One of the most wide spread and unshakable beliefs among homeopaths is that “camphor is universal antidote to homeopathic drugs- camphor bottles should be kept away from other drugs”. They consider not only crude camphor, but even potentized camphor can antidote all other homeopathic drugs.
Is there any scientific basis for this belief? After studying the molecular structure of camphor and understanding the mechanism of its interactions, I think there could be some amount of truth in it, though somewhat distorted and far stretched. Camphor preparations containing molecular forms of camphor, such as crude camphor, mother tincture, low potencies below 12c as well as various camphor products can antidote a wide class of potentized homeopathic drugs- not ‘universal’.
Camphor is a volatile organic aroma compound with chemical formula C10H16O, belonging to the class known as terpenoids. When kept open, its molecules would easily diffuse into the atmosphere.
Camphor is a cyclic terpene, having a C=O moeity in its functional group. Such compounds are called carbonyl compounds, which also include aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acid, esters, amides, enones, acyl halides, acid unhydrides etc. Most of these substances are aroma compounds, which are responsible for the property known as fragrance and flavors. Compounds that contain C-O bonds each possess differing reactivity based upon the location and hybridization of the C-O bond, owing to the electron-withdrawing effect of sp hybridized oxygen.Medicinal properties of various vegetable substances and some animal products are mostly due to the presence of molecules having highly reactive C=O moeity in their functional groups.
In organic chemistry, functional groups are specific groups of atoms within molecules that are responsible for the characteristic chemical reactions of those molecules. The same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reactions regardless of the size of the molecule it is a part of. However, its relative reactivity can be modified by nearby functional groups.
The word moiety is often used synonymously to “functional group,” but to be more specific, a moiety is a part of a molecule that may include either whole functional groups or a parts of functional groups as substructures. The atoms of functional groups are linked to each other and to the rest of the molecule by covalent bonds. When the group of covalently bound atoms bears a net charge, the group is referred to more properly as a polyatomic ion or a complex ion. Any subgroup of atoms of a compound also may be called a radical, and if a covalent bond is broken homolytically, the resulting fragment radicals are referred as free radicals.
Drug molecules act upon the biological molecules in the organism by binding their functional groups to specific active groups on the complex biological molecules. Here, the functional groups of drug molecules called ligands, and the biological molecules are called targets. Ligand-target intercation is always determined by a ‘key-lock’ relationship due to complementary configurational affinities.
It is to be specifically noted that same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reactions regardless of the size or configuration of of the molecule it is a part of. However, its relative reactivity can be modified by nearby functional groups known as facilitating groups. That means, different types of drug molecules or pathogenic molecules having same functional groups and facilitating groups can bind to same biological molecules, and produce similar molecular inhibitions and symptoms. Homeopathic principle of ‘similimum’ is well explained by this understanding. If a drug molecule can produce symptoms similar to symptoms of a particular disease, it means that the drug molecule and disease causing molecule has same functional groups on them. Obviously, similarity of symptoms means similarity of functional groups of pathogenic molecules and drug molecules. To be similimum, the whole molecules need not be similar, but similarity of functional groups is enough.
Potentized drugs would contain the molecular imprints of drug molecules, along with molecular imprints of their functional groups. These molecular imprints will have specific configurational affinity towards any molecule having same functional groups, and can bind and deactivate them.
As said above, most of the vegetable and animal drugs contains diverse types of aromatic drug molecules and esters having C=O functional groups, which are also present on camphor molecules. Potentized homeopathic drugs would contain molecular imprints of this functional groups, which can be easily deactivated by crude camphor molecules as well as other aromatic molecules. Molecules of Volatile substances such as camphor would easily diffuse into atmosphere and nearby potentized drugs, and bind to molecular imprints of C=O functional groups they contain. It would result in deactivation of molecular imprints, which we call antidoting.
I hope, I have scientifically explained the molecular mechanism of the phenomenon of antidoting of potentized drugs by perfumes and strong smelling substances. Most perfumes contains esters, which have C=O functional groups.
Now it is obvious that only crude camphor can antidote potentized drugs. Our belief that potentized camphor is a ‘universal’ antidote is totally baseless.