World Homeopathy Awareness Week – Day 2: The Succussion

The basic rundown of homeopathy is that “like treats like”, or whatever ails you will cure you, and then dilute the hell out of your “active ingredient”. The more dilute, the better.

But the key here is not to just keep adding water. Even homeopaths know that if you do that, nothing will happen. You have to awaken the spirit of the remedy (I seriously wish I was making that up) by giving it a good jolt.

You gotta shake it like a Polaroid picture, yo.

Ok maybe not quite like Polarioid picture. But you do have to shake it. And don’t drop it like it’s hot. You’ll only look like a nerd.

Succussion is what makes the remedy potent. Succussion is what Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy, believed released the “spirit-like powers” of the remedy throughout the solution. The more a remedy is shaken, the more powerful it becomes. In fact, according to he believed that when his remedies were shipped across country by horseback, they were shaken so much that the solutions became too powerful to use!

d. For this reason Hahnemann warned against shipping the liquid remedies over long distances, since they receive ‘an enormous number of additional succussions during the transport, and they are so highly potentized during a long journey that on their arrival they are scarcely fit for use, at least not for susceptible patients, on account of their excessive strength, as many observations go to prove’ (Lesser Writings, 736 *) Fortunately for suffering humanity, the dry pills were not affected in this way (ibid., 766 **)

So how does one “succuss”? Well, it’s simple! This explorepub article says that after each dilution, the solution is vigorously shaken against either a leather-bound book or the palm of the hand. Hahnemann liked to whack it to his Bible!

Here is an example of succussion:

I was skeptical through the first 6 seconds or so, wondering “How are those few drops going to cure my cancer?”

But once I saw him whacking it to the leather-bound book I knew it was the real deal, and by the 17th second all I could think was, “He really whacked that! It’s got to be a powerful medicine now!”

So how much whacking do you have to do to turn your water into medicine? Let’s check back with

In the 6th and final edition of the Organon, [Hahnemann] introduced the concept of the 1:50,000 dilution LM potency, and actually wrote that this dilution needed 100 succussions in between dilutions.

However, there are other parts of the 6th edition that make reference to shaking at 8, 10 or 12 shaking steps, and others at simple “vigorous” shaking.

When your author earned his DiHom degree from the British Institute of Homeopathy, a 1X dilution was defined as a 1:10 dilution with ten succussions, while a 1C dilution was defined as 1:100 dilution, but again, with TEN succussions. This philosophy is mirrored in the articles on the Internet.

They conclude from there that the correct answer is (paraphrased):

  • 2 Whacks
  • 8 Whacks
  • 10 Whacks
  • 12 Whacks
  • 100 Whacks
  • Or just Whack it vigorously

So there you have it: The key to homeopathy is masturbation!

Now it’s time for me to shake up a martini and make it super powerful!

See you tomorrow!

If you have any questions or topics you would like me or one of the other Skepchicks to address during World Homeopathy Awareness Week, feel free to suggest them by clicking on the Contact Us link on the left side of the page. Or post your ideas in one of the Homeopathy threads this week.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. This philosophy is mirrored in the articles on the Internet.

    Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly all the scientific corraboration I need.

    Elyse, if you manage to get that super-powered martini recipe working, I will DEFINITELY make it to the next Chicago meetup :)

  2. So there you have it: The key to homeopathy is masturbation!

    – uh oh, suddenly my relative good health seems very damning

  3. Holy crap, if the key to homeopathy is masturbation, then I should never get sick ever again. My computer should be bacteria and virus free for the rest of time. It’s a wonder I even have the occasional sniffles.

    You’d think 1:50,000 would chafe though….

  4. If homeopaths dilute the active ingredient with water — what is the homeopathic treatment for a victim of drowning?

    usually a burial.

  5. well, this Fall I plan to celebrate my true feelings about homeopathy by placing as many rubber ducks as I can on the grave of the founder (guy who made this stuff up) in Paris

    I’m going to have to ask for rubber duck donations. I want a LOT of them. I know when it’s quiet, and if I put them up really HIGH it might be a bit before they are taken down.

  6. Mike- You know, I’ve wondered that myself.

    Jen- I think my problem with getting it super powered is that I don’t have the heart to dilute it to a 2C potency.

  7. Well this changes everything. Now that I see that the people who make homeopathic remedies wear lab coats, it MUST be science.

  8. Diluting a martini is sacrelige, a sin of the highest order – and coming from me that means something… maybe if you shake it extra, it’ll make up for not diluting it, though. I think this calls for a great deal of research.

  9. I blogged about this too, because I thought you were making this shit up, and it turns out you weren’t. Truth is stranger than fiction, I guess.

    Then a homeopathic “doctor” showed up to defend his craft, or something. But strangely enough, he didn’t provide any actual “evidence” or “peer-reviewed studies.”


  10. Janiece-

    When I heard skeptics talking about homeopathy, I was sure they had to be leaving something out. Nothing could be that backwards… at least not with that many people buying into it.

    It’s a bit frightening.

  11. I am concerned about some of the further applications of this logic that have occurred to me.

    If I participate in the double-blind martini study, I will almost certainly experience my usual response to alcohol, specifically the unshakeable belief that I can in fact dance. (I can’t.) If I participate in enough iterations of the study, I may feel moved to (in the vernacular) “shake my booty.”

    However, if I succuss my derriere, will I release its spirit-like powers? And if so, are we talking about “spirit” in the sense of “something invisible and soundless but nonetheless highly powerful”, or simply in the sense of “true essence”? And if like calls to like, what happens if someone else releases the spirit-like power of their keister?

    A secondary study regarding the spirit-releasing powers of a good dance party might also be in order.

  12. I think we should succuss our collective booties at the so-called homeopathy doctor who tried to defend his wackery to see if anything “releases.”

  13. A dance party certainly is in order!

    I don’t know what we are looking to prove though, does succussing your drink while dancing make you more drunk or more sober? Wouldn’t alcohol make you sober in homeopathy world? Or would the water in the drink be diluted in the alcohol to cure sobriety?

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