No matter how many high-tech cures modern medicine brings us, alternative evangelists will always argue loudly that the true secrets of well-being lie in esoteric notions such as ‘healing frequencies’, magnets and astrological alignments.
The latest example of this is a book by Matthew Silverstone, a successful London businessman. He became fascinated by alternative medicine after seeing his 19-year-old son recover from a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome so severe that he did not even have the energy to talk to people.
Despite being a tough-minded businessman, Silverstone believes the cure was brought about by an alternative healer who recommended therapies such as feeling the energy given off by trees.
In the book, Blinded By Science, Silverstone claims to have discovered that the key to all health problems lies in the fact that ‘everything vibrates – absolutely everything, from the nucleus of an atom to the molecules of our blood, our organs, our brain, light, sound, plants, animals, Earth, space, the universe’.
Silverstone claims that if we were to embrace ‘vibrational medicine’ by developing therapies based on sound waves, magnets, and the Moon’s electromagnetic pull, we could cure all the world’s ills.
Such ideas have long been dismissed as deluded mumbo-jumbo by mainstream science. But the fascinating fact is that science is now discovering that we really can cure an amazing array of illnesses – from erectile dysfunction to tumours – using precisely those ‘mumbo-jumbo’ vibrations and magnets.
Alternative-cure evangelists such as Silverstone are hardly vindicated, though. The fact is that today’s scientists are using these forces in ways that the esoteric healers never imagined.
These new, high-tech therapies are a world apart from the unproven, ineffective and often dangerous ways in which they can be offered by (often rogue) practitioners.
So while the claims Silverstone makes for various therapies would be dismissed by most medics, for people interested in healing that uses vibrations or energy fields, we identify some of the more far-out health links that may not be entirely hocus-pocus.
Alternative healers have long claimed that ‘healing vibes’ can cure everything from depression to cancer.
Indeed, charlatans have used such claims to con gullible patients into handing over huge sums of money – and foregoing vital conventional therapies.
One notorious example is the Rife Machine, developed in the Thirties by Royal Rife, an American, who claimed it cured cancer by sending a beam of sound energy into patients’ bodies.
He said this would destroy tumours by hitting their cells’ own particular frequency, in a similar way to opera singers shattering crystal glass with certain notes.
Rife’s claims were entirely discredited by the medical profession in the Fifties, but in recent years, they’ve been revived. In Silverstone’s book, Rife is feted as a martyred genius.
And around the world alternative healers have begun offering treatments costing thousands of pounds for diseases such as cancer using Rife Machines. At least four people are known to have died in New Zealand and Australia after giving up standard therapy for treatment with similar machines.
In fact, an analysis by electronics experts in Australia has found that a typical Rife device consists of a nine-volt battery and two short copper tubes, which deliver an almost undetectable current unlikely to penetrate the skin.
Nevertheless, when used as part of high-tech medical science, sound vibrations really are proving to have curative powers, as pioneering studies show.
For example, U.S. scientists are using pulses of ultrasound to treat brain conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s.
Their laboratory experiments show that precisely-targeted pulses can change the way specific brain cells work, either stimulating them (which has potential for Parkinson’s, where brain cells die off), or knocking them out of action (which could help tackle the over-exciteable cells in epilepsy). Pulsed ultrasound promises new approaches for treating such diseases without any invasive brain surgery, explains William Tyler, a neuroscientist at Arizona State University, who is leading the experiments.