A guide to homeopathic terms, from antidotes to succussion.
Antidote: A substance or experience that slows, stops or reverses the curative action of a homeopathic medicine.
Constitution: The overall health of the person as determined by his/her heredity, life history, lifestyle, environment and past treatments.
Constitutional treatment: Treatment that is determined by a careful assessment of a person’s constitution and symptoms in an effort to deeply stimulate the person’s inner healing.
Healing crisis: A common experience for homeopathic medicine users in which some more external symptoms initially get worse in the process of a cure (sometimes referred to by homeopaths as “aggravation” of symptoms).
Hering’s laws of cure: First described by Constantine Hering (1800-80), principles that define the changes in symptoms that should be observed during a genuine curative response to homeopathic treatment. The three components are (1) healing proceeds from the internal organs and extends outward, (2) healing proceeds from the top of the person to the bottom, and 3) healing proceeds in reverse order of the symptoms’ appearance in the person.
Law of similars: The fundamental tenet of homeopathy: A substance that causes a set of symptoms in a healthy person acts as a curative medicine when given to a sick person with similar symptoms.
Materia medica: “Materials of medicine” in Latin. Books that list the homeopathic medicines used and the detailed indications for their applications.
Modality: A circumstance that makes a person’s overall health or a specific symptom better or worse (e.g. in weakness that's worse in the morning or a headache made better by cold applications, “worse in the morning” and “better by cold applications” are the modalities).
Nosode: A homeopathic medicine made of material taken from diseased material, such as bacteria, viruses or pus.
Potency: The term used in homeopathy to describe the number of times a substance has been diluted and succussed (shaken) according to the strict rules of the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia. When an “x” is written after a number (as in 6x, 30x), it refers to the number of times one part of a medicine was diluted with nine parts of the dilutant (usually distilled water). When a “c” is written after a number (as in 6c, 30c), this refers to the number of times one part of a medicine was diluted with 99 parts of dilutant. When “lm” is written after a number (as in 6lm, 30lm), this refers to the number of times one part of a medicine was diluted with 50,000 parts of dilutant.
Potentization: The pharmaceutical process of repeated dilution with succussion (vigorous shaking) during homeopathic medicine preparation.
Proving: The procedure for giving doses of a substance to healthy subjects in order to find what it causes in overdose and thus what it has the capacity to cure.
Repertory: A homeopathic text that indexes medicines that have been found to cause and/or cure specific symptoms.
Reportorization: The process of determining the correct medicine by consulting a repertory for a person’s characteristic symptoms, substances that cause these symptoms and the one substance that most accurately fits the whole person.
Simillimum: The medicine most similar to the person’s totality of symptoms.
Succussion: Part of the homeopathic manufacturing process in which a medicinal substance is diluted in distilled water and vigorously shaken by striking it against a firm surface.
Adapted from Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine by Dr. Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman (Jeremy Tarcher, 2004).