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Author Topic: Homeopathy: How do i calculate the number of molecules in a medicine?  (Read 14621 times)

Offline valeg96

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I've read on many websites, such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy [nofollow] that:

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The low concentration of homeopathic remedies, which often lack even a single molecule of the diluted substance, has been the basis of questions about the effects of the remedies since the 19th century.

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The extreme dilutions used in homeopathic preparations often leave none of the original substance in the final product.

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The extremely high dilutions in homeopathy preclude a biologically plausible mechanism of action. Homeopathic remedies are often diluted to the point where there are no molecules from the original solution left in a dose of the final remedy.

The italian page http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omeopatia [nofollow] says
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Le critiche maggiori all'omeopatia vertono sul fatto che a potenze elevate, e in particolare a partire proprio da 12C o da 24D, le leggi della chimica provano che il prodotto finale č cosė diluito da non contenere pių neppure una molecola della sostanza di partenza. Infatti il numero di molecole contenuto in una mole di sostanza č fissato dal numero di Avogadro, che č uguale a circa 1024 molecole/mole (6,02214179(30) 1023 mol −1): quindi, mediante una diluizione 12C o una 24D della stessa mole di sostanza, si raggiungerebbero livelli di concentrazione che prevederebbero mediamente, al pių, una sola molecola del farmaco. Diluizioni ulteriori della sostanza risultano quindi prive di qualunque traccia della sostanza stessa.

Google Translation:

The main criticisms relate to homeopathy on the fact that high power, and in particular to start from 12C or 24D, the laws of chemistry prove that the final product is so diluted as to contain no more than even a molecule of the original substance. Indeed, the number of molecules contained in one mole of the substance is fixed by the Avogadro's number, which is equal to approximately 1024 molecules / mole (6.02214179 (30) 1023 mol -1): then, by means of a dilution 12C or 24D of the same amount of substance, it would reach concentration levels which prescribe on average, at most, only one molecule of the drug. Further dilutions of the substance are therefore devoid of any trace of the substance.

I get it but... Which calculations exactly? How do i calculate the amount of molecules by myself?
For example, if in 3g of medicine i have 10mg of Aesculus Hippocastanus 3CH, how many molecules of the active substance do I have? I'd like to find out and finally convince my parents that this sh*t doesn't work.


 

Offline CliffordK

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Your posts about homeopathy appear to be very biased.

Say you go to your local coffee shop and get a shot of espresso...  It is dilute.  You begin with a coffee bean.  Roast it.  Grind it up.  Then press boiling water through it.  Then drink the black sludge extracted from it (often further diluted with milk).  Is it the same thing as eating raw coffee beans?  Probably not.  Does it have Caffeine (as the active ingredient in it)?  Most certainly. 

Wikipedia has good information about the horse chestnut. 

Apparently the nut is mildly toxic, although I remember in Italy one can purchase roasted chestnuts, I'm not sure if it is the same variety.  Ahh, so there are sweet chestnuts and horse chestnuts.  One is for eating, one isn't.

However, it may be some of the alkaloids in the horse chestnuts that provide medicinal properties.  According to the Wikipedia article, one of the active ingredients is Aescin.  The extract used in medicine is supposed to be about 20% Aescin, but that certainly would depend on your source and supplier.

The question is why your parents are taking it.  Is it medically required?  What about side-effects such as possible kidney toxicity?
 

Offline valeg96

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You shouldn't ask me, but Boiron. I randomly took a medicine and picked up an ingredient. So it's not possible to calculate anything?
 

Offline RD

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If the homoeopathic dilution is the same as Avogadro's number 1023 then there will be about one molecule of the "mother tincture" in the dose.
Homoeopathic remedies with a dilutions of 1080 ("80C") , will have about a one in 1057 chance of having one molecule of the mother tincture , i.e. it's astronomically unlikely that the "remedy" contains anything other than pure water : no active ingredient. 
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 20:51:00 by RD »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Calculating molecules based on moles doesn't really tell one much.
Most medicines have recommended doses, safe doses, effective doses, potencies, and etc.

One might take a dose of 1000 mg of Aspirin, but only 75 mg of Ketoprofen for a similar effect due to different potencies.

You may be able to get a similar analgesic effect by boiling willow bark and making willow bark tea.  Of course, salicylic acid or salicin isn't quite the same as acetylsalicylic acid, dosage is hard to control, and one there are many other ingredients that may not be desired.

Like Aspirin, many of our modern medicines are derived from natural plant or organism extracts.  Penicillin is derived from a mold.  Coumadin is also derived from a different mold.  Digitalis is derived from Foxglove.  Of course, in western medicine, one generally uses purified, and sometimes moderately modified active ingredients which are rigorously controlled.
 

Offline RD

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Calculating molecules based on moles doesn't really tell one much.

It tells you that in a "80C" homoeopathic dilution there is about one in a million million million million million million million million million chance that there is one molecule of the "mother tincture" , (the potentially active ingredient), in the dose.

Knock a million off the above the list of millions if they used a million moles in the mother tincture,
[ a million moles of Asprin is about 180 metric tonnes , about the same weight as 50 cars ].
« Last Edit: 02/01/2014 22:07:13 by RD »
 

Offline evan_au

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The notation used for Homeopathic dilution is that "D" means a 10% dilution, and "C" means a 1% dilution.

To calculate the number of active molecules in a 10ml bottle of 12C homeopathic medication:
  • Find the number of molecules of the medication. Eg for a 10ml =10g bottle of water-diluted medicine (18 grams per mole), there are 10g/(18g/mol) = 0.55 moles present.
  • Multiply by Avogadros number (NA=6x1023) to find the number of molecules in the bottle. 10ml would have N=0.55xNA=3.3x1023 molecules of water.
  • Find the dilution factor d=10-2C  or d=10-D. Eg for a 12C dilution is equivalent to d=10-2*12=10-24
  • The expected number of molecules of active ingredient in the bottle of medication is N*d=3.3x1023 x 10-24 = 0.3 molecules
    ie there are probably no molecules of the active ingredient in a 10ml bottle of 12C medication.
  • If the daily dose is 1 drop, there is almost certainly none of the active ingredient in the drop.

One good thing about Homeopathic medications with dilutions above 10C is that it will have almost no side-effects (but no effects of the active ingredients either). This just leaves the Placebo Effect.
 

Offline dlorde

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Calculating molecules based on moles doesn't really tell one much.
Most medicines have recommended doses, safe doses, effective doses, potencies, and etc.

One might take a dose of 1000 mg of Aspirin, but only 75 mg of Ketoprofen for a similar effect due to different potencies.

You may be able to get a similar analgesic effect by boiling willow bark and making willow bark tea.  Of course, salicylic acid or salicin isn't quite the same as acetylsalicylic acid, dosage is hard to control, and one there are many other ingredients that may not be desired.

Like Aspirin, many of our modern medicines are derived from natural plant or organism extracts.  Penicillin is derived from a mold.  Coumadin is also derived from a different mold.  Digitalis is derived from Foxglove.  Of course, in western medicine, one generally uses purified, and sometimes moderately modified active ingredients which are rigorously controlled.
You seem to be talking about herbal medicine rather than homeopathy. Homeopathy deals in extreme dilutions (a typical 30C dilution is 1 in 1060, equivalent to a dilution of one molecule in a sphere of water with a diameter of 150million km) and claims that efficacy increases with dilution. A 55C dilution is equivalent to one molecule in a universe-sized pool, but they go up to 200C...

[stats from 'Bad Science' by Ben Goldacre]
« Last Edit: 03/01/2014 17:25:30 by dlorde »
 

Offline CliffordK

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You seem to be talking about herbal medicine rather than homeopathy. Homeopathy deals in extreme dilutions (a typical 30C dilution is 1 in 1060, equivalent to a dilution of one molecule in a sphere of water with a diameter of 150million km) and claims that efficacy increases with dilution. A 55C dilution is equivalent to one molecule in a universe-sized pool, but they go up to 200C...

Thanks.  It may be easy to lump several types of alternative medicines together, but that may not be appropriate.

Perhaps the extreme dilutions were invented at the time when many of the "medicines" were toxins. 

Say one was taking cyanide for medicine, one might actually do better with a 1050 dilution than the less dilute mixes.
 

Offline RD

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Perhaps the extreme dilutions were invented at the time when many of the "medicines" were toxins.

Medicines often still are poisons ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dose_makes_the_poison

Extreme dilution makes the product cheaper ,
BTW the public health system in the UK, the NHS, has several (5?) homoeopathic hospitals for that very reason : water is a lot cheaper than medicine.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2014 07:47:17 by RD »
 

Offline dlorde

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Perhaps the extreme dilutions were invented at the time when many of the "medicines" were toxins. 

Say one was taking cyanide for medicine, one might actually do better with a 1050 dilution than the less dilute mixes.
Yes; I don't know for certain, but it strikes me that given the unpleasant and often dangerous medicine of the times, and that most minor illnesses will get better without treatment, harmless water and a reassuring manner would at least do no harm and make you feel better.
 

Offline valeg96

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The notation used for Homeopathic dilution [nofollow] is that "D" means a 10% dilution, and "C" means a 1% dilution.

To calculate the number of active molecules in a 10ml bottle of 12C homeopathic medication:
  • Find the number of molecules of the medication. Eg for a 10ml =10g bottle of water-diluted medicine (18 grams per mole), there are 10g/(18g/mol) = 0.55 moles present.
  • Multiply by Avogadros number (NA=6x1023) to find the number of molecules in the bottle. 10ml would have N=0.55xNA=3.3x1023 molecules of water.
  • Find the dilution factor d=10-2C  or d=10-D. Eg for a 12C dilution is equivalent to d=10-2*12=10-24
  • The expected number of molecules of active ingredient in the bottle of medication is N*d=3.3x1023 x 10-24 = 0.3 molecules
    ie there are probably no molecules of the active ingredient in a 10ml bottle of 12C medication.
  • If the daily dose is 1 drop, there is almost certainly none of the active ingredient in the drop.

One good thing about Homeopathic medications with dilutions above 10C is that it will have almost no side-effects (but no effects of the active ingredients either). This just leaves the Placebo Effect.

Thanks evan_au, that's what i needed :3

BTW the public health system in the UK, the NHS, has several (5?) homoeopathic hospitals for that very reason : water is a lot cheaper than medicine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgxzSUxxRzE [nofollow]
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Don't forget the other gibberish that homoeopaths believe in.
"First, we prepare a one to one hundred dilution of the solution and then we succuss this new dilution vigorously at each step. (Succussion is the forceful pounding of the liquid dilution against a firm but resilient surface.) WE TAKE THIS PROCESS VERY SERIOUSLY. THIS IS THE CORE FUNCTION AT OUR LABORATORY. It is so important that these steps be done correctly that we do not allow one person to perform them acting alone.

We require that a trained person act as a witness to the entire procedure to guarantee you that each critical step was performed correctly. Here at Hahnemann Labs we always prepare the first fifteen potencies in separate vials, which is the Hahnemannian method. It is our experience that each and every potency should be vigorously succussed in order to fully develop its potential. We have designed a new semi-automatic potentizer which ensures that each of these succussions is performed with the same number of strokes and with the same force on each stroke to ensure that every medicine we make is of the highest quality."
from
http://www.wholehealthnow.com/homeopathy_info/hahnemann_labs_preparation.html
Yes, that's someone seriously claiming that their company's speciality is shaking solutions of nothing much and diluting ttem til there's nothing.
or as the bumper sticker says
"Real homeopaths bang it vigorously on a rubber pad"

and the obligatory xkcd cartoon
http://xkcd.com/765/
 

Offline valeg96

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Don't forget the other gibberish that homoeopaths believe in.

Sadly my house is full of books like that, my father being obsessed with magnetotherapy, crystallotherapy, Bach flowers, homeopathy, reiki and hand-healing, ayurveda... Did you know that the solution for leucemy (according to a homeopthy manual, Omeopatia by Tommaso de Chirico) is Natrum Arsenicicum (sodium arsenate) and Natrum sulphuricum (sodium sulphate)? and if the symptoms are aggravated by the moon light you should use Antimonum Crudum (antimonium trisulphide) and Sulphur? lol, it's both sad and hilarious.
 

Offline CliffordK

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It is interesting that Snake Oil has made its way into our vocabulary, but so many people ignore it.

One would think that with the extraordinary information distribution available on the internet, that it would put an end to some of the quackery.  However, it may actually make it worse.

There is the power of the anecdote. 
Person A notes effect of a treatment and publishes it (now on a blog).
Person B reads the report, and it suddenly becomes true for EVERYONE.

Now, certainly there are benefits of anecdotes as part of primary research.  However, they should be followed up with rigorous research.  Double blinded placebo controlled clinical trials, cohort studies, etc. 

Keep in mind all the biases. 
  • Placebo Bias.  The belief that "medicine" makes one feel better, or that one should feel better.  Also, many conditions will heal on their own, so one may be attributing the success of natural healing to the placebo.  Perhaps even attributing the recovery to the wrong component.
  • Reporting Bias.  This may be a problem with the "blogs".  Those interested in alternative medicines will flock to the alternative blogs.  There tend to be two types of posts, Product X is really good, or Product X is really bad.  The average is often ignored.  So, if an alternative treatment helps a person, they may report it.  And, if nothing happens it may be ignored unless it causes significant harm.  And, people may in fact only choose to read (& believe) the positive reports.
  • Post Analysis Bias.  I'm not quite sure what the term for this is, but if you do a study, then run the statistics and find something completely unpredicted, perhaps with a weak correlation.  Then technically one should repeat the study to look for the new finding.
    On an individual, one does lab tests to look for potential problems.  What happens when one falls in the 10th percentile for something?  Is it causing problems, or perhaps unrelated?
  • Correlation not causation.  Two factors may be highly correlated, but perhaps caused by a third, unknown factor

Look at Wikipedia's list of logical fallacies
and
Wikipedia's list of cognitive biases
 

Offline dlorde

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Homeopathy is basically, "There, there, mommy kiss it better..." for adults, but they've swapped the power of the maternal bond for paternal authority, with the sciency-sounding, 'Law of Similars', 'dilutions', and 'succussion', and pills & potions in medicine bottles with Latin names. A simple, safe, comforting way to feel better - at a cost. It's a placebo with a sympathetic bedside manner, that smiles as it hands you the bill.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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Homeopathy is basically, "There, there, mommy kiss it better..." for adults, but they've swapped the power of the maternal bond for paternal authority, with the sciency-sounding, 'Law of Similars', 'dilutions', and 'succussion', and pills & potions in medicine bottles with Latin names. A simple, safe, comforting way to feel better - at a cost. It's a placebo with a sympathetic bedside manner, that smiles as it hands you the bill.



that's pretty much true but there's an important difference.
"Mommy" knows better than to rely on "kissing it better" for serious medical conditions and takes her kid to hospital: homoeopaths don't.
 

Offline CliffordK

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If one goes by the more dilution the better, then one can simply take your favorite potion, dilute it 100:1, and have a lifetime supply of it.  If you ever run short, re-dilute your remaining stock.
No need to pay a "specialist" to make your dilutions. 

Do people really know the true dilutions?  I was surprised to hear that an 10X dilution was actually weaker than a 9X dilution, and a 30X dilution is even weaker still.

Perhaps the governemnt should require the use of scientific notation.
9X dilution is: 1:109 dilution.  20X is 1:1020 dilution.  30X is 1:1030 dilution.

The proper British on this website may have a cow, but I will admit to reusing my tea bags.  After about the third cup of tea brewed with a teabag, I must admit that it does start getting a bit weak.  I could hardly imagine reusing the teabag for a few hundred cups.
 

Offline dlorde

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... that's pretty much true but there's an important difference.
"Mommy" knows better than to rely on "kissing it better" for serious medical conditions and takes her kid to hospital: homoeopaths don't.
Yes, that's a good argument that it's not entirely harmless.
 

Offline dlorde

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If one goes by the more dilution the better, then one can simply take your favorite potion, dilute it 100:1, and have a lifetime supply of it.  If you ever run short, re-dilute your remaining stock.
No need to pay a "specialist" to make your dilutions.
Be careful though - each dilution makes it more powerful(!). I'm not sure you can make it less powerful - unless you let some of the water evaporate, or maybe diluting without succussion... Oh, and you have to succuss it after every dilution.

Quote
Do people really know the true dilutions?  I was surprised to hear that an 10X dilution was actually weaker than a 9X dilution, and a 30X dilution is even weaker still.
A 1C dilution is one drop in 100 drops of water then succussed. 2C is one drop of 1C in 100 drops of water then succussed, and so-on. There are both manual and automated processes in use for this, but whether the water in any particular bottle for sale has been through the process is impossible to say - a homeopathic prep is analytically indistinguishable from pure water (or alcohol, if used).

Quote
Perhaps the governemnt should require the use of scientific notation.
9X dilution is: 1:109 dilution.  20X is 1:1020 dilution.  30X is 1:1030 dilution.
It doesn't really matter when the standard dilution is 30C.

Quote
The proper British on this website may have a cow, but I will admit to reusing my tea bags.  After about the third cup of tea brewed with a teabag, I must admit that it does start getting a bit weak.  I could hardly imagine reusing the teabag for a few hundred cups.
It doesn't get stronger? ;)
 

Offline SorryDnoodle

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Your posts about homeopathy appear to be very biased.

Say you go to your local coffee shop and get a shot of espresso...  It is dilute.  You begin with a coffee bean.  Roast it.  Grind it up.  Then press boiling water through it.  Then drink the black sludge extracted from it (often further diluted with milk).  Is it the same thing as eating raw coffee beans?  Probably not.  Does it have Caffeine (as the active ingredient in it)?  Most certainly. 


All true, but if you dilute coffee to just a few molecules and the rest water and/or milk it would't taste anything and would be pointless, just like giving someone a few molecules of penicillin would not cure them of a nasty bacterial infection.

Coffee that we drink contain way more than that, and comparing homeopathy "medicine" to making coffee is silly.
It is merely a placebo effect, which is quite silly to begin with but that is another story.
 

Offline Redcat

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We shouldn't take homeopathy as a part of biochemistry: homeopathy is not a herbal medicine by any means. I think homeopathy is more related to information technology rather than biochemistry. Computer's hard drive magnet retains information even when electric power is disconnected, but nobody calls this 'witchcraft'. Why is this label stuck to homeopathy?
 

Offline dlorde

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We shouldn't take homeopathy as a part of biochemistry: homeopathy is not a herbal medicine by any means. I think homeopathy is more related to information technology rather than biochemistry. Computer's hard drive magnet retains information even when electric power is disconnected, but nobody calls this 'witchcraft'. Why is this label stuck to homeopathy?
Care to explain what you mean? what does homeopathy have to do with IT? who calls homeopathy witchcraft?
 

Offline precisioncomponents

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Calculating molecules based on moles doesn't really tell one much.
Most medicines have recommended doses, safe doses, effective doses, potencies, and etc.

One might take a dose of 1000 mg of Aspirin, but only 75 mg of Ketoprofen for a similar effect due to different potencies.

You may be able to get a similar analgesic effect by boiling willow bark and making willow bark tea.  Of course, salicylic acid or salicin isn't quite the same as acetylsalicylic acid, dosage is hard to control, and one there are many other ingredients that may not be desired.

Like Aspirin, many of our modern medicines are derived from natural plant or organism extracts.  Penicillin is derived from a mold.  Coumadin is also derived from a different mold.  Digitalis is derived from Foxglove.  Of course, in western medicine, one generally uses purified, and sometimes moderately modified active ingredients which are rigorously controlled.
You seem to be talking about herbal medicine rather than homeopathy. Homeopathy deals in extreme dilutions (a typical 30C dilution is 1 in 1060, equivalent to a dilution of one molecule in a sphere of water with a diameter of 150million km) and claims that efficacy increases with dilution. A 55C dilution is equivalent to one molecule in a universe-sized pool, but they go up to 200C...

[stats from 'Bad Science' by Ben Goldacre]

You seem to be talking about homeopathy,Homeopathy a birth, it was Western attack that homeopathic dilutions of drugs is not a drug, but a placebo. Homeopathy spread to the United States after the American tradition of Western establishment of the "American Western Society", the main purpose of the establishment of the Institute is to declare war and homeopathic medicine.
 

Offline dlorde

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You seem to be talking about homeopathy,Homeopathy a birth, it was Western attack that homeopathic dilutions of drugs is not a drug, but a placebo. Homeopathy spread to the United States after the American tradition of Western establishment of the "American Western Society", the main purpose of the establishment of the Institute is to declare war and homeopathic medicine.
I'm sorry PC, I have no idea what you're saying; that post reads like it's been through Google translate once too often...
 

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