Background: Homeopathic potencies are used as specific remedies in complementary medicine. Since the mode of action is unknown, the presumed specificity is discussed controversially.
Objective: This study investigated the effects of potentised substances on two yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe, in a stable and reliable test system with systematic negative controls.
Materials and methods: Yeast cells were cultivated in either potentised substances or water controls in microplates and their growth kinetics were measured photometrically. Water control runs were performed repeatedly to investigate the stability of the experimental set-up (systematic negative controls).
Results: 4 out of 14 screened substances seem to have affected the growth curve parameters slope or yield. Out of these substances, azoxystrobin and phosphorus were chosen for 8 further replication experiments, which partly confirmed the results of the screening. On the average of all experiments, azoxystrobin affected the slope of the growth curve of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (p < 0.05), and phosphorus affected the slope of the growth curve of Schizosaccharomyces pombe (p < 0.05). No effects were seen in the water control runs. In addition, significant interactions between treatment with potentised substances and experiment number were observed in all experiments with potentised substances (p < 0.01), but not in the water control runs.
Conclusions: Both yeast species reacted to certain potentised substances by changing their growth kinetics. However, the interactions found point to additional factors of still unknown nature, that modulate the effects of potentised substances. This stable test system with yeasts may be suitable for further studies regarding the efficacy of homeopathic potencies.