Homeobotanical Therapy

Here is an article I wrote for the Autumn 2022 edition of eHerbalist magazine.

Earlier this year, I did a short but highly enjoyable postgraduate training in Homeobotanical Therapy (HbT) with Dr. Debbie Kerslake, Principal of Homeobotanicals UK & Europe. The course is open to all qualified practitioners, and attracts many homeopaths, plus the occasional herbalist such as myself.

As suggested by the name, HbT lies in the middle ground between the standard herbal range of dosing, and homeopathic remedies. Although HbT embraces both modalities, it is different enough from each to be a unique therapy. It derives from the body of traditional herbal and homeopathic literature, but breaks many of the rules of herbal dosing and homeopathic prescribing. In relation to herbs, HbT recommends doses about 1000x less than standard pharmacopoeias. In relation to homeopathy, using remedies with multiple components (poly- prescribing) is very rarely employed by homeopaths (Watson, 1999).

HbT as practiced today, was developed in the early 1980’s by naturopath Brian Murray and his wife Amy in Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Murray was keen to offer a cost-effective herbal therapy which was affordable to his clients. He noticed that common potencies recommended by homeopaths such as William Boericke were in the range of mother tincture (that is, standard herbal tinctures) to 3x, so he adjusted his herbal tinctures to the middle of this range (commonly 2x) and dynamized the single herb tinctures by succussion (vigorous shaking).

To those unfamiliar with the process of homeopathic potentization, it is quite simple. A mother tincture is diluted at 1-part tincture to 9-parts diluent (alcohol or distilled water) and shaken vigorously. This gives a 1x potency. Then 1-part of the 1x potency solution is mixed with 9-parts of diluent and again shaken. This gives a 2x potency remedy, which is 1/100 times diluted from the original mother tincture. A 3x potency gives 1/1000 times dilution of a mother tincture, and so on. We know from Avogadro’s principle, that at 26x, if pure water was used as the diluent, no molecules of the original solution will remain in the water. Quite how such potencies are clinically effective is the subject of a different article, and in the absence of that I recommend the highly cogent book Homeopathic Pharmacology, by naturopath Steve Olsen (see references).

The French homeopath, Dr. E.A Maury (not to be confused with Dr. Brian Murray) is generally credited with setting out the principles of Drainage in Homeopathy in his 1965 book of the same name. Dr. E.A Maury used low potency remedies (mother tincture to 3x) which target liver, bowel & kidney detoxification. This approach is used in HbT, and its principles will be familiar to any traditional herbalist.

Several years ago, when I lived in Leigh, Lancashire, I recall the sad closure of a traditional Napiers herbal store which had been in operation (under independent ownership) since the late 1800’s. As far as I know it was the last of its kind. Such herbal dispensaries were popular with the firebrand working classes of the 19th century; many of them Chartists who championed the health freedoms that physiomedicalism had to offer, compared to the long arm (and higher prices) of orthodox medicine.

Offering budget medicine for acute conditions, many ‘back-street’ herbalists of the period would purge then de-worm their patients, which would quickly resolve most common maladies. And the principles of homeopathic drainage are the same, if perhaps less brutal. As a prelude to more involved healing work with a client, the cells and tissues are gently detoxified, or to use a naturopathic phrase; the channels of elimination are opened. Homeopaths seek this therapeutic window most avidly, since it helps them avoid aggravations when they use the similimum at high potency. The similimum is like the ‘bullseye’ remedy; that which best fits the patient’s constitution, and is likely to resonate strongly with their healing force. Drainage remedies are the Trojan horse in which the similimum sits.

With such talk of opening elimination channels and purgation, you might think that the principles of drainage are therefore at best, fringe medicine, or the product of a bygone age. But in our toxic milieu, drainage in herbal and homeopathic therapy are more important than ever. I was glad to see Matthew Wood’s most recent book Holistic Medicine and the Extracellular Matrix, is a scientific exploration of detoxification on the tissue level, using herbs and homeopathics. Matthew Wood famously uses drop doses of mother tinctures, far lower than the recommendations made in standard herbal pharmacopoeias; a low-dose method referred to by many as Wood dosing. I am very grateful for his work on this occasion, because it nicely illustrates the ‘sweet spot’ in which HbT sits, and the rationale for drainage in terms of the extracellular matrix. By comparison to Wood dosing, HbT remedies are diluted further by several magnitudes, and potentized in a homeopathic manner.

Table 1: Homeobotanical Remedy Range

HbA AllergiesHbB Blood & LymphHbC Colds & CatarrhHbD Digestion
HbE Emotional StressHbF Female HormoneHbF+ FemaleHbG Gastrointestinal
HbH Heart & CirculationHbI Immune, InfectionsHbJ Joints & RheumaticsHbK Kidney
HbL LiverHbM MigraineHbN NeuralgiaHbO Occular
HbP PancreasHbQ Quiet SleepHbR RespiratoryHbS Skin
HbT TirednessHbU Urine & OedemaHbV Varicose VeinsHbW Worms, Parasites
HbX Expectorant, CoughingHbY Yeast InfectionsHbZ Zest EnergyCerebra (Memory)
Detoxa (Drainage)Devils Claw Dynama (Stamina)Dyrea
Emeta (Nausea)First AidGlandulaLacta (Lactation)
Marina (Metabolism)Nutria (Absorption)Orchitis Male (Hormonal)Plura (Deep Lungs)
Promyr (Pre- antibiotic)Pulexit (Fleas & Lice)SerenaSpasma (Cramps)
Spectra (Balancer)Trauma (Physical injuries)WartCarcina #21
Carcina #22Carcina #23

Since Dr. Murray was additionally trained in the Dr. Christopher herbal system, it was a logical step for him to use Dr. Christopher’s herbal poly-formulas at homeopathic potencies, with some repertorial wisdom added in. This therapeutic marriage turned out to be most congenial, and from this a number of HbT remedies were spawned, with a distinctly Dr. Christopher hue (see Table 1). These remedies were systematically road-tested, with great success, at Dr. Murray’s Auckland practice. In 2007 Bernadette Bekker took over the running from Brian and Amy and is the current Owner and Managing Director of the Homeobotanical Institute Incorporated, with which Homeobotanicals UK & Europe is affiliated.

Practitioners normally keep their pre-formulated HbT remedies in 30ml dropper bottles at mother tincture to 3x potency. A complete set of the 50 proprietary remedies (Table 1) can be stored in a small box or potable case, rather like Bach flower remedies. It is referred to as a “clinic-in-a-box”. The patient remedy can be made up when required, by diluting the herbal concentrate (base) in a 30ml dispensing bottle, using a variety of diluents (Table 3). It is also possible to make up creams and ointments. By varying the combination and proportion of the concentrated (base) remedies, mix-and-match customizable remedies can be formulated and dispensed immediately as required. Dispensing is summarised in Table 2.

A common starting point with HbT is to use a drainage formula known as BLAKE. It is a combination of five proprietary remedies; Blood & Lymph, Liver, Allergies, Kidney, and Emotional Stress. BLAKE has been shown to work gently but reliably to kick-start the detoxification process in a client. Using 5 poly-formulas in a 5ml base works out quite well in a 30ml remedy because they comprise 1ml each in the dispensing bottle (see Table 2).

Table 2: HbT Formula Dispensing

Remedy ComponentsDescription

(5ml in 30ml bottle)
Contains the herbal concentrate of alcohol tinctures. The base includes poly-formulas of herbs (See table 1). These are homeopathically potentized at 1x-3x. Different poly-formulas can be combined in any proportion but using 1,2, or 5 formulas together makes for easier maths.
Herbal vehicle
(20ml in 30ml bottle)
Herbal vehicles include water tinctures, glycetracts, acetracts and oxymels (See table 3). They are chosen according to practitioner preference or patient indication. Herbal vehicles are designed to preserve and convey the remedy. To dispense, 1/5th of base is mixed with 4/5th herbal vehicle and succussed 30-40 times on a resilient surface. The 5ml ‘space’ left in the 30ml bottle permits better mixing and potentization.

Because each proprietary remedy contains many herbs (it’s based on Dr. Christopher formulas after all), BLAKE actually contains 45 different herb species! Within the HbT system this is not problematic theoretically or practically, but a prescribing herbalist may wish to simplify this constellation of herbs to make a more streamlined HbT drainage remedy. In Table 4, I have suggested two simple drainage formulas to be used at 2x potency and succussed at each stage, as alternatives to BLAKE. Colleagues will hopefully be able to see why each herb has been included.

Table 3: Herbal Vehicles used in HbT

Herbal VehiclesIngredients
Herb water tinctureVodka/ Purified water
Bach water tinctureCommercial brandy/ Purified water
Herb water glycetractGlycerine B.P/ Purified water
Herb water stabiliserGlycerine B.P/ Vodka/ Purified water
Herb water acetractApple cider vinegar/ Purified water
Modified herb water acetractGlycerine B.P/ Apple cider vinegar/ Purified water
Herb water oxymelGlycerine B.P/ Apple cider vinegar/ Liquid organic honey/ Purified water.

Table 4: Two Simplified HbT Drainage Formulas (2x potency)

Drainage Formula 1 (More Active)Drainage Formula 2 (Gentler)
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)
Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Poke Root (Phytolacca americana)
Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Elecampane (Inula helenium)
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)
Note: Drainage formula 1 contains
some schedule 20 herbs.
Note: For both formulas use equal parts.


Homeobotanical Therapy (HbT) has a lot to offer to a professional herbalist. Since the mother tinctures used are greatly diluted, it is a very economical therapy. Concentrated, pre-mixed formulas can be carried in 30ml bottles, and mixed with herbal vehicles prior to dispensing. The remedies can be mixed & matched in almost infinite combinations to suit the client’s needs. HbT is therefore highly convenient to dispense. In addition to the standard formulas, Hb remedies can be made up from single herbs or bespoke formulas using simple dilution and succussion techniques, so it is a very accessible and practical therapy.

The indications for using many HbT remedies are often exactly the same as for the standard herbal dosage ranges, with comparable results. Clients with chronic conditions, who are sensitive to drugs and foods, or who have detoxification issues, or who are pharmacologically damaged, are well indicated for these remedies. In the three decades in which Hb remedies have been developed, they have proven to be a very safe and versatile option therapeutically.

Not all HbT is about drainage, although this has been focused on in this article since this is often the first port of call in HbT. The dosages employed do seem particularly well suited to drainage and detoxification, in a way comparable to Wood dosing.

Finally, in addition to a very well organised and pleasant training experience by Debbie Kerslake, there is ongoing support for graduates of the course, via a vibrant Facebook group which is festooned with encouraging success stories and helpful advice.

Each plant thee heralds now the iron laws.
In rising voices hear the flowers disclaim;
And, once deciphered, the eternal law
Opens to thee, no matter what the guise.

From: The Metamorphosis of the Plants, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Translated from the German by Gordon L. Miller


Boericke, W., 2008. New Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica & Repertory with Relationship of Remedies (3rd Ed). B Jain Publishers Pvt Ltd (India).

Christopher, John., 1976. School of Natural Healing (20th Anniversary Edition). Christopher Publications. 

Goethe, J.W., Miller, G.L (Trans)., 2009. The Metamorphosis of Plants. MIT Press.

Homeobotanicals UK & Europe, 2022. www.homeoherbs.co.uk

Image Credit: Lavender by Hans 20749 (2016). Free to use under the Pixabay License. https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/08/15/14/39/lavender-1595604_1280.jpg

Image Credit: Red Leaves by Evie S (2018). Free to use under the Unsplash License. https://unsplash.com/photos/_8vovuZCj0c

Kerslake, D., 2021. Welcome to Homeobotanical Therapy (Training Booklet). Homeobotanicals UK & Europe.

Maury, E.A., and Clement, M. (Trans)., 1965. Drainage in Homeopathy (Detoxication). The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd.

Olsen, S., 2019. Homeopathic Pharmacology. Self-Published.

The Homeobotanical Institute Incorporated., 2006-2022. https://hbinstitute.org.nz/

Watson, Ian., 1999. A Guide to the Methodologies of Homoeopathy (Revised Edition). Cutting Edge Publications.

Wood, M., 2022. Holistic Medicine and the Extracellular Matrix: The Science of Healing at the Cellular Level. Healing Arts Press.

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