Homeopathy isn’t a “stimulus-regulation therapy”

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Homeopathy is occasionally referred to as “stimulus-regulation therapy”, which assumes the existence of a corresponding explanatory model. The reader (or listener) is left alone with this term – there is no precise explanation of how homeopathy could work as stimulus-regulation therapy.

What does “regulation” actually mean?

The term “stimulus-regulation therapy” contains the word “regulation”. In technology and in nature many variables (properties, parameters) are “regulated”, i.e. they are kept constant by a “control loop”.

As a symbolic illustration of the article theme, the picture shows part of a technical control loop system.
Part of a technical control loop

A well-known example from technology is the regulation of room temperature. In the room there is a sensor for the temperature (“thermometer”), there is a device (“actuator”) that can change the room temperature (“heating” or “cooling unit”) and there is a circuit that uses the measured values from the thermometer to influence the actuator so that the temperature remains constant. The thermometer with built-in circuit keeps the temperature constant (static) by activating the actuators, therefore it is also called “thermostat”. When the room temperature drops, more heat is emitted from the heating. When the room temperature rises, excess heat is dissipated via the cooling unit.

There are also many parameters in our body that have to be kept constant. The range of permitted fluctuations is usually very small; excessively large deviations are not compatible with life. The principle is called “homeostasis”. Although this word is similar to the word “homeopathy”, it means something completely different. The prefix “homoeo” means – in both cases – “the same” and “-stase” describes that a state is “standing”, “static” or constant. (The word “homeopathy” actually means that a disease is to be cured with a “same” disease – and is thus wrongly chosen, because in homeopathy not the “principle of equality” applies, but the “principle of similarity” Hahnemann attached great importance to this distinction).

Some examples of homeostasis in the body are given below:

  • The oxygen saturation in the blood. If the measured value drops, respiration is forced.
  • Associated with this is the carbon dioxide content in the blood. If the measured value increases, respiration is forced.
  • The salt content in the blood. If it rises, one gets thirsty and drinks water for dilution and the kidney excretes more salt. If it sinks, you get an appetite for saltiness and the kidney excretes more water.
  • The blood sugar level. If it rises, more insulin is released. If it sinks, you get a ravenous appetite for sweets.
  • The body temperature. If it sinks, the muscles begin to tremble (“freeze”) and try to generate movement heat, it rises, sweat is excreted to cool the body by evaporative cooling.

The list is of course far from complete, but these examples will suffice for your understanding.

Control loops follow the allopathic, not the homeopathic principle.

What you can see in all these examples: The control has the opposite effect on the disturbing change in order to cancel it out in this way. If the blood pressure rises, it is lowered. If the blood glucose level rises, it is lowered. If the body temperature rises, it is lowered. If the acid content in the blood rises, it is lowered. This principle corresponds to what Hahnemann contemptuously called “allopathy”. Even today it is still called “symptom suppression” by homeopaths.

The principle of homeopathy, however, is – in disregard of the wrongly chosen term “homeopathic” – to eliminate a disturbance by a similar disturbance. What should one imagine – with regard to the term “stimulus-regulation therapy”? Should, for example, an increased salt content in the blood be corrected by “even more salt” (possibly of a different type)? This would additionally burden the homeostasis, even if the amount of salt added is small. In addition, it is not necessary to “push” the control loop; the control loops are basic life functions. In the case of kidney damage, for example, the control sensor correctly measures the high salt content – it is the diseased kidney that cannot excrete the excess salt. There can be no stimulus regulation under the premise of the principle of similarity.

Hahnemann does not, however, explain homeopathy by any means via “stimulus regulation”. Hahnemann assumes that a body can never have two similar diseases at the same time. In such a case, he would have to separate from one of the two diseases: the weaker one. The aim of homeopathy is therefore to provide a diseased body with a second disease (“artificial disease”, triggered by the homeopathic remedy, which has a similar “drug picture” to the “symptom picture” of the disease). This second disease must be stronger in nature (it is supposed to drive away the original disease, which must be weaker), but weaker in symptoms (otherwise no one would want to be treated if the treatment produces more complaints than the disease). The term “stimulus regulation” does not fit into Hahnemann’s explanatory model.

Wrong labels

We observe in homeopathy that Hahnemann’s pre-scientific explanations are to be explained with modern scientific terms, “subsequently interpreted”, but this is not possible. Hahnemann’s doctrine of diseases from pre-scientific times does not know today’s terms such as “cellular pathology”, “physiology”, “biochemistry”, “biomechanics”, “microbiology”. The similarity principle of homeopathy and the homeostasis of body sizes are mutually exclusive. If one wants to regulate stimuli, one needs the “allopathy principle”. If one wants to adhere to the “homeopathy principle”, the term “stimulus regulation” remains empty.

Author: Dr. med. Wolfgang Vahle

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