How Homeopathy Works

Words: Dr Lionel MILGROM

Homeopathy works by assisting the body’s own powers of self-healing, rather than brushing them aside, or overriding them, as conventional medical treatments often do.

Though not necessarily implying therapeutic superiority [timely conventional medical intervention is often vital in accident and emergency situations], homeopathy has often proved invaluable in the treatment of chronic illnesses, where the best efforts of conventional medicine have failed. Consequently, homeopathy and conventional medicine should be seen as complementary, ideally each fully available to patients and health practitioners as part of a spectrum of therapeutic possibilities.

Homeopaths use a holistic approach to health which means that as well as noting a patient’s physical symptoms, their mental and emotional states may be considered just as important in ascertaining the underlying nature of the disease [often written and pronounced as ‘dis-ease’].

From this perspective, viruses and bacteria may not be the only causative disease factors — they are opportunistic organisms that take advantage of the body’s lowered immune system and defences. Similarly, fevers, skin eruptions, vomiting, or headaches are not the disease either — they represent the body’s attempts at re-establishing harmony, which in so doing gives rise to these symptoms. Thus, the goal of homeopathy is to support the patient’s immune system while assisting it in its attempts to restore balance.

This is reflected in homeopathy’s principles, some of which hark back to an earlier and more ancient appreciation of health and dis-ease. Dr Samuel Hahnemann, MD, the discoverer [some think, the re-discoverer] of homeopathy towards the end of the 18th Century, used Hippocrates’ Principle of Similars, referred to as ‘like cures like.’ In other words, a remedy produces in a healthy person the same symptoms as those from which a sick person might suffer.

Less Is More

For example, someone suffering with a hot, dry, delirious fever might be treated with a dose of Belladonna which produces precisely these symptoms in a healthy person. But, in order to avoid the toxic effects of the drug and any concomitant aggravations or ‘side-effects’ that might arise from them, the remedy is usually diluted [in some cases, out of all molecular existence], and then strongly agitated. This process, which homeopaths call potentisation, far from weakening the remedy, is thought to increase its curative powers, while reducing any aggravation of the patient’s condition.

Clearly, this ‘less is more’ approach is highly controversial as it appears to contradict the findings of modern medicine and just sheer common sense. Indeed, it is the perceived notion that somehow ‘nothing can cure something’ which sceptics of homeopathy currently use as their main argument to discredit this long-standing therapy, and to brand its practitioners as, at best, purveyors of the ‘placebo effect’ — at worst, ‘quacks’, and ‘evil predators’ on a gullible public’s fears and delusions. These accusations are made supposedly even more damning by the sceptics’ persistent [and, as it turns out, false] claims that, despite over 200 years of successfully treating millions of people worldwide, there is no evidence that homeopathy actually ‘works.’

There is mounting clinical and biochemical evidence of homeopathy’s efficacy. Also, there are scientists dedicated to understanding the physical basis of homeopathic potentisation — and, therefore, how a substance diluted out of existence can exert an effect long after all of its molecules have disappeared. This is without having to overturn the whole canon of modern physics and chemistry. It appears water, that most ubiquitous of life-giving and maintaining fluids, still has surprises in store for scientists.

How It Works

An increasingly likely explanation of how homeopathy might work is called the ‘Memory of Water’ hypothesis [MoW]. An essential feature of the homeopathic remedy manufacturing process is potentisation. This consists of repeated acts of serial dilution and violent agitation called succussion.

Evidence from the materials sciences and physical chemistry suggests that this potentisation process produces a dynamic long-range molecular ordering of the solvent molecules in which the remedy substance was originally dissolved.

Consequently, even though molecules of the original substance may have long-since disappeared; still, the remaining solvent molecules would have been ‘restructured’ forming a dynamic ‘template.’ Thus, there are reproducibly observable structural differences between substances simply diluted in water and those treated via the homeopathic remedy manufacturing process, even though chemically no differences can be found.

This process has been likened to the formatting of computer compact discs: chemically, there is no difference between a formatted and an unformatted CD. However, with the right equipment, differences between them are readily revealed. How the potentised remedy then goes on to energise the body’s self-healing powers is still a matter of intense research. But, bearing in mind the large proportion of water that constitutes all living things, it is now recognised that many cellular processes within the body [e.g., the transmission of nerve impulses, etc.,], depend dynamically upon rapidly alternating structural alignments of water molecules, which allow extremely rapid transmission of electrical charges over large molecular distances.

Thus, the function of water in biochemistry has to be reassessed. Up till now, water was simply thought of as a kind of inert medium within cells playing host to all the complex biochemical reactions going on inside them. To give some idea of the complexity of this highly organised biochemistry, if we wished to reproduce just the number of biochemical reaction going on at any one time inside a cell using state of the art processes of conventional chemical manufacturing, we would need a laboratory the size of the United Kingdom.

And, all this wealth of biochemistry is occurring inside a tiny wriggling little cell that can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. Adopting a theatrical metaphor, if nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and hormones, etc., are the principal ‘actors’ in the unfolding biochemical ‘drama’ that is life at the molecular level, then water provides the stage, set, theatre, and even the overall direction.

From this perspective, it could be that conventional biomedicine places too much emphasis on bio-molecules at the expense of the solvent in which they perform. Because of their individual patterns of electrically charged and neutral atomic constituents, each type of biomolecule will have associated with it an ever-changing ‘halo’ of loosely bound and interconnected water molecules. At the charged sites on each bio-molecule, water molecules will congregate, while few water molecules gather at the neutral sites.

Thus, electric fields generated by bio-molecules will be modified and modulated by their surrounding ever-changing but coherent ‘halo’ of water molecules and this could be transmitted extremely rapidly partly via water’s rapidly switching network of interconnecting ‘hydrogen’ bonds, throughout the whole solvent and received by other biomolecules. With this kind of new understanding, we should expect a scientific explanation of how homeopathy is possible in the not-too-distant future.

Dr LIONEL MILGROM, BSc, MSc, PhD, LCH, MARH, MRHom, has been in practice as a professional homeopath for 20 years. He has also had a parallel career as a research scientist for well over 30 years, with 75+ academic papers published in leading chemistry journals. He was the founder and first CEO of an anti-cancer biotech spin-out company in 2001. He also writes and comments about science and has been a broadcaster on the subject. He has spent the last 12-15 years developing new ideas about the homeopathic therapeutic process too, based on the discourse of quantum entanglement. Dr Milgrom is a keen observer and critic of the current debate around homeopathy/complementary and alternative medicine [CAM]. He has published several peer-reviewed papers in CAM journals and written a host of articles in CAM magazines on the subject. He lives in the UK. This article is ©Dr Lionel Milgrom.

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