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REMEDIES: Homeopathic Pharmacy

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Homeopathic Pharmacy

by Dr. Trevor M. Cook of British Institute of Homeopathy, London


This article is taken from the book: Homeopathic Medicine Today, Chapter



Homeopathic preparations may be described as medicaments prepared in

accordance with the methods described in the Homeopathic Materia medica

and the latest edition of the British, French or American Homeopathic

Pharmacopoeia. The last British edition was published at the end of the

last century, but the Review Committee of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia

of the United States is planning to publish the 9th Edition in 1989. The

Pharmacopoeia sets out the approved procedures for the preparation of

the medicines. In the series of monographs, the sources of the

medicaments are listed alphabetically, including their proper " generic "

names, common names, formulae where appropriate, descriptions of the

sources, minimum potencies recommended for prescriptions and

over-the-counter supply, references and technical data.




There are more than 3,000 homeopathic medicines. They may be classified

in two ways - according to the origin or source of the medicine or in

the manner in which they are prescribed.


1. Sources

a) Plant vegetable substances

b) Animal substances

c) Chemical elements and minerals

d) Biological sources

2. Methods of

a) Specific remedies application

b) Polycrest remedies

c) Constitutional remedies

d) Combination remedies

e) Single remedies


In this chapter only the " Sources " are relevant. The second category is

discussed in a subsequent chapter.


A. Plant Substances- More than 60 percent of all remedies are derived

from plant substances, which include whole plants, flowers, leaves,

stems, bark, woods, roots, buds, berries, fruits, seeds, bulbs or corms.

Plant specimens are collected in their natural habitats or grown

organically - without the application of pesticides or artificial

fertilizers - in special nurseries or recognized botanical gardens.


Whole Plants- The fresh, succulent plants are collected in the flowering

season in sunny weather. They are cleaned by gentle shaking in hot water

to remove dirt, insects, etc. Examples are: Aconitum Napellus (Aconite,

Monkshood, Wolfsbane). Tall plant with flowers shaped like a monk's

cowl, grows in mountainous areas. Calendula Officinalis (Common

Marigold). Sometimes the roots are excluded. Chamomilla (Wild

Chamomile). An annual herb growing in Europe, Northern Asia and India.

One of the original remedies proved by Samuel Hahnemann.


Leaves- Leaves are collected when fully developed, shortly before the

flowering season or after sunset. Example: Rhus Toxicodendron (Rhus

Tox., Poison Ivy). Very poisonous shrub growing in the United States.


Flowers- Collected in dry weather, just as they are beginning to open.

Flowers alone are rarely used.


Roots- Roots of annual plants are best lifted after the seeds have

ripened in the early Fall. Biennials are best lifted in the Spring and

perennials in the second or third year. They must be washed thoroughly

and carefully inspected for signs of mold growth or woody appearance.

Examples are: Ipecacuanha (Ipecac). Contains several alkaloids, mainly

emetine. Bryonia Alba (White Bryony, Wild Hops). Climbing hedgerow

plant, growing in Europe. One of the original remedies proved by Samuel

Hahnemann. Bryonia Dioica has a similar therapeutic action.


Barks- Non-resinous barks are collected from young trees in the late

autumn. Barks from resinous trees are collected during the development

of blossom and leaves. Example: Cinchona (China, Peruvian Bark). The

bark of the quinaquina tree has a high quinine content. Indigenous to

South America. Used by Samuel Hahnemann in his original proving



Berries, Fruits, and Seeds- Perfect specimens, gathered when ripe, with

only a few exceptions. Dried seeds may be stored in a closed container

in a cool place in laboratories. They are inspected for moldiness, bad

smell or discoloration. Examples are: Nux Vomica (Nux Vom., Poison Nut).

Dried seeds from the orange berries of a tree with crooked trunk,

growing in Northern Australia. The seeds contain several aklaloids,

mainly strychnine, and are very poisonous. Phytolacca Decandra

(Phytolacca, Virginian Poke). Tall herbaceous plant with clusters of

purple / black berries and greenish/pink flowers. Native plant of

America. The whole plant, including the berries, is used to prepare the

remedy. Ignatia Amara (Ignatia, St. Ignatius Bean). Prepared from the

seeds of the plant, which is indigenous to the Philippines.


Bulbs and Corms- Bulbs and corms are lifted from the soil in March and

April. Example: Colchicum Autumnale (Colchicum, Autumn crocus). Large

corm, about 3.5 centimeters in diameter, with white or pale rose flower,

growing in damp meadows. The main constituent is the alkaloid,



Buds and Corms- Buds and young shoots of plants, trees and shrubs are

rich in growth factors, including hormones, auxins and gibberellins.

These remedies belong to a branch of homeopathy known as Gemmotherapy,

developed in France. Gemmotherapy is discussed in Chapter 5, pages

111-112. Examples: Ribes Nigrum, (Black Currant). Prepared from

glycerine macerates fresh buds, which are rich in vitaminC, anthocyanins

and flavonoids and possess anti-inflammatory properties. Pinus Montana

(Mountain Pine). Prepared from glycerine macerates fresh buds of the

tree, which have an entrophic effect of the articular cartilage.


B. Animal Substances- These substances, which may be parts of, or whole

animals, are obtained only from perfect, healthy specimens. They are

collected in the wild or from zoos. Animal sources of homeopathic

remedies are the second largest group, accounting for about 20 percent

of the remedies. They must not be mixed with other substances and they

should be stored in well-sealed containers in a cool, dark place. some

examples are as follows: Apis Mellifica (Apis Mel., Honey Bee). Prepared

from the fresh whole bee. Cantharis (Spanish fly, Blister Beetle)/ A

small, brilliant blue-green beetle about 2 centimeters in length, with a

strong odor. The dried, powdered insect is used. Sepia Officinalis

(Sepia, Cuttlefish juice). Prepared from the brown, inky juice exuded by

the cuttlefish on the approach of a predator. Lachesis mutus (Lachesis,

Bushmaster Snake, Surukuku). Prepared from the poisonous venom of the

Bushmaster snake. The original proving was carried out by Dr.

Constantine Hering during his travels in south America. Tarantulla

Hispanica (Tarantula Hisp., Spanish Spider, Lycosa Tarantula). A bite

from this poisonous spider was thought to cause hysteria for which

dancing was the cure, hence tarantella.


C. Chemical Elements and Minerals- Sources of medicines in this category

are subdivided into those substances which are soluble in alcohol or

water, and those which are insoluble. Mother tinctures of insoluble

elements and mineral are prepared by trituration, a technique discussed

later in this chapter. Where possible, minerals from naturally occurring

ores are used rather than synthetic. Substances may be organic or

inorganic compounds. Some examples are as follows: Arsenicum Album

(Arsen Alb., Arseneous oxide). Insoluble, white powder, Formula As2O3.

Carbo Vegetablilis (Vegetable Charcoal). The residue from the controlled

burning of beech or birch wood. Amorphous (that is, no regular shape)

black carbon with traces of several mineral salts. Insoluble in alcohol

/ water. Hepar sulphuris (Calcium Sulfide). One of the original remedies

proved by Samuel Hahnemann. Prepared by heating equal parts of finely

powdered oyster shell (Calcium Carbonate) and pure sulfur to white heat.

Formula: CaS. Insoluble in alcohol / water. Kalium Bichromicum (Kali

Bich., Potassium Bichromate, Potassium Dichromate). An orange-red

crystalline salt prepared from naturally occuring chromium ore with the

formula K2Cr2O7 in its anhydrous form. Natrum Muriaticum (Nat Mur.,

Sodium Chloride, common Salt). Prepared from naturally occurring rock

salt as white crystals or powder. Formula: NaCl Plumbum Metallicum

(Plumbum Met., Lead Metal). Symbol Pb. Bluish-white, gray metal

extracted from the naturally occurring ore, galena (Lead Suphide).

Insoluble in alcohol/water. Silica (Silica, Silicon Dioxide). White

powder or transparent crystals with the formula SiO2. Occurs naturally

as flint, quartz, agate and sand. Insoluble in alcohol/water. Calcarea

Carbonica (Calico. Car., Calcium Carbonate, Formula: CaCO2). Hahnemann

used the soft, middle layer of the oyster shell as his source for this

compound, which contains small quantities of impurities, such as

magnesium carbonate and sodium chloride. Like many sources of

homeopathic medicines, it is believed that this natural blend of

compounds occurring in nature is superior to a single, pure synthesized



D. Biological Sources- There are two categories of these specialized

homeopathic medicines. Fresh organs, glandular or tissue extracts

removed from healthy pigs, sheep or cattle, called sarcodes, and morbid

or diseased tissues (for example pus), called nosodes. The former

extracts, using healthy specimens, belong to the branch of homeopathy

called Organotherapy, developed in France, and will be discussed in a

later chapter. The bowel nosodes are a special type of nosode developed

by Glasgow Physicians Dr. John Paterson and Dr. Edward Bach. These

medicines are derived from cultures of stools containing intestinal

bacteria. Examples are as follows: Sarcodes: Ardernal gland, pancreas,

Kidney. Nosodes: Influenzinum, Medorrhinum, Variolinum.


PREPARATION OF MOTHER TINCTURES- " Mother Tinctures " can be defined as

the homeopathic medicament in its most concentrated form. They are

produced as clear liquids or in solid triturated form. The liquids range

from colorless to straw colored to dark brown or a red color. All mother

tinctures are denoted by the Greek letter ? , or the abbreviation MT.

Mother tinctures of plant, vegetable or animal substances are prepared

by the maceration of the fresh material in different strengths of

alcohol at ambient temperature. After aging for periods ranging from one

hour to one month, the suspension is filtered by gravity or compression.

Final alcohol strengths may be 33 1/3%, 50% or 80 to 90%

(volume/volume), depending on the water content of the starting

material. Succulent, fresh plants yield between 350 ml per 700 ml of

unfiltered succus (or juice) per kilogram of plant material. The succus

is mixed with one half of its volume of 95 % pure alcohol, producing

mother tinctures of approximately 33 1/3 % (volume/volume) alcohol

content. Fresh plant material yielding less than 350 ml per kilogram of

succus is repeatedly macerated with alcohol/water mixtures, producing

mother tinctures of approximately 80 to 87 % (volume/volume) alcohol

content. Mother tinctures for organotherapy preparations are prepared

from macerates of buds or young shoots which alcoholized glycerin. If

properly stored, mother tinctures have an indefinite therapeutic

activity, although it is sometimes necessary to remove precipitated

solid matter by filtration from time to time.




Hahnemann Methods


By systematic experimentation, Samuel Hahnemann determined that, by

progressively diluting the mother tinctures to reduce the quantity of

drug administered, he could not only render the treatment safe from all

poisonous side effects, but also enhance the therapeutic activity or

make it stronger or more potent. He named these dilution potencies and

laid down a strict procedure. Hahnemann developed his method over many

years and it was published in detail in the 4th edition of the Organon.

He wrote: " Whenever a dilution of any kind is to be made, the name and

number of the remedy are recorded on the labels of the appropriate

number of flasks needed. These are then arranged one after the other.

After introducing 99 drops of alcohol, one drop of the medicine

undergoing dilution is poured from the first flask into the next. Always

be sure that the drop taken from one flask is instilled in the next

flask in line. The flask is then stoppered and shaken twice. "

Potentization is carried out successively in two distinct steps -

dilution and succussion. Thus, the process involves the sequential or

serial dilution of the mother tincture with a mixture of alcohol and

water. Each dilution is followed by succussion, which involves vigorous

shaking with impact. There are a series of dilution: decimal series,

based on serial dilution of 1:10; centesmial series, based on serial

dilution of 1:100, and the millesimal series, based on serial dilution

of 1:1,000. Hence the decimal series of potencies is denoted

1x,2x,3x,4x,...... Nx (denoted 1,2,3,4, in the United Kingdom), and the

millesimal series is denoted with the suffix m.


Succussion- Succussion is the term coined by Hahnemann (Probably it was

derived from the German schuffeln and the Italian scossone, meaning to

shake violently) for the essential process of violent shaking with

impact which follows each step of the sequential dilution, thus

completing the potentization procedure. Hahnemann achieved this by

holding the vial firmly in his hand and using his forearm to strike a

leather bound book. The procedure was repeated at least ten times.

Nowadays, mechanical means are usually employed, using instruments of

many different designs, all of which aim to simulate the manual

procedure. As many as 100 succussions are employed. One type of

mechanical device causes a glass vial, attached to the end of a motor

driven rocking arm, to impinge on a rubber pad on each downward stroke.

Not only does succussion ensure an intimate mixing of the liquid and

diluent, but it is also believed it energizes the potency. This

potential energy is subsequently released as kinetic energy in the

healing process. Trituration This process is employed to " solubilize "

insoluble minerals and chemical elements in their solid form, that is,

to render the crystals or powder to a degree of fineness and subdivision

which will permit their solubilization in alcohol / water. One part (or

1 gm) of substance is finely ground, using a mortar and pestle, with a

small part of 99 parts of pure lactose (milk sugar). The trituration is

continued for at least one hour, while adding aliquot parts of the

remainder of the lactose at 10 to 20 minute intervals. The resultant

finely divided powder represents the first centesimal triturated

potency. The entire process is repeated, using one part of the first

centesimal trituration and a further 99 parts of pure lactose to produce

the second centesimal triturated potency, and so on. For each insoluble

mineral or element, a certain potency level is reached, whereby it is

sufficiently " diluted " to be within its solubility limit in the alcohol

/ water. At this stage, higher potencies can be prepared in the liquid

form in the usual manner. It follows, therefore, that very low potencies

of insoluble substances cannot exist in liquid form.


Potentization Cycle

Serial dilution

Potency Succussion




Although the preparation and application of homeopathic medicines are

fundamentally different, their pharmaceutical forms are the same as

their allopathic counterparts. Homeopathic medicines are available in

liquid form, tablets, pills (or pilules), granules, powders, ointments,

creams, injectables, and suppositories, suitable for administration by

the patient.


Tablets- Produced as placebo tablets by the compression under a minimum

of one ton pressure of a mixture of 80 percent pure lactose and 20

percent pure sucrose, they are white, with double convex upper and lower

surfaces, weighing 0.1 grams. They are medicated by dripping or spraying

liquid potencies onto the tablets in such a manner as to ensure a

coefficient of impregnation of almost 100 percent. It is essential that

liquid potencies used for medication have a high alcohol content (95

percent volume/volume), otherwise they will tend to dissolve the tablet

and their stability is impaired. In certain cases, for example, tissue

salts (cell salts, Biochemic remedies, Schuessler salts) triturated

powders (usually 6x), are compressed directly.


Pills and Granules- Pills, or pilules, are the traditional homeopathic

pharmaceutical form favored by many homeopaths. They are spherical in

shape, of about 4 millimeters diameter and 3 to 5 centigrams in weight.

In the United States and France, pilules are termed granules. Granules

are also spherical, but smaller than pills, weighing about 5 milligrams.

Both placebo pills and granules are prepared form pure lactose by

similar procedures. They are medicated in the same manner as tablets.


Ointments, Creams and Suppositories- These pharmaceutical forms,

employed only a limited extent in homeopathy, are prepared in a similar

manner to allopathic medicaments. Water-based creams are preferred as

they do not stain dressings or clothes. Ointments and creams are

impregnated with a low liquid potency or, sometimes, mother tinctures

and are generally prescribed as specific remedies. Examples are

Hamamelis Virginiana (alone or in combination with other remedies) for

bleeding piles, Arnica for bruises, Calendula Officinalis for minor cuts

and sores and Rhus Toxicodendron for rheumatic pain. Homeopathic

suppositories are prepared in the conventional manner. They are

impregnated in the same manner as ointments and creams.


Liquids- Liquid potencies are widely used in homeopathy. They are

usually supplied in amber glass dropper bottles to protect them from

light. Injectables are also available, but their use is restricted by

legislation in many countries.




Medicines are known internationally by their generic name, in Latin,

according to the concise method of naming plant and animal species laid

down by the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus (1707-1778). For example,

Calendula Officinalis: The first word describes the plant or animal

species. The second word describes the particular subspecies of the

plant or animal. The common names given to plants are specific to each

particular language: in the example given, Marigold, in English.

Similarly, we have, Lachesis Muta, commonly known in English as the

Bushmaster Snake (Venom).




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