The memory of water a reality?

A special issue of the journal Homeopathy, journal of the Faculty of Homeopathy and published by Elsevier, on the “Memory of Water” brings together scientists from around the world for the first time to publish new data, reviews and discuss recent scientific work exploring the idea that water can display memory effects. The concept of memory of water is important to homeopathy because it offers a potential explanation of the mechanism of action of very high dilutions often used in homeopathy.

Guest editor Professor Martin Chaplin of the Department of Applied Science at London South Bank University, remarks: “There is strong evidence concerning many ways in which the mechanism of this ‘memory’ may come about. There are also mechanisms by which such solutions may possess effects on biological systems which substantially differ from plain water.”

The concept of the memory of water goes back to 1988 when the late Professor Jacques Benveniste published, in the international scientific journal Nature, claims that extremely high ‘ultramolecular’ dilutions of an antibody had effects in the human basophil degranulation test, a laboratory model of immune response. In other words, the water diluent ‘remembered’ the antibody long after it was gone. His findings were subsequently denounced as ‘pseudoscience’ and yet, despite the negative impact this had at the time, the idea has not gone away.

In this special issue of Homeopathy (http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/623042/description#description), scientists from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, USA as well as the UK present remarkably convergent views from groups using entirely different methods, indicating that large-scale structural effects can occur in liquid water, and can increase with time. Such effects might account for claims of memory of water effects.

Commenting on the special issue, Professor Chaplin said: “Science has a lot more to discover about such effects and how they might relate to homeopathy. It is unjustified to dismiss homeopathy, as some scientists do, just because we don’t have a full understanding of how it works.” In his overview he is critical of the “unscientific rhetoric” of some scientists who reject the memory of water concept “with a narrow view of the subject and without any examination or appreciation of the full body of evidence.”

Professor Chaplin and Dr Peter Fisher, editor-in-chief of the journal, agree that the current evidence brings us a step closer to providing an explanation for the claims made for homeopathy and that the memory of water, once considered a scientific heresy, is a reality. “These discoveries may have far reaching implications and more research is required,” comments Dr Fisher.

http://www.elsevier.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. For those believing in Creation as presented by the Bible the time period is approximately six thousand years. For those believing in “evolution” the time period is in millions/billions of years (more water cycles). The water originally in, on or around the Earth has remained constant. No significant (maybe some from meteorites) water to my knowledge from outside the Earth’s atmosphere has ever entered into our planet’s ecosystem. No significant amount of water has left the Earth, so far (some of the space missions may have left some water on the Moon or in space around the Earth). Picture a terrarium; it is like a closed ecosystem. That means all the water we drink has been, in play, at some point in time on/in the Earth. When the Flood occurred all the water was mixed up and came into contact, in solution as it were, with all elements and plants that ever existed. During the Flood, all the water was “mixed or shaken” quite well by God’s hand. Since the Flood there have been many hurricanes, storms, ocean waves hitting the beaches as well as water rushing through rivers hitting rocks. The water cycle we were taught in school has occurred many thousands of times since the Flood (dilution and shaking/mixing). The water we drink is not virgin water!

    When reading about the intent of homeopathy, dilution and shaking (solutions and memories), all the water we will ever drink has all the memories of all elements and plants on Earth. All water has, as shown above, been thoroughly shaken and diluted, perfectly by God’s own plan. Why does anyone have to rely on further dilutions or shaking – it has already been done and being done? Not only that but there is nothing else you can add to the water – it has already been there in the last six thousand years. However, that creates a problem, in my understanding of homeopathy that the correct effect cannot be obtained because you cannot undo “memories” from the water trying to get one specific “mixture”, without damaging the entire homeopathy method/belief. All our water already has all the memories of everything already in it. Purifying or removing memories from the water by non-spiritual means is impossible (especially according to homeopathy). Also, why should anyone have to pay for something they already have?

  2. Heh … you need to get out more. Homeopaths will tell you that it is the refugees of your miracle Medicine that forms the very largest part of their clientele. yes, true, western medicine can have some dramatic results, providing you don’t count the side-effects, or the short term of the gain followed by the fantastic underreported crash. Ask a liver transplant patient, preferably 1 to 3 years after.

    In fact, y’know, I’d have more respect for them if they were more honest about what they ‘know’ vs what they ‘believe’ vs what they are blindly guessing.

  3. Just want to say, my own experience with chronic pain is that modern medicine works very, very badly. With homeopathy, I have seen remarkable improvement, whereeas years and years of modern medical treatment only exacerbated my problem. So I’ll never be convinced that something that is helping me to live life without pain again is not real. Homeopathy may be difficult for scientists to explain; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Some people would like to take away homeopathy as an option for peopple like me, they’re so convinced it’s a sham–who’s closed-minded here? Try it yourself before you decide you know for a fact that it doesn’t work.

  4. People often like to challenge the majority view and like people who challenge the majority view. There are definitely some famous examples of those who did and were right (Galileo, Copernicus, etc.).

    The fact is though, that the minority view is almost always wrong. It’s good to remember that. The converse to the ditty about “every new idea is first ignored, then ridiculed…” is that extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

    Non-scientists forget that scientists are extremely busy and extremely underfunded. For every scientist, there are probably 100 ideas definitely worth exploring and a 100,000 maybe worth exploring, but only time to do 2 or 3. When some outsider comes in with a new idea that flies in the face of well-established fact, what are the chances the scientific community is going to drop what it was working on to test out this new idea? It’s a good thing it doesn’t, because crazy new ideas are a dime a dozen, at least.

    In the case of homeopathy, modern medicine works very, very well — far better than any other large-scale healthcare system ever has. It’s like comparing Babe Ruth to the toddler next door. So when somebody wants to reinvent it, the burden of proof is — rightfully — on them.

    Please try my web-based experiments.

  5. “The so called “scientists” who dismiss homeopathy outright demonstrate the same nonsensical rigidity that the catholic church did when Galileo challenged the geocentric model”.

    I was just about to mention Galileo, but thought I’d better read through all the posts first. Glad to see there’s someone in the same frame of mind!!
    Why is it that such highly educated individuals continue to poo poo things that do not fit in with current science. I am not a highly educated person, but I can certainly see further than my own nose & have an open mind. I have always believed in the concept of questioning the majority view. Isn’t this suppposed to be how advances are made in knowledge & not having a blinkered view on things? When an educated scientific brain dismisses a concept such as Homeopathy out of hand like this, it is a negative atitude that will do us no favours if we wish to advance our knowledge. I would like to think that as an inteligent species, we have a good handle on science, but as we are at a stage in our evolution where we don’t yet understand what over 90% of our universe is made up of, maybe some of these people need reminding that they don’t know it all just yet!!!….then they can start using there big brains to investigate a potentially massive piece of science waiting to be discovered.

  6. I agree I’ve got nuthin’. In terms of the scientific method that is. What I was trying to do was to inject some information from personal experience that might be of interest to someone and maybe promote some discussion. I am new to this forum, but if the tone of the above reply is representative of the discussions I shall not be here long.
    However just to enlarge on my experiences, my son was able to halve his dosage of straight morphine, a process that would normally have him climbing up the wall with pain. When he takes the drops he can reduce his morphine dosage, and when he doesn’t he cannot do so. This is not homeopathy in the normal sense and doesn’t use the ”opposite” substance. However to my mind it lends some credibilty to the possibility that water does in fact have a memory. I can think of no other possibility other than a highly unlikely placebo effect. As regards the dog, I can tell within a couple of days if we have run out of his anti-inflammatory drops.
    No he does not “get smaller and turn into a puppy” I have now replied in as civil a manner as I know how and have nothing more to contribute.
    Eddie

  7. Open to everyone the memory of water is real. It is nature and much more. The energy connected is the memory!!! We can not see between atoms and this is why it is less understood. I will post more if there is more understanding on the blog.

  8. I have Osgoode Schlatter’s disease. It causes debilitating pain and weakness in the affected joints from the early teens to the early twenties. My father suffered from it when he was younger and the doctors at the time gave him cortisone injections directly into the knees. These days physiotherapy seems to be the only treatment provided by conventional medicine.
    When I was a teenager I also suffered from severe pain and weakness in the knees associated with the disease. My father took me to see a well known homeopath and two weeks later I was free of the pain and the weakness and have been ever since. I didn’t know what the treatment was for so obviously it wasn’t placebo.
    I have a background in electrical engineering, electromagnetics in particular. Given how little we actually know about energy I think it’s quite arrogant to cling to the modern scientific body of knowledge as dogma and dismiss “non-scientific” theories just because we lack the means to quantify their effects. You can’t submit homeopathy to RCTs because the paradigm does not apply to it. It is a very individualized treatment. I like to think of science as an explorative and adaptive effort to learn about reality. The so called “scientists” who dismiss homeopathy outright demonstrate the same nonsensical rigidity that the catholic church did when Galileo challenged the geocentric model.

  9. I have used homemade homeopathic pharmaceuticals for years including h-morphine which I use for severe chronic pain. Placebo you say? Try this for size. My son uses morphine for intractable pain caused by a muscle transplant from his leg to his shoulder (long story) and contrary to the prognosis of ever increasing dosage has been able to halve his intake! Still not convinced. I have a nine year old Great Dane that was crippled by arthriis. h-anti inflamatories have returned him to puppyhood. No placebo effect there!
    There is an interesting take on homeopathy in a newly published physics book called The God Particle by Ted Jaeckel. Worth a look.

  10. As a homeopathic practitioner I love how almost everyone seems to have a solid opinion on homeopathy without knowing the least thing about it.

    Published research in conventional peer-reviewed journals, if taken collectively (not only the studies that make it to the news but all of them) shows significant evidence that there is an anomaly to be explained. This is not a decisive proof that homeopathy works (and no one among the skeptics has defined what such proof would require) but it is scientifically relevant evidence nonetheless. That there hasn’t been an uproar about it is that it doesn’t fit into existing scientific categories of thought, AND (and this is key) science has not hit a dead-end of the sort that physics did just over 100 years ago, which in the latter case made the field ripe for a revolution. In other words, we can spend many more years synthesizing new pharmaceutical substances, analyzing genes, and so on under the current paradigm before we squeeze the juice out of it.

    Second, in order to build up an informed opinion about a subject which is clinical one needs to step away from the printed page and into the clinic. Rarely have skeptics done so with respect to homeopathy, and I suspect the same can be said of the negative commenters above. The responsible scientific attitude in such cases is agnosticism and indifference rather than active dismissal.

  11. While I have a high degree of skepticism about it, I am willing to look at hard data and reproducible results no matter what they show. I’ll believe in homeopathy, telepathy, or even supernatural beings if you can confidently and repeatably show me. But that’s the key. So far, what research I’ve been able to access on homeopathy the last few years has been far from convincing.

    There may be some small bits of evidence of effect among a few homeopathic remedies. This is **insanely** far from, say, aspirin (or most any conventional pharmaceutical) which can be show to have physiological effect in vitro and in vivo with near 100% reliability and practical effect in clinical practice with also high reliability. Clinical drugs which do not show both of these effects do not get approved and are not trusted as treatments, and homeopathic preparations should not be treated differently.

    Remember that, if your standard for statistical significance is p=0.01, then one in one hundred studies will “demonstrate” a result that is not real. Cherry pick enough such studies (while not publishing the others) and it’s
    plenty easy to fill a journal like Elsevier’s.

    Remember also that it is very easy to (reliably) demonstrate that the human mind’s propensity to find causation and explanation is so strong that it results in discovering nonexistent correlations. Our brains evolved to find patterns and causations, and erring on the side of finding them even when they don’t exist turns out to be adaptively beneficial. This explains the human tendency to believe a lot of crap that’s not real.

    If you *prove* it with *data*, I’ll believe you. Homeopathy just doesn’t have reliable results behind it so far. And since this is after 150 years of trying, it leaves the skeptical mind inclined to believe that the effect doesn’t exist.

    But anyway, in reply to “Eddie”…

    My son uses morphine for intractable pain

    n=1. Anecdotes are not data.

    [he] has been able to halve his intake!

    Half-dosage is not homeopathic. Trillionth or quadrilionth dosage of the opposite (i.e. something that causes pain) is homeopathic. If you had injected your son with a 10^10 diluted dose of wasp venom and his muscle pain went away, then you would have one anecdote in favor of homeopathy.

    Instead you have demonstrated only that the doctor’s prognosis was wrong.

    I have a nine year old Great Dane that was crippled by arthriis. h-anti inflamatories have returned him to puppyhood.

    Really, he actually got smaller and turned into a puppy?

    Maybe he was suffering a pathogen-mediated arthritic condition and his immune system defeated the bacterium after a while. Or maybe around the same time you switched him to “senior” dog food that contained glucosamine, which while controversial is at least better demonstrated to improve joint function than homeopathy. Maybe some other statistical fluke happened.

    Show me ten thousand arthritic dogs being given “h-inflammatories” and half of them “turning into puppies” afterwards, plus a control group where no such effect was observed, and then I’ll listen.

    Till then, you got nuthin’. Sorry.

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