SQUID, chakras and other assorted electromagnetic Woo

I am surprised at how many people I meet believe that the human body is surrounded by a large internally generated electro-magnetic field. They use this field as an explanation for New Age woo such as Auras, Chakras, Ghosts, Reiki, Chi, and so on.

Let’s examine the idea.

First off, I have done quite an extensive search and I can find nothing I would call a CREDIBLE source that even mentions such a field, in the way the Woo Brigade describe it.

I did find credible information that confirms that tiny electrical currents in the brain travel from neuron to neuron, and when they reach a muscle, trigger chemical reactions that make the muscle fibres contract or relax. This is what makes your heart beat, allows you to move about, and is generally accepted to be pretty essential for life.

As for magnetic fields – every cell in your body has ion channels that allow ions to pass through their surface, which results in a tiny voltage and creates a tiny magnetic field. This magnetic field is very, very weak. Much weaker than any magnetic field in your environment.

Non-credible sources, such as this one,  claim that “biomagnetic fields” (pulsing magnetic fields emitted by all tissues and organs of the body) surrounding the body have been measured by a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID), and that these fields can be used to diagnose and treat illness.

A SQUID is a highly sensitive scientific instrument, and is used in medicine to measure very weak magnetic fields, such as the neural activity of the brain and heart. The diagnosis part of the claim is at least partially correct – what about the “treatment” part?

Apparently, the magnetic fields around the body provide a more accurate picture of its physiology and pathology than conventional medical instruments do. And, huge pulsating biomagnetic fields emanating from the hands of therapeutic touch “healers” can “jump-start” the soft and hard tissues – such as bones, skin, nerves, capillaries and ligaments –  at specific “frequencies.”

Don’t bother looking for scientific evidence of these wild and fanciful claim anywhere – but you can obtain a list of the articles detailing the “research” from the publishers – Nature’s Own Research Association.

Norah? No, just NORA, don’t panic!

Acupuncture treatment relies on it, and Chakras are also supposed to be a manifestation of this electromagnetic field. Here is an ACTUAL series of exercises, sent to me by a Chakra “healing expert” (At first, they wanted me to pay to get this nonsense, but as I haven’t responded yet, they have dropped their price to zero – because they’re “feeling generous”. No, they think if they rope me in I’ll buy something else of theirs down the line. I won’t.)

“THE CHAKRA ENERGY PATCHING EXERCISE

When there is a leak, you have to patch it. Many people are energy-depleted because they are not able to hold enough life force energy or “chi.” (I thought it was more likely low levels of glucose in the blood?) In this energy condition, you are flushing energy down and away from you, much like a toilet flushes water down. In order to maintain good energy health, you want energy spiraling (sic) up into your base chakra. Here’s one way you can do it in 4 easy steps:

  1. Close your eyes and imagine you can see the energy leaking out of your tailbone (coccyx)
  2. Imagine a patch large enough to cover the skin
  3. Place the patch over the leak
  4. Imagine you go beneath the energy and reverse the flow to spiral it up into your body through your tailbone 

THE CROWN CHAKRA EXERCISE

Why is this important? Life force energy is also fed to us through our crown chakra. (By whom? And how?) The crown chakra is located on the top of your head. We maintain a higher life force energy when our crown chakra is open and active. (What does that mean, exactly?) When the crown chakra is closed or weak, we feel a lack of vitality and direction in our lives. As a result we look to others rather than our own spiritual compass for guidance. Here’s a simple, but very effective way to open up your crown chakra to receive energy in abundance:

  1. Place the fingertips of each of your hands on the top of your forehead when your hairline starts. Your fingertips should be touching.
  2. Now pull your fingertips away from each other as though you were opening up your crown
  3. Move your fingers 2 inches above the starting point and repeat the same movement
  4. Do this over the entire crown of your head until you reach the nape of your neck
  5. Take three deep breaths to anchor in this opening (what????)

THE PERSONAL POWER CHAKRA EXERCISE

Disruption of the flow of your life force energy occurs when a chakra is frozen or weak. It is common for individuals to have a frozen or weak third chakra. The third chakra represents your will power, confidence and sense of self. This results in a lack of confidence and will to move forward enthusiastically with towards (sic) your goals. The third chakra energy wheel is located 2 inches above the navel in the solar plexus area. These simple steps will help you activate your third chakra effectively:

  1. Rub your palms together swiftly creating static electricity (actually just warmth, from friction)
  2. Place the palm of your right hand on your solar plexus, rotating your palm in a clockwise direction while repeating: “I am powerful, I am the will of creating (sic) what I want.”
  3. Repeat these steps 2 or 3 more times”
If I want to learn more about how to heal myself using ONLY my imagination, she has an entire training course, available on an easy 90-day payment plan… Of course!
As a lady I love and respect very much likes to say : “Once again, it all comes down to money!”

If you managed to read through all the chakra exercises without falling off your chair laughing, or falling asleep, you would have noticed a couple of things:

  1. there is an assumption that you have an energy field which leaks out of various parts of your body
  2. this assumed energy field can be manipulated, and “put back” so to speak
  3. this manipulation is achieved through your imagination and rubbing your hands on various parts of your body
  4. chakra healing can’t heal bad grammar and spelling

Unfortunately, wishful thinking won’t make this fairy tale come true!

Nobody have EVER seen or discovered a chakra energy wheel. Take a human body, cut open the areas these energy wheels are supposed to reside in – you won’t find anything more exciting than bones, muscles, blood and nerves. Wave your metal scalpel over the area of the supposed chakra – do you feel any little electromagnetic tug? I thought not.

Chakra energy healing, like reiki and other therapeutic touch therapies, is nothing more than faith healing – you have to believe in it to get the benefit of the placebo effect. As long as there’s nothing really wrong with you, the placebo effect may even work. (Headaches, stress, backache, just getting old – all respond well to placebos)

However, if you have a serious illness, you should consult a doctor. You don’t have to have faith in your doctor or his medicine for it to work. That’s because real scientists, doing real research for many centuries, have by trial and replication and peer review, developed treatments for medical conditions that work, whether you believe they will or not. Human organs don’t decide for themselves whether to respond to surgery or not. Bacteria and viruses don’t decide for themselves whether to respond to antibiotics and antivirals.

Surgery, or medication, is infinitely more likely to help your heart condition than waving your hands over your chest and believing your energy field will sort out your cardiac problems!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, I will put money on it – when you’re lying on the floor, writhing in agony, shooting pains in your chest, numbness in your left arm – there is NO WAY you’re going to say “Bring me my chakra / faith healer” !

You’re going to reach for the nitroglycerine tablets and oxygen mask, and beg to be taken to the nearest hospital. In an ambulance. By a paramedic. And when you get there, you’re going to ask for a cardiologist, not a  “therapeutic touch healer” to wave their hands over you and manipulate your electromagnetic field,  or a priest to pray for the miraculous restoration of a healthy heart!

 
When it really counts, and your life is on the line, do you really think there’s an “alternative therapy” that can do better than conventional scientific medicine?
If you hold that belief, I once again refer you to What’s the Harm. Look up your favourite “alternative” treatment. Read the true stories of what reliance on that treatment has done to people.
Do you STILL believe your “therapy” is better than scientific medicine?
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Reflexology

Some of my friends have mentioned consulting a reflexologist about their health problems. I tend to lump reflexology in with acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, magnet therapy and many other “alternative health” practices. The self-reported benefits of some of these treatments seem impressive to the uncritical mind – but what do we find when we delve a little deeper?

Reflexology, also known as Zone Therapy, was invented by William H Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat doctor, in the early 20th century. His idea was that the human body is divided into ten vertical zones, each of which is represented by a part of the foot on the opposite side of the body.

This all ties back to the Eastern ideas of Qi or Chi – a life force or energy which supposedly flows along detectable meridians in the human body. By manipulating this Qi, therapists claim to be able to:

  • stimulate lymph nodes, kidney and colon reflexes, thereby “cleansing the body of toxins” (I thought your liver and kidneys did that all by themselves)
  • “balance and harmonise” the body (What??? That doesn’t even make sense!)
  • enhance bodily function by increasing oxygen levels and nutrient supply to every cell (deep breathing when you fall asleep during your foot massage?)
  • unblock nerve impulses and stimulate lethargic blood supply which prevent your Qi from reaching unhealthy or diseased organs.
  • aid healing after surgery (using the same mysterious Qi energy)
  • reduce tension (as would ANY foot massage)

By pressing on parts of the foot, the highly-trained reflexologist can detect areas of resistance which apparently indicate disease in the organ or part of the body represented by that spot on the foot. (Hands apparently also have zones connected in the same way ……. as do ears.)

Therapy involves massage at that point, which is believed to repair the diseased organ and generally improve the patient’s health (see the list of outlandish claims above). Several sessions of high-pressure massage may be needed to cure the problem, and thereafter maintenance sessions to prevent further disease. (This is really funny if you think about it. The reflexologist diagnoses a disease which does not yet exist in your body, treats it with nice foot massages at great expense to you because Medical Aids sensibly refuse to pay for reflexology treatments, and then claims a “hit” because you DIDN’T get sick with whatever they were treating you for!)

Okay, that all sounds very nice, comforting in a way. Here’s a therapy that can treat or cure your diseased organs without surgical intervention or even drugs. No nasty trips to the doctor, no lengthy and expensive stays in hospital, no years of chronic medication…. Hell no! Just pop off to the reflexologist for a foot massage and you’ll be fine!

Just a couple of small problems……….

Reflexology is not a legal medical profession – in South Africa for instance, two years of study at a spa training college or cosmetic and massage academy, covering the following subjects – anatomy and physiology, pathology, theoretical and practical reflexology, business practices, patient care, nutrition, HIV policy and first aid – will give you a DIPLOMA in Reflexology.

You can then register as a member of the Allied Health Professionals Council, pay your annual fees, and go out and pretend to be a medically qualified to diagnose and treat people with serious health problems.

The fact that they might DIE because they came to you for a foot massage instead of consulting a REAL doctor shouldn’t concern you too much, should it? Apparently ethics are not a huge part of the training course….

Neither is consistency.

Reflexologists can’t agree on exactly WHICH part of the foot/hand/ear is supposed to be magically connected to WHICH part of the body! You can check this out for yourself – just Google Reflexology Images, and you will find pages of charts of the zones – hands, feet and ears – and if you care to look closely you will see that although they obviously started out with Dr Fitzgerald’s original charts, some Poetic License has crept in over the years.

Compare the massage spots with the first diagram above - notice anything?

This one is for when you have an enlarged heart....

Isn’t it weird how the heart bit jumps around, getting bigger and smaller….? And the ascending colon becomes the descending colon? Some charts coyly don’t mention certain “private parts” – I guess those therapists didn’t learn about STDs in Cosmetics School….

The other major problem with Reflexology is that there is no scientific basis for its theories. There are no detectable meridians, there is no detectable Qi or Life Force, there is no evidence that this non-existent Qi is connected to parts of the hand or foot or ear and can be manipulated to treat specific illnesses. It’s just not biologically plausible. We have perfectly adequate explanations for the cause of most diseases, and scientific researchers are working on the rest. You don’t need to invoke magic to explain illness – germs, unhealthy eating habits, genetic inheritance, unhealthy environment, accidents, etc can explain most of what goes wrong in the human body.

There are SO MANY published results of clinical trials which have tested reflexology properly (random, double-blinded, peer-reviewed) and found it to be useful only for relaxation, and some pain relief, as well as having a placebo effect. Here are just a few links:

You will notice that I have not included any links to “trials” which consist mainly of anecdotal evidence and which do not provide proper data to back up their conclusions – the internet positively teems with such information, all of it useless from a scientific and medical point of view.

Once again, I ask the question, What’s the Harm in seeing a reflexologist?

If you have any bone or joint condition in your feet or lower legs, it can be exacerbated by forceful massage as applied by the reflexologist. These are not doctors – they have a two or three-year diploma with debatable credentials – yes, they will ask you about your medical history and try to take reasonable care to not kill you outright. You hope.

If you allow a reflexologist to treat you for a serious condition you might delay consulting a medical doctor who can treat you with the medicine or surgery you really need. The condition could get a lot worse before you end up seeking proper medical care, by which time it might be too late…. cancer is the obvious example where early diagnosis and aggressive medical treatment is essential.

You just can’t afford to mess around with cancer….  How many people do you know who were diagnosed, tried chemotherapy, thought it wasn’t helping, went to an “alternative” practitioner, and then DIED??? Yes, it’s often fatal anyway, but you have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life if you get REAL MEDICAL CARE!

Modern reflexology tries to downplay the woo – if you look at a lot of their websites they emphasise the relaxation and massage side of it. Well, if it’s just a massage, why call yourself a reflexologist? Why rely on Zones and Qi and all the rest of the nonsense to back you up? Why pretend that it’s a valid medical intervention when it clearly isn’t?

Could it be because you can charge a LOT more for a reflexology session under the guise of medicine than you can for a simple foot massage? Reflexology treatment can run to several sessions and of course there are those “preventative” sessions – you could be tied into those for years!