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Homeopathy

A natural medicine


In September and October 2007 Dada Ganadevananda made a tour in Japan. He visited places between Tokyo and Fukuoka, to teach yoga, meditation, talk about spirituality and to give several seminars on homeopathy.
Dada has been working for 20 years as an Acarya (Ananda Marga monk) of which he has also worked for 3 years in Japan. Over these years he gathered lots of experience in teaching yoga and promoting alternative healing, in specific homeopathy, around the world.
Since 2005 he is running a service clinic in Lebanon, where he sees on average 30 patients a day, with great healing results.
Because of his visit and because of the importance of homeopathy for humanity we would like to give some more information about homeopathy on this page.
 



Introduction to Homeopathy

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine that has old roots in history, as it is more than 200 years old.

The meaning of the word homeopathy is:

In Greek: Homoios - means “similar” or “like”,
  Pathos - means “suffering”

The founder of Homeopathy is Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). He was born in Germany in the year 1755. He was a medical doctor, and since he was not satisfied with the medicine of his own time he became a life long researcher and founder of Homeopathy.

His masterwork the ‘Organon of Medicine’ was first published in 1810, which is also the year he founded Homeopathy. (The last edition was completed in 1843.)

Since the early 1840’s homeopathy was moving forward, establishing itself country after country and growing in popularity. At the beginning of 19th century, it had reached its highest point. It was practiced in more than 60 countries. In all these countries, homeopathic hospitals and medical schools were being established and medical associations being formed.

Then the so called ‘miracle drug revolution’ began in 1909 with the discovery of the first anti-bacterial drugs. In 1938, the first antibiotic penicillin was used in medicine. It was then thought that it was only a matter of time before every disease suffered by mankind would be conquered. Dazzled by the apparent success of these wonder drugs, all governmental funds supporting health care systems went to the support of orthodox medicine.

A new growing worldwide interest in homeopathy began in the late 1970’s and there are many contributing factors in its great revival, some of which are given below:

• The so-called side effects. In many cases, long-term side effects did not become apparent until these drugs had been prescribed for many years.
• The addictive nature of many prescribed drugs.
• After a wide use of antibiotics, such as penicillin microorganisms mutated and become resistant to treatment.
• The rise of new diseases, AIDS, many new forms of cancer and hearth diseases.
• An increase in health consciousness by the general public about healthy foods, all forms of pollution and a desire for natural remedies rather than the synthetic ones.
• A growing number of people who oppose the use of animals in research.
• Orthodox drugs are expensive.

On the other hand:
• Homeopathy is a natural medicine,
• It is safe, and with no side effects,
• Non-addictive,
• It does not require animal experiments (only provings on healthy people),
• It is relatively inexpensive and
• It treats the whole person.
Basic principles of Homeopathy
1. As we have seen Homeopathy indicates its main principle in its name:
  • Totality of Symptoms: Homeopathy uses a particular remedy only when the symptoms it induces in a healthy person, match those relevant ones found in a sick person.
2. Homeopathy recognizes the human being as a whole with physical, emotional and mental layers. The vital force - spiritual force, exists in every living being and harmonizes and coordinates all of these levels of existence and their functions in the living being. Disease is a disturbance of the harmony of the vital force. So homeopathy treats the sick person as a whole, with all indicating symptoms.

3. Homeopathy uses single remedy at a single time.

4. Minimum Dose: Homeopathically potentized remedies have infinitesimal material substance of the original curing material. That means homeopathic remedy carries only energy of the original curing material.

Symptoms of disease:
The symptoms of a disease are the manifestation of the body’s natural defense mechanism or immune system being called into play. Homeopathy, therefore, seeks to stimulate these symptoms rather than to suppress them to effect the cure. In this sense, the homeopathic remedy itself does not effect the cure, but its action is thought to stimulate, or to trigger, or to catalyse, the natural defense forces of the organism.

Too often physicians and patients alike assume that a person's symptoms are the disease and that simply treating these symptoms is the best way to cure. Such treatment is on a par with trying to unplug a car's emergency oil light because it is flashing. Although unplugging the bulb is effective in stopping that irritating flashing light, it does nothing to change the reason for which it is giving its warning.

The word "symptom" comes from a Greek root and refers to "something that falls together with something else." Symptoms then are a sign or signal of something else, and treating them doesn't necessarily change that "something else."

Homeopathy is a sophisticated medical science which individualizes a substance based on the totality of a person's symptoms. A person's unique pattern of symptoms, his/her headache, stomachache, constipation, low energy in the morning, sensitivity to cold, irritability at the slightest cause, and fear of heights are all interrelated. No matter what the individual symptoms are, they are recognized as primarily an intrinsic effort of the organism to adapt to and deal with various internal or external stresses. Methods that simply suppress, control, or manage symptoms should be avoided since such therapies compromise the innate tendency of the organism to defend and heal itself. The side effects which these suppressive treatments cause are actually direct effects of the treatment. Homeopathic medicines, on the other hand, are prescribed to aid the organism in its highly sophisticated efforts to heal. Inherent in the homeopathic approach is a basic respect for the body's wisdom; it is thus no wonder that it is a safer medicine.


At a time in our civilization when it is essential to develop practices that strengthen the immune and defense system, homeopathic medicine is quite naturally gaining popularity, because it’s main healing mechanism is to help our immune system, our vital energy to heal us.

Homeopathy embodies the characteristics of a medical science one could hope and dream for in the 21st century...and the best news is that we do not have to wait until the 21st century to draw upon of its benefits.


Samuel Hahnemann

Samuel Hahnemann showed proficiency at languages early, and by the age of twenty he had mastered English, French, Italian, Greek, and Latin and was making a living as translator and teacher of languages. He later gained pro?ciency in Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic, and Hebrew. Hahnemann studied medicine at Leipzig and Vienna and received his degree of doctor in medicine at the University of Erlangen on August 10, 1779, and began practicing as a doctor in 1781. Through his practice he quickly discovered that the medicine of his day did as much harm as good and decided to give up his practice and make his living chie?y as a writer and translator. While translating William Cullen’s Treatise on the Materia Medica, Hahnemann encountered the claim that Cinchona, the bark of a Peruvian tree, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringent properties (tonic action) on the stomach. He realized that other astringent substances are not effective against malaria and began to research cinchona’s effect by self-application. He discovered that the drug evoked malaria-like symptoms in him, and concluded that it would do so in any healthy individual. This led him to postulate a healing principle: “that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms”. This principle of “like cures like” became the foundation of homeopathic practice.

Hahnemann then began systematically testing substances for the effect they produced on a healthy individual and these methods, later called “proving”, became the basis of drug testing in homeopathy. He then quickly discovered that ingesting substances to produce noticeable changes in the organism resulted in toxic effects. His next task was then to solve this problem, which he did through exploring dilutions of the compounds he was testing. He discovered that these dilutions, when done according to his technique of systematic mixing through vigorous shaking, were still effective in producing symptoms.

Hahnemann began practicing medicine again using his new technique, which soon attracted other doctors. He ?rst published an article about the homeopathic approach to medicine in a German medical journal in 1796. In 1810, he wrote his Organon of the Medical Art, the ?rst systematic treatise on the subject. Hahnemann continued practicing medicine, researching new medicines, writing and lecturing to the end of a long life. He died in 1843 in Paris, 88 years of age, and is entombed in a mausoleum at Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery.


Homeopathic Facts

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathic medicine is a natural pharmaceutical science that uses various plants, minerals or animals in very small dose to stimulate the sick person's natural defences.

The medicines are individually chosen for their ability to cause in overdose the similar symptoms the person is experiencing. Thus, since one's symptoms are actually efforts of the organism to re-establish balance, homeopathic medicines go with, rather than against, the person's natural defences.

This "law of similars," the basic principle of homeopathy, is even used in some conventional medical therapies, such as immunizations and allergy treatments. These treatments, however, are not pure homeopathy since homeopathic medicines are more individually prescribed, given in smaller doses, and used more to treat sick people than prophylactically to prevent diseases.

How does it work?

First the homeopaths interview their patients in great detail to discover the relevant physical, emotional and mental symptoms the person is experiencing. Then they confirm through very detailed toxicological homeopathic textbooks what substance produces similar symptoms, and then they give it in a small, specially prepared dose.



Why does it work?

We don't yet understand precisely how the homeopathic medicines work, but there is clear evidence that the medicines are active and can heal. Homeopathy became popular in the USA and in Europe during the 1800s because of its success in treating the many infectious diseases that raged during that time, including yellow fever, scarlet fever, cholera, and many others. The death rate in homeopathic hospitals was then between 50% to 25% of those in conventional medical hospitals.

Homeopathic medicines also have been shown to work on infants and on various animals (including dogs, cats, horses and even cows) where it is highly unlikely that they are acting only as a placebo.

Is it safe?
The small doses used by homeopaths only have an effect when a person has a hypersensitivity to the small doses given. If the wrong medicine is given to a person, nothing happens. If the correct medicine is given, the medicine acts as a catalyst to the person's defences. In any case, homeopathic medicines do not have side effects.

In Japan as well as in the USA, Europe and India for example, homeopathic medicines are officially recognized by health authorities as "over-the-counter drugs" and thus any person can order them without a prescription.

Can homeopathic remedies be taken at the same time as conventional drugs?

It is possible to take them together, though the homeopathic medicines often work fast and well enough that the person does not need to take conventional drugs.


Who uses Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is suitable for everyone, and has found wide support in all walks of life, all around the globe:

"..[Homeopathy] cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment and is beyond all doubt safer, more economical, and the most complete medical science. " Mahatma Gandhi - Homeopathy is now the most popular form of medicine in India.

"...[Homeopathy is a].. progressive and aggressive step in medicine." John D Rockefeller

"....You may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the [orthodox physicians] to destroy it." Mark Twain (author) Harper's Magazine. February 1890.

More recently, the following celebrities have also endorsed Homeopathic Medicine:

Royalty
The entire British Royal family, including:
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales

Politicians
Tony Blair (Former UK Prime Minister)

Sports personalities
Boris Becker (Tennis player)
David Beckham (English Football Superstar)
Martina Navratilova (Tennis player)
Kate Schmidt (Two Time Olympic Javelin Medallist)

Musicians
Paul McCartney
Olivia Newton-John
Tina Turner

Models & Actresses
Pamela Anderson
Cher
Cindy Crawford
Jane Fonda
Whoopi Goldberg
Jerry Hall
Catherine Zeta-Jones

"Homeopathy is a highly developed health practice that uses a systematic approach to the totality of a person’s health. Anyone seeking a fuller understanding of health and healing will find Homeopathy extremely important and applicable." Gay Gaer Luce. Ph.D. , (science writer - twice winner of the national science writer's award)


Homeopathy and conventional medicine

Every one knows that conventional western medicine has achieved significant leaps in preserving both the quality and longevity of life. World wide vaccination program by the WHO claim to have eradicated smallpox; Insulin has enabled many type I diabetics to control their condition; antibiotics seems to be the only answer to counter potentially lethal infections.

However, conventional medicine comprises a vast spectrum of treatment and chemical drugs, and every one knows too that not all conventional medicines are beneficial. While in many cases symptoms are relieved, cured, or prevented many chemical drugs can also harm your body and mind.

Many amongst the homeopaths believe that conventional medicine, has been moving in the wrong direction in therapeutics. It may sound strange - even arbitrary, pretentious or superficial - that such a strong criticism of conventional therapeutics should come from people who often do not have conventional medical training. Yet facts are stronger than prejudices, and when the issues are so important and urgent, perhaps the medical authorities will have to listen to those who have experience in treating hundreds of thousand of cases, cases that were not only given up on by conventional medicine but had often been a result of it. Homeopaths claim that the diseases of the human race have never been tackled properly by conventional medicine; on the contrary, they have been treated wrongly -- suppressively -- and therefore while the symptoms were masked, the real disorder underneath progressed and finally was pushed to the interior of the organism, which is the central and peripheral nervous system.

Here are just a few facts to judge for yourself:

Multiple sclerosis, a disease that eventually leaves its victims totally paralysed, is one which thousands of people are suffering from in the western world. Yet it is entirely unknown to Africans, Asians or South Americans, who have not had the "benefit" of the excellence of western medicine. Amyatrophic lateral sclerosis, a terrible disorder of the neuromuscular systems, is also unknown to all these people.

Myopathy and muscular dystrophy is the same, known only to westerners. Epilepsy, which is rampant in the western world, is seldom encountered in these countries.

Anxiety neurosis, compulsive neurosis, and in general mental disorders of a severe nature from which millions of patients are suffering in the western world, are almost unknown in these groups that have not had the "benefit" of modern medicine and vaccinations. Chorea and a host of other nervous system disorders are also unknown to them.

Homeopaths fear that all these chronic diseases, including hay fever, asthma, cancer and AIDS, are the result of wrong intervention upon the organisms by conventional medicine. That the immune systems of the western population, through strong chemical drugs and repeated vaccinations, have broken down and finally admitted the diseases deeper and deeper into the human organism, to the central and peripheral nervous system.

In short, conventional medicine, instead of curing diseases, is actually the cause of the degeneration of the human race. It is also very simple for anyone to think that if conventional medicine were really curing chronic diseases, today we would have a population in the west that was healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically.

The symptoms of a disease, for a Homeopath, are the body's attempt to cure itself. By contrast, conventional medicine often works by suppressing the body's natural reactions. For example:
  • A cough is usually the result of foreign bodies in the lungs; the muscles spasm in an attempt to remove it. Cough medicine simply stops this reflex.
  • A headache tablet is a painkiller and simply suppresses the feeling of pain, leaving the body to undergo whatever problem as it was before, but divorced from our consciousness, leading to more carelessness in dealing with the causes of it. For example, many headaches are due to dehydration - once the headache isn't felt, the patient no longer feels the need to stop running around, working up a sweat and dehydrating further.
  • The conventional approach to treating infections is antibiotics. Antibiotics simply destroy bacteria. Our body also has bacteria that serve the same function (indeed, there are many types of bacteria naturally occurring in the body, all of which are beneficial) alas these are also consumed by antibiotics. In addition, there is a widespread concern is that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
  • Antidepressants generally work by blocking emotional responses. Unlike homeopathic remedies, dependence builds up quickly, and once a course of antidepressants has begun, it is often a step down a long, slippery slope to dependency.
Conventional medicine is a very blunt instrument. Part of its success lies in this very general nature. The sheer number of possible factors that need to be considered for effective treatment with homeopathic remedies have meant that it usually requires a long, and often expensive consultation with a trained specialist. In contrast, regardless of the type of pain, or even where it is, the conventional relief is a pain killer.

Despite the best efforts of pharmaceutical companies, the research into medicines and their side effects is often woefully inadequate. The most famous case of this is thalidomide - a drug prescribed for morning sickness, which produced severe birth defects. More recently controversies include Seroxat, an antidepressant which, though beneficial for some, has been linked to addiction, suicide, self harm, and aggressive behaviour in some people.

Despite the damaging side effects of conventional medicine, sadly, the long term benefits for most people taking prescription medicines are dubious at best.

The approach of conventional medicine denies our body's efforts to heal itself and that can lead to damages to its system.

Obviously homeopathy doesn’t suffer of these handicaps but it still remains a mystery how does it work. Chemists have concluded that in the very high homeopathic potencies there is actually none of the original substance left.

However, is it not fitting that your body, a miracle way beyond understanding, can be cured by something which is also out of the reach of your rational mind?


Homeopathy and the discredited Scientific Evidence

It is true that modern science hasn’t found yet (or admitted to have found) the key to understand how homeopathy works. There are many theories, based on sub atomic vibration, the memory of water and so on, but these remain theories not very well researched and/or published by the scientific community.

Unfortunately though, the conclusions drawn from such research occasionally step well beyond the evidence and say that because one theory of how homeopathy might work is flawed, homeopathy itself isn’t reliable or effective. All it really proves is that the theory in question is incorrect, unless of course there is a corporative bias that wants at any cost drive a point against the competition.

Studies Based on Clinical Trials
The only type of trial that can be taken into consideration are clinical trials, where volunteers with a particular ailment have been given homeopathic remedies for that ailment. However, there are two caveats with this type of experiment:
    1. "Onesize fits all" Approach
    Homeopathy is highly individualised, and the same remedy given to a number of different people will not work in all cases. Homeopaths know this and give specific remedies based on individual symptoms. For example, the homeopathic remedy for a common cold would depend on:
    • the type of headache pain (sharp, pounding, etc),
    • where the headache hurt most
    • type of sore throat
    • what can you do to relieve / worsen symptoms (ie better hot, better cold, worse in open air, etc)
    • sound of cough
    • colour and severity of nasal discharges
    • what started it all in the first place (ie cold feet, cold wind, etc)
    • etc, etc

    Many studies are based on giving the same remedy to all patients in the study, in the allopathic manner, and are therefore not suitable to represent the homeopathic individualized approach.

    2. Double Blind Placebo Trials
    Double Blind Placebo Trials are the holy grail of conventional medicine testing. For those not familiar with the term, placebo trials mean that half the volunteers are taking empty pills, and half are taking homeopathic remedies. Double Blind means that neither the patient, nor the practitioners know whether or not the patient is being given a genuine homeopathic remedy, or a placebo pill.

    The advantage of the person giving the remedies not knowing whether or not they are giving placebo pills is that there is no way of them subtly (and probably unintentionally) influencing the outcome, by, for example, being more attentive to those taking the genuine remedy.

    However, hitting upon the right remedy can take a few attempts, and in a course of treatment, a homeopath may try several remedies, and several potencies, not just the one remedy normally given in double blind trials. This is not to fault double blind placebo trials categorically, but simply to say that, for the most part, they have not been carried out in a way which could be expected to show positive results.
Controversy
In general, the trials which have found homeopathy effective have been where patients have consulted homeopaths on an individual basis, and the homeopath has been free to vary remedies as they see fit. There are obviously logistical limits to experimenting in this way, and only smaller scale trials have been undertaken in this way; however, opponents of homeopathy have argued that only the large scale trials are statistically valid.

Why Placebo?
You may be wondering why all the notable critics of homeopathy compare its remedies to placebo. This is because an empty 'placebo' pill has been proven to be beneficial in treating many conditions. It is worth noting that at least homeopathy has never been proven worse than placebo, unlike conventional medicines, such as anti-depressant that lead to suicides.

As any academic will tell you, science is not a realm where anything is known for certain, nor even where there is always agreement as to what is likely. "Wisest is he who knows he does not know." People have their own dogmatically held opinions in science as much as in religion.


Hormesis, epitaxy, the structure of liquid water, and the science of homeopathy

Summary
According to the western medical establishment, homeopathy is both “unscienti?c” and “implausible”. A short overview of its history and the methods it uses, however, easily reveals that homeopathy is a true science, fully grounded on the scienti?c method and on principles, such as, among others, the Arndt-Schultz law, hormesis, and epitaxy, whose plausibility has been clearly and definitely demonstrated in a number of scienti?c publications and reports. Through a review of the scienti?c literature, an explanation of the basic principles of homeopathy is proposed based on arguments and evidence of mainstream science to demonstrate that, in spite of the claims of conventional medicine, homeopathy is both scienti?c and plausible and that there is no reasonable justi?cation for its rejection by the western medical establishment. Hopefully, this hurdle will be overcome by opening academic institutions to homeopathy to enlarge the horizons of medical practice, recover the value of the human relationship with the patient, and through all this, offer the sick a real alternative and the concrete perspective of an improved quality of life.

“Because homeopathy was simultaneously philosophical and experimental, it seemed to many people to be more rather than less scienti?c than orthodox medicine.”[1].
WHAT IS SCIENCE?
“Science” [Lat. scientia = knowledge]

In general, the term “science” refers to the organized body of knowledge concerning the physical world, both animate and inanimate, but a proper de?nition would also have to include the attitudes and methods through which this body of knowledge is formed; thus, a science is both a particular kind of activity and also the result of that activity [2]. The method, namely the scienti?c method, is therefore an integral part of the de?nition of “science”, although the Nobel Prize physicist Percy W. Bridgman [3] reminds us that “No working scientist, when he plans an experiment in the laboratory, asks himself whether he is being properly scienti?c, nor is he interested in whatever method he may be using”.

The “scienti?c” method encompasses the following phases:
  • Observing and describing a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  • Formulating a hypothesis to explain the phenomena.
  • Using the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
  • Performing experimental tests of the predictions by several independent and properly conducted experiments [4].
It has to be noticed, however, that if we take the scienti?c method as a paradigm, disciplines such as archaeology, psychology, geology, etc, would no longer be considered “sciences”, and therefore a more reasonable and comprehensive de?nition of science would be the following: “the ?eld of study which attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe in whole or part” [5].
HOMEOPATHY IS A MEDICAL SCIENCE
According to the western medical establishment, homeopathy is “unscienti?c” [6] – a rather heavy charge for a medical discipline born in western Europe and successfully practiced for over two centuries [7]. However, since the denial of any scienti?c dignity to homeopathy is the preferred argument used against it by mainstream medicine, with the help and support of the media and the medical press [8], it would be useful, for a fruitful discussion, to see whether this corresponds to the evidence behind homeopathy or not. In this regard it is very easy to verify that whatever definition we adopt for “science”, homeopathy de?nitely belongs to this domain of human knowledge.

If science is to be viewed as “the ?eld of study which attempts to describe and understand the nature of the universe” [5], there is no argument to deny the “scienti?c” nature and dignity of homeopathy. If, on the contrary, science is to be de?ned and identi?ed with the “scienti?c method”, the perfect adherence of homeopathy to this paradigm and de?nition of science will be better appreciated by shortly recalling how it was brought to life by its founder, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann.

Hahnemann was born in Meissen, Saxony, on April 10, 1755. He showed pro?ciency at languages early, and by the age of twenty he had mastered English, French, Italian, Greek, and Latin and was making a living as translator and teacher of languages. He later gained pro?ciency in Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic, and Hebrew. Hahnemann studied medicine at Leipzig and Vienna and received his degree of doctor in medicine at the University of Erlangen on August 10, 1779, and began practicing as a doctor in 1781. Through his practice he quickly discovered that the medicine of his day did as much harm as good and decided to give up his practice and make his living chie?y as a writer and translator. While translating William Cullen’s Treatise on the Materia Medica, Hahnemann encountered the claim that Cinchona, the bark of a Peruvian tree, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringent properties (tonic action) on the stomach. He realized that other astringent substances are not effective against malaria and began to research cinchona’s effect by self-application. He discovered that the drug evoked malaria-like symptoms in him, and concluded that it would do so in any healthy individual. This led him to postulate a healing principle: “that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms”. This principle of “like cures like” became the foundation of homeopathic practice.

Hahnemann then began systematically testing substances for the effect they produced on a healthy individual and these methods, later called “proving”, became the basis of drug testing in homeopathy. He then quickly discovered that ingesting substances to produce noticeable changes in the organism resulted in toxic effects. His next task was then to solve this problem, which he did through exploring dilutions of the compounds he was testing. He discovered that these dilutions, when done according to his technique of systematic mixing through vigorous shaking, were still effective in producing symptoms.

Hahnemann began practicing medicine again using his new technique, which soon attracted other doctors. He ?rst published an article about the homeopathic approach to medicine in a German medical journal in 1796. In 1810, he wrote his Organon of the Medical Art, the ?rst systematic treatise on the subject. Hahnemann continued practicing medicine, researching new medicines, writing and lecturing to the end of a long life. He died in 1843 in Paris, 88 years of age, and is entombed in a mausoleum at Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery [9].

Hahnemann’s way of proceeding through hypothesis, observations, testing, validation, and formulation of principles leaves no room for doubt: he was using the “scienti?c method” to explore an entirely new medical and biological world… and not only! Being deeply convinced that: “The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health… and not to construct so-called “systems” by interweaving empty speculations and hypotheses concerning the internal essential nature of the vital processes and the mode in which the diseases originate…” [10], he gave us an extraordinary example of pragmatism and scienti?c farsightedness.
WESTERN “SCIENCE” AT WORK: THE STRANGE CASE OF HORMESIS
Since its early days, homeopathy was harshly criticized by the western medical establishment. Sir John Forbes, the physician of Queen Victoria, said that the extremely small doses used in homeopathy were regularly derided as useless, laughably ridiculous, and “an outrage to human reason” [11]. More recently, homeopathy has been openly declared “implausible”, since many homeopathic remedies are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number (6.0225×1023), where the likelihood approaches zero that a single molecule of the original substance is contained in the remedy [12]. In general, it is a common belief of the western medical establishment that homeopathy is “unscienti?c” because it is based on the use of highly diluted doses of remedies which cannot elicit, according to “common sense”, any kind of response in a biological system [13].

As we have seen, however, homeopathy perfectly ?ts the requirements of western culture for the de?nition of “science”, and the use of the adjective “unscienti?c” appears totally unjusti?ed, inappropriate, and arbitrary, particularly if referred to the way of preparing and/or administering homeopathic remedies. As a matter of fact, although homeopathy is known for using very diluted substances, dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number are not the rule in homeopathic practice, and a great number (the vast majority, in fact) of homeopathic treatments are presently performed using dilutions well below that number. Therefore, if even we accept the idea that some homeopathic dilutions are “implausible” because they go beyond Avogadro’s number, we could not “scienti?cally” extend this reasoning to the innumerable cases in which “plausible” dilutions (below Avogadro’s number) are employed.

Much to the surprise of detractors of homeopathy, main-stream science has clearly de?ned and characterized the mechanism by which much diluted chemicals (below Avogadro’s number) elicit biological responses, and has called it “hormesis”. Hormesis can be de?ned as the biphasic dose-response relationship in which a chemical exerts opposite effects depending on the dose [14]. Although the term “hormesis” (“to excite”) was coined only in 1943 by Southam and Erlich [15], the phenomenon according to which weak concentrations of chemicals (or biological agents) stimulate, medium concentrations depress, and high concentrations halt physiological activity had already been known for at least a century as the “Arndt-Schultz law” [16].

Numerous papers have been published during the past several years which demonstrate that the hormetic dose-response curve is a very common and highly generalizable biological phenomenon [17–19]. Moreover, a large data-base is currently available reporting the occurrence of the hormetic dose-response in the toxicological literature [20]. More importantly, the hormetic dose-response curve rep-resents nothing else than the scienti?c explanation of the main and essential principle of homeopathy, i.e. “similia similibus curentur” (”Like cures like”), since it demonstrates, as homeopathy has largely done for more than two centuries, that chemicals (or drugs) which induce a given biological response at high doses usually show opposite effects at low or very low dosages.

Amazingly, as has been recently reported [21], “despite this progress, over 90% of the articles that publish bona ?de evidence supporting hormesis, do not use the term…”. Do researchers ignore the term, or are they ashamed or even afraid to use it? To answer these questions, it will be useful to report a few sentences taken from a recent review appearing in the journal “Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology”, in which one of the leading experts of hormesis worldwide, Professor E. J. Calabrese, explains how and why hormesis has been marginalized by the medical establishment: “… the most important practical reason for this rejection (of hormesis) is that toxicology has historically been a high-dose testing discipline… If this were not enough to lead to the intellectual exclusion of the concept of hormesis from the ?eld of toxicology and the operational mind-sets of toxicologists, other factors, even more fundamental, further reinforced its marginalization. The most signi?cant and far-reaching being that the concept of hormesis, immediately upon its discovery became associated with the medical practice of homeopathy and was believed to provide its underlying explanatory scienti?c principle…Given the long-standing, deep-rooted, and intense confrontation between traditional medicine and homeopathy, the concept of hormesis could not have asked for a worse position in which to be taken seriously by the medical and scienti?c communities…” [22].

To complete the “picture”, in another review paper Professor Calabrese, making a detailed list of the potential problems in the acceptance of hormesis by mainstream medicine, says, among others: “Given the highly marginalized status that homeopathy has within the established domains of biomedical sciences, the close linkage of hormesis with homeopathy usually is accompanied with a guilt by association judgment… The longstanding association of the two concepts is a historical fact with 115 years’ history and this has led to the hormesis concept being the frequent object of intense and highly visible criticism.” [23].

Given the present situation and the usually insulting considerations which can be easily found in the “scienti?c” literature against homeopathy and homeopaths worldwide, the idea that hormesis continues to be ignored by main-stream medicine because of its association with homeopathy is not surprising. What is astonishing, instead, to the un-prejudiced and truly “scienti?c” minds is that mainstream “science” could be still allowed to give patents of “plausibility” [12] or pronounce death sentences (“the end of homeopathy” [24,25]) in spite of this clear demonstration of unethical behavior and blind dogmatism!
THE STRUCTURE AND BEHAVIOR OF WATER: WHAT DO WE KNOW?
In the previous section we saw that homeopathy is in fact a medical science and that its fundamental principle, i.e. “similia similibus curentur”, has been scienti?cally proven and identi?ed by mainstream pharmacology with the biphasic dose-response curve typical of the great majority of chemical and biological substances (hormesis). Hormesis, however, does not explain how dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number may have any biological effect. This “dilemma” can be easily solved by using the mind set, methodologies, and evidence of mainstream “scienti?c culture” by simply taking a look at what is currently known about the structure and behavior of water.

Is water as simple as its chemical formula seems to suggest? As recently reported by a renowned scienti?c journal [26]: “If cornered, any scientist would have to concede that water does have some odd properties that are important for life. The fact that solid water (ice) de?es convention by being less dense than its liquid state, has stopped the oceans from freezing solid from the bottom up and killing all marine life. And the unusual reluctance of water to heat up has helped the oceans to iron out climatic swings, giving organisms time to adapt”. More importantly, “scienti?c” evidence shows that water does not seem to be a passive bystander of biological processes. As recently report-ed by Nature [27], bacteriorhodopsin (a protein which can be found in the outer walls of primitive life forms) under-goes a simple form of photosynthesis thanks to the protons supplied by the hydrogen nuclei of the water trapped with-in its structure. “Without water it’s all just chemistry, but add some water and you get biology!” says Professor Felix Franks of the university of Cambridge [28]. And the active participation of the water to all biological processes which is evident at the level of protein structure and function also applies to the structure and function of DNA. In fact, according to Fuxreiter and colleagues [29], water molecules relay messages to proteins, such as restriction enzymes, which “cut” DNA at speci?c points of its base sequence in accordance to the various levels of hydration of the DNA itself, and they can also “warn” the protein about potential problems with the DNA before it arrives, because “distorted DNA” becomes more hydrated and the protein cannot make proper contact [26].
Roy and colleagues [30] recently pointed out that the extraordinarily anomalous physical properties of water can-not be accounted for by any cause other than changes of structure, many of which occur below 50°C. Observing that, for example, graphite and diamond have the same chemical composition [26], Roy and colleagues argue that “… the properties of a phase are determined by structure, not by composition, and therefore the argument used against homeopathy, that because there are no molecules of the remedy left in the ?nal product it cannot be different, is completely negated.” To further reinforce the strength and the value of this concept, Roy illustrates the phenomenon called “epitaxy”. Epitaxy is not a very common term, although the phenomenon it describes is very well known and commonly used in the microprocessor industry to create perfect semi-conductor crystals [26]. “Epitaxy is the transmission of structural information from the surface of one material (usually a solid) to another (usually a liquid). No transfer of matter is involved and the Avogadro’s number limitations are totally irrelevant” [31,30].

Epitaxy in particular, and epitaxial growth, with its 382 citations on PubMed [32], seems to be a very appropriate model to explain how dilutions beyond Avogadro’s number may still present the “imprinting” of the original substance and how the somewhat “modi?ed” water of homeopathic solutions may still elicit biological response through “structure” rather than “composition”. The role of “structure” in deter-mining function, on the other hand, is a very well-known phenomenon in immunology, where an antibody showing the “mirror” or “internal image” of an antigen (anti-idiotype antibody) in fact behaves as the original antigen rather than as an antibody [33,34].

From the above data, supported by a relevant amount of mainstream scienti?c evidence, we therefore learn that water, the fundamental medium of dilution and ampli?cation of the healing power of homeopathic remedies:
  • is essential for life [26];
  • has physical properties which are extraordinarily anomalous [26,30] and depend on changes in its structure (hydrogen bonds, “quantum structure”) [30];
  • is not a passive bystander of biological processes [27,29];
  • is critical for protein functioning (bacteriorhodopsin) [27];
  • is critical for DNA functioning (BamHI restriction enzyme) [29];
  • in its interaction with proteins and DNA seems to manifest a sort of “memory effect [26,29];
  • in its interaction with solids (epitaxy) can mimic molecular structures as if it were able to “receive and process” structural information [30].
Whatever term we would use to describe the above scientifically proven properties of water (“intelligence”, “memory”, “information processing capacity”), they are not the result of the dreams of some visionary homeopath, but pure and simple evidence derived from the work of investigators be-longing to the mainstream scienti?c establishment: to deny their value would be very inappropriate for of?cial science: inappropriate and totally “unscienti?c”.
CHANGING VIEWS ABOUT MATTER AND MIND
Western medical science has become the kingdom of materialism and reductionism and, as such, apparently incapable of perceiving any other truth or reality than that of its own world. Fortunately enough, materialism is no longer the “lighthouse” for scientists navigating the ocean of the complexity of the interactions between body and mind, if researchers in the ?eld arrive to ask themselves whether the mind can be as real as matter [39]. Reductionism, on the other hand, as applied to medical sciences, shows a number of obvious limitations which have been critically reviewed in past [36] and more recent scienti?c publications [37]. In his intriguing article on “Noetic” science, the cellular biologist B. H. Lipton says: “Materialism and reductionism engender the idea that humans are disconnected from, and above, nature” (which is not exactly the case!), and also: “Quantum mechanics shockingly reveals that there is no true “physicality” in the universe; atoms are made of focused vortices of energy – miniature tornadoes – that are constantly popping into and out of existence” [38]. So what is matter? And what is mind?

Given their inveterate attitude to ridicule homeopathic science and formulate judgements on its “plausibility”, holders of “true science” and supporters of the Avogadro’s number argument have probably reached a de?nitive answer, i.e. their materialist and reductionist “dogma”. Strangely enough, the materialistic view of the world by which “conventional medicine” is inspired seems to be in sharp contrast with that of mainstream scientists who investigate the matter of the universe. It is known, for example, that pioneering physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, Sir James Hopwood Jeans once said: “The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought to rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.” [39] And a brain producing endorphins after verbal suggestions tells us very much about the farsightedness of this sentence! [35]. To further reinforce this view, contemporary astrophysicist Richard Conn Henry, in his article “The mental universe”, says, among others: “The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things”, and also: “If we can ‘pull a Galileo,’ and get people believing the truth, they will ?nd physics a breeze. The Universe is immaterial – mental and spiritual” [40].

As it is easy to verify, the above statements do not come from inspired Indian gurus or “foolish” homeopaths, but from scientists belonging to the western culture, whose open-mindedness and creativity allow to see things as they really are rather than through the “?lters” represented by dogmatic scientism or personal interests (either academic or economic, as more usually happens with medical sciences). Do we need anything else to demonstrate that materialism (and the consequent Avogadro’s number evidence) is no more than a point of view and most probably a wrong one?

Another important lesson comes once more from astrophysics (is it by chance alone?). In recent years astrophysicists have become aware that the old “material” universe, made of planets, stars, and galaxies, represents only a negligible part of the “stuff” of the universe, the great majority (90– 99%) being made up of “dark matter” [41–43], matter that so far has eluded detection during particle accelerator experiments or discovery among cosmic rays [44,45]! Interestingly, the main constituent of the “dark matter” of the universe is not made, like ordinary matter, of neutrons and protons [46], but of the so-called Weakly Interactive Massive Particles (WIMPs). WIMPs have a mass of 10 to 10000 times the mass of the proton, interact via the weak force and gravity, and only disturb atoms (and can be detected) when they collide with a nucleus; but, since atoms contain mostly empty space (!), this rarely happens. It has been calculated that as many as 10 trillion WIMPs pass through one kilogram of the Earth in a second, but perhaps as few as one per day will interact [47,48]. Not to mention “dark energy”! [49,50].

“Modern quantum physics”, explains Hans Peter Durr, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Physics (Werner-Heisenberg-Institute) and professor of physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University, “reveals that matter is not composed of matter, but reality is merely potentiality” [51]. Quite an astonishing picture for people (materialists and “conventional” physicians) still believing that matter is nothing else than a bunch of tiny beads made of God knows what kind of “material” and held together by God knows what kind of energy!

Unfortunately, general physics, and quantum physics in particular, do not seem to be an integral part of the culture of the great majority of “conventional” physicians who criticize and ridicule homeopathic science on the basis of the Avogadro’s number dogma, thinking that all in this world, from the simplest chemical reaction to the most sophisticated philosophical thinking, can be explained by the simple interplay of “beads”. Should we accept lessons of rationality and “plausibility” from scientists holding this archaic and outdated view of the physical world?
CONCLUDING REMARKS: LOOKING FOR A REAL “ALTERNATIVE”
Since its beginnings, homeopathy has been viewed and practiced as an alternative to conventional medicine. Although “alternative”, however, homeopathy still represents the ?rst-choice treatment for more than ?ve hundred million people worldwide [52], and this in spite of two hundred years of harsh opposition from conventional medicine and innumerable defamatory campaigns sustained against it by western academic institutions with the help and support of the multinational drug companies. With this picture in mind, both conventional physicians and strenuous opponents of homeopathy should better start asking themselves whether the real problem is the acceptance of homeopathy by the western medical establishment or the progressive and inexorable loss of consent of conventional medicine itself. The materialist and reductionist approach to the cure of the sick, with its emphasis on the supremacy of matter over mind and “the part” over “the whole”, has led conventional medicine to relegate the individual to the role of a useless and unnecessary “abstraction” and represents a substantial failure of modern medicine if even the most pitiless opponents of homeopathy, who wishfully declare its end, have to confess: “Now doctors need to be bold and honest … about the failings of modern medicine to address patients’ needs for personalized care” [24].

Conventional medicine, pressed by the economic concerns of the multinational drug companies which look at homeopathy and complementary medicine as the most serious threat to their multibillion-dollar business, still persists in presenting itself as the sole effective way to treat sickness [53], in spite of the demonstrated ef?cacy of homeopathy [54,55], on the one hand, and the alarming data concerning toxicity [56–58] and inef?cacy [35] of prescription drugs on the other.

This situation is aggravated by the materialistic view of the world and a disproportionate belief in the power of technology, which has led modern medicine to claim that the investigation of the physical world rules out as false or non-existent whatever cannot be measured in a laboratory, a position which sounds more like fundamentalist scientism and that, in principle, is contrary to true science and the scientific spirit of inquiry [59]. To further complicate this picture, physics, the “mother” of all life sciences, has made advances which have been largely overlooked, when not intentionally ignored, by western medical science, which, with its claims on Avogadro’s number and the “material” interactions between molecules, appears steadily anchored to the old and outdated Newtonian paradigm of the physical world.

But fortunately, something is changing! There is an increasing request among researchers for a scienti?c revolution in clinical and laboratory medicine with the introduction of a cultural relativism which promises to be a great weapon against the dogmatic scientism of modern medicine. As has been reported, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle [60], demonstrating that a dynamical disturbance is necessarily induced in a system by a measurement, perfectly applies to clinical trials, where dynamical disturbances can be induced in the brain by almost any type of drug, and molecular biology, where the genetic information that makes living cells work is better represented by a probabilistic model [61]. On the other hand, Bohr’s complementarity principle, demonstrating that two incompatible descriptions have more often to be used to describe complex realities such as the human organism [62], perfectly describes the mind-body relationship in health and disease [63] and contradicts the prevailing materialist notion that mental and psychological processes are emergent properties of an organism.

In conclusion, while it is clear that homeopathy is a medical discipline applying the scienti?c method to cure the ill, much less clear is why it has not yet been introduced into the teaching, training, and research programs of western medical schools. It can be inferred from a number of different “symptoms” that pharmaceutical companies, whose immense economic power guarantees a strict control over research worldwide, represent the major opponent to the integration of homeopathy into the teaching and practice of conventional medicine, and given the enormous economic interests involved, the road towards this integration promises to be long, dif?cult, and “painful”. To accelerate this process, every open-minded physician will have to be bold and honest enough to acknowledge that conventional medicine needs to be profoundly reformed and that the time has come to open academic institutions to homeopathy and alternative medicine to enlarge the horizons of medical practice, recover the value of the human relationship with the patients, and through all this, offer the sick a real alternative and the concrete perspective of an improved quality of life [64].
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