How is an Elephant Like a Glass of Water?

  by Gene Franks


There are never enough data to enable one to prove an unpopular historical thesis. An establishment, having anchored its line, predictably vilifies a rival and subjects those involved to ridicule and ultimately to personal detraction and traducement which goes far beyond that. This ad hominem denigration is expected to transfer to their intellectual product. And no matter what the latter put on the record, the former insist that it is not enough ‘proof,’ regardless of how flimsy or unconvincing was the ‘proof’ used to create the establishment position.–James J. Martin, Pearl Harbor: Antecedents, Background, and Consequences.

A few days ago I got an unsolicited publication called The Modern Sage in the mail and started reading a front page article called “Speaking Out on Cancer” by a certain Dr. Ingrid Naiman. The beginning was about fiber, exercise, and family history, the regular inhabitants of cancer articles, but in the middle of the third paragraph, Dr. Naiman took off in a different direction: 

                Cancer begins with an error in cellular division. Cells are supposed to have 23 pairs of chromosomes. If they have some other make up, they are abnormal. As a general rule, the more abnormal they are, the faster they proliferate. In my estimation, the first mitotic error occurs under a Uranus influence. Uranus is the mutant of the Zodiac. His genitals were cut off and thrown into the sea. As a consequence, He is rather androgynous, but more importantly, Uranus is a super air planet. Thus, to avoid cellular chaos, one can use air pacifying tactics during times of Uranus activity in life. This will not only reduce the tendency towards cancer but also make it easier on the nerves.

                I consider myself fairly open to new ideas, but when I read the above I realized that my mind is clamped shut as tightly as that of the fundamentalist faced with evolution. No way can I believe that my risk of getting cancer depends on Uranus’s unfortunate loss of his genitals, his or her consequent androgynous nature, or the relative airiness of the seventh planet. Like it or not, “my mind has done been stamped,” as the old Jimmy Martin song says, and I’ve taken on fixed ideas and prejudices that limit my view of the world. As much as I like to think of myself as a non-believer in the great religion of our age (which is Science, not Christianity, in case you’re in doubt), I find myself much more at ease with the modern myths about molecules and microbes we’ve invented to explain what we don’t understand than with the old ones about gods and goddesses and wicked underground demons. 

                Science has etched its beliefs into all of our brains so deeply that we do not even realize it. Although we profess belief in some peripheral religious or philosophical systems, our real gut-level belief is in the laws of Science. The Ten Commandments are negotiable, but the Law of Gravity commands universal respect. For some believers, “Thou shalt not kill” excludes convicted murderers; for others, it excludes fetuses; for some it excludes only fetuses who resulted from rape or incest; for most it excludes animals; for some who will not kill “higher animals,” it excludes termites and cockroaches; even the great animal rights prophet Peter Singer is willing to exclude everything from mollusks on down. But of all who take liberties with “Thou shalt not kill,” I don’t know anyone willing to test the Law of Gravity by leaping from a tall building. 

                We live by laws that have been drummed into our heads so persistently that we accept them without question. This article is about a standard dogma of the religion of Medical Science (and if you doubt that modern medicine is first and foremost a religion, please read the late Dr. Robert Mendelsohn’s classic,Confessions of a Medical Heretic) that I call “more is more.” We all believe in it. Two aspirins are a stronger dose than one. That’s elementary. An adult gets a bigger dose than a child, and the bigger the cancer, the hotter the X-ray. No doctor tells you: “Take two of these pills, but if that doesn’t do it, reduce the dose to one. If you still don’t get relief, try taking half a pill.” 

                Since more is obviously more in the minds of allopathic doctors, the priests of the dominant sect of Medical Science, the heretical view that “less is more” has earned little more than a horse laugh from them since it was first advanced two centuries ago by a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann as one of the two basic tenets of the treatment system known today as homeopathy. “Less is more” is known as the Law of Infinitesimals, and Hahnemann’s other heretical view, the idea that “like cures like,” is called the Law of Similars. 

                Hahnemann coined the term “allopathic” from Greek roots meaning “other than the disease.” Homeopathy means “like the disease.” Allopathic medicine attempts to relieve disease symptoms through treatment by what Hahnemann called contraries or antipathies. It views the body as a battleground and the physician as a general whose function is to poison, radiate, or cut away the invading demon. Without the priest/general’s intervention, all would be lost. Take notice that the words of medicine and the words of war are interchangeable. 

                Hahnemann, on the other hand, proposed and carried out with noteworthy success a system of treatment by “similars” that was based on the idea that the body is essentially a self-sufficient, self-regulating system that needs only occasionally a slight nudge from the physician to stimulate its own amazing curative potential. Treatment by similars means that Hahnemann used “cures” that were proven by his own human, not animal, tests to produce in well individuals symptoms of the ailment being treated. (Hahnemann tested his cures mainly on himself. Know any drug researchers willing to do that?) Thus, a patient with persisting headaches might be given a tiny amount of a substance known to produce headaches in well individuals; the body’s defense mechanisms are stimulated, then, to get rid of whatever is causing the headache. Allopathy would attack the headache symptoms with a painkilling drug. 

                If homeopathic treatment sounds like allopathic vaccination, the resemblance is only superficial. Vaccination attempts to trick the immune system by invading it with gross overdoses of bogus, lab-altered disease agents which elicit an emergency overproduction of antibodies and thus produce a theoretical immunity. Homeopathic cures are natural substances given orally. and, as we shall see, they are administered in doses so tiny that their workings seem to be more spiritual than physical. Walene James (Immunization: The Reality behind the Myth) elaborates: “The homeopathic remedy is holistic; it addresses the uniqueness of the patient as well as his wholeness. The patient as a mental and spiritual being is studied and treated as well as the patient as a physical organism. Herd treatment and prescriptions, such as those prescribed by compulsory immunization laws, would be contrary to homeopathic philosophy and ideals.”   

                The aspect of homeopathy that really sticks in the craw of orthodox science is the Law of Infinitesimals. It states–to the eternal dismay of official science–that the smaller the dose of a remedy,  when diluted according to Hahnemann’s prescribed system, the more potent it is at stimulating the body’s reaction against disease. Hahnemann’s system requires a special type of vigorous shaking he called succession, and he made dilutions of curative substances in an 87 percent solution of alcohol and distilled water that go far beyond what seem to be reasonable limits. 

                The strengths of homeopathic dilutions are normally expressed with a “C.” For example, belladonna pills, a commonly prescribed treatment, might be labeled 30C. This means that a single drop of belladonna was dissolved in 99 drops of water/alcohol. Then one drop of this solution was mixed with 99 drops of water/alcohol. Then one drop of this solution was again diluted in 99 drops of liquid, and so on, until a total of 30 dilutions was attained. The mixture is “succussed ” vigorously after each dilution. Scientists would refer to the 30C homeopathic solution as 10-60 . As a fraction, the amount of the original substance left in the 30C solution is

1/ 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. 

Homeopathic dilutions down to 100,000C are on record! 

                The problem with this is that long before the 30C dilution has been attained, in fact, somewhere around 12C (or 10-24 ), the dilution goes beyond a sacred point known to scientists as Avogadro’s number. This means that there is no chance of there being any of the original substance left. Avogadro’s number is part of Avogadro’s Law–a long-accepted principle worked out by Count Amadeo Avogadro in 1811 which makes it possible to predict the number of molecules in a solution and the way they diminish with dilutions. 


                How do homeopathic treatments work if there is no physical trace of the curative substance left in the solution that the patient ingests? Orthodox medicine takes the view that since there is no explainable way that homeopathic cures can work, they obviously don ‘t work. Standard doctors usually regard homeopaths as relatively harmless quacks. Their two centuries of well documented successes are contemptuously dismissed as “placebo effect” cures effected on people who would have gotten well without treatment.

                Until very recently there had been no effort by orthodox science to test the ability of substances to work physically in dilutions that exceeded the limits of Avogadro’s Law. Homeopathic journals had published evidence of such research which was, of course, dismissed by the scientific orthodoxy as inconsequential and self-serving.  In 1930 an investigator named Persson working in Leningrad found that mercuric chloride affected the rate of conversion of starch to sugar even in dilutions as high as 10-120;  his findings were published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy. Between 1946 and 1954 William Boyd did exhaustive repetitions of Persson’s work and found “a highly significant difference” between conversing rates of controls and mercuric chloride dilutions to 10–61. He published his findings in the British Homeopathic Journal.

                In June of 1988 a veritable bombshell fell when the prestigious British science journal Nature published an article by Dr. Jacques Benveniste of the University of Paris Sud in collaboration with colleagues in Canada, Italy, and Israel.  Benveniste was no homeopathic quack who could be brushed aside, but a highly respected and richly funded member of the orthodox scientific community. His experiments had been repeated 70 times and examined for flaws in methodology by a Nature-appointed team of referees. Although no flaws were found, Nature’s editors expressed “incredulity” and asserted that there was no physical basis for Benveniste’s findings. 

                Benveniste’s experiments,  which were undertaken in response to a challenge from two homeopaths on his staff,  involved white blood cells called basophils. The cells react predictably to a certain antibody which triggers them to release a chemical that prevents them from holding a standard lab stain. Benveniste’s research found that when the antibodies were diluted to the equivalent of “120 tenfold dilutions” 40% to 60% of the blood cells were nonetheless prevented from holding the lab stain. This is beyond the point where Avogadro’s Law says none of the antibody could be physically present in the solution. Furthermore, the effect of the antibody was present only when the preparations were vigorously shaken for at least 10 seconds as per homeopathic specifications. 

                What does all this mean?  Benveniste’s article says it suggests that “specific information must have been transmitted during the dilution/shaking process. Water could act as a ‘template’ for the molecule, for example, by an infinite hydrogen-bonded network, or electric or magnetic fields.”  In other words, water has memory.  Either by means of magnetic or electrical fields or by an actual physical transfer of information at the molecular level, water can “remember” its past and pass on information to its future contacts. To say that this is a revolutionary idea is a gross understatement. In the words of science writer Jake Page, “If the experiment worked, science had just become a new ball game.”

                Benveniste quickly learned, as Galileo, Copernicus et al learned, that science is most often not fond of new ball games, especially when they make many of the old games pointless and obsolete. Reacting to an avalanche of protest, Nature quickly appointed a three-man team to review the study. The team consisted of Nature editor John Maddox,  Dr. Walter Stewart of the National Intitutes of Health (well known as a finder of scientific frauds), and James “The Amazing” Randi, a famed illusionist and magician, who is also famous for sniffing out suspicious paranormal claims. Though Benveniste’s work is in the field of immunology, none of the examiners was trained in immunology. The inclusion of Randi, a “debunker extraordinaire” in Newsweek’s words, must have made Benveniste feel like a gourmet cook who sees his favorite creation submitted for Ronald McDonald’s approval. He responded with outrage and accused the Nature team of “a mockery of scientific investigation” comparable to the Salem witch trials. 

                The result of the investigation was predictable. After studying Benveniste’s work for a week, the team concluded that his research was “statistically ill-controlled” and that it suffered from “systematic errors” and misinterpretations of results. Stewart, who was one of Nature’s referees who initially approved the article’s publication, now found the lack of controls in the study to be so “shocking” that he called the publication an “imposition.” 

                As a result of the review group’s findings, Benveniste’s employer, the National Institute for Health and Medical Research INSERM),  told him to stop his research and not to talk to the media about what is popularly known now as “the memory of water.” As of the last account I can find (Science, July 21, 1989), Benveniste had been given a six-month reprieve by his immediate supervisor to search for the “experimental bias which may up to the present have escaped you and which can apparently explain your unusual claim.” In other words, he was given a chance to recant and save face. Benveniste, in spite of being ordered not to talk to the press, told Le Monde that two French research teams, two in the United States, and one in the Soviet Union have confirmed the phenomena he reported in Nature. 

                It would be naive to believe that politics and money play no part in the formation of scientific theory. In reference to AIDS research, Dr. Nathaniel S. Lehrman writes: “Public relations play an immensely important role In American medicine today. The skillful distribution of grants can highlight some issues and eclipse others. Today ‘s intense attention to retroviruses may therefore be impeding proper epidemiological investigation, including the search for possible toxic causes of leukemia. lymphoma, and AIDS.”  Translation: There is little to be gained by discovering that AIDS is simply an immune-system collapse brought on by a combination of correctable environmental and health factors, but, on the other hand, the discovery that AIDS is caused by a demon virus against which our only hope is ultra high-tech research toward yet another vaccine makes AIDS one of the richest veins ever tapped by the medical-pharmaceutical-research industry. 

                Without trying too hard, I can think of about 400 very lucrative apple carts that would be immediately overturned if we accepted the heretical notion that water indeed has memory and that less is really more. For example, our entire system of viewing water contamination in terms of maximum allowables would become an absurdity, and all the monolithic animal tests we’ve used to rationalize the polluting of our environment with chemicals would immediately become bogus. Animal tests to establish EPA allowables are based on more-is-more thinking. It is likely that there is no safe level of carbaryl,  regardless of how much, or how little, is needed to produce X number of deformed offspring in X number of pregnant beagles.


Homeopathy in Practice 

                While the theoretical battles rage, homeopathic doctors have been since Hahnemann’s time quietly treating patients and developing a vast treasury of information about the effects of minute quantities of natural substances on humans. Homeopathy flourished in the U. S. in the second half of the 19th century, but declined steadily as the AMA’s political clout increased. In 1900 there were 22 homeopathic medical schools in the United States and homeopaths made up one sixth of all medical practitioners; by 1923 only two of the medical schools were still in operation. Much of homeopathy’s decline can be attributed not to its lack of success but to our century’s love affair with technology and the AMA’s relentless war against competitors. 

                There can be no doubt that we are experiencing a resurgence of interest in alternatives to conventional medicine. Dr. Andrew Weil, himself an allopath, writes in his very interesting book called Health and Healing: 

                The Common complaints that medicine today is too expensive, too dangerous, and not effective at treating diseases that really matter are all valid. The expense and risks of the system are direct consequences of its increasing reliance on invasive procedures, technological gadgetry, and dangerous drugs. Its ineffectiveness in certain areas has more to do with theoretical deficiencies. This ineffectiveness is not trivial. Regular medicine is on very shaky ground in attempting to treat such problems as acute infections associated with viruses, nutritional and metabolic diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, allergies and autoimmune diseases, cancer, ‘psychosomatic disease,’ and mental illness.

                Dr. Weil goes on to say that he would “look elsewhere than conventional medicine for help” if he contracted hepatitis, polio, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, “or for many other chronic diseases of the digestive, circulatory, musculoskelatal, and nervous systems.” Dr. Weil concludes: “Although allopaths give lip service to the concept of preventive medicine, for practical purposes they are unable to prevent most of the diseases that disable and kill people today.” 

                The fact that people in increasing numbers are “looking elsewhere than conventional medicine for help” is seen in the current surge of interest in homeopathy. People from Tina Turner to the royal family of England are being treated by homeopaths. Although there are many full-time homeopaths in practice, most homeopathic treatment is now done as side-line practice by allopaths, chiropractors, and naturopaths, and especially as a do-it-yourself treatment by individuals and by mothers treating their children. Certainly, the pure science developed by Hahnemann has been greatly diluted though its adoption by part-timers and amateurs. Hahnemann, for example, insisted that only one remedy be used at a time, but modern self-treaters often gulp down handfuls of remedies the way some people pop vitamin pills. 

                Homeopathy seems to lend itself to self-treatment better than any other medical system. Allopathy, obviously, is designed for practice by professionals. I don’t know anyone who owns his own home X-ray machine. And it would be very hard to do your own spinal adjustments, although I’ve often thought that hatha yoga is in many ways do-it-yourself chiropractic. Homeopathy is particularly suited for self-treatment because it is inexpensive, safe, and according to people who do it, very effective. It meets Hippocrates’ first rule of health practice–primum non nocere (first of all, do no harm)–perfectly. Even the FDA can find no fault with over-the-counter and mail order sales of natural substances sold in dilutions so tiny that they are theoretically non-existent. The only problem I can foresee for homeopathic home treatment is that if subsequent research proves the validity of the Law of Infinitesimals, the FDA will likely restrict the sale of remedies without prescription to prevent mothers from giving their children dangerous underdoses of sulphur or mulberry leaves. But as it stands now you can get homeopathic home treatment kits by mail or in health food stores in all sizes and varieties. For the price of a single visit to a doctor’s office you can buy a kit, complete with instructions, with enough remedies to treat many illnesses.   

The article above was originally published in a paper version of the Pure Water Gazette.