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Complement Ther Med. 2005 Dec;13(4):291-6. Epub 2005 Nov 16.

A review of the use and role of low potencies in homeopathy.

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  • 1Institute for History of Medicine, Robert Bosch Foundation, Straussweg 17, D-70184 Stuttgart, Germany.



The issue of potency choice in homeopathy has always been controversial. In "high" potencies there are no molecules of the starting substance remaining and in low potencies (including tinctures) the line between homeopathy and herbal medicine is blurred.


The literature on potency selection is reviewed, including the use of low potencies and their effects on organ physiology. This article attempts to examine the overlapping boundaries between homeopathy and herbal medicine in clinical practice and basic research.


Both low and high potencies are utilized in all areas of homeopathy ranging from prescribing for acute or chronic diseases to constitutional treatment. Low dilutions play a role in homeopathic prescribing, and are particularly prominent in systems of homeopathy focusing on the organotropic effects of homeopathic medicinal products integrated with conventional medicine diagnosis and treatment. (Mother) tinctures may be employed in homeopathy as well as in herbal medicine. The distinction between the two is based on the clinical context, the rationale behinds its use, and the production method of the tincture. Data available from basic research on low and high potencies do not suggest a superiority of low potencies over high potencies or vice versa.


Low potency homeopathic medications (with detectable concentrations of the starting material) and high potency homeopathic medications (with no detectable amount of the starting material in the finished product) have been available since the beginning of homeopathy. Given that both groups of homeopathic medications have shown effectiveness in clinical trials and in the absence of a definitive mechanism of action for homeopathy (including the possibility that there may be multiple mechanisms of action present) this wide of range of potencies for homeopathic medicines should be maintained, ranging from mother tinctures to homeopathic medicinal products with no measurable concentration.

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