Once I was asked to speak about what is homeopathy and instantly remembered the majestic Amazon River. My explanation was like this: Imagine that a loved kin is overcome by a terrible fever across the Amazon River, which does not see the end at horizon. You have the terrible habit of buying medicines in drugstores without a prescription. Following the course of events, you purchase an antipyretic to be offered to their ill relative. However, you do not know the correct dose and your relative cannot buy the drug itself. You must find a way to take the medicine, as soon as possible, to his relative who cannot buy it. You remember hearing a friend talk about homeopathy. Just dilute! You rush to dump the contents of the vial of liquid antipyretic in the Amazon River and voilà, it’s done your dilution. Let the tidal do the mix job and wait 24 hours, then contact your relative and ask them to drive to the River bank and ingest a portion of the medicinal water three times daily. It is possible that your relative will send a correspondence somewhat feisty in response to your treatment offering.
I suppose someone could direct me criticism for the harsh way as I treat homeopathy. But, as you know, my story is not a metaphor to demean such therapy. That is exactly what happens in a smaller proportion. Homeopathy deals with pure water like it were medicament. I’m sure that my critics should know the history of therapy. The only attempt to offer any reliable basis for homeopathy came from an unexpected side. Jacques Benveniste (1935-2004), a prestigious French immunologist, proposed that water could store properties of the substance that once were there. This became known as “the memory of water.”
Benveniste is reputable for the discovery of Platelet Activating Factor (Paf) involved in inflammatory processes. Undoubtedly a valuable scientific contribution. However, the scientist was taken by the passion of a creative insight to which I referred in the text “The robes of authority“, already published here. Benveniste was successful, in surprising ways, when put his results with high dilutions of histamine in one of most prestigious scientific journals, Nature. The paper was accepted with much skepticism by readers and referees, which led Editor John Maddox to take a surprising action. The editor headed a team of independent investigators to observe repetitions of the experiments at Benveniste’s laboratory. Continuing the surprises, the experiments were not replicated. After the tests do not confirm results with high dilutions, was published in his own magazine a report explaining how the data were biased by Benveniste.
“We believe that experimental data have been uncritically assessed and their imperfections inadequately reported.”
Benveniste turned away from the academy and decided to found a company called DigiBio whose goal would be to unify applications of molecular and computational biology. Again, in a manner unconventional! Benveniste proposed that in addition to preserving the memory of water dilute substances, this memory can be scanned and sent as an email data to be decoded and applied to a new sample of water for treatment. The scientist died maintaining that his researches were not understood and, today, for the equivalent to $ 1.000 you can get your own digital kit for homeopathic treatment, through DigiBio. Apparently, if the water has a memory, it comes with an incredible Alzheimer. Scientific community, on the other hand, always remembers the history of Benveniste as the great scientist he was, but also by the mistakes that he committed.
Simon Singh. BBC News Health: Could water really have a memory? 2008.
Philip Ball. The memory of water: Nature News. 2004.
BBC Horizons. Homeopathy: the test.
Stephen Pincock. Jacques Benveniste. The Lancet, volume 364, issue 9446, page 1660, 6 november 2004. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17339-X
This work by Alison Felipe Alencar Chaves is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.