An Exclusive Interview
Prof. (Dr.) PAOLO BELLAVITE
Dr. Saurav Arora
About Prof. (Dr.) Paolo Bellavite
Prof. (Dr.) Paolo Bellavite is a medical doctor, graduated from Trieste University (I) in 1976, specialized in Clinical and Laboratory Haematology. He holds an MPhil in Biotechnology (Cranfield University, UK) and a Master in Health Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology. Until the academic year 2016-17 he worked as Professor of General Pathology in the School of Medicine, Verona University, and at present he works in the same University (Department of Medicine) as Teaching Assistant and Research Supervisor. He is Professor of General Pathology in the School of Nursery, University of Ngozi (Burundi), as voluntary in a project of cooperation. Dopo essere andato in pensione come professore, continua a svolgere ricerca in Patologia generale. His main areas of research focused on molecular and cellular aspects of inflammation, with particular regard to the structure, function, and pathology of granulocytes (neutrophils and basophils), macrophages and platelets. He developed several methods in the clinical laboratory to investigate pathophysiology and pharmacology of blood cells and free radicals. He carried out scientific research in the context of complementary therapeutic approaches and, in particular, on herbal and homeopathic compounds using cellular and murine models. His scientific contribution includes the study of complex dynamic systems and inverse effects of drugs according to the dose and the sensitivity of target systems (“similia” principle). In collaboration with homeopathic doctors, he founded the Observatory of Complementary Medicines and carried out observational clinical studies and laboratory assays of medicines including Phosphorus, Podophyllum, Gelsemium, Ignatia, Zincum, and Arnica. Recent studies developed genomic approaches to the investigation of homeopathic drugs. He published over 250 scientific papers, 145 of which are indexed by PubMed-Medline, and several books including “The Emerging Science of Homeopathy” (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA) and “Medicina Biodinâmica” (Papirus Editora, Campinas, SP, Brasil). He was invited as a speaker at the 2015 LIGA International Congress in Rio de Janeiro and at the 2016 congress of European Committee of Homeopathy.
Website and complete list of publications: www.paolobellavite.it
E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
Saurav Arora: Every scientist and a researcher have an inquisitiveness to explore the unexplored. We would like to know your inspiration and how you got attracted towards homeopathy and research in homeopathy?
Paolo Bellavite: My deepest inspiration is the search for truth. Even though I know that science cannot reach the deeper truth of things, we can use it to get closer to it and, at least, to avoid errors. In my spiritual journey I was helped by the religious sense because, if properly understood, this opens to the totality of reality and man. I had a master who taught me that the “reason”, for the sake of sense, is the critical and systematic consciousness of reality according to all of its factors. He also taught me that our view must always keep open the category of possibility: nothing can be termed “impossible” a priori. For this reason, I was not scared by the so difficult matter of the study of high dilutions that according to the current theory does not mean anything. Then I met a scientist who was thrilled with laboratory research and cell function. Finally, thanks to personal healing experiences and to meetings with other doctors, I used homeopathy and I devoted myself also to this study, integrating it with the conventional scientific approach.
SA: Paolo Bellavite is an established name in the homeopathic research. How and when did you start experimenting in research in homeopathy?
PB: I began studying homeopathy in laboratory research in 1989. The contingent reason was that I met a homeopathic physician (Andrea Signorini) who was at that time my student and he suggested to utilize the laboratory techniques I knew and used in my lab, in order to test homeopathic remedies on leukocytes. I then had many career difficulties but they did not stop me.
SA: What are the areas of your interest in homeopathic research?
PB: I was interested in basic research, in the lab, with “in vitro” studies. Later, I also worked with the doctors of the Verona Homeopathic Medicine School to conduct observational research on the results of homeopathic therapies. In addition, I have also conducted research on experimental animals (rats and mice) to test the effects of homeopathic remedies on more complex systems. In recent years, I have returned to basic research for ethical reasons (minimizing the use of experimental animals) and because, thanks to the collaboration with biotechnology experts, I was thrilled with the techniques of molecular biology.
SA: Being a Medical Doctor, do your practice Homeopathy also? If yes, how to maintain a balance between medical practice and scientific experimentation?
PB: No, unfortunately, I have never been able to practice homeopathy, either because of lack of time or because I feel it requires a special attitude and mental devotion.
SA: Any area of research in high dilution where you would like to work upon as a hobby?
PB: I would like to work in biophysics, but unfortunately, I never found any consistent collaboration at the height of this difficult topic.
SA: Can you briefly introduce your team for IPRH readers?
PB: My team has changed a lot over time. I have had many valid collaborators but unfortunately, so far no one has been able to obtain a stable employment in the university due to the resistance of the Academy over this subject. The names of my past associates coincide with those that are found as authors in my publications. In particular, I would like to remind Dr. Anita Conforti and Dr. Riccardo Ortolani, the persons most helpful to me in the academic environment of Verona, and with which we have made a lot of progress. At present, my main collaborators are Dr. Marta Marzotto and Dr. Clara Bonafini.
SA: How many research publication have you published till date w.r.t high dilutions and homeopathy?
PB: In Pubmed, you can find as many as 45 publications on homeopathy from my team. However, I also published several papers in Italian and a seminal book (P. Bellavite, A. Signorini, The Emerging Science of Homeopathy, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2002) that is utilized as a textbook in homeopathic schools throughout the world. Most of my papers and books are available free at my website www.paolobellavite.it
SA: Almost every researcher struggles for funds especially for research in high dilutions. Did you find it difficult to procure funds from authorities for homeopathy?
PB: From authorities, I received very few funds for research but, luckily, Verona University allowed me to use equipment and always paid me the salary as a professor! I am very grateful to my University for this support. The worst thing, that impeded the establishment of a University Center of Study, was the strong resistance from Italian General Pathologists to the research in homeopathy and to its teaching. This is paradoxical since General Pathology is the science of causes and mechanisms of disease, and the homeopathic theory of “simile” is extremely stimulating in this context. Probably, there are other factors that weigh on the intellectual orientation of academia.
SA: Have you ever had any uncommon observation while experimenting with high dilutions?
PB: At this point, I can’t define our “uncommon” experimental observations on high dilutions! Of course, at the beginning, the effects of high dilutions on cell models were quite uncommon, even in our hands.
SA: Your background and work area are Italy. Have you developed/replicated your experimental models in other countries too?
PB: Together with Leoni Bonamin and others, I have set up a multicenter project in Italy and Brazil dedicated to research on Zinc, but each laboratory has studied different topics, according to its specific expertise. In past, I replicated the studies of the Belon’s team on the effects of histamine in high dilutions on human basophils. Then, we did much research (in vitro and in animals) showing the anxiolytic-like effects of Gelsemium s. extract and dilutions. These effects, in general, were replicated in different laboratories and a review paper is now in press in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine.
SA: If given a chance which country would you like to explore for research in high dilutions and homeopathy?
PB: Germany and United States. But I know that also in India there is a great development in this field.
SA: What is your biggest achievement so far in high dilution research?
PB: For the theory, we described the connection of homeopathy with complexity science, chaos theory and systems biology. For the experimental evidence, in parallel and connection with AR Khuda-Bukhsh team, we provided the proof that high dilutions have significant effects even at the level of gene expression. With our team, we reported this exciting finding emerging from studies with Gelsemium s. in neurocytes and with Arnica m. in macrophages.
SA: Since inception homeopathy is being targeted for modus operandi and mode of action. Would you like to throw some light on this aspect for our readers? What according to you can be the fittest reply for the scientific community regarding modus operandi of homeopathy?
PB: Biomedical therapy is conventionally addressed to multiple environmental and genetic factors but this approach often fails to recognize the true complexity of individual diseases. A method to identify specific and individual remedies at the level of systemic information disorders is necessary. The homeopathic medicine (“simile” means that mimics a pathogenic substance) may be perceived by specific centers (or `nodes’) of network regulatory systems as a complex information, regarding whole disease dynamics. Symptom patterns are external expressions of complex reactions caused by a medicine (insensitive provers) and by disease (in sick persons): so, the classical `similitude of symptoms’––according to which the correct drug may be chosen on the basis of careful analysis of symptoms––may bypass the possible lack of knowledge of molecular details of disease dynamics. In acute diseases, the simillimum may activate local feedback (eg: histamine or Apis m. on basophils, Arnica m. on macrophages) but may also reinforce the connectivity of local reactions with systemic, teleonomically oriented, reactions. In chronic diseases, the “simillimum” may operate by unblocking a pathological attractor (a pattern or configuration of different cells or “nodes” that are unable to regulate normally) and by orienting the homeodynamic networks towards a pattern that is approximate to healthy homeodynamics. The high specificity of action of homeopathic medicine may be due to the sensitization (priming) of involved nodes and the complexity and coherence of Medicine actions at various levels. Since ultra-low doses or high dilutions of medicines are used, they touch only nodes having enhanced susceptibility. Possibly, high dilutions/potencies integrate global dynamics also by electromagnetic (or quantum entangled) regulation.
SA: What are your future plans to establish homeopathy as a plausible science?
PB: To continue the application of homeopathic drugs on laboratory models. We are planning to investigate the effects of high dilutions of natural compounds on respiratory cells.
SA: Can you share your experience with your failures in homeopathic research?
PB: If as “failure” you mean negative results, we reported several times that homeopathic drugs don’t work in specific models. For example, in neutrophils and platelets, we never found high dilution effects. Recently, we tried high dilutions of zinc on astrocytes and macrophages, but they didn’t work. However, negative results are never “failures”, since they help to eliminate false beliefs and address research to other techniques and topics.
SA: What are your views to shorten the gap between fundamental and applied research?
PB: The only possibility to shorten the gap is to increase research at every level and to increase the number and quality of involved teams. If more laboratory and more clinical research are developed, the encounter is naturally facilitated. Of course, the best goal would be to establish a big multidisciplinary center or a university dedicated to these studies, but at present, this is a dream or utopia.
SA: Your message for the homeopathic fraternity especially students and clinicians.
PB: Don’t give up! Do more research, starting from observational studies and systematic data collection. Authentic science is showing that homeopathy works and this is a hope for future of mankind.
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