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The Defining Role of Structure (Including Epitaxy) in the Plausibility of Homeopathy - Rao - Homeo 2007

The Defining Role of Structure (Including Epitaxy) in the Plausibility of Homeopathy - Rao - Homeo 2007

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The defining role of structure (including epitaxy)in the plausibility of homeopathy
Manju Lata Rao
1,
Ã
, Rustum Roy
1,5
, Iris R Bell
2,3,4,5,6
and Richard Hoover
1
1
The Materials Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
2
Department of Family and Community Medicine, The University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA
3
Department of Psychiatry, The University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA
4
Department of Psychology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
5
Department of Medicine (Program in Integrative Medicine), The University of Arizona, College of Medicine,Tucson, AZ, USA
6
College of Public Health, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
The key stumbling block to serious consideration of homeopathy is the presumed‘‘implausibility’’ of biological activity for homeopathic medicines in which the sourcematerial is diluted past Avogadro’s number of molecules. Such an argument reliesheavily on the assumptions of elementary chemistry (and biochemistry), in which thematerial composition of a solution, (dilution factors and ligand–receptor interactions),is the essential consideration.In contrast, materials science focuses on the three-dimensional complex networkstructure of the condensed phase of water itself, rather than the original solutemolecules. The nanoheterogenous structure of water can be determined by interactivephenomena such as epitaxy (the transmission of structural information from the surfaceof one material to another without the transfer of any matter), temperature–pressureprocesses during succussion, and formation of colloidal nanobubbles containing gaseousinclusions of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and possibly the remedy source material.Preliminary data obtained using Raman and Ultra-Violet–Visible (UV–VIS) spectro-scopy illustrate the ability to distinguish two different homeopathic medicines (
Nux vomica 
and
Natrum muriaticum 
) from one another and to differentiate, within a givenmedicine, the 6c, 12c, and 30c potencies. Materials science concepts and experimentaltools offer a new approach to contemporary science, for making significant advances inthe basic science studies of homeopathic medicines.
Homeopathy 
(2007)
96,
175–182.
Keywords:
homeopathy; succussion; materials science; structure of water; epitaxy;nanobubbles
Introduction
Overview
The key stumbling block to serious consideration of homeopathy is the alleged ‘‘implausibility’’ of biologi-cal activity for homeopathic medicines in which thesource material is diluted past Avogadro’s number of molecules (6
Â
10
23
), because the remedy must beidentical to the solvent. Negative studies of homeop-athy are self-evidently correct from the skepticsperspective, because of this error.
1
The implausibilityargument leads skeptics to ignore or reject positiveevidence from numerous basic science, preclinical, andclinical studies showing effects of homeopathic medi-cines different from controls, in vitro and in livingsystems.
2
On the other hand, proponents predictablyreject the negative and focus on positive studies, oftenuncertain how to address the black box nature of homeopathic medicines. Both skeptics and proponentsof homeopathy have generally overlooked a large body
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Ã
Correspondence. Manju Lata Rao, Materials Science ResearchLaboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, UniversityPark, PA 16802, USA.E-mail:mur21@psu.eduReceived 20 March 2007; accepted 27 March 2007
Homeopathy (2007) 96,
175–182
r
2007 The Faculty of Homeopathy
doi:10.1016/j.homp.2007.03.009, available online at
 
of literature in the materials science field that couldhelp resolve this impasse with systematic data.
3
Thoroughly, established materials science conceptsand research data render the implausibility hypothesisfor homeopathy irrelevant. One example suffices.Diamond is the hardest material in nature and graphiteamong the softest. Yet they can be inter-converted withzero change of composition in microseconds.The available studies enable significant hypothesis-driven advances in the rigorous study of the nature of homeopathic medicines. The purpose of this paper is tooutline the key aspects of materials science considerationsin developing experimental models for understandinghomeopathic medicines and to summarize preliminaryfindings from hypothesis-driven studies in our laboratoryon clinically known polychrests such as
Nux vomica
(
Nuxvom
) and
Natrum muriaticum
(
Nat mur
).
Materials Science Models for homeopathic medicine
Chemists and medical scientists largely continue tofocus reductionistically on the presence or absence of specific molecular species present in water vapor orliquid water without consideration of the ways inwhich these species are organized in space. From achemical perspective, the dilution aspects of remedypreparation are the key issue, because of a lack of source molecules for potencies at or beyond 12c or24c
Â
(10
À
24
dilution). Even when chemists focus onwater itself, they emphasize the fleeting stability of hydrogen bonding between given water molecules,
4
rather than the larger complex structural formations of water or the weaker forces that may favor formation of stable oligomeric and polymeric structures, involvingthe collective organization of many different watermolecules within the condensed liquid phase.In contrast, materials scientists focus on the organi-zational network arrangement of the water structuresin three-dimensional (3-D) space. In a recent paper,Roy et al.
3
presented the detailed technical aspects of the materials science argument concerning ultradilutesols including homeopathic medicines at length. Formaterials scientists, the succussion aspects of remedypreparation are the key consideration. Temperatureand pressure can modify such water structures, leadingto nanoheterogeneity of larger structures of watermolecule ‘‘clusters’within liquid water. Succussionintroduces intense turbulence and changes in pressurein any solution,
5
as well as leading to the formation of nanobubbles in solution.In brief, the plausibility argument for homeopathy isthat liquid water, the primary solvent for sourcematerials in which homeopathic medicines are made,is itself an anomalous substance and has many verydifferent structures. As part of the natural nanoheter-ogeneity of water structure per se (as contrastedwith its composition or the presence of solutemolecules), processes such as epitaxy, pressure changesduring succussion, formation of colloidal nanobubblescontaining gaseous inclusions of oxygen, nitrogen,carbon dioxide, and possibly the remedy sourcematerial, and electromagnetic field effects play a rolein altering water structure. Previous work by Elia andNiccoli
6
and Rey,
7
using different technical methods,respectively, to release heat or light from homeopathicmedicines in potency, point to the ability to disruptwhat appears to be order or structure in remedysolutions as compared with remedy-free controlsolvents.In terms of nanoheterogeneity, water can take onmany possible oligomeric and polymeric structures, ie,form complex networks of water molecules in 3-Dspace, held together by various forces that include notonly hydrogen bonds (relatively strong), but also vander Waals forces (much weaker). Even if specificmolecules or small molecular complexes leave theirplaces in the network, other water structure complexescan take their places within the network structureitself, thereby maintaining the overall nanostructureswithin the solution, in part via configurational entropyor electromagnetic forces maintaining organizationalstability of the network.
8
Notably, research in the field of complex systemsand network science has shown that, within a highlycomplex network, loss or disruption of a given memberor node, which is a point of interconnection with othermembers of the network (eg. a water molecule or smallcomplex of water molecules) does not destroy orsignificantly disrupt the overall network organiza-tion.
9,10
With complexity in liquid water as a wholecomes the capacity for overall stability that is notpossible in the simpler organizational structures of water on which chemists usually focus.Epitaxy is the transfer of 
information
, not
material 
,from the surface of one material, usually solid, toanother, usually liquid
. The substrate (eg. remedysource material) acts as a seed crystal for the formationof the structure in the recipient surface material (eg.network organization of water structures). Semi-conductor manufacturing often utilizes epitaxialgrowth to generate specific types of microtransistorsand integrated circuitry. In addition to the originalsource material that uniquely contributes to remedypreparation, deliberate additives in homeopathic med-icines, such as ethanol, and/or possible contaminantsfrom succussion, such as silicates from glass containerwalls, may also stabilize the water molecule structureswith their own epitaxial capabilities. Thus, epitaxy caninteract with temperature–pressure factors to createunique patterns of information without the transfer of material.In terms of ‘‘seeding’’ formation of informationalstructures within water, initial empirical observationson homeopathic medicines suggest that the passage of time between the original remedy preparation and thetesting procedures can alter experimental findings. Incalorimetric and thermoluminescence studies on ho-meopathic medicines, the time factor contributes to
ARTICLE IN PRESS
The defining role of structure in the plausibility
ML Rao
et al
176
Homeopathy
 
differences in the magnitude and even the direction of the divergence between remedy and control solu-tions.
Overall, the behavior of homeopathic medi-cine liquids in terms of their structural properties in thebasic science literature exhibits a somewhat unpredict-able, self-organizing quality.As additional data emerge, these lines of researchmay facilitate advances in understanding the natureand mechanisms of variability in clinical responsivityto homeopathic medicines.
Water is an hubmolecule (a highly interconnected and influentialmolecule) in most of the biochemical reactions in thebody.
In a more speculative but testable vein, seedinginformational changes in body water at global andlocal levels
of scale could be one way in whichhomeopathic medicines interface with patients toinduce patterns of system-wide and local healingresponses.
13
Implications of materials science models for basic scienceresearch methods in homeopathy
Materials science models for the nature of homeo-pathic medicines leads to more rational selection of specific methodologies for basic science studies. Forexample, many earlier studies of homeopathic medi-cines relied on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)techniques.
However, NMR spectroscopy providesinformation on structure of individual atoms in a puremolecule better than on complex networks of mole-cules. Technically, NMR also requires addition of substances to prepare a liquid for testing. The necessityof adding factors in the process of making observationscan introduce unintended contaminants into themeasurement process.In contrast, the light scattering technologies of Raman spectroscopy and Fourier transform (FT)infra-red (IR) spectroscopy permit examination of remedy samples without fixatives or other potentialcontaminants. Furthermore, Raman and infra-redspectroscopic techniques allow the co-operative natureof structural differences to be detected. Recentstudies
19
of microscopic dynamics of hydrogen bondedliquids indicate the existence of highly directionalH-bonds, whose energy value normally range between
$
8 and 25kJmol
À
1
induces different chemical–physi-cal properties and different local environments. As themean lifetime of H-bonds is in the picosecond time-scale, such structures are considered as transientspecies in dynamic equilibrium.Our recent work has established the importance of the structure of water on its properties,
3
we examinedthe structures of many water and alcohol-basedhomeopathic remedies. The results show that suchmaterials can be easily distinguished from the puresolvent, and from each other, by the use of UV–VIS(ultraviolet–visual) and Raman spectroscopy, butFourier transformed infra red (FTIR) spectroscopyproved insensitive to these differences. This opens up awhole new field of endeavor for inorganic materialsscientists interested in developing a scientific basis forthe efficacy of homeopathic remedies. The assumptionof this study is that the joint employment of the twomethodologies: optical spectroscopic tools and electro-nic microscopic tools can furnish a closer referencepicture for the comprehension of the structuralchanges in the liquid phase besides providing anindependent understanding on the role of the ‘activeingredient’ in a homeopathic medicine.Also we believe that our very preliminary efforts inusing cryo-scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM)and cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) may eventually possibly provide definitive
ARTICLE IN PRESS
200 250 300 350 400 450 5000.00.20.40.60.80.00.20.40.60.80.00.20.40.60.8wavelength, nm
6CNV6CNM12cNV12cNM
Absorbance
30cNV30cNM
Figure 1
Comparison of two different homeopathic medicines:
Natrum muriaticum
(NM) and
Nux vomic
(NV) showingrepresentative UV-spectra demonstrating the differences be-tween the remedies.
The defining role of structure in the plausibility
ML Rao
et al
177
Homeopathy

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