Subscribe to RSS
Homeopathic Dilutions, Hahnemann Principles, and the Solvent Issue: Must We Address Ethanol as a “Homeopathic” or a “Chemical” Issue?
06 April 2017
01 November 2017
28 December 2017 (online)
Introduction Homeopathic remedies usually contain a significant amount of ethanol as a co-solvent with water, a pharmaceutical formulation that may raise some concern when remedies are tested in vitro or in laboratory animals, due to the assessed toxicity of ethanol on cell cultures and organisms. The amount of alcohol in a homeopathic remedy is adjusted following the different homeopathic pharmacopoeias but it is rarely below 30% v/v, which is a molar mass established to meet both Hahnemann's traditional heritage and the hypothetical role of ethanol in “imprinting” water, through the formation of nanobubbles, with the homeopathic activity of the remedy.
Aims This article aims at discussing the role of ethanol in homeopathic dilutions and how its chemical nature should affect the experimental approach in homeopathy.
Issues Under Debate While the content of ethanol in a homeopathic remedy should be as low as 20% v/v, which is a molar fraction able to catalyze the formation of nanobubbles in a dynamized alcohol–water dilution, this amount raises concern about ethanol toxicology in the experimental research with laboratory animals or in vitro. Several authors diluted 1:100 ethanol 30% v/v from their tested homeopathic dilutions with distilled water to prevent the cytotoxic effect of the alcohol, but in doing so, they probably reduced the ability of ethanol (now 0.3% v/v) to induce the formation of nanobubbles, thus probably affecting the homeopathic property of the same dilution. This may generate concerns about how to manage an experimental setting, to meet both the “chemical” nature of ethanol and its role in “homeopathy,” an issue that is discussed in the article.
Conclusion Any author working with homeopathic dilutions containing a molar fraction of ethanol higher than 20% should take into account the fact that ethanol is cytotoxic and may be a catalyst to the formation of nanobubbles, and so should adjust the experimental approach accordingly.
- 1 Teixeira MZ, Guedes CH, Barreto PV, Martins MA. The placebo effect and homeopathy. Homeopathy 2010; 99: 119-129
- 2 Relton C. Implications of the ‘placebo effect’ for CAM research. Complement Ther Med 2013; 21: 121-124
- 3 Schulte J, Endler PC. Update on preliminary elements of a theory of ultra high dilutions. Homeopathy 2015; 104: 337-342
- 4 Bellavite P, Marzotto M, Olioso D, Moratti E, Conforti A. High-dilution effects revisited. 1. Physicochemical aspects. Homeopathy 2014; 103: 4-21
- 5 Bellavite P, Marzotto M, Olioso D, Moratti E, Conforti A. High-dilution effects revisited. 2. Pharmacodynamic mechanisms. Homeopathy 2014; 103: 22-43
- 6 Waisse S. The science of high dilutions in historical context. Homeopathy 2012; 101: 129-137
- 7 Marzotto M, Bonafini C, Olioso D. , et al. Arnica montana stimulates extracellular matrix gene expression in a macrophage cell line differentiated to wound-healing phenotype. PLoS One 2016; 11: e0166340
- 8 Magnani P, Conforti A, Zanolin E, Marzotto M, Bellavite P. Dose-effect study of Gelsemium sempervirens in high dilutions on anxiety-related responses in mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2010; 210: 533-545
- 9 Biber A, Franck-Karl G, Klein G, Stumpf KH. Quality criteria of homoeopathic mother tinctures: considerations regarding suitable tests for homoeopathic monographs. Pharmeur Sci Notes 2005; 2005: 53-59
- 10 Chirumbolo S, Bjørklund G. Homeopathic potencies of Arnica montana L. change gene expression in a Tamm-Horsfall protein-1 cell line in vitro model: the role of ethanol as a possible confounder and statistical bias. J Integr Med 2017; 15: 255-264
- 11 Sarkar A. Herbal Toxicology. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House Ltd; 2009
- 12 Elia V, Marchettini N, Napoli E, Niccoli M. The role of ethanol in extremely high dilutions. J Therm Anal Calorim 2014; 116: 477-483
- 13 Chirumbolo S. Plant-derived extracts in the neuroscience of anxiety on animal models: biases and comments. Int J Neurosci 2012; 122: 177-188
- 14 Wagner S, Rokita AG, Anderson ME, Maier LS. Redox regulation of sodium and calcium handling. Antioxid Redox Signal 2013; 18: 1063-1077
- 15 Murphy E, Eisner DA. Regulation of intracellular and mitochondrial sodium in health and disease. Circ Res 2009; 104: 292-303
- 16 Yan Y, Ding Y, Ming B. , et al. Increase in hypotonic stress-induced endocytic activity in macrophages via ClC-3. Mol Cells 2014; 37: 418-425
- 17 Sedova M, Blatter LA. Intracellular sodium modulates mitochondrial calcium signaling in vascular endothelial cells. J Biol Chem 2000; 275: 35402-35407
- 18 Kaliszan R, Waszczuk-Jankowska M, Siluk D, Wielgomas B. “Molecularly imprinted chromatography” fails to distinguish homeopathic remedy from placebo. J Sep Sci 2017; 40: 3976
- 19 Haginaka J. Molecularly imprinted polymers as affinity-based separation media for sample preparation. J Sep Sci 2009; 32: 1548-1565
- 20 Demangeat JL. Gas nanobubbles and aqueous nanostructures: the crucial role of dynamization. Homeopathy 2015; 104: 101-115
- 21 Betti L, Trebbi G, Kokornaczyk MO. , et al. Number of succussion strokes affects effectiveness of ultra-high-diluted arsenic on in vitro wheat germination and polycrystalline structures obtained by droplet evaporation method. Homeopathy 2017; 106: 47-54
- 22 Ljunggren S, Eriksson JC. The lifetime of a colloid-sized gas bubble in water and the cause of the hydrophobic attraction. Colloids Surf A Physicochem Eng Asp 1997; 129: 151-155
- 23 Seddon JR, Kooij ES, Poelsema B, Zandvliet HJ, Lohse D. Surface bubble nucleation stability. Phys Rev Lett 2011; 106: 056101
- 24 Häbich A, Ducker W, Dunstan DE, Zhang X. Do stable nanobubbles exist in mixtures of organic solvents and water?. J Phys Chem B 2010; 114: 6962-6967
- 25 Tuziuti T, Yasui K, Kanematsu W. Influence of increase in static pressure on bulk nanobubbles. Ultrason Sonochem 2017; 38: 347-350
- 26 Borkent BM, Dammer SM, Schönherr H, Vancso GJ, Lohse D. Superstability of surface nanobubbles. Phys Rev Lett 2007; 98: 204502
- 27 Dalmolin I, Skrovoinski E, Biasi A, Corazza ML, Dariva C, Vladimir Oliveira J. Solubility of carbon dioxide in binary and ternary mixtures with ethanol and water. Fluid Phase Equilib 2006; 245: 193-200
- 28 Jin F, Ye J, Hong L, Lam H, Wu C. Slow relaxation mode in mixtures of water and organic molecules: supramolecular structures or nanobubbles?. J Phys Chem B 2007; 111: 2255-2261
- 29 An H, Liu G, Atkin R, Craig VS. Surface nanobubbles in nonaqueous media: looking for nanobubbles in DMSO, formamide, propylene carbonate, ethylammonium nitrate, and propylammonium nitrate. ACS Nano 2015; 9: 7596-7607
- 30 Uchida T, Oshita S, Ohmori M. , et al. Transmission electron microscopic observations of nanobubbles and their capture of impurities in wastewater. Nanoscale Res Lett 2011; 6: 295
- 31 Craig VSJ. Surface nanobubbles or Knudsen bubbles?. Physics (College Park Md) 2011; 4: 70
- 32 Liu S, Oshita S, Makino Y, Wang Q, Kawagoe Y, Uchida T. Oxidative capacity of nanobubbles and its effect on seed germination. ACS Sustainable Chem Eng 2016; 4: 1347-1353
- 33 Attard P. The stability of nanobubbles. Eur Phys J Spec Top 2013; 1-22 ; doi: 10.1140/epjst/e2013-01817-0.
- 34 Fisher P. Does homeopathy have anything to contribute to hormesis?. Hum Exp Toxicol 2010; 29: 555-560
- 35 Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Metal nanoparticle induced hormetic activation: a novel mechanism of homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy 2017; 106: 135-144