Homeopathy Research: State of the Science - part 1

Explanatory models and theories on homeopathy’s mechanism of action

1 Biophoton theory

One explanation for homeopathy’s mechanism of action was offered by biochemist and naturopath Dr. Karin Lenger, based on biophoton research conducted by Fritz-Albert Popp. His research rests on the assumption that weak, coherent (synchronous) photoradiation is given off by living cell systems. With homeopathic dilutions, Lenger assumes that the effect is also based on the release of biophotons from the parent drug, whose strength increases with increasing dilution. According to Lenger, in the case of successful drug administration, this leads to a resonance (vibration amplification) phenomenon between the biophoton frequency of the drug and the frequency in the body when it has been unbalanced by illness. In the last several years, Lenger has submitted three publications with experimental results that measure drug frequency and biophoton radiation from homeopathic remedies.

2 Imprint theory, clustering and water memory

The basis for the theory of water memory (or that of the homeopathic dilution medium, such as a water-alcohol mixture or lactose) was created by the imprint theory suggested in 1967 by Barnard and Stephenson. The theory is based on the assumption that—despite increasing dilution—long polymer chains (chain-like chemical compounds), which come from the starting substance, form in a specific manner in the dissolution medium, depending on the particular parent drug. Under the umbrella of imprint theory, other storage mechanisms have also been discussed that are based on other effects, such as certain ordered states of the dipoles of water.

Likewise, water cluster formation (lump formation) has also been discussed. It is assumed that water molecules form larger subunits—so-called clusters—due to their hydrogen bonding, and these subunits may be responsible for storage of information.

Models have also been suggested that combine the imprint theory with cluster formation. However, the extent to which water or water-alcohol mixtures form ordered structures at all—especially those that are stable enough to exist for more than a split second and be responsible for the storage of homeopathic drug information—is increasingly being called into question by new research results.

3 Quantum phenomena

With regard to homeopathy’s mechanism of action, there has been repeated discussion of phenomena that are based on quantum effects or scientific ideas that were developed using quantum theory, a theory that goes beyond the conventional ideas of classical physics. For this purpose, mathematical formalisms (formula systems) were developed by the theoretical physicists Dr. Harald Atmanspacher and Prof. Dr. Hartmann Römer and the psychologist and homeopathy researcher Prof. Dr. Harald Walach, but whose experimental implementation with regard to homeopathy continues to fail.

4 Nano research

In the past few years in particular, there has been renewed in-depth discussion about whether, despite the many dilution steps for homeopathic high potencies, one can assume that there is actually a remaining concentration of the starting material. It is claimed that studies using methods that have been developed in the context of nano research have proven that, above a certain dilution step, a relatively constant concentration of the starting material in the form of nanoparticles (particles in the range of about 1 to 100 x 10-9 m) is established, which would support a material mechanism of action.

Also under investigation is the possibility that homeopathic-specific succussion after each dilution step is responsible for increasing the surface area of the diluting medium many times, for example, through the formation of nanobubbles, so that the pharmaceutically active molecules can attach to the interfaces. Thus, significantly higher concentrations may be present in homeopathic remedies than previously assumed.

The next installment of this series will focus on experimental research on homeopathy’s mechanism of action, including specific discussion regarding the similarity principle and potentized remedies.


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  • Barnard GP, Stephenson JH: Microdose paradox: A new biophysical concept. Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy 1967;60:277-86
  • Bellavite P, Magnani P, Marzotto M, Conforti A: Assays of homeopathic remedies in rodent behavioural and psychopathological models. Homeopathy 2009;98:208-27
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