The Paper aims at considering all important
aspects of the scientific framework of homoeopathic practice,
looking at the levels of scientific evidence of high dilutions
in an objective way, through an extensive review of literature.
It will provide scientific explanation of the action of high
potency homoeopathic remedies having no molecule of the original
drug in the prescribed dose to the patient. It will thus establish
the fact that Homoeopathy has been wrongly disregarded as ‘unscientific
and placebo therapy’ largely because of the conceptual
inadequacy of the contemporary science. Conclusions are clear:
Homeopathy must stay within the framework of medical practice,
and it is even a necessity for public health.
The infinitesimal homoeopathic doses
always remain the point of controversy since its inception as
they cannot be measured by the present scientific instruments
and techniques and on the basis of Avogadro’s number,
the presence of material in the homoeopathic medicine beyond
the molar concentration 10 or 12 becomes negative. Homoeopathy
is closely associated in the public mind with the supposedly
“illogical” principle that the power of a medicine
increases with dilution and with the corollary of this principle:
that the greatest power is to be found in the small or infinitesimal
dose. These have been major points of criticism by the non-homoeopathic
physicians. More recently the most reputed medical journal ‘Lancet’
published a controversial article in its Volume 366 August 27th,
2005, “Are the clinical effects of Homoeopathy Placebo
effects? Comparative study of placebo controlled trials of Homoeopathy
and Allopathy” by Aijing Shang et al. This is just an
example particularly at a time when there is a paradigm shift
from the conventional therapy to Homoeopathy, owing to its low-cost,
harmless and effective medicine. Let us clear the point of controversy
1. Evidence for the infinitesimal dose
The “infinitesimal” dose
was only an empirical discovery by Hahnemann. When he administered
medicines according to the law of similars, he found that the
patients reacted very violently and he reduced his doses in
order to moderate the patient’s reaction. Allopathic medicine
should not be amazed at the homoeopathic small doses, since
the power of minute quantities is recognized today outside homoeopathy
as well as inside it. A milligram of acetylcholine dissolved
in 500,000 gallons of blood can lower the blood pressure of
a cat; even smaller amounts will affect the beat of a frog’s
heart1. Florey reported in 1943 that pure penicillin will inhibit
the development of sensitive microbes in vitro at dilutions
of 1:50,000,000 to 1:100,000,000; morphological effects on streptococci
were seen at dilutions of 1:250, 000,000. Zinsser found that
sensitization could be achieved with 1/1,000,000 of a cc of
horse serum, and smaller quantities of egg albumin. The human
body manufactures 50-100 millionths of a gram of thyroid hormone
per day, and the concentration of free thyroid hormone in the
normal blood is one part per 10,000 million parts of blood plasma.
Hahnemann was a contemporary of Amadeo Avogadro who discovered
that the number of molecules in one mole of any substance is
6.0253 × 1023. Once the existence of this Avogadro constant
had penetrated the medical consciousness, orthodox physicians
turned from the criticism of the homoeopathic small doses to
criticism of ultra molecular dose, since it became clear that
medicines diluted beyond 10-23 i.e., the 12C or 24X dilutions
– fell outside the range within which it could be expected
that single molecule of the original medicinal substance remained
in the dilution.
2. Biochemical Investigations
The most striking experiment conducted
under homoeopathic auspices to demonstrate the power of the
“high dilutions” was that of William Boyd in Edinburgh,
published in 1954. In the early 1930’s V.M.Persson in
Leningrad had investigated micro dilutions (upto 120X) of mercuric
chloride for their effect on the fermentation of starch by salivary
amylase and on the lysis of fibrin by pepsin and trypsin, obtaining
significant results in controlled studies. In 1933 he repeated
the experiments and published new confirmatory observations.
The purpose of Boyd’s experiment was to confirm Persson’s
results. The micro dilutions used were mercuric chloride 61X
(10-61) which, by the present physical theory, should contain
no molecules of the original mercuric chloride but only distilled
water as diluents. The experiment showed that addition of mercuric
chloride 61X accelerated the rate of hydrolysis of starch with
diastase, studied colorimetrically with an absorptiometer, and
since the results showed biological scatter, the frequencies
of the differences were analysed statistically which showed
statistically significant results. Boyd conducted more than
500 comparisons, in several series from 1946 to 1952. Analysis
was done by independent statisticians who reported that they
showed significance (P less than 0.001). The outcome of this
experiment was reported in The Pharmaceutical Journal (September
11, 1954). Reports also appeared in British newspapers.
3. Botanical Investigations
i) Kolisko, in 1932, soaked wheat seeds
and others in micro dilutions (upto 10-30) of such substances
as iron sulphate, antimony trioxide and a double salt of copper,
found that growth was promoted by lower dilutions, then inhibited
with higher dilutions, and then again stimulated at even higher
dilutions. A full report of her experiments was published in
ii) Joseph Roy, in 1932, made micro dilutions of barley stems,
the soaked barley seeds in these dilutions before planting them.
He found that the 3C, 6C, 9C, 12C, and 18C microdilutions each
gave a different weight of barley shoots as compared with the
iii) Netien, Boiron and Marin performed experiment with pea
plants impregnated with copper sulphate, showing that addition
of copper sulphate micro dilutions to the growth medium intensified
the excretions of copper by the plants.
iv) Wannamaker performed experiment measuring the effect of
boron micro dilutions on onion growth. She concluded that the
weight and length of the plants are affected, as well as their
boron and sulphur contents.
4. Bacteriological Investigations
i) H. Junker investigated the effect of various micro dilutions
on paramecia cultures. He added micro dilutions, upto 10-27
of atrophine sulphate, caffeine, acetic acid, uric acid etc.,
and found that differences measured in terms of daily changes
in the growth of each paramecia culture in the function of the
degree of dilutions of the substance added – took the
typical sinusoidal form found by other investigators.
ii) Patterson and Boyd in 1941 reported alteration of the Schick
test from positive to negative following per oral administration
of alum precipitated toxoid 30C or Diphtherinum 201C (made from
5. Zoological Investigations
i) Stearns, in 1925, added arsenic trioxide (Arsenicum album),
mercuric nitrate and triturated tumor material, in microdilutions
of from 6X to 400X, to cultures of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit
flies) of a strain in which approximately half of all males
died of an inherited tumor. Addition of microdilution caused
a reduction in the male death rate from inherited tumor, the
difference being 4 times greater than in controls.
ii) In 1951 Jarricot reported success in experiments altering
neuromuscular excitability of isolated frog and turtle heart
through perfusion with 18C to 118C dilutions of Iberis Amara
and the 60X dilution of Veratrine sulphate.
iii) Julian and Launay were able to inhibit and modify the effects
of a physiologic dose of reserpine (in mice) by the preliminary
7C and 9C injections of Rauwolfia serpentine. The same experiment
was performed successfully with Cicuta virosa.
iv) In 1976 Van Mansvelt and Amons reported on the effect of
mercuric chloride, at dilutions as low as 0.9 × 10-25,
on the proliferation of a mouse lymphoblastic strain; growth
inhibitor was detected down to a level of 0.9 × 10-17
but the curve instead of being flat as expected, had peaks of
toxicity at 10-5, 10-6, 10-16, and 10-17. The author explains
this substantial indication towards unconceived phenomenon which
needs further study.
6. Investigations using the techniques of Physics
Wurmser and Loch in 1948 investigated
the effect of micro dilutions on the wavelength and intensity
of light from a fixed source. They filtered the light to permit
passage of wavelengths from 3800 to 4200 A; this was passed
through a receptacle filled with solution, changes being registered
by a photoelectric cell. They found measurable changes for quinine
sulphate, Taraxacum and Aesculus hippocastanum at dilutions
from 24X to 30X.
It is needless to argue on the issue that effects of homoeopathic
medicines are not placebo response. These medicines act favourably,
as evident from some of the following Research reports of the
highest scientific standards published in the medical journals
of international repute during the last two decades
1. Three Orthodox Scientists J.Klijnen et al. published their
review of homoeopathic clinical research with conclusion, “The
amount of positive evidence even among the best studies came
as a surprise to us. Based on this evidence we would readily
accept that homoeopathy can be efficacious, if only the mechanism
of action were more plausible”.
2. The final report “COST Action B4 Unconventional Medicine”(1999)
and its supplement submitted to the European Commission concerning
use and development of Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
states that the available clinical trial evidence suggests that
homoeopathy has an effect greater than placebo.
3. A multicentric trial in four independent laboratories in
four different European countries in 1999 showed that higher
dilutions of histamine inhibit anti-IgE induced basophil degranulation.
The results showed statistically significant inhibition.
4. A Randomized Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial conducted
by CCRH under the Dept. of AYUSH, Govt. of India of homoeopathy
medicine in HIV infection showed statistically significant increase
in CD4 T-cell count in medicine group in comparison to the placebo
5. M. Taylor et al. at the University of Glasgow while performing
a meta-analysis of all the data from four studies on allergic
conditions, found the results so significant (P=0.0004) that
they concluded either homoeopathic medicines work or controlled
trials do not. Since modern science is based on controlled trials,
it is more likely a conclusion that the homoeopathic medicines
The recent research report to be added
in this list is Jonathan Leake, A Nobel laureate who discovered
the link between HIV and AIDS has suggested there could be a
firm scientific foundation for homoeopathy. Professor Luc Montagnier,
a French virologist, stunned his colleagues at a prestigious
international conference when he presented a new method for
detecting viral infections which bore close parallels to the
basic tenets of Homoeopathy. Although fellow Nobel Prize winners
who view Homoeopathy as quackery were left shaking their heads,
Montagniers comments were rapidly embraced by homoeopaths in
UK eager for greater credibility. Montagnier told the conference
that solutions containing DNA of pathogenic bacteria and viruses,
including HIV, could emit low frequency radio waves that induced
surrounding water molecules to become arranged into nanostructures.
These water molecules, he said, could also emit radio waves.
He suggested that water could retain such properties even after
the original solutions were massively diluted, to the point
where the original DNA had effectively vanished. In this way,
he suggested, water could retain the memory of substances with
which it had been in contact - and doctors could use the emissions
to detect disease. For the lay person such claims may sound
technical but uncontroversial. For scientists they are highly
provocative because they embody principles which are extremely
similar to those said to underpin homoeopathy. Homoeopathic
medicines work on the principle that a toxic substance taken
in minute amounts will cure same symptoms that it would cause
if it were taken in large amounts.
Montagnier’s claims come at a
sensitive time, with British Medical Associations annual conference
last week calling for the National Health Service to stop spending
4million a year on Homoeopathy.
One more research paper I want to present
before the readers which appeared in the esteemed newspaper
Hindu 11th July 2010 edition that is Homoeopathic medicine Belladonna
is effective in preventing Japanese Encephalitis (JE). A recent
study conducted by the Kolkata-based School of Tropical Medicine
has shown. Belladonna is derived from a plant A.belladonna which
is also source of the drug atropine. Conducted in collaboration
with the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH)
under the Department of AYUSH, researchers claim to have found
a probable role for Belladonna in preventing JE virus infection. The
results of the study are published in the latest issue of the
American Journal of Infectious Diseases. The outcome of the
study was presented by Principal Investigator Bhaswati Bandopadhyay,
Assistant Professor of Virology at the Clinical Virology Symposium,
in April last year at Florida. Japanese Encephalitis presents
a significant risk to humans and animals, particularly in South
East Asia (including India) where around 50,000 cases and 10,000
deaths occur per year, particularly affecting children below
10 years. The statistics reveal that about 50 per cent of the
patients who develop JE suffer from permanent neurological defects
and 30 per cent of them die due to the disease
The lists of scientific evidences speaking
in favour of homoeopathy are endless. But it is important for
all of us to work more meticulously with great zeal, dogged
determination, commitment to establish Homoeopathic system as
the first choice of treatment option and perseverance, on scientific
parameters, without jeopardizing the tenets of Homoeopathy,
so that our studies leave no gaps when such analyses are repeated.
1. Science 72 (1930), 526.
2. British Medical Journal, 1943 (ii), 634.
3. Zinsser, Enders, Fothergill, op. cit., 344.
4. Starling and Lovatt Evans, op. cit., 1493-94.
5. W.E. Boyd, “Biochemical and Biological Evidence of
the Activity of High Potencies” British Homoeopathic Journal,
6. W.M. Persson, “The Principle of Catalysis in Biochemistry
and Homoeopathy”, Journal of the American Institute of
Homoeopathy 23 (1930), 1055-1090.
7. W.M. Persson, “Effects of very small amounts of Medicaments
and chemicals on Urease, Diastase and Trypsin”, Archives
International de Pharmacodynamic et de Therapie 46 (1933), 249-267.
8. L. Kolisko, Physiologischer and Physikalischer Nachweis der
Wirkasamkeit kleinster Entitaeten, 1923 -1959.
9. Joseph Roy, “La Dilution Homoeopathique, sa Justification
Experimentelle”, Le Bulletin Medical 46 (1932), 528-31.
10. Hermann Junker, “Die Wirkung extremer Potenzverduennungen
auf Organismen”, Pflueger’s Archiv 219 (1928), 647-72.
11. Paterson and W.E.Boyd, “A Preliminary test of the
Alternation of the Schick test by a Homoeopathic Potency”,
British Homoeopathic Journal 31 (1941), 28-29.
12. G.B.Stearns, “Experiments with Homoeopathic Potentised
Substances Given to Drosophila Melanogaster with Hereditary
tumours”, The Homoeopathic Recorder 40 (1925).
13. J.Jarricot, L’Infinitesimal des Homoepathes (Lyon:
Editions des Laboratoires P.H.R., 1951).
14. O.A.Julian and J.Launay, “Psycho-Pathological Test
on Animals by Reserpine and Cicuta virosa, According to the
Homoeopathic Laws of Analogy and Identity,” Journal of
the American Institute of Homoeopathy 59 (1966), 155-64.
15. James Stephenson, “A Review of Investigations into
the action of substances in dilutions greater than 1×10-24
micro dilutions” Journal of the American Institute of
Homoeopathy 48 (1955) 327 - 335.
16. Klienjen et al., “Clinical trials of Homoeopathy”
British Medical Journal, Vol.302, Feb. 1991, 316-323.
17. European Commission, Directorate – General Science
Research and Development: COST Action B4, Unconventional Medicine,
Final Report of the Management Committee 1993-1998.
18. Belon P.et al. Inhibition of human basophil degranulation
by successive histamine dilutions results of a European multicentre
trial, Inflammation research 48, Supplement 1 (1999) S17 –
19. www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,134 ,
20. http://www.thehindu .com/todays- paper/tp- national/ article510105.