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Old 28th December 2004, 03:58 PM
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Red face New to Homeopathy: Q about successive dilution

Hi there. I am new to this forum and new to homeopathy. I am a bit of a sceptic when it comes to pretty much everything, but I'm not arrogant enough to think that if I don't understand it or if it cannot be 'proven by science' that it can't possibly work. In fact, I have used homeopathy recently with success and despite my brain going 'well, you know....' the dramatic change in my infant son can hardly be due to the placebo effect; he's not susceptible and it was just too dramatic for this sceptic couple to ignore

Anyway, I have read the threads here a bit, and had done some reading on homeopathy and the formulation of its remedies. One thing I have not heard homeopaths and homeopathy advocates weigh in on is one argument I read on quackwatch.org. It is not the one about successive dilution and not having anything 'left' to provide some mechanism of action...it was the argument "if you successively dilute the way they say they do, a 200C remedy requires more molecules of water than molecules than are currently estimated to exist in the universe'. The argument is under the Placebo subheading at http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quackery...ics/homeo.html

I am wondering what homeopath advocates say about this. It seems to be quite simple math that they present saying 'how can you create something that requires all of the known molecules in the universe to create it'? Can someone well versed in this please pick holes in this line of thinking? Thank you so very much!!!
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Old 29th December 2004, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agileflower
Hi there. I am new to this forum and new to homeopathy. I am a bit of a sceptic when it comes to pretty much everything, but I'm not arrogant enough to think that if I don't understand it or if it cannot be 'proven by science' that it can't possibly work. In fact, I have used homeopathy recently with success and despite my brain going 'well, you know....' the dramatic change in my infant son can hardly be due to the placebo effect; he's not susceptible and it was just too dramatic for this sceptic couple to ignore

Anyway, I have read the threads here a bit, and had done some reading on homeopathy and the formulation of its remedies. One thing I have not heard homeopaths and homeopathy advocates weigh in on is one argument I read on quackwatch.org. It is not the one about successive dilution and not having anything 'left' to provide some mechanism of action...it was the argument "if you successively dilute the way they say they do, a 200C remedy requires more molecules of water than molecules than are currently estimated to exist in the universe'. The argument is under the Placebo subheading at http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quackery...ics/homeo.html

I am wondering what homeopath advocates say about this. It seems to be quite simple math that they present saying 'how can you create something that requires all of the known molecules in the universe to create it'? Can someone well versed in this please pick holes in this line of thinking? Thank you so very much!!!
Hi!

Although i'm actually a sceptic no one likes i think i can answer your question, as it is about an argument sceptics make against homeopathy.

This argument against homeopathy is wrong. 200C stuff is created by taking raw substance(5 ml in this example) and mix it with 99 times of water(i think its volume not weight, so 95 ml for example, but i do not know). Then the mixture is "shaken" somehow(i do not know exactly what is done, but shaking is not far away from the real process). Then 99% of the resulting mixture is poured out(95 ml) and the remaining 1%(5 ml) is mixed again with enough water(again 95 ml). This pouring out and mixing again is done 200 times, then you get 200C of whatever raw stuff you started with.

Obviously to do the above 200 times you need 200*95 ml= 19000 mlo= 19 l of water, which is no problem at all(and you need some guy with healthy arm, no joint problems and so on).


Actually i think you misunderstood the argument in the link you give, though i agree its not very straight on that point. As far as i understand the link, this point of how big a container would have to be to contain a molecule of the original substance, is just made to illustrate, that homeopathy cannot have any effect directly due to the presence of the original substance. Therefore the effect could only be via the dilution and so on somehow leaving an "imprint" or "memory" on the water molecules and that is as far as current generally accepted science suggest impossible. And that's what the article is aiming at. Also if the starting substance somehow leaves an "imprint" on the remedy the question remains, why the impurities, which are always present in concentrations of 1 in 10**6 or so, do not also leave an "imprint". So effectively why are homeopathic remedies not produced with the same restictions to cleaness,etc as computer chips.

Sorry to anyone being angry with me for answering a new posters questions on a homeopathic board as a sceptic, but i think i could explain some things. I'm aware i might have made mistakes in the explanations of creating 200c, feel free to correct them.

I have to add something on the placebo effect:
Placebo effect is not only patient believing he gets better and therefore getting better, its also, that those people determining(with humans its often the patient himself mostly, but i can also be relatives, doctors or just someone nearby) if the patient got better, thinking the patient got better, although he didn't got any better, or thinking patient got better due to a certain medicine or treatment, although he got better due to some other cause or naturally.

The "thinking patient got better, although he didn't" could happen with small childs the way, that parents give some medicine and hope that it helps very strongly. They reassure each other "we have given something it should get better" or even "it will get better" and start hoping this so much, they start thinking their child got better, although it didn't, because otherwise they would have to give up the hope that the medicine is working and will work in future.

The "thinking patient got better due to medicine, although its something else" can happen as long as their is a chance for a child to get better naturally or even only to stop showing the obvious signs of illness(e.g. child screams all day, then medicine is given, then child stops screaming, could also be child is to tired to keep screaming all night, but parents might still think its medicine doing it).

Such a thing happend to a friend of mine, child with serious pain screaming for 2 hours until he finally had a prescirption and got to pharmacy. In pharmacy he also bought sugar tablets with banana flavour. Child was still screaming when he got back to car, he gave him one sugar tablet, hoping it would quite the screaming, till he got home and could administre the medicine. Supprisingly child was quiet and happy long before coming home, even when not eating sygar tablets. No further problems. Obviously its impossible for sugar tablets to dampen pain for several hours(for the time the child is eating it, its of course possible), so the pain just went away naturally.

If he had bought some homeopathic medicine with sugar as carrier substance(child would have liked that as well, to them sugar is sugar, even without banana flavour), he likely might have told that somehow the homeopathic meidicine quickly and througfully cured his son.

I hope this info helps you to understand, why one has to be careful to exclude placebo effect, its tricky to realy dismiss it.

Therefore of course we sceptics are so fond of double-blind placebo controlled studies, there you can determine what is placebo and what not. But as others will hurry to tell you and also as it is discussed lengthy in several threads, DBPC studies have other weaknesses, which are especially cumbersome when trying them on homeopathy.

Carn
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