“Highly diluted homeopathic remedies cannot possibly work beyond a placebo effect because there is nothing in them”. This is the argument, we often hear. It is, I think correct. But homeopaths have always disagreed. Hahnemann claimed that the healing power of his remedies was due to a ‘vital force’, and for a long time his followers repeated this mantra. Nowadays, it sounds too obsolete to be taken seriously, and homeopaths came up with new theories as to how their remedies work. The current favourite is the ‘nano-theory’.
This article explains it quite well: “… some of the most exciting findings have been in the world of tiny nano-particles. Nano-particles are described as particles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size. For an idea of scale, a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter. A single atom is one-tenth of a nanometer, and subatomic particles are still smaller than that. Quantum mechanics (the study of these very small particles) has shown that these tiny particles can and do have impact our macro world, and can be useful in everything from medical PET scans to quantum computing. But the breakthrough that I’m most excited about is the latest study around nano-particles which has shown that at the very highest prescription strength dilutions of a homeopathic substance (50M) there are still nano-particles of the original substance that exist. Further, not only did researchers discover that these particles exist, but they showed that they had demonstrable effects when tests were run on homeopathic dilutions versus a control substance…”
So, the claim is that, during the process of potentisation of a homeopathic remedy, nano-particles of the original stock are formed. Therefore, even ultra-molecular dilutions are not devoid of material but do contain tiny bits of what is says on the bottle. This is the reason why homeopaths now claim WE WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG; HOMEOPATHY WORKS!!!
I Have several problems with this assumption:
- The nano-particles have been shown by just 1 or 2 research groups. I would like to see independent confirmations of their findings because I am not convinced that this is not simply an artefact without real meaning.
- Even if we accept the ‘nano-theory’ for a moment, there are numerous other issues.
- What about the many homeopathic remedies that use stock which is not material by nature, for instance, X-ray, luna, etc.? Do we need to assume that there are also nano-particles of non-materials?
- And for remedies that are based on a material stock (like arnica or nux vomica, or Berlin Wall, for instance), how do the nano-particles generate heath effects? How do a few nano-particles of arnica make cuts and bruises heal faster? How do nano-particles of nux vomica stop a patient from vomiting? How do nano-particles of the Berlin Wall do anything at all?
If the ‘nano-theory’ were true (which I doubt very much), it totally fails to provide an explanation as to how homeopathy works. This explanation would still need to be identified for each of the thousands of different remedies in separate investigations.
If nano-particles are truly generated during the potentisation process, it proves almost nothing. All it would show is that shaken water differs from unshaken water. The water in my kitchen sink also differs from pure water; this, however, does not mean that it has healing properties.
My conclusion: there is no plausible mode of action of highly diluted homeopathic remedies.