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It’s no se­cret that homeopa­thy has drawn skep­tics. De­trac­tors claim that ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in many home­o­pathic sup­ple­ments are di­luted to the point of use­less­ness—even ab­sence. Some con­sider th­ese reme­dies as be­ing in the same class as sim­ple sugar pills with no ef­fect be­yond placebo. Yet de­spite such ad­ver­sity from crit­ics of this al­ter­na­tive mode of medicine, it may now be harder for those crit­ics to make their case. Homeopa­thy just scored a rel­a­tive win in court when Hy­land’s, a man­u­fac­turer of home­o­pathic reme­dies, came un­der fire for al­leged false rep­re­sen­ta­tion of prod­ucts to pro­vide symp­tom re­lief.

Al­ter­na­tive Medicine spoke to Jef­fery Mar­gulies, de­fense lawyer for Hy­land’s, about the ef­fect this could have on homeopa­thy at large. “The plain­tiffs claimed homeopa­thy doesn’t work, so the prod­ucts were not ef­fec­tive,” said Mar­gulies. “The bur­den in this case was on the plain­tiff to demon­strate that homeopa­thy doesn’t work. It wasn’t on Hy­land’s to demon­strate that it did work. And that turned out to be quite a bit harder than the plain­tiffs’ at­tor­neys were ex­pect­ing it to be.”

And on that front, the plain­tiffs failed. When rep­utable sci­en­tists sup­port a claim, it doesn’t be­come false sim­ply be­cause oth­ers op­pose it. “We put up a lot of sci­ence that sup­ported the con­cept of homeopa­thy, and it’s not as one-sided as some would have you be­lieve it,” said Mar­gulies.

Among tes­ti­mony from other ex­perts, Iris Bell, MD, PhD, for­mer Har­vard psy­chi­a­try in­struc­tor and part-time con­sul­tant for Hy­land’s, tes­ti­fied on the homeopa­thy gi­ant’s be­half. She spoke about the cre­ation of nanopar­ti­cles dur­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing process of home­o­pathic med­i­ca­tions, that they are be­ing found—even at lev­els where there shouldn’t be any­thing present— and how that is a po­ten­tial ac­tion mech­a­nism for homeopa­thy work­ing.

“It’s an un­qual­i­fied win at this point. It’s not proof that homeopa­thy works, but it is a re­buke to those who claim that it doesn’t work,” said Mar­gulies.

Saved by the Bell The find­ing of nanopar­ti­cles in home­o­pathic medicines has been repli­cated across many labs in mul­ti­ple coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Bell. Home­o­pathic reme­dies be­gin with a medic­i­nal sub­stance, which is re­peat­edly di­luted in a so­lu­tion of dou­ble-dis­tilled wa­ter and shaken vig­or­ously be­tween suc­ces­sive di­lu­tions, a process called sec­cus­sion. While the bulk form is lost, the sub­stance leaves be­hind nanopar­ti­cles con­tain­ing it’s heal­ing prop­er­ties. This fol­lows the widely ac­cepted con­cept of horme­sis, de­fined by the Nat­u­ral Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­ogy as a bipha­sic dose re­sponse to an en­vi­ron­men­tal agent char­ac­ter­ized by a low-dose stim­u­la­tory (ben­e­fi­cial) ef­fect and a high-dose in­hibitory (toxic) ef­fect.

Dr. Bell’s achieve­ments in the field in­clude re­search, ran­dom­ized place­bo­con­trolled tri­als on home­o­pathic sup­ple­ments, and two pub­lished data pa­pers on nanopar­ti­cles. Dr. Bell also sup­ports homeopa­thy with a wealth of ev­i­dence from other lit­er­a­ture and clin­i­cal tri­als. Here’s what she has to say on nanopar­ti­cles.

>> The sec­cus­sion process may con­trib­ute to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of nanopar­ti­cles as con­sec­u­tively po­tent sup­ple­ments are made. Bulk forms of ac­tive in­gre­di­ents may be left be­hind due to di­lu­tion, how­ever nanoscale forms per­sist, at least in part be­cause of the sec­cus­sion pro­ce­dures that are a key as­pect of how higher-po­tency home­o­pathic medicines are made.

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