The Nuremberg Salt Test of 1835
What is widely regarded as the first double-blind, random, placebo controlled test took place in the German city of Nuremberg in 1835. Homeopath Johann Jacob Reuter was one of the most prominent doctors in the city but Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven, head of the local hospitals, suggested that homeopathic drugs were not real medicines at all and lacked any scientific credibility. Reuter pointed out that even children, lunatics and animals had been successfully cured by it and challenged von Hoven to try the effects of a C30 dilution of salt, saying he would experience some extraordinary sensations as a result. Von Hoven took up the challenge. He worked with a local newspaper editor and with some colleagues set about designing a proper test.
They invited people willing to take the test to a pub and 120 turned up. Selecting 50 to go ahead,the design of the proposed trial was explained in detail. In front of everyone, the local homeopaths carefully produced 30C dilutions of salt ( 1/100x30) and placed them in 50 jars. 50 similar jars were filled with distilled snow melt. Great care was taken not to cross-contaminate. The numbered jars were then passed to a second blinded committee for distribution amongst the selected participants. 2 weeks later those participants who had perceived something unusual described their symptoms, as required by the protocol.
Of course there was no significant difference between those who had taken homeopathy and those who had taken melted snow water. The vast majority of those who had received the homeopathic salt dilution had not experienced any ‘effect’. The investigators concluded that the homeopath Reuter was wrong. Remember, this was in 1835, nearly 200 years ago! We knew homeopathy was bunk even then. For more details of the trial, see here: