Homeopathy 2007; 96(03): 141-142
DOI: 10.1016/j.homp.2007.05.008
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2007

The Memory of Water: a scientific heresy?

Peter Fisher

Subject Editor:
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
13 December 2017 (online)

This special issue of Homeopathy is devoted to the ‘memory of water’, a concept forever linked to the name of the late Jacques Benveniste, although not coined by him. The term first appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde, commenting on a fierce controversy which blew up in the pages of the leading scientific journal Nature in 1988. In June of that year, Nature published a paper by a large international group led by Benveniste which made the sensational claim that the antibody anti-IgE in dilutions up to 10−120 molar, far into the ‘ultramolecular’ range, triggers degranulation of human basophils in vitro.[ 1 ]

Nature had resisted publishing the paper, and the then editor, John Maddox, agreed to do so only on the condition that Benveniste allowed an inspection team, nominated by Maddox, to visit his laboratory after publication. The team duly visited, and, a month later, published its report denouncing Benveniste's work as ‘pseudoscience’, but nevertheless justifying its decision to publish.[ 2 ] Two subsequent attempts to reproduce Benveniste's results failed,[ 3,4 ] although he remained defiant until his death in October 2004. Yolène Thomas, a long-term collaborator of Benveniste, recounts that episode and the subsequent history of the memory of water in this issue,[ 5 ] and Michel Schiff has given a detailed insider's account of the treatment Benveniste suffered for his heresy.[ 6 ]

  • References

  • 1 Davenas E., Beauvais F., Amara J. et al. Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE. Nature 1988; 333: 816-818.
  • 2 Maddox J., Randi J., Stewart W.W. ‘High-dilution’ experiments a delusion. Nature 1988; 334: 287-290.
  • 3 Ovelgönne J.H., Bol A.W., Hop W.C., van Wisk R. Mechanical agitation of very dilute antiserum against IgE has no effect on basophil staining properties. Experientia 1992; 48: 504-508.
  • 4 Hirst S.J., Hayes N.A., Burridge J., Pearce F.L., Foreman J.C. Human basophil degranulation is not triggered by very dilute antiserum against human IgE. Nature 1993; 366: 525-527.
  • 5 Thomas Y. The history of the Memory of Water. Homp 2007; 96: 151-157.
  • 6 Schiff M. The Memory of Water. London: Thorsons; 1995.
  • 7 Evans D. Placebo: Mind over Matter in Modern Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2003.
  • 8 Weingärtner O. The nature of the active ingredient in ultramolecular dilutions. Homp 2007; 96: 220-226.
  • 9 Milgrom L. Conspicuous by its absence: the Memory of Water, macro-entanglement, and the possibility of homeopathy. Homp 2007; 96: 209-219.
  • 10 Chaplin M. The Memory of Water: an overview. Homp 2007; 96: 143-150.
  • 11 Teixeira J. Can water possibly have a memory? A sceptical view. Homp 2007; 96: 158-162.
  • 12 Anick D., Ives J. The silica hypothesis for homeopathy: physical chemistry. Homp 2007; 96: 189-195.
  • 13 Voeikov V. The possible role of active oxygen in the Memory of Water. Homp 2007; 96: 196-201.
  • 14 Anick D. The octave potencies convention: a mathematical model of dilution and succussion. Homp 2007; 96: 202-208.
  • 15 Elia V., Napoli E., Germano R. The Memory of Water: an almost deciphered enigma. Dissipative structures in extremely dilute aqueous solutions. Homp 2007; 96: 163-169.
  • 16 Rao M.L., Roy R., Bell I.R., Hoover R. The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy. Homp 2007; 96: 175-182.
  • 17 Rey L. Can low temperature thermoluminescence cast light on the nature of ultra-high dilutions?. Homp 2007; 96: 170-174.
  • 18 Vybíral B., Voráček P. Long term structural effects in water: autothixotropy of water and its hysteresis. Homp 2007; 96: 183-188.