Thu Nov 3 12:31:05 PST 2005
Has anyone heard about this research finding? Is it legit?
MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University, Belfast, was the
scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy
could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a
single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect.
Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was
In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects
of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved
in inflammation. These "basophils" release histamine when the cells are
under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more.
The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic
solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine
molecule - worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the
homeopaths' claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.
You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no
homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised
placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation
Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on.
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