Effect of HOM treatments on morphometric parameters during growth stage of the common bean (
At present, agricultural homoeopathy is being increasingly implemented worldwide to mitigate the negative effects caused by the indiscriminate use of chemical products in conventional agricultural practices. It is a viable alternative to improve organic agriculture, since homoeopathic medicines are innocuous substances with a capability to activate measurable response mechanisms when used in plants, animals and humans. Experimental research results allow us to conclude in this chapter that agricultural homoeopathy is able to stimulate favourable biological and even genetic responses in plants (basil Ocimum basilicum L., bean Phaseolus vulgaris L., cucumber Cucumis sativus L., tomato Solanum lycopersicum L.), which shows a novelty insight for organic agriculture.
- agricultural homoeopathy
- organic production
According to the four principles of organic agriculture, health, ecology, care and fairness, all materials used as fertiliser to control pests must be innocuous for people, animals and environment. Those principles are mainly focused to respecting and emulating tha natural biological cycles in order to leave for future generations the same possibility of using natural resources of the planet. All materials or supplies must come preferably from the same farm to avoid introducing external risk agents and to reduce costs . In this context, homoeopathy should be an alternative resource to help crop plants improve their production under several biotic and abiotic stress conditions.
Homoeopathy is a branch of universal medicine based on the ‘principle of the like’ (
The starting point in obtaining a certain boosting curative capacity is a concentrate or mother tincture (MT), which is an alcoholic extract prepared from plants, animals, minerals and even inert materials as nanoparticulate metals . Despite its high dilution, it is possible to detect molecules or nanoparticles of the ‘ponderable active principle’ (MT) in dynamisations, even in high centesimal dilutions (12CH, 30CH, 200CH) although according to Avogadro’s theory, the dynamisation 12CH should have a single molecule of the original substance contained in the MT .
The principle of similarity should be understood as the parallelism between the toxic effect of a substance and its therapeutic use for the treatment of similar, but not necessarily identical, symptomatology. Some drugs used for the treatment of depression, anxiety and panic can induce panic and depressive symptoms in a healthy person when they have been homoeopathically energised by means of a dilution-succussion process . The most paradigmatic and controversial aspect of homoeopathy is that these serial dilutions have a measurable effect even when they are given to an animal or a plant in infinitesimal doses, which leave no possibility of suggestion and placebo effect.
Formerly, the somewhat ethereal or subjective concept of ‘vital force’ was handled, which has fallen into disuse because it has been found that a large part of the effects of homoeopathic medicine are mediated by cells of the immune system [7, 8]. This is the case of ultradilutions of Aspirin® that have a platelet pro-aggregating effect, just opposite to the effects of aspirin in a ponderable dose , and whose action would be mediated by the COX-2 coenzyme .
Animal model research has its advantages, and possibly the most robust, reproduced and tested research topic in the world is the effect of thyroxine on the induction of frog metamorphosis. The effect of thyroxine in massive dose is just the opposite to the effect of the same product in homoeopathic dose , which has been proven by different authors in different frog species . In veterinary medicine, homoeopathy is used, among others, for the treatment of foetal death in pigs (Day, 1984); control of mastitis in cattle  and sheep (Day, 1986); and elimination of ticks in bovines , salmonellosis in chickens  and gastroenteritis in dogs . In aquaculture systems, it can be administered in food or added directly to culture water  to promote resistance to pathogens in stress situations and a better postinfection recovery [2, 18]. Freshwater fish, when raised in low stress conditions, have greater survival, production potential and meat quality . Other relevant research topics are gonadic development and sexual maturation , stress response , physiological and neuroendocrine changes [20, 22], and growth/survival . Recently published results [23, 24] have shown that aquacultural homoeopathy is able to produce measurable biological effects in marine molluscs, shrimp and fish, which trigger physiological, humoral, genomic, metagenomic and transcriptomic responses [17, 25, 26] to recover the internal homoeostasis of the treated individual, which is a synonym of health.
In the plant model, the most replicated study is the protective effect of homoeopathically ultradiluted arsenic versus the effect of arsenic itself in ponderable doses (pre- and post-treatment) on maize seeds . Positive results have been achieved in prevention and control of plague organisms in the
The homoeopathic medical therapy establishes a principle that there are no illnesses but sick people and that every disease is only the reflection of a disturbance of the dynamic balance between the organism and biotic and abiotic elements of their environments. It is officially recognised as an alternative, holistic or integrative medicine therapy in various countries of the world where medical professionals are also trained at bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Particularly in Mexico, the practice of homoeopathy was authorised by a presidential decree on July 31, 1895, and its study and practice are now officially recognised in the General Health Law (2015), and only health professionals can prescribe homoeopathic medicines. Homoeopathic medicines must have an official code and registration, so they differ from other products that are not medicines but herbs for infusion or herbal remedies. In countries such as Brazil, there are homoeopathic medicines for exclusive use in veterinary medicine and aquaculture of marine and freshwater fishes registered with the Ministry of Agriculture [17, 24].
Homoeopathy is an emerging holistic therapy whose application continues to grow throughout the world and is gaining ground thanks to rigorous scientific research in human, animal and plant models. Due to new discoveries in the field of quantum physics, it has even been proposed to rename homoeopathy as ‘adaptive network nanomedicine’ . As a counterpart, the official medicine known as ‘allopathy’ is derived from a Galenic concept: the ‘principle of opposites’ based on the application of massive doses of various chemotherapeutic agents. These drugs, generically synthetic, are officially classified as antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antihistamine, anti-fever, etc., which, although they can alleviate, eliminate, or conceal symptoms, invariably have side effects and contraindications. Because it can affect health, pharmaceutical laboratories must communicate and describe these risks to the consumer on the label of the drug, following legal provisions.
This chapter describes recent research results about the use of homoeopathic medicines (HOM) and homoeopathic treatments (HOM treatments) in vegetable model. For the purposes of this chapter, commercial homoeopathic medicines for human use have been utilised in the form of liquid hydro-alcoholic dynamisations (Similia® Laboratories, Mexico) and injectable aqueous dynamisations (Rubio Pharma®, Mexico). They were considered ‘stock dynamisations’ from which the respective ‘study dynamisations’ were obtained through a serial process of decimal or centesimal dilution-succussion. The following HOM treatments were used for plants in controlled laboratory conditions and semicontrolled conditions in the field, as dynamisations of
2. Effect of homoeopathy on plant species
2.1 Promotion of plant growth health, nutrition and performance
The application of homoeopathy in agriculture is known as agricultural homoeopathy, which offers an ecologically and economically viable model with the potential to reduce the use of agrochemicals in world agriculture. Homoeopathy in plants contributes to the improvement of internal processes to optimise their growth and development . Scientifically proven results in crops have validated their ability to modify the physiological response of the plant, abundance of foliage and amount of fruit . Recently the homoeopathic medicines
2.1.1 Germination and emergence of cucumber (
Cucumis sativus) and tomato plants ( Solanum lycopersicum)
Horticultural fruit crops are of great interest in agricultural industry due to their high consumption worldwide either fresh or canned, so it is important to increase their production. At the Universidad Técnica Estatal de Quevedo (UTEQ , Ecuador, FOCICYT Project), the effect of HOM treatments on tomato and cucumber was studied during germination and emergence from certified seeds of tomato and cucumber (Floradade and Marketmore varieties, respectively). The bioassays were carried out in the experimental area of the Plant Biotechnology Laboratory (germination) and in ‘La María’ farm (emergence) at UTEQ.
For germination and emergence, a completely randomised design was applied with a 2 axis bifactorial arrangement where factor A was dynamisations (7CH and 13CH) and B was homoeopathic medicines. HOM treatments T1 (NaM 7CH), T2 (SiT 7CH), T3 (MaP 7CH), T4 (ArA 7CH), T5 (NaM 13CH), T6 (SiT 13CH), T7 (MaP 13CH) and T8 (ArA 13CH) were applied in cucumber and T1 (NaM 7CH), T2 (SiT 7CH), T3 (ZiP 7CH), T4 (PhA 7CH), T5 (NaM 13CH), T6 (SiT 13CH), T7 (ZiP 13CH) and T8 (PhA 13CH) in tomato. For both species, distilled water (DW) was applied as a control. Each experimental treatments included six repetitions, each one with 30 seeds. The seed were previously disinfected and washed and then submerged for 20 min in each of the corresponding HOM treatments. The germination tests were carried out in sterilised Petri dishes (150 × 15 mm) placing filter paper as a substrate on the dish bottom. In each dish, 5 ml of the corresponding HOM treatment was initially added, and humidity of the paper substrate kept adding distilled water daily. The germination tests were carried out under controlled conditions with a 12:12 h photoperiod and 27 ± 1°C temperature. The seeds were considered germinated when the radicle is measured around 2 mm in length. To evaluate emergence, the seeds were also previously submerged in the HOM treatments and then planted in 200-well polystyrene trays with commercial substrate (Novarbo®). The seeds were considered emerged when the seedling broke the surface and emerged through the substrate.
Germination was recorded daily, determining the final percentage at 24 h in cucumber and 7 days in tomato. Emergence was also recorded daily, and the final percentage was determined at 4 days for cucumber and at 15 days for tomato. The germination and emergence rates were calculated using Maguire’s equation : (M = n1/t1 + n2/t2 + … n30/tn (1)), where n1, n2, … n30 are the number of seeds germinated and emerged at times t1, t2, … tn. From each treatment/repetition, ten random seedlings were taken for measurement of the morphometric variables at 14 days after emergence. After separating the tissues (radicle, stem and leaves), the length of the stem from the base to the apical part was measured with a graduated ruler (mm).
2.1.2 Initial plant growth of common bean (
Phaseolus vulgarisL.) variety Quivicán plants
The common bean (
The cause-effect results in the plant model demonstrated a synergistic effect of the homoeopathic medicines included in HOM treatment T3, which evidently could not have been a placebo effect because it clearly favoured the growth of
2.2 Attenuation of the effects of abiotic stress
Currently, numerous studies have focused on elucidating the negative effects of abiotic stress on agricultural crops. Saline stress associated with high temperatures and solar irradiation is the most important environmental process that stops cultivated plant growth, development and survival, decreasing productivity . Worldwide, millions of hectares have a high degree of aridity and the presence of salts . In Mexico, arid and semiarid regions constitute more than 50% of the national territory , so the study of these factors is important due to the negative impact they have on the agricultural sector. Salinity has environmental, social and economic consequences because sustainability and yield of the cultivated species decrease in the affected areas. Salinity affects plant metabolism and growth, causing a decrease in biomass production . Global losses due to salt stress are estimated at 12 billion dollars per year and affect a fifth of the farmland . Among the main harmful effects, decrease in water absorption, ion assimilation that can cause toxicity and nutritional imbalance and physiological changes, such as the reduction of the photosynthetic rate due to a lower leaf area, which reduces crop viability  are included.
Several alternatives have been studied to mitigate the effect of salinity in agriculture, such as genetic improvement, selection of tolerant varieties and physical treatments to seeds to induce tolerance or agrochemicals to stimulate plant growth. In these sense, HOM treatments imply the application of ultra-diluted substances, which are an eco-friendly and economic variant that could be used effectively in any condition and circumstance . Unfortunately, this organic-like alternative has been little studied worldwide.
2.2.1 Salinity stress by NaCl in the bean crop (
The common bean
A completely randomised design was applied with HOM treatment T1 (NaM 7CH) and control (DW) each one with five replicates and two concentrations of NaCl (0 and 75 mM). Seeds of the variety white-tinted Quivicán (Empresa de Semillas, Villa Clara, Cuba) were used.
The photosynthesis rate (A, μmol m−2 s−1) was measured with a LCpro-SD portable computer with a wide-blade camera (ADC, Hoddesdon, Herts, United Kingdom). Three measurements were made during the fourth week of the trial, on healthy leaves and on completely sunny days. At the begining of frlowering, a sample was taken to perform the expression analysis of the 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid gene (PvNCDE1) . Total RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis and real-time PCR amplification were performed following the methodology reported by Morelos et al. , and the relative expression of PvNCDE1 was estimated following the model proposed by Hellemans et al. . One-way ANOVA followed by Tukey’s exact test was performed using STATISTICA 8.0 (StatSoft, Inc.). A
At the end of the study, photosynthesis showed a considerable decrease in the control (DW) when the plants underwent saline stress (Figure 3). In these stressed plants, stomatal closure was produced by ABA, generating a direct blockage of photosynthesis due to the limited uptake of CO2, an indispensable substrate for the Calvin cycle. When it happens, a blockage of the photo phase occurs due to the null demand of the reducing power and ATP, resulting in oxygen production with consequent damage to the chloroplast membranes and their subsequent disintegration . Contrary to the above, in HOM-treated plants that were subjected in parallel to salt stress, photosynthesis increased and no significant difference
The 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid gene (NCED) is known to be overexpressed under drought stress conditions in
The response of the HOM-treated plants did not show significant differences (
2.2.2 Salinity stress by NaCl in basil (
Basil is an important aromatic species for its use as flavouring and dry and fresh seasoning in the food industry; as stimulant, antispasmodic and antialopecic in pharmacy; and as aromatising cosmetics in the perfume industry . The growing interest of consumers for products of natural origin stimulates the market of aromatic plants, making them a viable option for the organic agricultural sector and the possibility of exporting them fresh or processed in extracts, essences and oils used in culinary industries, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals . This work aimed to assess the effect of NaM as an attenuator of NaCl stress in plant photosynthesis and biomass production of two varieties of basil, grown under hydroponic system.
The application of the HOM treatments and control (DW) began after a period of acclimatisation 7 days after transplant, spraying the aerial part of the plants with 150 ml plant−1 on alternate days. After 15 days, the application of saline treatments began gradually to avoid osmotic shock until a concentration of 75 mM was reached.
The photosynthetic rate (A, μmol m−2 s−1) was measured with (IRGA) LCpro-SD portable photosynthesis system equipment with a broad-leaf leaf chamber (ADC, Hoddesdon, Herts, UK) in a completely turgid and healthy leaf on completely sunny days (three measurements, 1 week before cutting); 45 days after transplant, the leaf area was determined (LA, cm2) by integrating leaf area metre (Li-Cor®, model-LI-3000A, series PAM 1701) and biomass using fresh weight of the aerial part (BFAP, g); an analytical balance was used (Mettler Toledo®, model AG204).
The cause-effect results of this study revealed significant differences between varieties × NaCl × HOM treatment for A (F2,60 = 4.14,
These results suggest that
2.3 Attenuation of the effects of biotic stress
With the indiscriminate use of pesticides in agriculture, the resistance of pathogenic microorganisms to the chemicals used has increased, which has negatively affected the environment and therefore the consumption of products with high levels of toxicity. Therefore, technological alternatives have been generated to replace conventional ones. Recently the application of safe products has increased in agriculture, many of which are framed in novel agricultural homoeopathy. Agricultural homoeopathy is an alternative for agricultural farmers, compatible with traditional, organic, ecological, biodynamic and even conventional agriculture, capable of influencing the biological processes of plants by controlling health problems caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria. It contributes to pest control and influences crop growth and development .
An experimental design which is completely randomised was applied with six homoeopathic medicines, each in two dynamisations (7 CH and 13 CH, Similia® CDMX, Mexico): T1 (MaP 7CH), T2 (ZiP 7CH), T3 (PhA 7CH), T4 (SiT 7CH), T5 (NaM 7CH), T6 (ArA 7CH), T7 (MaP 13CH), T8 (ZiP 13CH), T9 (PhA 13CH), T10 (SiT 13CH), T11 (NaM 13CH) and T12 (ArA 13CH) and one control (DW) to measure antifungal activity against
No significant differences were observed in radial growth of the phytopathogenic fungus in the HOM treatments with respect to the untreated control (NT). On the other hand, significant differences were observed between HOM treatments and their dynamisations (7 CH and 13 CH) with respect to NT. The dynamisation 13 CH increased the percentage of inhibition of the phytopathogenic fungus. These results confirmed the variability of the response induced by homoeopathic medicines in plant model, whose response depends on the dynamisation used . These results are in agreement with those reported by Narváez-Martínez et al.  who used a homoeopathic treatment developed from a pathogen (nosode); when they applied different dynamics in tomato
The attained results revealed that the HOM treatments showed activity against
A lot of experimental scientific results related with the use of homoeopathic medicines in plants, besides new results and insights discussed along this chapter, eliminate the principal argument of homoeopathy detractors. Actually, they cannot sustain their arguments in the sense that the suggestion and the placebo effect are the only mechanisms of action of this old, and at the same time new, alternative for organic agriculture. As shown throughout the text, there is sufficient scientific evidence that homoeopathy strengthens the energy and vitality of plants even under conditions of abiotic stress and promotes a dynamic balance of the plant with soil, water and the environment. Homoeopathic dilutions from different origins can be applied by soaking seeds and spraying leaves or directly to the soil or substrate. These ultra-diluted and innocuous treatments have the ability to initiate cascade responses, promoting favourable physiological reactions in the plant, with a systemic approach against the symptoms associated with an infection or a stressor. This is possible because, as in any living organism, plants have a genetic memory, which is continuously enriched. The response of plants treated with homoeopathy is natural, lasting and without the negative side effects that some agrochemicals have, which can even accumulate in their tissues and affect the safety of the harvested product, which makes it unfit for human consumption. Undoubtedly, homoeopathy has great potential, not only in human public health and aquaculture and veterinary production but also in organic, ecological and sustainable agriculture, which will be essential for the future development of humanity.
This study was financed by the Sectorial Fund for Education of Mexico: Project CB SEP-CONACYT-258282 ‘Experimental evaluation of homoeopathy and new probiotics in the culture of molluscs, crustaceans and fish of commercial interest’ and Project PROINNOVA-CONACYT-241777 ‘Innovation and continuous improvement of products and processes to optimise hatchery seed production of the American oyster