Important terminologies in Homoeopathic Pharmacy

Dr Arun Kumar

Abstract: Homeopathic pharmacy is the branch of science which deals with a large number of procedures for the preparation of medicines and also specific instructions for the pharmacist for dispensing medicines. Therefore, a large number of terminologies are needed to be understood by the students, pharmacist and physicians and these basic terminologies are herewith dealt within this article.

Keywords: scientific names,botanical name, binomial system of nomenclature, common names, VERNACULAR NAMES, synonyms,

Homoeopathic pharmacy is the branch of science which deals with the collection, preservation, preparation and dispensing of the drugs. Like every other branch of science, it has few terminologies peculiar to it and which are often not understood by students and common people. As homoeopathic pharmacy includes various processes and procedures which are required during preparation of medicines and also specific directions and instructions for the pharmacist by the physician, there are large number of unique terminologies in our pharmacy. Most common and important terminologies are dealt herewith.

1. Scientific name/ Botanical name/ Binomial system of nomenclature:

  • Scientific name pertains to the binomial name given to a particular species. 
  • The latin, legal or scientific form of plant name.
  • Developed by Carl Linnaeus in mid 18th century and is considered as Father of Taxonomy.
  • Each organism is indicated by two words.
  • First word is GENUS (capitalised) and Second word is Species (lowercase).
  • Both words are written in italics.
  • Usual order of classification is: Kingdom; Phylum; Class; Order; Family; Genus; Species.
  • Only Genus and Species are used in binomial system of naming.
  • It is also called a Latin name. That is because it is usually derived from a description based on Latin language. The Greek language is also used in deriving the scientific name of the species. The Latin and the Greek languages are the first language used by the first taxonomists, such as by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

Advantages of Scientific names:

  1. Organise and classify – the organism can be easily categorised, this really helps making it easier to understand the characteristics of a specific organism in an organised chart.
  2. Clarity and precision – these names are unique with each creature have only one scientific name. Helps avoid confusion created by common names.
  3. Universal recognition – scientific names are standardised and accepted universally.
  4. Stability – the names are retained even if the species are shifted to another genera based on new knowledge.
  5. Inter specific relationship – binomial terms help understand the similarities and differences between different species belonging to the same genera, useful in establishing a relationship between the two.
  6. Scientists use these words to  describe their work clearly and meaningfully to other scientists.
  7. They give vital information on the plant’s relation to other species according to the different categories.
  8. It can also give information on where the plant grows or how it looks.
  9. Latin also has the advantage, in this instance, of being an international language.
  10. Latin names are controlled by international rules. For cultivated plants there is the International Code for Cultivated Plants, 1980.
  11. The scientific name, the botanical nomenclature, is regulated by The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
  12. It is governed, in some measure, by international rules of nomenclature.
  13. Scientific names greatest advantage is its exactness.
  14. It is also claimed that the botanical names are descriptive of the plant, although persons not skilled in Greek or Latin cannot appreciate it.

Disadvantages of Scientific Name:

  1. The usefulness of botanical names is limited by the fact that taxonomic groups are not fixed in size; a taxon may have a varying circumscription.
  2. The group of a particular botanical name refers to can be quite small according to some people and quite big according to others. This will depend on taxonomic viewpoint or taxonomic system.
  3. Latin names are also difficult to memorize. For these reasons, some organizations and government agencies are attempting to create a list of official names based on the country’s native or official language.
  4. They are long and hard to learn.
  5. To ordinary people they are unfamiliar and, being in Latin or in Latinized Greek meaningless.

For example:

Echinacea is the genus, but there are nine different species.

Two of the most popular species of Echinacea are angustifolia and purpurea. The botanical names are Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea.

2. Common name/ VERNACULAR NAMES: 

  • It is regional name, within or outside the country of its origin.
  • Common names may be different in different languages.
  • Common names can differ from region to region, and even within regions. There are no rules for trivial (common) names in English. This means that those names, unlike botanical names, can’t be trusted to be accurate.
  • Their usage may be restricted to a small tribe having a unique dialect, a province, a region or a country. Others, often in English, are used with wide international recognition. Many publications separate the English common names from the vernacular names.
  • Commercial names: Some common names can also be trademark name and  are called Commercial names.
  • These names are popular in public and easy to remember.

Advantages of Common Names:

  1. Ease of usage
  2. Common understanding in certain geographical areas. 
  3. Prevention of confusion among the laymen who do not understand Latin.
  4. Great advantage to those who are engaged in crop farming and to the agricultural extension workers if they are also familiar with common names. 
  5. It is impractical, even preposterous, to try to convince the layman to memorize and use scientific names.

Disadvantages of Common Names:

  1. Many common plant names cause confusion not only locally but internationally. 
  2. Worst, unscrupulous plant traders can easily invent common names for personal profit with total disregard to the possible injury, financially or physically, that it may cause.
  3. Many common names are not unique to a specific plant. 
  4. Different species of plants (plants that might not even be related) may have the same common name.


  • Aconitum napellus- Monkshood
  • Thuja Occidentalis- Tree of life, White Cedar
  • Kali bichromicum- Potassium bichromate
  • Arum triphyllum- Indian turnip


  • A synonym is a word  that means exactly or nearly the same as another word.
  • Biologically, one of two or more scientific names applied to a single taxon.
  • It is alternative or substitute name.
  • There are many different spellings of homeopathic remedy names, different abbreviations and differences in the parts used for the remedy preparation, so that global confusion is difficult to avoid. To add to the confusion, some remedies are known by different names. The remedies  Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga are one and the same remedy, as are Syphilinum and Lueticum and the rather unusual pair Turneria and Damiana. Osteoarthritic nosode is abbreviated to OAN. Most botanical names currently used in homeopathy are still similar to the current botanical nomenclature used for the source material. However, other remedies have other synonyms that do not correspond with either the pharmacopoeias or the current botanical names. For example Belladonna (Atropa belladonna), Cactus grandif lorus (Cercus grandiflorus) and Chamomilla (Matricaria chamomilla) all have commonly used homeopathic names that are not correct. Homeopathic Pulsatilla is not  Pulsatilla vulgaris as often stated, but  Pulsatilla pratensis, (synonym Pulsatilla nigricans).

Some other definitions:

Pharmacy– It is an art and science of identifying, selecting, collecting, combining, preparing, preserving and standardisation of drugs and medicines either from natural or synthetic sources. It also includes knowledge of medicine, art of compounding and dispensing them.

Homoeopathic pharmacy– It is the art and science of collection, compounding, combining, preparing, preserving and standardising drugs and medicines according to Homoeopathic principles and also dispensing medicines or remedies according to the prescription of physicians.

Official pharmacy – Preparation of drugs according to the processes that are prescribed in an official pharmacopoeia and are done in a pharmaceutical set-up.

Extemporaneous pharmacy – preparing and dispensing medicines according to the directions of a physician and is done at the dispensary level.

Galenical pharmacy – relate to preparation of crude drugs. (Following the concepts of Galen).

Institutional (Hospital) Pharmacy – Practice of pharmacy in hospitals, health maintenance organization and nursing homes.

Operative pharmacy – relates to the various aspects of standardization, manufacturing, retail and also includes administrative and hospital pharmacy.

Theoretical pharmacy- It contains of physical and biological assessments as well as professional courses etc. 

Practical pharmacy- It contains manufacturing, retail, professional and hospital pharmacy.

Pharmaconomy is the subject that deals with the route of administration of       medications.

Pharmacognosy – It is the science which deals with the history, source, cultivation, collection, preparation, distribution, identification, composition, purity, preservation and commerce of crude drugs of vegetable and animal origin.

Pharmacopollaxy– Repetition of doses of med.

Pharmacopraxy– It is the art and science which deals how crude drug sub are converted into real med.

Pharmacology– It is the science that deals with different aspects of the drugs especially the study of action of drugs in living subjects.

Pharmacokinetics– Role of drugs in the body or how body handles, the drug.

Pharmacogenetics– Study of genetically mediated variations in drug response.

Pharmacal– Pertaining to or relating to the pharmacy or drugs.

Pharmaceutics– Science or art of preparing medicines.

Pharmaceutical– Chemical used in medicine, relating to the preparation, use, sale of drugs or medicines.

Pharmacist– A person skilled or engage in pharmacy. Person who prepares or dispenses medicine. He is legally qualified to sell drugs.

Pharmacochemist– A pharmaceutical chemist, who is well conversant with chemistry in relation to pharmacy.

Pharmacochemistry– Pharmaceutical chemistry.

Pharmacography– A treatise on or description of drugs.

Pharmacologist– One who is conversant in the knowledge of drugs.

Pharmacomania– Abnormal tendency of taking drugs.

Pharmacphobia– Morbid dread of medicines.

Pharmacopedics– Teaching of of pharmacy and pharmacodynamics.

Pharmacophore– Aroma in the drugs.

Pharmacopolist– Dealer in drugs.

Pharmacopsychosis– A mental disease due to alcohol, drug or poisons including drug addictions.

Pharmacotherapy– Treatment of diseases with medicines.

Homoeopathic Pharmacodynamics is that branch of homoeopathic pharmacy that helps us to acquire knowledge about the dynamic actions and effects of drugs on healthy organisms and constitutes the fundamental aspects of homoeo-therapeutics.

Pharmacopoia– It is the supreme authoritative book, published by an authority, government of any country that deals with the rules and regulations of standardization of drug substances. It contains directions for collection of drug substances from different sources, their preparation, preservation and standards that determine their strength and purity. A pharmacopoeia published by an authority is termed as ‘official’ and one that is published by any person, other than an authority is ‘unofficial’.

Monographs – The general plan of pharmacopoeias is to lay down the direction for the selection and preparation of drugs that are thoroughly adapted to the purpose of homoeopathic prescribing. These directions and specifications for each drug are called ‘monographs’

Nosodes– Homoeopathic preparations from diseased tissue and clinical materials (secretions, discharges, etc.) are known as NOSODES.

Sarcodes– Sarcodes are preparations from the secretions of healthy organisms, healthy animal tissues and secretions.

Imponderabilia– Immaterial ‘dynamic’ energies that are utilized as potentized homoeopathic medicines. (Aphorism 286, 6th edition, Organon of Medicine)

Tautopathic or Synthetic Source– Compounds synthesized, that have found a place in allopathic system of medicine, are potentized, proved on healthy provers and administered on the Similia principle. This category of drugs is termed as ‘synthetic’.

Alkaloids– Alkaloids are organic nitrogenous substances, more or less alkaline in action and are the secondary metabolites of a plant.

Dessicator is used for removing moisture or dehydration of substances at moderate temperature. The air inside the desiccator is always kept dry by placing some drying agent like fused calcium chloride or Conc. sulphuric acid.

Pycnometer (specific gravity bottle) is used for determination of specific   gravity & Hydrometer is used or rapid detection of specific gravity & relative density of liquid.

Alcoholometer – Used for estimating the strength of alcohol.

Decantation is a process of slowly and carefully pouring out liquids from one vessel to another without disturbing the sediments that have been accumulated at the bottom of the liquid.

Filtration is a physical process of separation of a liquid from substances insoluble in that liquid with the help of a filtering medium through which only the liquid can pass but not the other substances insoluble in that liquid.

Evaporation is the simple process of removing a liquid slowly from a solution.

Distillation is a process of converting a liquid into a gas and condensing the gas back into a liquid.

Fractional distillation is the method used for separating a mixture of several liquids of different boiling points, as in the case of organic liquids.

Sublimation is the process of distilling a solid; of converting the solid into a vapor and condensing the vapor back to a solid. Sublimation is a method of obtaining crystals.

Desiccation is a process of removing water from a substance at moderate temperature, differing from exsiccation, which means removing the water from a substance at high temperatures.

Precipitation is the process of separating a solid from its solution by the aid of physical or chemical action.

Crystallization is the process of separating substances in forms possessing definite geometric shapes.

Sifting is a process of separating finer portions of comminuted drugs from the coarser particles by the use of a sieve. This is determining particle size.

Maceration– It is the process of removing the active principles from a drug by allowing the latter to remain at room temperature in contact with the solvent for several days, with frequent agitation.

Percolation– It is a process of extracting the soluble constituents of a drug and preparing the mother tincture by the passage of a solvent through the powdered drug contained in a suitable vessel called percolator for a definite period of time as per directions specified in Pharmacopoeia.

The term Posology originates from the Greek posos meaning how much and logos meaning study or discourse. The terminology of dose originates from the word dosis, which means the quantity of a drug.

Potenstised– Physical process by which latent curative properties of drugs brought into activities.

Prescription is a written document (order) given by a physician to the dispenser for preparation of required medication as well as instructions about the mode of intake, for a particular patient, at a particular time.

Vehicle– It is the substance in which medicines are prepared or mixed and given for the internal administration.

Placebo is a term used for a pharmacologically and pharmacodynamically inactive substance administered to a patient during the course of therapy when no active drug treatment is indicated. (Placere – to please; Placebo – I shall please).

Chromatography is a separation process based upon the differential distribution of a mixture between two phases, one of which is percolated through other. There are various methods of chromatography study – paper, thin layer, columnar, gas, HPLC, HPTLC etc.

Drug strength is the power or strength of drug in proportion to its solvent.

Drug is a therapeutic agent, prepared pharmaceutically from standardised drug substance according to the rules and regulations of pharmacopoeia, which is sufficiently capable of affecting the sensations and functions, even the structural change and may cause of death, if continued for a sufficient time and dose. The word ‘drug’ is derived from the French word ‘drogue’ means ‘a dry herb’.

Medicine – when a drug has been potentised homoeopathically and proved on healthy human beings – in both sexes, all ages and in different constitutions, producing abnormal signs and symptoms ( both subjective & objective) is called medicine.

Remedy – when a particular medicine is prescribed for a particular diseased condition, according to symptom similarity and when the diseased condition is cured totally, the medicine is called a remedy.

Doctrine of Signature – The relation between the drug source and drug symptoms. (advocated by Paracelsus). It is the relation between the external physical characters of drug substances and the signs and symptoms of the medicines produced during pathogenetic trial on healthy human beings. It is one of the sources of our materia medica. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Doctrine’ as “what is taught; a body of instructions”; “a set of principles”. It is another term for the “Hermetic Law of Correspondence”. 

Drug Proving is the systematic process of acquiring knowledge of the instruments intended for the cure of the natural diseases. In other words we can say that it is the systematic process of investigating the pathogenetic power of drug by administering the same in to the healthy individuals of different ages and both the sexes.

Standardisation– Standardisation is a process to fix certain confirmity to acceptable standards. To minimise  variation due to individual, group or commercial houses influence, the government or other statutory bodies notify the acceptable standards.

Combining = is the process of joining 2 or more things together – the product is a mechanical mixture.

Compounding = the process of uniting 2 or more elements or constituents together so as to form an altogether new product which have new properties different from those of its constituents eg. CaS (HeparSulph)

Legislation– Legislation includes rules or laws relating to a particular activity that are made by government. The manufacture, sale and distribution of homoeopathic medicines are governed mainly by the Drug and Cosmetics Act and the Rules thereunder’ the Drugs & Magic Remedies (objectionable Advertisements) Act; the Medicinal and Toilet preparations (Excise Duties) Act and Dangerous Drugs Rules, as amended from time to time.

Dispensing– Dispensing refers to the process of preparing and giving medicine to a named person on the basis of a prescription. It involves the correct interpretation of the wishes of the prescriber and the accurate preparation and labeling of medicine for use by the patient.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)– Good Manufacturing Practice is a system for ensuring that the practices required in order to conform to the guidelines recommended by agencies that control the authorization and licensing for the production, pharmaceutical products which is controlled according to quality standards. GMP is that part of quality assurance which ensures that medicinal products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use and as required by the marketing authorization (MA) or product specification.


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  2. Kayne S, Caldwell I. Homoeopathic pharmacy theory and practice. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2006.
  3. Kumar S. Advantages and Disadvantages of Common Names & Botanical Name [Internet]. EVA Homoeopathy. 2012 [cited 12 April 2020]. Available from:
  4. 4. Roy R. What are the advantage of giving scientific name of the organism? [Internet]. 2018 [cited 12 April 2020]. Available from:

 Dr Arun Kumar
Assistant Professor, Department of Homoeopathic Pharmacy
Bakson Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Greater Noida