Nanoscience Study of Homeopathic MedicineFunding None.
14 September 2018
25 September 2018
12 December 2018 (online)
In their recent article regarding the presence of nanoparticles (NPs) of starting drug substance in homeopathic medicines, Van Wassenhoven et al reported that their study was unable to find such NPs, except in initial potencies of medicines where their presence was obvious. These authors were thus unable to validate the findings of Chikramane et al, who had claimed that homeopathic medicines contain source-drug NPs even in higher potencies.  We are also cited for making such a claim, though we never did that in our study. Rather, I have explained in detail that the claim of Chikramane et al  was not possible except through contamination.
To be reliable, nanoscience experiments require a very high degree of purity of samples. Such purity is not possible in commercial manufacturing of homeopathic medicine. There are many routes for contamination to set in. Often in a room, several potencies of a medicine, or of different medicines, are prepared simultaneously or soon one after another. When a bottle is opened after succussions, aerosol can spread in the room for an extended period of time. Such aerosol, ignored in homeopathy but addressed carefully in microbiology, is one of the major reasons for contamination of homeopathic medicines. Researchers working on homeopathic medicines should take care of it in their work.
The Avogadro limit is much talked about in homeopathy. There should be no confusion about its validity. Matter is made up of molecules or atoms. One mole of substance contains 6.022 × 1023 molecules or atoms. This is known as Avogadro's constant. It was first computed by J. J. Loschmidt in 1865, and has now been evaluated precisely. It is deeply rooted in physics and chemistry, and there is no doubt or controversy about its existence. If 1 mol of a substance is serially diluted, in centesimal (1:99) scale, at 12th dilution the Avogadro limit is crossed. It means the dilution becomes so great that hardly any molecule/atom of the substance is left in the solution. This simple calculation is applicable to all dilutions, including homeopathic medicines.
NPs have been studied in much detail now. Their properties are definitely much different from those of their bulk form, but their existence has not been found to be at odds with Avogadro's constant. Still, Van Wassenhoven et al claim that their material finding (i.e. NPs) in homeopathic medicines demonstrates that the step-by-step dilution process (dynamized or not) does not match with the theoretical expectations, and that the Avogadro/Loschmidt limit is not relevant. They have expressed similar thoughts with their nuclear magnetic resonance study too. How can a basic physical fact—that a piece of matter is made of a limited number of constituent particles—be irrelevant to homeopathy? NPs are also made of such particles. As Van Wassenhoven et al could not find the starting drug material in their homeopathic medicine samples, the material they found would actually be the one that leached from the bottle including the diluent precipitates and air contaminants. This material has nothing to do with the Avogadro/Loschmidt limit, which is applicable to the starting drug material that was diluted serially.
Chikramane et al, on the other hand, really saw starting metals (source drugs) in their high-potency homeopathic samples. They, however, did not take their presence as a threat to the Avogadro limit, but instead thought that their unexpected presence was due to a sort of ‘trick’.  They proposed the hypothesis that starting metal particles could survive successive homeopathic dilutions : it states that froth, 1% of the total volume, floats after succussions and contains all the source metal in nano-form; the whole of this froth is poured out as a ‘seed’ to raise the next potency.  Temgire et al, colleagues of Chikramane, corroborated this hypothesis by repeating the experiment—though strangely with some water-soluble drug-based medicines, despite the fact that the original hypothesis was proposed for metal-based medicines. In both cases, their experimental samples were commercially made, market-purchased, homeopathic medicines. So, they did not have controls with which to compare results, and thus were misled by contamination in their experiments that were otherwise performed meticulously. Their hypothesis has now been shown to be irrelevant to homeopathy, for which it was proposed. Still, in my opinion, the studies performed by Chikramane et al  and Temgire et al are important. These studies revealed that, while homeopathic medicines are extremely diluted, they are not extremely pure. Neither can they be so. Homeopathy was established in the era of impure chemistry, but still homeopathic medicines worked. The ‘Nanoparticle-Exclusion Zone (EZ) Shell Model’ explains how this is possible. The EZ excludes nearly everything, and thus the EZ shell protects its NP from contaminants or impurities.
Van Wassenhoven et al also state that the idea that homeopathic medicines are non-material, propounded both by opponents of homeopathy and traditional homeopathic practitioners, cannot be maintained in view of their findings. I think that, while writing this, they had in mind that opponents may say that homeopathic medicine is a placebo containing no active material in any form, while homeopathic practitioners may say it is ‘spirit-like’, and yet some scientists may say the effect as ‘non-local’. It is interesting that, during Hahnemann's lifetime, Avogadro's constant was not computed and nobody thought that homeopathic medicine did not contain its source-drug. Even then, it is amazing that Hahnemann realized his medicine could not contain source-drug and was instead ‘spirit-like’.
The ‘NP-EZ Shell Model’ explains the mechanism. It suggests that, during potentization, initially an NP adsorbs source-drug, which modifies its structure and accordingly that of an EZ surrounding it. At 3c potency, this process is completed and the NP-EZ shell acquires full source-drug-specific ‘information’. At 4c potency, this acquired ‘information’ becomes independent of its source-drug. Thus, from 3c potency onwards, liquid potentization of an insoluble source drug is possible, as Van Wassenhoven et al identified. The source-drug-specific information is non-material, while its carrier NP-EZ shells are material. According to the model, what Van Wassenhoven et al saw in their experiments would mostly be these NP-EZ shells or their agglomerates. Thus, their other observations —like a clear ‘memory’ effect appearing through potentization, influencing especially the nature of NPs, their specific configuration, differentiable shapes and chemical composition, and their electric-field environment—are obvious under the ‘NP-EZ Shell Model’.
Van Wassenhoven et al reported that the electromagnetic environment also influences the specific material configuration of homeopathic medicines. In this regard, I would like to draw their attention to an important discovery made by Konovalov and Ryzhkina: that the presence of a geomagnetic or low frequency electromagnetic field is necessary during the preparation of homeopathic dilutions; otherwise, neither nano-sized molecular assemblies are formed nor biological effects come into play.  So, a study of homeopathic medicines prepared in hypo-electromagnetic conditions might reveal new information.
Van Wassenhoven et al are working meticulously. Along with genuine controls, they are preparing samples of medicines of their own—as we did in our study—which are essential for such investigations. Their further work may help more in understanding the nature of homeopathic medicines. The DynHom research program is doing us a great service. Homeopathy is moving in the right direction.
- 1 Van Wassenhoven M, Goyens M, Capieaux E, Devos P, Dorfman P. Nanoparticle characterization of traditional homeopathically manufactured Cuprum metallicum and Gelsemium sempervirens medicines and controls. Homeopathy 2018; 107: 244-263
- 2 Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, Kane SG. Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: a nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy 2010; 99: 231-242
- 3 Chikramane PS, Kalita D, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Why extreme dilutions reach non-zero asymptotes: a nanoparticulate hypothesis based on froth flotation. Langmuir 2012; 28: 15864-15875
- 4 Upadhyay RP, Nayak C. Homeopathy emerging as nanomedicine. Int J High Dilution Res 2011; 10: 299-310
- 5 Upadhyay RP. The materialist view of homeopathy: an alternative hypothesis and the connection with hormesis. Homeopathy 2018; 107: 46-49
- 6 Chaplin MF. The memory of water: an overview. Homeopathy 2007; 96: 143-150
- 7 Chirumbolo S. Molecules and nanoparticles in extreme homeopathic dilutions: is Avogadro's Constant a dogma?. Homeopathy 2011; 100: 107-108
- 8 Van Wassenhoven M, Goyens M, Henry M, Capieaux E, Devos P. Nuclear magnetic resonance characterization of traditional homeopathically manufactured copper (Cuprum metallicum) and plant (Gelsemium sempervirens) medicines and controls. Homeopathy 2017; 106: 223-239
- 9 Temgire MK, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Establishing the interfacial nano-structure and elemental composition of homeopathic medicines based on inorganic salts: a scientific approach. Homeopathy 2016; 105: 160-172
- 10 Upadhyay RP. The possible mechanism of memory through nanoparticles and exclusion zones. Water 2017 doi: 10.14294/water.2016.4
- 11 Milgrom LR. Conspicuous by its absence: the memory of water, macro-entanglement, and the possibility of homeopathy. Homeopathy 2007; 96: 209-219
- 12 Bellavite P, Chirumbolo S, Marzotto M. Hormesis and its relationship with homeopathy. Hum Exp Toxicol 2010; 29: 573-579
- 13 Hahnemann SFC. Organon of Medicine. 6th ed. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers; 1970
- 14 Konovalov AI, Ryzhkina IS. Formation of nanoassociates as a key to understanding of physicochemical and biological properties of highly dilute aqueous solutions. Russ Chem Bull 2014; 63: 1-14
- 15 Konovalov AI, Ryzhkina IS. Highly diluted aqueous solutions: formation of nano-sized molecular assemblies (nanoassociates). Geochem Int 2014; 52: 1207-1226