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Correspondence |

Treating Critically Ill Patients With Sugar PillsResponse FREE TO VIEW

David Colquhoun, FRS
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Affiliations: University College of London, London,UK,  Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,  Institute for Homeopathic Research, Interuniversity College, Vienna, Austria

Correspondence to: David Colquhoun, FRS, Department of Pharmacology, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BT, UK; e-mail: d.colquhoun@ucl.ac.uk



Chest. 2007;131(2):635-636. doi:10.1378/chest.06-2402
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It surprises me that CHEST would publish an article (March 2005)1 on the effect of a therapeutic agent when in fact the patients received none of the agent mentioned in the title of the article. It is not mentioned in the title, but reading the article reveals that the “potassium dichromate” was a homeopathic C30 dilution. That is a dilution by a factor of 1060, and for those of us who believe in the Avogadro number, that means there would be one molecule in a sphere with a diameter of approximately 1.46 × 1011 m. That is close to the distance from the earth to the sun. To describe this as “diluted and well shaken,” as the authors do, is the understatement of the century. The fact of the matter is that the medicine contained no medicine.

The authors1will doubtless claim some magic effect of shaking that causes the water to remember for years that it once had some dichromate in it. The memory of water has been studied quite a lot. The estimate of the duration of this memory has been revised2 downwards from a few picoseconds to approximately 50 femtoseconds (50 × 10-15 s). That is not a very good shelf life.

It is one thing to tolerate homeopathy as a harmless 19th century eccentricity for its placebo effect in minor self-limiting conditions like colds. It is quite another to have it recommended for seriously ill patients. That is downright dangerous.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The authors have reported to the ACCP that no significant conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, et al (2005) Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients.Chest27,936-941
 
Cowan, ML, Bruner, BD, Huse, N, et al Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O.Nature2005;434,199-202. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 
To the Editor:

We want to thank Dr. Colquhoun for his interest in our study.1 First, the terms used should be defined precisely. Homeopathy is a science based on applied toxicology. Using digitalis either as a conventional or as a homeopathic physician makes no difference; both rely on observations (William Withering 1785) from pharmacology or on homeopathic proof. We are happy that toxicology as well as homeopathic proof have been shown to be reliable and consistent for centuries.

Before I refer to the dilutions beyond the Loschmidt number, it is important to state that homeopathy doses that are equivalent to those of conventional medicine can be administered without any dilution. However, toxic effects should be avoided. If one refuses to use potencies beyond this number, they should simply not be used. Since Dr. Colquhoun assumes that high potencies exhibit no effect at all, then we cannot understand why it should be dangerous to treat critically ill patients additively if there is “nothing” in it. We are also concerned that Dr. Colquhoun questions the value of randomized controlled trials. This opinion appears to be inconsistent with the current position of conventional science.

It is correct that “the medicine contains no medicine”; however, “ultrafast memory loss” in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O implies that at least some sort of memory exists. However, contrary to the study cited,2 potentized drugs are not stored in water, but in an alcohol-water mixture.

I invite Dr. Colquhoun to join our efforts in studying the effects of high potencies on physical properties. We are always open to tolerant, academic-driven scientific cooperation. Let us make a common effort to reveal the riddle for the sake of millions of patients by supporting the Institute for Homeopathic Research, at Interuniversity College. Financial help is appreciated: Account No. 92,178,414, bank code 60,000, IBAN: AT95 6000 0000 92178414, BIC: OPSKATWW.

References
Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, et al Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients.Chest2005;27,936-941
 
Cowan, ML, Bruner, BD, Huse, N, et al Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O.Nature2005;434,199-202. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 

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References

Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, et al (2005) Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients.Chest27,936-941
 
Cowan, ML, Bruner, BD, Huse, N, et al Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O.Nature2005;434,199-202. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 
Frass, M, Dielacher, C, Linkesch, M, et al Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients.Chest2005;27,936-941
 
Cowan, ML, Bruner, BD, Huse, N, et al Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O.Nature2005;434,199-202. [PubMed] [CrossRef]
 
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