This is an excerpt from an interview with Lionel Milgrom from Rowena Ronson’s book Looking Back Moving Forward 


LIONEL: As a chemist I am wedded to the idea of substance, atoms and molecules therefore if you dilute something to nothing, how can it do something? There was the challenge and that, I do believe, is basically what most people find so obnoxious about homeopathy. It flies in the face of everything that you have taken for granted, especially if you are trained in any kind of ‘hard’ (as opposed to ‘softer’ subjects like the humanities, etc) science, for example a chemist or biochemist. One can see things on a molecular level, so how can nothing do something? That is the challenge that homeopathy has to rise to.

When you start doing trials, you look at all the trials’ data and it strikes me that you can either believe them or you can disbelieve them. There are not enough definitive trials that say one thing or the other. I have my theories about that, obviously. I actually think the randomised control trial methodology destroys the very thing that it is trying to investigate in this context and therefore it is the wrong tool. You don’t use a spanner when you need a hammer. The fact that sometimes you do see effects, well, that is all to do with this whole business of entanglement that I have gone on about for years. And unfortunately examining systems that are entangled is incredibly difficult. And also the biomedical community is not ready to take on quantum physics ideas.

What is so interesting about the whole quantum physics thing is when you actually look at the way quantum physics is taught philosophically, it does raise huge questions about the nature of reality and our relationship to it. And precisely because of that, there is this wonderful phrase in physics for when people start asking these very difficult philosophical, ontological questions, they just turn around and say, “Shut up and calculate”, because quantum physics calculations give us things like computers and electronics and all of that. Homeopathy in my view is all about quantum physics and it does make us ask some very cogent questions about what we are and what this reality is. When you come back down to it, what you are actually seeing is the clash of two essentially opposing philosophical paradigms.

It is interesting that science has developed over hundreds of years and gets to this pinnacle where the very thing that it was flying from actually begins to undermine its reductionist nature, and that is what so many scientists cannot take on board. You also have to realise that science is not a homogeneous thing. It is actually a bit like London; a bunch of villages loosely connected by a very bad (and incredibly expensive!) communication system. So there is no reason, for example, why biochemists should take on board ideas of quantum theory. Actually, they do so without knowing it, because all the equipment that they use like electron microscopes are the result of quantum theory.

And the point is, in the chemical sciences, the belief in atoms and molecules, which goes back thousands of years, is perfectly OK because it works. But there are certain situations, which most chemists and biochemists don’t actually come across, where the notion of atoms and molecules actually breaks down. Biochemists use quantum theory to actually bolster their ideas of atoms and molecules. What they don’t realise is that in order for quantum theory to give you atoms and molecules, you have to make approximations.

I think that essentially what goes on between the patient and practitioner with a remedy is a form of entanglement. You can consider that entanglement mathematically because mathematics is a language; a very sophisticated language, but it is a way of talking about something. What I have found is that the discourse of quantum theory, when you really get down to the nuts and bolts, is very similar to the discourse in homeopathy and that has been a real eye-opener for me in the last couple of years. If there is that similarity of discourses then we would be able to use the same sort of concepts as the quantum physicists. A lot of them get rather cheesed off by this because they think that we are robbing their territory.

ROWENA: But in terms of entanglement, even if a remedy is not prescribed there is entanglement, isn’t there?

LIONEL: The remedy is part of the entanglement. So what does it mean to prescribe a remedy? Is it the pills or is it the process? Or is it some combination of both? And what, after all, IS the remedy? Is it the pills, or the process, or some combination of both? And are we mistaken if we think the process and the pills are indeed separate? Maybe it is the whole shebang - process, prescription, the giving and the taking of the remedy….try plugging that little lot into a double-blind randomised controlled trial! Do you see what I am getting at? Because before there are remedies, before there is even homeopathy, there are just two people; one who (hopefully!) can heal, and one who wants to be healed. Everything starts from there, and it is as true of conventional medicine as it is of homeopathy. As Shakespeare once wrote, “We are such stuff. As dreams are made on….”, but I think I detect your eyes are beginning to glaze over….

So, homeopathy is supposed to work well even with young children and animals. How do you explain that? Of course you don’t get the case from the animal; you get the case from the owner, unless of course you live in Narnia….

ROWENA: But is that always the case? Some homeopathic vets will just observe the animal.

LIONEL: That is right but I cannot see the owner remaining silent throughout; there has to be some exchange between them. If that is the case, then perhaps you have to consider the owner and the animal as an entangled entity. Ergo if you gave the remedy to the owner, would it have the same effect? I was giving a talk down in the South West recently and apparently there is a vet down there who works in that way, which I find absolutely fascinating. I would love to talk to that person. Obviously this is anecdotal. I have no idea how you would test it. And that really is one of the big problems with this whole entanglement way of trying to describe Complementary and Alternative Medicine. I think we are getting there and I am not the only one working in this area.

ROWENA: That would be like if I took all the remedies that my kids need. I can understand that when kids are very small and one is breastfeeding, for example, but when they are twelve and fourteen? It doesn’t really make sense to me.

LIONEL: Yes, you and me both! Entanglement is presumably going on all the time. And why does it have to make sense? If you walk around thinking and believing what your senses appear to be yelling at you, that you are isolated, on your own, the centre of your own little universe, then none of this makes any sense. But then what does it take to experience a sense of oneness with the world that at least one could refer back to? You cannot just manufacture it, although there are and always have been certain pharmaceuticals that are supposed to deliver short cuts to such a state….

I come back to what I said earlier - before anything, there are just two people sitting in front of each other but when it clicks then its like being on a trail. You can sense the remedy and I suppose I start to ask questions around my understanding of the remedy picture. On quite a few occasions the patient has broken down as a question seems to have gone right to their heart. The feeling then can be quite overpowering; on the one hand a sense of confirmation, yet on the other a sense of humility and privilege to be allowed in to share something with the patient. It gets really emotional…. But then even Kent said that sometimes with the best intention and the best homeopathic prescribing, the remedy doesn’t work - so what is going on? Entanglement is a much more subtle thing than just intention. I don’t quite know what it means yet.

But there is one other thing. A lot of people talk about intention being part of the healing package. I think I am beginning to disagree with that. Intention is much overrated. After all, if we really had even a tiny fraction of the intention we think we have, then war would have been outlawed aeons ago. The unpalatable truth is that real intention, as we are, is way beyond us. Real intention means that we have the power to do, and with us, things just happen. This is tough to listen to and take on board. On the other hand we can exercise ATTENTION. We can listen and feel and sense, both outwardly and inwardly. And the more we practise that, I am beginning to realise, the finer attention becomes. Then we are better placed to entangle with the universe around us, including our sentient breathing fellow humanoids, and perhaps be those beings capable of partaking of and helping with the creative process. And if there is one sure-fire way of stopping the universe running down, then this has got to be it! Now, could it also just be that this is also where healing comes from? It is worth taking a look, don’t you think?

(If you enjoyed this interview and want to read more, then please visit the book’s website – and read a free download of Martin Miles’ interview, order the book or join discussions on the recently launched blog.)