29 April 2008

Eighth new homeopathy hospital in Indian state opened by Finance minister

The New India Press reports that more people in the growing Indian economy will benefit from cost-effective homeopathic treatment in the state of Andhra Pradesh:

TIRUPATI: Finance Minister K Rosaiah inaugurated Positive Homeopathy Clinic here on Monday. It is the eighth homeopathy hospital set up by Dr Manu’s Group in the State.

Speaking on the occasion, Rosaiah said homeopathy was a costeffective system of medicine. The Centre and the State Government are making every effort to promote the Indian systems of medicine.

Ayush is one step in this direction. The State Government launched Rajiv Arogyasri scheme to provide corporate medicare to the poor people. The novel health scheme was appreciated by other states, he said.

The Finance Minister appreciated Positive Homeopathy Hospital chairman Sreekar Manu for setting up the hospital in Tirupati to provide better medicare to people.

Sreekar Manu said the main objective of the hospital was to provide quality medicare to people at an affordable cost. Former Assembly speaker Agarala Eswar Reddy, hospital directors AM Reddy, Kiran Kumar, Tariq Mahmood and others were present.”

As I reported before “Homeopathy is integrated into the general system of health care in India and our study shows that one in ten consumers have consulted a homeopath in the last year.” Global TGI Barometer January 2008 Issue 33

Society of Homeopaths’ press complaint against Goldacre and The Guardian

The Society of Homeopaths has sent an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission concerning Ben Goldacre’sarticle in The Guardian: “A kind of magic” November 16th 2007 .  They say in the membership newsletter (not online):

“The Society maintains that the article is in breach of the commission’s “code of practise” in that it did not clearly distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.  The complaint states that it was not clearly defined as an opinion article, with the introduction giving the impression that the piece was a journalistic appraisal of the issues.  It is the Society’s view that there are also statements in the article itself which give the impression it is fact rather than opinion.

The complaint also relates to key factual inaccuracies in the piece, notably that homeopaths are “killing people”, which the Society has pointed out is a potentially damaging statement without any evidence to back it up.”

I have checked the PCC code of conduct and number 1 is:

1 Accuracy
  i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.



The pictures I found particularly offensive (not on the internet piece but behind a paywall somewhere if you want to look [update: a portion of one is on David Colquhoun's blog]): they depicted sharp suited, dark-glassed male homoepaths ‘loving’ their white pills and standing over their poor kneeling patients while they poured them down their throats.  As many UK homeopaths are female and are known to be quite gentle creatures it didn’t make sense to me.  And as for the ‘facts’ in the piece they were mostly ‘FLACTS’. I know you are a psychiatrist Ben but you can’t just go round making stuff up.

I look forward to hearing the PCC’s views on this in due course and will report back.

27 April 2008

Natural History Museum’s searchable database of plants, fungi, lichen and algae used in homeopathy

London’s Natural History Museum has a database of the plants, fungi, lichens and algae that have been used to make homeopathic remedies, along with their currently botanically correct names.

“Homeopathic remedies have accumulated gradually over the past 200 years. During this time, the plants and fungi in the various Homeopathic Materiae Medicae have received a variety of epithets, although these are mostly Latin names. Often, the naming of these plant remedies has not followed any recognised botanical or medical code and, despite having some resemblance to the modern botanical system, nearly half of these names needed updating with respect to the current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN; Greuter et al ., 2000; McNeill et al., 2006). In response to this problem, of outdated and often inaccurate nomenclature, a new checklist was prepared (Bharatan et al ., 2002; Bharatan and Humphries, 2002). This checklist together with the online searchable database can be updated in line with the revisions of the Botanical Code that take place every 6 years.”

5 April 2008

Homeopathy for animals under threat

From www.homeopathyworkedforme.org

Homeopathy for animals under threat - 22 March 2008

If you treat your animals with homeopathy then you need to know that the British Veterinary Surgeons Act is currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee and they are inviting information and comment. The homoeopathic vets are facing the same sort of attacks from others in their profession as homeopaths are, and it is vital that owners write to their MPs in defence of the right to treat their animals.

Letters to MPs and to DEFRA (especially those asking a question and therefore needing a reply) are actually noted and that it is surprising how few are needed to have an effect. Letters sent to the Committee should state that:
the owner has used homoeopathy;
the owner has found it to help the problem;
the owner would like to have the freedom to choose the type of treatment for their own animals;
the veterinary profession is not able to offer this service;
homoeopathy should be specifically included within the remit of the Act;
lay professionals should be able to treat animals.

You can get information about contacting your MP at: http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm

At present, by strict interpretation, homoeopathy given to animals by anyone other than a vet or an owner is illegal, no matter how well qualified the practitioner, and only about 250 vets are qualified in homoeopathy. Apparently a survey in a vetinary magazine two years ago reported that 65% of owners want homoeopathic or other alternative.

Further information is available at: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/VideoPlayer.aspx?meetingId=1246

4 April 2008

Homeopathy for Women

I found a new blog today:Homeopathy for Women. Here’s a short taster:

Homeopathy for Mothers: Best Remedies for Your Household!

When you have children (and even adults that can act like children) then mom knows that she needs to be prepared to be a doctor in the field and trenches. I have five children and I suspect that one of the reasons I got them is that they wanted to challenge me to see how good I was in acute homeopathic prescribing. Hardly a day went by or I had to bring out the “magic box” as it was dubbed by my combative children…”Let’s see dad if homeopathy can treat this,” was their warrior cry: Cuts, bruises as big as an egg, burn wounds…and yes even heartaches and disappointments! I am actually grateful for these challenges now as they are all grown ups, and have their own children, and not even a moment do they doubt to use homeopathy for all the same troubles their children cause now as they did to me. There is some pride in their voice as they talk about having successfully treated some of the 101 incidences that do not require an ER visit or a even a doctor’s visit. I want the reader to get acquainted with some of these “magic pills” and put a physician’s cap up for a moment and see the “magic of the minimum dose” as we call it.

2 April 2008

Homoeoprophylaxis – a Proven Alternative to Vaccination by Dr Isaac Golden

Visit Nourishedmagazine for the full report of a doctor’s analysis of data on the use of homeopathic remedies to build up immunity to specific diseases:

By Dr Isaac Golden

“I prepared my first formal program of homoeopathic remedies to prevent infectious diseases in 19861. In the following 20+ years, tens of thousands of Australian children have been immunised homoeopathically – a method called homoeoprophylaxis (HP) – using programs from myself as well as other practitioners across the country. The method itself is over 200 years old, and has considerable clinical and research experience to support its claims.

In 2004, I integrated 18 years of data collection from parents of children using my program with 4 years of doctoral research at Swinburne University in Melbourne. The purpose of this article is to share with you the findings of this and other research into the effectiveness and safety of HP.

He concludes:

The Safety of Homoeoprophylaxis

Homoeopathic medicines are usually prepared using a series of dilutions and succussions (firm striking of the container holding the liquid remedy against a firm surface). The remedies are called “potencies” because at each stage they become energetically stronger. After the 12c potency, no molecules of the original substance remain, yet the remedy is energetically stronger. Pharmaceutical advocates cannot understand this, because their paradigm forces them to believe that as the number of molecules of a substance decreases in a medicine, the medicine becomes weaker. This is true if the kinetic energy of the succussion is not correctly applied, and a simple dilution only is prepared. But we are making much more than a simple dilution.

Doctors agree that homoeopathic potencies cannot be toxic, and so physical safety is not an issue. However, some homoeopaths have expressed concerns over the years as to whether the long-term use of the remedies in my HP program is energetically safe. Many people who are not bound to the pharmaceutical paradigm understand that energy can produce real and tangible effects, and if misused can cause problems. One important part of my research at Swinburne was to check the long-term safety of HP.

This was done by examining 5 markers of overall wellbeing in children aged between 4 and 12 years of age – asthma, eczema, ear/hearing problems, allergies and behavioural problems. These were compared to a range of early childhood markers, including breastfeeding status, birthweight, APGAR scores, as well as to 4 possible immunisation methods – vaccination, HP, general/constitutional prevention, and no prevention at all. That gave 20 (5 x 4) possible combinations of health conditions and immunisation methods. The data was processed using Odds Ratios and Chi Squared Probability tests.

Once again, the full results are reported in detail elsewhere8, but the main findings are as follows:

  1. In 19 of the 20 possible measures of health, vaccinated children were less healthy than other children, usually by a significant amount (the 1 measure favouring vaccination was not statistically significant). The most dramatic single finding was that vaccinated children have a 15 times greater chance of becoming asthmatic than children using HP, with P>99%, a highly statistically significant finding.
  2. Children using HP were generally at least as healthy (and often more healthy) as children who used constitutional/general immunisation or no immunisation at all. The HP group were not exclusively from people who were extremely health conscious. Regularly, parents using my HP program say that it is their first introduction to homoeopathy and to natural medicine in general.
  3. Parental estimates of general wellbeing were very high in the HP group – at least as high as in other groups.
  4. Not all HP programs give consistent results. When comparing children using my HP program to those using other HP programs, the levels of both effectiveness and safety were lower in the group using other programs. So it is advisable to check the basis of a HP program before committing to it. Programs using daily doses of low potencies provide less effective long-term prevention than programs using infrequent doses of (appropriately selected) high potencies.

We may conclude from the parts of my data which were statistically significant (P?95%), that HP is associated with an improvement in general health, compared to other immunisation methods (as well as no immunisation at all), and that this figure is significantly better when compared to vaccinated children. Therefore we may conclude that the evidence suggests that the use of an appropriate long-term HP program does not lessen the health of children, and evidence suggests that it may in fact assist the maturation of the immune system by gently challenging the system in the first 5-6 years of life.”

The ‘New Age of Water – the most significant scientific discovery of this century’.

Filed under: Homeopathy,homoeopathy,science — homeopathy4health @ 7:28 am
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More food for thought on how interesting and unknown the science of water is. Not simple and never ‘just water’ as I’ve said before: Homeopathy myths: it’s just water and Homeopathy myths: it’s just water 2

The Institute of Science in Society “Liquid Crystalline Water at the Interface” 31/3/08

Just add sunlight for energy and life Dr. Mae-Wan Ho 

“Why does water vaporized into the sky form clouds instead of just spreading out evenly in space? Where does lightning come from in a storm? How does Jello hold so much water inside without it leaking out? How does the water bug walk on water?

If you never had your curiosity aroused by these natural phenomena that have exercised generations of scientists still in search of a definitive answer, try this.

Two identical beakers are almost filled with water and placed next to each other with the rims touching. The beakers of water are connected to a power pack and a current is passed through a positive electrode placed in one beaker and the negative electrode in the other. Instantly, a bridge of water forms between the beakers, looping over the adjoining rims and connecting the two bodies of water. The beakers are then moved apart slowly, the water bridge stretches and lengthens, but remains intact, even when the beakers are separated by a gap of several centimetres. And furthermore, the water bridge is still passing electricity from one beaker to the other, like a stiff, transparent cable. There is no doubt that water conducts electricity, as our readers will be aware [1] (Positive Electricity Zaps Through Water Chains, SiS 28). But what makes the water stiffen up to make a bridge?

The beginning of an answer to all of these questions, and the key to many more surprisingly phenomena readily demonstrated on the ordinary lab bench and some even on the kitchen table, turns out to be “liquid crystalline water”, water that is ordered and aligned like liquid crystals [2]. It gets my vote for the most significant discovery of the present century so far. It also turns out that liquid crystalline water and sunlight are practically all we need for energy and life.

Water is one of the simplest chemical compounds (see Fig. 1). Yet its remarkable ‘anomalous’ properties have resisted all attempts at a consistent scientific explanation; that is, until quite recently. A remarkable collection of dedicated researchers on ‘interfacial water’ have been homing in on the secret of water [3] (see New Age of Water series (SiS 23, 24, 28, 32); and one of them may have just got it.

Figure 1. The water molecule with positive and negative charges at opposite ends and how it could stack up with opposite charges next to each other (courtesy of physicalgeography.net)

Bioengineer who loves water

Gerald Pollack, Prof. of bioengineering, recently received the highest honour that the University of Washington at Seattle in the United States could confer on its own staff. He was to give the 2008 Annual Faculty Lecture on his research, entitled, “Water, energy and life: Fresh views from the water’s edge”. I watched the hour-long lecture via the video link [2] with great fascination.

I am no stranger to Pollack’s work, having reviewed his book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life [4] published in 2001 (see  Biology of Least Action, SiS 18)[5]; and featured the amazing discovery from his laboratory a couple of years later [6] (Water Forms Massive Exclusion Zones, SiS 23).

What strikes me above all is the elegant simplicity of his experimental approach that takes our understanding of the most abundant, most vital substance for life on earth a quantum leap forward. Many of the experiments can be done on the kitchen table, and you don’t even need a microscope to see the results. Add to that a highly congenial and unassuming personality, and no wonder Pollack is attracting undergraduates and graduates like flies, not to mention many collaborators around the world.

EZ water is liquid crystalline

The initial discovery that Pollack and his colleague Zheng Jian-ming reported in 2003 [6] was that water forms a massive ‘exclusion zone’ (EZ) next to the surface of hydrophilic (water-loving) gels. The EZ is so-called because it excludes solutes, i.e., substances dissolved in the water. By putting into the water solutes large enough to be seen under the microscope, or even with the naked eye, the EZ shows up as a region completely clear of the solute. Thus, when a suspension of microspheres 0.5 to 2 mm in diameter is put into a chamber with the gel, a clear zone, free of microspheres soon develops next to the gel and typically ends up hundreds of microns thick  (see Fig. 2). This EZ is stable if undisturbed, for days and weeks once it is formed.

The scientific community greeted the initial discovery with much scepticism. Interfacial water – water next to surfaces – is generally recognized as being restricted in motion, relatively ordered, and having somewhat different properties from water existing in the bulk. Using sophisticated techniques and big machines such as NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) X-rays, and more recently, neutron diffraction, researchers have found no more than one or two layers that have altered properties compared to bulk water [6]. But the EZ is so enormous that at least hundreds of thousands of layers are involved.

Figure 2. Clear exclusion zone next to gel surface free of microspheres

Gilbert Ling, doyen of the breakaway biological water researchers, had long argued that all water in the cell (typically 70 percent by weight) is ordered with very unusual properties [7] (see Strong Medicine for Cell Biology [8], SiS 24). More recently, Ling proposed on theoretical grounds that the ordered layers could extend infinitely under ideal conditions [9].

Pollack and his team spent a year ruling out all kinds of artefacts and extended their results, showing that the EZ of water is a very general phenomenon. What’s more, it had been discovered as far back as a hundred years ago; only to be consigned to oblivion after the ‘polywater’ controversy of the late 1960s, when the claim of ‘polymerised’ water was finally attributed to contaminants [10].

Pollack’s team found that a wide range of hydrophilic gels gave EZ in water: polyvinyl alcohol, polyacrylamide, polyacrylc acid, Nafion (used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells), and biological tissues such as a bundle of rabbit muscle or collagen [11]. In fact, a single layer of hydrophilic charged groups coated on any surface is sufficient to give an exclusion zone. The requirement is to have chemical groups that can form hydrogen bonds with water molecules. Similarly, solutes need not be microspheres, they could be red blood cells, bacteria [2], colloidal gold, and even molecules such as serum albumin labelled with a fluorescent dye, and a fluorescent dye molecule as small as 200-300 daltons. All of these are excluded from EZ water.

Most interestingly, EZ water was found at the air-water interface. The EZ layer, thick enough to be seen easily with the naked eye, was sufficiently stiff to be lifted up with a glass rod without breaking (Fig. 3). This readily explains how the strong surface tension of the EZ layer allows water bugs to walk over it without falling in. Also if such water forms next to hydrophilic surfaces inside the Jello, it would not fall out. And, we can see how the water bridge of EZ water could form between the separated beakers. Of course, an electric field will improve the alignment of the water molecules and hence its crystallinity and stiffness .

Figure 3. Glass rod lifts up stiff EZ layer at water air interface

Now that EZ water can be produced in bulk, it is easy to demonstrate other altered properties.  NMR measurements confirm that the layer is associated with decreased mobility (increased ordering) relative to the bulk water, while infrared imaging showed it emitted much less than bulk water, again indicative of increased order.

Pollack refers to EZ water as “liquid crystalline water”, and says it was in fact biologist William Bate Hardy who first suggested almost a hundred years ago that water molecules at the interface could exist in many layers approaching crystalline order. This is very much in line with the discovery in my laboratory that organisms and cells are liquid crystalline [12] (The Rainbow And The Worm), and that water is intrinsic to the liquid crystallinity of organisms [13] (The Liquid Crystalline Organism and Biological Water, ISIS scientific publication).

But more surprises are in store. 

A water battery

There was already a hint that the EZ has unusual electrical potential when pH sensitive dyes were used as solutes to see if they too, were excluded from the EZ. Indeed, they were, but they also showed up a zone of unusually low pH (red band) right above the clear EZ (see Fig. 4). A low pH means high concentration of protons (H+) immediately next to the EZ, and decreasing away from it.

Figure 3. Proton rich region above EZ with dye excluded when a pH sensitive dye was used (still captured from video [2])

An excess of protons suggests that charge separation has taken place in the water molecules as follows:

H2O —› H+ + OH-                                            (1)                                           

So where did the negatively charged OH- ions go? A measurement of electrical potential shows that away from the EZ, the bulk solution had the same electrical potential everywhere, however, as soon as the measuring electrode enters the EZ, the electrical potential dropped sharply to –120mV or more, depending on the gel involved, remaining at that level well into the gel itself (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 Electrical potential measured at different distances from the gel surface located at 0

This macroscopic separation of charges is stable, as is the EZ itself. It is in fact a water battery. A battery, like any other, could be used to power light bulbs or your labtop, and could be the most exciting application of liquid crystalline water (see Fig. 6). But what charges up the water battery? It takes energy to separate the charges, so where does the energy come from? That too was a surprise.

Figure 6. A water battery

Light charges up water

It turns out that water is sensitive to light, as is revealed by the exclusion zone next to a gel. It thickens on being exposed to light, which means that light enhances the formation of liquid crystalline water. The entire spectrum of sunlight is effective, but the peaks are in the visible blue and especially the invisible near-infrared (3 000 nm) regions. A mere 5 minutes exposure to the infrared light will cause the EZ to thicken several-fold. And if you connect up the EZ and the bulk water above to an external circuit, there is a measurable current, which lasts for a considerable time after the infrared light is turned off.

Green plants and especially blue-green bacteria have been splitting water according to equation (1) for billions of years, in order to obtain energy from the sun; and in the process fixing carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates and other macromolecules to feed practically the entire biosphere. The separation of charges in the formation of liquid crystalline water is essentially the same process.

Pollack asks tantalisingly: Can water replace oil? The applications of liquid crystalline water are wide-open. His laboratory is already working on a water-purification device based on separating liquid crystalline water of the EZ from the bulk water. (Liquid crystalline water is reputed to have health-promoting properties, though that is still unconfirmed.) Another application is anti-fouling agent: a coating that essentially prevents any impurities in water from sticking.

One invention I would love is a web suit that would enable me to glide over the water like a water bug!

Pollack’s findings have fundamental implications for our understanding of physics, chemistry and biology.

Of colloid crystals, thunder clouds and self-organisation

One puzzle that is immediately solved is the formation of colloid crystals (see Fig. 7) – literally crystals made of colloid particles arranged in an orderly way in solvents – which is very topical in the manufacture of nano-structured electronic and photonic devices.

Figure 7. Colloid crystals, scale bar 20 microns

Norio Ise and his colleagues in Osaka, Japan, first discovered colloid crystals forming in water more than 20 years ago [14] (Water and Colloid Crystals, SiS 32), and they explained the colloid crystals in terms of a long-range attraction between the colloid particles, though the precise mechanism has remained elusive. The major difficulty is that the colloid particles have the same charge and it is impossible, according to conventional theory for like charges to attract one another.

Pollack’s findings provide just the mechanism required. Colloid particles and microspheres are like the hydrophilic gel surfaces that form layers of liquid crystalline water or EZ. In the case of the gel, the EZ has an excess of negative charges with excess positive charges in the region outside (see Fig. 6). In the case of the microspheres and colloid particles, each is enclosed in a shell of liquid crystalline water with excess negative charges, while the positive charges are also driven outside (see Fig. 8). The repulsion between the negatively charged particles is exactly balanced by the attraction to the positive charges in between. In the space between two particles, there will be an excess of positive charges compared to elsewhere, which is why the particles end up being attracted to one another.

Figure 8. How like attracts like (see main text)

The same mechanism may explain why clouds form. Clouds are essentially minute water droplets nucleated on particles, and these too would end up attracting one another. The mechanism of charge separation explains at least where the enormous amount of energy unleashed in a lightning flash comes from. Storms could perturb the equilibrium of charged swarms in the atmosphere, leading to violent electrostatic discharges. The discharge heats up the air so much that it set up a shock wave, which is why thunder follows lightning. Obviously the details need to be worked out, but at least the major mechanism is clear.

The long-range attraction between like particles is also the main mechanism for self-assembly of molecules and particles inside the cells. It is the organizing principle that has long eluded biology, or as Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laureate and father of biochemistry said: “Life is water dancing to the tune of molecules.”

Perhaps it is the other way around as well: Life is molecules dancing “

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