Homeopathic philosophy books give us many options, but there are basically four main reactions to taking a homeopathic remedy: 1. A good reaction, 2. A bad reaction, 3. A mixed reaction and 4. No apparent reaction!

1.  A Good Reaction

The characteristics of a good remedy are:

  • Symptoms improve
  • More energy and better sleep
  • An improvement in your mood or mental/emotional state
  • A return of old symptoms
  • An aggravation of symptoms (An aggravation should be short and sharp but most importantly, be of existing symptoms).
  • A discharge of some sort (which is often a detoxing symptom)

Getting better is the obvious parameter people measure success by but sometimes it can be difficult to recognise how much improvement has been made.  Often I speak to people who don’t feel the remedy helped much at all, and so I go over their symptoms at the last consultation and they are amazed that they have forgotten that they even had a particular symptom.  That’s what I consider a real cure and that delights me!

It would be extremely rare to give one remedy, one dose and get permanent health restored.  Occasionally someone may need the same remedy for many years, but eventually the remedy will change.  That means then that they’ve got all they can from that remedy and they’re ready to move on.  Changing a remedy too soon is probably something we’ve all done, and whilst some of my patients do well on one remedy for quite a while before changing to another, others seem to do well on a handful of remedies, each one indicated at a different time – so they go back and forth between the same few remedies and other patients need a different remedy on each visit.

An aggravation is a proving of a symptom that you have already experienced.  We need to try and avoid some aggravations, especially in severe pathology (for obvious reasons – no point giving someone a brilliant remedy if their aggravation causes a fatal heart attack), also skin aggravations are just wretched and we want to avoid stirring them up.  For many problems, having heightened symptoms for a number of hours or a day or so can be tolerated or even welcomed when we understand that this is our body sorting things out and a good improvement is going to follow. 

As homeopaths we are aiming for what we term, ‘the similumum’.  This is giving the right remedy in the right potency at the right time, but it is a high ideal, and difficult to get in one go.  Often our journey to health is in stages, and personally, as long as I see continual improvement in my patients I’m usually pretty happy.

One rule, sometimes difficult to stick to, is not to interfere whilst a remedy is still acting.  Often people are so delighted with the results of a remedy they want to repeat it before it has stopped working.  I’ve found this counterproductive, and as Jeremy Sherr once said to us, ‘my patients always do better when I go away on holiday’ meaning that because he was unavailable they weren’t contacting him again wanting another remedy and so the remedy he had prescribed worked for longer.  In homeopathy less is often more and we need to wait for a relapse to see what to do next.  This is one reason why it is hard for us to treat our own family – they are on hand, requesting fast improvement all the time and it’s hard for us to maintain that professional distance.

2.  A Bad Reaction

A bad reaction is basically when we get new symptoms and possibly not an improvement of our current symptoms.  (We must differentiate here between a return of old symptoms which is a good sign and indicates that the body is working backwards towards health).

I very quickly learned in my practise to ask my patients to get in touch with me if they were struggling after taking a remedy so that I could determine what was happening.  I can’t think of a ‘bad reaction’ lasting for very long in anyone I’ve treated thankfully, in fact my main ‘bad reaction’ coming from a patient was years ago when a lovely lady phoned me up a few days after taking the remedy delighted that all her acne had cleared up for the first time in years but her chronic fatigue and IBS remained untouched.  I knew this was not a good sign, but she was still quite pleased!  I’m glad to report I was able to change remedies and we got there in the end.

In an apparent bad reaction we need to check that the new symptoms actually belong to the remedy, and to check that they are not getting their old symptoms back, or that something else hasn’t caused their current problem.  Once we know the reaction is caused by the remedy – the best thing to do is to give the correct remedy!

3. A Mixed Reaction

This can be quite confusing and we need to weigh up what has improved and what hasn’t.  As in my example above, where skin symptoms improved but more serious pathology remained the same, it was obvious that I needed to change the remedy.  Sometimes there is a mixture of symptoms with varying degrees of improvement and sometimes there seems a good improvement all round, but it only lasts for a little while and goes right back to how bad it was in the beginning.  We now have the choice to change the remedy or change the strength of the original remedy.

4.  Nothing Happens

Once we have checked that nothing really has happened then we need to go back to the drawing board and discover where we’ve gone wrong.  Either the remedy is wrong, the potency is wrong, there is a maintaining cause (for example if you have constipation and are allergic to wheat but keep eating it then even a brilliant remedy won’t help much), or the remedy was antidoted or there can be a few other less likely problems.

Often the remedies we prescribe don’t match our patients perfectly; perhaps the perfect remedy doesn’t even exist for that person.  Our job is get as close as we can and gradually heal their more serious symptoms before working on lesser symptoms.  We ask lots of questions, not just about physical symptoms but to try and delve deeper to find out why you are getting those symptoms.  One person I totally misunderstood and gave an incorrect remedy to was a young man who became very ill whilst away from home, serving a mission for his church.  He loved his family, they were a wonderful support to him and he talked about them freely.  My initial perception was that being away from his family had caused the stress which triggered his illness.  When he returned with no change I delved a bit deeper and discovered that what actually caused his stress was that he was going to a country where he had to teach in a different language.  He felt so inadequate sharing something so important to him that he was giving up 2 years of his life in a language he didn’t even know, and that was what caused his stress.  He was totally unworried about leaving his family; they were going to support him all the way in this!  Once I understood this I was able to prescribe a better remedy – with all the same physical symptoms, but a very different emotional picture.  This was my error, in not getting enough information, or perhaps jumping to conclusions.

As you can see, just having a list of symptoms and matching them to a list of symptoms in a remedy will often not enough to find a good remedy.  First it will probably narrow down our choice of remedy to hopefully less than 100 (still a great improvement out of over 5,000 remedies) but we also need to match our patients to what we call the ‘hub’ of the remedy or the ‘signature’.  To do this we need more information about how you experience your problems and what effect they have on you as well as details so that we can individualise you as much as possible.


You can often start your healing journey and find a good remedy for yourself or a friend or family member and you may get some pleasing results in the short term, but then it often gets more complex. If you get stuck, or would like to see further improvement get in touch with me and together we can see great things happen!