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Homeopathy revisited

IHN logo NEW YORK, NY. Homeopathy is one for the fastest growing modalities of natural medicine. For the past two decades sales of homeopathic medicines have increased by 20 per cent to 30 per cent per year in both Europe and the United States. The French Medical Association recently called for full official recognition of homeopathy and its inclusion in standard medical training. Nevertheless, physicians in North America are generally sceptical about homeopathy because they believe its claims are incompatible with current Western medical knowledge. Dr. Daniel Eskinazi of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons has now scrutinized this belief and has reached the conclusion that the principles of homeopathy are not in conflict with accepted biomedical dogma. The two main principles of homeopathy are that "like cures like" and that homeopathic medicines so dilute that no molecules of the original substance are present can still exert an effect. The principle of "like cures like" means that a substance which in high concentrations induces illness in healthy people can in very dilute concentrations cure the same illness in sick people. Dr. Eskinazi points out that there are several pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. aspirin, digoxin, epinephrine) which can produce one effect at low doses and the opposite effect at higher doses - or can produce one effect in sick people and another in healthy people. He concludes that the paradoxical effects of these drugs are very similar to the effects that led Samuel Hahnemann to formulate the first principle of homeopathy.

Dr. Eskinazi goes on to investigate the aspect of dilution. Many homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where the concentration of the active substance in the solution (usually distilled water) is less that 1 in 100,000 parts. This is a very high dilution indeed. However, there are many substances in conventional medicine that are active at even higher dilutions. Just one molecule of certain pheromones is enough to cause a noticeable effect. Leukotrienes release luteinizing hormones at concentrations as low as 10 to the minus 20th mol/L and proline effects sea anemones at concentrations so low that no proline molecules would theoretically be present in the solution. He suggests that there are many examples in conventional biomedical research where substances have been found to be biologically active in the same low concentrations as homeopathic medicines used in standard practice. He concludes that the claims and principles of homeopathy are not incompatible with current biomedical knowledge.
Eskinazi, Daniel. Homeopathy re-revisited: is homeopathy compatible with biomedical observations? Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159, September 27, 1999, pp. 1981- 87

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