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Homeopathy Medicine Quackery

Vibrations. It’s always vibrations. And homeopathy. Thanks to “Dr.” William Edwin Gray III.

The woo of homeopathy never ceases to amaze Orac. This time around, “Dr.” William Edwin Gray III has produced some truly spectacular homeopathic vibrational woo.

Vibrations. Toujours des vibrations. Just ask Dr. William Edwin Gray III.

Yes, when it comes to certain forms of quackery, it’s always vibrations. This time is no different. It’s a rather amusing form of quackery that I somehow missed when it appeared in the news last week. I figured that, after the deep dive I took into an important clinical trial yesterday, discussing a rather odd bit of vibrational woo might be a nice break before taking on anything heavy again. Besides, there’s someone we know in one of the news stories about the saga, and, I figure, better late than never. So consider this a little catchup. Besides, as the story involves homeopathy (or, as I like to refer to it ), and both involve the depths of looniness to which homeopaths will descend.

First, let’s take a look at “Dr.” William Edwin Gray III:

The website promises that audio recordings can cure dozens of ailments — among them diarrhea, anxiety, labor pains, malaria, even a pet’s infection.

Dr. William Edwin Gray III, a homeopathic doctor who practices in the Bay Area, sells these so-called eRemedies for $5 on his website. Each recording is 13 seconds long and consists of what Gray described as “a hissing sound.”

“Thirty-six out of 37 people were cured of their malaria symptoms within three to four hours with just a few doses,” Gray, 75, said in an interview. “It works really well in practice, and I’m still trying to develop investors and so on to promote it so it can be marketed and more widely used.”

At this point, you might be wondering: What does this have to do with homeopathy? Fear not, it’s coming:

The physician even claims to have cured three cases of ebola in 2014 “simply by playing the appropriate eRemedy several times in an hour.”

His site describes his sound wave treatments as homeopathic even though homeopathy involves using minute amounts of natural substances in highly diluted solutions to treat illnesses. Gray supposedly harvests the energy of the homeopathic potions by converting it to sound waves via a coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer. The sound waves are then stored on devices as .wav files or MP3 files.

OK, even by the standards of homeopathy, this is pretty ridiculous. I just had to go to Gray’s website and find out what this was all about. So far, neither news story tells me how this could have anything to do with homeopathy. Basically, what Gray does is to ask a bunch of questions about the patient’s conditions on a survey, and his device does…something. The result of this “something” is a waveform of some sort that results in a hissing sound. How do the questions provide information that can produce the sound? Who knows? At least, who knew after reading the news articles?

So let’s go to the source, where Gray claims that “eRemedies are based on a provisionally patented system technology based on homeopathic principles,” claiming that it can help fever, influenza, diarrhea, injuries, head injury, back pain, childbirth complications, pet abscess or cystitis, malaria, typhoid, cholera. Wow. That’s a pretty definitive list!

Next up is a description of the general principles of homeopathy. I’ll assume that my regular readers know that it’s The One Quackery To Rule Them All and why. Basically, it assumes that you can treat symptoms with something that causes the same symptoms and that diluting a remedy, even dilution to the point where not a single molecule of original remedy remain, can make the remedy stronger. Basically, homeopathy is based on pre-scientific vitalistic beliefs rooted in the concepts of sympathetic magic.

Oh, OK. I can’t resist. Gray explains the extreme implausibility of homeopathy, and I can’t resist mocking it:

A common criticism of homeopathy is the fact that the remedies are made past there being even a molecule left. How could it work if there is no chemical? Well, there is a well-documented scientific answer.

When something is in solution, water molecules form shells around the individual ions and molecules of the original substance. This is how it is kept in solution. Vigorous pounding breaks these water molecule shells into small nanometer-sized clusters. When they are diluted (by serial dilutions), their size increases. The more the solution is pounded and diluted, the more these clusters are created. Most importantly, these clusters carry the same energy as the original substance, because that is how the clusters formed in the first place!

Clusters have been viewed by electron microscope, measured in size by Atomic Force Microscopy, defined spectrophotometrically, and been validated by innumerable scientific studies clinically.

Hence, homeopathic remedies are an elegant way of getting rid of the original substance while putting its energy into the water as a vehicle. And, this elegant process has been used for over two centuries!

No. Just no. Water clusters are not a mechanism by which homeopathy could work. You’ll note how Gray doesn’t provide a single bit of evidence to support his claims. Water clusters don’t exist, at least not in the way homeopaths seem to think that they do.

If you really want amusement, though, you should scroll further down on this page:

As described, the energetic signal in homeopathic remedies can be extracted via a device consisting of a simple coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer, and the resulting signal can be stored on a computer as a .wav file or a MP3 file. This technique was developed originally in the 1990s by Jacques Benveniste, a French researcher doing immunology research. He demonstrated this in repeated laboratory experiments.

Of course, homeopathic principles require choosing the correct remedy in a given sudden onset (acute) situation, so Coherence Apps LLC has taken the next step and designed eRemedy selection algorithms based on homeopathic principles. This entails answering very detailed and specific questions; the resulting pattern of answers is unique and individualized to the user; the algorithmic engine then selects and plays the appropriate eRemedy. The process of creating eRemedies and then using them on humans via cellphone or computer (as opposed to limiting their use to laboratory experiments) has now been patented by Coherence Apps LLC.

Benveniste. He had to invoke Benveniste. If you recall, Benveniste was taken in by his own beliefs to the point that it took a magician, James Randi, to demonstrate where Benveniste had gone wrong. Basically, there’s no science here, and whatever algorithm Gray has cooked up is probably about as good as making stuff up. The inclusion of various illustrations and circuit diagrams in Gray’s blatherings do not impress me.

In particular, the way Gray created these homeopathic sound stylings is just crazy:

Gray said he created the recordings by placing vials of homeopathic liquids in an electrified wire coil and recording the noise that was emitted. The healing power of the liquid, he said, was transmitted into the sound waves he captured.

Although 263 different recordings are available, the human ear cannot distingush one from another, he said, but the different frequencies of vibration can be “picked up by the body as a whole.”

Because, of course they were.

Let’s just put it this way. When your claims embarrass actual homeopaths, you have truly hit a low:

Robert Stewart, founder of the New York School of Homeopathy, distanced the school from Gray’s techniques.

“It is clear to me that what he is doing has nothing to do with homeopathy,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s on his own in this.”

I’m telling ya. You can’t make stuff like this up. Worse, there’s an even nuttier cae of homeopathic silliness out there that I could blog about if I were to decide to do so.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

59 replies on “Vibrations. It’s always vibrations. And homeopathy. Thanks to “Dr.” William Edwin Gray III.”

I see why any Homeopathic school would be upset by this. It means people could pirate the sound files and no longer need to buy their expensive water bottles. Image that, you could say they are only in it for the money and this is the proof. If they deny it, we can call them Homeoshills.

I’m not sure, but wouldn’t one loose some frequencies, when transforming them to mp3-files? Even when one digitizes the frequencies, there would be a loss in the higher frequencies, not to be hearable for the human ear, but I suppose those frequencies still would have a significant effect on the human body. At least if you believe all this stuff.

Even high-end audio rigs don’t have a frequency response capable of reproducing frequencies much outside the 20 Hz – 20 kHz band that the human ear can hear. They generally have some kind of band-pass filter because most speakers can’t even manage to reproduce sounds far outside that frequency range with anything approaching fidelity, and the human ear can’t even really distinguish them anyway. If they set out to make audio files they presumably digitised the signal they got from their contraption by sampling at the CD rate of 44.1 kHz or something like that (perhaps 48 kHz at most), which allows faithful reproduction of frequencies of at most half the sampling rate (22.05 kHz or 24 kHz). Any higher sampling rates can’t be easily done with common off the shelf computer equipment. But why and how this is actually has any effect at all is the question which is never really addressed by “Dr.” Gray.

I’m surprised he hasn’t partnered with Pear Audio to sell the same people $4,000 speaker cables because if you don’t listen at the highest fidelity, you won’t get the benefits.

I’m still trying to decide what frequencies he would even be claiming to capture. Non-unique <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_noise>brownian noise from molecular collisions spans the audible spectrum, but the noise of a definably unique molecular vibration is so high in frequency that it can’t be reproduced by a speaker.

Guys, don’t you understand? That’s the point! All the loss from compression and conversion is actually increasing the healing capability of the signal per the homeopathic principle. If you bitcrush it, then you become immortal.

MP3s use “lossy compression”, specifically Fraunhofer “psychoacoustic coding”: meaning the files are made smaller by tossing out lots of data that the algorithm determines won’t affect how listeners perceive the sound. So, yeah, any effect attributable to the physical properties of the source sound would most likely not be retained. More to the point though are the limitations of the playback device. Dude originally created his audio-homeopathy thing as an iPhone app, and there’s so much distortion, tonal balance change, and, well, just about any technical waveform change you can imagine, coming out of a smartphone speaker audio that from a sound physics standpoint, this is at least as silly as it seems, maybe more…

Gray’s not the only one offering sound-file homeopathy. Some of the files are indeed available online, and i checked them out in the past. (I don’t remember if I found any of his.. The shtick is that the healing vibrations are supposedly somehow embedded in/behind/under/above/whatever, so what you hear varies from nature sounds to bebop jazz.

Last month I came across Wholetones which not only has magical healing frequencies, they’re BIBLICAL magical healing frequencies! A=444 is the special number, because he had noticed the “original manuscripts” of some psalms “were in a different key” than our modern one (which from my musicology background is ridiculous on at least two fronts…) and then there was a reference to King David on page 222 of his Bible (what).

When I was in college, while U.S. orchestras generally tuned to A440 Mexico City tuned a few cents sharper. Guess they were godlier and healthier, ya think?

Must stink when some even more devious quack gives your quackery a face lift and lipsocuction to bring it all photoshopped into the digital download era.

It would be interesting to look at the Fourier transform of these recordings as they are probably identical. But not at $5 a pop.

Alas, these vibrations can’t be used to explain the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique from the Kill Bill movies. I’m still left with the unsatisfying concept of time-delayed commotio cordis. Yes, I realize homeopaths would say their quackery is never intended for evil purposes, but there is at least one priest who feels homeopathy is inherently bad given that when he blessed a homeopathic clinic, the homeopath then later complained all his solutions lost their potency (http://www.jmanjackal.net/eng/enghomeo.htm).

“The website promises that audio recordings can cure dozens of ailments — among them diarrhea, anxiety, labor pains, malaria, even a pet’s infection.”

Don’t we already have a pretty good cure for labor pains?

Epidurals are far too effective to be natural. Much better to use homeopathic sound waves, which will do absolutely nothing for the pain. More bragging rights!

I meant giving birth as once that happens, the labor pains are “cured”. But, I’ve heard epidurals are pretty wonderful in the meanwhile.

I just found it ironic that he used the word “cure” in relation to labor pains. One of the things people like him are always claiming is that doctors (the real kind) just treat symptoms, they don’t actually find out what the underlying problem is and cure it.

When something is in solution, water molecules form shells around the individual ions and molecules of the original substance. This is how it is kept in solution. Vigorous pounding breaks these water molecule shells into small nanometer-sized clusters. When they are diluted (by serial dilutions), their size increases.

Oh boy. Talk about shooting one’s self in the foot. The shells formed around solutes increase in size as a function of the available surface. In general, surface to volume ratio goes as 1/radius, meaning that surface area decreases more slowly than volume. Breaking a larger volume mass into smaller volumes would lead to an increase in interface area based on changing the surface to volume ratio of the substituent masses, meaning that the solvation shell gets larger. He misses the limit, of course. The volume can no longer be subdivided at the point when the material mass has broken apart to individual, no longer divisible molecules, so the greatest surface area of the shells is ultimately restricted by the number of molecules dissolved. At that point, dilution will simply follow the typical homeopathy route and decrease the quantity of shells remaining away to none as the dissolved molecule surface area decreases along with the absolute number of dissolved molecules. Hydration shells are an interface effect and only exist when an interface exists. I know I’m saying nothing people around here don’t already basically know, but this subject is literally my wheelhouse and surface area does increase for a time within a limit, in this case.

You can almost see the equation they broke. If you assume the molecules themselves are infinitely divisible, the available surface area will tend to infinity.

I understand your point about increasing surface area to increase the reaction, but I think it is even less scientific than you are giving them credit for. The water has nothing to do with the original substance past the first water shell. After that it seems to follow an elementary school blood clotting model, where the pieces of the first water shell, water platelets, clump with each other to make the ‘medicine’. Further dilutions break these new water only clumps into small bits that form the basis of new larger clumps.This still doesn’t solve or attempt answer any of the fundamental problems with homeopathy though, it’s just a different very bad answer.

To be clear, I’m not claiming homeopathy is scientific to any level, I’m just saying how real hydration shells work and what homeopaths are hijacking. I would also offer that it’s a bad idea to refer to this as “a reaction”; it might confuse what a reaction is in a chemical sense or in an atomic sense. The effect is purely a thermodynamic one about minimizing free energy, so nothing more than balancing enthapy and entropy to reach the state of the system. The nature of the hydration shell differs depending on the solvation, but I assure you that nothing ever breaks off or spreads like coagulation. Serum coagulation depends on diffusable factors, which are different physics still;-)

Even nuttier than vibration recordings of homeopathic solutions?
Capturing the air above a homeopathic solution in bottle and selling as aromatherapy?
Or capturing the light passing through a solution in therapeutic crystal?
Those are my guesses.

Wave a review of Humphrey’s Mentor in the general direction of the patient. The farther away this is done, the more potent it is because quantum vibrations.

Sort of like Noel Coward’s recipe for a perfect martini? Fill a glass with gin, and wave it in the general direction of Italy, where lots of vermouth is produced.

Aha! Yes, let’s do this: everyone here put up a subtle satire website offering increasingly-outlandish homeopathic woo, with a Buy button that’s connected to a click-counter, that leads to a “404 error” page. Keep track of your clicks, and we can have a little contest to see who gets the most clicks for their crazy BS.

For example the present quack is offering what amounts to homeopathic white noise. (This will have a kind of placebo effect. For most people, listening to white noise is calming, for the simple reason that it muffles annoying noises in the background. “Ahh, peace & quiet! It must be working!”)

So:

Homeopathic air aromatherapy.

Homeopathic photons, in every color of the rainbow (“We select the healing part of the spectrum for you! The vibrations of the photons are transmitted to your iPhone (Android version coming soon!), and you can feel yourself getting better as you gaze into the screen.”)

Homeopathic bovine mushroom essence (cows are fed homeopathic remedies, the mushrooms that grow in their manure have special healing powers!).

Homeopathic tree energy (sawdust: sprinkle it down the back of your shirt, the itchy sensation is proof it’s doing something-or-another).

Homeopathic miracle stone: mix with water and apply a quarter-inch layer to your forearms and outer thighs, to extract toxins and re-balance your vibrations as it hardens. (plaster of Paris)

Homeopathic diaries! Made of paper that’s infused with homeopathic photons. Write about your health in longhand, and as your cursive improves, your health improves. Available in six soothing pastel colors!

Homeopathic spectrum-therapy writing set: Special pencils in colors that correspond to the vibrational frequencies of your inner self. Even more effective when used to write in a homeopathic diary!

Homeopathic multivitamins and micronutrients: Gaze at our special high-resolution photographs of all-natural foods, and absorb only the nutrients you need, without gaining weight!

Homeopathic rabbit [email protected] (bottled from the air in a cage of rabbits that are fed homeopathic remedies).

Gee, this could be fun. Might even make someone wealthy. Anyone else have an idea?

There’s already homeopathic light of Saturn. Topping that will be a feat.

So that’s how he explains the continued presence of the original substance- shells . That’s a new one.
I’ve only previously heard of a crystalline structure created or maintained in water that justified the woo: it might have been by the Japanese homeopath
.
Seriously though, if they use vibrations as an explanatory principle, do they even need homeopathy?You just need something to vibrate, and I think the loons I survey don’t even require anything substantial, feelings and intentions are enough- you just send your goodwill or prayers and Voila!– energy medicine.

Isn’t it interesting how easily one form of woo transmutes into another?

I must correct myself:
Masuro Emoto spoke about how water formed pretty ice crystals if you spoke nicely to it rather than nastily which produced uglier forms- which is high grade woo by itself. OTHER woo-meisters like Null added on how these crystals explained water’s “memory” of the original ingredients IIRC. I’m sure that something Rife-ian can be tossed into the mix as well.

Isn’t it interesting how easily one form of woo transmutes into another?

Homeopathy has been quantum for ages (Christine Rose being a standout coward when asked a very simple question repeatedly; I gave her the integral at one point). Anyway, it’s called the wavefunction for a reason.

You just need something to vibrate

I know someone who uses tuning fork vibrations to treat most anything. She paid loads of money for these tuning forks and charges extra for her massages if you want the tuning forks.

Hey, I even volunteered to try them out. They are placed on various places on the body–I can’t recall, but possibly something like acupunture points is involved in the placement. Of course, my lack of response was attributed to my atheism. The fact that woo relies on belief for a “result” doesn’t even occur to, let alone bother woo practitioners.

@ brainmatterz:

Now if she wanted to REALLY impress the woo-besotted, instead of plain, old tuning forks she could get different sized Tibetan Singing Bowls.

I actually saw many for sale in an upstate store-
( don’t all rural small towns have Tibetan stores? OK, I’ll admit we’re special- there are at least two I know of)

they were metal with embossed, painted patterns- red, blue, purple, etc. One for each chakra maybe?

@ Denice Walter
I take care of 2 cats from a lady who has those bowls (though I don’t think they are painted). She also gives concerts, but I’m not really going to ask, because I suppose she believes in them. I’m affraid I can’t stop laughing.

If his mechanism picks up the vibrations of a passing truck will the recording cure me of traffic accidents?

Sounds legit to me; after all I walked past a homeopathic ‘clinic ‘the other day and it completely cured me of ever wanting to go in.

rs: “If his mechanism picks up the vibrations of a passing truck, will the recording cure me of traffic accidents?”

LOL! That was just brilliant. Good that I wasn’t eating anything at the moment or I’d be cleaning off my monitor right now.

I have episodes of essential tremors. I could probably be the greatest homeopath of all time.

Speaking of things Rifeian, there are apps for that, and they are QUANTUM.

“This is not only an upgrade, it’s a whole NEW sound generation system based on bija mantra core frequencies. Actually it is far more work than the original RIFE Program.
We have been studying how to improve RIFE audio frequencies by observing nature and sacred languages such as Sanskrit, Hebrew and others.
In nature dolphins have overcome the frequency shift issue with complex holographic vibrational patterns.
Not surprisingly the same occurs in Sanskrit and other sacred languages in which each phenomena or mantra also codes a geometrical hologram that expands the limited audible spectrum frequency range to higher realms.”

Yeah, baby.

http://blog.quantum-life.com/2013/10/quantum-life-rife-app.html

There had to be dolphins in it. They just had to mention the dolphins. And Sanskrit. Might as well throw in Hebrew and attempt to attract some Jews and maybe some Christians along the way.

I’ll bet they also talk about “phases of the Moon” somewhere on that site.

And of course they used the plural “phenomena” as a singular, “each phenomena.” I suppose if using “data” as singular is acceptable, “phenomena” is as well. Sheesh-a-roo!

Just checking with you more experienced folks.
Gray says ““Thirty-six out of 37 people were cured of their malaria symptoms within three to four hours with just a few doses,””

Don’t malaria symptoms usually only last 3-4 hours at a go, and then repeat 2-4 days later? Like, isn’t that the defining feature of malaria is a relapsing fever?

Remove the quotes. Gray is an MD. From one of his wooey websites (MD In Your Hand… Don’t ask.):

Graduated Stanford Medical School with M.D. in 1970. Internship Highland General Hospital, Oakland. California licensure in 1971. Worked at Kaiser Permanente for one year thereafter.

I can’t now find what he did at Kaiser, but I’d looked before and remember he was indeed a real doctor there, either an internist or maybe even in the ER (?). I wondered then if some maybe traumatic experiences in that sort of medicine might have contributed to his conversion to the far end of crazy-enough-for-the Onion woo, but, who knows?

Gray is actually exhibit A in the argument that there’s no shortage of folks with legit MD backgrounds who go heavy into quackery.

The way (traumatic?) exposure to medicine ends up inducing abnormal illness behaviours and abnormal mental representations of medical issues is not scientifically documented to my full personal satisfaction.

Not really woo, but since we are into vibrations. I sometimes see some lenghty commercials for Nespresso and they show they play gamellanmusic for the beans, when they are stored, to give them good vibrations, or something like that.

Perhaps you get coffee that gives you the creeps when you drink it.
Gamelan music is more connected to the place where the beans are harvested.

Talking of homeopaths, the British Homeopathic Association are very annoyed at present.

Last year NHS England had a consultation on stopping prescribing certain things in primary care, one of which was homeopathic remedies. Said consultation, unsurprisingly, concluded that homeopathy should NOT be available on the NHS in England.

BHA was upset and launched a judicial review of the NHSE consultation.

The judicial review reported recently and, I paraphrase, told the BHA to sod right off!

BHA are throwing teddies out of prams and whining that the judge was nasty to them and that no-one really understands them and that they should be allowed to play out late with the big boys…

(Off topic, but still relevant.) I found the following exchange in the “Ask Amy” advice column today:

“Dear Amy: I could not believe you took seriously the concern expressed by “Worried Dad,” who was upset by the “toxic effects of third-hand smoke” on his baby.
Both of my parents smoked around me and my children. They died in their 80s, and the rest of us are doing well. Third-hand smoke? What a joke.
— Exposed
Dear Exposed: There’s nothing quite like a good personal anecdote to disprove actual science.”

Don’t you just love it?

Did she provide references? I’m a bit quizzical over the health effects of what is effectively an odor. Don’t get me started on people who claim “allergy” to the odor (although now that I’ve quit, I do find stale smoke to be quite unpleasant on garments and so forth).

Thanks. That’s a different notion of “third-hand smoke” than I had (e.g., clothing odor, not frank residue).

Quackwatch (Dr. Stephen Barrett) and Consumer Health Digest (William London and Dr. Barrett) addressed William Gray quite recently, after the Los Angeles Times reported on 29 May that the Medical Board of California had charged Dr. Gray with ‘unprofessional conduct, gross negligence, and/or repeated negligent acts related to his marketing of sound files he calls “eRemedies”‘. See https://www.casewatch.org/board/med/gray/accusation.shtml for the complaint against Dr. Gray; and see https://www.ncahf.org/digest18/18-21.html for the Consumer Health Digest article.

There are no “ice structure” in water. Best fit to X ray data is trimeres of hydrogen bonded water molecules, but this is not easy to prove, to put it mildly.
And Lyssanum does not contain holes with shape of rabies virion.

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