Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), is considered the father of homeopathy. He was inspired by the treatment of malaria
with cinchona bark
. Cinchona bark contains quinine
which treats malaria but also causes fever
on its own. This inspired the notion that like cures like
, with homeopaths believing that extreme dilution of the active ingredient mitigates the harmful effects of the drug while still effectively treating the illness.
"Unless the laws of chemistry have gone awry, most homeopathic remedies are too diluted to have any physiological effect...."
---Consumer Reports (January 1987)
"If the FDA required homeopathic remedies to be proved effective in order to remain on the market, homeopathy would face extinction in the United States."
---Stephen Barrett, M.D.
"How do homeopaths explain this supposed potency of infinitesimal doses, even when the dilution removes all molecules of a drug? They invoke mysterious vibrations, resonance, force fields, or radiation totally unknown to science."
--- Martin Gardner
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
--– Richard Feynman
Dr. Hahnemann came to believe that the potency of a remedy increases as the drug becomes more diluted. Sometimes the dilution is so extreme that it contains none of the substance that was initially diluted; yet homeopaths claim that these are their most potent medications!
To create a homeopathic drug the active ingredient is dissolved, usually in an alcohol/water solvent, from which one drop is taken, mixed with 9 drops of the solvent and then succussed (shaken with impact) 100 times. One drop of this solution is then mixed again with 9 drops of fresh solvent and again succussed 100 times. This continues until the required potency is reached. The first dilution is termed 1x, the second 2x and so on. In a 30x solution, (a common low potency) the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times.
Any homeopathic drug with a dilution of 24x or more is not likely to contain even one molecule of the active drug.