charles-darwinCharles Darwin, who consulted homeopaths himself, said

‘…  for at this present moment I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world. But I will not publish on Drosera till next year, for I am frightened & astounded at my results…

I declare it is a certain fact, that one organ is so sensitive to touch that a weight of 1/78,000 of a grain (ie seventy-eight times less weight than that, viz 11000 of a grain, which will move the best chemical balance) suffices to cause conspicuous movement.

“Is it not curious that a plant shd be far more sensitive to a touch than any nerve in the human body! Yet I am perfectly sure that this is true.” (equivalent to a 7th homeopathic decimal dilution).

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Darwin investigated homeopathic dilutions (1860) and continued his studies on drosera until 1881:

“In this connection I may refer to Darwin’s researches with the fly catching plant, Drosera, or Sundew. Darwin found that solutions of certain salts of ammonia stimulated the glands of the tentacles and caused the latter to turn inwards.

He made this solution more and more dilute, but still the plant was able to detect the presence of salt.

Darwin was almost frightened by his results. Writing to Franciscus Cornelis Donders (1818-1889) he says:

“The 1/4,000,000th of a grain absorbed by a gland clearly makes the tentacle which bears the gland becomes inflected; and I am fully convinced that 1-20,000,000th of a grain of the crystallised salt (i.e., containing about one-third of its weight of water of crystallisation) does the same.

“The leaves are first rate chemists & can distinguish even an incredibly small quantity of any nitrogenised substance from non=nitrogenised substances.”

Darwin abandoned his original intention to publish a short paper on the subject, fearing that his estimate of the astonishing sensitivity of the leaves of these plants to minute quantities of nitrogenous substances would scarcely be believed without further supporting evidence (letter to Edward Cresy, 12 December [1860]).

This work was not published until 1875, when Insectivorous plants appeared. (letters to Charles Lyell, 24 November [1860], and to Daniel Oliver, 20 October [1860]).

I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world. But I will not publish on Drosera till next year, for I am frightened & astounded at my results.

I declare it is a certain fact, that one organ is so sensitive to touch that a weight of 1/78,000 of a grain (ie seventy-eight times less weight than that, viz 11000 of a grain, which will move the best chemical balance) suffices to cause conspicuous movement.

“Is it not curious that a plant shd be far more sensitive to a touch than any nerve in the human body! Yet I am perfectly sure that this is true.” (equivalent to a 7th homeopathic decimal dilution).

In 1860, Darwin wrote to the well known physiologist Franciscus Cornelis Donders (1818-1889) of Utrecht Netherlands, that he observed 1/4,000,000th of a grain of the salt had a demonstrable effect on Drosera.

Here is what he said about his experiments: “And that the 1/20,000,000th of a grain of the crystallised salt does the same.

Now I am quite unhappy at the thought of having to publish such a statement.

The reader will best realise this degree of dilution by remembering that 5,000 ounces would more than fill a thirty one gallon cask or barrel and that to this large body of water one grain of the salt was added – only half a drachm or thirty minims of the solution poured over the leaf. Yet this amount sufficed to cause the inflection of the leaf.

My results were for a long time incredible, even to myself and I anxiously sought for every source of error. The observations were repeated during several years.

Two of my sons, who were as incredulous as myself, compared several lots of leaves simultaneously immersed in the weaker solutions and in water and declared that there could be no doubt as to the differences in their appearance.

In fact, every time that we perceive an odour, we have evidence that infinitely smaller particles act on our nerves. Moreover, this extreme sensitiveness, exceeding that of the most delicate part of the human body, as well as the power of committing various impulses from one part of the leaf to another, have been acquired without the intervention of any nervous system.”

It is not surprising that homeopaths were amongst the first people to embrace Darwin’s Origins of Species and to write to him to share their ideas and offer him support.

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