remedy based on arsenic oxide has shown "highly promising results"
in mice poisoned with arsenic, say Indian scientists.
antidote reduced the liver toxicity induced by arsenic in mice, where
distilled water did nothing, and alcohol actually exacerbated the
and his colleagues at the University of Kalyani, West Bengal, believe
the remedy, called Arsenicum Album, might provide a safe, cheap and
easily available remedy for the hundreds of millions of people around
the world who are at risk from arsenic-poisoned water. It is a particular
problem in some parts of West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh.
Even if efforts to make drinking water arsenic-free succeed, contamination
could still come from other sources, the researchers say, meaning
other approaches are needed.
Khuda-Bukhsh told New Scientist the homeopathic remedy "can very well ameliorate the toxicity produced by arsenic oxide in mice". If the success could be repeated in humans, it would be "a boon to society", he says. However, other scientists remain skeptical.
Serial dilution :
The researchers took groups of five mice either with or without arsenic poisoning and drop fed them Arsenicum Album, distilled water, or alcohol that had been through the same preparation procedure as the homeopathic antidote.
dilutions of the homeopathic remedy cut the levels of two liver enzymes
- ALT and AST - which are indicators of liver toxicity and are boosted
by arsenic poisoning. This positive effect occurred within 72 hours
and liver lasted for up to 30 days, they report in their journal paper.
water had no effect on either enzyme. And alcohol actually enhanced
the activity of AST.
remedies are based on the serial dilution of a medication - to the
extent that extremely little, if any, of the original substance remains.
Khuda-Bukhsh says the preparation used was so dilute that it should
not have contained even one molecule of the active ingredient.
He says his team is striving to understand the mechanism of action of homeopathic drugs, which despite being used for over 200 years has remained elusive to science
Water mark :
central to many advocates of homeopathy is that water could retain
an imprint or "memory" of substances once dissolved in it.
cost one of France's top allergy researchers, Jacques Benveniste,
his lab and funding after his results were discredited in 1988. Benveniste
claimed in a Nature paper that a solution that had once contained
antibodies still activated human white blood cells.
But, other researchers failed to reproduce his experiments.
"It comes down to the same old dilemma," says Andreas Gescher, a biochemical toxicologist at Leicester University, UK. "This kind of study uses a dilution so high there is hardly anything there - philosophically it's the same as the Benveniste case. Is it really possible?"
Gescher told New Scientist he is "extremely skeptical",
he adds that the study is interesting. Gescher is on the UK government's
Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency advisory board
for the registration of homeopathic products, which checks the safety
- but not the efficacy - of voluntarily registered products.
Khuda-Bukhsh's group aims to test the drug in human trials, subject to funding. "We think this would open up another avenue for others to either confirm or refute," he says.
-NewScientist.com news service