IIT-B team shows how Homoeopathy works
Mumbai: Six months after the British Medical Association wrote off homoeopathy as “witchcraft’’ that had no scientific basis, we may now have an irrefutable answer to what makes this ancient form of medicine click. Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have established that the sweet white pills work on the principle of nanotechnology.
Homeopathic pills—made of naturally occurring metals such as gold and copper-—retain their potency even when diluted to a nanometre or one-billionth of a metre, states the IIT-B research published in the latest issue of Homoeopathy, a peer-reviewed journal published by the reputed Elsevier. IIT-B’s chemical engineering department bought commonly available homoeopathic pills from neigbourhood shops, prepared highly diluted solutions and checked under powerful electron microscopes to find nanoparticles of the original metal.
“Our paper showed that certain highly diluted homoeopathic remedies made from metals still contain measurable amounts of the starting material, even at extreme dilutions of 1 part in 10 raised to 400 (200C),’’ said Dr Jayesh Bellare. His student, Prashant Chikramane, presented the paper ‘Extreme homoeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective’, as part of his doctoral thesis. IIT theory proves what some homoeopaths have always known
Homoeopathy was established in the late 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann. While it is widely popular in certain countries, especially India, the British Medical Association and the British parliament have in recent times questioned homoeopathy’s potency. Around four years ago, British research papers rubbished homoeopathy as a mere “placebo’’.
“Homoeopathy has been a conundrum for modern medicine. Its practitioners maintained that homeopathic pills got more potent on dilution, but they could never explain the mechanism scientifically enough for the modern scientists,’’ said Bellare. For instance, if an ink-filler loaded with red ink is introduced into the Powai lake, Bellare said, there would be no chance of ever tracing it. “But the fact is that homoeopathic pills have worked in extreme dilutions and its practitioners have been able to cure tough medical conditions,” he added.
“We had analyzed ayurvedic bhasmas a few years ago and found nanoparticles to be the powering agent ,” the team members said. For the first time, scientists used equipment like transmission electron microscope, electron diffraction and emission spectroscopy to map physical entities in extremely dilution. They could measure nanoparticles of gold and copper (the original metal used in the medicines).
American homoeopaths—Dr Joh Ives from Samueli Institute in Virginia and Joyce C Fryce from the Centre of Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland—said, “We are all familiar with the simple calculations showing that a series of 1:99 dilutions done sequentially will produce a significant dilution of the starting material in very short order,” they wrote in a special editorial in the journal. But as dilution increases, this theory goes awry. “(But) Chikramane et al found that, contrary to our arithmetic, there are nanogram quantities of the starting material still present in these ‘high potency’ remedies.’’
The hypothesis is that nanobubbles form on the surface of the highly diluted mixtures and float to the surface, retaining the original potency. “We believe we have cracked the homoeopathy conundrum,’’ said Bellare. According to homoeopath Dr Farokh J Master, the IIT theory has proven something what practitioners have always known. “My instruction to my patients has always been to dilute the pills in water and stir it 10 times with a spoon. Then remove the spoon , dip it in another cup of water and stir 10 times. I advise my patients to do this in five cups before discarding the first four cups and then drinking the fifth cup in two equal doses,’’ said Master.
- Homeopathy works on the principles of nano-particles, say IIT-B's department of chemical engineering team
- Using state-of-the art techniques, they could find particles of the original element as small as one-billionth of a meter
- The hypothesis is that a nano particle-nano bubble rises to the surface of the diluted solution; it is this 1% of the top layer that is collected and further diluted. So, the concentration remains
- Homeopathy is merely a placebo, said a meta-analyses published in the Lancet in 2005.
- The British Medical Association said that homeopathy had no scientific basis; dub it witchcraft
- Many National Health Services in the UK excluded homeopathy from their purview
Malathy Iyer TNN