Originally published in the Simillimum: https://hanp.net/simillimum/ Reprinted courtesy of the author.
An interesting and new observation regarding the pharmacological action of homeopathic remedies is presented. All substances (remedies) have two pharmacological actions.
One is the conventional (allopathic) pharmacological action (that caused by administration of the undiluted material form or mother tincture of the substance) and the other is the homeopathic pharmacological action (that caused by administration of the homeopathically diluted, potentized form of the substance).
Usually, it is seen that the conventional (allopathic) action and the homeopathic action of a remedy are opposite to one another but this is not always the case. There are a few remedies in the materia medica in which the conventional and homeopathic pharmacological actions are similar to each other instead of being opposite.
It has been observed in my study that the location of a remedy’s pharmacological receptor within the cell determines whether the homeopathic action of that remedy is similar to or opposite to the conventional action of that remedy.
This is the interesting phenomenon discovered and the same is presented in this article. Thus, this article provides a scientific explanation for the anomalous pharmacological behaviour of some of the remedies in the materia medica. Further work and research in this aspect could lead to a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanism of action of homeopathy.
As we are all aware, all substances (remedies) have two pharmacological actions, one is the conventional (allopathic) pharmacological action (that caused by administration of the undiluted material form or mother tincture of the substance) and the other is the homeopathic pharmacological action (that caused by administration of the homeopathically diluted, potentized form of the substance).
Remedies mentioned in the materia medica also possess this dual pharmacological action and the pharmacological behaviour of some of the remedies in the materia medica was studied. An analysis of the pharmacological behaviour of the remedies led to the following two observations:
- The conventional pharmacological action and the homeopathic pharmacological action of a remedy were found to be opposite to each other when the pharmacological receptor of the remedy is located on the cell membrane.
- The conventional and homeopathic pharmacological actions of a remedy were found to be similar to each other when the pharmacological receptor of the remedy is located free within the cytosol (i.e., not anchored to the cell membrane or any other cellular membrane).
Belladonna, Opium, Jaborandi, Coffea cruda, Arnica montana and Colchicum autumnale are some of the remedies in the materia medica whose pharmacological site of action in the body has been well established and these remedies were selected for the study.
Belladonna (active principle is atropine) acts on the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, while Opium (active principle is morphine and other opiate alkaloids) acts on the opioid receptors, and Coffea (active principle is caffeine) acts principally on the adenosine receptor.
Jaborandi (active principle is pilocarpine) acts on the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor; Arnica (active principle is helenalin) acts on NF-κB and Colchicum (active principle is colchicine) acts on tubulin1, 2, 3. The pharmacological action of these remedies in the conventional and homeopathic domains was studied and was correlated with the location of their respective receptors.
Let us commence with Belladonna. Belladonna when administered in the conventional material form (i.e., as a mother tincture without subjecting it to homeopathic dilution) causes the following symptoms- fever, dryness of mouth, flushed, hot and dry skin, dilated pupils, tachycardia and hallucinations1.
Coming to the pharmacological action of homeopathically diluted Belladonna, the primary reaction (proving symptoms) of homeopathic Belladonna is similar to the set of symptoms caused by undiluted Belladonna mentioned above4, while the secondary reaction is opposite to the pharmacological action caused by the conventional undiluted form of Belladonna (the secondary reaction is always opposite to the primary reaction or proving symptoms of a homeopathic remedy).
The secondary reaction is to be considered as the final pharmacological action of any homeopathic remedy as the primary reaction is only temporary and the secondary reaction is permanent. Thus, it can be observed that, in the case of Belladonna, the pharmacological actions of the conventional and homeopathic forms of the remedy are opposite in nature.
Let us consider Opium now. Opium when administered in the conventional, undiluted form has the following pharmacological actions- analgesia, sedation, euphoria, respiratory depression, pinpoint pupils, nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, flushing of skin and pruritus1.
The final pharmacological action (secondary reaction) of the homeopathic form of Opium can be observed to be opposite to the pharmacological action of the conventional form of Opium (the proving symptoms of homeopathic Opium are similar to the pharmacological actions of undiluted Opium mentioned above)4.
Likewise, is the case with Coffea and Jaborandi. Coffea (active principle is caffeine) causes increased locomotor activity, wakefulness and insomnia when taken in the undiluted conventional form and homeopathic Coffea causes reduced locomotor activity and induction of sleep as its final pharmacological action1, 4.
Conventional undiluted Jaborandi (active principle is pilocarpine) causes excessive perspiration and homeopathically diluted Jaborandi is used to treat abnormal sweating1, 4.
So, in all these four remedies (Belladonna, Opium, Coffea, Jaborandi), the conventional and homeopathic pharmacological actions are opposite to each other. These four remedies which have this similarity also have one feature in common regarding their pharmacological receptors in the body.
The pharmacological receptors of these four remedies, namely the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (for Belladonna and Jaborandi), the opioid receptors (for Opium) and the adenosine receptor (for Coffea) are all located at the cell membrane and are anchored to the cell membrane5.
Now, if we study the pharmacological actions of Arnica and Colchicum, an opposite pharmacological behaviour can be observed. Arnica (active principle is helenalin) has an anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic action when administered in the undiluted, conventional form to patients with closed wounds of muscle and soft tissue6.
Homeopathically diluted Arnica also, has the same pharmacological action as undiluted Arnica and is used popularly in homeopathy to treat closed wounds4. Similarly, Colchicum in its conventional, undiluted form has an anti-inflammatory action and homeopathically diluted Colchicum too, has a similar anti-inflammatory action1, 4. Thus, these two remedies, Arnica and Colchicum have similar pharmacological action in their conventional undiluted form as well as their diluted homeopathic form.
This is in contrast to the pharmacological behaviour of Belladonna, Opium, Coffea and Jaborandi (remedies acting on cell membrane receptors) which have opposing actions in their conventional and homeopathic domains.
It is interesting to note that Arnica and Colchicum act on cytosolic receptors and not on receptors located at the cell membrane. Arnica (active principle is helenalin) acts on NF-κB (nuclear transcription factor) and Colchicum (active principle is colchicines) acts on tubulin2, 3. Both these receptors are located free within the cytosol and are not anchored to any cellular membrane7, 8.
The pharmacological behaviour exhibited by the four remedies acting on membrane receptors mentioned above (Belladonna, Opium, Coffea, Jaborandi) is also seen in all other remedies acting at membrane receptors with hardly any exceptions (Digitalis is one exception I could find in the materia medica).
The majority of pharmacological substances act at membrane located receptors and a relatively minor percentage act at cytosolic (non-membrane) receptors. Colchicum and Arnica are the only two remedies I could identify in the materia medica that act at cytosolic (non-membrane) receptors and hence, only these two remedies are mentioned as examples of remedies acting at cytosolic (non-membrane) receptors. Both these remedies exhibit a pharmacological behaviour that is opposite to that of the remedies acting at membrane located receptors.
In summary, remedies acting at cell membrane anchored receptors exhibit opposite pharmacological actions in their conventional and homeopathic domains, and remedies acting at cytosolic (non-membrane anchored) receptors exhibit similar pharmacological actions in their conventional and homeopathic domains.
The “fixity” or “restricted mobility” of membrane anchored receptors as opposed to the free mobility of cytosolic receptors could probably be the reason for this contrasting pharmacological behaviour of remedies acting at these two different cellular locations.
The article reaches the following conclusions:
- The conventional pharmacological action (that caused by administration of undiluted, material form of the remedy) and the homeopathic pharmacological action (that caused by administration of the homeopathic dilution of the remedy) are opposite to each other in the case of remedies acting at membrane anchored receptors, and the conventional pharmacological action and the homeopathic pharmacological action are similar to each other in the case of remedies acting at cytosolic (non-membrane anchored) receptors.
- The “fixity” or “restricted mobility” of membrane anchored receptors as opposed to the free mobility of cytosolic receptors could be responsible for this interesting phenomenon.
- Further work and research on this phenomenon could lead to a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanism of action of homeopathy.
- Joan Heller Brown, Palmer Taylor: Muscarinic receptor agonists and antagonists pp 189-194; Howard B.Gutstein, Huda Akil: Opioid analgesics pp 557-563; Anne Burke, Emer Smyth, Garret A.FitzGerald: Analgesic-Antipyretic agents; Pharmacotherapy of gout pp 707-708; Bradley J.Undem: Pharmacotherapy of asthma pp 727-729; Thomas P.Rocco, James C.Fang: Pharmacotherapy of congestive heart failure pp 886-889; In: Laurence L.Brunton, PhD, John S.Lazo,PhD, Keith L.Parker, MD,PhD. Goodman and Gilman’s “The pharmacological basis of therapeutics” 11th edition 2006. The McGraw-Hill companies, Inc, Medical publishing division.
- Lyss G, Knorre A, Schmidt TJ, Pahl HL, Merfort I. “The anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone helenalin inhibits the transcription factor NF-kappaB by directly targeting p65”. J Biol Chem 1998; 273 (50): 33508-16.
- Suranjana Guha and B.Bhattacharya, Department of Biochemistry, Bose Institute, Kolkata, India. “The colchicine-tubulin interaction: A review”. Current Science 1997; Vol.73, NO.4: p 351.
- William Boericke MD. “Homeopathic materia medica” Belladonna, Coffea cruda, Opium, Jaborandi, Colchicum autumnale, Arnica Montana chapters. Presented by Medi-T. From Homéopathe International website. Accessed on 30/04/2009. http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/index.htm
- National library of medicine website. Accessed on 30/04/2009. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh/2009/
- Henriette’s Herbal website. “Arnica montana” article. Accessed on 30/04/2009. http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/felter/arnica-mont.html
- Howard J, Hyman AA. “Dynamics and mechanics of the microtubule plus end”. Nature 2003; 422 (6933): 753-8.
- Gilmore TD. “Introduction to NF-kappaB: players, pathways, perspectives”. Oncogene 2006; 25 (51): 6680-4.