• The Works

Energy Medicine: Review of paper by Christina L Ross

I am indebted to Richard Rasker for the following critique of this paper:

Ross Christina L. Energy Medicine: Current Status and Future Perspectives. Glob Adv Health Med. 2019; 8: 2164956119831221

I have not included Ross’ list of references. Readers should refer to the original paper which is here. The original headings are used, and original text is italicised. The reviewer’s references are linked to sources, and listed at the end.

Short Abstract

Current practices in allopathic medicine measure different types of energy in the human body by using quantum field dynamics involved in nuclear medicine, radiology, and imaging diagnostics.

This is factually incorrect in almost all respects.

  • Most medical diagnostic procedures do NOT measure ‘different types of energy’ in the human body. They use electromagnetic energy and/or nuclear energy to create images of bodily structures and functions. The only type of bodily energy measured for diagnostic purposes is thermal energy, i.e. a patient’s temperature.
  • Diagnostic procedures do NOT involve Quantum Field Theory (QFT) in any direct sense. QFT models interactions between subatomic particles in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics. These subatomic particles and their interactions have no bearing on ailments or even the diagnoses thereof. At best, one can say that MRI involves a quantum effect, i.e. the spin of the hydrogen nucleus. But again, this quantum effect is only used as a way to observe the locations of hydrogen atoms in different types of chemical bonds, in order to make biological structures visible. These chemical bonds of hydrogen atoms and the structures in which they are observed may be related to an ailment. Nuclear spin, however, is not.

Also note that ‘allopathic’ is a derisive term for mainstream science-based medicine, exclusively employed by practitioners and proponents of alternative medicine.

Once diagnosed, current treatments revert to biochemistry instead of using biophysics therapies to treat the disturbances in subtle energies detected and used for diagnostics.

This statement makes no sense, as it implies that

  • the body produces innate ‘subtle energies’ that can be objectively observed,
  • ailments somehow ‘disturb’ these ‘subtle energies’, and that
  • these ‘disturbances’ could somehow be counteracted by biophysics in order to treat the ailment, in turn implying that
  • regular medical treatment is somehow sub-optimal by not acknowledging this ‘energy-based’ approach.

There is no scientific evidence for any of these claims. This ‘subtle energy’ is not defined in any scientifically rigorous way, and neither are the ‘disturbances’ that are mentioned. The scientific consensus is that said energy is a wholly fictitious concept, adopted from ancient spiritual world views.

And as explained already, diagnostic practice does not involve the measurement of any innate bodily ‘energy’, with the exception of thermal energy. Energy is merely a means for observing bodily structures and functions. Changing this energy and thus the observation does not change anything about the ailment.

Quantum physics teaches us there is no difference between energy and matter.

This is factually incorrect, and an obvious misrepresentation of quantum mechanics. Matter is not even remotely similar to energy.1 Subatomic particles can be represented by a mathematical quantum wave function, and the exchange of energy between subatomic particles can also be represented by special subatomic particles with their own wave functions, but this does not mean that there is no difference between energy and matter, even on a quantum scale – which, incidentally, is not the scale at which organisms, organs and cells function at all. Furthermore, it is not clear what purpose this erroneous statement serves, other than to suggest that quantum physics is somehow a functional part of medical treatments. It is not.

All systems in the human being, from the atomic to the molecular level, are constantly in motion-creating resonance. This resonance is important to understanding how subtle energy directs and maintains health and wellness in the human being.

This is meaningless and without scientific basis. Yes, atoms and molecules vibrate constantly under the influence of thermal energy, and they can move, deform and change as a result of chemical attraction and repulsion. However, the so-called Brownian motion has a stochastic nature, without any resonance.

Intramolecular vibrations do exhibit resonances that can be detected using infrared and visible light spectroscopy (so-called Raman spectroscopy). However, this is mainly used for detecting particular molecule bonds, with no significance from a medical point of view.

Also, it is unclear what ‘motion-creating’ is supposed to mean here. Resonance already implies regular motion over time. The claim that said phenomena influence physiological and biological functioning is therefore baseless.

Energy medicine (EM), whether human touch or device-based, is the use of known subtle energy fields to therapeutically assess and treat energetic imbalances, bringing the body’s systems back to homeostasis (balance).

This definition of Energy Medicine has no basis in reality.

  • These ‘subtle energy fields’ are NOT defined in any scientifically valid sense; they cannot be objectively observed let alone measured, and are purely fictitious.
  • The term ‘balanced’ has no meaning here. What is it that is balanced? How is this assessed? In what way can an imbalance occur? And how can this imbalance be objectively observed? None of these questions have a scientifically acceptable answer.
  • The suggestion is made that both diagnosis and treatment of any ailment can be achieved through identical means, which is generally untrue. Diagnosis is the observation of certain symptoms or phenomena that may indicate what type of ailment one is dealing with. Treatment, on the other hand, is an intervention that is aimed at removing the cause of the ailment, after which those symptoms can no longer be observed. Changing the observation does NOT change or treat the ailment or its causes.

The future of EM depends on the ability of allopathic medicine to merge physics with biochemistry.

This claim makes no sense. Regular medicine already uses both physics and biochemistry pervasively. Modern diagnostic imaging techniques all rely on (sometimes extremely sophisticated) applications of physics; radiological treatment modalities are often based on nuclear physics. Even simply taking a patient’s temperature is an application of physics.

Furthermore, there is an implicit suggestion that all sorts of unproven alternative medicine modalities are based on real physics. This is untrue.

Biophoton emissions as well as signal transduction and cell signaling communication systems are widely accepted in today’s medicine.

Yes, the phenomena mentioned are indeed observed. However, biophotons appear to be a rare byproduct of biochemical reactions without any further function. Cell signalling2 is something completely different, and takes place almost exclusively through biochemistry. Moderating cell signalling is extensively used in many types of medical interventions, e.g. SSRIs (antidepressants) influence the functioning of certain neurotransmitters. It is unclear why this is mentioned here.

This technology needs to be expanded to include the existence of the human biofield (or human energy field) to better understand that disturbances in the coherence of energy patterns are indications of disease and aging.

Once again, Ross simply posits several concepts for which no scientific evidence exists:

  • There is no such thing as ‘the human biofield’; it is a fictitious concept without proper definition.
  • There are no ‘energy patterns’ that can exhibit ‘disturbances in coherence’. This too is fully fictitious.
  • The causes of aging are well known: slow degradation of cellular DNA due to oxidative stress, cumulative mutational damage and diminishing numbers of so-called telomers, interfering with cell functioning and cell division. No ‘energy pattern’ of any kind is involved.

Also note that there is only one scientific definition of energy: it is merely a measure of the capability to perform work. Energy is a simple scalar value that by definition cannot be ‘patterned’ in any way.

Future perspectives include understanding cellular voltage potentials and how they relate to health and wellness,

Cellular voltage potentials (membrane potentials) are well understood already. Voltage potentials across cell membranes are mostly built up by means of so-called ion pumps, which selectively transport ions from a cell’s interior to the exterior and vice versa. The resulting difference in relative concentrations of (mostly) sodium and potassium ions creates a voltage gradient across the membrane. This results in a voltage differential between 40 and 80 mV, with the cell’s interior being negative with respect to the cell’s exterior.

In nerve cells, large changes in these potentials (a so-called action potential) are propagated automatically, carrying signals along these cells. In other cells, voltage potentials are mostly static, and provide energy to functional biochemical structures in the cell membrane. Major deviations in cellular voltage potentials (e.g. as a result of hyperkalemia), are very serious and quickly fatal, because they interfere with the functioning of nerve cells, potentially causing cardiac arrest.

Note that these membrane potentials are strictly localized to individual cells. The body as a whole is largely electrically neutral, and macroscopic voltage potentials are mostly associated with neural and muscular activity. Also note that in most cells, the membrane potential is static and thus does not contribute to any detectable electrical activity outside these cells.

understanding the overlap between the endocrine and chakra systems, and understanding how EM therapeutically enhances psychoneuroimmunology (mind–body) medicine.

Chakra systems are unscientific nonsense, adopted from ancient belief systems, as is Energy Medicine.

Introduction

Energy medicine (EM) has been defined as a branch of integrative medicine that studies the science of therapeutic applications of subtle energies. For centuries, allopathic or Western medicine has investigated the body’s internal systems—from organs, tissues, and cells to the current understanding of hormones and peptides. While modern medicine focuses primarily on physiology, the human organism has many aspects that are not physical—aspects that generate and absorb massive amounts of information. Physiology interacts with its environment via ambient fields such as light, sound, electricity, magnetism, and with all other living organisms to generate massive amounts of information in the form of energy fields.

This has no basis in reality. The phenomena described are simply a given of the world we live in, and do not generate ‘massive amounts of information in the form of energy fields’, let alone that this ‘information’ is absorbed and/or processed in any meaningful manner. And as mentioned earlier, energy is simply the capability to perform work. It has no pattern and cannot contain information in and of itself.

Voltage potentials (VPs) across cell membranes direct ion flux, modulating cell function. VPs are involved in the therapeutic effects of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on immune function and tissue regeneration,

Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy appears to stimulate bone growth in fractures, by stimulating the formation of certain signaling molecules outside skeletal cells. Cellular voltage potentials are not involved here, as the weak electromagnetic fields used cannot cause any significant change in cellular membrane potentials:

  • PEMF electrical field strength is typically a few volts per meter at most. A cellular membrane with a typical 10 nm thickness and a 40 mV membrane voltage has an internal field strength of 40 x 10-3 / 10 x 10-9 = 4 MV/m, rendering any external PEMF field insignificant.
  • The magnetic component of PEMF (usually a few microtesla) is also too weak to affect membrane potentials through induction.

The conclusion is that PEMF can not influence cell membrane potentials in any significant way. Also note that while there is some scientific evidence for the effects of PEMF, it is also associated with large amounts of unproven claims, pseudoscience, and outright quackery (e.g. that it could help restore neural function in cases of spinal cord injury).

on organ-associated frequencies

This has no basis in reality. Organs are NOT associated with any particular frequencies.

instrumental in the endocrine/chakra systems, and on the regulatory mechanisms of neurotransmitter conversion of external fields into chemical or electrical energy involved in mind–body function known as psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). The subtle energies involved in these systems exhibit the internal and external aspects of the human being described as the human biofield or human energy field (HEF).

This is once again pseudoscientific talk, unsupported by even the tiniest bit of real science.

To both understand and treat the entire human being, current practices in Western medicine must expand concepts of healing to incorporate physics of the HEF into modern medical practice. Knowledge of the existence of and effects on the HEF will determine the future of medicine by opening new medical paradigms, integrating Western medicine with Eastern medical practices that have been time tested for thousands of years.

This appears to argue for abandoning the rigours of the scientific method and simply accepting unproven pseudoscientific claims because that is what pseudoscience proponents believe.

Current Status

Current practices in Western medicine measure different types of energy in diagnostic procedures. These include sonograms, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, electrocardiogram, electroencephalogram, computed tomography, and positron emission tomography scans involved in nuclear medicine, radiology, and molecular imaging diagnostics. These devices use an energy source, such as radiopharmaceuticals (which emit radiation), introduced into specific tissues or organs that alter or absorb external electromagnetic fields (EMFs) or ultrasound to diagnose cell and organ function. Biophotonics is being used in medical diagnostics for tagging single intracellular protein molecules, allowing scientists to track molecular function in real time with a high degree of accuracy.1 Biophoton emissions were first discovered by Fritz-Albert Popp using a type of photomultiplier to count light, photon by photon. This device is highly sensitive to extremely weak photon emission. Biophotonics addresses the way in which light interacts with biological systems including molecules, cells, tissues, and whole organisms.2 Quantum processes include resonant frequencies such as in nuclear magnetic resonance, a physical phenomenon in which nuclei in a strong magnetic field are perturbed by a weak oscillating magnetic fields (in the near field, therefore not involved in electromagnetic waves) that respond by producing an electromagnetic signal with a frequency characteristic of the magnetic field at the nucleus.3 All atomic nuclei consist of protons and neutrons, with a net positive charge. Certain atomic nuclei, such as the hydrogen nucleus, or the phosphorus nucleus, possess a property known as “spin,” dependent on the number of protons. This can be conceived as the nucleus spinning arounds its own axis, although this is a mathematical analogy. While the nucleus itself does not spin in the classical meaning, but through its constituent parts induces a magnetic moment, generating a local magnetic field with north and south poles. The quantum mechanical description of this dipolar magnet is analogous to classical mechanics of spinning objects, where the dipole is a bar magnetic with magnetic poles aligned along its axis of rotation.3 Nuclei that possess spin can be excited with magnetic fields in short pulses, whereby the absorption of energy via the nucleus causes a transition from higher to lower energy levels and vice versa on relaxation, returning the system to thermal equilibrium. Energy absorbed (and subsequently emitted) by the nucleus induces a voltage that can be detected by a suitably tuned wire coil, amplified, and displayed as “free-induction decay,” causing each nucleus to resonate at a characteristic frequency when placed in the same magnetic field.4 These diagnostic procedures provide tremendous amounts of information relating to the health of the patient.

This is correct so far – and literally cited from the referenced scientific articles, except that biophotons were discovered much earlier than by Popp (see later).

Once the diagnosis using quantum mechanics is completed, current treatments revert to biochemistry instead of using treatments involving the subtle energies that made the original diagnosis.

This ‘subtle energy’ Ross mentions is not explicitly defined anywhere, nor is it mentioned in the above explanation of MRI – which, incidentally, requires not-so-subtle energies of dozens of kilowatts of RF (radio-frequent) power, as well as the most powerful magnetic fields we humans can create.

Also, if these ‘subtle energies’ are supposedly the energy that is received back during an MRI scan, then Ross makes the colossal mistake of conflating the means of observation (the electromagnetic energy used to compose an MRI image) with the cause of the presenting condition (defects or malfunctions in the organ(s) that are scanned). Also see the elaboration in the Abstract.

Quantum physics teaches us there is no difference between energy and matter. All systems in an organism, from the atomic to the molecular level, are constantly in motion-creating resonance.

This is untrue. See reviewer comments for the Abstract.

This resonance is important to understanding how electromagnetism (radiation/light) can have different effects on the body. While all matter resonates,

No, all matter does not resonate.

there are signature resonant frequencies, emitting unique characteristic signals from the nuclei of their respective atoms.5,6

No, atomic nuclei do not emit any characteristic signals. If that were the case, we could do away with all that expensive, clumsy technology such as mass spectrometry, and register the ‘characteristic nuclear signature’ directly. Literature reference #5 points to pseudoscience, and #6 points to an old, largely obsolete book about charge transport in molecules (which involves electrons and hydrogen bridges, not nuclei).

Most biomedical researchers agree that EMFs surround and flow through the body in the form of electricity, with the heart registering the highest electrical activity, emitting 2.5 W, producing 40 to 60 times more electricity than the brain.7 The electrical activity of the heart and nervous systems interacts and affects one another, with the heart being correlated with the highest magnetic activity.8

This scientifically correct technical description apparently serves no other function than to associate the following nonsense with real science.

Classic body systems include the nervous/enteric system, the circulatory system, the immune/lymphatic, digestive system, skeletal system, respiratory system, integumentary, endocrine, urinary/renal, and reproductive systems. Each of these systems is a channel for energy communication. Wisneski and Anderson suggest that these energy communication channels effect emotions as well as our sense of self.9

The systems mentioned have clear and well-defined physiological and biological functions, and do not double as a ‘channel for energy communication’ (and again: what ‘energy’?), with the possible exception of the nervous system (which obviously is meant to provide a fast means of communication) and the endocrine system (which deals with chemical messages).

For example, the nervous system transmits information to the proper part of the brain to be assimilated and sent back to a part of the body it intends to influence. Cerebral spinal fluid carries information that affects the endocrine, immune, and the central nervous system (CNS), sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The cerebral spinal fluid does NOT convey information in any significant way.3

PNI, the relationship between the psyche (thoughts), neuroscience (CNS, SNS, and PNS), and immunology, incorporates psychology with neurology, immunology, physiology, endocrinology, and rheumatology.10

Reference #10 points to a self-help book on stress management, without clear relevance to the topic at hand.

Research suggests that the mind and body communicate in a bidirectional flow of hormones, neuropeptides, and cytokines.11,12 In the immune system, protein molecules known as cytokines are the principal mediators of communication between the immune and neuroendocrine system, which results in immune system modulation, particularly regarding inflammation and infection.13 Activated immune cells can permeate the blood–brain barrier and secrete cytokine mediators.14–16 Cytokines play an enormously important role in system homeostasis during immune challenges.17 Both immune and neuroendocrine systems share signaling molecules, primarily neuropeptides, and cytokines, which promote communication with and between the systems of the body. These are examples of how the body has the capacity to function in a similar manner, with separate, yet fully interactive parts, maintaining homeostasis.

There is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that perceptions of one’s environment can be profoundly immune enhancing or immune suppressive.11 Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes—the white blood cells that help fight off infection. Lower lymphocyte levels increase the risk of viral infection and common cold.18 Leukocytes not only modulate neuroendocrine peptide production via the CNS but are capable of producing stress-associated peptides and hormones previously thought to reside exclusively in the CNS.19 High-stress levels can also cause anxiety and depression, leading to higher levels of inflammatio.20 Current medical science uses this biochemical model of molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and systems to focus on an organized structure–function relationship of health and disease.

Yes, these are all known biochemical principles and systems, properly cited with sources…

This model needs to be expanded to deeper levels that include electromagnetic and quantum processes that play a major role in how nature organizes itself.

… but this once again makes no sense. Modern medicine already includes several modalities that are based on electromagnetic principles, e.g. electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), several types of electronic stimulation, e.g. deep brain stimulation (DBS), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). All of these modalities have scientifically proven efficacy for one or more conditions. None is in any way related to ‘Energy Medicine’ as promoted by Ross.

Quantum processes and other phenomena on the subatomic level have no bearing on medicine in any way.

Energy Medicine (EM) Defined

EM is the use of known subtle energy fields to therapeutically assess and treat energetic imbalances, bringing the body’s systems (neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, endocrinal, emotional/psychological, etc) back to homeostasis.

The body has no innate ‘subtle energy fields’ that can be used in any significant way. Also note that this ‘subtle energy’ is merely posited; it is most definitely not ‘known’, defined or characterized in any way, nor is evidence contributed for its actual existence.

Knowledge of the existence of the HEF is the first step to understanding integral physiology, which unites body, mind, and spirit to treat the entire human being—not just the physiology.21

This is a well-known and deceptive misrepresentation of modern medicine. Any competent regular doctor already treats ‘the entire human’. People who consult a GP with complaints that do not have an immediately obvious cause are routinely asked about their personal life, stress, nutritional and other relevant lifestyle factors and habits (exercise, smoking, alcohol use etcetera). A fictitious ‘human energy field’ has no place in this.

The HEF has been described as a complex dynamic of EMFs that include individual oscillating electrically charged moving particles such as ions, biophotons, and molecules, which create standing waves.22 Disturbances in the coherence of energy patterns of the HEF are indications of disease and aging.23

Stating that something `has been described’ as anything does not make it real. What ‘disturbances’ in what’coherence’ of what ‘energy patterns’ are we talking about? How can we reliably and repeatably observe these ‘energy patterns’? How can we recognize this ‘coherence’? And what do these ‘disturbances’ look like? Absolutely nothing here is defined or characterized in any way, nothing is explained, and of course everything is simply made up.

When these energy particles

Energy particles? Does Ross mean electromagnetic quanta here (e.g. photons)?

are exposed to EM in the form of coherent energy patterns (eg, PEMF, vibrational medicine, Polarity Therapy, acupuncture, Healing Touch, etc), the disturbed resonant patterns return to their original, coherent, harmonic, and vibrational state (homeostasis).

There is no evidence base for any of this, for any condition. Apart from PEMF, all modalities mentioned have been discredited by real science.

If Western medicine applied the principles of modern physics,

Western medicine already does apply the principles of modern physics in a huge variety of ways, as explained earlier on.

…it would understand human beings are composed of information (energy) interacting with other energy (environment) to profoundly impact our physical and emotional health.

This is purely an assertion, with no evidence. Human beings are not composed of information, they are not composed of energy, and neither is their environment. Almost all interaction with the environment is based on biochemistry, with the exception of the senses (vision, hearing, touch, heat receptors). Ross appears to be claiming that she knows better how humans function than regular western medicine and science.

The HEF has been investigated in scientific laboratories where photon emissions were detected using photometers and color filter.24–27

No, the detection of biophotons is not proof for the existence of any ‘human energy field’. It just proves that, yes, biophotons are emitted, as a byproduct of certain biochemical reactions.

Human energy vibrations were recorded at 1000 times higher in frequency than the electrical signals of nerve and muscle, with continuous dynamic modulation unlike the pulsing signals of the nervous system.23 Energy in the HEF is typically referred to as subtle energy,28 which is electromagnetic in nature. It is a system of wave-particle matter, transmitting and receiving vibrational information governing the physical matter of the body. Healing is achieved by directing coherent, harmonic energy into distortions caused by stressors and disease.

This is speculation without any scientific basis whatsoever, contrary to what is claimed.4 Literature references point to books, not to peer-reviewed science.

For many years, Western medicine rejected the possibility that an EMF could affect biochemical mechanisms with such weak electrical fields. Biochemistry, however, is based on an understanding of the flow of energy that drives chemical reactions.29

Biochemical reactions are ultimately driven by attraction and repulsion of localized electric fields in molecules, enabling the exchange of electrons and the formation or breaking of chemical bonds. Non-localized weak electromagnetic fields can only have limited effects.

Physical properties of molecules can be combined to express internal energy and thermodynamic potentials, which are necessary for equilibrium and homeostasis in spontaneous processes.9

Yes, molecules can attract each other and combine, among other things, depending on their structure and distribution of electric charge. This is called ‘chemistry’.

New models of biophysics emphasize cooperative electrical activity of highly ordered elements at all levels of physiology: cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, as well as the entire body.

What exactly is this supposed to mean? That there is a hitherto completely unknown (and so far unproven) electrical communications system inside the body?

Laboratory research with in vivo (animal) and in vitro (cell and tissue cultures) has shown important effects caused by low-frequency or weak EMF therapies, causing changes in cell proliferation; alterations in membrane structure and function; changes in nucleic acids, protein phosphorylation, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP synthesis); as well as entrainment of brain rhythms and conditioned brain response.30–32 Parameters of these fields include frequency, amplitude (field strength), waveform, and time of exposure. Recognition of physiological sensitivities to exogenous EMF came from the observation of internal endogenous electrical processes.9 An example of this is the piezoelectric properties of bone that use electromechanical control to determine which cells become osteoblasts or osteoclasts. By modulating cellular processes with PEMF,33 windows of opportunity for therapeutic application have been discovered for improving the regeneration of osteoblasts to bone before becoming osteoclasts.34

Yes, there is scientific evidence for PEMF for stimulating the healing of non-union bone fractures.

All cells produce EMFs because the human body produces complex electrical activity in all the body’s 210 different cell types. Neurons, endocrine cells, and muscle cells are all referred to as “excitable cells.” These cells produce current (via electron transfer); magnetic field (via moving charges); a pulsed frequency; as well as pH, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and light (via biophotons).35

Yes, most cells can produce voltage potentials, minute electric currents, and even more minute magnetic fields. However, most of these phenomena have only very local effects, and play no significant role otherwise.

Detailed clinical research in biophysical stimulation has identified specific cellular processes responding to electromagnetic forces. Selective pathways at the cell plasma membrane are activated depending on the PEMF applied. These include voltage-gated calcium channels activated by capacitive coupling,32 intracellular calcium flux modulated with inductive coupling,36 and inositol phosphate by mechanical stimulation.37 Basic research on cells, animals, along with clinical studies have reported therapeutic dosimetries for frequency, amplitude (field strength), waveform, orientation, and time of exposure needed to activate specific processes in specific cells.30 Processes activated by PEMF signals have been reported in the plasma membrane’s cell surface receptors through the cytoplasm into the nucleus and genes, where transcription factors affect translation of cell function.38,39 Externally applied EMF can affect orientation, migration, and proliferation of cells, playing key roles in healing.36

This appears to be legitimate scientific research into the effects of PEMF.

Modalities of EM

There are several modalities of EM that interact with the subtle energy of the body.

It is impossible to interact with something for which there is no evidence of existence.

These include, but are not limited to, PEMF therapy, Polarity Therapy, acupuncture, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, homeopathy, Qi Gong, and applied Kinesiology.

With the exception of PEMF therapy, all modalities mentioned have no scientific evidence of efficacy. Therapeutic Touch has even been proven totally ineffective in 1996 by one Emily Rosa, nine years old at the time.5 The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the other modalities too are ineffective beyond placebo for any condition.

New medical paradigms can bridge the gap between conventional/allopathic and EM. For instance, PEMF and acupuncture have plausible electromagnet modes of action.

Acupuncture has no plausible mode of action and is considered ineffective beyond placebo.

Device-Based Treatment

Research shows PEMF at extra low frequencies (ELFs) is beneficial to immune system modulation40 as well as tissue regeneration.32 PEMF can pass through the skin into the body’s conductive tissue, resulting in reduced pain and edema, and stimulation of wound healing after trauma.36

Several of these claims are not backed up by compelling scientific evidence, and the research cited is mainly Ross’ own. So far, PEMF mainly appears to have proven effectiveness in healing bone fractures.

Electromagnetic therapies can affect cell signaling systems through the modulation of cytokine function,40 second messengers such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate,41 transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B,40 and tissue regeneration,34 without cytotoxic or genotoxic effects.42 EMFs oscillate at various frequencies, however, ELFs (<100 Hz) are most commonly used for therapeutic purposes. Currently, there are several types of EMF therapies used in Western medicine. They include Laser surgery to resect hepatomas, metastatic tumors, and colorectal liver metastases;43 transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to relieve acute and chronic pain;44 cranial electrical stimulation for the treatment of neuroendocrine imbalance and chronic stress-associated diseases;45 and PEMF therapy, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association for the treatment of nonunion fractures, muscle reeducation, and relations of muscle spasm.46 PEMF has also been used to treat osteoarthritis,47 peripheral nerve pain,44 wound healing,36 spinal cord injury,48 and cartilage repair.32 Targeted pulsed magnetic fields are being used to treat depression in the form of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).49 This therapy targets key areas of the brain that are underactive in people with depression.50 Inefficient production of brain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that send signals between brain cells) are brought back to homeostasis,51 without the adverse effects of antidepressants.52

Once again, Ross cites mostly her own work on PEMF, unfortunately with almost no references to independent peer-reviewed studies that replicate her results. Other studies cited describe PEMF (again) for bone regeneration, and transcranial electrical and/or magnetic stimulation techniques with proven efficacy.

The relevance of all this for ‘subtle energies’ and on ‘Energy Medicine’ is unclear and unexplained.

PEMF medical devices are available to purchase, but expertise is needed to assure the patient is using the optimal frequency, field strength, and time of exposure for the tissue type being treated. These devices can be applied in 2 different ways—either by capacitive or by inductive coupling. In capacitive coupling, there is no contact with the body, whereas direct coupling requires the placement of opposing electrodes in direct contact with the surface of the targeted tissue. With inductive coupling (nondirect capacitive coupling), electrodes do not have to be in direct contact with the tissue because the electric field produces a magnetic field that, in turn, produces a current in the conductive tissues of the body.46,53,54 PEMF therapy is based on Faraday’s law, a basic law of electromagnetism that predicts how a magnetic field will interact with an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force known as electromagnetic induction. EMF has been stigmatized as a cancer causing agent; however, it is the ionizing EMF that emits high enough energy states to dislodge electrons from atoms.55 It is the nonionizing EMF that is used for therapeutic purposes.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be considered an electromagnetic phenomenon due to the ionic charge between 2 acupuncture points. This has been demonstrated by Mussat and others.56–58 Acupuncture needles with 1 metal (copper, silver, bronze, or an alloy) for the shaft and another metal for the handle, form tiny batteries.9

This is fully incorrect. Two different metals in an electrolyte can indeed form a type of battery (a galvanic cell)6 by building up a so-called redox potential that can be measured between both conductors. And yes, the internal human body can indeed be seen as a container of electrolytes.

However, this only generates a voltage difference (and hence a current) in the tissue if

  1. both different metals make contact with the electrolyte, and
  2. both metals do not touch directly within the electrolyte, and
  3. both metals have an external connection (i.e. outside the electrolyte), completing a closed circuit through which a current can flow.

This means that plain acupuncture with identical needles made from e.g. a steel shaft and copper handle windings will not generate any voltage difference with respect to the body whatsoever: [1] is not satisfied because the shafts that come in contact with the electrolyte are all the same material, [2] is not satisfied because the steel and the copper are in direct contact (and the copper doesn’t even make contact with the electrolyte), and [3] is not satisfied because to my knowledge, acupuncture needles aren’t interconnected by wires or other more or less conductive materials.

In other words: no closed circuit is established, no current can flow, so plain acupuncture cannot and will not cause any electrical effects.

Some acupuncture therapies use additional electrical stimulation (2–4 Hz) applied to the needles. From this electrical perspective, each organ in the body is like a battery housed in a sac of electrolytes, with a positive potential on the surface of the sac that is the aggregate result of electrical processes in the tissues of the organs.9 The positive potential at the needle tip attracts negatively charged ions from the interstitial medium until a saturation equilibrium is achieved.59–61

This is correct so far …

The normal functions of an organ tend to generate stronger and more harmonic ionic effects than organs with trauma or disease.62

… but this once again is pseudoscience. There is no such thing as a ‘harmonic ionic effect’, and there is no consistent, observable difference in ions whatsoever between healthy and diseased or traumatized tissues or organs, apart from effects caused by accumulation of fluids (swelling).

A Cochrane review of this so-called electroacupuncture for two conditions found no compelling evidence for efficacy.

Acupuncture is considered a wiring system in the body, as is the analog perineural nervous system,63 and ion transfer within blood plasma.64

Acupuncture has nothing to do with any ‘wiring system’; the ‘meridians’ on which acupuncture is ostensibly based do not exist7. Also, normal blood flow renders any subtler ‘ion transfer’ mechanisms within the blood utterly insignificant.

It is difficult to use a voltmeter to measure the voltage in organs because voltages pulse in the body. It is common to use an ohm meter to measure the voltage and convert ohms to volts using Ohm’s law (voltage = ohms × amps). Table 1 shows frequencies that correspond to organ function. Assuming amperage is constant, then ohms = voltage.65

This ‘explanation’ and Table 1 below betray a complete lack of understanding of even basic electricity. Electrical resistance and Ohm’s law are not associated with frequency at all. The concept of resistance is correctly explained – but it is meaningless to speak of ‘the’ resistance of a particular organ or even organism, as this resistance is influenced by many different parameters (the concentration and mobility of ions, the way the measuring probes are applied, the distance between the probes, among other things).

Frequency, on the other hand refers to the speed at which an electric voltage or current changes over time. This has nothing to do with resistance. Thus, the information in Table 1 is completely meaningless.

Note that many devices that claim to measure said ‘bioresonance’ and ‘frequencies’ actually measure the resistance of the skin. As explained, this resistance is highly variable due to numerous factors, and it is this very variance that is said to convey ‘information’ about a subject’s medical condition. In reality, the only thing that is established with any accuracy is whether the subject has sweaty hands or not.

This is also the basis of devices such as scientology’s ‘E-Meter’. Many other devices, however, do not measure anything at all, and are pure scams.

Human Touch Therapies

Touch therapies work using touch, interaction, and certain protocols to modulate energy imbalances in the HEF. Polarity Therapy, Healing Touch, Reiki, Cranial-Sacral Therapy, Trager, Bowen, and Brennan Healing Science all use similar techniques for bringing the HEF back to homeostasis.

There is no scientific evidence for these claims at all, and the overwhelming scientific consensus is that all these modalities are quackery.

The subtle energy of the HEF is easily modulated by the therapist’s hands.

This claimed ‘mechanism’ has been debunked countless times. Also see the previous reference to Emily Rosa.

The client and practitioner work together using breathing techniques to move stagnant or blocked energy from the cells, across the tissues and through the organs. Human touch therapies are patient–practitioner oriented, where both the giver and receiver of the energy treatment must work in tandem for beneficial results to occur. The practitioner grounds and centers himself/herself, meaning all thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations are neutralized. During optimal healing states, our bodies resonate at certain frequencies (0.3–100 Hz), which correlate with delta, theta, alpha, and beta brain waves66 (see Table 2).

No, our bodies doe not ‘resonate’ at any frequency whatsoever. If an electrical amplifier is connected to the human body, it will primarily pick up ambient electrical fields stemming from the electric systems in our homes, particularly the 50 Hz or 60 Hz mains voltage. And, due to the highly variable nature of the bodily connection, a lot of noise is picked up as well. This noise can be filtered to a narrow range, producing almost any arbitrary frequency. None of this is associated with the actual functioning of the body.

Also note that it is not explained how the practitioner measures or establishes this frequency by manual manipulation only (which supposedly is the proper technique for these modalities). People are not capable of ‘feeling’ weak electric or magnetic fields at all.

Touch therapies bring distorted frequencies of brain waves, organ resonance, and endocrine/chakra systems back into balance by modulating the subtle energies of the HEF.

There is no scientifically established way that brain waves are influenced by manual manipulations alone, except where rhythmical movements are used to hypnotize subjects, or as a simple massage, causing wellbeing and relaxation. These procedures, however influence brain waves indirectly only.

Practitioners detect and manipulate the subtle energy and provide a resonating template for the patient’s biofield to follow. In this state, body–mind–spirit is optimal for bringing the patient/client back to homeostasis energetically. Practitioners of touch therapies are a valuable resource in guiding both the practice and science of biofield therapies and could, with collaborative support of researchers, prepare meaningful case reports and best-case series for patients.67

This is imaginary, with no basis in reality whatsoever.

Future Perspectives

The future of EM depends on the ability of Western medicine to merge physics with biochemistry. As mentioned earlier, Western medicine uses physics to diagnose and then immediately reverts to a biochemical model to treat.

As mentioned earlier, this is a clear falsehood. Western medicine uses any treatment option that has been proven to be effective. This encompasses not just biochemistry (medicines), but also physics (e.g. radiotherapy), manipulation techniques (physiotherapy) psychology, lifestyle advice and so on and so forth.

It is widely accepted that quantum physics drives the energy behind diagnostic equipment.68,69

This is another clear falsehood. Most diagnostic techniques make no explicit use of quantum physics, but instead rely wholly on classical physics for imaging purposes. Only MRI explicitly uses a quantum effect (nuclear spin) as a core principle – but even here, this spin is measured using classical physics (i.e. radio frequency receiver circuits), not any type of subatomic device whatsoever.

Biophoton emissions as well as signal transduction and cell signaling communication systems in the body are also widely accepted in today’s medicine.70

Biophotons are byproducts of normal metabolism, and appear to serve no further function. Cell signaling mechanisms are a large and quite well-understood part of medical science.

However, the idea of a cellular and molecular global communication system involving energy fields is beyond the central dogma of Western medicine.

That is because the existence of such a system has not been proven at all. It is an unwarranted waste of time and money to incorporate unproven principles like this in medicine until such day that it has been proven to exist.

Future perspectives include bridging the gap between allopathic and EM, which would include the crossover between the following: (a) understanding cellular VPs and how they relate to health and wellness, (b) understanding the overlap between the endocrine and chakra systems, and (c) understanding how EM therapeutically enhances PNI (mind–body medicine).

This is entirely speculative and lacks the slightest evidence of plausible mechanisms.

Cellular Voltage Potentials (VPs)

The human body is controlled primarily by physics that drives the chemistry and biology.65 Therefore, to understand how the body works, it is important to understand physics and electronic applications of cellular structure. Endogenous VPs control cell behavior and instruct pattern regulation in vivo.71 Cells are designed to operate with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. This equates to a voltage of between −20 and +125 mV.65

This betrays a total lack of understanding of basic electrochemistry:

  • pH is a measure for the concentration of positive hydrogen ions (H+) in a solution, and bears no direct relation to voltages.
  • The blood has a very tightly controlled pH between 7.35 and 7.45, and any deviations beyond this range quickly become life-threatening. Cells, however, function in a wider pH range, depending where they are located in the body, and even have differing pH levels internally. E.g. mitochondria maintain a pH of 8.

The minus (−) sign denotes electrons are being donated (alkaline), and the plus (+) sign denotes electrons are being taken (acidic). A slightly alkaline environment is more beneficial. For example, a free radical is a molecule with missing electrons, and an antioxidant is a molecule donating electrons. Health is maintained with vital immune function and cell regeneration. A voltage of −50 mV is required for regenerating cells.65 Jerry Tennant, MD, reports that a −50 mV energy state is necessary for maintaining good health, and −70 mV is optimal.

Tennant has been disciplined by the Texas Medical Board for misleading patients with unsubstantiated claims.8 He is not a credible scientific source.

Without this balanced VP, aging and chronic disease occurs.65

This is untrue. Aging is predominantly DNA-driven, and chronic diseases can have a multitude of causes. And even if a lower membrane potential would be consistently associated with aging and/or chronic disease, then this does not necessarily mean that this potential is in any way a causative factor, but is more probably the result of a cell’s faltering metabolism.

This baseline can be achieved through healthy diet and keeping the body’s subtle energy balanced. Cells contain a process for turning fatty acids into glucose. They are processed through a series of chemical reactions known as the Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle converts ATP to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). As ATP provides electrons to keep the cell functioning, it becomes a discharged/rechargeable battery called ADP.

This is correct …

If voltage drops, the VPs go from electron-donor to electron-stealing status. This will cause a change in polarity. When voltage drops to +30 mV, disease sets in.65

… but this again seems a nonsensical conflation of cause and effect.

To produce voltage, cell membranes are made up of opposing layers of fats called phospholipids. They are composed of phospholipid heads, which are round, and phospholipid tails, which look like legs (Figure 1).

A healthy cell has a membrane potential of approximately 70 mV, meaning that the potential inside the cell is 70 mV less than the potential outside due to a layer of negative charge on the inner surface of the cell wall and a layer of positive charge on the outer surface. This effectively makes the cell wall a charged capacitor.32

Anytime 2 conductors are separated by an insulator, they create a capacitor, and this can be observed in the cell’s plasma (outer) membrane.72 Capacitors are designed to store electric charge (electrons), allowing cells not only to store energy but also to transfer it.

Indeed, the cell membrane exhibits the properties of an electrical capacitor: two conductors, separated by a thin insulating layer. However, this ‘cellular capacitance’ is relatively small, only a few microfarads per square centimeter.

The plasma membrane allows EMF to permeate into the cell to affect cellular mechanisms such as cytokines and second messengers (transcription factors) to carry information from the plasma membrane through the cytoplasm into the nuclear membrane to affect genetic function.

This is another sign of confusion. Weak electromagnetic fields (EMF) can pass through cells regardless of membrane capacitance, and do not have any significant effect on a cell’s functioning. If they had, using electrical home appliances would have profound effects on our health.

The plasma membrane contains voltage-gated ion channels that open and close depending on the voltage supplied.32 If they become hyperpolarized, then ions such as calcium (Ca2+), potassium (K+), and sodium (Na+) cannot flow freely in and out of the cell. This causes increases in the pain-related neurotransmitters and inflammatory/immune functions of cells.13 In his book, The Body Electric, Robert O Becker, MD, discusses the direct current (DC) system of glial cells involved in regenerating electrical feedback loops that influence the production and transmission of these voltage-gated action potentials in nerves.73 For example, glial cells are nonneuronal cells that maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons in the brain and for neurons in other parts of the nervous system (such as the autonomic nervous system).74 Nerve cells are constantly releasing neurotransmitters into the synaptic gaps between themselves and the neurons they contact. The DC carried over these cells energetically effects the nerves they surround by influencing the presynaptic sites. Thus, the plasma membrane VP determines the responsiveness of each neuron in releasing neurotransmitters on cue. These signals can be modulated by exogenous fields such as electromagnetism.32,36

This is established science.

Endocrine and Chakra Systems

The pathway from the physical body through the hormones to the psychological and emotional body is through the endocrine system, which is closely associated with the chakra system.

This once again is entirely untrue. The ‘chakra system’ is simply posited, without any evidence or even further explanation of what it is supposed to be and how its existence can be objectively established.

The major glands of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pineal, and reproductive organs (generatives). The pituitary cells are neuronlike—they express numerous voltage-gated sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca2+), potassium (K+), and chloride (Cl−) channels, and fire action potentials spontaneously, accompanied by a rise in intracellular Ca2+. In some cells, spontaneous electrical activity is sufficient to drive the intracellular Ca2+ concentration above the threshold for stimulus-secretion and stimulus-transcription coupling. In other cells, the function of these action potentials is to maintain the cells in a responsive state with cytosolic Ca2+ near, but below, the threshold level. Some pituitary cells also express gap junction channels, which could be used for intercellular Ca2+ signaling in these cells. Endocrine cells also express extracellular ligand-gated ion channels, and their activation by hypothalamic and intrapituitary hormones leads to amplification of the pace-making activity and facilitation of Ca2+ influx and hormone release. These cells also express numerous G protein-coupled receptors, which can stimulate or silence electrical activity and action potential-dependent Ca2+ influx and hormone release.75 Other members of this receptor family can activate Ca2+ channels in the endoplasmic reticulum, leading to a cell type-specific modulation of electrical activity.75 These same physics phenomena are seen in the other glands of the endocrine system.76

This once again appears to be established science.

Overlapping the endocrine system is the chakra system, which contains seven vital energy centers that run from the base of the spine to the top of the head, centered on the spinal column. They include the following: (1) root chakra—associated with the adrenals, (2) the sacral chakra—associated with the generatives (ovaries for women and testes for men), (3) the solar plexus chakra—associated with the pancreas, (4) the heart chakra—associated with the thymus, (5) the throat chakra—associated with the thyroid, (6) the third eye (located between the eyebrows)—associated with the pituitary gland, and (7) the crown chakra—associated with the pineal gland. Table 3 shows the correlation between the chakra location and its associated frequency.77

But this paragraph is entirely without any evidence, and is simply placed next to some real science to try to create an association. It does not.

Chakras produce energy vortices, which, when healthy, provide the energetic information by which all the systems of the body create a global information system. More empirical data are needed to determine whether EM therapies can heal endocrine diseases/distortions through the subtle energy in and around these glands. Endocrine disorders include glucose homeostasis disorders, thyroid disorders, calcium homeostasis disorders, metabolic bone disease, pituitary gland disorders, sex hormone disorders, and tumors of the endocrine glands, to name a few. These conditions affect the quality of life of millions of people around the world. When the exchange of information between hormones, peptides, neurotransmitters, cells, tissues, organs, and regulatory systems in the body break downs, the most efficient way to bring this exchange of information back to health is through energy in the form of electromagnetic information. The directives of subtle energy treatments realign the HEF back to homeostasis or default mode. The HEF information system is similar to the interconnection of all global computers that form the Internet, with each cell representing an individual personal computer constantly uploading and downloading information to the World Wide Web. Once there is an understanding of the human being as a global information system of cell communication, signaling transduction, and energetic instruction sets, medicine will begin to treat the entire human, body–mind–spirit, with physics as the lowest common denominator, instead of biochemistry.

Note that not even a reference to a book is given here. This long discourse is pure fiction that has no basis in science or even reality.

Mind–Body Medicine (PNI)

Many aspects of the human endocrine system are associated with mind–body medicine, also known as PNI. PNI explains the connection between the mind/thought and the immune and nervous systems. Life experiences such as stressors and depression induce immunological activation, associated with cytokines and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the central stress response system.78 Accessory cells, such as macrophages, which are essential for the modulation of immune response, mitigate both acute and chronic stress states having calcium-dependent biochemical mechanisms affecting T-cell proliferation and signal transduction pathways.79 PNI studies exact mechanisms through which specific brain immunity effects are achieved. Evidence for nervous system/immune system interactions exists on several biological levels. The immune system and the brain communicate with each other through signaling systems of the body linking the HPA axis and the SNS. The activation of SNS during an immune response is triggered to localize the inflammatory response.80,81 The HPA axis responds to physical and mental challenges to maintain stability in part by controlling the body’s cortisol level. Imbalances in the HPA axis are the cause of many stress-related illnesses.82 HPA-axis activity is linked by inflammatory cytokines that stimulate adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol secretion, while glucocorticoids suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokine regulation of hypothalamic function is an active area of research for the treatment of anxiety-related disorders.83 Complex interactions between cytokines, inflammation, and adaptive immune responses maintain homeostasis in the body to protect against disease. As discussed earlier, PEMF has been reported to significantly downregulate key cytokines involved in neuroinflammatory diseases84 and provide critical results in treating dysfunction of neurotransmitters in severe stress and depression using TMS devices. Volumes of evidence have been published supporting the integration of mind–body medicine (PNI) with endocrine/chakra systems and EM for the benefit of Western medicine.9,11

Once again, pseudoscientific claims are mixed up with what appears to be legitimate science. There is a significant body of evidence for the effects of PEMF. There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of chakras.

Coherence/Decoherence and Quantum Resonance

One underlying mechanism that would bring biochemistry and nuclear diagnostic applications together would be the understanding of how resonance applies to biological systems.

There is no consistent observable ‘resonance’ in biological systems.

After discovering biophotons in the body, Popp et al., revealed the source of biophoton emissions is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Here, he discovered DNA sends out a large range of frequencies, where certain frequencies were linked to certain functions.85

Incorrect. Biophotons were discovered by Gurwitsch in the 1920s9. Popp did not reveal “the source of biophoton emissions is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)”, he reported that it was one of several sources. He only reported that the biophoton radiation covered a range of frequencies.

Popp reported that biophoton emissions are low intensity because they are involved in cell coordination and communication that could only occur at quantum levels.86

The referenced article is purely speculative, and fully devoid of scientifically credible evidence.

Once energy reaches a certain threshold, molecules begin to vibrate (resonate) in unison until they reach a level of coherence.

Untrue. The only way that molecules can exhibit quantum coherence is in a so-called Bose-Einstein condensate – typically achieved at temperatures very close to absolute zero (0 K, or -273.15 °C).

The moment molecules reach this state of coherence, they take on certain qualities of quantum mechanics, including nonlocality, where they operate in tandem.87 This occurs in ion flux where the selectivity filter of ion channels exhibits quantum coherence, which is relevant for the process of ion selectivity and conduction;88 endocrine hormone secretion, where highly organized timing of circadian rhythms and daily control of hormone secretion achieves optimal biological functioning in health;89 PNI (the mind–body connection);90,91 and decoherence, which is associated with disease.92,93

Again, this connection between quantum-mechanical effects and organ functions is speculation for which no acceptable scientific evidence exists.

Conclusion

Without crossover applications of human touch and device-based EM treatments well integrated and easily accepted in Western medicine, today’s medicine will continue to lack the missing piece of science so desperately needed to complete the human cycle of existence. Physics must be blended with biochemistry to effectively treat the human being without adverse effects. It is clear that science and technology have resulted in vastly improved understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, but the emphasis on biochemical treatment over quantum/energy-based technology is creating adverse events in today’s health care.21 The healing of a patient must include more than the biology and chemistry of their physical body; by necessity, it must include the mental, emotional, and spiritual (energetic) aspects. EM is on the forefront of accepting this challenge.

Reviewer Conclusion

This article appears to be a rather poor attempt to shoehorn Energy Medicine, other alternative medicine modalities and general pseudoscientific nonsense into a scientifically acceptable framework, in order to further the acceptance of non-evidence based medicine into regular medicine. References to legitimate scientific phenomena and research are apparently included for no other reason than to lend a veneer of credibility to completely unproven fictitious concepts such as ‘subtle energies’, ‘human energy fields’, ‘chakras’, ‘resonance’ etcetera, which are posited without any evidence for their existence, and without any credible relationship to the real types of energy mentioned here.

In the process, Ross proclaims several obvious untruths, and exhibits a flawed understanding of even simple high school subjects such as electrochemistry and physics. She conflates methods for observation (diagnostic imaging principles based on e.g. electromagnetic fields) with actual causes of ill health, repeatedly suggesting that changing said diagnostic electromagnetic fields (which supposedly are a manifestation of ‘subtle energy’) will actually treat a condition. It is as if turning off the red lights at a railroad crossing will make the oncoming train disappear.
She also suggests that several widely discredited alternative medicine modalities such as Therapeutic Touch and Reiki, which involve nothing more than a practitioner waving their hands in a subject’s vicinity, will influence this ‘subtle energy’ and can thus ‘treat’ ailments, again simply positing this as a fact, without providing any evidence for the viability or even sheer existence of these modalities.

And contrary to what is claimed, quantum mechanics are not involved in this in any way, other than by verbal association. The only subject that actually holds some truth is her elaboration on PEMF, for which there is tentative evidence that it may be effective for treating some types of bone fractures. Further research may be warranted on this subject. However, this one phenomenon does not constitute evidence for all the esoteric and pseudoscientific claims put forward in this article – as PEMF involves electromagnetic fields that can actually be measured and quantified, and studies indeed show improved regeneration of bone on exposure to these fields.

Ross’ insistence that Energy Medicine should be accepted to improve real medicine is therefore not defensible from a scientific point of view. Energy Medicine is wholly based on belief, not on any credible science, no matter how vehemently its proponents may claim otherwise.

Reviewer References

  1. See Prof. Matt Strassler’s excellent explanation at https://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/mass-energy-matter-etc/matter-and-energy-a-false-dichotomy/
  2. https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_and_General_Biology/Book%3A_General_Biology_(Boundless)/9%3A_Cell_Communication/9.1%3A_Signaling_Molecules_and_Cellular_Receptors/9.1B%3A_Forms_of_Signaling
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519007/
  4. Also see Harriet Hall’s review of Oschman’s book: https://www.skepdoc.info/energy-medicine/
  5. Rosa L. Rosa E, Sarner L, et al. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA. 1998;279(13):1005-1010. doi:10.1001/jama.279.13.1005
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_cell
  7. Ramey DW. Acupuncture Points and Meridians Do Not Exist. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, Vol. 5, No. 3
  8. https://profile.tmb.state.tx.us/BoardActions.aspx?211d8ecb-8f77-4921-a7af-38654cbaa787
  9. Gurwitsch A. (1923). Die natur des spezifischen erregers der zellteilung. Development Genes and Evolution, 100(1), 11–40.

12 Responses

  1. I have read the entire article in response to Dr. Ross’ article, and I am simply laughing, but not at her, but at the response she received. I suspect that the person who wrote the blog has some language problem because she interprets everything literally. I’ll just give a few examples:

    “Also note that ‘allopathic’ is a derisive term for mainstream science-based medicine, exclusively employed by practitioners and proponents of alternative medicine.”

    Only someone so ignorant could say that, even the National Cancer Institute accepts the term allopathic medicine. Are you saying the NIH folks are quacks?

    “Incorrect. Biophotons were discovered by Gurwitsch in the 1920s9. Popp did not reveal “the source of biophoton emissions is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)”, he reported that it was one of several sources. He only reported that the biophoton radiation covered a range of frequencies.”

    No, Ross clearly states that “after the discovery of biophotons”.

    “The referenced article is purely speculative, and fully devoid of scientifically credible evidence.”

    No, it is not speculative, Popp’s work has been confirmed both theoretically and experimentally.

    I could go on delving into the inconsistencies, lies and half-truths, even some defamatory ones, expressed in the article, but for now it suffices for me to point out that basically the entire article consists of a priori denials citing a non-existent “consensus” that the author pulls out of his sleeve, and in other cases instead of looking at the evidence he settles for text definitions and a blog by Harritett Hall, the same Hall who boasts severe conflicts of interest with CSI, not to mention that his review of Dr. Oschman’s book is a hoax based on giving credibility to a magician of zero credibility as was James Randi.

  2. @Mp3 Jukebox
    Your feedback is appreciated, although it is rather lacking in evidence. Next time, please provide links to the relevant literature supporting your criticism.

    – We can debate about the term ‘allopathic’, but in my experience, it is only used by alternative practitioners and their followers to describe what they think is inferior medicine. I have never heard a real doctor or scientist use the term in a neutral way. But thank you for pointing out that it is often defined in a non-pejorative way.

    – Mrs. Ross literally claims that Popp was the one who discovered biophotons:
    “Biophoton emissions were first discovered by Fritz-Albert Popp using a type of photomultiplier to count light …”
    I merely point out that Mrs. Ross is wrong here.

    – “Popp’s work has been confirmed both theoretically and experimentally.”
    In the 1970’s, Popp has done some sterling work researching biophotons and weak luminescence. However, his later work and the article referenced by Mrs. Ross(*) do not qualify as such. It is mostly speculative pseudoscientific nonsense, positing the existence of several things that have no place in reality. Just one example are so-called ‘coherence domains’ in water, which supposedly are water molecules in a quantum-coherent state that interact with biophotons. These are then invoked to explain and support all sorts of phenomena such as homeopathy. However, these coherence domains do not exist as claimed(**), and neither does ‘chi’ or any of the other phenomena described.
    The fact that this article was published only in a third-rate quack journal(***) is not exactly a glowing recommendation either.

    *: See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49709123_Light_as_a_Trigger_and_a_Probe_of_the_Internal_Dynamics_of_Living_Organisms

    **: See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328024287_Limits_on_Quantum_Coherent_Domains_in_Liquid_Water for an expert opinion.

    ***: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal_of_Acupuncture_and_Meridian_Studies.

    Also see https://www.psiram.com/de/index.php/Fritz-Albert_Popp (German)

    If you can contribute peer-reviewed scientific literature proving or at least supporting the existence of any of the things posited by Mrs. Ross such as chi, chakras, ‘organ resonance’ (no, not the musical instrument), cell signaling through biophotons etcetera, then that would be most welcome.
    And please do not hesitate to point out any actual errors in our article if you should find any — but don’t forget to provide evidence as to why those things are wrong according to you.

    Richard Rasker

  3. -“but in my experience, it is only used by alternative practitioners and their followers to describe what they think is inferior medicine”.

    The discussion is about a taxing statement you made. I didn’t need to post the source of the NHI Cancer anter because I assumed you knew the definition. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/allopathic-medicine

    -No one doubts that Alexander G. was the first to observe biophotons, but it is known that his work could not be replicated at the time. What Ross rightly says is that Popp discovered biophotons experimentally, that is clear in his article when she mentioned the photomultiplier: “Biophoton emissions were first discovered by Fritz-Albert Popp using a type of photomultiplier to count light, photon by photon”.

    -“Just one example are so-called ‘coherence domains’ in water, which supposedly are water molecules in a quantum-coherent state that interact with biophotons. These are then invoked to explain and support all sorts of phenomena such as homeopathy. However, these coherence domains do not exist as claimed(**), and neither does ‘chi’ or any of the other phenomena described.
    The fact that this article was published only in a third-rate quack journal(***) is not exactly a glowing recommendation either.”

    This must be a joke, are you telling me that journals like Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies are not valid citing Wikipedia? Come on, even that journal at least has quality control and is included by ElSevier, Can you say the same about “Acta Physica Polonica Series”? If you use the same standard by which you disqualify articles you don’t like, you might as well say that article has the appearance of a quack article.

    I will disregard sites like “Pisram” obviously an unaccredited, pure hate and opinion website. I prefer to focus on the article by Martin Bier and David Pravica. One of the first red signs is at the end “We are grateful to Tomasz Brzeziński, Steven Yuvan, and Jan Willem
    Nienhuys for valuable feedback.” Isn’t Jan Willem the same mathematician who has a conflict of interest with a Dutch skeptical group? Isn’t he the same Jan Willem who once wrote an article altering quotes from Hippocrates to deny that Hippocrates had mentioned the similia principle? This alone does not invalidate Bier and Pravica’s article, but it does cast doubt.

    It is rather strange that Bier and Pravica will focus their development on only one work by Del Guidice and ignore all other developments made after 1988. Even if there were “mathematical errors” as they allege, this alone does not negate that later work has demonstrated the experimental existence of coherence domains in water.

    If at the time, in the 1980s, Pravica and Bier had published their article they would have been taken seriously, but today their article is more a pamphlet like “100 scientists against Einstein”. It is very strange that Bier and Pravica do not mention the experimental works of L Montagnier, A Tedeschi, A Tournier, J Demangeat, V Voekov, A Konovalov to mention a few authors who experimentally confirm the existence of coherent domains.

    Marc Henry, a renowned physicist and chemist, has demonstrated and confirmed beyond doubt that coherence domains are formed in water. You definitely cannot compare Pravica and Bier’s opinion piece with Henry’s article which is not speculation, it is repeatedly confirmed facts experimentally using ultra-sensitive measurements and confirmed at the six sigma level.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32615611/

  4. “This must be a joke, are you telling me that journals like Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies are not valid citing Wikipedia?”
    You must be the one who is joking. Acupuncture is nothing but a a placebo treatment, and it is proven that meridians do not exist — yet apparently you actually believe and even defend a journal fully dedicated to this pseudoscience.
    It is my opinion that Elsevier should abandon publications like this, but I guess that in this case, their love for making money prevails over their dedication to good science.

    Acta Physica Polonica OTOH is a respectable journal from the Polish Academy of Science, boasting a 100 years of solid science publishing, mainly in the field of physics. It is just not one of the big journals, hence the low impact factor.

    “I will disregard sites like “Pisram” obviously an unaccredited, pure hate and opinion website.”
    This surprises me, as your contributions here so far exhibit much the same characteristics. I find your demeanor not particularly friendly or professional.

    “Isn’t Jan Willem the same mathematician who has a conflict of interest with a Dutch skeptical group?”

    Since when does being affiliated with a skeptics group automatically constitute a ‘conflict of interest’? Nienhuys is a respected mathematician who vocally opposes quackery such as homeopathy. You might as well accuse me of a conflict of interest, simply because I address the flaws in Mrs. Ross’ article in particular and most alternative modalities in general. After all, I earn my daily bread by applying real science in my work in biomedical electronics, and people like Mrs. Ross who make rather esoteric claims pertaining to my field of expertise are de facto undermining my work.

    “It is very strange that Bier and Pravica do not mention the experimental works of L Montagnier, A Tedeschi, A Tournier, J Demangeat, V Voekov, A Konovalov to mention a few authors who experimentally confirm the existence of coherent domains.”

    Why is this strange? Bier and Pravica explain in great detail and referring to proper physics why macroscopic quantum coherence cannot possibly be sustained in liquid water for any amount of time, and thus that this phenomenon is not compatible with existing models — models that have been proven quite accurate for decades by now.
    A mere handful of weak claims to the contrary is insufficient to abandon or even question those models, especially if these claims all stem from one small group of believers in homeopathy.

    It would be absolutely spectacular if someone succeeded in proving the existence of aforementioned macroscopic quantum coherent domains in water. And it would be even more spectacular if a scientist could prove in a consistent and repeatable manner that homeopathy actually has any effects beyond placebo. So far, nobody has even succeeded in distinguishing a homeopathic dilution from the mere diluent in a proper trial — and I for one will not be holding my breath.

    Anyway, we are getting lost in details here. Is there any pertinent part of my criticism of Mrs. Ross’ article that you care to refute? I would be happy to discuss those things and see if I made a mistake, or if otherwise we could agree that Mrs. Ross is wrong in certain respects.

    (And please refrain from any more ad-hominems, as that is a tactic employed by trolls and those who know that they have no real arguments to start with.)

  5. The evidence for acupuncture is now overwhelming and sufficient to conclude that it is not a “theatrical placebo” as is being bandied about. Even Edzard Ernst himself is unable to reject all the evidence.

    On the contrary Mr. Richard, Bier and Pravica’s article is nothing more than a pamphlet based on an earlier article by Bier himself published in a popular “skeptics” magazine. When you say that the domains of coherence “is not compatible with existing models” it is equivalent to saying that bacteria cannot exist because the model of humors is not compatible with this. A clear and obvious absurdity.

    When you say that the domains of coherence come from “one small group of believers in homeopathy” it is a taxative assertion without evidence. In any case, who represents a small, if not insignificant group, is Pravica and Bier, from then on in the mainstream literature of coherence domains nobody takes them seriously but skeptics.

    “So far, nobody has even succeeded in distinguishing a homeopathic dilution from the mere diluent in a proper trial — and I for one will not be holding my breath.” Mr. Richard, that is wrong, I just put you the study by Marc Henry and collaborators in which in a reliable, reproducible way the homeopathics of the control group have been identified. If you believe that the scientific journal Homeopathy is not reliable by, it is not difficult to find that Del Guidice’s contributions are discussed and confirmed in the “mainstream” literature. Fluid Phase Equilibria is a good journal.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378381220300601

  6. “On the contrary Mr. Richard, Bier and Pravica’s article is nothing more than a pamphlet based on an earlier article by Bier himself published in a popular “skeptics” magazine.”

    Have you read the paper? And, more importantly, have you UNDERSTOOD what they say? No, you probably haven’t.

    They explain in detail why persistent macroscopic coherent domains in liquid water are impossible, based on the known (quantum)physical properties of water molecules and their energies at room temperature. Their expertise in the subject matter reflects the consensus of virtually all physicists around the world – and their expertise thus far, far outranks the speculative nonsense of a handful of believers in homeopathy. In fact, this whole ‘coherent domains’ nonsense was dreamed up in the first place by a couple of homeopaths in an attempt to prop up their beliefs by some sort of mechanism. This is also why most physicists don’t even bother with it, as it is a good example of tooth fairy science, and a waste of time to even debunk.
    And once again: ResearchGate and PubMed have indexed less than 10 articles on this particular subject, and most aren’t even peer-reviewed, with 2 or 3 citations at most – almost all by the authors themselves, AFAICT. This means it is just nonsense – so let’s leave it at that, shall we?

    ” I just put you the study by Marc Henry and collaborators in which in a reliable, reproducible way the homeopathics of the control group have been identified.”

    You just gave a link to an abstract with a couple of homeopaths CLAIMING to be able to distinguish between the outputs of several production lines. I have no access to the actual article’s full text, so I can’t check anything about their methodology etcetera – but I can think of at least two or three different ways that they may have seriously messed up. A huge red flag is also the fact that these homeopaths produced several ‘studies’ with basically the same claims and the same setup – indicating that they are desperately trying to prove their beliefs, and that usually means that we are dealing with deluded people with a Mission.
    If I blindly give these people bottles containing homeopathic dilutions and bottles of plain water, I am absolutely confident that they can’t tell the difference in any way whatsoever.
    And only if real scientists, NOT homeopaths, successfully replicate trials like this may we have a reason to become interested.

    But for now, all I see are homeopaths doing what they have always done: make wildly implausible claims that they can never actually prove. And no, some obscure article from someone looking at dissolving salt crystals under an ordinary microscope doesn’t change a thing either. And I guess this is as far as we can get here, so I’ll leave it at this.

  7. -“Have you read the paper? And, more importantly, have you UNDERSTOOD what they say? No, you probably haven’t.”

    I came across the Bier and Pravica article more than a year ago, certainly long before you Googled it. Bier’s explanation was set out about 5 years ago in manuscript form and made known to a small group of people. The manuscript is essentially the same as what he published in the Acta Polonica only that he added the name Pravica and the thanks to Jan and others. As I insist again, Bier’s objection is not taken seriously by anyone but a handful of “skeptics”. It is evident that there is a greater interest in the model of coherent domains, revisited by Marc Henry, which makes the article by Bier and Pravica irrelevant.

    -“In fact, this whole ‘coherent domains’ nonsense was dreamed up in the first place by a couple of homeopaths in an attempt to prop up their beliefs by some sort of mechanism.”

    Your comment reveals a profound ignorance, the coherence domains were not formulated by “homeopaths”, but by two Italian nuclear physicists.

    -” This is also why most physicists don’t even bother with it, as it is a good example of tooth fairy science, and a waste of time to even debunk. And once again: ResearchGate and PubMed have indexed less than 10 articles on this particular subject, and most aren’t even peer-reviewed, with 2 or 3 citations at most – almost all by the authors themselves, AFAICT. This means it is just nonsense – so let’s leave it a that, shall we?”

    False, I have in my collection more than 100 articles that mention coherence domains, including journals such as Scientific Reports, Plos One, Physica A, among others. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352186420315157

    -“You just gave a link to an abstract with a couple of homeopaths CLAIMING to be able to distinguish between the outputs of several production lines. I have no access to the actual article’s full text, so I can’t check anything about their methodology etcetera – but I can think of at least two or three different ways that they may have seriously messed up. A huge red flag is also the fact that these homeopaths produced several ‘studies’ with basically the same claims and the same setup – indicating that they are desperately trying to prove their beliefs, and that usually means that we are dealing with deluded people with a Mission. If I blindly give these people bottles containing homeopathic dilutions and bottles of plain water, I am absolutely confident that they can’t tell the difference in any way whatsoever.
    And only if real scientists, NOT homeopaths, successfully replicate trials like this may we have a reason to become interested”

    So you haven’t read Marc Henry’s article, but before you read it you’re already sure it’s flawed in some way! That scientific paper has a methodological rating of 10, it is an independent replication using double blind method and analyzing multiple samples, thousands in fact. Only one of the four authors is a homeopath, and he is a medical doctor, the rest are: a bioengineer, a quantum chemist and a pharmacist.

    -“But for now, all I see are homeopaths doing what they have always done: make wildly implausible claims that they can never actually prove. And no, some obscure article from someone looking at dissolving salt crystals under an ordinary microscope doesn’t change a thing either. And I guess this is as far as we can get here, so I’ll leave it at this.”

    Apparently you have not the slightest interest in changing your point of view based on empirical and theoretical evidence, but in protecting a pair of Polish with conflict of interest with “skeptic” lobby and who have a personal vendetta against scientists like Pollack or Del Guidice. The pair of Polish believe that by manipulating a few equations can overturn more than 30 years of research on coherence domains!

  8. @Mp3 Jukebox
    With all due respect, but you are the one who fails to understand what I try to convey here.

    You come up with some of believers in homeopathy who make the most outrageous claims – claims that would turn all of physics, chemistry and medicine as we know it completely upside down if they were even partially true – but you dismiss all and any refutations by respected scientists who do NOT make outrageous claims, but simply show how these homeopaths’ claims contradict our current scientific knowledge.

    “I have in my collection more than 100 articles that mention coherence domains”
    And I have in my archives far more articles that conclude that homeopathic dilutions have no effects whatsoever, and that nothing claimed by homeopaths has been confirmed by real scientists.

    And alas, I am a priori more inclined to believe those real scientists – if only for the simple reason that my work involves real scientific phenomena every single day, and that those scientific phenomena turn out to be reliably true. On the other hand, I have never noticed even the slightest unexpected effect that might support what homeopaths claim. When I deal with water in biomedical electronics, it does not have unexpected physical properties at all, it behaves exactly as one would expect based on current insights in physics and chemistry. I see no unexplained conductivity or resonances, no unexpected ionization near room temperature, no mixed phase states, or any other effects that should be noticeable if homeopaths were somehow right.
    Yes, I know homeopathy’s escape hatch: “These effects are normally too subtle to see” – well, then they are almost certainly also ‘too subtle’ to do anything medically speaking, rendering homeopathy useless after all.
    Once again: any effects that homeopaths claim to have observed must at least be consistently and independently(!) replicated and confirmed by proper scientists in the relevant fields. So far, all claims from homeopaths have turned out to be duds, and could in most cases be refuted by simply pointing to contradictions with universally accepted laws of physics. End of story.

    Anyway, I see that you still try making your point by disparaging and insulting real scientists, so this is where our discussion ends. Have a nice life.

  9. If you truly believe that the existence of coherence domains “contradicts all physics” you are very wrong. This has become a dialogue of the deaf where you have no genuine interest in changing your point of view in accordance with the scientific evidence. I do not intend to spend more of my time on a person who chooses to believe a couple of Polish cranks and an organization of zero scientific validity like “Pisram” or “Hall” more than what real scientists in the field say.

  10. After a week of delving into research on Martin Bier and his publications, I found a few anomalies worth noting. In one article https://www.skepsis.nl/blog/2017/07/dubious-resonances/ Bier derides the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine as having a “pathetic impact factor of 1.2”, yet he seems to have no problem publishing in Acta Physica Polonica B with an impact factor of 1.0 in 2011 and in 2019 of 0.6 https://www.scijournal.org/impact-factor-of-acta-phys-pol-b. shtml In contrast, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine reached an impact factor of 2.00 in 2019, and by the looks of the trend in the next few years could reach as high as 2.5 to 3 https://www.scijournal.org/impact-factor-of-electromagn-biol-med.shtml Given Bier’s constant contradictions in his writings, I can deduce that this is a person with possible problems of envy.

  11. @Mp3 Jukebox
    Once again, you do not address the science, but merely attack the scientist on trivial details – and this nonsense of coherent domains in water(*) is itself just one detail of the many gaping holes, misconceptions and flaws in the science of Mrs. Ross’ article and her references.

    *: Water cannot support macroscopic coherent domains at anything approaching room temperature, simply because there is nothing to keep the domains together against Brownian motion and other disturbances, that is all that Martin Bier shows.
    Yes, some years ago, real physicist were surprised to find that structures in liquid water held together for far longer than they expected: https://phys.org/news/2015-09-memory-persists-picosecond-timescale.html
    But alas, this ‘far longer’ was still mere picoseconds…
    Then there is of course the problem that such domains have never been objectively observed by real scientists; and even if these would exist after all, that would still not prove the viability of homeopathy: such a domain is homogenous by its very definition, lacking any intricate structure necessary for the very specific behaviour that is attributed to homeopathic preparations.

    I could easily come up with another half-dozen or so reasons why this ‘supporting evidence for homeopathy’ is nothing but a figment of homeopaths’ imagination, dreamed up because they desperately want to hang on to their silly belief system, where shaken water is a medicine, diluting stuff makes it more potent, and efficacy is tested without actual patients.

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