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Review Article

Hormesis and homeopathy: The artificial twins

Sergei V Jargin.


Homeopathy claims a curative reaction from small doses of a substance, high doses of which cause symptoms similar to those the patient is suffering from. Hormesis is a concept of biphasic dose-response to different pharmacological and toxicological agents. According to this concept, a small dose of a noxious agent can exert a beneficial action. A hypothesis is defended here that hormesis as a general principle can be assumed only for the factors present in the natural environment thus having induced adaptation of living organisms. Generalizations of the hormesis phenomenon used in support of homeopathy are unfounded. Low-dose impacts may be associated with a higher risk in a state of organ sub-compensation or failure especially in the elderly patients. Practical recommendations should be based neither on the hormesis as a default approach nor on the postulates of homeopathy. All clinically relevant effects, hormetic or not, should be tested by the methods of evidence-based medicine.

Key words: hormesis; homeopathy; placebo; dose-response

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