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Research into the
Homeopathic Law of Potentisation
There is no greater criticism of homeopathic medicine by allopathic physicians than the area of potentisation. The detractors see this as Homeopathys Achilles heel. According to Avogadros Hypothesis any dilution greater than 24X (12C) cannot contain any molecule of the original substance. Yet Homeopaths routinely use dilutions of 30C (60X) and more. Not surprisingly therefore much research has centred on the area of potentisation.

However much of the early work in this area used concentrations below Avogadros limit primarily because of difficulties in measuring such small amounts. Today it is generally accepted that measurable effects can be recorded up to a potency (or dilution) of 15X. This is still well below the Avogadro Limit however of 24X or indeed that of 30C (60X) the potency commonly used in Homeopathy.

Benveniste's 1988 Water Memory Experiments
The most significant work to be published was in the 1988 June edition of Nature by Benvineste and co-workers in which they carried out an experiment with white blood cells of the human immune system and an ultra dilute solution of serum. The solution diluted well above the Avogadro limit was shown to have a biological effect. Benveniste claimed the water retained a memory of the original thus maintaining its effect.

Although Jacques Benvensiste was a highly respected immunologist, Research Director at the French National Institute for Medical Research, known worldwide as a specialist in the mechanisms of allergy and inflammation, and distinguished for his discovery in 1971 of Paf (Platelet Activating Factor), a mediator implicated in the mechanisms involved in these pathologies (for example, asthma) his work on water memory caused a furor.  When investigators were sent secretly to his laboratory to verify his work they declared it to be in error. His colleagues disowned him; he was humiliated and banished from the orthodox scientific community and was even accused of disgracing his country. However to his dying day in 2004 he declared the correctness of his work and founded his own research centre from which he published scientific papers and gave lectures around the world to anyone who would invite and listen to him.
(Davenas, E., Beauvais, F., Amara, J., Oberbaum, M., Robinzon, B., Miadonna, A., Tedeschi, A., Pomeranz, B., Fortner, P., Belon, P., Sainte-Laudy, J., Poitevin, B., and Benveniste, J. "Human Basophil Degranulation Triggered by Very Dilute Antiserum Against IgE." Nature. 1988. 333(6176):816-8.)

Why Such Intense Opposition?
That Jacques Benveniste was the subject of a vitriolic hate campaign is beyond question. Quite why the scientific community reacted in the way it did personalizing the issue rather than setting out to experimentally, logically, scientifically and in the cold light of reasoned day debunk his findings, is something of a mystery. I allow Jacques himself to have the last word in his defence.

From the first high dilution experiments in 1984 to the present, thousands of experiments have been made, enriching and considerably consolidating our initial knowledge. Up to now, we must observe that not a single flaw has been discovered in these experiments and that no valid counter-experiments have ever been proposed. Furthermore, these experimental observations, far from opposing currently-accepted biological theories, can be integrated as an extension to them.

A final question: why are scientists so opposed to the evolution of science? Is it to defend their piece of turf? Why, in the name of intangible dogmas, which the history of science has shown to be so often ephemeral, do they reject advances which represent progress for their discipline? Do these advances appear to threaten their all-too-fragile certitudes? Such questions are not just philosophical, because these people are respected counselors, advisers to political and industrial decision-makers. They orient-most often by hampering-new applications flowing from scientific progress. I don't know where these mental blocks come from, but they are, in theory at least, irreconcilable with a scientist's function. 

 Here is a quote (translated from the French edition of Encyclopedia Universalis, taken from the article on Mechanism) which shows, alas, that those blocks are eternal:
We have a good example of the dilemma of "mechanism" in the Cartesians' opposition to the Newtonian world-view, which they felt completely called into question the new science and pushed scientific thinking back to a level beneath what "mechanism" had already achieved. The problem is, for Descartes, that movement is only possible if there is contact and impulsive force; action at a distance-attraction, as Fontenelle was to say-can only mean a return to a physics of sympathetic motion and occult attributes...In this way, they do not engage Newton in a scientific controversy; they disqualify him for obscurantism. Thus the French scientific community resisted Newtonian theory for a long time, or would prefer to ignore it...But "mechanism," which is an obstacle to scientific progress, remains blocked. No doubt, Newton is less an opponent of "mechanism" than he is the proposer, by provoking a total break, of another model of physical mechanics in which movements other than those produced by impulsion become possible.

Four centuries later, we hear the same words: "there must be molecules" (Franois Jacob)-that is, contact, forceful impulsion-according to our sages of science, still frozen in the Cartesian mechanistic dogma: the same denial of action at a distance, and the same accusations of a return to obscurantism.
Descartes versus Newton. We're in good company...

Research Post 1988
1. Dr Benvenites earlier research reported in the journal Nature appeared to give possible explanation for how highly diluted homeopathic remedies work that water retains a memory of what was once dissolved and succussed in it. The traditional scientific community saw this research as heretical, and it was supposedly debunked by the editor of Nature even though it was later replicated in three other laboratories Italy, Canada and Israel.

Now new 1999 independent work seems to corroborate Benvenistes original findings. This new research includes a series of studies conducted in 4 highly respected centres Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Scotland. A total of 3,764 measurements were made and significant biological effects found from highly diluted doses of histamine. Dilutions of C15(X30) to C19 (X38) were found to exhibit substantial degranualtion of basophils (white blood cells involved in allergic reaction).
(P. Belon, J. Cumps, M. Ennis, et al  Inhibitions of Human Basophil Degranualtion by Successive Histamine Dilutions; Results of a European Multi-Centre Trial Inflamation Research 48 Supplement 1 1999: 17_18)

Conventional pharmacology assumes that drugs diluted above C12 (X24) do not contain any remaining molecule. Homeopathic pharmacology is showing that there is something about the process of potentisation that maintains the medicinal effect without the presence of a molecule. The consequences for science if Benveniste is correct could be earth shattering, requiring a complete re-evaluation of how we understand chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics and pharmacology.

2. A report in the Oct edition 2001 of the New Scientist states that a German chemist Dr Geckler and co-workers have published findings of interest to Homeopaths from the Kwangju Institute of Science & Technology. They claim to have discovered by accident that molecules cluster together following dilution. Further dilution encourages clusters of greater magnitude. This observation they state has been verified by electron microscopy.

These findings support those of Barnard and Stevenson of the States in 1967 when they observed molecular clustering a phenomenon which counters the belief that molecules disperse further apart following dilution. Thus it can be argued that at high dilutions the conventional Hypothesis of Avogadro is no longer valid in which it is stated that no molecules can exist. Maybe they do exist as clusters

3. A 2009 study at Bastyr University, Seattle, USA found positive immunologic, haematologic and clinical effects of high dilution growth factors/cytokines in HIV/AIDS patients. (Cytokines are proteins that are produced by cells; they interact with cells of the immune system in order to regulate the body's response to disease and infection, and also mediate normal cellular processes in the body). Results suggest that unknown biophysical mechanisms of high dilutional growth factors/cytokines may exert immunological effects in HIV/AIDS. For further details click the hyperlink below

4. All solids emit light after irradiation and heating; Researchers froze a dynamized homeopathic solution in order to "fix" it, then irradiated it and reheated it. By comparing the thermoluminescence of the homeopathic dilution to that of a neutral water control, they were able to see the "differences" in the ice structure. Such changes have been noted even at dilution levels above Avogadros Limit (ie when none of the original molecules should be present.)

It can be said with certitude that homeopathic dilution differs from that of water and that the various dilutions give the remedy different characteristics.
Science is slowly but surely finding answers to the challenge of potentisation. Whether there is enough evidence at present to convince the skeptics is doubtful but there is sufficient evidence to show the probability of Homeopathic philosophy to be factually based. At this stage I suppose the jury is still out and were all waiting a definitive verdict. However the momentum is with the Homeopaths. Slowly and surely the balance will tipple in Homeopathys favour. Until that day we will have to be patient. 


Photo Gallery
Jacques Benveniste
Photo Jacques Benveniste

Photo Jacques Benvenviste

Photo Jacques Benveniste
"Prehaps I should have thrown away the data. But then as a scientist data is sacred and I could not bring myself to do it"

Jacques Benveniste


Jacques Benveniste had charisma, wit, charm, and film-star good looks. He was born into a well-to-do family in Paris, and was a racing driver until he was forced to retire after a back injury. His family then steered him into medicine. After qualifying at Paris University, he found that his back injury made stooping over patients difficult and he went into immunology research.

From 1965 to 1969 he worked at CNRS, the French cancer research institute, and from 1969 to 1972 at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in California. He made a name for himself as one of a team that isolated a blood hormone called platelet-activating factor.

Returning to France, he was appointed head of the Inserm immunology laboratory in Paris. Here he patented an allergy test called the basophil degranulation test.

Benveniste published 230 scientific papers, many of them in reputable journals. 

After seven years in the wilderness, Benveniste set up a company, DigiBio, in 1997, to promulgate his ideas. It was funded by France's largest manufacturer of homeopathic medicines, and by sympathisers. .

Twice married, he is survived by five children.

Jacques Benveniste, racing driver,
homeopath & businessman,
born March 12 1935;
died October 3 2004

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