Homeopathy the test.
- Beneviste, Jacques.
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About this work
Two hundred years old and used by millions, homeopathy is still a mystery. Its two guiding principles are that the cure comes fromthe cause and that the more diluted the substance, the more effective it is. Dilution is so high that no molecules of the original substance remain in the homeopathic dose. This, of course, raises the question of how the dose can be effective. Dr. Jacques Beneviste, an expert in allergies, accidentally discovered that water used for the dilution of allergens but not containing any of the substance acted as though it did still contain an allergen; he called this phenomenon 'the memory of water'. He submitted a paper on his findings to 'Nature' and Sir John Maddox (editor, 'Nature', 1980-95) agreed to publish it, provided he could inspect Dr. Beneviste's laboratories and observe the phenomenon for himself. In 1988 he visited Paris with his team to see the process of homeopathic distillation but, when put to the test, no difference could be discerned between the homeopathic water and plain water. Scientific scepticism increased yet there was no lessening in the popularity of homeopathy. Fourteen years later, Horizon sets out to find scientific proof of homeopathy's effectiveness. First, the possibility of the placebo effect is examined. A veterinary surgeon testifies to the beneficial effect of homeopathic medicine on cattle and horses. Dr. David Reilly (Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital) describes a clinical trial in which hay fever was used as the basis for investigation. Half of the patients recruited were given homeopathic pills and half were given sugar pills. Homeopathy showed good results but the trial was dismissed as having no scientific basis. Finally, Horizon puts homeopathy to the test at University College, London, in an investigation overseen by Prof. John Enderby, Vice-President of the Royal Society. Prof. Martin Bland (St. George's Hospital Medical School) acted as a statistician. A homeopathic solution diluted to 5c (diluted 10,000 times) was made up and a secret record was compiled of which test tubes contained plain and which contained homeopathic water. The test involved the application of both waters to living human cells to see whether the cells were activated by the homeopathic solution. This was checked by measuring the light reflected off each cell. The results of the test were announced at the Royal Society: no effect was observed from the application of homeopathic water. Homeopathy remains a mystery.
United Kingdom : BBC Television, 2003.
1 DVD (50 min.) : sound, color, PAL.