Search by Author
Newly Added Articles and Research  

International/National Links and Networking

Contact Us/Send Comments 

Member's Login: Password Required

  When To Give Which Potencies

<< back

By: Bob Witsenburg

(Translated by Dresden Beattie)

The motto, "low potency for the metabolic system and high potency for the nerve-sense system" is as one-sided as it is over-simplified. From Steiner's lectures between April 11 and 18,1921, I will attempt to show that this motto is a half-truth, perhaps even a falsehood.

In the sixth lecture, Steiner says that if something is amiss in the metabolism, one should use low potencies; in the rhythmic system, middle dosages; and in that which has to do with the spiritual in the head, the highest potencies are demanded (p. 90). He elaborates on that in the following:

The battle between homeopathy and allopathy shall not end if we do not complete the statement that what in large doses (low potencies) causes sickness is healing in small doses (higher or high potencies). We make it understandable through spiritual science in the following way: that which in large doses causes sickness in the lower part of the human being, acts as healing in small doses if one introduces it from the upper part of the human being and vice versa "(author's italics). This is to say, that which in large doses (low potencies) causes illness from the upper part of the human being acts as healing in small doses (high potencies) if one introduces it from the lower part of the human being.

Which substances in material form (low potencies) work from the metabolic system causing illness or poisoning and which from the upper pole? How can we understand that some substances are related to the upper pole in their matter-side and others in their high potencies? In the first lecture of the series, Steiner describes the example of quartz.

Substance and process

Matter is generally seen as the end of a process. The process is something non-material, an energy, dynamic, moving. If the process slowly becomes denser, the result is the movement-come-to-rest, i.e. matter. The process permeates the universe; as it comes to a standstill as quartz, it crystallizes.

Silica is a process working from the cosmos into the plant world and mineralizing into quartz (siliceous earth). All quartz comes from a plant origin; it is a de-vegetablization process from a plant to a mineral form. In the head, an opposite process occurs - from quartz back into a process. Quartz, as matter, is related to the head.

Similarly, an animalizing process occurs with limestone in the head: limestone in nature is of animal origin, a de-animalization process has taken place. Calcium works as substance in the head and, from there, into the body, animalizing into calcium as process.

In the head, silica acts as a process-come-to-rest. In the rhythmic system, the silica process becomes stronger and is strongest in the metabolic system. In the head, silica acts as substance in the sense of the formative power of the I. In the metabolic system, silica acts as a process - dynamic - as energy, as movement, supporting the I in its metabolic function.

"If we conceive of silica as substance, we must say that the strongest action is in the head. If we conceive of silica as process, we must say that this action is the weakest in the head (p. 18)."

If it is said that the strongest action of a substance is on the nerve sense system and elsewhere that the strongest action from that substance is actually in the metabolism, perhaps the first time what is meant is the material substance and the next time the process, reflecting two sides of the same coin that are continually opposite each other. These processes are in balance with each other if the person is healthy; moreover, they are in opposition to each other in direction as well as in action.

Strengthening the I in different gradations, quartz acts from the outside inward (nerve sense process) and simultaneously from the top down, toward the metabolism.

Also I strengthening, quartz acts from the lower pole, uniting and synthesizing - as does all which comes from the lower pole - from the inside outward (metabolic processes) and from below upward, toward the upper pole.

Via the quartz, the I has a polar action in the human being: from the top down via the nerve processes: forming, analyzing, differentiating from the outside in. Steiner speaks of it being free of egoism. From below upward, the I works uniting, forming into a whole, synthesizing. Here, the I acts egoistically. This is meant practically, not morally.

These two actions are in balance with each other. If one becomes stronger, the balance threatens to become disturbed (Stoss), which calls up a counter-reaction from the other pole (Gegenstoss) through which the balance is restored. This Stoss-Gegenstoss principle, as basis for a natural restoration and beginning of healing, is also the principle of action-reaction described by Steiner in the lecture on "The Invisible Man Within Us."(2)

Finally, in the explanation about quartz, Steiner describes the place of natural scientific data in relation to the question of where quartz is found in the body. Quartz appears, for example, in hair and in urine. What does this mean? Quartz is found as substance in hair because it works materially from there in the sense of the forming nerve-sense function. However, quartz appears because, as matter, it does not belong in the metabolism and in urine is excreted as matter by the kidneys. In the lower pole (in the kidney), the (high potency) quartz exits in the same amount as the kidney can eliminate quartz as matter = kidney excretion. In the hair, silica is found because it is needed there, in urine because it is superfluous.

Art as knowledge

From the above, it seems clear that the low potency - metabolism" grouping is one-sided. For which substances does it work and for which is the opposite true, namely that substantial action is actually related to the upper pole? It seems that the planets above the sun are related to the upper pole as matter. A belladonna poison is related to the upper pole as matter; chamomile is related to metabolism as matter.

The chance exists that the schematic grouping of high potencies - upper pole, low potencies - lower pole becomes displaced by a more subtle diagram. If one realizes that the lower pole and that warming the substance (for example, a plant decocti) or a metal mirror (preparatum) can related the substance precisely to the opposite pole, then we can be assured that the choice of the potency level of medicines in a situation is not merely knowledge related to understanding, but an art related to intuition.

Bob Witsenburg, MD


1. Steiner, R. Anthroposophical Spiritual Science and Medical Therapy. 1963 edition. April 11-18, 1921.

2. Steiner, R. The Invisible Man Within Us. 11 Feb. 1923.

<< back

Dynamic Content Management by ContentTrakker