New Scientist, UK reports that Madeline Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen’s University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. Historically, she railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet could still have a healing effect. That was until she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.
In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation.
These “basophils” release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study was replicated in four different labs. They all found that homeopathic solutions which are so dilute that they probably didn’t contain a single histamine molecule, worked just like histamine.
Ennis admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.
What is the explanation?
Homeopaths prepare their remedies by dissolving substances like charcoal, deadly nightshade or spider venom in ethanol, and then they dilute this “mother tincture” in water again and again. Homeopaths claim, that no matter what the level of dilution, the original remedy leaves some kind of 'imprint' on the water molecules. So, however dilute the solution becomes, it is still maintains the properties of the remedy.
Ennis remains sceptical. No homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on.
“We are unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon. If the results turn out to be real, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry", says Madeleine Ennis PhD .