A plant extract is mixed in alcohol and/or water at a 1:100 ratio and vigorously shaken in a process called "succussion." The resulting formula would be labeled 1C. If the process is repeated with a drop of the 1C formula, it becomes 2C, and so on. The more times this is done, the more potent the remedy is believed to be.
The homeopathic belief is that the substance leaves its imprint or skeleton of the molecule, and thus the water (or alcohol, or other base) is "potentized." The more it is shaken and diluted, the theory goes, the greater the imprint. Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies are often the least diluted and the least potent. Doctors of homeopathy generally prescribe the higher potencies. While classical homeopaths prefer to offer one remedy at a time, many of the over-the-counter homeopathic remedies are combinations of substances.
Depending on whom you ask, you may hear that homeopathic remedies can treat an almost infinite number of conditions, including acne, arthritis, bronchial and respiratory problems (including colds and asthma), bruises, cramps, cystitis, depression, diarrhea, diabetes, digestive problems, insomnia, menstrual problems, psoriasis, stress, toothache, varicose veins—even worms.
A study reported in the British Medical Journal in 2000 indicates that the results are attributable to something other than simply a placebo effect and a study published in Lancet in 1997 concluded that subjects taking homeopathic medicines are more than twice as likely to see positive results than those taking a placebo.Such findings have been hotly debated; however, many in the scientific medical community remain skeptical.