Many theories have been proposed to explain how homeopathy works, ranging from misapplied quantum theory to the “doctrine of signatures” and other kinds of alchemical mystique. Many homeopaths feel that “science” may never solve the mystery. So, as a result of information that is incomplete without a generally accepted and unifying theory , the homeopathic practitioner tries to develop and work with a variety of eclectic “rules of thumb”.
Faced with over 200 years of empirical experience, we must continue to try to find a common ground and unifying basis in theory. Modern chemistry and physics sprang from the common ground that was atomic theory. Why should homeopathy be any exception?
My thesis is that “science” has been looking for the answer to homeopathy in the wrong place.
We have been looking either on the quantum scale (sub-atomic or small molecules) or on the statistical-mechanics scale (millions of molecules). But there is a no-man’s land (in between) which contains matter on a scale of 10 to 1000 angstroms … i.e. bigger than a simple molecule but smaller than a living cell.
For example, (Blakeslee, 2001) reports:
“At this level, things do not act according to well-described theories of chemistry and physics. Rather, systems this size seem to obey a unique set of rules that cannot be deduced from studying their individual components…..There are too many atoms in the systems to be described by electromagnetism and quantum theories but too few atoms to handle statistically.” (My italics.)
Research on this ‘nano-scale’ is very pertinent to a working theory of how homeopathic remedies work within the organism. For example, what if we were to look at the ‘nano-scale’ structure of the solvent (water) versus the usual focus on the solute (the dissolved remedy)?
It turns out that recent research supports the idea that the unusual physical chemistry of water may offer a unifying theory for homeopathy not only in terms of the actual nature of the remedy as it is prepared, but in terms of its bioactive interaction with the organism.
The goal of this article is to offer an overview of a new theory that can be tested in the research lab and supported by clinical experience.
Review of Current Theory
To be useful to the practitioner, any theory should try to meet some practical utility criteria as a minimum, besides lending some scientific credibility to the homeopathic paradigm. Here are five suggestions:
1) The theory must offer principles that the homeopath would find useful in daily practice.
There have been many ‘meta-theories’ that seek to explain everything but predict nothing. For example, how can Conte’s quantum ‘white hole’ theory help us choose between one potency over another? If a theory can not predict practical outcomes, then it becomes scientifically untestable and, therefore, unuseable in practice.
2) The theory should be parsimonious.
Truth is elegant. Assumptions should be simple, testable and the number should be held to a minimum. The assumptions should reflect the basic experience that is already generally held to be known.
Parsimony is not simplistic. For instance, those theories that promulgate ‘energy’ or ‘frequency ‘ of a remedy are usually just didactic metaphors and not concrete, operational explanations. An example would be (Sharma 1990). He presented some interesting experimental observations and explained them on the basis of the energy of ‘resonant unpaired electrons’. But I think that most chemists would not agree with his claim that molecules of ‘equal’ energy are equivalent biochemically.
3) The theory should show how the bioactive moiety interacts with the organism to effect change.
This means that a biological mechanism needs to be identified that represents the action-reaction homeostasis of what is called the ‘vital force’. The phenomenon of ‘aggravation’ should be accounted for, as should size of dose and potency effects.
4) The theory needs to be testable through future research.
Given a working theory, there is much more research to be done to improve our understanding of disease and lend wider credence to the homeopathic paradigm. The theory needs to offer predictions that can be repeatedly and conclusively proved or disproved in the laboratory and in the clinic.
5) The theory should facilitate the systemization of ongoing clinical experience.
A problem with the current Materiae Medica in finding the simillimum for a case is that the data for a particular remedy tends to be consolidated without source differentiation. Toxicology, clinical experience and all results for all potencies used during a proving are treated as equivalent. Referring to the original provings can help somewhat but, by this point, the intuition and prejudgement of the clinician are often biasing factors in seeking “confirmation” of the remedy selected.
So it seems that, in the Materiae Medica, idiopathic uniqueness is implicitly denied, which seems contrary to the concept of fitting the remedy to the individual case. Of course, we feel we allow for this by crossing other rubrics but it still comes down to a trial-and-error approach for the remedy and potency selected in the individual case.
The Proposed Model – Development and Discussion
This section will outline some general clinical evidence relating to the nature of potency, the in-vivo ‘measurement’ of potency effects, the puzzle of why ‘diluting’ a remedy increases its power to heal and possible reasons why succussion is an important part of that puzzle.
We shall also examine why alcohol could be more than just a preservative and how ‘dry’ lactose or sucrose pellets could stabilize and be carriers of the remedy.
Finally, we shall take a look the relationship between the Vital Force and the bioactivity of the symptom-remedy and how remedy action within the organism seems to proceed.
What is our case experience in working with different potencies?
Observations on size of dose and number of succussions…
“One of the keys to Hahnemannian homeopathy is the size of dose and the number of succussion given to the medicinal solution.” (Little, 1998)
Further observations on number of succussions…
“Homoeopaths using the 1842 LM methods have recorded many case histories where a certain remedy did not act with a certain number of succussions [but] that immediately showed curative responses after adding more succussions to the same remedy bottle.” (Little, 2001)
And some observations on selecting potency that seem to come from an entirely different perspective…
The Banerji family of physicians in India provide a unique experience and methodology. They make about 2000 prescriptions per day at their clinic in Calcutta, with a staff of 12 doctors. Behind this family’s methods there are about one hundred years of experience. They largely prescribe on an organ ‘syndrome’, or group of symptoms, rather than the ‘totality’ of symptoms. They use one remedy in one potency for one syndrome. Based on hundreds of cases, (Banerji, 1985) shows that a Lycopodium constipation is sensitive to potency as follows:
* 6C and 30C showed no significant percentile response;
* 200C showed 75 percentile response, but
* 1000C (1M) showed no percentile response either!
A corollary of the Banerji family’s experience is that they see each potency having its own unique subset of symptoms. Both observations are in accordance with Hahnemann’s clinical experience, as (Little, 2001) notes:
“Although Hahnemann spoke about raising the potencies from lower to higher in the Organon, the microfiches of the Paris casebooks often show him searching up and down the potencies until he found a harmonic degree. After finding a harmonic degree he would then work up from there. Because everyone is truly an individual it is hard to make clear and fast rules about what potencies are best. Sometimes you have to search for the most harmonic potency.”
These observations illustrate the important role of succussion in determining potency and the efficacy of the remedy which the theory needs to explain.
How is potency measured?
The problem is that potency has not yet been measured directly, only indirectly and subjectively. For example, it’s the interaction of the remedy and the prover that together produce the symptom, not the remedy alone. There’s no way you can remove the prover from the relationship unless the same remedy were to produce the same effect in every prover. We know that not to be true, so the theory needs to offer a way to redefine this problem.
How can a homeopathy remedy have any biological effect when it’s been diluted beyond recognition?
The quick answer lies in this question itself, plus a little more. The high potency remedy has indeed been greatly diluted but it has also been ‘succussed beyond recognition’.
Some theoreticians say that succussion is a way of imparting ‘energy’ to the remedy. This is a truism which really tells us nothing. So perhaps a better suggestion is that the process somehow transfers information to the remedy solution. (Beneviste, 1999) seems to hold this view, but he does not answer the question of ‘how’ in a way that is helpful to the practitioner.
Nonetheless, we shall now explore the idea of ‘potency as information’ as the basis in developing a theoretical model.