The science behind homeopathy- Unraveling the mystery

Dr Srinivasa Rao Gonuguntla, MS, MRCS
General and Laparoscopic surgeon

An allopathic doctor now extensively researching on Homoeopathy  

Homeopathy- the basic tenets
Homeopathy came into existence by an accidental/ serendipitous observation by Samuel Hahnemann of a phenomenon of homeopathy. He observed that while large doses of a substance produced disease in a healthy man, small doses of the same thing cured the illness it produced.

Hahnemann’s observation is without doubt one of the greatest scientific discoveries, though an explanation for the paradoxical phenomenon remained elusive to the scientific minds and defied all the logic.

The ‘principle of minimum dose’ states that in treating a disease, the remedy needs to be used in its minimum dose for it to exert its effect. The smaller the dose the more effective the remedy becomes in curing the illness.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution and succussion of the original ingredient much beyond the Avogadro’s limit of dilution (10-24). That means none of the original substance remains in the final solution from which the remedy is made. So according to modern science the final solution is nothing but just the solvent/water without any solute molecules.

How can any substance exert its effect without actually being present in the remedy? This is the most controversial and criticized principle of Homeopathy. Isopathy and tautopathy which are touted as distinct entities by some hardcore homeopaths, also suffer from the same fundamental flaws.

While modernists refuse to accept homeopathy because of its implausible principles, the homeopaths, though not so intelligent, strongly believe in it as they have practically seen the benefits of homeopathy in many of their patients. But unfortunately the homeopaths have neither been able to come out with a scientific explanation nor been able to consistently reproduce their results.

In another ‘homeopathic paradox’, homeopaths claim that they do not just treat the patient or the disease, but rather deal with the individual as a ‘whole’. Despite their totalistic and individualistic approach, we hardly see any homeopathic literature without mentioning hundreds of home remedies. A great paradox but again difficult to explain!  

Homeopathy Vs Allopathy
Homeopaths criticize allopathy for its narrow/ symptom based approach and for treating just diseases without taking into account the whole individual.

Many homeopaths think that in allopathy, doctors just prescribe saridon for headache, gelusil for heartburn, eldoper for diarrhea and antibiotics for everything. It seems they knew only allopathic quackery but not the real allopathy.

In modern medicine, practitioners take a detailed history of the patient in a very systematic manner under various headings- present history, past history, personal history, drug history, allergies, family and occupational history etc.

In homeopathy, the ‘total symptoms’ are matched to the remedies in the Materia Medica and the most closely matched remedy will be selected to treat the individual. The homeopaths job is more or less finished with this. If the initial remedy didn’t work, they may perform a more thorough match, an alternative remedy may be selected on a trial and error basis (but for doing the same, they criticize allopaths!)

In modern medicine, practitioners don’t stop with the history but rather proceed to a detailed systematic examination of the individual. The ‘total’ symptoms and signs are then ‘matched’ to the disease states (rather than to the drugs directly) to arrive at a clinical diagnosis. They then corroborate or confirm the clinical diagnosis by various investigations (blood/ urine/ X-rays/ scan/ histology etc)

Treatment is then planned depending on the condition and the stage, and considering the individual as a whole. In case of treatment failure, the practitioners review the history, reexamine the patient, further investigations are carried out as necessary and alternative treatment options are considered, at times on a trial and error basis.

So fundamentally, there is not much difference between allopaths and homeopaths in their approach:

History/Examination/ Investigations→ Matching/ Diagnosis → Treatment

If a patient comes with a history of intermittent fever with chills and rigors, an allopath makes a provisional diagnosis of malaria and may initiate empiric treatment with antimalarials.

If the same patient goes to a homeopath, he would probably match these symptoms to the homeopathic remedy Cinchona and would prescribe the same. So in homeopathy the diagnosis and the remedy are one and the same.  

Matching as a tool of finding the etiology
If I ingest large doses of cinchona and go to a homeopath with some symptoms, he wouldn’t probably be interested in my symptom totality and wouldn’t go through the ritual of matching to select the remedy. If he is intelligent enough, he would straight away give me the homeopathic cinchona.

Likewise is with any known poisoning. So the practice of matching the symptom totality to find out the correct remedy would become superfluous in these cases because they knew the etiology or the causative agent. Homeopaths use the principle of ‘same curing the same’ or the ‘isopathy’ as they label it.

When they don’t ‘know’ the causative agent like in most scenarios, they do the matching to find out the most likely etiology (but rather subconsciously), i.e. they match the total symptoms of the patient to the remedies in their ‘holy bible’ – Materia Medica and select the most appropriate remedy which could have caused a similar totality of symptoms when consumed in excess by a healthy person.

Unlike the situation in ‘isopathy’ where an exact remedy can be selected, by doing matching, homeopaths can only select a similar remedy or the closest remedy from repertoire. So here they are applying ‘the principle of similars’ or the ‘Homeopathy proper’.

Depending on how strongly or closely the symptoms are matched while selecting the remedy, how intelligent the homeopath is and how lucky the patient is, cures do occur sometimes. But the allopaths and scientists discard these occasional cures or relief of symptoms as just placebo.

So in essence, matching can be seen as way of finding the possible etiologic or the causative agent. It is like arriving at a provisional diagnosis in allopathy based on the symptoms and signs.

Hahnemann had no other choice except matching the symptoms to the known remedies or toxins to find out the possible causative agent and arrive at an etiologic diagnosis which is obviously important to select treatment.

While homeopaths are humbly following their God Hahnemann and using the same old method of matching to ‘diagnose’ the remedy, Modern medicine has made tremendous advances. We now understand the etiopathogenesis for most diseases and have developed a multitude of investigations to corroborate the clinical diagnosis. Newer and more effective treatments are being added to our armamentarium as we better understand the pathophysiology.

In modern medicine treatment is directed at different levels

  1. Addressing the etiologic agent- antimalarials, antibiotics, chelating agents
  2. Addressing the pathologic process or event or mediators- surgery for appendicitis or perforated viscous; fracture fixation; surgery/ radiotherapy/ chemotherapy for cancer; anti-inflamatory drugs
  3. Symptom relief- antipyretics and analgesics etc

Contrary to what homeopaths may think about modern medicine, a disease is never treated without considering the individual as a whole. The social circumstances are also taken into account in planning the treatment.

‘Proving homeopathy’
To prove homeopathy it is convenient to start with the isopathy phenomenon i.e. small dose of a drug curing the symptoms produced by the same drug consumed in large doses.

Let us look at one simple example to see if isopathy phenomenon could at all be plausible-

If we give excess food (more than the usual requirement) to a healthy person, he/she develops a disease called obesity. This can be cured by just giving less food (less than the usual requirement). Also the lesser the food he/she is allowed, the more effective it becomes in reversing the obesity.

Now let’s take the case of arsenic poisoning. We can’t treat this condition by giving small doses of arsenic, because the body’s requirement for arsenic is almost zero, any amount of arsenic could only add to the toxicity.

The best treatment in this condition would be to give ‘negative arsenic’ or ‘minus arsenic’ or a solution that has arsenic ‘deficit’ in it!

This negative solution of arsenic will ‘adsorb’ or ‘annihilate’ the arsenic in the body and hence will be able to cure the condition. Also the more is its negativity (or dilution); the more will be its efficacy.

Homeopathy is claimed to be very effective in treating the chronic heavy metal poisoning (lead, arsenic, aluminium, silver etc) as the homeopathic preparations of these heavy metals effectively chelate the corresponding metal from the body.

Some intelligent homeopaths practice what is called tautopathy in which they use highly diluted allopathic drugs (e.g. anticancer drugs) to minimize the toxicity and side effects of the corresponding drug.

So if we can prove the existence of negative substance state or negative solution, then isopathy phenomenon can be easily explained.

The situation of  Similars
Homeopathy which is said to be based on the priciniple of similars, also works in the same way as isopathy but with less exactness.

Some examples:

1. Malaria (an infectious illness caused by the plasmodium species) is treated by cinchona (a plant extract)
It is likely that both cinchona and malaria share some common ‘effector toxin’ resulting in a similar illness. Homeopathic cinchona by neutralizing this common effector toxin, cures malaria

2. Sometimes homeopaths seem to treat a presumed heavy metal poisoning using the homeopathic preparation of a different heavy metal- i.e. Arsenic poisoning treated by homeopathic lead/ plumbum etc. Also homeopathic sulphur is said to be effective for any heavy metal poisoning.

Heavy metals probably produce a variety of nonspecific symptoms in healthy persons with a lot of overlap of their drug pictures. So a ‘mismatch’ is possible while matching leading to selection of a slightly different remedy. But the remedy still seems to work despite the mismatch- another homeopathic paradox.

Possible explanations for this paradox are
All these heavy metals may produce their symptoms via a common effect or mechanism or toxin, so a homeopathic preparation of one metal not only neutralizes its own toxicity but also of other heavy metals.

A negative substance of one metal not only ‘annihilates’ itself but probably also annihilates other metals because of their structural similarity.

3. Homeopathic caffeine is used to treat insomnia associated with excessive caffeine intake (isopathy). The same  thing is also said be effective for insomnia unrelated to excess intake of caffeine (homeopathy)

In insomnia patients, probably there is accumulation of caffeine like substances produced de novo in the brain. Homeopathic caffeine by neutralizing or annihilating the de novo caffeine, can be helpful in insomnia unrelated to exogenous caffeine intake.

4. Going to the original example, obesity can be caused by excess intake of rice or potato or some other thing. What is important here is accumulation of excess calories in body by whatever means. To cure this condition, the remedy should address these excess calories. The two ‘remedies’ are- low calorie diet and exercise.

Energy and Matter
Scientists are making frantic efforts to discover the ultimate particle/s in their endeavor of understanding the creation. The more they dig in or ‘succeed’, the more are the challenges. Instead of going on dissecting the particles indefinitely, we should come in the opposite direction i.e start from the ultimate One and build on.

At the ultimate level the whole Universe must be full of just pure Energy and from this Energy comes all the matter existent in the Universe. At the penultimate level, this Energy condenses into strings. The string will have a heavy but tiny matter pole and a large antimatter pole that has no weight. The strings elongate as their matter poles condense or unite into larger masses. As the Energy condenses to form stars and galaxies, the strings become the superstrings which can span the Universe!  

The whole Universe is ultimately made from just one thing i.e. the ultimate Energy or the Spirit or the universal Soul or the Almighty or the supreme God or whatever name one may feel comfortable with.

Different substances merely represent different patterns of condensation of the same Energy. The various ‘fundamental’ particles (those we know off and those yet to be discovered) may represent some of the intermediate energy states along the path of creation from the ultimate Energy to matter.

Surely many will understand better if I draw an analogy with the digital world. The whole digital world is made from just One thing (1) and the only other thing is Nothing (0). Various permutations and combinations of the same have created various programmes and ultimately formed the virtual world we all share today.  

Dynamic Equilibrium between Matter and Energy
Every substance in Nature will be in dynamic equilibrium with the ultimate Energy state from which they are made of.

Solute – Energy 

Solvent – Energy  

Interchange of matter and Negative solution state
As both the solvent and the solute are made from the same ultimate Energy, they can be made to enter into a state of absolute equilibrium, by the process of serial dilution and succussion.

Solute – Solvent
So in the super dilute homeopathic solution, the solvent which in plenty can ‘lend’ its energy substrates to the solute which is on the verge of ‘extinction’. So the solute doesn’t disappear totally from the solvent.

The solvent molecules, which have ‘lent’ some of their energy to create the solute molecule, aggregate together to form the cluster or clathrate with solute at the centre. If the solute is forced out of the clathrate because of the dilution forces, the resultant empty clathrate will have an ‘energy deficit equivalent to the solute’ or we can simply say ‘solute deficit’. As more and more empty clathrates are produced by the serial dilution and succession process, the solution becomes more and more solute deficit.

Now if we add the solute to this negative solution or the solute deficit state, the reaction runs in the opposite direction. The solute molecule annihilates itself by joining the empty clathrate and repaying its ‘debt’. This leads to dissolution of the clathrate. Hence the solute that is just added ‘disappears’ and its concentration remains more or less unchanged despite its addition. When the equation gets balanced, no further net interchange of matter occurs. From this point onwards, the solute starts appearing in the solution and its concentration starts rising.  

Scientific evidence/ RCTs
Homeopathy has survived more than 200 years and has stood the test of time which is better than any RCT.

There are good reasons for why Homeopathy has ‘failed’ in RCTs:-

1) The science of Homeopathy is ill understood and misinterpreted until now and hence not been applied correctly in practice.

2) Inadequate matching- Homeopathy works in only dedicated centres where the remedy is individually prepared after correct matching. 

In addition to using the traditional matching and the repertoire, homeopaths must make use of the etiologic, pathologic and biochemical features of a disease in selecting and preparing the remedy as already been done by some intelligent homeopaths.


  • Highly diluted malarial antigens to treat malaria
  • Highly diluted HIV antigens to treat HIV infection
  • Highly diluted tumor antigens to treat cancers
  • Highly diluted cholera toxin to treat cholera
  • Highly diluted tetanus and polio toxins to treat tetanus and polio
  • Highly diluted potassium to treat hyperkalemia
  • Highly diluted poisons and snake venoms and so on. 

Homeopathy without doubt will become the most powerful tool in ‘Modern medicine’.  

Dr Srinivasa Rao Gonuguntla, MS, MRCS
General and Laparoscopic surgeon
Sri Krishna Hospital, Narasaraopet,AP- 522601
Email : [email protected]

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