Useful Things to Know About Remedy Reactions, Antidoting & Provings.

Updated: Feb 15

Remedy reactions are generally considered a good sign in homeopathy. Mostly the process - where it's perceptible - is mild and lasts from minutes to hours for acute conditions and from days to weeks (in rarer cases months) for chronic treatment. Where reactions are more intense, to the extent where they become overwhelming, a remedy can be temporarily antidoted to provide some reprieve.

What are Remedy Reactions?

A remedy reaction is a temporary worsening of existing symptoms following the prescription of a correct homeopathic remedy. Reactions are usually followed by improvement. They are experienced in around 60-70% of cases to varying degrees.

Homeopathic remedies help the body to release whatever has been causing a disease state. As the toxic elements get churned up and discharged, you can initially feel worse from the intensity of the cleansing process. Releasing toxins is a necessary step on the path to health, it can be experienced as any type of discharge - physical or mental/emotional.

One of the old masters of homeopathy, James Tyler Kent, described it as a house cleaning effect.

Physical signs can include secretions from the nose, eyes, ears, heavy/ odorous perspiration, diarrhoea, dark odorous urination and even contracting a cold to clear out the airways or a fever to cleanse the system of pathogens. Other signs can be reactions to the toxicity, such as headaches or fatigue.

On the mental/ emotional level, there can be discharges of suppressed emotions - anger, anxiety, grief etc. Reactions can also come out in dreams, this can be particularly true where there has been some kind of past trauma experience.

The duration and intensity of the remedy reaction will depend on many factors. Principal amongst these will be the overall level of health of the patient, the length of time an illness has persisted for and whether symptoms have been suppressed by medical treatments. These factors create a long term build up of toxicity in the system which has to be released.

A similar manifestation of this type of reaction is what is called in homeopathy, a return of old symptoms. This is where a symptom (e.g. a particular pain in the body or a specific sensation associated with a previous illness) that has been experience in the past, but where the issue that caused it was never fully healed (again this is often due to suppression), finally leaves the system. When a remedy finally provides the body with an outlet for this issue, it takes the opportunity to return to a better level of health.

Some patients are particularly sensitive to remedies, and therefore experience remedy reactions more easily than expected. They can react to remedies even when they are not a perfect match for their symptoms.

Reactions with Other Causes

Sometimes there can be an external cause for new symptoms that is nothing to do with the remedy. For example, an emotionally stressful event, contracting a virus or eating food that's gone off can bring on new, unexpected symptoms. Depending on their severity, these new symptoms may need to be treated as a new, separate acute before the original remedy can be returned to.

When to Antidote Your Remedy

If you have a mild remedy reaction that is bearable, you should stop taking the remedy until the reaction passes, but you should also try and see the reaction process through if possible, to allow the body to cleanse itself.

If your reaction symptoms don't resolve in a few days, or if they intensify, then if you are under the treatment of a homeopath, you should contact them to let them know. Then they can monitor your symptoms more closely until they clear, or possibly advise on taking an antidote if they don't.

If you have a more severe aggravation that becomes unbearable or lingers on for too long to be tolerable, it's best to antidote the remedy temporarily.

How to Antidote Your Remedy

One simple way is to dissolve a pill of the remedy, at the same potency that caused the reaction, in a glass (jar with a lid if possible) of around 150ml of filtered water. Use a non-metallic spoon to stir the liquid gently until the pill dissolves.

Take one dessert spoon of the liquid up to three times over the course of a day. However, stop taking the liquid if the remedy reaction symptoms resolve. Store the glass (with its lid on if it has one) in the fridge between doses.

At the same time of day as you would normally have taken your next dose of your remedy, take one final dose of the dilution.

Once your symptoms ameliorate, you can then go back to taking the remedy as prescribed.

If there is still no amelioration of symptoms 24 hours after antidoting, your remedy should be revaluated by retaking all your symptoms from scratch.

A Second Antidoting Method

Another method is to fill a medium size glass with a fairly fast steam of water from the tap, and then drop a single pill of the remedy, again at the same potency that caused the reaction, into the glass.

You don't dissolve the pill in this method - you simply pour the liquid and the pill away shortly after you added the pill.

Next, refill the glass with water and pour that water out again immediately after. Continue to repeat this process until you have your 6th glass of water.

Take one sip from the 6th glass, this is your antidote.

How Antidoting Works

Depending on how much you know about homeopathy, this may or may not make much sense, But for the homeopathy bookworms out there with a deeper understanding, the following explains how this method works.

What you are doing by this process, is making a type of homeopathic remedy (strictly speaking an isopathic remedy) to the remedy that caused the reaction. That is, you're ameliorating the symptoms caused by a particular remedy at a particular potency (strength), by making another homeopathic remedy directly from it.

A homeopathic remedy is made by dilution and succussion (a method of shaking the remedy around to imprint it with the energy of the substance).

In the antidoting methods the dilution comes from the addition of water and the succussion comes from stirring/ the force of the stream of tap water. In the second method, there will be a thin layer of the previous dilution remaining around the sides of the glass each time you pour everything away.

Its good to know also, that antidoting only clears the aggravation symptoms, the good work of the remedy should continue on.


For a remedy to work in homeopathy, it needs to be made of something that causes similar symptoms in a healthy person and it needs to be at a potency (strength) that is just a bit stronger than the actual disease state.

If the remedy is made of something that doesn't quite match your symptoms well enough, then it can cause some new symptoms (a partial proving). These will be some of the symptoms which are part of the remedy picture, but were not in your original symptoms.

But even if a remedy is really well matched, when it's taken for too long and/or too frequently, it can cause a proving. Again, this is where symptoms that the remedy usually cures, can begin to develop. That's one of the reasons homeopaths try to give what's termed the minimum dose needed to bring about a curative reaction at anytime. Its in stark contrast to the way mainstream medicine works, such as when having to finish a course of antibiotics to completion, even if you are feeling better. In homeopathy you never continue until you have finished the bottle! You stop taking the remedy as soon as you start to feel some improvement, and wait.

I find that people tend to worry much more about provings than is justified. Normally, provings only occur when a remedy is taken over a longer period of time. What is more likely to occur with home prescribing is a remedy reaction due to the potency being a much higher strength/ taken more frequently than needed.

Just as with remedy reactions, proving symptoms are temporary and you should simply stop taking the remedy until they subside.

In sensitive patients provings can occur much more easily and last much longer. Signs that you might be a sensitive patient would be a wider sensitivity to the world - to mainstream medicines, allergens in the environment etc. Or if you are a more intuitive/ empathic type of person you are likely to be sensitive. In my experience, patients with a history of trauma (it doesn't have to be extreme) can also have greater sensitivity to remedies, even if other signs of sensitivity to the wider environment are not present.

Many homeopaths, including myself, are highly sensitive to remedies. For me this means that a new constitutional remedy can cause me to feel worse for maybe a month after I am first prescribed it, before I begin to improve. I can also temporarily experience new symptoms that are a part of the remedy picture, but are new to me. Generally I am able to stick out the remedy reaction, but occasionally I have antidoted it temporarily, and then resumed at a later date, once the worst has passed.

Accidental Antidoting

People are often worried about the idea of antidoting their remedy, and whilst this is possible, my own experience is that if the remedy is correct, its usually fairly difficult to antidote it.

Homeopathic remedies are able to work alongside all sorts of strong medical drugs, so that suggests that they are not easily cancelled out by other quite powerful substances.

That said, there are some remedies that are believed to be antidoted by particular substances - such as Nux vomica which is thought to be antidoted by coffee. I think its also true that some people are more sensitive to antidoting.

My rule of thumb is simply to allow remedies to get into the body in a relatively antidote free environment. This means taking them on a 'clean' mouth - so 15 minutes away from food/drink (except water), toothpaste, mouthwash etc. Its particularly important to avoid substances with a strong smell (such as menthol) and those that have a strong effect on the nervous system (such as coffee).

I also find that it's good to store remedies away from strong smelling substances (such as aromatherapy oils), in a fairly cool, dark space away from electricals and Wi-Fi.

Beyond that, I don't worry further. I've even heard stories of people taking their remedy in their coffee and it working. Or people misunderstanding their homeopaths instructions, and bathing in their remedies - and they've still worked!


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Thanks for reading!


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