One of the major differences between homeopathy and herbalism is that the former uses remedies derived from insects, minerals, chemicals and drugs as well as plants. Plant-based remedies are processed according to the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia (most European manufacturers will use the quality standard of the German or French Homeopathic Pharmacopoeias) to obtain the primary extract or mother tincture. This then becomes the basis for the preparation of the potencies by a process known as potentisation composed of two stages - dilution and succussion. One drop of the mother tincture is added to 99 drops of alcohol and this mixture is struck a number of times against a ‘hard yet elastic surface’ - historically this was the family bible !

This mixture has now become the 1c potency (c=centesimal ie. a 1 in 100 dilution. We also use the ‘x’ or ‘D’ scale to denote a 1 in 10 dilution).

The potentisation process continues in the same way until the required potency has been reached with most high quality manufacturers preferring to make remedies by hand using this Hahnemannian method, at least to 200c. Higher potencies such as 1M (1000c), 10M (10,000c) and even CM (100,000c) are almost always made on machines in a different way known as the Korsakovian method. Remedies from non-soluble material, such as minerals, must first be ground before being ‘diluted’ in a similar way to that explained above, except that it is 99 parts of lactose powder that is added at each stage. At the point where the material becomes soluble, potentisation may be conducted as before. This process of grinding and adding lactose to insoluble substances in order to prepare a homeopathic remedy is known as trituration.