Hormesis and homeopathy: Bridge over troubled waters

Menachem Oberbaum*, Shepherd Roee Singer, Noah Samuels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Homeopathy is an empirical method of treatment. Hormesis, while stemming from within the rationalist tradition, has yet to be explained according to current pharmacological theory. Both share in common sub-threshold doses of toxic substances and an initial semi-toxicological insult followed by a greater compensatory (or healing) response. We question whether the differences between these fields may be amenable to scientific research. We identify five cardinal differences between homeopathy and hormesis: (1) Hormesis is a universal phenomenon, while homeopathy is highly specific; (2) Hormesis uses only measurable quantities of compounds, as opposed to homeopathy, which frequently administers medicines at dilutions far beyond the material range; (3) Preparation of hormetic solutions follows standard laboratory procedure, while homeopathy requires a sequential series of dilutions, each followed by vigorous shaking ('succussion'); (4) The effects of hormesis are moderate and temporary, while homeopathy claims curative and permanent responses and (5) Hormesis is a lab phenomenon observed primarily in healthy organisms, whereas homeopathy is a mode of treatment administered primarily to ailing individuals. We believe that all five of these differences are amenable to scientific investigation, and suggest comparing succussed to non-succussed diluted solutions as an optimal first evaluation. We conclude that while certain differences exist between hormesis and homeopathy, hormesis may in fact be a subset of homeopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-571
Number of pages5
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • epistomology
  • homeopathy
  • hormesis


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