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High Potencies - shelf life

The unlimited shelf-life of high potencies

Observations with Dunham potencies

by Friedrich Dellmour, Austria

In December 1995, I faced a huge work load: I had to work 70 hours within four days. Besides generating 100 pages of text for the European Dictionary of Homceopathy, this also generated the fol­lowing symptoms in me: tension in the neck, shoulders and back, neuralgia in the forehead and temples, remarkable sensitivity to cold, and I felt unusually shivery. I also experienced unusual sexual thoughts which proved that I was not just working too hard, but that the symptoms pointed in a specific homoeopathic direc­tion. Combined with the mental efforts of working all night, lack of sleep and ex­cessive intake of coffee, the appropriate simile was easily found. Thus I took a few globules of Nux vomica 200D.


A remarkable reaction

Some ten seconds after taking the glob­ules, the headache suddenly became worse. After a few minutes however, it clearly lightened up and disappeared overnight. When I went to sleep, I had some strange thoughts, I had a great de­sire to travel and happily planned to take my family on a tour around Scandinavia next summer. This was quite surprising, because we have not made any long trips for years, yet that did not stop me from planning one. The next day brought a seemingly inexplicable, sudden nausea. And the shivery feeling had disappeared; on the third day I walked about the house in my T shirt, although it was quite cold. When, after washing my face, I de­tected a urticaria-like rash on my fore­head, a thought suddenly struck me: Could this have anything to do with Nux vomica?


Mental effects

I also noticed an inexplicable optimism in myself, which was a very unlikely reaction to the problems that I faced. But the most remarkable symptom was my memory for numbers. I was so good with numbers all of a sudden that I could not believe it. I effortlessly remembered a fax number in England that I used the previous day, al­though I am normally no good with tele­phone numbers at all. What really struck me was that I had a similar experience five years ago afrer taking Nux vomica D30!

Further physical symptoms occurred: a feeling in the back of my left hand as if it was sprained, which had happened as much as two weeks earlier. A pimple on the back of my head, on the left side, came up again and discharged pus. And when I found that I had an unquench­able desire for smoked meat that I could not resist, just like two weeks ago, it was undeniable that I was experiencing a powerful reaction to Nux vomica.

Invaded by curiosiry I took the Repertory [1] and looked for Nux vomica. I found it under `Face - Eruptions'(1) and also in the sub-rubric of `Washing agg.' (1) and `Eruptions - Forehead' (3). The remedy appears under Skin - Eruptions - Ur­ticaria' (2) just like under `Skin - Erup­tions - rash' (1). Nux vomica also came up in the small sub-section of `Extremi­ties - Pain - Sprained, as if Joints'(1) and `Sprained, as if Wrist' (1) which accord­ing to Hering's law fitted my observation about the sprained hand. Together with the `optimism' I felt earlier (1), a disap­pearance of `indecisiveness' was de­scribed, which I experienced as a very positive healing effect indeed.


Dunham Potencies

What struck me about this remedy, which led to an immediate initial reac­tion, a healing and proving reaction in physical and psycho-mental areas, was that it bore the name of Caroll Dunham. After contacts with C.M.F. von Bönning­hausen 1850, Dunham had developed one of the first potentising machines for the preparation of potencies under glass. He used an old oil mill, in which 131 vials were attached to solid wooden beams that could withstand 125 ex­tremely powerful shaking movements per dilution phase. After a weeks work he had thus obtained 131 vials of medicine in the 200th potentised dilution which were marketed through a pharmacist in New York [2] as `Dunham Potencies' with the abbreviation `200D'.

The original Dunham remedies consisted of minute globules like Hahnemann had made. In addition to the common reme­dies, there were several other smaller ones, such as Ammoniacum gummi (Dorema ammoniacum), Anthrokokali and Cimex. A. Saine, Dean of the Canadian Academy of Homoeopathy, had obtained an original sample of the Dunham po­tency and had prepared a new sample with the addition of globules and a little alcohol, which he called a `first graft'. In 1994, when he came to Vienna for his seminar [4], he brought this `first graft' with him and allowed me to prepare, in exactly the same way, a `second graft' so that we would be able to gain experience with Dunham potencies in Austria too. The Viennese homaeopaths R. Flick and G. Willinger also obtained samples of this medicine, supplemented with a few flux­ion potencies coming from B. Fincke, Th. Skinner and J. T. Kent respectively.


Medicines as old as 140 years

These Dunham Potencies are almost 140 years old and they have lost nothing of their original effectiveness. A. Saine even claimed that the `200D' he made was stronger than the usual MK extracts. This observation could be explained by the high number of 125 shaking move­ments per dilution and the extremely forceful shakes caused by the falling of the 500 kg heavy oak beams from a height of 45 cm, which may have ren­dered Dunham Potencies more powerful than other remedies.


Other observations

The experience with Nux vomica 200D was merely the first observation involving very old medicinal potencies. With Dun­ham's Lachesis, which may go back to the Lachesis preparation [11] that C. Hering developed in 1828, there was an immedi­ate initial reaction of strong infection in the neck and throat, which typically worsened in the morning, and which was accompanied by inner relaxation. A left sided (!) parotitis with swelling symp­toms which existed for years was re­duced, while it was noticeable at the same time that mistakes in writing dates (e.g. 1994 instead of 1996) occurred. This observation was confirmed once more by a dose of Lachesis XM (Spagyra), which was long past the expiry date printed on the label.

A sniff of Dunhams Mercurius solubilis also produced a powerful reaction. The initial reaction was an ulcer that hurt as if I had bitten my tongue. The red mu­cous membrane was covered in colour­less, bloodless epithelia hanging down in wisps. After a few hours I developed a Gelsemium-like, intense redness in the face with a tingling sensation in the en­tire head, an obtuse pain in the back of my head and a complete tensing of the shoulder. A formerly present tinnitus on the right side was reinforced, together with an itch in the auditory meatus, and then disappeared completely.The ulcer, the initial reaction to the medicine, was remedied with a dose of Mercurius solu­bilis LM6 in very much the same way: within a few hours after taking the medi­cine, a whitish swelling of the mucous membrane in the cheek of approximately 4mm came up, accompanied by a pain as if I had bitten my cheek. In spite of an age difference of 140 years between the two potencies - the LM extract was made in 1990 by Dr. Peithner KG - both potencies brought about the same symp­toms.

The expiry date on the label of Mer­curius solubilis was several years ago, which did not affect its effectiveness in the least. The same applies to my entire stock of high potencies, which are mam­years past their `expiry date': they are all still extremely effective, as I have person­ally experienced for many years. This ob­servation is confirmed by all of my fellow homoeopaths, because the shelf-life of homaeopathic remedies is practically un­limited.


Extensive shelf-life

Apart from the matter of high potentisa­tion, these observations are very exciting because homaeopathic medicines pro­duced in 1870 and the `medicinal infor­mation' which was `multiplied' twice from a few globules into a larger quan­tity, have remained reliable and powerful to this day. A. Saine, who regularly uses Dunham potencies for the treatment of chronic illnesses, advises his sensitive pa­tients to further dilute these potencies in water, as the effects would otherwise be too powerful [6].

To fellow homceopaths, the effectiveness of `old' medicines is not a revolutionary concept. In the 6th edition of Organon, Hahnemann already spoke of the 'exten­sive shelf-life' of homceopathic globules as long as thev were protected against sunlight and heat [7]:

'These globules ... retain their medicinal information many years, if protected against Sunhght and heat'

In Organon V he even described how a single (!) globule which was kept in a vial for smelling, was still as powerful as 18­20 years ago [8]:

`One globule of which ten, twenty or one hundred weigh one grain, impregnated with the thirtieth potentised dilution, and then dried, retains for this purpose all its power undiminished for at least eighteen or twenty years (my experience extends this length of time), even though the vial be opened a thousaztd times dzering that period, if it be but protected front heat and the sun's light.'

In response to an article by 1. Baur ,80 Ozanam wrote about the 40 years shelf­life of the potencies by CJ.3`enichen [9]:

'...was greatly satisfied with these very effec­tive preparations ... the pills of Yenichen are as powerful today as they were 40 years ago when I impregnated them with the liquid preparations of the excellent medicine by Dr. Tessier senior...'

Bio-information versus biochemistrv The explanation for this nearly unlimited shelf-life is easily found, because homo2o­pathic remedies contain, at least in highh potentised dilutions, no components that can be reduced chemicallv or micro-bio­logically. This is the reason why, in the determination of the shelf-life of homceo­pathic remedies, a distinction should be made between the physical - perishable - components and the non-physical com­ponents that are generally described as `Medicinal information'. The physical components of low potencies can be partly reduced by long storage. However, a reduced effectiveness of non-physical components of homoeopathic remedies is only proven with physical influences such as light, heat [12] or microwaves [13, 14], although the destructive effect of chemical influences upon non-physical ingredients, such as contact with essen­tial oils and camphor, is always debated but not yet proven (*1).

But what do homoeopathic remedies really `contain'? Why do they work? So far, there are several theoretic models [15] explain­ing this, from the principle of immaterial effects in remedies and the Life-force model by Hahnemann [17] , via electro­magnetic coherence phenomena (*2) (FA. Popp, Ch. Endler, C. W. Smith), re­duced hydrogen bonds (V. Gutmann), the formation of macro structures (G S. Anag­nostatos) and resonance phenomena [16] (F. Dellmour) up to the then most current theory of a "quantum mechanical non-lo­cality" proposed by K Walach [15]. All of these theories have in common, however, that they only partially involve the effec­tiveness of homaeopathic remedies.

For an ultimate `explanation' of the effec­tiveness of homoeopathic remedies from a scientific perspective, it therefore appears to make more sense to talk about the principle of effectiveness, which can be conceived as phenomenologically de­scriptive, as a bio-informative factor, ac­cording to D. Melchart in 1993 [18]. This enables a meaningful continuance of

pharmacological and pharmaceutical fundamental research, because the work­ing hypothesis of `bio-information' con­firms both the practical experiences and the experiential results. The concept of bio-information also confirms the `Cy­bernetic Model' of homoeopathy as pro­posed in 1982 by G. Bayr. This model appears to be especially suitable for a de­scription of the various schools of thought in homaeopathy, as this system­theoretic approach is applicable to many specific aspects such as the Simile princi­ple, Hering's rules and the questions about highly potentised dilutions [19]. Because of the absence of physical ingre­dients, the author proposes to describe the homoeopathic pharmacology not as a special form of chemotherapy, but as `homaeopathic informatics'.

Ingredients of homoeopathic remedies From the perspective of bio-information and cybernetics, the question about the shelf-life of homaeopathic medicines is eas­ily answered. It immediately becomes obv­ous that the shelf-life of homccopathic medicines differs from that of conventional medicines, as the ingredients of both forms of medicines are incomparable.

Now what are the ingredients of homoeo­pathic remedies? For highly potentised dilutions the answer is easy: the only `ma­terials' in these medicines are the medi­cine carriers (alcohol and sugar) and minimal traces of the so-called `mother tincture' which, in concentrations of around 10" - 10-`= % [19], are neither pharmacologically nor toxicologically rel­evant for the shelf-life of the product. Therefore, from a physical perspective, highly potentised dilution's contain only ­ethanol of a certain concentration (usu­ally 43%), saccharose (globules) or lac­tose (tablets) and some additives that are allowed for the production of tablets by the HAB.

Middle or low potency dilutions how­ever, contain variable parts of the medici­nal ingredients or the mother tincture, which can also be contained in other medicine carriers, e.g. in physiological sodium chloride solutions, glycerine 85%, the ingredients of ointments or suppositories.

Shelf-life of homoeopathic remedies The determination of the shelf-life of homaeopathic remedies therefore should begin with a distinction between highly potentised dilutions whose concentration is lower than the Loschmidt (Avogadro)

number and potentised dilutions, still containing physical concentrations of the medicinal ingredients. Secondly, we should determine whether any physical concentrations of the medicinal ingredi­ents are perishable, such as e.g. lowly po­tentised dilution's of Argentum nitricum, Kalium bichromicum, Mercurius binio­datus or vegetable ingredients from mother tinctures, or whether stable in­gredients are involved like Sodium chlo­ride, Calcium carbonicum, Sulphur, Plat­inum etc. Thirdly the shelf-life greatly de­pends on the carrier and any included preservatives (table 1).


1 Degree of potentisation

2 Medicinal ingredient

3 Medicine carrier


This implies that the shelf-life of very lowly potentised dilutions is determined by the degree of potentisation, the nature of the medicinal ingredients and the medicine carrier used. If all of these vari­ables are kept constant, and accurately defined, a general result for all highly po­tentised dilutions can be found.


Limits of potentisation

Homoeopathic medicines whose `theoreti­cal' concentration is lower than the Loschmidt number can be described as highly potentised dilutions. Other than the commonly used medicine carriers ethanol (dilutions) or saccharose (globules) which, at correct storage, do not undergo any sig­nificant alterations, these medicines con­tain no perishable medicinal ingredients. The applicable limits of highly potentised dilutions depend on the potentisation and the form in which they are presented and are easily calculated [20].

Note however that the Loschmidt num­ber does not prescribe a concentration but indicates the number of atoms con­tained in one molecule of the ingredient (*3). The molecular concentration limit further depends on two variables: the atomic, resp. molecular weight of the in­gredient and the completed remedy. Both variables can be simplified for a general calculation using the element with the lowest atomic weight (hydrogen) and the international mass unit (1 gram). In this way, even if the precise composition and

molecular weight of the ingredients is un­known (e.g. in the case of vegetable or animal material) we can calculate from which potency onwards `not one single atom' - not one hydrogen atom - of the original ingredient will be present in the completed medicine (table 2) (*4).

Medicines from this degree of potentisa­tion onwards do not contain one mole­cule of the original medicinal material, all they contain is immaterial medicinal in­formation - which is not affected by the usual micro-biological or chemical re­duction processes and which, from a pharmaceutical perspective, does not im­ply any change. If these highly potentised dilutions are impregnated in carriers such as alcohol or saccharose and stored in vials, their shelf-life is practically un­limited.

1 From the experience that Camphora counters the effects of homoeopathic remedies in humans, it cannot be gener­ally concluded that Camphora or a simi­lar substance counters homoeopathic ef­fects (Medicinal information) in medi­cines.

2 In physics, coherence is the occurrence of certain, temporarily unchangeable correlations between phases of overlap­ping waves. The coherence of waves makes them suitable for interference.

3 The Viennese physicist J. Loschmidt cal­culated the constant for 1 ml in 1865; to­day 1 mol is used (Avogadro number). According to this calculation, each mate­rial mass whose atomic resp. molecular weight is reflected in grams contains 6.0225 x 10 atoms resp. molecules.

4 Not considered are any absorption and adhesion effects. They appear to be negligible as the concentrations - theo­retical anyhow - remain under the mother tincture in spite of multiple po­tentisation


Dr. med. Friedrich Dellmour
Glan 37, 
A-9560 Feldkirchen, Austria


Friedrich Dellmour

M.D. and chemist, Feldkirchen (Carinthia). Fritz is maybe the most im­portant Austrian explorer, speaker and writer of special homceopathic objects (history, pharmacy, potentisation, qual­ity of remedies, philosophy, ...) usually not being covered by practicing home­opaths. His diligence in doing this can almost be called Hahnemannian! Re­search work within the Ludwig Boltz­mann Institut für Homöopathie, Graz (Styria).




1 Schroyens F (Hrsg.): Synthesis. Reperto­rium homoeopathicum syntheticum. Hah­nemann Institut für homöopathische Dokumentation, Greifenberg 1993-1995

2 Dunham C.: Article in: Hahnemannian Monthly, June 1868: 501ff. Zit. n. [3]

3 Winston J.: A brief history of potentizing machines. British Homceopathic Journal 78 (1989): 59-68

4 Saine A.: Seminar "Homöopathie und Psychiatrie", veranstaltet von der öster­reichischen Gesellschaft für Homöo­pathische Medizin, Wien 1994

5 Der "2nd graft" wurde durch F. und D. Dellmour mit Gobuli, die Mag. C. Lach­mann von der Apotheke zum Roten Krebs (Wien) zur Verfügung stellte, angefertigt b Saine A.: How to Become a Homoeopath. Interview with Andre Saine, N.D., Part two. Homoeopathica Journal of LMHI, Winter 1995: 42

7 Hahnemann S.: Organon of Medicine. bth Edition. Translated by W. Boericke (1921). Indian Edition, Indian Books & Pe­riodical Syndicate, New Delhi. § 272, Footnote 158): 275

8 Hahnemann S.: Organon of Medicine. 5th Edition. Translated by R.E. Dudgeon (1893). Indian Reprint Edition, B. Jain Publishers, New Delhi 1991. § 288, Foot­note 1): 149

9 Ozanam: Le secret des hautes puissances de Jenichen. Revele par le Dr. Berridge. The Organon 1881. Bibliotheque Ho­moeopathique 18 (1887): 54ff. Zit. n. [10]

10 Baur J.: Die Arzneizubereitung in der Homöopathie. II. Teil. Zeitschrift für Klas­sische Homöopathie (1983) 4: 150-166

11 Gypser K.-H.: Herings Medizinische Schriften. Burgdorf, Göttingen 1988. Band 1: 77

12 Hahnemann S.: Reinigung von Verrei­bungsgeräten durch Hitzebehandlung. In: Dellmour F: Homöopathische Arzneimit­tel. Geschichte, Potenzierungsverfahren, Darreichungsformen. Österreichische Gesellschaft für Homöopathische Medi­zin, Wien 1992: 36

13 Stoeckl-Gibs S.: Mikrowelle contra Homöopathie ? Homöopathie in Österre­ich 4 (1993) 3:114-115

14 Pongratz W., Haidvogl M.: Wirkung von Mikrowellen auf homöopathische Arzneimittel. Homöopathie in Österreich 5 (1994) 2: 14-15

15 Walach H.: Die Bedeutung nichtlokaler Effekte für die klinische Forschung. All­gemeine Homöopathische Zeitung 241 (1996), 3: 98-121

16 Dellmour F: Kaspar Hauser und die Homöopathie. Das Riechenlassen an der Arznei. Homöopathie in Österreich b (1996), 2: 31-34

17 Dellmour F: Kaspar Hauser und die Homöopathie (2). Die Bedeutung des Riechenlassens an der Arznei für die Wis­senschaftlichkeit der Homöopathie. Homöopathie in Österreich b (1996), 4: 24-28

18 Melchart D.: Terminologie. In: Melchart D., Wagner H.: Naturheilverfahren. Grundlagen einer autoregulativen Thera­pie. Schattauer, 1993: 1-25

19 Bayr G.: Kybernetische Denkmodelle der Homöopathie. Steuerung und Informatik. Haug, Heidelberg 1982. Allgegenwart­skonzentration: 96-97

20 Dellmour F.: Konzentrationsverhältnisse homöopathischer Arzneimittel. Docu­menta homceopathica Band 14, W Mau­drich, Wien 1994: 261-298

Further literature can be obtained from the author