Homeopathy4health

20 December 2007

Homeopathic dilutions and plant growth, there is an effect and no placebo.

Karger ‘Forschender Komplementarmedezin’ Research in Complementary Medicine’:  Vol 12 No 5 2005

This study replicates the findings of a previous study on the growth of wheat seedlings that have been stressed by exposure to arsenic trioxide.  The wheat seedlings were treated with various potentised ultradilutions of arsenic trioxide, various potentised ultradilutions of water or various dilutions of arsenic trioxide (non-potentised).  Significant increases in growth were indicated in the groups treated with arsenic trioxide to the potency 45x and with water 45x.  Plants are not subject to the placebo effect. 

It is interesting that effects were noticed at the 45X potency, this is not a potency commonly used to treat people.  The X scale of potency is less commonly used in the UK but may have been used in this experiment as it is much quicker to generate potency scale increases in the scale of 1:10 rather than 1:100 (the C potency scale).  It is really interesting that simliar results were found for H20 45X which causes me to wonder whether the substance is key or the potency. Update: or whether this is an entanglement effect.

 “Summary:

Plant-based bioassays are suitable for basic research – lacking the placebo effect and ensuring large data samples for structured statistical analyses.

The aim of the study was to reproduce a previous experiment on the effects of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) high dilutions on wheat seedling growth in order to verify whether the same significant results could be obtained working in a different place and with a different experimental team. A further goal was to investigate high dilution effects on variability.

 A structured experiment was performed blind over 9 weeks, using wheat seeds previously stressed with a sublethal dose of As2O3. The seeds were then treated with either potentized As2O3 (5x, 15x, 25x, 35x, 45x), potentized water (equivalent potencies) or diluted As2O3 (10-5, 10-15, 10-25, 10-35, 10-45).

The working variable was the stem length, measured after 4, 5, 6 and 7 days.

Results: Some potencies (As2O3 45x and H2O 45x) induced a relevant increase in seedling growth and/or a variability decrease. Diluted As2O3 did not induce any significant results.

Conclusions: Confirmation of a significant stimulating effect on seedling growth and a significant decrease of variability was obtained with ultra-high dilutions at the 45x potency. The model of wheat germination and growth has been confirmed to be a good tool for basic research in homeopathy.”

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40 Comments »

  1. Interesting that no one from the bad science group has responded here. If you would accept this as a beginning of a reasonable scientific evidence that there is more than just placebo/water in a homeopathic preparation then you would have re-think the whole basis of the attack on homeopathy.

    Of course, I am waiting for the argument that this is somehow a “self limiting condition” for the plant(s) and other blah, blah blah.

    Comment by yeshomeopathy! — 21 December 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  2. […] in the current negativity about homeopathy from sceptic scientists who claim homeopathy has no scientific proof and should therefore be excluded from NHS provision.  Is this homeophobia an indication of how […]

    Pingback by Fundamentalism - one of the great problems facing the world - leading to extreme scientism? « Homeopathy4health — 23 December 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  3. I’d be happy to provide some feedback on this paper if someone will send me a copy of it so I can read it. UCL does not subscribe to this journal

    Since it was posted here by H4H I presume that you, and ‘yeshomeopathy’ have both read and checked the original paper and will be able to send me a copy. I shall be quite interested to see it, because for years I used an earlier paper that was done on wheat seedlings as a wonderful example of random fluctuations. I hope this one will turn out to be better when I see what exactly was done.

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 24 December 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  4. I notice that all my posts have been answered but this one. I do hope that this doesn’t mean that you posted an announcement about this paper without actually reading it first.

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 30 December 2007 @ 7:59 am

  5. Will curiosity kill the cat?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 30 December 2007 @ 3:25 pm

  6. So have you read it?

    Comment by gimpy — 30 December 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  7. Well I guess this makes it pretty obvious that they have NOT read it. Why am I not surprised? That is what makes the difference between people who take seriously the difference between fact and fiction, and those (like homeopaths) who feel free to believe almost anything.

    I was amused to see that the latest post (which, for some reason, is not allowing comments) actually defends the bad regular science of cold fusion. Science, being self-correcting and self-critical, rapidly found out that the authors of that paper were mistaken. But is seems that homeopaths are not just uninterested in distinguishing fact from fiction, but actually prefer fiction. Of course it would be wonderful if one could get cold fusion. It would equally be wonderful if one could cure AIDS with sugar pills. Sadly, life is not so easy.

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 30 December 2007 @ 7:01 pm

  8. […] homeopaty4health site was jubilant about a “proof” that homeopathic dilutions could produce effects. albeit […]

    Pingback by Homeopaths show Arsenic 45x is indistinguishable from water — 31 December 2007 @ 11:12 am

  9. Yesterday some kind person using the name “Apricot kernel” sent me the paper in question.

    The main findings appear to me to be
    (1) The claimed increase in effect with increasing dilution was not observed
    (2) It was not possible to distinguish between arsenic 45x and water 45x (which is, of course, what we have been saying all along)

    The details are at http://dcscience.net/?p=213.

    Next time, I suggest that you read the original before you get too jubilant.

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 31 December 2007 @ 11:17 am

  10. Thank you for calling me ‘kind’ David, and the name was Apricot Stone – check your facts and assumptions.

    I don’t understand it as a test for increase in effect with increasing dilution [this is the pharmacological model], but the authors noticed what they called significant effects at the 45x dilution. Much as Norman Allen replicating Jacques Benveniste’s work (I know I know discredited blah blah blah, Randi blah blah blah ) noticed effects at particular dilutions and not at others and how homeopaths notice beneficial effects with some patients at a particular potency and others at completely different potencies. I’d say you are a 10M/50M/CM kind of guy, wheat seedlings might respond to 45x.

    As the original study also noted an effect at 45x I would have like to see testing done beyond this potency to check this.

    I do not have the training to comment further on the statistics in the trial.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 December 2007 @ 2:31 pm

  11. The technique of claiming that statistical outliers are ‘successes’ is just data dredging – plain old bad statistical analysis that you learn very early on as an experimenter to spot and avoid. It’s the equivalent of throwing darts at a blank wall and then drawing a target around where a cluster of darts has fallen and then claiming to be a hotshot darts player.

    Homeopaths do exactly the same by keeping on trying different remedies and potencies until the patient says they are better and then claim they are a healer. This study draws its bulls-eye around the 45x potency. The fact that the other potencies do not show a consistent effect is ignored or explained away. If homeopathic theory is to be believed, surely it would predict increasing greater effect for greater potencies? The study would suggest this is not true and that potentised water is indistinguishable from non potentised water.

    Comment by Andy Lewis — 31 December 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  12. The study does not test non-potentised water at all.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 31 December 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  13. Actually it did. the controls were “non-potentized” water.

    Why is it called “potentization” if it isn’t supposed to make the “remedy” more potent? I’d understood that to be a fundamental tenet of homeopathy, but you seem happy to cast it aside when it is inconvenient.

    You don’t comment at all on the finding that Ars45x was not detectably different from water 45x. That surely implies that all your “remedies” are actually identical. Is there some other tenet that can be abandoned to explain that?

    Lastly, it was not only Randi who failed to reproduce Benveniste, but several others too. One of the most careful was done here at UCL (not by me) and published in Nature. Hirst, Hayes, Burridge, Pearce and Foreman, Nature (1993) 366, 525 – 527. They conclude “no aspect of the data is consistent with the previously published results”. I shall send a reprint to “Apricot Stone”.

    Thanks anyway, for drawing my attention to this paper. It will be a useful addition to the many papers that show that the tenets of homeopathy are no more than wishful thinking.

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 31 December 2007 @ 3:45 pm

  14. Would you like to tackle my substantial criticism?

    Comment by Andy Lewis — 31 December 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  15. This one?

    ‘If homeopathic theory is to be believed, surely it would predict increasing greater effect for greater potencies?’. Not in the same individual being. And I think you all need to get over your linearity in your thinking, homeopathy is holistic – whole, spherical, hologrammic.

    The bull’s eye analogy is a good one. We do try to hit the spot and when we do symptoms resolve. It’s not just about getting the right remedy, we need to use the right potency as well, simultaneously. And this can be the hardest part for practitioners to judge.

    So based on my experience I wouldn’t expect to see gradual increases in effect over a range of potencies for homogenous wheat seedlings but one significant one. It would be a good idea to have the wheat come from one crop however, wheat from another might show a different potency effect.

    In a population of people however, who are not homogenous, I would expect a whole range of bullseyes at different potencies, but only one for each one.

    And the beneficial effect of the potentised water, very interesting and worth trying to repeat in another experiment. David I did comment: ‘It is really interesting that simliar results were found for H20 45X which causes me to wonder whether the substance is key or the potency. Update: or whether this is an entanglement effect.’

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 1 January 2008 @ 10:15 am

  16. The trial you mention also says:

    ‘None of the P values reaches the level of statistical significance, with the exception of the high dilution range for the succussed anti-IgE, for which the P value indicates borderline significance. It therefore seems likely that the ‘significant’ t statistic in the highest dilution range for succussed anti-IgE is a chance result. This ‘significant’ effect was much smaller than anything reported by Davenas et al. The nature of the degranulation assay is such that variability is large: it depends on counting a small number of cells and requires a subjective assessment of stained cells. Also, for any given set of random numbers, it is expected that there will be occasions when the examination of randomness by statistical tests fail.’

    It sounds like explaining away to me.

    I cannot assess how closely the same protocol and analysis was followed.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 1 January 2008 @ 10:28 am

  17. Not in the same individual being. And I think you all need to get over your linearity in your thinking, homeopathy is holistic – whole, spherical, hologrammic.

    Could you explain what these words mean in relation to homeopathy? They sound like gobbledegook to me? Can you reference definitions?

    It’s not just about getting the right remedy, we need to use the right potency as well, simultaneously. And this can be the hardest part for practitioners to judge.

    This sounds very much like you are saying that homeopathic ‘theory’ has no predictive power. You just keep trying until conditions allow you to claim success. Can you not see the problem with this?

    Comment by Andy Lewis — 1 January 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  18. “It is really interesting that simliar results were found for H20 45X which causes me to wonder whether the substance is key or the potency. Update: or whether this is an entanglement effect.”

    Just think what the consequences would be if “potentized” water really worked. You would need only one “remedy” and homeopaths would have wasted the last 200 years on selecting from a myriad of bottles (of course the bottles are actually identical so that is what you have been doing anyway).

    Talk of “entanglement” is mere gobbledygook. Lionel Milgrom is in a minority of one. You can read answere from a real physicist (one who actually understands the meanings of the words he uses) at http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/eletters/4/1/7#116

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 1 January 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  19. Correction, the actual letter from the physicist, Daniel Chrastina, is higher up the page, at http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/eletters/4/1/7#92

    Comment by David Colquhoun — 1 January 2008 @ 8:42 pm

  20. I have a problem conceptualising “potentised water”. Please explain.

    Comment by mugsandmoney — 1 January 2008 @ 8:49 pm

  21. I have a problem conceptualising “potentised water”. Please explain.

    If someone can explain that then they will win the Nobel prize. This expereiment, like the rest, shows there is no such thing.

    Comment by Andy Lewis — 2 January 2008 @ 9:21 am

  22. Potentised water: it’s quite simple, instead of taking one drop of a tincture of a substance (e.g. salt) and adding to 9 drops of water (the X potency scale) and succussing, 10 drops of water are succussed (or equivalent volumes).

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 2 January 2008 @ 9:27 am

  23. re Lionel Milgrom being ‘only one’, change has to start with someone sticking their head above the parapet, that’s how progress is made.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 2 January 2008 @ 9:29 am

  24. homeopathy4health, if water is potentised by shaking then is the glass of tap water I have before me potentised? I allowed a drop to fall in to the glass then diluted it by turning the tap on full to create an impressive fountaining effect that sprayed water over the sink, the wall and myself. The powerful stream of water no doubt created the same effect as shaking so does my water have homeopathic properties? If so how do homeopaths avoid the inadvertent potentisation of water as it flows from a tap into a remedy? If not then what is the difference between rapid high velocity mixing aided by pressure and shaking?

    Comment by gimpy — 2 January 2008 @ 9:37 am

  25. Gimpy you are letting your side down with a question like that.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 2 January 2008 @ 9:41 am

  26. Of courses it’s a ridiculous question, it’s absurd that water could gain properties by being vigorously mixed with more water. Likewise it’s absurd that shaking, sucussion, can do the same. Do you disagree? If so, what is the difference between mixing and shaking?

    Comment by gimpy — 2 January 2008 @ 10:05 am

  27. The day that anyone can show any difference between so called potentised water and ordinary water is the day this argument is settled. Until that day, the only prudent and rational approach is to believe there is no difference. The experiment above shows no difference. homeopathy4health failed to understand this or how the experiment was done or analysed. Personally, I think homeopathy4health would show some maturity if they now stated they understood the above experiment does not support homeopathic theory.

    Comment by Andy Lewis — 2 January 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  28. I’m happy to let people make up their own minds.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 2 January 2008 @ 9:17 pm

  29. Sorry, I’m still having difficulty with the concet – you have only described the process.
    What is the result? What property of the first drop of water is “potentised”?

    Comment by mugsandmoney — 3 January 2008 @ 12:33 pm

  30. I think you are being asked for your opinion. Is it possible for you to answer the question.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 3 January 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  31. Jeff – actually I am not a big fan of these scientific trials because as we can see above everyone brings their own prejudices to the analysis of the results.

    Mugsandmoney – it is surprising that potentised water was used in the trial and to me it indicates that potentisation in itself may have an effect and is worthy of further trials.

    I have no further comment to make. Further comments will be deleted. If you want to discuss it further please take the issue to your own blogs.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 3 January 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  32. Are you theorising that possibly the mother tincture is unnecessary?

    Comment by mugsandmoney — 4 January 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  33. No.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 4 January 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  34. How could any water ever NOT be ‘potentised’? Water is shaken when it’s carried in a bottle, shaken when it flows through a pipe or a tap, shaken in rivers and streams, shaken like crazy when it’s in the sea, shaken when raindrops hit the ground. How long does water have to sit perfectly still to be considered ‘unpotentised’?

    Comment by M Simpson — 5 January 2008 @ 9:13 am

  35. Interesting question. I don’t have the exact answer. Food for further thought: each of the examples you mention could have a different effect in terms of energy/vibration. In homeopathy each succussion takes place in the small environment of a closed test tube and involves a relatively very small amount of water. Perhaps a physicist might be able to help.

    Research articles here: http://www.trusthomeopathy.org/case/res_action.html

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 January 2008 @ 11:59 am

  36. “In homeopathy each succussion takes place in the small environment of a closed test tube and involves a relatively very small amount of water.” Surely this isn’t the case with Helios, Nelsons and other manufacturers of Homeopathic Water.
    Or am I mistaken, are thousands employed shaking test tubes.

    Comment by Jeff Garrington — 17 January 2008 @ 2:03 pm

  37. I don’t have time to read the original paper at the moment, but just out of interest: did they (Bonferroni) correct for multiple comparisons? If they’re doing multiple t-tests vs. control and don’t correct then p = .04 is not really a result worth reporting. The data on the graph (shown at DC’s page) look pretty much random to me.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — 18 January 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  38. JG: You are mistaken.

    Remedies were laboriously handmade but now many homeopathic pharmacies use Korsakoff machines where ONE vial is emptied (the small residual being considered the ‘one drop’) and refilled and succussed to the required potency over hours or days.

    Here is Helios’s page: http://www.helios.co.uk/Helios%20Potentising%20machine.html

    No swimming pools or oceans required.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 18 January 2008 @ 11:06 pm

  39. flimflam: I suggest you repost on DC’s page.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 18 January 2008 @ 11:14 pm

  40. On Yahoo Answers: http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080118082858AAovfHn

    Who is using homeo medicines to protect plants?

    Brigitte H: Some books are available, e.g.”Homeopathic Materia Medica for Plants and Soil.”from Ben Rozendal

    Official gardeners in my country use Homeo medicines to repel invasive insects and moths from trees ( chestnuts f.e. )

    Fruit farmers use them as natural growth enhancer, anti-stress remedy and for better harvest.

    I treat my orchids with them and they have more leaves and more flowers than without.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 18 February 2008 @ 12:45 pm


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