Rhythmic Phenomena of Potentized Substances I

Original title: Rhythmusphaenomene potenzierter Substanzen 1 - in der Darstellung Rudolf Steiners. Der Merkurstab 1996; 49:280-1. English by A. R. Meuss, FIL, MTA.

In his first course of lectures to physicians on 31 March 1920, Rudolf Steiner spoke for the first time on the rhythmic phenomena evident in the actions of potentized substances on 31 March 1920.(1)

What is actually happening when homeopathic medicines are produced? If you use silica, for instance, you process it to obtain high potencies; what are you doing? You are working towards a certain point.

In nature, everything essentially bases on rhythmic processes. You are working towards a particular zero point in a process, during which the real actions of the substance as we know them emerge initially. It is as if I have some money which I am spending all the time; I reach the zero point, and if I go on beyond it, I get something that is not merely no money but something beyond the character of money I possess, leading to debt. This is also the situation when we consider the material properties of physical substances. We are in an area where these substances have their actions and finally reach the zero point where the actions of these substances are no longer apparent in their ponderable state. If we continue, it is not a matter of the whole business disappearing; the opposite happens, and this opposite principle is worked into the surrounding medium. This always meant that I saw the actions that were the opposite of the substances in the medium, the agent used in trituration, and so on. This medium is given a different configuration. As in external, social life I become a different person when I go in the red, having been in the black before/so substance enters into its opposite state and confers its opposite state, which previously lay within it, to its environment.

If a substance has certain properties as I reduce it to smaller and smaller quantities, it develops the other property as I approach the zero point; and this property is to radiate its former properties into the environment and stimulate the medium I am using and treat it in a corresponding manner. The stimulus may consist in provoking the opposite action, getting the substance in question into a condition which afterwards, or under the influence of light, makes it show fluorescence or phosphorescence. You have then provoked the counter effect to radiating into the environment. These things have to be taken into account.

This certainly is not a matter of going back into mysticism but of finally looking at nature the way it truly works, looking at it in such a way that we really enter into its rhythmic progression where the properties of substances are concerned. It is a key theme so that we can really perceive where those actions lie.

If you potentize, you first reach a zero point. Beyond it lie opposite actions. Along the road that lies beyond that zero point you can reach another zero point, and this is a zero point for those opposite actions. Going beyond this point, you may come to yet higher actions that are along the same lines as before as far - as their direction is concerned - but are completely different by nature. It would therefore be a good thing to do to represent the actions that develop on potentization in graphs.

You would find, however, that these graphs have to be developed in a special way. First of all, you have to generate such a graph, and when you reach the point where certain lower potencies, which do have an effect, cease to have an effect, and only higher potencies begin to have an effect again - so that you get a second zero point - you have to make a right-hand turn and draw the curve out into space. We shall consider these matters further in these lectures for they are closely connected with the whole relationship human beings have with the nature outside the human sphere.

This suggestion, made by Rudolf Steiner, was taken up by Lili Kolisko (1899-1976) in her basic research. Her first paper appeared in 1923.(2) This marked the beginning of potency studies, with many more to follow in the course of the 20th Century. Friedwart Husemann has published a complete review in this journal. The remarkably consistent phenomenon, seen with different study designs, was the rhythmic modulation in the action of potentized substances which Steiner had predicted.

Mr. Carmine's experimental series using H2O2 production by neuroblastoma cells stimulated with high potencies of cytokine TNFalpha, recently submitted to the editors of Der Merkurstab, again shows the periodic characteristics of changes in activity up to the lOOx potency.

Matthias Girke, MD
Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Havelhoehe 
Kladower Damm 221 
D-14089 Berlin, Germany

1 Steiner R. Spiritual Science and Medicine (GA 312). Tr. not known. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1975. [The above is a new translation by A. R. Meuss.]
2 Kolisko L. Physiologischer und physikalischer Nachweis der Wirksamkeit kleinster Entitxten. Monographs, Stuttgart and Domach 1923-32. Comprehensive edition, Stuttgart 1959. Also in Agriculture of Tomorrow. Gloucester 1945.