Since the passage of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, homeopathic medicines have been regulated as drugs by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).(1)
What is Homeopathic Dilution?
Homeopathy is based on three principles.
- ‘Like cures like’. Something that in large doses creates the symptoms of a disease, will, in small doses, treat it. This is similar to the theory behind vaccines.
- Extreme dilution enhances the medicine’s healing properties and eliminates undesirable side-effects.
- The whole person must be taken into consideration when choosing a remedy.
Homeopathic medicines are obtained from a precise and controlled process of successive homeopathic dilutions. They are commonly made by crushing a plant, animal, or mineral substance then putting it into a solvent such as grain alcohol. The extract is then further diluted in a mixture of alcohol and water. (Solid products can be diluted using lactose.) The process is repeated many times to achieve a therapeutic dilution. After each dilution the mixture is vigorously agitated in a machine or by hand to deliver a calibrated amount of shaking. This is called succussion. Homeopaths believe that the process of succussion is critical to assuring the therapeutic effect of the drug.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Homeopathy
How should I read a homeopathic medicine label, such as “Arnica Montana 30c?”
The official drug name often appears in Latin, as is the case with “Arnica Montana.” The Latin names are systematic and unique with ingredient standards of identity and purity set by the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). If the letters “HPUS” appear after a drug name, that indicates that an official monograph (an approved document that sets forth the standards and specifications for a drug) exists for the drug, and it has been studied and approved by homeopathic experts and meets the HPUS standard.
The drug strength appears after the name with a numeral followed by an X or C. Since X is the Roman numeral for 10, a 6X potency states that the drug has been diluted at a ratio of 1 to 10 and succussed for a total of six times. In C terms, the concentration ratio is 1 to 100 (C is the Roman numeral for 100). The higher the numeral preceding the X or C, the lower the concentration of active ingredient in the medicine. While counterintuitive, homeopaths believe that a homeopathic medicine is more powerful the more times the active ingredients has been diluted.
Which homeopathic dilution should I choose?
Over the counter remedies tend to come in 6c and 30c potencies. 6c potency is typically used for long standing conditions, such as rheumatic pain. 30c (or higher) potency is typically used for first aid or acute situations, such as the onset of a cold or bruising after a knock or fall.
(1) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CPG Sec. 400.400 Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May be Marketed. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074360.htm