There are many reasons that people choose a vegan lifestyle and the numbers are growing rapidly, which is great for the planet, the animal kingdom and can be good for your health if done well.
But this blog is not about how to be a vegan. Rather it is to hopefully answer the question as to whether homeopathic remedies are vegan. It may be a little long winded, but stick with it and you’ll get all the info you need if you are a vegan (or even vegetarian) and asking this question!
Here I will talk about what we do in our own dispensary because some of our processes are different to other homeopaths. If you are not sure about a remedy you have purchased somewhere else, then you should ask the company or practitioner who have manufactured/supplied the product.
How are homeopathic remedies made?
We need to start with the basics to understand the process.
Remedies are made by specialist homeopathic pharmacies by a process which involves two components – succussion and dilution.
Dilution (diluting) without the succussion (banging) does not produce a homeopathic remedy, only something more and more dilute that is eventually water. Succussion is the magic ingredient that makes a more and more dilute product, more and more potent. It releases the innate energy within the product, working with either – and sometimes the jury is out here – quantum energy or nano particles. Whichever is the case – and researchers around the world are working on this question – dilution and succussion are what make remedies so different from other medicines. This also makes them low risk (we used to be allowed to say safe even though nothing has changed), because some of our remedies are made from quite toxic substances!
Here’s a great little youtube clip with John Morgan at Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy in the UK showing how plant and mineral remedies are made.
We do have some remedies made from animal material in homeopathy. Probably our most commonly prescribed is Sepia, made from cuttlefish ink and incredibly useful for premenstrual symptoms of irritability, desire to leave the kids and husband and run away, those awful bearing down period pains and it is used for these sorts of symptoms at other times of the month and in men and children too. So an invaluable and irreplaceable remedy!
There are a couple of others that always come to mind when people ask about animal remedies, which are important first aid remedies and which we also couldn’t do without. The first is Apis, the honey bee, and the second Cantharis, Spanish fly. Apis is used in allergic reactions similar to how a bee sting can present and Cantharis is often our first remedy for UTIs.
Generally, because we are matching the symptom picture of the person, ie what they are experiencing, with the symptom pictures in a remedy or substance, we can’t successfully substitute. It has to be the right match or energetic stimuli to encourage the body to overcome the symptoms and heal.
Some of the animal remedies that we use are made from a whole animal – this is usually when they are very small like a bee or an ant. Sometimes the source is the milk or blood of the animal and very often this has been taken by willing homeopaths or carers if an animal has been in captivity or under veterinary care.
Still gross and disturbing I know if you are vegan or vegetarian, something I struggled with back in 1993 when I signed up to study homeopathy.
What if you’re vegan?
Yes, this can be a problem if you are vegan and you don’t want to ingest anything that is of an animal source. Although I have to say, if we take it a step further, many medications which may also be necessary for life are tested on animals and of course many vaccines contain animal products. Where do we draw our line??
But come with me further down the rabbit hole…
Because I know quite a lot about homeopathic pharmacy, I had a question to ask one of the older pharmacies. It had to be an older pharmacy – and in Australia we have pharmacies that date back to the 1830s, but some don’t actually make homeopathics anymore. Fortunately, Martin & Pleasance in Melbourne, who opened in the 1850’s, are still in business so I sent them an email.
How to set up a pharmacy
Ok so why am I telling you this?
I knew that when Simillimum Homeopathic Pharmacy in Wellington, NZ set up in business around 1995, they didn’t just go out and get all the plants, minerals and animals and make remedies from scratch. Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy in the UK set them up with “back potencies” of the remedies they needed to get going and certainly, for a long time, they still sourced remedies they didn’t have from them.
Presumably when Helios set up several decades ago they also sourced their original remedies from another older pharmacy. I could have asked them, but because we have Martin & Pleasance, in business since the 1850s, I asked them the question instead.
Do you ever remake your animal remedies?
This is what I asked M&P.
Because the magic words above are “back potencies”.
What are “back potencies”?
Back potencies are what one pharmacy gets from another pharmacy to use as their base remedy.
For instance, if we are going to order a 30c potency for our dispensary, the pharmacy doesn’t just take a 30c potency off the shelf and put it in a bottle.
They have a “back potency” of a 29c to which they then apply another stage of dilution and succussion to in order to make up a 30c potency.
If you think about this in the context of the youtube clip above, you might start to understand how far one ant might go in the world of homeopathic pharmacy!
According to M&P they don’t remake any of their animal remedies and what they have in their pharmacy has been there from the last century at least. If they have to source another or a new animal remedy, they will go to another pharmacy, rather than make one up.
So summing up on the making of animal remedies, we almost don’t know where the source of your Sepia or your Apis is. It may have come from Simillimum who got their base potency from Helios, who got their base potency from someone in Europe. It actually could date back 50 or 100 or even 150 years.
That one little bee or Spanish fly may have given their life for medicine 100 years ago and through the sharing of remedies and the process of dilution and succussion, that one bee or fly may be providing Apis and Cantharis for half the world!
How we make your remedies at Elements of Health
As a dispensary rather than a pharmacy, we buy our single remedies from a homeopathic pharmacy, usually one of those mentioned above. We then make them into a 6c, 30c or 200c single remedy as you place your order. We don’t make in bulk, we make to order.
With our combination remedies, which are so popular, we have a slightly different way of making them, because we want the best from each and every remedy.
The remedy base; drops or pilules
Just for those who don’t know, the drops and pilules are the carriers for the remedies. In our dispensary we use sucrose pilules and not lactose, which some other manufacturers and dispensaries may use. So, a teeny dose of sugar, or you can choose drops which contain 20% alcohol as a preservative. Just as an aside, we have looked at other non-alcohol preservatives such as glycerine but this is impractical and may affect the quality and effectiveness of how we know our remedies work. We’ve stuck with the traditional to ensure best results for you at home!
Our combination remedies are unique to Elements of Health and are blends of best indicated remedies that we have created over the years to answer a wide range of issues. These include things like Cold & Flu, Winter Prep, Bad Head, Teething, just as examples.
If they were made in a conventional pharmacy by combining individual remedies, then depending on which combination you are looking at, it’s possible a combination may contain the origins of animal products.
However, at Elements of Health, because of the way regulations began to head in the 2000s, we started to make our combinations as a “single vibrational remedy” on our vibrational potentiser. This means that no animal is harmed in the making of our combinations. They are made on a special machine with the same end result and are all vegan.
Of course, we have remedies like Apis and Cantharis in our remedy bank. These will have come from Simillimum in New Zealand or Martin & Pleasance in Melbourne, so these physical remedies will be of animal origins – back in the mists of time.
However, for those really staunch vegans, we are able to make any of these single remedies on our vibrational potentiser as well, so the same vibrational energy of the medicine, without ingesting the original creature which gave up its life for humanity.
We are just in the process of updating the website so you can easily select a vegan remedy, if you are ordering Sepia, Apis or Cantharis, etc. If you get to the single remedies page and don’t yet see the option in the dropdown box at the top, drop us an email and we can organise a manual order for you in the short term.
So a very long winded explanation, but hopefully one which clears up any confusion around whether homeopathic remedies are vegan or not.
If you still have any questions, do drop me a line!
About Melanie Creedy
Melanie Creedy trained in the UK in the early 1990s and holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Homeopathy. She is registered with the Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH) and is a member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association.
She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and is editor of the AHA National Newsletter.
Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australia, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services.
Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition or serious acute illness, it is important to be assessed or examined by your GP or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a suggestion or treatment seek advice from your healthcare professional.