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Life Arts

Homeopathy: A Touch of Glass

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Before you start to wonder if maybe homeopathy works because silicates and other glass-derived solutes have some medicinal effects, think of how many beverages you consume that are stored in glass, or have come in contact with glass. Plus, many plant-based foods such as grains and bran contain significant levels of silicates (rice bran is 5% silica), so our diets are already full of them. A tiny amount extra from some homeo prep would be negligible.

The take home message from our experiments was more subtle than this. Some homeopathic reports in the literature, including some of the most famous ones by Jacques Benveniste and colleagues, involved sensitive in vitro experiments where the activities being measured could be affected by small changes in the solutes or ions present in the homeo preps. These factors were unknown to these researchers, and were not controlled for. It is quite likely that many of the previously reported in vitro effects of homeo preps were due to the solutes dissolving from the glass vials used to make them. We found that the starting solutes made no difference in the amount of glass-derived compounds that leached into the water, and the number of dilutions also had no effect. Each new vial used to make homeo prep dilutions leached a touch of glass into the water. Clearly, this is not what homeopaths thought they were doing, and it has nothing to do with molecular memories being retained in pure water.

The most likely explanation for the perceived efficacy of homeopathy is the well documented placebo effect. Contrary to popular notions about the placebo effect meaning that there is no real effect, the ability of a pill containing no active ingredients to reduce symptoms of discomfort or stress are legendary in the pharmaceutical industry where many actual medications fare only slightly better than sugar pills in clinical trials. The placebo effect has been known and exploited for centuries. In reference to the placebo effect, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once noted in the 1800s that, "No one doubts - certainly not I - that the mind exercises a powerful influence over the body. From the beginning of time, the sorcerer, the interpreter of dreams, the fortuneteller, the charlatan, the quack, the wild medicine-man, the educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist, have made use of the client's imagination to help them in their work. They have all recognized the potency and availability of the force. Physicians cure many patients with a bread pill; they know that where the disease is only a fancy, the patient's confidence in the doctor will make the bread pill effective."

Just like the bread pill, giving a small amount of water to a patient with some nagging discomfort certainly can't hurt, and who knows, it might kick in that old faithful placebo effect.

PubMed article link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20129173

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John R. Moffett PhD, is a Managing Editor at OpEdNews.com, and is a research neuroscientist in the Washington, DC area. Dr. Moffett's main area of research focuses on the brain metabolite N-acetylaspartate, and an associated genetic disorder (more...)
 

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http://www.spandidos-publications.com/ijo/36/2/395... by William R. Chilton on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 4:44:35 PM
To take Mr. Moffet's premise one step further, the... by M.I. Lee on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 9:37:59 AM
The use of any pill or procedure has some degree o... by John R Moffett on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 10:04:09 AM
I wonder what interpretation the good Doctor might... by hommedespoir on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:53:48 AM
I wonder what interpretation the good Doctor might... by hommedespoir on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:57:17 AM
I wonder what interpretation the good Doctor might... by hommedespoir on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 5:57:46 AM
If it is true, as the homeopaths believe, that org... by Ed Martin on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 2:57:37 PM
EdYou really go off on your delusional fantasy tri... by tanya on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:51:02 AM
Methinks thee protesteth too much. Way too much. U... by Ed Martin on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 2:14:40 PM
We need not defend anything. Truth survives on its... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 3:55:14 PM
I believe it is you and your kind that are protest... by tanya on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 4:12:23 PM
As you say, cognitive dissonance is a well researc... by Ed Martin on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:10:04 PM
Why don't you surf the web and find over 400 of su... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 7:14:25 PM
Cognitive dissonance - is PART of the problem - Je... by William R. Chilton on Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010 at 4:16:21 PM
BillThank you for this great example. It is clearl... by tanya on Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010 at 8:47:37 PM
For a progressive site, this article is most disap... by tanya on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 6:48:12 AM
John, you begin with stating inaccuracies. Not goo... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 7:48:21 AM
John, I almost forgot! There is another flaw in yo... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 10:50:05 AM
I read this article and found myself right back a ... by anders cederberg on Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010 at 9:30:00 AM
I would like to point out a few things. First off,... by John R Moffett on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:05:12 AM
Well, John,speaking about preconceived notions, he... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:25:42 AM
John, do you also want us to believe that plants a... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:00:57 PM
Normally I don't respond to commenters who can't m... by John R Moffett on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:47:43 PM
I have done nothing but.And ban me if you cannot t... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:55:24 PM
You can't have a rational discussion.... by John R Moffett on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:04:41 PM
Take a cookie of your own dough.Your piece and you... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:10:57 PM
High dilution effect assessed by UV-SpectroscopyA ... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 3:37:34 PM
As an avid follower of OpEd comments I prefer to a... by hommedespoir on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 4:05:44 PM
John needs to grow a sense of humour.He should und... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 4:12:46 PM
John,Your tactics are just like the Republicans. A... by tanya on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:27:15 PM
Rule 1 This is John's sandbox.Rule 2 John is sexy.... by anders cederberg on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:18:54 AM
Ah those skeptics.They are but astigmatic and myop... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:31:45 AM