The July 2007 issue of Homeopathy; The Journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy, is a special issue devoted entirely to the science and commentary surrounding investigations of homeopathic remedies and the theories of water memory as an explanation for homeopathic potencies. This issue begins with an overview of previous research and the strong evidence supporting possible mechanisms for how water ‘memory’ may be created and how such solutions may possess the ability to have measurable effects on biological systems. The body of the issue includes overview articles, current experimental research and articles on theoretical support for and hypotheses on the formation and characteristics of homeopathic solutions.
The following is a summary of an article on fundamental research into the possible physical structure of homeopathic potencies as a plausible explanation of homeopathic mechanisms. This research was conducted by a group from the Materials Research Institute of Pennsylvania State University, the Departments of Medicine, Psychiatry and Family and Community Medicine of the University of Arizona, College of Medicine and the Departments of Psychology and Public Health of the University of Arizona.
The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy
Manju Lata Rao, Rustum Roy, Iris R. Bell and Richard Hoover
Homeopathy has faced criticism and disbelief throughout its history because of the “implausibility” of the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines due to their dilute nature. Much of the research into and investigation of the physical properties of homeopathic medicines over the past 20-25 years has focused on using basic science and clinical studies to substantiate the existence and effects of homeopathic potencies. A field which has been overlooked as a possible avenue for the study of homeopathic dilutions is the use of emerging techniques in material science to attempt to confirm the existence of homeopathic concentrations approaching and beyond Avogadro’s number.
Material science applies sensitive measurement techniques to examine subtle changes in materials and their three dimensional structure. Water is a remarkable medium for this study because of its ability to form complex 3 dimensional structures of aligned water molecules, or clusters, using weak hydrogen bonds.
Complex systems and network science has shown that within complex systems the loss or disruption of one unit or node in a repetitive and interconnected system does not destroy or disrupt the overall network organization. Structured water based systems create a uniquely stable foundation of complex organization that meets these criteria. This theory means that the presence of a homeopathic substance such as Natrum Muriaticum (sodium chloride) when homeopathically succussed forms a unique three dimensional structure of water molecules with each succussion step. The sodium chloride could be removed from a portion of the solution, which is what happens as the solution becomes successively less concentrated with each diluting potency step, and the three dimensional structure of the water molecules would remain intact.
Epitaxy is the transfer of information (not material) from one material surface to another. The substrate (remedy source material) acts as the “seed” crystal for the function of the complex organization of water molecules within succussed homeopathic dilutions. This epitaxy, the creation of information patterns without the transfer of material can be seen as seeding informational structure within water.
The authors used several forms of analysis to examine homeopathic potencies in an effort to establish methodology that would be effective in examining homeopathic potencies for the structural characteristics required of complex networks and for information transfer with potentization by epitaxy. Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis), Raman and FT-IR (fourier transform infared) spectroscopy were used to measure the spectra of Natrum Muriaticum and Nux Vomica potencies. Initially the spectra of 6C, 12C, and 30C potencies of each remedy were measured to ensure that the spectra and defining characteristics could be observed. Both substances resulted in characteristic spectra that were evident in all three potencies by UV-Vis with similar results by Raman spectroscopy. However it was discovered that FT-IR spectroscopy examination does not prove to be an appropriate method for the examination of homeopathic potencies.
The UV-Vis spectras of Natrum Muriaticum and Nux vomica showed that 10 preparations, of each remedy and potency, provides a range of spectral variability but maintains the unique characteristics of the starting material spectra. The UV-Vis spectra for potencies of both remedies are distinct from that of succussed ethanol showing that the spectral information is unique to each remedy and each potency.
Raman spectroscopy also proved to be very promising. The Raman spectroscopy showed significant structural differences between the potencies of Natrum Muriaticum and Nux vomica. In addition structural changes were observed between the Raman spectra of individual Nux vomica potencies.
Raman and UV-Vis spectroscopy provide viable methodologies for the further investigation of the physical formation of complex water and materials structures in the form of homeopathically prepared potencies. Based on these findings the materials science perspective of complex organized systems provides an avenue for further study of the network structure of homeopathic remedies.
What is particularly exciting about this article and the entire issue is that it provides a significant step forward in the research and understanding of the fundamental science of homeopathy. The research presented meets the highest level of scientific investigation criteria and is well presented. With this and continuing research, it will be possible to expand our understanding of the mechanisms of homeopathy just as biological and biomedical research have elucidated much about the intricate workings of enzymes, inheritance and immunity.
While this research and the work that will follow, further advances the frontier of homeopathy into the 21st century with better understanding of its immense potential much work remains. It is insufficient to be able to show that individual homeopathic potencies exist in distinct physical and measurable forms beyond Avagadro’s Number. The fundamental research into how these structures interact with biological systems, transfer information, if in fact that is the case, and affect the body’s health and healing represent only a few of the challenges that lie ahead.
Rao ML, Roy R, Bell IR, Hoover R. The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy. Homeopathy July 2007; 96: 175-182.