What Can Water Memory Tell Us?
Updated January 02, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
The idea that water, the substance our bodies are made of and what we need to live, having memory seems quite intriguing. What does water memory mean? What is it used for? In this post, we will dive into the world of water memory and see what we can find.
What Is The Theory Of Water Memory?
The idea of water memory is that when you dissolve a substance in water, it still has the memory of the substance, no matter how many times you dilute the water afterward. Water memory is a big theme in homeopathy, and to understand water memory, we need to understand homeopathy.
What Is Homeopathy?
You probably have heard the term homeopathy before, but may not fully understand what it is. It's the belief that the body can cure itself no matter what, and that tiny amounts of substances can heal the body. In the late 1700s Germany, homeopathy was quite popular. It has some popularity in the US, but it's most widespread in Europe.
The idea behind homeopathy is that a substance that causes sickness in a person can be treated with very small amounts to build up immunity. There is certainly truth to the idea of building up immunity by being exposed to tiny amounts, but homeopathy takes a different approach. If you are treating allergies, homeopathy may use different ingredients such as red onions, bees, poison ivy, and so on
A homeopathic doctor will then put these ingredients in water and weaken them until they are diluted or dissolves. This is known as potentization. The homeopathic doctor may believe that lower doses are powerful. These doses are so low that the substance will usually not have molecules of the ingredients. This is where the theory of water memory comes in. They believe that the water still has the memory of the substance, and you can use that to treat your ailments. Besides liquids, homeopathic medicine may come in the form of pills or creams. You can buy the treatment that best suits your taste or your needs at the moment.
A homeopathic doctor will make a remedy that is best suited for your situation and use the power of water memory to make it happen. If you don't want to go to a homeopathic doctor, you can get homeopathic medicines over the counter as well.
Homeopathy claims to treat many conditions, including allergies, depression, fatigue, arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, irritable bowels, and much more. With that said, homeopathy is not recommended for cancer, or as a substitute for vaccines. In fact, homeopathy as a whole is viewed as a pseudoscience, with some people claiming that homeopathic medicine is no better than a sugar pill. Later on, we will go further into the controversy surrounding homeopathy and water memory. Can water maintain a memory of what has been dissolved in it, or is it complete bunk? Let's fine out, shall we?
Does Homeopathy Work?
Like any form of alternative medicine, homeopathy has many critics, and its claims have been put under scrutiny. There have been many claims of its effectiveness, but skeptics believe that it is the placebo effect at work.
The placebo effect is when you take a medicine that has useless. However, because you believe it works, you start to see positive results. The mind can be quite powerful in healing, and if you believe you're being healed, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A placebo effect may be good for less harmful symptoms such as a headache or a cold. The problem comes when people use homeopathy as a way to treat more serious illnesses, such as cancer. You definitely should consult a doctor first and foremost if you want to see if homeopathy is right for you.
There are other critiques of homeopathy as well. First, a homeopathic treatment tends not to have a single molecule of the substance in it. That means that it won't treat you, according to skeptics. Some skeptics, such as the magician James Randi, "overdosed" on homeopathic medicine to prove that it does nothing to you.
Homeopathy also seems to be the opposite of what we know about modern medicine, in that an active ingredient needs to be present, and that a larger dose, not a smaller, will give you more powerful results.
Proponents of homeopathy believe that water memory is the explanation as to why homeopathy works. So with that said, why does water memory work?
The Proposed Theory
The study that first proved water memory was first published in 1988 by French immunologist Jacques Benveniste. It was published in the magazine Nature, and Nature itself told its readers not to decide until further results could be repeated. So what was the study? How was it proposed to work?
Benveniste wanted to prove that homeopathy works and to publish it in a journal that has scientific credibility. His study worked by taking human antibodies and diluted them to the point that there were no molecules left in the solution. According to Benveniste's team, despite the molecules being absent from the water, there was still a response to the solution as if they would respond to the antibody. What was even more interesting was that for the dilution to working, it must be shaken as hard as possible. Benveniste did not explain the phenomenon in his study, and the term "water memory" wasn't even coined by him, but instead by a journalist who wrote the report about his study.
Benveniste's study did raise a few eyebrows and gave a theory as to how homeopathy could work, but critics believed that his study was not in support of how we understand chemistry.
In fact, Nature did not want to publish his study when he first submitted it to the magazine. They believed that publishing the study would give credibility to the concept of homeopathy, even though the results could not be replicated. If the research were correct, it would change how we understand chemistry and even physics itself. John Maddox, the editor, believed that they must publish it, as there were no flaws in the methodology at the time of the study.
They published it, but as mentioned before, there was a note by Maddox saying to remain skeptical until the study could be replicated.
In the field of science, a study needs to be replicated to cement or debunk its claim. Maddox wanted to redo the experiment using his group of people. He sought the help of James Randi, a magician and a researcher on the paranormal and pseudoscience, as well as a few other skeptics and chemists that could help to support or debunk the concept of water memory.
So Maddox and his group did try to replicate the study as close to the original as they can. The study was double-blinded, making sure no one knew the difference between the homeopathic treatment and the regular treatment. The team went quite far in making sure that no one could tell the difference between the conventional treatment and the homeopathic one.
The conclusions seem to disprove the concept of water memory, and there was even questioning as to why was paying Benveniste's researchers, with some evidence that a homeopathic company was paying the researchers.
Despite Benveniste agreeing to the test, he became furious about the results, saying that he was witch hunted. Nature replied by not apologizing and instead of pointing out that the retest needed to be necessary to avoid any biases. Maddox also pointed out that Benveniste only lashed out after the fact.
Despite this, the debate still raged on as to whether or not which test was factual. Many other tests tried to prove water memory, but none of them yielded positive results.
Despite water memory is an interesting concept, it has little basis in science. A substance such as water, which has no sentience, cannot retain a memory of a substance. The water we drink has many substances filtered out of it. Imagine if the water had the memory of everything we flushed down! That would be quite shocking.
With that said, homeopathy can be used as a placebo effect. But as mentioned before, you should never substitute it for real medicine, especially if your condition is serious. Alternative medicine can become deadly in that situation.
If you're having problems, turn to counsel for help, not homeopathy. A counselor can help you cope with any ailments you may have, and also treat you for any mental illnesses. Also, they can help you create goals to live a much better life.
A counselor benefits you in many ways, such as using cognitive behavioral therapy to improve your thinking. If you want to talk to a counselor, there is no shame in doing so. Find one today and see what they can.