hold longer than a year, and for other people six tablespoons only hold for 3-4 months. In general, however, I have found that the quantity of the remedy consumed can affect the duration of action of the remedy and/or how soon a relapse occurs.

Never Repeat The Remedy In Exactly The Same Form 

Dr Hahnemann underlined that one should never repeat a homeopathic remedy in exactly the same form. He recommended altering the dose slightly when it is repeated. I accomplish this in several ways: I vary the quantity of water used, so if I used 4oz of water to dilute the remedy for the first dose taken, I will use 6oz water for the second dose, and 8oz for the third dose, 10oz for the fourth dose, and then I start all over again at 4oz.

I always ‘succuss’ [shake vigorously] for the second and subsequent doses. I do not succuss for the first dose, unless I am using LM potencies. The way I succuss is that I dissolve the remedy in a glass jar, or plastic bottle, that seals tightly, and then I bang, or hit the jar against a book. I then ask the patient to drink the amount that I feel would be appropriate for them based on my intuition about how much they can comfortably tolerate, with the intention of keeping aggravations to a minimum. I ask them to swish the liquid in their mouth for 15-20 seconds before swallowing each spoon. I also recommend taking the remedy by olfaction, which would be to breathe over the solution for a minute.

In the past I used to give dry doses. What I found was that dry doses do tend to hold quite a bit longer than doses dissolved in water, but they can cause unnecessarily strong aggravations. When I switched to dosing in water, I have found that the remedies work much more gently, even if they need to be repeated sooner than they would with a dry dose.

There are some patients who are afraid of taking homeopathic remedies. One way I have found to help them get comfortable with the remedy and overcome their fear is to put one or a few pellets in an envelope and put it under their pillow for an hour or so, over the whole night. In this manner they enter the energetic field of the remedy, without needing to ingest it. Once they feel the benefit of this practice, they are more likely to accept taking the remedy orally.

I am sharing this information about homeopathic posology, and how I dose, with you, because there is a lot of confusion about this among both homeopaths and the public. I have had many years of experience with homeopathy and I would love people to have a positive, safe, gentle, and beneficial experience with it. This is one useful way I have found to accomplish this goal.

Dr DEBORAH OLENEV, CCH, RSHom [NA], is a Classical Homeopath based in Mountain View, California, US. She treats people from all over the world via phone and video conferencing. Dr Olenev has had a passion for homeopathy for nearly forty years and has been in private practice since 1991. She has a vast knowledge of homeopathic Materia Medica, and integrates homeopathy with herbal medicine too. She is the owner of First Aid Cream, where she teaches about and sells homeopathic first-aid creams. She has several years of experience treating autistic children and people of all ages for all manner of health conditions.

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