Having been asked whether I prepare the homeopathic medicines I dispense myself, I realize that there may be some confusion about where these natural medicines come from. Although I haven’t actually asked the thinking behind the question, I imagine the idea is that I have some sort of a lab in my basement.
Unlike herbs which you can gather and prepare yourself, the making of a homeopathic medicine is a little more complex as it involves a series of steps that include some processing. I’ve had the good fortune of visiting two homeopathic facilities – one when I was a student back in Germany many years ago – and then more recently when I was in Montreal for a visit back when visiting cities was easy. It was my first time staying in Montreal and besides enjoying the city itself, I felt tremendously fortunate to be invited to tour the Boiron Homeopathic Facility right here in Canada and learn first hand the processing that is involved in the making of homeopathic remedies.
The Boiron facility in Montreal is so modern and state of the art, I honestly felt a sense of pride in homeopathy – and wished more journalists could take the time to actually see the meticulous procedures in place in the making of a homeopathic medicine. The people at Boiron were professional and knowledgeable. Xavier, who started me on the tour, shared that hundreds of packages were shipped out daily. The warehouse is quite magnificent, with rows upon rows of packages reaching many meters high containing hundreds upon hundreds of medicines. In fact, most of the homeopathic medicines are made and shipped from France and only certain special remedies and potencies are prepared right there in the lab. As a homeopath, I found this process most interesting!
To begin I had to discard my coat, as I was asked to put on a special coverall set which included a hair net and shoe covers. This is necessary to control the environment in the room where the homeopathic remedies are made so as to avoid any contamination accidentally. This environment is so carefully controlled that it largely remains particle free – you can feel the pressure when you enter and leave this very special room – and the air particles are not only controlled but also carefully monitored. The reason for this is that the active ingredients in homeopathic medicines are in nanoparticle form – particles so small that they are difficult to monitor for contamination. For those wondering how the active ingredients in homeopathic medicines can be detected at all, there is an excellent video shared by the Homeopathic Research Institute, which explains how scientists prove that homeopathic medicines are not just sugar pills.
In this part of the facility I was able to watch the remedy preparation from mother tincture, which is an herbal preparation, through the next step of dilution which is carried out manually. This is when the drops are carefully measured: 1 drop mother tincture to 99 drops solution for a “C” potency or 1 drop mother tincture to 9 drops solution for a “X” potency. This preparation is placed in a machine for the succussion process to release the nanoparticles in this vital stage of homeopathic medicine preparation. The final stage is to potentize the sucrose pills by wetting them with a few drops of the prepared remedy. I was told that in France where most of the remedies are made, this process includes a triple impregnation, which is unique to Boiron. Not all homeopathic medicines originate from plant sources, but also from mineral sources and even animal venoms and disease particles. In the final product, it is so purified that none of the original substance (herb, mineral or animal venom) remains, so there can be no fear of contamination or toxins that could endanger health. This is a real benefit, as the nanoparticle active ingredients make them exceptionally safe for pregnant women, babies and children, and cannot interact with medications. On the other hand, these nanoparticles are powerful and invigorate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. To dispel any doubt whether the process leaves any active ingredients in the medicines at all – and of course it does – take a look at this compilation of research on homeopathy.
Of course every homeopathic medicine has a DIN number and Canadian homeopathic manufacturers like Boiron have an excellent relationship with Health Canada because as an “alternative and complementary” medicine, I am told the standards have to be even more exacting. From what I saw, I can certainly attest to the fact that the Boiron facility in Montreal meets the highest pharmaceutical standards. Curious on the details? This nine minute video shows the Boiron’s manufacturing process from herb or mineral to homeopathic medicine.
While I can’t speak for all homeopaths, most of us purchase our homeopathic medicines that we dispense from manufacturers like Boiron, Homeocan, Hyland’s and Thompsons, among others.