In the UK, a vituperative debate has arisen over whether complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies should be included within the National Health Service.1 Homeopathy is arguably the most controversial form of CAM, not least because a highly publicised Lancet meta-analysis of clinical trials comparing homeopathy to allopathy dismissed the former as having no effects beyond placebo.2 This paper’s clear bias and methodological flaws,3-7 seemingly escaped most in the conventional medical community and the media,8 who are equally unaware of the many published fully peer-reviewed papers showing that homeopathy can indeed have effects beyond placebo.9-13 So, it is not surprising when twelve of the UK’s top medical scientists signed a letter to The Times calling for the cessation of CAM funding by the National Health Service (even though it is abundantly clear many conventional medical practitioners already avail themselves of adjunctive CAM therapies)14, but also accusing homeopathy of being ‘an implausible treatment’.15
The origin of this attitude is due in no small part to increasing demands that all therapeutic procedures be subjected to double-blind placebo-controlled trials (DBRCTs),16 according to the precepts of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM).17,18 This could be considered hypocritical given that many of the drugs and procedures currently used in orthodox medicine have yet to be clinically confirmed by EBM.19 Apart from an almost inquisitorial overemphasis on the supremacy of one particular kind of evidence,18 the problem is how the meaning of the phrase ‘placebo effect’ is taken.
If in trials homeopathy works no better than a sugar pill, it is deemed ineffective. But the placebo effect has always been part of every doctor’s kitbag, and is enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath.14 Also homeopaths say their therapy encourages the body to heal itself, suggesting at the very least a more humane appreciation of the placebo effect.20
But with none of the original material substance left, sceptics want to know how a highly diluted homeopathic remedy can exert any effect, let alone a therapeutic one.21 Clearly, homeopathy poses serious challenges to conventional bioscience’s dominant materialistic paradigm, and will continue to be regarded as delusional, cynical ‘quackery’, or at best the ‘placebo effect’.2 Yet, one of the most recent studies performed under the same Swiss-inspired Program of Evaluation of Complementary Medicine (PEK) that produced the flawed Lancet meta-analysis, found that the ‘effectiveness of homeopathy can be supported by the clinical evidence’.22
It is this attitude that it should not work, therefore it cannot, which acts as one of the main hindrances to the integration of homeopathy into conventional medical practice. Another is many homeopaths’ distrust of anything to do with conventional science and medicine. Thus, for true integration to occur, homeopathy and conventional medicine will have to achieve some common ground.14
quantum theory, VITALISM, AND SYMPTOM EXPRESSION
The similarity in discourse
Conventional biomedicine is reductionist. This means sickness and disease are comprehended primarily in terms of pathological cellular biochemistry, as caused by external agents (viruses, bacteria, etc) or internal imbalances (e.g., genetic abnormalities). Treatment is therefore geared towards ‘fixing’ the problem by eradicating these causative disease factors, usually with powerfully toxic substances whose long-term side-effects can compromise the homeostatic immune system.
Homeopathy on the other hand, considers that ‘In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force…. retains all parts of the organism in admirable harmonious, vital operation as regards both sensations and functions….‘23 In other words, it is holistic. From conventional medicine’s reductionist view-point, the Vital Force (Vf) is treated with contempt because ‘…it doesn’t have any identifiable source… obey any kind of (physical) law, it can’t be defined; it is simply postulated ad hoc to explain whatever effects or alleged effects need explaining: it can’t be pinned down or put to the question; its function is to provide the illusion of meaning without substance….it can’t be disproved because it is too amorphous and vague a concept.‘24
However, complex systems are known to self-organise, are open, and possess a wholeness that cannot be attributed solely to any particular part or sub-system.25 Non-deterministically, the Vf might be an emergent property of billions of living cells, which generates an all-pervading field that by feedback so organises the totality’s elements, it reinforces itself. This field would not originate in any one cell or body part, and being the resultant of the whole organism, resists any dissipative entropic influence. 26
Such a holistic view of the Vf bares phenomenological comparison with certain conclusions derived from quantum physics.27, 28 Thus, the Vf is thought not to be directly ascertainable: it is observed indirectly through the symptoms it produces.23 Similarly in quantum theory, the wave function (a multi-dimensional mathematical descriptor of a quantum system’s state) may only be inferred from the effects it produces in our reality.28, 29 This is through no fault in observation but depends more on the multi-dimensional mathematical language used in describing wave functions.30 As a result, trying to visualise a quantum state in our usual 3-D terms31, 32 leads to loss of information: one reason why entanglement in quantum theory seems so paradoxical. 28
Entanglement in a quantum system occurs if its seemingly separate parts are so holistically matched, measurement of one part of the system instantaneously (i.e., not limited by the speed of light and therefore without classical signal transmission) provides information about all its other parts, regardless of their separation in space and time, or their size.33 This last point addresses naÃ¯ve criticisms34 often levelled at those who use quantum theory to explain the therapeutic effects of homeopathy/CAMs.35-43
In addition, more modern interpretations of quantum theory resolve such paradoxes as entanglement by taking the quantum state of a system not as an objective ‘thing-in-itself’, separate from us, but as a subjective representation of what we can know about it.44-49 Thus, apart from predicting a quantum system’s evolution in time, the wave function is also telling us something about the irreducible relationship between the observer and the observed quantum system. Also, a generalised form of quantum theory has recently been formulated called Weak Quantum Theory (WQT),50 which develops the idea of ‘macro-entanglement’ and uses it to explain not only phenomenological problems arising out of information theory and psychology,50 but also the therapeutic process in homeopathy35-37 and CAMs.41 The subsequent development of this idea51 leads to ways of considering macro-entanglement that explains significant correlations found between the brain functions of spatially separated pairs of human subjects.52, 53
In this context, Walach54, 55 and others56 have demonstrated clear correlations between remedy and placebo groups during double blind homeopathic provings; observations which are difficult to account for other than in terms of macro-entanglement between the two groups.36, 57 While purely physical entanglement between macroscopic objects seems unlikely, generalisation of the concept could be used to help explain certain observed correlations in human relationships. Although a sufficient but not a necessary condition for applying entanglement ideas to the problem of how homeopathy might work, it leads to a metaphorical use of concepts with an otherwise unique meaning in physics.57, 58 It should be stressed that this use of quantum mathematics has yet to be rigorously proven.
The Vital Force as a quantum entity
Based on the discourse similarity between the Vital Force and a quantum entity’s wave function, i.e., it is only inferable from the symptoms it produces,23,28 a new metaphor imagines the Vf as a quantised precessing gyroscope.59 This means the Vf’s spinning ‘flywheel’ slows discreetly, so that precession about an imaginary vertical axis also changes by fixed amounts. Quantised precession (i.e., a hypothetical ‘angular momentum’ vector Vf rotates in the x-iy plane: figure 1) arises by initially defining ‘Vf shift operators’, similar to the angular momentum shift operators from the physics of
Figure 1. Schematic of the Vf gyroscope: a real gyroscope in 3-D space precesses around the z-axis sweeping out gradually increasing ‘orbits’ in the x-y plane. The metaphorical Vf gyroscope precesses in fixed quantised ‘orbits’ as shown and the y and z axes are complex. Symptoms are observed along the real x axis.
electrons in atoms.60 Vf shift operators were derived from complementary combinations30 of primary and secondary symptoms, experienced by the patient; observed by the practitioner.59 Thus, ‘diseases’ and ‘remedies’ are simply factors that increase or decrease the Vf’s strength by quantised amounts.
A Vf ‘wave function’, ?Vf, then relates Vf quantised precessional motion solely to observed secondary symptoms, S2, (i.e., ?Vf = A(eik2S2 + e–ik2S2)),59 and used to illustrate some of homeopathy’s empirical ‘laws’, e.g., bi-phasal action of remedies,61 and resonance effects among remedy provers and associates.62 A therapeutic analogue of the time-dependent Schroedinger equation60 was derived, and used to investigate the practitioner’s effect on the patient’s Vf during therapeutic PPR entanglement.63 Manipulating the Vf wave function further allowed remedies and diseases to be understood as ‘torques’ that respectively accelerate or brake the speed of rotation of the Vf gyroscope’s ‘flywheel’.64 Thus, if gyroscopic precession is a metaphor for Vf symptom expression, then eradication of symptoms by the remedy corresponds to an accelerating ‘remedial’ torque on the Vf ‘flywheel’, slowing precession.
Metaphorical motion in imaginary spaces