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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Jul;29(7):561-5. doi: 10.1177/0960327110369860.

Postconditioning hormesis and the homeopathic Similia principle: molecular aspects.

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International Institute of Biophysics, Neuss, Germany.


Postexposure conditioning, as a part of hormesis, involves the application of a low dose of stress following exposure to a severe stress condition. Depending on whether the low-dose stress is of the same type of stress or is different from the initial high-dose stress causing the diseased state, postconditioning can be classified as homologous or heterologous, respectively. In clinical homeopathy, the same distinction is found between isopathic and homeopathic application of low-dose substances. Homeopathy is unique for its Similia principle, which implies that substances causing symptoms in healthy biological systems can be used to treat similar symptoms in diseased biological systems. The evaluation of the Similia principle in an experimental set-up requires the analysis of a complex sequence of 'damage-disease-treatment-effect' events. The process of recovery from an insult is then monitored and a possible beneficial effect on this recovery process, upon application of a range of substances in low dose, can subsequently be analyzed using molecular and functional parameters. It is then possible to compare the effect of treatment with the degree of similarity between the diseased state and the effects caused by homologous and/or different heterologous substances. Beneficial effects of postconditioning mild stress conditions have been described in terms of an increase of the synthesis of stress proteins. In this commentary paper, we present additional information on this aspect. The experimental data suggest that the beneficial effect of the low-dose stress condition used as heterologous postconditioning is related to similarity in molecular stress response.

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