Homeopathy Papers Scientific Research

Is Homeopathy Quackery – The Theory of Dilutions

Ron Harris
Written by Ron Harris

Ron Harris presents a dissertation on the theory of dilutions, reflecting on principles of chemistry, Avogadro’s number, Brownian motion and more.

Ron Harris (Dadaji)

The Major criticism leveled at homeopathy is the theory of dilutions and how homeopathic remedies are prepared. It is common knowledge that both homeopaths and scientists use exactly the same process of dilution. Scientifically, in a given concentrated solution containing one part solute to one part solvent, as the quantity of a solvent is increased, while the quantity of a solute remains constant, it is called dilution.  We dilute a substance again and again.  Similarly homeopathic dilution is repeated serially.

Scientifically in each dilution, as the quantity of solvent increases, while that of the solute remains constant, the end product, called a solution is weaker. That is say the distribution of solute in proportion to the solvent has decreased. This is the concentration of the solution or molecules of solute in the given solvent.

Homeopaths claim that each dilution is meant to make the remedy increasingly stronger by which they mean more potent.

To question this, one must understand the concept of dilution. When a homoeopathic remedy is first prepared, a substance called solute is dissolved in alcohol or water called the solvent. This mixture is known as the ‘mother tincture’ denote by the symbol ɸ. This is then serially diluted usually by either 1 part in 10 (X potencies) or 1 part in 100 (C potencies). The following example uses C potencies for illustration, but the process is identical for both. If we start with 1,000 ml of remedy, then 10 ml would be taken from it and added to 990 ml of water.

As an example, let’s consider the compound Sodium Chloride (common salt). The molecular weight of Sodium Chloride (NaCl) is 58.44, therefore 58.44 grams of NaCl is one mole or 6.022 x 1023 molecules. A one molar solution is where one mole of substance is dissolved in a total volume of 1 liter of solvent. In our case 58.44 grams of NaCl dissolved in water to a total volume of one liter (1,000 ml) would give us our starting solution. That is one liter of water that contains 6.022 x1023 molecules of Sodium Chloride dissolved in it. This is the standardized mother tincture.

Now that we know how many molecules we have in the starting solution, it’s just a case of keeping track of the numbers as we serially dilute it.

In “C” potencies, there is a dilution of 1 in 100 at each step. That means that out of our 1 liter (1000 ml) starting solution we take 10 ml and dissolve it in another 990 ml of water. This means that the number of molecules present reduces by a factor of 100 at each step.

A 1C dilution would therefore contain 6.022 x 1021 molecules of NaCl.

A 2C dilution would contain 6.022 x 1019 molecules of NaCl.

A 3C dilution would contain 6.022 x 1017 molecules of NaCl.

And so on with the number of molecules present reducing by a factor of 100 (or 102) with each step.

A 10 C dilution would contain 6.022 x 1023 molecules of NaCl; in other words 6,022 molecules in the solution.

At 11 C we have 60 molecules present.

At 12 C we have 0.6 molecules present, or more strictly a probability of 0.6 that 1 molecule is present.

No argument, no contradictions as both homeopaths and scientists agree with this. The process fully obeys the laws of science. Both parties precisely follow this process.

A homeopathic remedy consists of 2 parts – a numerical number and a letter. Thus 1x means 1/10 dilution. That is 1 part homeopathic remedy and 9 parts of distilled water and alcohol. The chart below explains the process:

X=1/10, C=1/100, M=1/1000 and LM = 1/50,000 Further X is same as D and is same as DH. C is same as CH and is same as CK.

H indicates that the medicine was prepared according to the Hahnemann method. The Hahnemanian method uses 1 part of the homeopathic potency to 99 parts of alcohol in a new flask and succussed to make the next higher potency on the centesimal scale.  K indicates the Korsakovian method was employed to produce the higher potencies of 200 C and above. In the Korsakovian method the same container is used for each succession of the dilution step.

Homeopaths further prepare remedies in various ways. The process of adding water to a homeopathic remedy is known by practitioners as dynamisation or potentization whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken in a process called “succussion”.

According to homeopathy, the larger the quantity of water, the more diluted the solution.  The more diluted the solution, the much stronger is the solution. In other words, if we add 1 mg of NaCl (Chemical formula) or Natrum Muriaticum (Latin name) or Sodium Chloride (Chemical name) or Salt (Common name) to 1ml of water, the dilution is 1 to 1. If we add 1 mg of NaCl to 1000 ml (1L) of water, the dilution is 1 to 1000.

Scientifically a molecule commonly referred to as a mole, is the smallest quantity of a substance that may exist in nature.  To understand the concept, it is best to look at an example of a substance called Sodium Chloride as a solute and water being a solvent.

A molecule of a substance consists of three particles, namely protons, electrons and neutrons. Protons carry a positive charge, electrons carry a negative charge and neutrons have no charge. We are concerned only with electrons, since they carry an electric charge – a form of energy. Electrons are present in fixed numbers in each of the shells surrounding neutrons and protons.

A molecule of Sodium Chloride, commonly called salt, consists of a Sodium molecule and a Chloride molecule.  Sodium is a soft metal, easily cut with a knife that bursts into flame when it comes into contact with water. For this reason, obviously no one will consume pure sodium. It is in the first family of the periodic table of elements. Its chemical symbol is Na, which in Latin means Natrum. Its atomic number is 11 and its mass is 23. This means its configuration is 2, 8, 1. This is to say the first shell can hold a maximum of 2 electrons and is therefore complete. The second shell can hold a maximum of 8 electrons and is complete. The third shell can hold a maximum of 8 electrons, but only 1 electron is available, therefore it comes under the first family and we say a molecule of Sodium has 7 vacancies.  Science is supposed to be an exact and precise subject, yet Natrum with a precisely correct chemical symbol Na for some unknown reason is called Sodium.

Chlorine, a non-metal is a greenish-yellow gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. It is two and a half times heavier than air.  It has a choking odor, and inhalation causes suffocation, constriction of the chest, tightness in the throat, and—after severe exposure – edema (filling with fluid) of the lungs. As little as one part per thousand in air causes death within a few minutes. Chlorine falls under the seventh family. Its chemical symbol is correctly shown as Cl. However its Latin name is muraticum and again for some unknown reason we call it chlorine. Its atomic number is 17. This means its configuration is 2, 8, 7. Thus the third shell, which can hold a maximum of 8 electrons; it has one vacancy.

Na+1+ Cl-1 → NaCl means one molecule of Sodium reacts with one molecule of Chlorine to produce one molecule of Sodium Chloride (Natrum Muriaticum) or salt.

Sodium being a metal donated its single electron in the last shell to Chlorine.  Now Sodium 2,8 and Chlorine 2,8,8 are both complete and the neutral new substance formed is Sodium Chloride, which is very much consumed.

As mentioned above, in chemistry we use a measure known as a “mole” which is simply the molecular weight of a substance in grams. The convenience of using moles is that no matter what the substance is, one mole always contains the same number of atoms or molecules. This is known as Avogadro’s number NA 6.022 x 1023 objects per mole.

The Major Criticism

This has raised several questions. The major criticism leveled at homeopathy is that the remedies are so diluted that there is little chance of there even being a single molecule of the starting material left in the final remedy. Some scientists therefore claim homeopathic remedies can’t possibly work, because they contain no active ingredients.

Once we pass this dilution point, known as the Avogadro limit, there is no more starting material in the solution. Any dilution beyond 12C (or 24X) simply means that water is being dissolved in more water. This is why scientists claim homeopathic remedies that have potencies over 12C do not contain even a single molecule of active ingredient.  However the least diluted homeopathic remedies come in potency of 3C or below. This means that there may well be some of the starting material present in the final remedy.

About the author

Ron Harris

Ron Harris

Ron Harris is a gold medalist in Homeopathy and was founder of the Canadian Institute of Homeopathic Medicine. He has been honoured by numerous homeopathy organizations in Canada. He served two terms on the Health Canada Expert Advisory Committee on Natural Health products. Ron was educated in the fields of Medicine, Politics, Economics, Chemistry, Town Planning, Chemical Engineering and Medical Herbology. During the partition of British India he closely followed Mr. Gandhi’s philosophy and took keen interest in Homeopathic Medicine. Ron has worked to have Homeopathy fully recognized in North America since 1960 and was involved in getting Nova Scotia to allow Allopaths to provide homeopathic care. His most recent book is “The Science of Healing, According to the Principles of Homeopathy”. He set up the “Celebrate with Blind Children” project in India so those children to receive an education. Visit Ron at his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ron.harris.1916

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4 Comments

  • Homeopathy is a very effective scientific method of treatment. I have seen many wonders in my practice as a Homeopath for the last 30 years.

  • DEAR DR,
    EVEN IF ONE DROP OF ANY CRUDE DRUG IS THROWN IN THOUSAND LITTERS OF WATER, THOUGH THE DRUG MAY NOT BE TRACEABLE BUT NO ONE CAN SAY THAT DRUG IS NOT IN THE WATER. THE FACT IS THAT TILL NOW THERE IS NO SCALE TO MEASURE A MOLECULE OF THE DRUG IF WE TAKE OUT A SPOON OF THAT WATER. AS IN THE BEGINNING THE SALT WAS NOT TRACEABLE IN THE WATER OF SEA. IT IS THE RIVERS WHICH CARRIED THE SALT IN THEIR WATER [ WHICH IS NOT TRACEABLE IN WATER OF THE RIVER] IN THOUSAND AND THOUSAND OF YEARS AND DEPOSITED THE SALT IN SEA. NOW THE WATER OF THE SEA HAS BECOME SO SALTY THAT NO ONE CAN DRINK IT.
    THANKS