The Homeopathy Research Institute (aims: ‘To perform and promote innovative research of the highest scientific standard in the field of homeopathy. To enable and encourage communication between the scientific community, the medical profession, professional homeopaths, the media and the public at large’)
reports in its February newsletter:
It’s not ‘just’ water
“It’s hard to realise just how complex a substance water really is. Water is everywhere; it covers 2/3 of the earth’s surface and makes up 60-70% of the human body. In our daily life, we only know water as either a liquid, ice or vapour. However upon closer inspection, scientists have catalogued 15 different types of ice1, which can be admired in the intricate designs of snow flakes and the amazing pictures of water crystals taken by Dr Imoto2. This complexity is due to the precise structure of the water molecule, making water one of the most complex substances known to science3.
Opponents of homeopathy often refer to the simplicity of the water molecule as a key argument why homeopathy cannot work. “It’s just water!” they say. However this is not the case as has now been shown by several fields of science outside of homeopathy4.
In the field of toxicology there is a known and documented phenomenon known as ‘hormesis’4. A substance showing hormesis has the property that it has the opposite effect in small doses, than in large doses. This supports the use of tautopathy, where homeopathic doses of a toxin are given to accelerate the detoxification of that same toxin (e.g. Arsenic).
Furthermore, in the field of material sciences, there is a phenomenon known as ‘epitaxis’. This phenomenon is used in the industrial manufacture of semiconductors for microprocessors. Epitaxy refers to the transfer of structural information from one substance to another, which can happen at the interface between the two substances. This transfer of structure information can remain after the original substance has disappeared from the system. This is very similar to the theory of homeopathic dilutions, the only difference being that epitaxy is known to happen in crystaline materials but not in liquids such as water5.
More recently, experiments using the light emission spectrum (Raman and Ultra-Violet-Visible spectroscopy) of homeopathic water vs normal water have shown that homeopathically prepared water has a different molecular structure than normal water6. Although these are preliminary results they do indicate that homeopathic remedies are not ‘just water’, something has remained of the originally diluted substance.
Finally I want to return to the work of the late Dr Benveniste (1935-2004). Benveniste’s original publication in 1988 in Nature7 – science’s most prestigious journal – created outrage in the scientific community all over the world. It showed that dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number (behond which there is no trace of the original substance left in the solution, corresponding to –12C) have a reproducible biological effect onliving cells. The scandal eventually let do Benveniste having to resign from his position as director of the CNRS, France’s main governmental science agency. It is reassuring that his results have since then been reproduced and confirmed, showing that indeed highly (homeopathically) diluted substances retain a biological activity akin to that of the substance in its crude form8-9.
In this brief overview of the science of water I hope I have managed to convey some of the strong scientific arguments that support the theory of homeopathic dilutions and thus the validity of the homeopathic principle of potentisation.”
2. http://www.masaru-emoto.net and his books such as ‘Messages from water’.
4. Mastrangelo D., (2007) ‘Hormesis, epitaxy, the structure of liquid water, and the science of homeopathy’. Med Sci Monit 13 (1):SR1-8.
5. Roy R. (2005) “The Structure of Liquid Water; Novel Insights from Materials Research; Potential Relevance to Homeopathy.” Material Research Innovations. 9 (4), pg 577-608.
6. Rao ML (2007) “The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy”. Homeopathy. 96 (3); 175-82
7. E Davenas & J Benveniste (1988). “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE” Nature 816 – 818
8. Belon P. (1999) “Inhibition of human basophil degranulation by successive histamine dilutions: results of a European multi-centre trial.”, 48 Suppl 1: S17-8
9. Belon P etal (2004). “Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation”. Inflamm Res. 53 (5):181-8
More discussion on water memory here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory
Interesting description of hormesis here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis ‘The biochemical mechanisms by which hormesis works are not well understood. It is conjectured that a low dose challenge with a toxin may trigger certain repair mechanisms in the body, and these mechanisms, having been initiated, are efficient enough that they not only neutralize the toxin’s effect, but even repair other defects not caused by the toxin.’