Friday, 29 January 2010

Dilutions and Avogadro

The critics of homeopathy are always going on about Avogadro's number, which is 6.022 x 10 to the power 23. I wonder how many of them actually understand it.

So here is my attempt at a very simple explanation of what it is all about. Amedeo Avogadro in 1811 hypothesised that 'Equal volumes of ideal or perfect gases, at the same temperature and pressure, contain the same number of particles, or molecules'. What he meant by that was that the same volume of a gas, whether it is hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or anything else, will contain the same number of molecules if the temperatures and pressures are the same. This is Avogadro's Law.

Long after he died other scientists recognised what an important contribution he had made and the Avogadro Constant is named after him but the concept of the mole to which it refers was not known in his lifetime.

Now for a basic chemistry lesson, so pay attention.

One mole of a substance is the molecular weight in grams of that substance. Hydrogen has a molecular weight of 1, so 1 g is 1 mole of hydrogen. Carbon has a molecular weight of 12 and so 12g of carbon is 1 mole.
Going back a bit Avogadro said 'Equal volumes of ideal or perfect gases, at the same temperature and pressure, contain the same number of particles, or molecules'.

So.. One mole of a substance will always contain the same number of elemental particles (usually atoms or molecules) and that number (according to many clever scientists) will be 6.022 x 10 to the power 23, this can also be written as 602 200 000 000 000 000 000 000 particles, which is an awful lot of particles.

So 1g of hydrogen and 12g of carbon are both one mole and will both contain 602 200 000 000 000 000 000 000 particles.

Are you still with me? 

The problem sceptics have is that homeopathic remedies are very diluted. A 12c homepathic remedy is technically a dilution of 1 x 10 to the power 24, and so that means 1 part in 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 and that is more dilute than Avogadro's number which means any remedy 12c or more dilute should contain none of the original particles. Many homeopaths use remedies in a variety of strengths from tinctures to extremely diluted remedies. What the sceptics always seem to forget, or ignore, is that homeopathic remedies are not just diluted, they are also shaken vigorously between each dilution which is a process known as succussion. There are several studies that show the succussion process means the solutions are very different from ones which are just diluted and not shaken.

There is a whole branch of science looking at the peculiar properties of ultra diluted solutions and there is absolutely no doubt that there are many scientific peer reviewed published papers which demonstrate that a substance which has been diluted and shaken is still measurable way beyond the point that it should be. There have been positive experiments using a whole host of different analytical techniques and the laws of physics and chemistry cannot currently explain why these ultra diluted and shaken substances can still be measured.

The International Journal of High Dilution Research is the first full free open-access electronic journal specialising in the multidisciplinary field of High Dilution (HD) research.  Lots of articles on analytical research, plant, veterinary, pharmacological studies as well as literature reviews and much more.

This has been known about for a very long time and we still do not fully understand the processes which make these dilutions active. The first published paper on the strangeness of highly diluted and shaken solutions was by Bertrand Gabriel 'The Extraordinary Sensitiveness of Aspergillus niger to Manganese' Comptes Rendus Académie des Sciences published in 1912!

There are many theories like nano particles, local coherent quantum domains, memory of water or something completely different. This is not just of interest to homeopaths, many chemists, physicists and materials scientists are doing research in this area.

One of the key papers on this subject is by the physicist Dr Louis Rey, he used very diluted and shaken solutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride and then analysed them using a technique called thermoluminescence. It showed conclusively that very dilute solutions were measurable when they were diluted beyond the point there should be any particles present.

There is much more evidence from analytical chemistry, plant and biological systems too. Have a look at this section on dilutions from the excellent website Extraordinary Medicine.

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Sceptic stunt

The sceptics 'overdose' stunt is in the news.

This is a statement from the Society of Homeopaths, the largest organisation registering professional homeopaths in Europe, in response to the1023 stunt.

For a very good overview of the current research and evidence for homeopathy have a look at the website of the British Homeopathic Association which is the organisation for medically trained homeopaths working within the NHS.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine which is based on treating the
individual with highly diluted substances given in mainly tablet form, which triggers the body’s natural system of healing. Based on their experience of their symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to the patient.

Since homeopathy is person specific, the action of a remedy cannot be
predicted without knowing the patient’s symptoms at the time they take it.

This is one reason why The Society recommends that prescriptions are
taken under the guidance of an appropriately qualified and registered homeopath (see for more details).

Over-the-counter homeopathic medicines should only be used as directed on
the labeling. Proving guidelines for determining which homeopathic medicines are suitable for which disease focus more on the repetition of a dose rather than a large single dose in isolation.

The Society would not therefore expect any reaction to the proposed
‘overdose’ by this group unless, by chance, an individual in that group already had symptoms that matched that remedy at the time of taking it.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Thin Line That Leads Us

Lemon Leaf

This is nothing to do with homeopathy but is a wonderful blog which is written by a friend of mine, Rhiannon. We shared an office many years ago at the Open University where we worked in geochemistry research, both our lives have changed quite a bit since then!
She now lives in a beautiful part of Cumbia, is a keen walker, fellrunner and sea kayak-er and her blog is full of amazing pictures, mainly of things that her and her partner, Stu, get up to on their travels. It is so much more than looking at someones holiday snaps, the photos are really quite wonderful and beautifully observed. So, if you a
re stuck at a desk and not enjoying your day then have a look at her blog and escape in to Rhiannons world for a bit!

Pumpkins drying on a Spanish balcony

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Winter scenes

Catrigg Force

There has been much doom and gloom on the news about the recent disruptions due to the snow and ice. But with all the cold weather we also get some fantastic scenery, particularly in our bit of the Yorkshire Dales. We went for a walk in the snow to Catrigg Force which is close to where we live. The ice in the stream above the waterfall and cascade of water had created some wonderful ice formations so I thought I'd share some of our pictures with you.

Ice in the beck

Down the waterfall

Looking towards Giggleswick

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Clinic Move

The Gateway to Health Clinic has now moved, but not very far. From January 2010 we have relocated to larger premises off Castle Hill in the centre of Settle. The new clinic is in a courtyard just behind LloydsTSB bank which is in the Market Square. New address is Gateway to Health, Castle Hill, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9EU.

To celebrate the move we will be having an Open Day on Sunday 14th February 10am to 2pm. This will be an informal event where visitors can come and have a look around the building and meet some of the therapists. As there is space for more practioners we now offer Homeopathy and Flower Remedies, Acupuncture, Tai Chi and Chi Kung, Reflexology, Emotional Freedom Technique, Holistic Massage, Shiatsu, Person Centred Counselling and Life Coaching.

The Open Day is the same day as the Farmers Market in Settle so why not come over and make a day of it. Unfortunately, due to family commitments down south I am unable to be there.