Local, entangled or both?
17 December 2017 (online)
This issue of Homeopathy features three papers which revive the discussion about the locus of action of homeopathy. Traditionally it has been assumed that the method of production of homeopathic medicines induces structural change in the water/alcohol mixture in which they are made and that these changes are responsible for the actions observed in clinical trials and in-vitro and in vivo models. Hypotheses of this type are often referred to as ‘memory of water’, this phrase appeared in the course of the ‘Benveniste Affair’ of 1988, although not coined by Jacques Benveniste himself.[ 1–3 ]
Indeed until about 10 years ago, such hypotheses seemed to offer the only plausible explanation of the actions of the ultra-molecular dilutions which are characteristic of, and the source of most of the controversy around, homeopathy. However the seminal paper by Atmanspacher et al. published in 2002 introduced an original line of thought, based on ‘weak quantum entanglement’.[ 4 ] This concept has been further developed, notably by Walach (who was a co-author of the original Atmanspacher paper) and by Milgrom. Weak Quantum Theory is a version of Quantum Theory which makes it applicable to macroscopic systems. Quantum mechanics is certainly valid at the microscopic level, accurately predicting counterintuitive phenomena including quantum entanglement, whereby subatomic particles with a common origin remain ‘entangled’, so that investigating one particle instantaneously influences the others, even when they are separated by enormous distances. This was famously described as ‘spooky action at a distance’, by Albert Einstein, who never fully accepted quantum theory. The reality of this phenomenon was proven by the ‘Aspect’ experiment, after the French physicist Alain Aspect, whose experiments on the polarization of photons published in the early 1980s provided some of the first conclusive proof of quantum entanglement at the microscopic level.
Various different versions of weak quantum theory applied to homeopathy have subsequently emerged; they vary particularly in the number of elements entangled. The most elaborate of these theories is that of Lionel Milgrom which involves three-way entanglement between patient practitioner and remedy. He has developed this into the intriguing but speculative possibility of multi-dimensional healing, drawing an analogy with the imaginary two-dimensional universe of Flatland in which, for instance, a cube is perceived as a series of polygons of changing shape and size.[ 5 ]
- 1 Davenas E., Beauvais F., Amara J. et al. Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE. Nature 1988; 333: 816-818.
- 2 Schiff M. The Memory of Water. London: Thorsons; 1995.
- 3 Thomas Y. The history of the memory of water. Homeopathy 2007; 96: 151-157.
- 4 Atmanspacher H., Romer H., Walach H. et al. Weakquantum theory; complementarity and entanglement in physics and beyond. Found Phys 2002; 32: 379-406.
- 5 Milgrom L.R. Toward a topological description of the therapeutic process: part 2. Practitioner and Patient perspectives of the ‘‘Journey to Cure’’. J Alt Comp Med 2012; 18: 187-199.
- 6 Fisher P. Entangled, or tied in knots?. Homeopathy 2004; 93: 171-172.
- 7 Beauvais F.A. Quantum-like model of homeopathy clinical trials: importance of in situ randomization and unblinding. Homeopathy 2013; 102: 106-113.
- 8 Almirantis Y. Homeopathy – at the edge between tradition and modern science: remedies as carriers of Significance. Homeopathy 2013; 102: 114-122.
- 9 Demangeat J.-L. Nanosized solvent superstructures in ultramolecular aqueous dilutions: twenty years research using water proton NMR relaxation. Homeopathy 2013; 102: 87-105.
- 10 Milgrom L.R. The sound of two hands clapping: could homeopathy work locally and non-locally?. Homeopathy 2005; 94: 100-104.
- 11 Bell I.R., Koithan M., Brooks A. Testing the nanoparticle-allostatic cross-adaptation-sensitization model for homeopathic remedy effects. Homeopathy 2013; 102: 66-81.