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(From the “Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung,” Vol. 59, Nov. 28, 1856.)


In No. 22 of the preceding volume of this Gazette I endeavored to show, first — that the high potencies of our remedies have their origin in the development of the science and in experience, and secondly — that their efficiency can no longer reasonably be called in question.

Hereby two things are established, viz.: first, a certain sort of progress in science, and secondly, the discovery of a hitherto unknown law of nature, in accordance with which it is evident that the medicinal power, in the stricter sense, does not belong at all to the category of the material and ponderable bodies, nor indeed to the realm of chemistry.

Regarded from the stand point of practice, these high potencies would, nevertheless, be regarded as a useless plaything, did they not offer advantages of another kind, which the lower attenuations do not possess. They would, to be sure, be of considerable interest in a natural historical point of view, but in practice they would appear to be quite superfluous, and in no way deserving of the great outlay of time and trouble which their preparation requires.

This latter view seems to have been adopted by many, who have not only boldly pronounced sentence of condemnation, a priori, upon everything which approaches the high potencies, but, instead of following the example of Hahnemann and of many of his older scholars who were at the same time his more intimate friends, in refining and diminishing the dose little by little, have made open retreat and have returned to the use of the lower dilutions, such as were used in the very beginning of Homoeopathy.

This would appear to be the place, then, first of all, briefly to examine certain assumptions and statements in regard to the higher and highest dynamizations which have gained currency of late. As a decided enemy to all unnecessary polemics, and still more to all personal attacks, I shall, in doing so, confine myself closely to the facts, and shall make no special mention of the frequently odious and unworthy tone, and of the arrogant presumption with which opponents are so often despatched. I cannot, however, avoid expressing my regret that such erroneous teaching and false assertions have found so many to adopt and repeat them without once subjecting them to an examination, and who simply ignore the assurances of men as rich in experience as they are worthy of honor and credit, or else seek to despatch them with contempt and ridicule instead of with reason.

Somebody — it matters not who was the first to do it — has given expression to the following assertion: “The higher dynamizations are applicable only to chronic diseases; in acute cases, the lower dilutions and even the strong tinctures must be given.” This assertion, for which up to this time not a particle of practical evidence has been offered, and which is in no wise confirmed by experience, has long passed and still passes with many, for an axiom, and, what is more, it is handed along from one to another without it ever occurring to any one to interrogate experience on the subject. This latter course, however, is so much the more necessary, inasmuch as Hahnemann himself has pronounced a contrary opinion. For we find in a note at the end of p. 287 of the Organon (5th edition), the following words: “The higher the dilutions of a medicine are carried in the process of developing its power (by means of twice shaking) the more rapidly and with the more penetrating influence does it appear to affect medicinally the vital power and produce changes in the economy with an energy but little diminished, even if the process be carried to a great extent; for instance, if instead of the ordinary dilution X (which is mostly sufficient) it be carried up to XX, L, C and even higher dilutions — except that then the action appears to be less enduring.”*[It is well known that the X dilution of Hahnemann is identical with the 30th of the centesimal scale; while the XX corresponds to the 60th, the L to the 150th, and the C to the 300th dilation. The decimal scale is a useless retrogression of recent times.]

The more rapid and more penetrating action of the higher and highest dynamizations which is here expressly signalized, has approved itself in the most decided manner during the 15 years that I have almost exclusively administered such potencies, and I can with the fullest conviction attest it on the ground of my own many-thousand-fold experience. Referring at the same time to the examples cited in my former article, I now adduce the following: Of ten cases of membranous croup in children, in at least nine, the first, or the first two powders of my high potencies, when promptly administered, suffice for the most complete cure. The necessity for three powders is very rare indeed, and among 300 cases, not 10 have occurred in which all the 5 powders, as I am accustomed to prescribe them, have had to be given.*[Dr. Boenninghausen is in the habit of prescribing for croup as follows: — He prepares 5 powders, to be given in the order of their numbers, dry on the tongue at intervals of a half hour — the remedies being, 1. Aconite — 2. and 4. Hepar sulph. — 3. and 5. Spongia — all of the 200th potency — the administration to be suspended as soon as relief is manifest. From the great number of cases which Dr. Boenninghausen speaks of having treated (300), it is evident that he applies the term “membranous” croup more indiscriminately than is warranted by current pathological notions. This, however does not affect his argument, since even in the milder forms of croup in which his first or first two powders suffice to cure, most Homoeopaths would employ the tincture or a low dilution. C. D.] * [These directions were later corrected and detailed in Vol 02 No. 12 issue of the magazine as follows: “Nos. 1 and 2 are Aconite, Nos. 3 and 5 Hepar sulph., and No. 4 Spongia, all in the 200th potency” - see the end of the article “Kenyon LM; Croup"]

The rapid relief of pain from burns by Ars. 200, and of pain from contusions by Arn. 200, borders in fact upon the marvelous, and is never attained in so short a time and so completely by the use of the lower dynamizations. Still more striking is the rapid action upon animals; when, for example, the cow distended by flatus from feeding on wet clover receives Colchicum,3 gtt.j; she recovers, it is true, but seldom does so in less than two hours, whereas after Colch.200 recovery takes place in a half hour at the longest. The (fatal) white diarrhea of the sucking pig which, under Merc. 3 gr.j often continues for a couple of days, is cured in 5 to 6 hours by Merc. 200 glob. j. & c. By these and numerous similar experiences which have been continued so long as to leave no room for individual illusions, the above statement of Hahnemann must be regarded as completely and fully corroborated. The last clause of it, however, with regard to the short duration of the action of the higher dynamizations, especially in chronic diseases, does not unconditionally and in the general correspond with my own experiences.

Other Homoeopaths, of the present day, have advanced the proposition “That the higher dynamizations of powerful drugs, especially of the earths and minerals may be efficient; that such is not the case, however, with the mild vegetable drugs, and that these, in the process of dynamization, soon become absolutely inactive.” I know not, and cannot comprehend, how or whence this piece of wisdom was created or derived. Upon individual experience, as a result of careful comparative experiments, it assuredly is not grounded, for such researches in nowise substantiate it. We find in this again a statement which has been deliberately fabricated and thrown out without a particle of evidence to support it, and which, nevertheless, has found very many to echo it. Those who do so, lay themselves open to the reproach which they have been so ready to fling at usjurare in verba magistri,“ and, indeed, are in direct contradiction to that which the first master has taught us on the subject in his writings. If we examine the first two volumes of the Mat Med. Pura. 2d and 3rd editions, we find the following; In the second edition (1822 and 1824) the 30th dilution is indicated as the proper dose in only 5 remedies, the 24th in 2 remedies, the 12th in 4, the 6th in 3, the 3d in 1, and the tincture in 2 remedies. On the other hand, in the third edition (1830 to 1833), the 30th dynamization and for the most part only a email part of a drop is expressly indicated as the most suitable and always sufficient dose of all the remedies (with the exception of Oleander, in which though a ”highdynamization is recommended, the number is not expressed). Among the remedies treated in those two volumes, there are, however, only a few very powerful and heroic drugs, such as Belladonna, Nux vom, Arsenicum, Rhus tox. and Bry, of all of which, even in the second edition, the 30th potency is indicated as the appropriate dose; on the other hand the majority of the remedies are from the vegetable kingdom and offer a less powerful action, as Cina, Cannab. Opium, Arnica, Ignatia, Pul. and Rheum — yet, in the third edition, the 30th potency is universally indicated as the best and sufficient dose (and almost always a small portion of a drop).*[It is of historical interest to call to mind here, that Hahnemann, in 2d vol of Mat. Med. Pura 2d edition (1824), under Arsenicum. first made mention of the use of globules, in order to make the dose as small as possible — whereas now-a-days, in many instances, whole drops of the lower dilutions are administered. Consequently, in this respect also there has been an evident retrogression.]

It will be remembered that, of late, when the selection of the remedy had begun to be somewhat made light of, certain Homoeopaths took the trouble to spread abroad the notion that “Hahnemann, in the later years of his life returned again to the lower dilutions and to drop-doses.” It is not to be supposed that any body had the hardihood to fling suddenly before the world an untruth so groundless and so audacious. Its originator, moreover, is unknown, to me at least, and this is a subject for congratulation. Probably this falsehood, as often happens, was gradually fashioned and has slowly grown into its present complete unworthy proportions. The first who wishes that something of the kind were true, brings it on the carpet with a “perhaps,” or a “possibly” — the second makes out of this a “probably,” the third claims to have it “from good authority;” and then when the false-hood has served the turn of quite a number, it passes for “quite incontestible,” and is generally believed, without further questioning of its authority, by all, who either wish it were true, or who know no better. Obviously, in such cases, all that may be asseverated to the contrary by men who have stood in uninterrupted communication with Hahnemann, is ignored or is summarily denied. Alas! or rather thank God! such action cannot make truth out of falsehood, and I feel myself in duty bound, by virtue of my constant correspondence with Hahnemann up to a period just before his death, to express hereby the most emphatic assurance that the entire assertion alluded to is a gross falsehood. On the contrary, I can adduce testimony from his letters to me, which are carefully preserved, that in the very last year of his life, he was most zealously and untiringly earnest in carrying the dynamizations still higher, and in reducing the dose more and more. I demand some reasonable proof of those who assert the contrary.

Finally I must mention a class of opponents to the high potencies who have at least a show of justification. I mean those who understand under the name “high potencies” only those that were made by the late Jenichen of Wismar, of which, however, the mode of preparation has hitherto remained a secret and is likely to continue one. Considering this objection without prejudice, however, one must conclude that, in it, a very unessential affair is confounded with the question at issue, and as the proverb says, “The child is emptied out along with the bath.” For who compels these opponents to make use of these preparations alone, when they would experiment with the high potencies? Hahnemann has always and justly insisted that every Homoeopath should prepare his remedies himself. Why should not this advice be followed above all in cases in which there may be thought to be reason for doubting the authenticity of the preparations of another, and when the question at issue is the settlement of an important controversy? I myself made my first cautious experiments with high potencies (200 centesimal) not of Jenichen's nor of any other's, but of my own preparation, and did not procure them from the pharmacy of Mr. Lehrmann in Schoningen, until I had satisfied myself thoroughly, that these, like all preparations previously procured from him, were uniform with my own and were powerful — and as such I unhesitatingly recommend them. Upon these of my own and of Lehrmann's rests my conviction of the excellent action of the high potencies and not upon the Jenichen preparations, of which I came into possession long after my experiments, and which I have very seldom used, because, like many others, I am repelled by the mystery which unquestionably is connected with them.

Hereafter, the above-mentioned objection can be regarded only as an empty (almost a malignant) pretence, and it can in no wise release the honest and progressive investigators among the Homoeopaths, from the duty of repeating with preparations of their own, these experiments the favorable results of which have been repeatedly and most emphatically proclaimed and confirmed by many men of unimpeachable character.

In all the many and long-continued contests which she has waged with Allopathy, Homoeopathy has ever rested victorious upon the stand-point of experience. This has been the indestructible bulwark which has afforded an unshakeable obstacle against all attacks, and it serves us, hence, solely and alone as a standard and a defense against assumptions of fact and errors of doctrine. In view of this well-grounded high estimation in which we hold experiment and experience, it is truly to be wondered at, that in this internal controversy, only assertions and counter-assertions should be forever dealt in, and experiments should be almost deliberately avoided. And no Homoeopath will deny that all conclusions a priori, all suspicions and probabilities, even all so-called incomprehensibilities and impossibilities are of no account whatever, if experience stands in contradiction to them. Why shall we not then here, and by this method of experience, now bring to a conclusion this vexed question of the high potencies?

In making these experiments two important precautions are necessary, which, however, are easily taken, viz —

1. Certainty as regards the preparation of the remedy. On this subject enough has already been said.

2. The right homoeopathic selection of the remedy. With regard to this second point, it will suffice to say in a few words that every experiment which shall be laid before the homoeopathic public for critical examination, must be presented with such clearness and precision in all essential and characteristic particulars that not the slightest doubt can be entertained of the judicious (homoeopathic) selection of the remedy. It is well known, that cases frequently occur, in which from the paucity or incompleteness of the symptoms, serious doubts may exist, and consequently the remedy cannot be chosen with certainty. Such cases are of no avail for these experiments, and may the more readily be excluded, inasmuch as others are not wanting in sufficient number, to which no such poverty attaches. Let the latter only be chosen for the testing of the high potencies, and let the picture of the disease and the remedy given, as well as the results and the action of the latter, positive as well as negative, be communicated truthfully and conscientiously, and all with such clearness and completeness that every expert shall be able to form a reliable opinion upon it. By this method of experiment, and by this alone — if practised bands and enough of them be set to the work — can and must the truth in a short time be brought to the light, and all doubts, and along with them all discord and enmity among us, be resolved into conviction and concord.

Since of all living Homoeopaths I possess undoubtedly the most numerous and the longest continued collection of experiences with the high potencies, and since the care with which my case-books are kept precludes any uncertainty as to their results, I consider myself called upon to communicate here, to my friends especially, in brief and general terms, the chief results of my experiments. It was simply the advantages of the higher dynamizations over the lower, even over the 30th potency — advantages which have been growing more and more evident to me for the last fifteen years — which have induced me to use these potencies almost exclusively, in acute as well as chronic diseases, and always with the most decidedly favorable results. If, under such circumstances I may venture to believe that, on the one hand any weight would attach to my honest assurance, it may at least also be permitted me on the other to call the attention of those who may propose to subject this matter to a closer test, to what I have found to be some of the more important advantages of the high potencies, in order that, in the course of their experiments, these may not escape their notice. These advantages which have also been observed by others, are the following: —

1. The sphere of action of the remedies becomes more extensive, the higher the dynamization is carried. This is observed most strikingly in those remedies which, in their crude condition, give rise to but few symptoms, e. g. Calc. Sil. Nat. mur. Aur. met. Argent.met. Alum.met. and others. If these substances even in the 30th potency effect far more than they do in the first and second triturations, which no attentive observer can deny, so their powers become more extensive with each higher dynamization and the immediate consequence of this is, that they correspond as homoeopathic similia in the same ratio to a greater and greater number of morbid phenomena and hence accelerate the cure in chronic diseases.

2. In acute diseases, the secondary or curative action sets in much more quickly. This peculiarity of the high potencies, so often denied, is so certain that every observer will find it confirmed. In addition to the facts above mentioned in this connection I could adduce countless others from my records. Hence nothing can be more false than the exclusion of these potencies in the treatment of acute and acutest cases — and whoever has once had occasion to observe this rapid action, will readily perceive the groundlessness of all assertion of the contrary. Whether, in chronic disease, the action is of longer continuance, I do not yet venture to assert, since in this, so much depends on other circumstances. I can refer to cases in which one dose has continued to act for three months, and this not merely with the high potencies (200) but also with those hitherto in use (30th).

3. By continued dynamization the remedies become more and more emancipated from the laws of chemistry. Hahnemann draws attention to this important fact in the 1st vol. of “Chronic Diseases” (2d ed.) page 181, and adduces as a fact the following instance: “A dose of Phosphorus, potentized to this degree in the ordinary manner, may lie in the desk, in a paper envelope, for a year and yet, on being administered it exhibits the full medicinal power not of Phosphoric Acid, but of unaltered, unmodified Phosphorus.” I have often had occasion to note a corroborative experience with the crouppowders, which many families among my patients keep always on hand for immediate use, the effect being the more speedy and complete, the more promptly they are administered. Some of these powders, put up in simple paper envelopes, and protected in cupboards from moisture and from strong odors, have in several cases after the lapse of 12 years and more, exhibited an undiminished power and secured a completely satisfactory result.

4. A faulty diet, which often in cities and among the higher classes, spoils the most promising cures, does the less mischief the higher the dynamization is carried, and least of all when the minute dose is dissolved in water and given through several successive days, being succussed anew at each dose. It rejoices me, that my learned friend, Dr. Y. Meyer of Leipsic, has accorded to this advantage of the higher potencies the sanction of his testimony in the session of the Free Union for Homoeopathy of 19th May, and this without contradiction, and has published the same in No. 13, vol. 58, of this Journal.

5. The avoidance of all purely material primary effects, and hence of all dangerous accessory symptoms, lying without the circle of the disease under consideration. In particular, it will soon be perceived, by the use of the high potencies, that only the specific dynamic powers of the drug (which for the most part, appear later than the others, in the provings on the healthy) come into active play, while of the coarser physical properties (poisonous, revolutionary) not a trace is seen. How important this advantage is must be evident to every one who knows how injurious to life and health are even the smaller but unpotentized doses of such drugs as belong to the class of the most virulent poisons.

6. It must finally be reckoned among the signal advantages of the higher potencies thet they can never be administered as palliatives, which are always deceptive, always unavailing for a real cure, and always injurious.

All these points of superiority of which I could add to the number, by naming others not yet however demonstrated to be sure and constant, must, it seems to me, appear important enough to attract attention more and more to the subject. If these rest on a basis of truth, as I can assert with the fullest conviction that they do, since I have them daily before my eyes, then assuredly they richly deserve the title of a true and significant progress in Homoeopathy, and are worthy of being carefully and circumspectly tested by all who have at heart the welfare of suffering humanity, and the development of our beneficient science.


Source: The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 02 No. 05, 1860, pages 209-220
Description: The Advantages of The High Potencies.
Author: Boenninghausen, C.
Year: 1860
Editing: errors only; interlinks; formatting
Attribution: Legatum Homeopathicum
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