What's better: combination or single homeopathic remedies?

Combination remedies—a mixture of homeopathic remedies aimed at a specific condition, such as colds or allergies—are gaining popularity because they can eliminate some of the trial and error associated with single formulas. Take the common cold, for example. Researching and buying single remedies for each symptom can add up, both in time and money. Combination formulas made by major homeopathic manufacturers now target a range of symptoms associated with various conditions, including menopause, allergies, and insomnia.

If you try a combination remedy and it’s not working, stop taking it and do some research into single remedies in order to learn which best fits all the changes that have accompanied your symptoms,” says Jody Shevins, ND, of Boulder, Colorado. Or consult a qualified homeopath.

What are homeopathic potencies?

When you look at the label on a homeopathic remedy, you’ll see numbers and letters following the Latin name, such as Nux vomica 6C. What do those mean? Homeopathic medicines are made by a process of successive dilutions that reportedly transform the original substance into a therapeutically active remedy. With each dilution, the original substance is diluted with an alcohol solution and vigorously shaken, or succussed. A 6X potency, for instance, has been diluted in a 1:10 ratio six times (“X” stands for the Roman numeral for 10). “C” stands for the Roman numeral for 100 and means the solution has been diluted in a 1:100 ratio, and so on. Lower potency (6X–30C) doses are best for home use, especially with acute, short-lived symptoms. Higher potency doses (200C and higher) are generally prescribed by homeopaths. They are believed to work at a deeper level and be more appropriate for general conditions such as allergies, stress, and sleeplessness.