13 January 2008

Structures of liquids are easily and regularly changed and homeopathic remedies exhibit biological activity

Homeopathy – Quackery or a Key to the Future of Medicine?

Debate between Dr Steven Novella, Dr Rustum Roy, Dr Donald Marcus, Dr Iris Bell, Dr Nadav Davidovitch, Dr Andre Saine.

Rustum Roy: ‘There are three vectors in the homeopathic process which can change structure which are well established in materials science:

1. Pressure during succussion

2. Epitaxy on each remedy’s structure

3. Nanobubbles formed by succussion.” (Slide 57)

“There have been excellent papers using physio chemical methods to show that homeopathically processed lab samples are measurably different from the original waters.  Especially the several papers by Elia et al flux calorimetry, conductivity, pH, electrode potentials and by Rey using standard thermo luminescence.” (Slide 53)

Differences in spectrometry between homeopathic Natrum Muriaticum and Nux Vomica (Slide 54)

Dr Iris Bell: Histamine Dilutions Modulate Basophil Activation Non-linearly Multicentre Study (Belon et al) (Slide 88)

Thrombogenic effects of Ultra-High Dilution Aspirin (ASA): a Nonlinear Dose-Response Relationship (Slide 89) “we see a reversal of what we usually anticipate aspirin to do at the toxic level.”

Animal studies demonstrate biological effects of homeopathic remedies (Slide 90)

What you see is an 70-80% rate of favourable outcome for the people in the real world who have found their way to homeopathic treatment across a large range of chronic and acute illnesses.” (Slide 95)

[The full write up of the debate is in the article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine January 1, 2008, 14(1): 9-15]



  1. I am deeply puzzled by all this.

    First, there is a general puzzle. If homeopaths think that their techniques are ‘energetic’ in nature and work on the ‘vital force’, why search for a physical explanation?

    Secondly, more importantly, it worries me that Roy is just not a good friend for homeopathy. He may have done some good work in the past, but his current work is just incoherent and muddled. For example, his published paper on ‘structure’ is very weak. (The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy). For example, homeopaths insist their are marvelous properties of water that allow it it form stable ‘memories’ of dissolved substances, and yet Roy’s work was done on ethanol – a very different liquid with very different properties, most unlike water. More damningly, the experimental work appear to make no allowance for contamination in ethanol. Tellingly, Roy cannot tell which sample is which from the data, only by prior knowledge of the sample. This is crucial to show a real effect. He notes only differences in spectra and completely fails to show that these are not due to differences in solvent – they are not all from the same source and so different levels of solvent purity are the undoubted explanaiton.

    A bit of blogging also reveals that Paul Wilson (http://hawk-handsaw.blogspot.com/2007/08/very-bad-science.html) has demonstrated that the graphs presented cannot be right as two are actually just copies of the same data. This shows very poor attenion to detail.

    Thirdly, even if the memory of water could be proven to be real (which no one has yet) then it only goes a very small part of the way to providing a mechanism for homeopathy. Other problems need to be solved: how does the memory persist on dilution? how doe sthe memory get stronger on dilution? How does the memory persist over time? how doe sthe memory get transfered to a sugar pill? how do other unwanted memories in water get filtered out? how does this memory get passed to the human? what biologicial pathways are involved in interpreting the memory? why does the memory act to cure? These are just a small sample of unanswerable questions that highlight the utter implausibility of the water memory hypothesis.

    This is not the way forward.

    Comment by le canard noir — 14 January 2008 @ 8:31 am

  2. As Rustrum Roy says: ‘There is no law of implausibility’ only questions that have no current answer scientifically. Effects come first, explanations later.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 14 January 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  3. Roy is wrong to try to rule out implausibility arguments like this. If an effect is depending on mechanisms that are in direct conflict with well established principles then we can say that such an effect is implausible. Also, Roy still has to show that there is an effect to explain. He has failed to do this and soes not appear to realise it. See the latest issues of Homeopathy>/i> for a robust critique of his work.

    Comment by le canard noir — 14 January 2008 @ 6:35 pm

  4. ‘If an effect is depending on mechanisms that are in direct conflict with well established principles then we can say that such an effect is implausible.’

    Scientism double-speak.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 14 January 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  5. H4H – how would you define ‘implausible’ in this context then?

    Comment by M Simpson — 14 January 2008 @ 7:37 pm

  6. If I said to you there was six legged elephant outside your house right now, and you said you did not believe me, could I accuse you of ‘Scientism double-speak’? Would your logic be forced to accept what I was saying no matter how much it ran counter to our well established knowledge of Proboscidea biology and distribution?

    Comment by le canard noir — 14 January 2008 @ 8:49 pm

  7. You both need to get over your logic-bound worlds.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 14 January 2008 @ 11:08 pm

  8. This item is being referenced by wikipedia for the Water Memory article:


    and in the Talk page for the article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Water_memory

    Update: but has been (justifiably) replaced with a reference to the write up of the debate in the article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine January 1, 2008, 14(1): 9-15: http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2007.0770

    Update 10/2/08: reference has been reinstated.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 5 February 2008 @ 6:56 pm

  9. And removed again. Fair enough.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — 24 February 2008 @ 9:03 am

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