There Are No Stupid Questions…
By Keir Liddle
Working on the assumption that homeopathy works (I should perhaps be clearer – this is for the benefit of this blog, not a statement of my own belief), there are a few details I would like to ask some homeopaths in the know.
This relates to homeopathy as defined as follows:
A system of alternative or complementary medicine that is based upon the principle that like cures like (law of similars), that administering remedies at very high dilutions (law of infinitesimals) increases their potency, and that the shaking process also increases the remedies potencies (law of succussion).
For the purposes of this post, I am assuming that Avogrado’s constant does not apply (which implies that over dilutions of 12C there aren’t any molecules of active ingredient present within the dilution) or that the memory of water does indeed exist.
I will also be assuming that homeopathic remedies are made by the following method:
Dilution of active ingredient in a solution that is one part ingredient and ninety-nine parts water creating a centesimal which is then succussed (shaken) and the resulting diluted solution further diluted in a solution 1 part solution and ninety-nine parts water to make a 2C solution and so on and so forth until the desired dilution is reached
A declaration of interest: I am skeptical about homeopathy, but open to receiving convincing and high quality evidence that shows it works. However, I am interested in asking homeopath and followers of homeopathy some questions about the detail of the method and how it is supposed to work. I don’t intend to use any information here to trip anyone up. I am genuinely just curious to see what answers the homeopathic community will give.
Now that all that’s out of the way, here are the questions that leave me baffled about homeopathy and the homeopathic method.
1. How do you ensure that the water you are using memory isn’t contaminated? Is there a process by which water can be made to forget other molecules it may have come into contact with during the course of its existence? If so, how does this operate and how can you be sure a homeopathic remedy is not contaminated by the memory of other things water might come into contact with?
2. How does the process of succussion work? Are there guidelines on how much and with how much force a substance should be shaken? Is there an optimal level at which the potency of a homeopathic remedy is at its strongest? Does a stronger shake make for a more potent remedy, or is a more gentle approach required to make sure the process by which the water of memory works goes without a hitch?
3. By what mechanism does the memory of water work? Does it somehow alter the molecules’ structure? If so, in what way? Is this something that you think could be achieved by finding some way to manipulate the water without following the homeopathic method?
4. Are there limitations to the applications of homeopathy? Can it only treat certain conditions, or is it a panacea? Could homeopathic principles be employed successfully in fields outside of medicine?
5. Do you advise people to take homeopathy as an alternative to medicine/allopathy or to compliment it? Are there other techniques with you recommend – herbal medicine, for instance? Would you recommend conventional medicine (allopathy) to a client?
6. By what process is the remedy transferred to a pill form? Is fluid contained within the pill itself? Is the fluid absorbed by the pill? Or does this operate by some other means? Does the memory/energy transfer somehow? If so, what is the mechanism for this?
7. Has a homeopathic remedy ever, in your opinion, been shown not to work or be clinically ineffective?
… and finally, an optional bonus question.
8. What do you make of the 10:23 campaign? Do you not think homeopaths should support the removal of homeopathic pillules from chemists given they are anathema to the principle of individualised treatment? What do you believe its aims are? Do you think that it is a grass-roots skeptical movement, or perhaps something more sinister such as an Astroturf movement being manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry? If so, what evidence do you have for this?
I’m not sure how many homeopaths will be willing to answer these, but I hope at least some do. I would hope that they would be willing to communicate and educate about the finer points of homeopathy.
To our regular skeptical readers, I would request that you do not use this as an opportunity to get some “cheap shots in”.
Also, if I have used the terms or the description of the method incorrectly, please feel free to let me know in the comments.