By Dr. Lisa Samet ND and Peter Gold (Communications Director for the National Center for Homeopathy)
At some point in your life, you have probably walked down the aisle of a health food store and seen rows of small, stacked blue bottles with exotic names and the word homeopathy on their labels.
Seeing them in a health food store leads some to think homeopathic remedies are just another form of herbal medicine. Actually – they bear no relation to herbal medicine and instead are used in a unique and very popular system of medicine for humans and animals called homeopathy.
So what is homeopathy exactly?
Well, we are now learning that homeopathy is a form of nanomedicine. The word Homeopathy is derived from the Greek words homeo, meaning “similar,” and pathos, meaning “suffering” (such as the pathology of a disease). Homeopathy operates on a law of nature – “like cures like”, and has been used clinically for more than 200 years.
So what does “like cures like” mean?
Hippocrates talked about it. It means that a patient suffering from symptoms can be treated and cured by doses of a substance (mineral, animal or plant) capable of producing similar symptoms in a healthy person.
Five hundred million people use homeopathy around the world – which according to the World Health Organization makes it the 2nd most commonly used form of alternative medicine.
The clinical results achieved by homeopaths are truly astounding with cures confirmed of patients with deadly acute diseases as well as chronic disease often believed to be incurable1. In fact, because of its clinical results, homeopathy experienced a period of very rapid growth during the deadly epidemics of the 19th century – a period that saw untreated and conventionally treated patients die at alarming rates.
So why, you ask, is homeopathy not the primary form of medicine practiced around the world?
Homeopaths use medicines made from extremely small quantities of nanoparticles created when the medicines are made. In fact, these ultra-molecular preparations (UMPs)2 from which the remedies are made are so dilute that some scientists have expressed skepticism about whether homeopathic remedies are anything more than plain water. This skepticism has been the primary obstacle to homeopathy’s acceptance in conventional medical and scientific circles.
If this is the major obstacle, what does current research show?
For more than sixty years, scientists, using ever more refined spectroscopic equipment, have discovered unexpected properties of the remedies used by homeopaths. They have also been able to detect in these remedies the original medicinal substances in the form of nanoparticles, despite the preparations having been so diluted.
Scientists are now able to differentiate one remedy from another as well as one potency from another of the same remedy, illustrating that it is not “plain water”.
Not only that, but scientists are now able to measure physiological changes in a great number of experimental cell, plant, animal and human studies.
One might ask – could that be just a placebo effect of some kind?
Actually – no. The placebo response can’t explain objectively measurable changes such as infertility reversal, stillbirth prevention, or worm eradication observed in randomized placebo controlled trials in farm animals. Similarly, the innumerable cures reported in infants and unconscious people also cannot be explained by the placebo response.
So what’s the big deal about nanoparticles and how could such a small amount of anything affect health?
Science now knows that nanoparticles have properties quite unique from ordinary bulk materials (like OTC and prescription drugs), including greater bioavailabilty with improved rates of absorption and enhanced catalytic ability for chemical and biochemical reactions3. What that means is that less of something is actually more in many ways!
Homeopathic nanoparticles can initiate a process in nature called hormesis. Hormesis is a term from pharmacology, toxicology and physiology that refers to the way the body adapts over time to low levels of stressors or toxins. The effects of hormesis have been demonstrated in over 8,000 scientific studies4.
Disease, though, can be the result of this adaptive capacity of the body. When faced with an infectious agent or cumulative stress, the body can change from a healthy state to an unhealthy one. The symptoms we express when we are ill are a result of that adaptive state.
Homeopathic remedies seem to work by hormetically signaling the organism to reverse the many adaptations it has made to combat infection or chronic stressors. In short – the remedies trigger the body’s innate ability to heal.
For more about homeopathy, visit www.theavh.org. Learn what the research shows and how you can use homeopathy to treat yourself and those you love.
1 Results obtained by homeopathy during epidemics have authenticated by a number of reputable medical historians and reveal a very important and clear constancy: a very low mortality rate. This constancy remains, regardless of the physician, time, place or type of epidemical disease, including diseases carrying a very high mortality rate, such as cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, yellow fever and pneumonia.
2 Ultra molecular preparations or UMPs are solids or solutions that went through the process of serial trituration/succussion and dilutions particular to homeopathy, and which usually exceed in theory Avogadro’s limit.
3 C. Buzea, I. I. Pacheco and K. Robbie: Nanomaterials and nanoparticles: sources and toxicity. Biointerphases 2(4), MR17-71 (2007); A. L. Armstead and B. Li: Nanomedicine as an emerging approach against intracellular pathogens. Int J Nanomedicine 6, 3281-93 (2011); G. Bhakta, A. Shrivastava and A. Maitra: Magnesium phosphate nanoparticles can be efficiently used in vitro and in vivo as non-viral vectors for targeted gene delivery. J Biomed Nanotechnol, 5(1), 106-14 (2009)
4 E. J. Calabrese and M. P. Mattson: Hormesis provides a generalized quantitative estimate of biological plasticity. J Cell Commun Signal 5(1), 25-38 (2011); E. J. Calabrese: Stress biology and hormesis: the Yerkes-Dodson law in psychology–a special case of the hormesis dose response. Crit Rev Toxicol 38(5), 453-62(2008)