Two abbreviations are used to describe a medicine's strength or
potency. In the United States, the decimal, or x, system is more
popular. In Europe, homeopaths use the centisimal, or c, system.
In both systems, potency is expressed as a number followed by an
x or c, such as 3x or 6c. A potency of 1 x means a 1: 10 dilution
of the original substance, or one- tenth strength (mix 1 drop of
the substance with 9 drops of the dilutant, commonly water or alcohol);
2x means 1: 100, 3x is 1: 1000 and so on. In other words, the number
before the x in the decimal system equals the number of zeros in
the dilution, so 6x indicates a dilution of 1 part in 1,000,000.
A potency of 1c means a 1: 100 dilution. The number before the c
means that there are 2 times the number of zeroes in the dilution.
For example, 3c means a dilution of 1 part in 1,000,000. (whereas
3x means 1 part in 1,000).
A third scale called millesimal (M) scale is also used by homeopaths.
This is denoted by a number followed by the letter M, such as 1M,
2M, etc. A potency of 1M means a dilution of 1 part in 1000. The
number before M means that the dilution is 3 times this number.
A potency of 2M means a dilution of 1 part in 1,000,000.
Homeopathic medicines are not simply diluted. They are also shaken
vigorously, or "potentized." To make a 12x dilution, one
drop of the mother tincture is added to 99 drops of the alcohol
or water mix and the mixture is shaken vigorously. Then one drop
from this mixture is mixed with 99 drops of the dilutant and the
mixture is shaken vigorously. The resultant mixture has a dilution
of 1 in 10,000 (or 4x). The process is repeated a total of 6 times
to get a potency of 12x. Finally, these drops are added to tiny
lactose (milk sugar tablets, pillules, granules, or powder and stored
in dark colored bottle.
Homeopaths believe that shaking transfers the medicine's essence
to the water used to dilute it. This concept is important because
solutions diluted beyond 24x (or 12c) may not contain even a single
molecule of the original solution. Homeopaths believe that medicines
become stronger as they become more dilute and that even when enormously
diluted, the medicine's "essence" or "energy"