Magnets easing pain. Healing vibes curing cancer. The Moon affecting your health...The medical mumbo-jumbo that's actually all TRUE

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Post by Tee on Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:25 am

By JOHN NAISH - Mail Online
Last updated at 9:16 AM on 12th July 2011

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.

Not just hocus pocus: Research has shown some health conditions like epilepsy are affected by the moon 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.


God vibrations: It's already used for baby scans but ultrasound could also be used to treat brain conditions like Parkinson's
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.

‘Our method paves the way for using sound waves to diagnose and treat brain dysfunction,’ he says.

Ultrasound is also being pioneered as an NHS treatment for prostate cancer. A system called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound burns out cancer cells with a powerful beam of sound waves.

The sound vibrations vibrate the cells so rapidly that they heat up and burn out. The system is being used in five NHS units, including University College Hospital London.

The hope is that it avoids common side-effects of conventional treatments for prostate cancer, such as incontinence and impotence.

Sound vibrations may even be used as a drug-free cure for erectile dysfunction. Israeli scientists are pioneering the use of low-intensity acoustic shock to stimulate the growth of healthy blood vessels in the penis.

In a recent study in the Journal of European Urology, 20 middle-aged volunteers all showed significant improvement six months after the treatment. Half no longer needed to take Viagra-type pills.


Healing power: There's some truth in magnets curing illness - but only when they are electromagnets Magnets — or lodestones, as they used to be called — are another favourite ‘mystical’ cure-all promoted by alternative medicine for everything from arthritis to insomnia.

Supporters believe our bodies form an electromagnetic field that responds to the healing power of magnets.

In his book, Silverstone repeats a claim often used by sellers of these items — that Nasa spacemen have magnets sewn into their space suits to prevent bone-thinning and calcium loss while travelling beyond the Earth’s magnetic field. In fact, Nasa has rubbished this claim publicly.

Furthermore, numerous studies in medical journals show there is little evidence for magnets having any real effect stronger than sham placebo therapies.

But while natural magnets have largely failed to fulfil their mystical promise, electromagnets — which generate magnetism when electricity is passed through wires — are opening up whole new fields of medical treatment.

The most promising is brain therapy, treating a whole range of serious problems, from dementia to schizophrenia. The system used is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

It works because the brain operates using electric signals, and it is possible to alter these signals by subjecting them to electromagnetic pulses. This month, for example, U.S. scientists found that electromagnetic pulses can repair some of the devastating brain damage wrought by strokes.

Patients whose speech had been affected became significantly more fluent after transcranial magnetic stimulation had been applied to part of the brain known to control language.

This approach has also been found to help some people who suffer from depression so deep that drugs won’t treat it. A trial of 190 patients in the authoritative journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that the treatment helped 14 per cent of them. Each volunteer wore a helmet with a magnetic coil for 30 minutes a day for three weeks.

Also this month, Italian scientists found that transcranial magnetic stimulation can block pain in ways that should promise new therapies for migraine headaches, reports the Journal of Headache and Pain.

There are broader concerns about electromagnetic stimulation, however. In a few patients, it seems to have induced fainting or fits. But further research is needed to confirm this.


There may even be some medical truth in one of the most literally far-out claims — the belief that the Moon affects our health. Silverstone claims the Moon’s gravitational pull on the water in our bodies can affect our sleep patterns and cause insomnia. He also suggests it may influence the timing of women’s menstrual cycles.

This month, the Urology Journal published evidence from a study of 1,481 patients indicating that renal colic — a type of pain commonly caused by kidney stones — seems to increase significantly at the time of the Full Moon.

Previous research has revealed a number of statistical links between health and the Moon’s phases. Two years ago, for example, a study in the Medical Journal of Australia suggested that violent and acute behavioural disturbances among mental-health patients are more common with a Full Moon.

The lunar effect, also known as the ‘Transylvania hypothesis’, has long aroused fascination. But why would it work?

As well as the Moon’s gravitational pull on living organisms, theories suggest the effect may be due to the way the Moon alters the Earth’s magnetic field. Sceptics say that such effects are tiny compared with our more immediate environment.

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