A Trip to Helios Pharmacy, Tunbridge Wells, Kent 4/5th March '06

Helios Pharmacy in Tunbridge Wells, Kent is a highly regarded producer of homeopathic remedies, not least for the conscientious approach they take to the production of remedies and their innovative role in the proving of new remedies. They also are at the forefront of spreading the use of the LM potency in practice.

I reached Cork airport at 8am and flew easyjet to Gatwick, moving smoothly to the train which took me directly to Tunbridge Wells for noon. A helpful lady in a health food store gave me directions to Helios. The journey took me through the town, which is dinky and neat in that most English of ways. Manicured lawns outside the town hall. Statues to Our Glorious Dead. Red postboxes. Respectability and prosperity in the air.

The shop itself is tiny and was very busy. They have a friendly receptionist who helps the shoppers but also organises appointments for the upstairs clinic. Many of the staff also practice there, including Roy, our guide on the tour. They have an embarrassment of flower essences, Dr. Haushca cosmetics, herbal tinctures and of course the kits.

The books are what grabbed me first and I must have scanned all their titles to see what they had. The new Jan Scholten on the Lanthanides is the book of the month. Some great stuff on treating animals. Sankaran, Vermeulen, Scholten and the classics. Lots of flakier stuff too on angels, shamanism, plant devas, dowsing and channelling. I had to hold back on buying many of them -- especially the workbook on methodologies. I ended up buying the "Organon unfolded" and a nifty little dowsing book "Healing Sick Houses", which I've almost finished already.

Roy directed me to the cardboard box with the order already packed away as he gathered the final additions and sorted out the payment. Bespectacled and Brusque, but not unfriendly, he joked about an exam after the tour. I was in the pharmacy, with two white-coated homeopaths, test tubes in hand, thumping away on big books covered with mousemats and chatting about their latest cases. They succuss 20 times per potency increment. Yes, there was a black leather bound bible -- but there were also old copies of Synthesis and a french-english dictionary, all topped with those spongy mousemats.

Lining the room, twenty shelves high, were the green cardboard boxes containing medicating potencies of remedies. Thousands of them. On top of every desk were boxes with the 30 most often used polychrests, always within reach.

The tour began with Roy showing a group of about six of us how to make a 1x potency. They have gallons of alcohol there and the caps on the bottles measure out exactly 99 drops per squirt. A huge water purifier sits in the corner. Roy passed around bottles of mother tincture for us to smell and identify. Gin, Valerian, Dandelion. They also had a blue centipede in alcohol, infusing away. Roy demonstrated making remedies up to 2c and LM's too. Helios hand-prepare all remedies up to 30c. This takes about 40 minutes. All "proven" polychrest remedies are brought up to 200c by hand and this takes one homeopath about a day to do.

Down in the basement there were tons more remedies in storage along with mother tinctures. In the corner were "the machines". Two machines in padded cupboards slurped and thumped away, bringing remedies from 200c up as far as MM in some cases -- that's 1,000,000c. Berlin Wall was being brought up to MM potency while we observed the machines.

The machine works by the Korsakovian dilution method -- the same vessel is repeatedly emptied and filled with 99 drops of water. The emptied water goes into the sewage system! The theory being that the equivalent of one drop is retained as water clinging to the inside surface of the vessel. The machine then succusses the vessel 10 times and puts the counter up by one. They stop the process 5 counts before the target potency and bring it up by hand the last five times, so they have plenty of stock of the remedy in alcohol. There are only four of these machines in the world and they work 24/7 bringing remedies up to high potencies.

It was at this stage that I had to go and catch my train, the plane and finally the bus back to Dublin with a rucksack full of kits. It was great to see the pharmacy in action and the staff were very friendly.

I brought back 23 kits, 6 books, 13 remedies and 4 medicating potencies. Over €930 worth of kit, altogether. I'm pleased to say that none of the remedies passed through the X-ray machine at Gatwick. the Laconic security guard let me through because "I asked him nicely". Helios kindly responded to my request for a free traveller's kit for my efforts, which will accompany me on trips to come.