Science in Society Archive

Quantum Coherent Water, Non-thermal EMF Effects, and Homeopathy

How quantum coherent water may account for specific biological effects of very weak electromagnetic fields, and possibly homeopathy. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

I have been convinced since the 1990s that organisms are quantum coherent (see [1] The Rainbow and the Worm, The Physics of Organisms, ISIS publication); and more recently, that the quantum coherence of water is the basis of life (see [2] Life is Water's Quantum Jazz, ISIS Lecture), It is very exciting, therefore, to find that a quantum electrodynamic theory of coherent water may explain the energetics of life itself (see [3] Quantum Coherent Water & Life, SiS 51), as well as a special class of biological effects due to extremely weak electromagnetic fields (so-called non-thermal EMF effects), and possibly homeopathy.

Non-thermal EMF effects

Non-thermal electromagnetic field (EMF) effects are by definition those due to very low intensity fields that do not heat up the cells or tissues of organisms such that a rise in temperature could be detected. Such effects lie at the heart of the debate over the health hazards of EMFs from the extremely low frequency electricity mains supply to the radio waves and microwaves used in mobile telecommunication (see [4] Non-Thermal Effects , SiS 17).

Electromagnetic waves and the electromagnetic spectrum

Electromagnetic waves propagate through empty space at the speed of light, i.e., 300 000 kilometres per second, and include the light that enables us to see, which vibrates at frequencies of about 1014 cycles per second. They have both an electrical component and a magnetic component vibrating at right angles to each another.

The entire electromagnetic spectrum is extremely wide, ranging from waves that vibrate at less than one cycle per second, or one Hz (Hertz) – named after Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who discovered electromagnetic waves in 1888 – to 1024 Hz. The corresponding range of wavelengths – speed/frequency – is from 3 x 108 metres to 3 x 10-15 metre.

Above the visible spectrum are the ultraviolet rays, X-rays and g-rays, the ‘ionising’ radiations that break molecules up into electrically charged entities, and known to damage DNA, causing harmful mutations.

Below the visible range are the non-ionising electromagnetic radiations, the safety of which has been debated for well over half a century.

The ‘thermal threshold’ fallacy

According to our regulators to this day, there is no conceivable mechanism whereby the very low intensity EMFs emitted by mobile phones and base stations or high tension power lines could have any biological effects, because the energy involved is below that of the random molecular motions of a system at thermodynamic equilibrium. I add the emphasis because everyone who has studied physics or chemistry at school will have recognized that organisms are anything but ‘systems at thermodynamic equilibrium’, so any regulator using that argument is grossly, if not wilfully ignorant, and should be immediately disqualified as a public menace.

In conventional (equilibrium) thermodynamics, the energy of a system is nkT, where n is the number of molecules in the system, k is Boltzmann’s constant (1.3807 x 10-23 Joule per Kelvin) and T the absolute temperature in degrees Kelvin; this random ‘thermal’ energy is evenly distributed throughout the system and unavailable for doing work. So, any incoming energy less than kT - the kinetic energy of an individual molecule - is below the ‘thermal threshold’ at which useful work could be done, and can hence have no effect.

The ‘thermal threshold’ is a fallacy arising from the assumption that living organisms can be described in terms of conventional equilibrium thermodynamics; whereas by general consensus they are open systems meticulously organised and maintained far away from thermodynamic equilibrium. Useful work is done everywhere within the system because coherent energy is being mobilised for growth and development and for the myriad activities that life entails.  In such systems, extremely weak electromagnetic fields with energies below the thermal threshold can indeed have macroscopic effects because these fields affect an astronomical number of molecules simultaneously engaged in the same activity – typically 1017 to 1020 molecules for a human weighing 70 kg.

Organisms are indeed coherent to a high degree, even quantum coherent, as research in my laboratory first revealed nearly 20 years ago [1]. Living organisms are liquid crystalline; all their molecules are aligned and polarized along the major body axis, and moving coherently together, including especially the 70 percent of water that forms dynamically coherent units with the macromolecules, and without which the macromolecules cannot function at all [1, 2]. Furthermore, organisms and cells, as well as molecules rely on electric and electromagnetic fields for intercommunication (see [4] The Real Bioinformatics Revolution, SiS 33), which is how living systems from bacteria to whales can function as perfectly coordinated and coherent wholes. 

Specificity of non-thermal effects

There is abundant evidence of non-thermal biological effects going back decades. However, the picture is clouded by apparently conflicting results due to a failure to take into account the fact that EMF effects are often frequency-specific as well as specific for developmental stage (see for example [5] Brief Exposure to Weak Static Magnetic Fields during Early Embryogenesis Cause Cuticular  Pattern Abnormalities in Drosophila Larvae, ISIS scientific publication).

Most intriguingly, the EMF effects often deviate from classical dose-response behaviour; in other words, they depart from the usual assumption that effect should go up linearly with field intensity, until a point of saturation. In particular, some effects can only be observed at a specific range of intensities, and disappear at both higher and lower levels. These intensity and frequency ‘windows’ simply stretched the imagination of many in the scientific community, and so the tendency is to dismiss those effects altogether, even by some of those who did experiments on non-thermal EMF effects.

Ion cyclotron resonance

The archetypal example of non-thermal EMF effects that exhibit both frequency and intensity windows was discovered in the laboratories of Carl F. Blackman [6] and Abraham R. Liboff [7] in the 1980s. In their experiments, they combined a static (DC) and an alternating (AC) magnetic field, which caused an increase in the concentration of free calcium ions in nervous tissues, in the form of a very narrow ‘resonance’ peak in the AC magnetic field, with the maximum corresponding to the ‘cyclotron frequency’ of Ca2+ ions.

Ions in a static and uniform (DC) magnetic field will typically move in a circle with a cyclotron frequency, fc determined by its charge q, mass m, and the strength of the magnetic field B:

             fc = (qB)/2pm                                                                         (1)

An AC magnetic field that matches the cyclotron frequency gives special ion cyclotron resonance effects. Ion cyclotron resonance effects were extensively investigated in a number of laboratories [8]. The calcium cyclotron frequency was found to affect the calmodulin (calcium-binding protein) regulation of calcium ion concentration in solution and a host of biological functions: the motility of diatoms, the rate of cell proliferation in culture, melatonin synthesis in the pineal gland, calcium concentration in lymphocytes and thymus cells, the germination and growth of seeds, etc.

Ion cyclotron resonance was extended to other ions such as potassium on the rate of cell proliferation, and lithium and magnesium on animal behaviour.

But Mikhail Zhadin’s research team at the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow attracted serious attention to the phenomenon when they showed that the ion cyclotron resonance could be demonstrated for a simple amino acid dissolved in water [9].

Ion cyclotron resonance for amino acids

Zhadin’s team used a solution of glutamic acid (0.33 g/litre) in water adjusted to pH 2.85 with dilute acid in an electrolytic cell. A cubic cell (2 x 2 x 2 cm, 8 ml in volume) was filled with the solution. Gold electrodes with an area of 2 cm2 were placed in the cell at a distance of 1 cm apart, and the potential difference between the two electrodes was adjusted to 80 mV with an external power supply. The cell was placed within two coils with one coil located inside the other, the axis of the coils coinciding with each other. The outer coil created the DC magnetic field, B, and the inner coil made the AC field. The electric field between electrodes was perpendicular to the coils axis. The coils were located within a Permalloy chamber that shielded all external fields. The DC magnetic field was 40 mT (microTesla), about the same as earth’s magnetic field). The sinusoidal current through the inner coil generated the AC magnetic field of amplitude 0.02 mT. The AC field frequency was scanned in the range from 1 to 10 Hz with a speed of 0.05Hz/s. A baseline steady current of a few nA (nanoAmpere) was recorded under non-resonant conditions. At resonance, a transient sharp increase in current was found.

Initially, in order to find a minimum of the AC field at which an effect could be detected, the amplitude was increased in small steps starting with 10 nT (nanotesla). To their great surprise, a “quite prominent” brief peak of current through the solution was already found at 20 nT. There was only one peak, coinciding with the calculated cyclotron frequency of glutamic acid ion of 4.18 Hz. The peak of the current was 10–80 nT, and the rise time typically 0.5 s, while the decay time was 15 to 20 s. There was also an amplitude window, above or below which the effect was not detectable.

This striking effect has been reproduced by different laboratories, including that of quantum physicist Emilio Del Guidice at the University of Milan in Italy [10]. Initially, the success rate for producing the effect was about 20 percent, but increased to 70 percent in the most recently published experiments, where it was confirmed to be a field effect [11], as it could be produced even when the electrodes were placed outside the electrolytic cell.

Quantum electrodynamic explanation required

This apparent ion cyclotron resonance effect cannot be explained in terms of classical physics. Not only is the energy involved in the AC magnetic field some eleven order of magnitude smaller than the ‘thermal threshold’ or thermal noise, the calculated radius of the circular path taken by the ion at resonant frequency is metres, much larger than the dimension of the experimental cell in which the observations were made.

In order to explain this phenomenon, a quantum electrodynamic field theory was needed, as originally proposed by Giuliano Preparata [12] and elaborated by Del Giudice and other colleagues after Preparata’s untimely death in 2000.

Quantum field theory predicts that liquids, being condensed matter with high density, are not governed by purely static local interactions such as H-bonds and dipoles. On the contrary, their binding is induced by radiative long range electromagnetic fields (EMFs). A collection of molecules interacting with the radiative EMF above a density threshold and below a critical temperature acquires a new minimum energy state different from the conventional where the oscillations of individual molecules are uncorrelated and the electromagnetic field is vanishing. The new minimum energy state is a coherence domain (CD) about 100 nm in diameter that oscillates in unison and in tune with an EMF trapped within it (see [3] for a detailed explanation).

How ion cyclotron resonance may be explained

According to the Preparata, Del Giudice and colleagues [13], liquid water is a two-fluid system consisting of a coherent phase (about 40 percent of total volume at room temperature) and an incoherent phase (see Figure 1).

Figure 1  Coherence Domain of water is a cube of about 100 nm at 0 ºC (left), shrinking to a smaller sphere as temperature increases (right)

In the coherent phase, the water molecules oscillate coherently between two electronic configurations in phase with a resonating EMF. The common frequency of the EMF and the electronic oscillation of the coherent phase is 0.26 eV (about 6.28 x 1013 Hz in the infra-red region); whereas the energy difference of the two electronic configuration of the coherent phase is 12.06 eV, which gives a wavelength of 1 000 A (100 nm). The oscillations span the whole available space within the CD.

Ions are excluded from the coherent phase. Instead, the electrolyte (dissolved ions) forms a coherent system within the noncoherent phase of the solvent. The ions oscillate in their respective Debye-Hückel cages (water molecules surrounding the ions due to dipole interactions). And these DH oscillations satisfy the quantum electrodynamical condition for coherence at all accessible concentrations. A major effect of the ion coherence is the elimination of interionic collisions, because all ions oscillate with the same frequency. So kT thermal noise is irrelevant.

The enormous radius attributed to the cyclotron orbit is also irrelevant, as that only applies to the high speeds attainable in the gas-like phase. In the condensed liquid phase, the speeds are considerably lowered, and hence the diameter of cyclotron motion much smaller, being that of the water CD.

The ions are driven into stable circular orbits around the CD equatorial plane so as to minimize their energy; the cyclotron frequency being   fc = (qB)/2pm (Equation 1); the radius of the orbits being that of the water CD.

If now a weak AC magnetic field is superimposed, Bac of frequency w, sidebands are added  to the fundamental cyclotron frequency, fs = fc - nw, with intensity proportional to Bac, so long as Bac approaches zero (being very small). If w = fc/n at resonance, fs vanishes, and this zero frequency become a translational movement out of the orbit, thereby contributing to an increase in electrical current, as observed (see Figure 2).

Figure 2   When BAC is small, the drift velocity of the ions out of the orbit around the water CD is small; when BAC reaches resonance levels, the drift velocity becomes large enough to break free of the orbit and enter into the general free reservoir thereby increasing the electrical current as observed

This explanation based on quantum coherent water accounts well in general for ion cyclotron resonance of electrolytes and small molecules. But many details remain unclear, especially the precise manner in which inorganic ions, and amino acids, not to mention peptides,  proteins,  and nucleic acids interact with water [8].

Most importantly, water within living organisms is different from bulk water, so how does ion cyclotron resonance work in that context? That remains to be explained.

Quantum coherent water and homeopathy

Could quantum coherent water account for homeopathy, more specifically, the memory of water in the form of pure EM signals originating from a DNA sequence that appears capable of ‘informing’ the synthesis of a precise replica of the original DNA sequence (see [14] DNA Sequence Reconstituted from Water Memory? SiS 51)?

According to the authors of the paper reporting on the phenomenon [15], which included Del Giudice, Giuseppe Vitiello and other colleagues, the CDs of water oscillate on a frequency common to the EMF and the water molecules, and this common frequency changes when energy is stored in the CD. The water CD effectively traps energy and exports it. When the oscillation frequency of the CD matches the oscillation frequency of some non-aqueous solute molecules present on the CD boundaries, these guest molecules become members of the CD and are able to catch the entire stored energy, which becomes activation energy enabling the guest molecules to engage in chemical reactions. There is indeed evidence that proteins and nucleic acids that share common functions or reactions do share a common EM frequency (see [16] The Real Bioinformatics Revolution , SiS 33).

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi had proposed 50 years ago that water surrounding biomolecules should be at the origin of the excitations of molecular electron levels responsible for chemical reactions [3]. So, if the ensemble of frequencies is able to attract the component monomer building blocks of a polymer because they are excited in the water CD, the polymer would be created from the monomers attracted to the CD, if they are present in the solution. Thus, it is possible, in principle, to induce the polymerization of monomers by supplying the monomers when the EMFs have the relevant frequencies (the EM information).

The essential role of electrolyte ions in regulating biochemical activity is well recognized. Ions close to water CDs are attracted by the EMFs trapped in the domains, so they orbit around the domain, moving at a circular speed proportional to the cyclotron frequency (see above).

The authors point out [15] that as DNA and proteins are polyelectrolytes, they are surrounded by a cloud of positive counter-ions with a cyclotron frequency in the interval between 1 and 100 Hz playing an important role.

The role played by the background of low frequency EMF is to provide a resonant alternating magnetic field in order to load energy in the water CDs. In higher organisms, such as the humans, the researchers suggest it is produced by the nervous system. Elementary organisms, such as bacteria, use environmental fields, such as the Schumann modes of the geomagnetic field. These modes are the stationary modes produced by the magnetic activity occurring in the shell whose boundaries are the surface of the earth and the conductive ionosphere. This acts as mirrors for the wavelengths higher than several hundreds of metres. These stationary modes should have a frequency ns, which in the ideal case is


where R is the radius of the earth. The real earth-ionosphere cavity is not an ideal one, so the real frequencies are a bit lower than the values given by the equation. The peaks experimentally found are 7.83, 14.3, 20.8, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz.

Consequently, in order to produce the energy loading of CDs, the biological system should select ions having a q/m ratio that, given the local value of the static magnetic field B in the organism, fits in with one of the Schumann resonances. The local value of B is expected to be not much different from the earth’s magnetic field, which is in the order of 50 mT.

The Schumann mode of 7.83 Hz appears resonant for the DNA signal [14, 15]. The extraction of ions from their cyclotron orbits, and by the conservation of angular momentum, produces a counter-rotation of the plasma of quasi-free electrons in the CDs, whose frequency depends on the number of involved ions (i.e., their concentration). It is the rotation of the plasma of the quasi-free electrons in the CDs that produces the observed EMS, which is why excitation is prevented by mu-metal, the authors suggested.

A decisive move towards quantum biology in understanding non-thermal EMF effects

The explanations are tentative and incomplete in many respects.  How do the original DNA molecule and their counter-ions interact with the water CD? Studies on DNA and protein hydration have revealed dynamic coherence between hydration water and macromolecule (see [16] Dancing with Macromolecules, SiS 48); although it is far from clear whether studies on macromolecules in solution can tell us anything about the macromolecules inside the living cell (see [17] The Rainbow Ensemble, SiS 48). Nevertheless, the quantum electrodynamics theory of water provides a useful framework for further investigations that decisively moves biology away from classical towards quantum physics and a much better understanding of non-thermal EMF effects.

Indeed, non-thermal EMF effects was the subject of a recent 400-page monograph produced by the non-profit International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety [19], which formed part of the evidence submitted by Prof. Jacqueline McGlade and David Gee of the European Environment Agency to the Council of Europe Hearing on cancer risks from EMFs (see [20] European Environment Agency Highlight Mobile Phone Cancer Risks, SiS 51).

As the result of widespread concern, the European Parliament passed a resolution on EMF in 2009, which among other things, called for lowering exposure to electromagnetic fields, and for lower exposure limits to better protect the public from health hazards, a call repeated in 2011 (see [21] Wireless Phone Radiation "Possibly Carcinogenic", SiS 51). The current EMF limits for the UK are 360 mT for the general public exposure and 1 800 mT for occupational exposure [22], at which an increase in temperature in the exposed subject is not expected; totally disregarding non-thermal biological effects that can be observed at much lower levels.

I thank Dr. Emilio Del Giudice for helpful discussions and explanations on quantum electrodynamics of water.

Article first published 22/07/11


  1. Ho MW. The Rainbow and the Worm, the Physics of Organisms, World Scientific, Singapore, and London, 1993; 2nd ed. 1998, reprinted 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 3rd ed. 2008.
  2. Ho MW. Life is water’s quantum jazz. In Celebrating ISIS, Quantum Jazz Biology*Medicine*Art, ISIS, London 2011.
  3. Ho MW. Non-thermal effects. Science in Society 17, 12-13+43, 2003.
  4. Ho MW. The real bioinformatics revolution. Proteins and nucleic acids singing to one another? Science in Society 33, 42=45, 2007.
  5. Ho MW. Stone TA, Jerman I, Bolton J, Bolton H. Goodwin BC, Saunders PT and Roberts F. Brief exposures to weak static magnetic field during early embryogenesis cause cuticular pattern abnormalities in Drosophila larvae. Phy Med Biol 1992, 37, 1171-9.
  6. Blackman CF, Benane SG, Rabinowitz JR, House DE, Joines WT. A role for the magnetic field in the radiation induced efflux of calcium ions from brain tissue in vitro. Bioelectromagnetics 1985, 6. 327–37.
  7. Liboff AR. Cyclotron resonance in membrane transport. In: Chiabrera A, Nicolini C and Schwan HP. eds. Interactions Between Electromagnetic Fields and Cells. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 281–96,. 1985.
  8. Zhadin M and Giuliani L. Some problems in modern bioelectromagnetics. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 2006, 25, 227-43.
  9. Zhadin MN, Novikov VV, Barnes FS, Pergola NF. Combined action of static and alternating magnetic fields on ionic current in aqueous glutamic acid solution. Bioelectromagnetics 1998, 19, 41–45.
  10. Comisso N, Del Giudice E, De Ninno A, fleischmann M, Giuliani L, Mengoli G, Merlo F and Talpo G. dynamics of the ion cyclotron resonance effect on amin acods adsorbed at the interfaces. Bioelectromagnetics 2006, 27, 16-26.
  11. Giuliani L, Grimaldi S, Lisi A, D’Emilia E, Bobkova N and Zhadin M. Action of combined magnetic fields on aqueous solution of glutamic acid: the further development of investigations. BioMagnetic Research and Technology 2008, 6, 1
  12. Preparata G.  QED Coherence in Matter, World Scientific, Singapore, 1995.
  13. Giudice ED, Fleischmann M, Preparata G and Talpo G. on the “unreasonable” effects of ELF magnetic fields upon a system of ions”. Bioelectromagnetics 2002, 23, 52-30.
  14. Ho MW. DNA sequence reconstituted from water memory? Science in Society 51 (to appear).
  15. Montagnier L, Aissa J, Del Giudice ED, Lavallee C, Tdeschi A and Vitiello G. DNA waves and water. Journal of Physics: Conferences Series, 2011, in print
  16. Ho MW. The real bioinformatics revolution. Science in Society 33, 42-45, 2007.
  17. Ho MW. Dancing with macromolecules. Science in Society 48, 12-14, 2010.
  18. Ho MW. The rainbow ensemble. Science in Society 48. 16-19, 2010.
  19. Giuliani L and Soffritti M. eds. Non-thermal Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction between electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter, an ICEMS Mongraph, Ramazzini Institute, European Journal of Oncology Library vol.5, Bologna, Italy, 2010.
  20. McGlade J and Gee D. Statement on Mobile Phones and the Potential Head Cancer Risk for the Hearing on EMF, Council of Europe, Paris, 25 February 2011,
  21. Ho MW. Wireless phone radiation “possibly carcinogenic”. Science in Society 51 (to appear).
  22. Exposure limits in the UK. National Grid EMF, accessed 10 May 2011,

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There are 7 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

thomas F. mantik Comment left 28th July 2011 05:05:55
I suspect Francis Bacon would concur: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed"

John Benneth Comment left 1st August 2011 21:09:31
Brilliant article with ecellent iformation by Mae Wan Ho. Thank you for this contribution to science and medicine.

Rory Short Comment left 4th August 2011 23:11:55
Reading this article caused me to think that the precautionary principle should feature much more prominently in evaluating new technologies and deciding at what rate, if any, they should be allowed to be rolled out into society. Up until the present time the precautionary principle at a collective level is more evident in its absence than in its application.

Robert M. Davidson MD, PhD Comment left 23rd August 2011 05:05:20
Is the viscosity inside the CDs greater or less than that of bulk water? Dr Zhadin initially said it was less viscous. Does he still stand by that view? Dr Pollack and others have said it is more viscous.

Mae-Wan Ho Comment left 23rd August 2011 18:06:09
Hi Robert M. Davidson, I don't think we can say whether it has higher or lower viscosity. The problem is that people tend to think there is a one or a few kinds of structured water. For example, low density vs high density water. My own feeling is that water has many different structures depending on the precise conditions. Even quantum coherent water could have different structures. Most of the hypothesis presented, I feel, are over-simplifications, and one must find a coherent story among conflicting narratives. I am still trying...

patrick foster Comment left 4th September 2011 18:06:55
Dear Dr Ho, Thank you for your accounts of Luc Montanier’s work demonstrating the persistence of bacterial forms. On first sight this may be relevant to a current controversy in the USA concerning the management of Lyme disease with the national Public Broadcasting stations airing an effective video in prime time of the (?typical) handling of what is a very serious and sometimes lethal condition of Lyme disease (Borreliosis). This is an arthropod spread disease (mainly tick and now a mosquito) transmitting a spirochete, **Borrelia. Originally it seems to have been limited to Southern Africa as Chikungunya that causes severe muscle pains (I’ve had it) and later spread slowly to the East after mutation to mosquito transfer. It seems to have later arrival in the USA. . Being a spirochete it has been suggested to have a life cycle similar to that of Syphilis that may progress through 3 stages over the years. In young kids it can produce disastrous effects on motor & cognitive function. It has also been proposed as one cause of Alzheimer disease. The immunology is complex – unlike unicellular bacteria. (See Wikipedia) It is extremely difficult to eliminate – daily Doxacycline for many months seems to be the Standard treatment among the few physicians who offered to spend time & trouble treating patients to block the relapses - even deaths - that are common. BUT Insurance Companies complained at the expense of up to 2 or more years use of what is one of the cheapest drugs made. Complaints went to the AMA heavies – people (?experts) that had produced other special cures or vaccines or other axes to grind,. who constituted themselves as a committee to decided that this was malpractice and therefore reason to withdraw the State’s LICENCE TO PRACTICE. (ignoring clinical records & successfully treated patients). It appears that every member of this committee had some cozy connexion to Industry. Luc Montanier’s work as you describe it leads one to consider combining a dedicated magnetic field with the antibiotic therapy to block this relapse. A Quantum method of treating a potentially lethal disease? ** see SCIAM p24 of Aug2011 Patrick Foster, MB, ChB,FFARCSI, FRCA Comment left 29th January 2015 00:12:12
I have become aware of higher than usual v/m levels on my home DECT phone, and home telephone cable, in the course of researching cause of physical tingling sensations switching on and off during periods of rest in my home. Sometimes these tingles have occurred in contact with computer and /or telephone during periods of intense intent traffic on my account. I would like scientific verification of the phenomena. Is any one able to offer a means of doing this?