What do the numbers and letters on a homeopathic remedy mean? August 30 2020

What do the letters and numbers mean?
This is a question i'm asked frequently. The dilution concept is widely accepted, understood, and utilized in science disciplines. With regards to homeopathy and science, it is the philosophy and therapeutic conclusions that are are in mutual disagreement. This is a topic for another blog, so to answer this question id like to share the meaning of some of the most common notations.
What do the Letters mean?


The Letter X indicates the Roman numeral for ten, and the Latin term "Decem." This represents a 1:10 dilution factor. It can also be labelled as DH or D for "decem;" therefore, X is the same as DH or D.

The Letter C indicates the Roman numeral for one-hundred, and the Latin term "Centum" to represent dilution stages made in the 1:100 ratio. The C dilutions are often labelled as CH. This is equivalent notation, since the H is superfluous and often dropped in C-type or D-type preparations.

The "H" in "CH" or "DH" simply indicates that the process is by Hahnemann's method. This is often dropped because it is assumed that the process is Hahnemenn's. Occasionally, a "K" is indicated to communicate that the process was by the Korsakovian (K) method instead of the usual Hahnemannian (H) process. When only C, D or X is stated, the H is assumed. If the process was by Korsokov's method, there will always be a K to indicate this. 

What do the numbers mean?

The number indicates how many times the dilution process was repeated, and it gives us a sense of how diluted the labelled substance is. The previous dilution stage is used to produce the following stage. This is done in serial sequence, amplifying the dilution, and is known as "serial dilution" or "series dilution." For example, a 2X dilution is prepared from a 1X preparation, and a 7CH dilution is prepared from a 6CH preparation; therefore, each step exponentially dilutes the original substance, with the number indicating how many times this process was repeated. It is universally accepted that it is possible to dilute a substance out of a sample. This occurs providing that the original substance is not bound to the vessel, or otherwise partitioned from the diluent, and that the diluent stages sufficiently mix to homogeneity with each dilution step. If dilution is complete and homogeneous, then the original substance will be diluted away from the preparation after approximately 12 cycles or less.

In a X factor preparation the 12X is approximately a 1:1,000,000,000,000 parts mixture and in a C factor preparation, the 12C is approximately 1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts substance to diluent. Therefore, a 200C is diluted 100 to the power of 200, which is 1 with 400 zeros. By comparison, there is approximately 1 ( with 24 zeros ) litres of water on the earth (according to HowStuffWorks contributors). The number of zeros can be determined by the dilution number for an X type, or twice the number for a C type since base 100 = 10x10, (10 to the power of 2).

Since the excess of each stage is removed, and only 1 part remains to form the following stage, each dilution step is accomplished with minimal waste, and the remaining qty is saved to form other preparations later. In other words, 10mL of a mother tincture are used to prepare a 1C dilution by adding 990mL of water. Then shaken. 10mL of the 1C dilution are used to prepare a 2C dilution, by adding 990mL of water to a new vessel, and so on the process is repeated 200 times to create the 200C dilution.

For more information search for articles on "Avagadro's Number" and "Serial Dilution"

This is to clarify that the numbers and letters do not indicate dose, but instead indicate the preparation's factor of dilution. In homeopathy, the dose is measured by the number of pellets, tablets or drops consumed of that preparation. The amount of the labelled substance in the pellet is not viewed as important in homeopathy, only that the dilution process began with that substance.

Pharmacist's Disclaimer Regarding Homeopathy November 15 2014

Homeopathy facts to get comfortable with:

Most homeopathic remedies do not have a physicochemical or pharmacological effect on human or animal biochemistry. Various attempts have been made to explain the subjective human response to homeopathy; however, there is no consensus. Avogadro's number occurs around 12CH. After 12CH, the probability of there being a single remaining molecule of the parent compound becomes increasingly slight. To the homeopathic principle of efficacy, this does not matter. This is highly suggestive of a placebo effect because one cannot rely upon molecular dose to explain any effect near, at, or above this potency. Several hypotheses circulate to explain the effect of homeopathy despite these facts. There is no consensus amongst homeopaths or scientists. Best possible physical-analytical techniques cannot distinguish high potency homeopathics from placebo preparations and only processing appears to differ. Homeopathy was developed in a prescientific time, from crude observations around toxicology; however, homeopathy remains today as a very popular traditional system of medicine. Homeopathy provides millions of people with comfort, and products licensed for sale in Canada pose no obvious safety concerns when used appropriately. The value of homeopathy in a given treatment is largely subjective. If it makes one feel better, there is no harm in its use.

Homeopathy cannot provide the level of protection afforded by vaccination. Truly, this is a scientific fact that persists beyond opinion or belief. Do not attempt to vaccinate with homeopathy. Do not treat an active infection without first seeing a physician. We will not recommend homeopathy alone for purposes of preventing infectious disease, and strongly advise against the un-accompanied use of homeopathy for purposes of vaccination. As an add-on to vaccination or anti-infective treatments, we can facilitate suggestions based on traditional homeopathic texts; however, no compelling evidence exists to suggest any homeopathic product makes a significant impact on the immune system. We take this stance to protect individuals from harm that can arise from misunderstanding the role of homeopathy in Canadian healthcare. Infectious diseases are transmissible; therefore, they demand best possible practises.

Important Message from our Pharmacist:

If your condition is serious, whether chronic or acute, or if your condition is undiagnosed - please see a licensed medical physician before attempting to self-treat with homeopathy (or any other treatment).
Do not attempt to diagnose yourself, even if you are medically trained and adequately equipped to do so. Modern, conventional, evidence-based medical practise is an indispensable tool that should be a key part of everyone's approach to health and treatment.

Disregarding medical advise issued by a physician or pharmacist is not recommended. If you are uncertain about a physician or a pharmacists advice, seek a second opinion from a colleague or specialist who has experience with the condition or symptoms you experience. It can be dangerous to avoid the medical treatment of some conditions. Homeopathy is suitable as an add-on therapy, or when other treatments are not accessible. Homeopathy is generally suitable for mild to moderate self-limiting conditions, or for obscure issues that are troublesome, but do not immediately threaten your health and wellbeing. Homeopathy is safe when it is used with these facts in mind. Side effects are likely equivalent to placebo. There is a critical lack of statistically valid study to define product specific efficacy. All studies I've read with regard to homeopathy, and homeopathic products have been critically flawed in method, size, and power. This is common to all scientific disciplines, but is not acceptable in medical science.

Collaborate, and leverage the strengths of those on your team! Multidisciplinary approaches are often more effective than single discipline approaches, and lead to better patient satisfaction.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Formosa, A.S., B.ScPharm, RPh, RPEBC.

Homeopathic Medicine Potency Selection Guide November 15 2014

Dilutions are chosen based on the patient's circumstances
Potency is chosen based on traditional applications, not dosing concepts. In homeopathy "higher potency" means higher dilution, because the dilution stages are referred to as "potencies." This can cause confusion because higher potency typically would mean stronger when speaking from a scientific perspective, but in homeopathy this is not the case. A higher dilution is only used a few times, and a lower dilution is used more often. Dosing frequency is there\fore more relevant to dilution choice, when viewed from the homeopathic school of thought.
If you do not know which potency to select, please read the following general suggestions, or consult your local practitioner:
  • Adults and Children who will use the product daily, as a complimentary treatment for a chronic condition: (Try 12, 15 or 30CH)
  • Adults who intend to take only one or two doses, as desired: (Try 30 or 200 CH)
  • Children who intend to take only one or two doses, as desired: (Try 30CH)
  • Adults or Children, or Pets, where frequent dosing is desired, or where acute situations arise with frequency (such as bug bites, stress or anxiety): (Try 5CH, 6CH, 7CH, or 12CH, or any of the mid to low DH potencies.)
Subjective Observations around selecting potency:
  • The larger the number, the more times it has been diluted and succused (struck or vigorously shaken). Generally, one potency is not "stronger" than another, but you may find one to be more appropriate for you than another, based upon subjective evaluation
  • When uncertain about which remedy and potency to choose, we tend to see lower potencies with more frequent dosing. (Try any of 5, 6 or 7ch.) If you start low, increase potency with response. Decrease potency if no response, or switch remedy). Selecting a variety of selections will allow experimentation: they can be combined safely.
  • Homeopathic practitioners recognize that there is a significant element of "Trial and Error" when it comes to selecting a remedy and potency for a given person or purpose as textbook suggestions may or may not be right for each unique individual.
  • "The shotgun approach" (trying several remedies and potencies at once) is a very common method which has lead to the development of combination products and complex remedies. Many people subjectively find this very helpful, and time saving. Strict classical homeopaths disagree with this approach, preferring to find one constitutional remedy for the person, over several visits, deep history review and various remedy trials. There is no physical, chemical or scientific reason to suggest either approach is superior to the other.
  • Loose trends we've noticed around potency selection:
    • German trained homeopaths in our region trend towards DH potencies.
    • French or English trained homeopaths in our region trend toward CH potencies.
    • Historically, lower potencies were much more prominent. Recently, higher potencies (30 and 200) seem to be more commonly requested. Locally, the most commonly requested potency is 30CH. 15 and 200 would be second and third most common.