Latin dilutus, past participle of diluere to wash away, dilute, from di- + lavere to wash
- 1: attenuate
- 2: to make thinner or more liquid by admixture <diluted wine>
- 3: to diminish the strength, flavor, or brilliance of by admixture <dilute a color>
- 4: to decrease the per share value of (common stock) by increasing the total number of shares
Homeopathy involves a process known by practitioners as "dynamisation" or "potentisation" whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken in a process called "succussion". Insoluble solids, such as quartz and oyster shell, are diluted by grinding them with lactose (trituration). The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (1755 — 1843) believed that the process of succussion activated the "vital energy" of the diluted substance, and that successive dilutions increased the "potency" of the remedy.
The idea is not generally accepted outside the field of homeopathy. Considering the understanding of modern biochemistry, it is paradoxical that a process of dilution would arrive at a higher potency than a lower dilution, and in some highly diluted preparations there is very low probability for even a single molecule of the original substance being present.
Homeopaths maintain that this solution retains some "essential property" of the original material, because the preparation has been shaken after each dilution. Hahnemann believed that the dynamisation or shaking of the solution caused a "spirit-like" healing force to be released from within the substance. Even though the homeopathic remedies are often extremely diluted, homeopaths maintain that a healing force is retained by these homeopathic preparations.