In the Homeopathy 101 series …
Once you know which remedy best matches your most prominent symptoms, you will be looking at potency.
Matching the potency to the ailment and the person [or animal or plant] can be of the utmost importance. However, occasionally we can use a less-ideal potency [if it is the only one we have!]. In this post, I’ll explain my general guidelines for how to select a potency. The next post on dosing will cover how to work with a potency that is too high or too low. [And, incase you are wondering, while most homeopaths would err on the side of going too low in potency, I would err on the side of stocking higher potencies, mostly because I use remedies only when we really really need them, and those are typically higher potency situations.]
There’s a kind of general belief in homeopathy that the low and middle potencies [6c-200c] are most useful for ailments with a strong physical presentation. The potencies above 200c [1M, 10M] have been considered potencies for issues of emotional strength. This applies largely to constitutional prescribing, however.
When you are looking at a bee sting, a bruise, the flu, that kind of thing, these are the guidelines I use for selecting a potency:
It is really minor, maybe just irritating–or it is a delicate situation: 6c
It is an ailment where aggravating it could be problematic: 6c, 12c, or 30c [i.e., reduce what you’d normally select by a level or two, so if you’d normally think 200c, go down to 30c or 12c]
This feels icky but I’ll be okay; relief would be nice though: 30c
Ugh, I’m miserable and nothing seems to help: 200c
200c didn’t help: 1M + a plan to get medical attention
Arnica Montana is probably the most commonly used homeopathic remedy. By way of illustration, here are a few examples of how I’ve seen or used Arnica in various potencies:
Arnica 6c: Our babysitter was a champion ballroom dancer, but she was suffering from sore muscles after practice. She took a single dose of Arnica 6c after practices and no longer suffered from the sore muscles.
Arnica 30c: My then-3 y.o. son was playing with a racquetball with my husband. A bouncing ball hit my kiddo in the eye. I pulled out the Arnica 30c for the first time ever on that day–a friend had given it to me–and gave him a single dose. I was amazed when my son felt better within minutes and that a black eye never did form.
Arnica 200c: My son, 1 y.o. at the time, fell and hit his head on a wire rack at a store. His forehead ballooned, and the cold pack the store brought didn’t help at all. I gave him Arnica 200c and the swelling went down considerably and quickly, and he was no longer bothered by the injury. Our possible trip to the ER was cancelled.
Arnica 1M: We were at a remote farm when my then 10 y.o. son, while holding a carrot, turned his back on a young, male draft horse. The horse nibbled for the carrot and got my son’s back. The injury fashioned a fantastic bruise immediately, which was swelling quickly. I gave him some Arnica 200c, and it barely helped and only for a few minutes [I call that a ‘ping’ by the way–more on that in the next Homeopathy 101 post on dosing]. I gave him Arnica 1M, and he was able to ride home comfortably, the swelling having dissolved. I checked in with his homeopath and ended up giving him maybe 1-2 more doses of Arnica 1M over the next couple of days before switching to Calendula 200c when the bruise turned yellow. He then took a couple of doses of Calendula 200c over a couple of days … and that was that.
For a first aid kit that is used in urgent situations, you’d be looking at 200c, perhaps one or two 1M remedies [like Arnica for soft tissue trauma and Hypericum for injury to nerve centers]. The Helios accidents & emergencies kit is all 200c potencies. Other first aid kits are offered at homeopathic pharmacies in 30c. General use kits often are offered in 30c but you can also find them with some 30c and some 200c where the remedy is provided in its most commonly used potency, and many other combinations.
If you do not have the correct potency, you can sometimes finagle it anyway. I’ll cover those details in the next post on dosing.
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