Is Homeopathic Safe?

If homeopathic remedies are effective, there is a mechanism by which they work. It is a fact that the mechanism of action by which they might work has not been established. If the remedies do work, they must do so in a manner which would appear to violate established principles of physics, chemistry and pharmacology or they must work in a manner which is yet to be discovered. As one early critic of homeopathy wrote, “Either Hahnemann is right, in which case our science and the basis of our thinking is nonsense, or he is wrong, in which case this teaching is nonsense.”10

By successively diluting the initial substance, extremely dilute solutions can be made rather quickly. The dilution limit is reached when the volume of the solute is unlikely to contain a single molecule of the solvent. The limit recognizes that there is a large but finite and specific number of atoms or molecules in a mole of substance (a mole is the molecular weight of a substance, expressed in grams). That number of atoms or molecules is 6.022 X 1023, also known as Avogadro’s number.

Homeopathic remedies are diluted by either a factor of 10 or 100. “D” dilutions are prepared by serial dilutions of 1:10; “C” dilutions are prepared by serial dilutions of 1:100. Thus, a remedy marked C30 would imply a 1:100 dilution performed 30 times. By simple mathematics, it can be calculated that at dilutions of C12 or D24 or greater, it is not likely that the remedies contain even a single molecule of the original substance.

Since the original substance is not present in extremely dilute homeopathic remedies, explanations for a mechanism of action of homeopathic medications have moved towards speculation. Such proposals include the formation of stable ice crystals, magnetic properties of water or the formation of protein shells in the water mixture.11 Water molecules are highly polarized, a fact that already accounts for much of the special role of water in biology. However, the likelihood that water can maintain a complex ice-like structure under the vigorous shaking that usually accompanies homeopathic preparation has not been demonstrated. Neither has any physical mechanism by which such hypothetical structures can produce the implied biological effects.

Some of the hypotheses appear to be completely insupportable. Speculation that the mechanism of action of homeopathic medications is somehow related to biological magnetite have been criticized by the investigator who discovered the substance as lacking any foundation and based on a misunderstanding the structure of magnetite.12 Water is also not ferromagnetic.

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