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February 1997

What Every Dermatologist Should Know About Homeopathy, Hormesis, and Pharmacological Inversion

Author Affiliations

11600 Cochiti Rd SE Albuquerque, NM 87123-3376

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(2):245. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890380119025

In a recent article in the Archives, Burgdorf and Happle1 authored a negatively biased editorial about homeopathy thinly disguised as an attempt to educate dermatologists about its practice. This bias is based on a lack of understanding and superficial review of scientific literature.

For example, Burgdorf and Happle do not understand homeopathic medicine's similarity principle and its conventional application for vaccinations or its use by allergists in desensitization procedures. The authors are apparently unfamiliar with the concept of hormesis, in which some substances are made more powerful by dilution. In fact, counterintuitive dose-response relationships, known as pharmacological inversion, have been studied for many years for a variety of substances. In 1943 Southam and Ehrlich2 discovered that the extract of western red cedar tree bark promoted fungus growth at low levels and was fungistatic at high levels. More recently, Weis and Weis3 demonstrated that a low

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