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“Scientists say homeopathy is impossible”

Not all scientists believe homeopathy is impossible. Prof Luc Montagnier, who won a Nobel prize in 2008 for his role in discovering HIV, says homeopaths are right to use these high dilutions.

In an interview for Science magazine, when asked, “Do you think there’s something to homeopathy…?” he replied, “…What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.”1

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Prof Luc Montagnier is a French virologist. His current research is entirely focused on investigating the electromagnetic properties of biological substances (e.g. DNA and bacteria) prepared to high dilutions using the same manufacturing technique as homeopathic medicines i.e. serial dilution, alternating with sucussion (agitation). In the interview in 2011, he discussed his work and reasons for moving to China at the age of 78, which included the “fear around this topic” in Europe.

Science is a constantly evolving field and what the scientific establishment declares to be ‘impossible’ in one era, is often proved to be ‘fact’ in another.

To take just one famous example of medical U-turns, in 1982, when Dr Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren first put forward their theory that bacterial infection was an underlying cause of stomach ulclers, their idea was ridiculed.2  

Scientists said it was impossible for bacteria to survive the acidic environment in the stomach, let alone thrive there, but years later Marshall and Warren were vindicated when it was finally accepted that they were right – Helicobacter pylori infection is indeed the commonest cause of stomach ulcers.

In 2005 they were awarded the Nobel prize for Physiology. In the Nobel citation the doctors were praised for their “tenacity, and willingness to challenge prevailing dogmas”.

While scientists continue to investigate how homeopathic medicines have a biological effect, perhaps we should be more cautious about using the word ‘impossible’ when it comes to medical science.

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  1. Martin Enserink “French Nobelist Escapes “Intellectual Terror” to Pursue Radical Ideas in China”. Science, 2010; 330(6012): 1732 | Sciencemag | FullText
  2. Pincock S. Nobel Prize winners Robin Warren and Barry Marshall. Lancet, 2005; 366(9495):1429 | FullText

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Montagnier image
“High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.” Prof Montagnier
Nobel Laureate