I hope some of you might have taken white ball-like sweet medicines that come in small fancy bottles. Those are the homoeopathic medicines. Homoeopathy is a type of alternative medicine that works on three main principles. It believes in the concept of “like cures like”- which means that the disease symptoms can be cured by administering medicines that can cause similar symptoms. The second principle is that of minimum dose, as it employs active ingredients as medicine, but in a very diluted form. The third principle is the idea of “personalized medicine” where the treatment can be tailored from person to person. In this article, we will look into whether homoeopathy alter epigenetic gene expression or not?
What Is Epigenetics?
Earlier the term epigenetics was used to refer to the interactions between the genome and the environment which influence their development and differentiation. Today, it refers to the regulation of heritable phenotypic characters without altering the DNA sequence. These epigenetic changes can either be a part of normal development or may result from environmental factors. Some of the epigenetic processes which control gene expression include DNA imprinting, gene silencing, DNA methylation, X-chromosome inactivation, histone modifications, and so on.
Can Homoeopathy Alter Epigenetic Gene Expression?
The effectiveness of homoeopathic medicines has always been a controversial topic to deal with. Some believe it just works based on the placebo effect while others believe it to be more than a placebo and the medicines may be helpful in effectively decreasing the severity of the symptoms. Some of the health conditions present in the ancestors are often passed on from generation to generation. The homoeopathic approach attempts to reverse the imprint responsible for the ancestral disease. It influences the immune system and tries to silence the disease imprint permanently. This means that in the long run, not only can homoeopathy save you from a disease that has been running in your family from generation to generation, it can prevent the coming generations to be affected by the disease.
Epigenetic hypermethylation of CpG islands associated with regulatory genes and the hypomethylation of the other genes are some of the identification characteristics of cancer cells. Homoeopathic medicines have been shown the reversal of the epigenetic modifications of specifically the cancer cells. This means homoeopathy medicines can act as chemotherapeutic agents. Let us see some of the researches which support this idea. Samadder et al., 2013 showed that the use of Lycopodium clavatum, a homoeopathic drug induces the expression of genes responsible for apoptosis in the cancerous HeLa cells without causing any harm to the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). This means it can be used as an anti-cancer agent for selectively targeting cancer cells. Another study by Saha et al., 2013 showed the effect of homoeopathic drugs like Condurango and Hydrastis canadensis on HeLa cells. They found the differential expression of over 100 genes upon drug treatment, implying the power of ultra-diluted homoeopathic drugs in reversing the epigenetic changes that lead to cancer and act as cancer signatures. Another study on Condurango-treated cancer cells by Sourav et al, 2014 showed a significant decrease in the hypermethylation of p53 and p15 genes in vitro suggesting the role of homoeopathic drugs in fighting against cancer. Homoeopathic drugs activate the SMAD4 gene which suppresses tumour growth.
The working of homoeopathic medicines is based on the switch on/off mechanism of gene expression, especially those regulated by epigenetic modification. Keeping in mind the several studies done on cancer cells with the use of homoeopathic drugs, it can be said that these drugs may have anti-cancer properties and in the long run, may prove beneficial in reversing the diseases which run in families across generations. Hence in conclusion homoeopathy can alter epigenetic gene expression.
- Kanherkar RR, Stair SE, Dey NB, et al., 2017. Epigenetic mechanisms of Integrative medicine. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4365429
- Armstrong S, 2018. Homoeopathic medicines can alter genetic expression. Innovative Veterinary Care. https://ivcjournal.com/homeopathy-genetic-expression/
- Michael J, Suchiang EL, 2019. Epigenetics and homoeopathy: A brief overview of the scientific studies and reflection of the concept in homoeopathic literature. National Homeo Recorder. https://www.homoeorecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2.-Perspective-Epigenetics-Jan-Mar-2019-NHR.pdf
- Sourav S, Khuds-Buksh AR, 2014. Hypermethylation is involved in DNA profiles of lung cancer-specific tumour suppressor genes and epigenetic modification caused by an ultra-highly diluted homoeopathic drug, Condurango 30C, in vitro and in vivo. International Journal of high Dilution Research. 13(47): 99-99.
- Saha SK, Roy S, Khuda-Bukhsh AR, 2013. Evidence in support of gene regulatory hypothesis: Gene expression profiling manifests homoeopathy effect as more than placebo. International Journal of high Dilution Research. 12(45): 162-167.
- Samadder A, Das S, Das J, et al., 2013. The potentized homeopathic drug, Lycopodium clavatum (5C and 15C) has anti-cancer effects on HeLa cells in vitro. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 6(4): 180-187.