(Investigator Magazine 187, 2019 August)
Homeopathy is a highly systematized method of medical therapeutics and clinical evaluation. Lange, A. (1999)
NCAHF … believes that marketing unproven homeopathic products and
services precisely fits the definition of quackery: "A quack is anyone
who promotes medical schemes or remedies known to be false, or which
are unproven, for a profit'': NCAHF Position Paper on Homeopathy.
Lines on Homeopathy.
Stir the mixture well
Lest it prove inferior,
Then put half a drop
Into Lake Superior.
Every other day
Take a drop in water,
You'll be better soon
Or at least you oughter.
Bishop William Croswell Doane, (1832–1913), first Episcopal bishop of Albany (NY)
Although widely promoted by its followers as a "highly systematized method of medical therapeutics and clinical evaluation"
(Lange, 1999, p. 335), in reality, Homeopathy is nothing more than a
collection of pseudo-medical concepts, the remnant of a pre-scientific
age when physicians were still disputing whether disease and illness
were spiritual or physical afflictions; as such, it has absolutely no
relationship to legitimate scientific medicine.
Despite the claims of physician Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), that, "I was the first that opened up this path…"
(Hahnemann, Section 109, - hereafter § = Section), the basic
principles of Homeopathy are neither new, nor original. The concept
that "like cures like" (similia similibus curantur),
also known as the "Law of Similars" or the "Law of Signatures", was
based upon the ancient and quite erroneous concept of homogeneous
One of the earliest concepts of pre-scientific medicine it was mentioned by Hippocrates who observed that, "while the general rule of treatment be contraria contrariis curantur" opposites cure opposites, (Hippocrates, p. 77) the opposite rule, similia similibus curantur (similars cure similars) also applied.
Although the earliest references to homogeneous medical principles come
from Babylonia and Egypt and are some 5,000 years old, it appears
likely that this particular concept predated even these ancient
civilizations by many millennia and was part of the most ancient oral
lore of the wise-women, shamans and medicine men.
When early humans began to use plants for medicinal purposes they had
no real idea as to which plants to use for specific disorders. However,
from earliest times humans appear to have developed a belief in the
interrelationship of all things on Earth, and since plants were thought
to contain vital life energy, it was considered appropriate to use them
to restore the vital energy that they believed escaped from wounds, or
to restore the lost energy that was so common with illness.
However early humans went one step further, developing a homogeneous
belief that, where there was a degree of similarity between the plant’s
colours, shape, or of the environment in which it grew, this increased
the efficaciousness of the plant in treating the disorder. While most
often the only effect of treatment was that of a placebo, or an emotive
factor, (the plant gatherers were women, and no doubt used them on
their sick children); occasionally however, some of the plants they
used did actually have curative qualities, and was appropriate for the
use to which they applied it. One successful application of this
homogeneous logic was the willow tree. Since the willow grew in damp,
wet areas, it was considered suited to treat those illnesses that
produced bodily chills and sweating.
Over time homogeneous principles became increasingly more sophisticated
so that in early China specific plants became associated with specific
organs, bitter red plants were used for heart complaints, while sour,
green plants were used to treat the liver. In Europe such concepts
merged with a long standing Christian philosophical belief that,
although God had created a mystical world filled with hidden truths, he
had provided cryptic, symbolic clues, evidence of his "divine
signature" which could be deciphered by the wise. However, by the
Middle Ages it was increasingly accepted that the stars, rather than
God, had imprinted a hidden pattern into each type of plant.
Consequently, treatment involved using plants that were not only
homogeneously appropriate, but more importantly, were astrologically
significant to the patient. This belief was firmly established by
Paracelsus, (1493-1541), who formulated the Doctrine of Signatures;
tinges with a white colour has the nature of life, and the properties
and power of light, which causally produces life. Whatever, on the
other hand, tinges with blackness, or produces black, has a nature in
common with death…" (Paracelsus: Part II).
Possibly the most devastating argument against Homeopathy is that
Hahnemann’s basic belief that, "like cures like", may have been based
upon an error. It appears Hahnemann first tested his theory in 1790,
using what was probably a solution prepared from crude cinchona bark,
although most reports erroneously claim he took quinine, (which was not
actually isolated until 1818 and Hahnemann himself refers to "cinchona
bark", which contains quinine, throughout the Organon,
e.g. §74, 234). Nevertheless, while cinchona bark was known to
reduce malarial fever, Hahnemann experienced a completely opposite
reaction, his temperature increased. This opposite response has led
some, like Weldon (1991) and Thomas, to suggest that what Hahnemann
experienced was an allergic reaction to the cinchona, and, as a result,
his claim that cinchona elevated the temperature, producing a reaction
similar to malarial fever, was completely erroneous.
Early medicine was primarily based upon religious and superstitious
beliefs, and even when Greek medicine became more secular, the
quasi-religious belief evolved that humans were divinely created
spiritual beings, animated by a "divine" life-force and that "sickness
was due to some type of interference with the spiritual aspect, or else
a disruption of this vital force.
In this secular arena disease was increasingly attributed to such
things as an imbalance of humours, to the capricious whims of obscure
cosmic influences, to the malaria
– "bad air" that emanated from rotting material in swamps (Nero had
swamps near Rome drained to rid them of their bad-air disease),
mysterious airborne miasmas, (Florence Nightingale believed that if the
Crimean hospital wards were kept clean it would prevent miasmic
infections). Although there was a growing belief that disease and
sickness were caused by physical agents, proof was lacking and overall,
medicine was in a wretched state. It remained insular, trapped in the
past, with physicians blindly following the teachings of Aristotle and
Galen, except where these disagreed with Christian doctrines. Thus,
although Galen had discovered that blood, not air, flowed through the
veins and arteries, since Christianity insisted the arteries were
filled with air and spirit, (Hellman, 2001, p. 7), such contradictory
ideas were generally ignored.
Since the ‘infallible authorities’ revealed all that needed to be known
about medicine it was considered unnecessary to seek new explanations,
or to challenge their claims with empirical research. Not only were
such efforts forbidden by the Church, but so infallible were the
ancient texts thought to be that it was taught that, if empirical
observations should reveal evidence that contradicted the ancient
texts, the conflicting empirical evidence was to be rejected as invalid.
Even practical areas of medicine, such as anatomical dissection, were
discouraged, physicians being encouraged to consult the works of Galen
for anatomical information, despite the fact that it is unlikely that
Galen had ever actually dissected any human bodies. The result of all
this was that until the 19th century medicine was primitive, irrational
and the treatments that were accepted as "normal, were often dangerous;
they included: -
• Bleeding: It was thought that when a person’s blood became too plenteous, (plethora) it would produce diseases. For orthodox practitioners, the treatment was to remove the patient’s blood either by:
a) Leeching – cutting the skin with a knife and applying leeches to the wound; or,
b) Cupping, heated
glasses or cups were placed over the wound; the reduced air pressure
within the cup formed a suction-seal by pulling in the skin and muscle
layer, producing faster, more voluminous bleeding. According to
Hahnemann, (§60, 6th edition footnotes), such bleeding was often
done with the patient immersed in a warm bath;
• Purging: Administration of laxatives, cathartics, or enemas to cleanse the bowels;
• Blistering: The application of hot irons to the
skin, creating large blisters. It was believed that the pain helped to
expel evil energies from the body, and, at the same time, malignant
energies were drained from the body as the liquid from the blisters was
• Fumigation: A claustrophobic process in which the
victim was either placed in closed room filled with thick stupefying
smoke, or over a bowl with a blanket over their head and inhaled smoke
or vapours from a bowl;
• Overdosing with drugs: With no scientific testing,
it was thought that if a drug was suitable to treat a disease, then the
more the better. Unfortunately while many drugs were harmless in small
amounts, in larger doses they could often be injurious or even toxic.
These primitive treatments were based on the primitve belief that,
since bleeding, swelling, abscesses, etc. were normal symptoms of
disease, producing them artificially would speed up the normal healing
process. Hahnemann rejected such ideas; he believed that these "natural
symptoms" were produced by, "The vital force
("dynamis" - §9) in order to relieve the internal malady…"
(Hahnemann, p. 25), and he was extremely critical of practitioners who
sought to replicate these physical manifestations believing they would
accelerate healing. In fact Hahnemann’s attacks on such practices,
(Hahnemann, p. 18; 25) appear to have been completely justified, for
not only were these treatments unscientific and useless but they were
also harsh, incapacitating, and often fatal for the patients.
Haggard (1929) gave an example of how physically devastating these
treatments could be, when King Charles II collapsed suddenly in 1685
his physicians bled half a litre of blood from his right arm, then
another 226 grams by cupping from his shoulder. He was given an emetic
to induce vomiting, a purgative to move his bowels, and when this
failed, another purgative. His physicians then administered an enema,
then, two hours later another enema and purgative. The king’s head was
shaved and blistered, he was given sneezing powder and a plaster of
pitch and pigeon dung on his feet. After regular purging and
administration of numerous herbs and remedies, including Raleigh’s
Sovereign Antidote1 and Goa Stone2 extract of human skull and bezoar
stone it appeared the king was dying, and, in desperation, "…a mixture of Raleigh’s antidote, pearl julep and ammonia was forced down the throat of the dying king."
(Haggard, 1929, p. 335) Finally, after four days of this physical
onslaught, and the administration of some fifty-eight different drugs
and concoctions, (Thompson, 1928, p. 126), the king finally died. Such
severe treatments were still being used until the 19th century, and
death from such treatments was not unusual; as Moerman (2002)
commented, "… it is generally agreed by historians that George Washington was bled to death by his physicians in 1799." (p. 11)
Evidence suggests that Hahnemann was a gifted, independent thinker,
who, at a time when medicine was still primarily based upon
superstitious nonsense, rejected many of the contemporary ideas, and
sought an approach that was not only more humane, but was also more
scientific. Indeed, Hahnemann become so disillusioned with contemporary
medicine that, in 1782, he withdrew from medical practice for fourteen
years, spending his time researching and translating medical texts,
(Lange, 1999, p. 336). It was during this time that he developed his
theories on Homeopathy, the term derived from the Greek words, homoion
(like or similar) and, pathos
(suffering), to describe a system of ‘medical’ treatment using various
substances that produced a physical reaction in patients that was
similar to the symptoms produced by the actual disease.
During Hahnemann’s lifetime there were three principal theories as to the origins of disease, each with its own followers: -
Who, although unable to produce any proof of their theories, believed
that all disease was caused by some form of invisible, physical or
material agency, known as "morbific matter";
Hahnemann introduced the terms Allopathist and Allopathic for those
physicians who used medicines that produced symptoms that were the
opposite of those of the disease, a concept previously mentioned by
Galen. Many Allopaths were also Materialists;
This group believed that humans were animated by a cosmic life-force,
and that sickness resulted from this energy being "disturbed" or
interfered with, they sought ways to restore the vital balance.
Hahnemann was a Vitalist, the basis of his homeopathic theories was
that although humans were physical organisms, they were animated by a
life force, a, "spirit-like vital principle"
(p. 11), which contained an intrinsic healing ‘intelligence’. However
Hahnemann went much further, he declared that this "vital principle was
not only the source of a natural healing power, but that when this life
force was "deranged" illness resulted.
According to Hahnemann, disease was a, "… (spiritual) dynamic derangements of our spirit-like vital principle… "(Hahnemann, p 11); it was this, "… morbidly affected vital force (in 6th edition "vital energy") alone that produces diseases..." (Hahnemann, §12) He claimed that, "The causes of our maladies cannot be material…"
(p. 11), and insisted that the only real way to cure disease was to
activate the body’s spiritual self-healing potential by using
appropriate homeopathic medicines. He claimed that giving the sick
minute amounts of drugs that produced physical symptoms similar to
those of their disease, these would produce an artificial "morbid
affection" powerful enough to displace the disease (§29). At the
same time, the vital force, boosted by the homeopathic medicine, would
apply an, "… increased amount of energy,"
(§29) to deal with the artificial infection, and since only a
minute amount of medication had been used, this would be of such a
slight level that the vital spirit, which is "merely medicinally ill" (§29, Note 1), would be able to quickly overpower it, (§29 and §68) leaving the patient fully recovered.
It appears he became so obsessed with his own ideas that he chose to
ignore a growing body of contemporary evidence of the existence of the
invisible "morbific matter". Prior to his death in 1843 Hahnemann lived
in Paris, a leading centre of 19th century medical science, and the
midst of the ongoing controversy between these various theories.
Materialistic ideas had been proposed by Gerolomo Frascatoro, (1530)
and Marcus von Plenciz, (1762), who had even suggested that specific
agents could be responsible for each type of disease. His book, Organon,
was essentially a polemic against those who believed in non-Vitalistic
theories, and he attacked the Materialist theories as "imaginary" (p.
8), "fantasies" (p. 11), "idle dreams" (p. 11). Yet time was running
out for the Vitalists, for although Hahnemann declared, "Did any nosologist ever see with corporeal eyes such a morbific matter…"
(p. 12), the fact was that in 1683, using a primitive microscope, van
Leeuwenhoek had already seen some of these invisible agents of disease.
Hahnemann was unwilling, or unable, to accept that his theories might
be invalid, so that in his fifth edition of the Organon, (circa 1833),
he still asserted that,
just as a child with smallpox or measles, communicates to a near,
untouched healthy child in an invisible manner (dynamically) the
smallpox or measles, that is, infects it at a distance without anything material from the infective child going or capable of going to the one infected." (Hahnemann, footnote to §11,)
Nevertheless, for his patients, Homeopathy must have seemed a much more
attractive option than the harsh and often dangerous contemporary forms
of treatment. It is also very likely that, for many, Homeopathy was
actually an effective form of treatment, not for the reasons Hahnemann
claimed, but largely because: -
a) As a mild, non-invasive treatment, it allowed patients the opportunity to recover naturally;
b) Because homeopathic drug dosages were too small to
have any effect, they avoided the toxic or poisonous side-effects of
orthodox drug treatments;
c) Homeopathic medicine was essentially a placebo.
Regrettably, while Hahnemann’s objectives were praiseworthy, his
theories were much less so. It was a great tragedy of the past that
while many well-intentioned researchers, such as Hahnemann, genuinely
sought to revolutionize medicine, lacking a proper scientific
foundation for their theories, they were led astray by the archaic
pre-scientific theories of their time.
This is what happened to Hahnemann, basing his theories on various
pseudo-scientific concepts he evolved what was in fact a
religious-philosophical model of illness rather than a medical model.
Rather extravagantly he proclaimed that it was only by the use of
homeopathic medicines, "that the certain cure of human maladies is possible." (§109) In his footnotes to this same section he added, "It
is impossible that there can be another true, best method of curing
dynamic diseases (i.e. all diseases not strictly surgical) besides
Most erroneous were his theories of Miasms and Psora, concepts now
rarely mentioned by Homeopaths, probably for fear of ridicule.
It was mentioned earlier that miasmas were thought to be noxious
vapours produced by mephitic decaying animal or vegetable matter; these
dank, fetid miasmas were believed to carry on the air, in some ethereal
manner, various infectious diseases. Those miasms which attack
individuals "but once in a lifetime"
(§73) were defined as acute miasms, while other diseases were
produced by, "… a transient explosion of latent psora". (§73)
In seeking to assimilate this concept into his theories Hahnemann
experienced difficulties as he sought to identify the nature and
operation of these miasms, for, while he clearly sought to identify
these miasms as non-physical, a "miasmatic exhalation hovering about"
(Hahnemann, 2004, p. 759), in describing the cholera-miasm he clearly
seems to suggest that they had within them an actual physical
cholera-miasm finds a favourable element for its multiplication, and
grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute,
invisible, living creatures, so inimical to human life, of which the
contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists…" (Hahnemann, 2004, p. 758)
Overall, what he actually meant by the concept of the miasms remains
unclear, even his followers were uncertain; later, after the discovery
of germs, some of his followers even suggested he had been referring to
germs, but lacked the language to name them as such.
The problem Hahnemann faced was that although he claimed his
homeopathic medicines were efficacious in treating all forms of
disease, he was faced with the reality that, for many of his patients,
the diseases kept returning time after time.
At a loss to explain why he came up with the theory that there were
three chronic forms of miasms, (Hahnemann, p. 20), each one being
associated with a specific type of personality and producing specific
types of illness:
Syphlitic Miasm: Said to be a "suppressed" form of Syphilis, which was
manifested in ulceration, gangrene, and syphilitic type infections.
• Sycotic Miasm: A "suppressed" form of gonorrhea, it tended to produce tumors, allergies and fibrous tissue.
• Psoric Miasm: Psora, (from the
Greek, meaning "an itch"). was the principal miasma, "… the psora
the only real fundamental cause and producer of all the other numerous,
I may say innumerable forms of disease;" (§80), in particular, "… nervous
debility, hysteria, hypochondriasis, mania, melancholia, imbecility,
madness, epilepsy and convulsions of all sorts, softening of the bones
(rachitis), scoliosis and cyphosis, caries, cancer, fungus nematodes,
neoplasms, gout, hemorrhoids, jaundice, cyanosis, dropsy, amenorrhea,
hemorrhage from the stomach, nose, lungs, bladder and womb, of asthma
and ulceration of the lungs, of impotence and barrenness, of megrim,
deafness, cataract, amaurosis, urinary calculus, paralysis, defects of
the senses and pains of thousands of kinds," (§80)
While Hahnemann suggested these miasms were "transmitted" from the
parents to the child, they were apparently not genetic components, but
rather, like the "inherited" characteristics of the doshas in Ayurvedic
Medicine, they were the result of some form of "interference" with the
"vital force" of the parents at the actual moment of conception.
Reflecting the ignorance of the past, pre-scientific medicine assumed
that conception occurred at the time of intercourse, whereas, it
actually occurs hours, sometimes days, after the act of intercourse.
Attempting to attribute the numerous types of diseases to a few basic
causes reveals either an incredible degree of naivety, or the ignorance
that comes from pre-scientific theorizing. It appears that Hahnemann
was creating elaborate rationales in an attempt to cover the fact that,
despite homeopathic treatments, the diseases were never completely
Possibly the most contentious aspect of Homeopathy is the so-called
process of "dynamization, or potentizing"(§128; 246-247; 269).
This theory proposes that, contrary to all accepted principles of
science, the more one dilutes or reduces the amount of a drug in a
solution, the more potent,
and more effective, it becomes. The dynamization process begins with
the preparation of a Mother Tincture, where the plant, or mineral
agent, is dissolved in a mixture of 90% alcohol and 10% water,
(although these amounts can vary). The mixture is stored for two to
four weeks, and shaken, (a process known as succusion), at regular
intervals. A small amount is removed and is then added to either nine
or ninety parts of alcohol or water; as before this is shaken briskly,
at least forty times.
This process is repeated so that each time the previous mixture
continuing to be diluted; the strength of the dilution is identified by
Roman numerals, X = 10 and C = 100, thus 1X is a 1:9 mix, while 1C is a
1:90 mix. Eventually the mixtures reach an ultra-molecular level for,
scientifically, there are limits to how often a mixture can be diluted
before all traces of the original substance are completely lost. This
maximum limit is known as Avogadro's number (6.023 x 1023) which actually corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C or 24X (1 part in 1024); despite this Hahnemann indicates the process should be continued until, "… the thirtieth development of power … which is the one most generally used." (§270)
While orthodox science can find no reason why dynamization should work,
as Bopp (1985) noted the lack of scientific or mathematical proof does
not upset homeopathic doctors (p. 10) for, following the lead of
Hahnemann they attribute it to a metaphysical process,
"The homœopathic system of medicine develops for its use, to a hitherto unheard-of degree, the spirit-like medicinal powers of the crude substances
by means of a process peculiar to it and which has hitherto never been
tried, whereby only they all become penetratingly efficacious1 and
remedial…" (Hahnemann, §269)
Hahnemann lived at a time when many physicians accepted without question that, "… disturbances of the mind and body were mirrored in the motion of the stars."
(Leavesley, 2000, p. 36); as such, astrological influences were the
principal means of medical diagnosis; Hahnemann appears to have been
influenced, at least in part, by such ideas. In treating patients their
actual symptoms were deemed essentially irrelevant; all that the
physician required was their birth details to plot their natal
planetary influences and from this information, he could prescribe
astrologically appropriate herbs.
Ancient herbal medicine was based on the belief that each plant
contained a small amount of cosmic life-energy that had been absorbed
by the plant when certain planets were in their ascendancy. The
appropriateness of the drug, its active ingredients, or the
strength of the dose were totally unimportant; all that mattered
was this energy component, and since this energy was considered to be
so potent, the minutest amount of this energy was deemed
sufficient to cure any disease.
More importantly since Homeopathy is based upon Vitalistic concepts, a belief in a, "spirit-like vital principle… "(p 11), an, "… instinctively perceiving and regulating vital force…" (§15), Hahnemann claimed that disease, per se,
was the "morbid derangement" of this life energy, and that cures could
only be effected by the use of medicines that could act upon this
"spirit-like vital forces" (§16). According to Vitalistic theory,
since the life-force found in plants is part of the great spiritual
force that brought the universe into being, and continues to sustain
it, even though the amount of the original substance, the herb or
mineral, might be diluted, the actual life-force within that substance
can never be diluted.
This means that, no matter how endlessly diluted a substance might be,
however minute might be the final amount of that substance, the
life-force within that substance remains as powerful as when the
Thus while Hahnemann claimed that the potentially harmful effects of
substances, especially poisons was reduced with each dilution, the
innate spiritual essence of the substance, remained undiminished, its
power spread throughout the greatly increased volume, with no loss of
its initial potency! Reflecting the philosophical concept of the
Alchemists that matter could be "converted" to release its inherent
nature, so too Hahnemann indicated that the dynamization process would
ultimately reduce the original substance to its most basic elemental
form, the, "… individual spirit-like, (conceptual) essence. (§270, 6th edition)
If the dynamization process is actually effective in producing
medicines of extraordinary efficacy, then it should be a simple matter
for Homeopaths to demonstrate this fact. However, the fact is that
despite hundreds of attempts to demonstrate the efficacy of homeopathic
remedies, so far there is no evidence to indicate they are any more
effective than placebos.
An overview of six trials, involving 556 subjects by McCarney, Linde
and Lasserson (2004), found no evidence to support the use of
Homeopathy for chronic asthma.
Significantly most homeopathic research is conducted by Homeopaths and
other Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) researchers. In
a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial by CAM researchers
White, Slade, Hunt, Hart, and Ernst (2003), no differences were
found between the two treatments and it was concluded that that was no
evidence to support that homeopathic remedies were any better than
CAM researchers Brien, Lewith and Bryant, (2003) examined the
proposal that, if ultramolecular doses are clinically active, then a
group given Belladonna 30C should experience more true Belladonna
proving symptoms than a placebo group; they found no significant
difference between the groups. The finding that homeopathic remedies
are no better than placebos is endlessly repeated. Walach, Koster,
Hennig and Haag (2001) found nothing to indicate differences in
responses between subjects given homeopathic Belladonna 30C and those
given a placebo.
A meta-analysis by Shang, Huwiler-Müntener, et al. (2005), indicated that, "… the effects seen in placebo controlled trials of homeopathy are compatible with the placebo hypothesis." (p. 731); in other words, results produced by homeopathic remedies are nothing more than a placebo effect.
CAM researchers Long and Ernst (2001) found that while a number of
trials on the use of homeopathic substances to treat Osteoarthritis, a
common rheumatic disease, favoured homeopathic treatment, they did not
however allow any definite conclusions to be reached as to the
effectiveness of homeopathic remedies to treat this disease. Similarly,
while Fisher, Greenwood, Huskisson, Turner and Belon (1989) indicated
the homeopathic medicine R toxicodendron 6C did produce improvements in patients with fibrositis, re-analysis of the data by Colquhoun (1990) indicated there was, "…no firm evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic treatments of fibrosistis." (p. 442)
A major problem with much CAM research is the poor methodology, in an
overview of 5,000 trials Bloom, Rethi, Dahan, and Jonsson (2000) found
that only 258 met acceptable criteria. Similarly Ernst and Pittler
(1998) from the Department of Complementary medicine, University of
Exeter reviewed eight separate trials of homeopathic arnica; not only
did they find that most contained "severe methodological flaws" but
they also found no evidence to indicate that homeopathic arnica was any
more efficacious than a placebo.
Similar findings, that highly dilute homeopathic remedies were no
different from placebos and were most likely due to non-specific
treatment effects, was also reported by Ernst (2005).
One of the most extensive studies into Homeopathy was conducted by
Scofield (1984), a proponent of Homeopathy, and, in his final analysis
he was forced to concede, "It is
obvious from this review that, despite much experimental and clinical
work, there is only little evidence to suggest that homeopathy is
effective." (p. 218)
While complementary health researchers consistently fail to achieve any
positive results they seem unable to admit that Homeopathy is a
fallacious concept. They resort to a cognitively dissonant approach,
blaming the failure on such things as, "… the unknown role of publication bias." Kleijnen, Knipschild and Riet (1991), or, as Scofield rationalized, if only homeopathy was, "… properly tested on a large enough scale " (p. 218) it is certain it would be proven to be a valid form of health care!
It is interesting that while researchers are unable to find any
scientific basis for the various Homeopathic claims, supporters of
Homeopathy persistently insist that areas of physics, as yet to be
discovered, will ultimately provide adequate explanations for the
various homeopathic processes.
what we confront here is not a dilution in the ordinary sense, but
another, as yet unknown, dispersion of the substance which while
"dematerializing" on the molecular level preserves its specific dynamic
characteristics and intensifies its energetic charge." (Whitmont, 1993, p. 6)
They point to such work as that of Davenas, Beauvais, Benveniste, et al,
(1988) and Samal and Geckeler, (2001). Davenas et al (1988) claimed
that solutions containing anti-IgE antibodies that had been diluted to
levels of 1 x 102 to 1 x 10120 –"… beyond the Avogadro limit" (p. 818) were still able to effect antibodies of the immunoglobulin E, (IgE). Although admitting that, "… none of the starting molecules is present in the solution…" it was suggested that, "… specific information must have been transmitted during the dilution/shaking process." (p. 818)
The paper was accepted by the authors of Nature with certain reservations, and a degree of incredulity, adding, "There is no physical basis for such an activity."
An essential aspect of all scientific research is that, when replicated by others, similar results are found. The editors of Nature
arranged for independent investigators to visit the laboratories where
the research was conducted and the investigators, Maddox, Randi and
Stewart, (1988) found numerous inconsistencies, for instance, the
experiments, "…do not always "work" (p. 287), sampling errors were ignored, (p. 288). The investigative team concluded "We believe that experimental data have been uncritically assessed and their imperfections inadequately reported." (p. 287); thus, the claims by Davenas, et al, (1988) remain unsubstantiated.
Samal and Geckeler (2001) reported finding evidence of unusual
properties in aqueous solutions; they found evidence that the compounds
being tested tended to cluster together, and increased in size as the
solution was diluted. This increase in size was rapid, occurring when
the solution was diluted rather than over time. In their article they
mentioned only that their discovery, "…could
be of general importance with profound implications on the universal
understanding of diverse phenomena involving dilution and dilute
solutions." (p. 2224) Although they specifically made no
reference to any homeopathic processes, others, like Coghlan (2001),
suggested that this research, "…could provide the first scientific insight into how some homeopathic remedies work." (p. 4)
However, in a response to this article, O’Brien and Spencer (2001)
pointed out that if "clumping" did occur, then there was even less
likelihood that we would find residual molecules dispersed in
homeopathic solutions. Rowland (2001) offered a possible explanation
for the ‘phenomena’ observed by Samal and Geckeler (2001), namely that
many molecules are known to adsorb into two-dimensional films onto the
walls of the containing vessels. They suggested that the original
results were quite consistent with observation of these films rather
than suspensions in solution.
The Law of Potentization is contrary to every known concept of physics
and medicine; if it is valid, then every known principle of orthodox
chemistry must be abandoned! The problem is that if, as it is claimed,
Homeopathic drugs perform more effectively at a diluted level, then so
too should every other chemical, either alone or in combination; yet
the fact is they do not, all of which suggests that either the
Homeopaths or the Chemists are wrong.
Homeopathy is essentially a religious-philosophy in the guise of
medicine, an amalgam of various ancient pre-scientific theories,
including Vitalism, Christianity, Astrology, Alchemy and Animal
Homeopathic Vitalism is based upon Christianity; Hahnemann appears to
have believed his theories were a divine revelation from God. The vital
force "…comes from the central source of all life… the great Creative Intelligence"
(Lindlahr, 2002, p. 230). It is this same deity who reveals, "His
wisdom and goodness" (§17) by producing physical symptoms that
makes known to the physician what must be "removed" so as to restore
good health. (§22) Such is the complexity of disease only God can
understand it; it would be of no practical use for physicians to know
what causes disease, and so, "… will forever remain concealed from him;" (§ 12, Note 1, 5th-6th edition). The concept of the vital spirit was also an expression of the Christian theme of the "memento mori"
(remember you must die) – the belief that while eventually the body
will die, the spirit, the creation of a supreme God "the preserver of
mankind" (§17), will survive.
One can see within Homeopathy aspects of the ancient Astrological
concept of the Macrocosm-Microcosm. Just as on a Macrocosmic level, God
created man and the cosmos, instilling within all living things a
vital-spirit, so too on a mundane Microcosmic level the
Homeopaths replicates the process by locating and releasing the vital
force from plants and minerals so that, as God’s agents, they can
restore health to the sick.
Homeopathy proposes that diseases are caused by a morbific agent, an
immaterial form of infection (§ 11, Note 2, 6th edition), an
invisible form of energy, rather like gravity, or magnetism, that
morbidly affects and deranges our vital force (§ 12); each
particular disease being the result of, "a peculiar morbid derangement of our vital force." (§29) but that this derangement of the vital force can, by the use of the mystical homeopathic potions, be overcome.
Hahnemann was keen to draw on any sources that supported his mystical
theories, and he seems to have adopted a number of ideas from Franz
Anton Mesmer. There is evidence to suggest that while visiting Vienna,
Hahnemann met and was profoundly influenced by the transcendental
teachings of Mesmer, whose theories were a combination of astrology,
mysticism and vitalism.
His principal idea concerned the existence of a universal healing
energy, (gravitas universalis), which he perceived as a form of
magnetic energy, (animal magnetism), that could be drawn down from the
heavens by certain gifted individuals and channeled into patients.
Hahnemann appears to have accepted many of Mesmer’s ideas for he
mentions Mesmer (§293), animal magnetism (§288), ‘mesmerism’
(§280; 288-290; 293; 294), magnetism (§11; 269; 280; 286;
287) and its effects on "our life principle" (§286).
Homeopaths are much like the Alchemists of old who spent years in a
fruitless search for the philosopher’s stone never realizing, or
accepting, that their theories were simply fanciful delusions. Living
in a pre-scientific age they can be excused for their ignorance; modern
Homeopaths have no such excuse! Instead, following the example of
Hahnemann, they dogmatically refuse to accept reality, rationalizing
their failures to the nth degree.
Perhaps the truth of the matter was inadvertently revealed by Dr.
Sandra Cabot, a local Australian GP and a Homeopath. In a radio
interview in June 2002, responding to a listener’s question on
homeopathic vaccination, she stated that homeopathic vaccination did
not work, because, in her own words,
the active vaccination substance was diluted several million times, it
would render the active agent totally ineffective in triggering the
body’s natural response to create antibodies."
Is it rather strange to note that, while she could clearly see that
diluting a vaccine several million times rendered it totally useless,
she apparently could not see that the same process would also apply
equally when other substances are diluted to a similar level!
Sovereign Antidote - a concoction of forty roots, herbs and seeds, plus
bezoar stone, pearls, coral, deer horn, amber, musk, and the flesh,
heart and liver of a viper. (Thompson, (1928)
2. Goa Stone – an
apple sized ball of gum-resin, coral, pearls, sapphires, ambergris and
gold leaf, prepared by the Jesuit Fathers in Goa, and highly prized as
an antidote for poison and as a cure for the plague.
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