Applied Kinesiology, Therapeutic Touch, Touch For Health, and Muscle Testing
By Susan Brinkmann, October 7, 2010
MT asks: “I am reading a little bit about kinesiology. My daughter, age 13, has mild scoliosis. It’s a large enough curve in her spine to be diagnosed by conventional doctors but too small for conventional treatment. She is in pain all the time, and I want to try some alternative methods to give her some relief. A mother of a friend from school is offering to work with her through kinesiology. I still don’t get what’s wrong with this approach from a Catholic standpoint. Are there limitations I should discuss with the mom that is willing to work with my daughter?”
It sounds as though you may be confusing kinesiology with the alternative method which is known as applied kinesiology. Kinesiology is the science of human movement and is a regulated health profession. There is nothing wrong with this from a Catholic point of view.
Applied kinesiology is a different story. You can read more about it on these two blogs: http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=28 and http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=137
By Susan Brinkmann, January 19, 2010
Fr. Erik writes: “I am a Catholic priest in Canada and have had a lot of questions with regard to ‘muscle testing’ and ‘applied kinesiology’. Have you studied this, I’m really not sure what to advise. I have a bad feeling about it but I cannot find any good references about it. Many of the people that are involved in it use crystal therapies as well.”
Fr. Erik’s bad feelings are well-founded. Applied kinesiology is cited in the Pontifical document, “Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life” as being within the realm of the New Age.
“Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of ‘bodywork’ (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch, etc.), meditation and visualization, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colors, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programs and self-help groups.
The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy.” (Sec. 2.2.3)
Specifically, applied kinesiology is an alternative therapy based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness, which enables diseases to be diagnosed through muscle-testing procedures. Proponents claim diseases can be evaluated through specific patterns of muscle weakness which they can heal by manipulating or unblocking alleged body energies along meridian pathways, or by infusing energy to produce healing in certain organs.
This treatment often employs New Age techniques such as acupressure, meridian tracing, “cosmic energies,” or other unscientific methods, including a belief by some that a universal intelligence runs through the nervous system. Practitioners include chiropractors, naturopaths, nurse practitioners, massage therapists an even some doctors and dentists.
Consumers often confuse applied kinesiology with the scientific discipline of kinesiology which is the study of the principles and mechanics of human movement. These are two distinctly different disciplines.
Even more confusing to the consumer is that New Age muscle testing may or may not employ some methods of formal kinesiology; however, scientific kinesiology never employs New Age muscle testing techniques.
The New Age version goes by the name of Applied Kinesiology (AK), Touch For Health (TH), Behavioral Kinesiology (BK), or Energy Kinesiology (EK).
Founded by George Goodheart (AK), John Thie (TH), John Diamond (BK), the practice has been thoroughly discredited by science (See an article with links to research findings at this address: http://bit.ly/4u3ozX)
Researchers at the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute also warn that Applied Kinesiology and muscle testing is often based, in part, upon Taoist philosophy or other Eastern metaphysics.
Occult influences are also possible depending upon the practitioner.
By Susan Brinkmann, June 21, 2010
SL: “For fourteen years I have had hot flashes from menopause. Recently, I reached the end of my rope. In SC where I live there is a Dr. Susan Stegall on the radio. Her practice is called Integrative Health. I went to her office last week. She is not an MD but has studied alternative medicine. She uses a pressure method to determine where you need healing. The protocol (as she calls it) is then worked up and consists of homeopathic and herbs. When I went to her I had no idea of the technique she uses. While talking to me I saw her eyes focus on the crucifix around my neck. She made a point of telling me she is also a Christian. I use the protocol with my eyes fixed on Jesus and remain close to him. Am I in any kind of danger by seeing this doctor?”
Here is how SL described the “pressure method” Dr. Stegall uses in a subsequent e-mail: “She has me lay on an examination table with my right arm extended straight up in the air. She places her left wrist against my right wrist, and places her left hand on an organ. She asks me to try to resist her as she pushes with her wrist against my wrist. If I am able to push her wrist she says that is a defective area.”
What SL is describing is called muscle testing or applied kinesiology, an alternative therapy based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness, which enables diseases to be diagnosed through muscle-testing procedures. Proponents claim diseases can be evaluated through specific patterns of muscle weakness which they can heal by manipulating or unblocking alleged body energies along meridian pathways, or by infusing energy to produce healing in certain organs.
For instance, a weak muscle in the chest might indicate a liver problem, and a weak muscle near the groin might indicate “adrenal insufficiency.”
Patients can also be tested while chewing certain substances and if a muscle tests “weaker” after a substance is placed in the patient’s mouth, it supposedly signifies disease in the organ associated with that muscle.
The same test is applied for determining nutrient deficiencies. If a weak muscle becomes stronger after a nutrient (or a food high in the nutrient) is chewed, that supposedly indicates “a deficiency normally associated with that muscle.” Some practitioners contend that muscle-testing can also help diagnose allergies and other adverse reactions to foods.
Muscle testing is regarded by the medical and scientific community to be as goofy as it sounds to the rest of us, but researchers have nevertheless subjected the method to several well-designed and impartial tests to determine if it has any credibility.
Apparently, it does not.
In one test, three practitioners testing eleven subjects all made significantly different assessments on the same patients. Another set of researchers who conducted an elaborate double-blind trial concluded that “muscle response appeared to be a random phenomenon.” Without belaboring the point, no testing to date has turned up any evidence that muscle testing works.
And because this is where Dr. Stegall’s treatment begins, we can only wonder how effective the rest of it is.
In addition, even though Dr. Stegall is Christian, the practice of muscle testing/applied kinesiology was founded in the occult.
George Goodheart, a Michigan chiropractor
who “discovered” applied kinesiology in 1964, combined elements of psychic philosophy, Chinese Taoism, and a belief in what early chiropractors called “Innate Intelligence” a kind of universal energy or “life force”.
The fact that he relied on psychic powers in the development of his new idea was confirmed by Dr. William Jarvis, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud and professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University Medical School in California.
But none of this is any secret. Goodheart’s own published materials, along with those of other early proponents of applied kinesiology, openly describe the occult-based theories that have been incorporated into this practice.
“He combined the concept of ‘innate intelligence’ with the Eastern religious concept of energy (chi) and the idea that muscles reflex (reflect back) the condition of each of the various body organs via the chi’s meridians. ‘Innate intelligence’ is described as spiritual intelligence which runs the body and is connected to the universal intelligence though the nervous system. . . .” (Kinesiology, Muscle Response Testing, p. 1)
SL goes on to say that after the testing, a “protocol” is worked up by Dr. Stegall which consists of homeopathic treatments and herbs, which is to be expected of a “doctor” of alternative medicine.
By the way, when reviewing the website, I was a bit disturbed by the fact that Dr. Stegall’s bio was so unclear about whether or not she is a medical doctor. SL claims she is not, but her bio implies that she is. Saying that she “trained” at Clemson and Georgetown and is an “Active Teacher in Family Medicine by the American Academy of Family Physicians” certainly suggests that she might be an M.D.
However, on a website published by Garner’s Natural Life, this is how Dr. Stegall describes herself: “I am a doctor of integrative medicine conventionally trained in anatomy, physiology, counseling, nutrition, dietary evaluations, exercise therapy, and herbology. In addition, I have specialized training in bioenergetic testing, iridology, weight management, and hormone balancing for perimenopausal and menopausal women.”
This latter description makes it easier to see that she is indeed involved in New Age practices (i.e., bioenergetic testing and iridology).
SL, I can’t tell you what to do, but personally, I would never visit any health professional whose practice includes the use of any occultic or New Age methods of treatment because of the risk of exposure to dangerous spiritual influences.
Applied Kinesiology and Nutritional Muscle Response Testing: A Christian Perspective
By Janice Lyons, R.N., MA. Ed, 1992
In most examples of this New Age kinesiology the practitioner speaks during the procedure, asking the “body wisdom”, the “energy”, the Being, the “subconscious”, the Divine Within, the Innate, or some other similarly identified entity somehow different from the client’s actual person to provide information about the client. The implication is that there is something existing apart from the person which can be addressed and influenced through “applied kinesiology”.
A common type of New Age practice which many people find themselves exposed to through chiropractors, nutritional counselors, and herb salespeople is “kinesiology” or muscle testing. There are several forms — AK, Behavioral or Bio-Kinesiology, MRT, Contact Reflex Analysis, etc. These should not be confused with physiological kinesiology, the legitimate study and science of muscular motion.
Applied Kinesiology originated with George Goodheart, a chiropractor, in the 1960’s. He combined the chiropractic concept of “innate intelligence” with the Eastern religious concept of energy (ch’i) and the idea that muscles reflex (reflect back) the condition of each of the various body organs via the ch’i meridians. “Innate intelligence” is described as spiritual intelligence which runs the body and is connected to a universal intelligence specifically through the physical nervous system. His theory is that the status of all body organs and systems can be determined by checking the resistance of a specific muscle. (Joseph Donahue in “Transitions”, John Thie, Touch for Health, and John Diamond, Your Body Doesn’t Lie.)
Variations of Goodheart’s kinesiology use the deltoid muscle or finger muscles as the testing muscles. Using the deltoid muscle to test, the arm is held out parallel to the floor and pushed down by the practitioner against the resistance of the client to check the body’s response to a variety of substances, objects, and or even thoughts. When the fingers are used the practitioner checks the client’s response by pulling apart a thumb and finger. The substance being tested is held in the other hand or placed under the tongue while the test is being done. Checking for organ or system weakness or vitamin or mineral deficiencies is done with the practitioner or the client (depending on which authority is being used) touching key “trigger” spots on the body when the test is being done. Perceived strength or weakness of muscle response is used to determine the prescription and dosage of herbs, natural vitamins and foods, as well as to diagnose allergies and to identify stress factors — telephones, for instance.
In cases where the client is not fully able to cooperate — a small child, an elderly client, a comatose client, or an animal, for examples — kinesiologists advocate using proxies (“surrogate testing”). It is claimed that a “balanced” surrogate receives and transmits the client’s energy balance and corrections simply by contact with the client and practitioner simultaneously.
The explanations for these and associated practices may be garbed in scientific sounding words, but scratching the surface slightly reveals the origin and metaphysical theory beneath. In John Diamond’s Your Body Doesn’t Lie the explanation of kinesiology starts with a description of “Universal Life Energy”, crosses over to the undetectable Chinese energy meridians, moves into the “electrical depolarization” of ch’i traveling along the fibers of the autonomic nervous system to the muscles, and translates into “electromagnetic” energy, all without batting an eye, and with no explanations of the equations. This is the same energy which Hindus claim to inhale as “prana” from the universe and which others claim to manipulate with the hands or mentally transfer. Diamond, a Charter Diplomate of Goodheart’s International College of Applied Kinesiology, quotes from occult writers in his book, including master occultist Manly P. Hall.
In demonstrating how muscle response testing worked a nutritionist thought a particular thought about a client, and then checked the client’s fingers for the response to this “positive energy transfer”. The practitioner’s positive thought supposedly led to “strength” in the client, “validating” that procedure, and thus other practices. If the suspicion of the practitioner about the client’s condition involves an unhealthy possibility (cancer for instance) this technique may also be used instead of verbalizing the inquiry to the “body wisdom” and upsetting the client. This represents attempted telepathic communication.
While this “thinking” of the question so as not to influence the client, (especially by providing negative information,) is done, in most examples of this New Age kinesiology the practitioner speaks during the procedure, asking the “body wisdom”, the “energy”, the Being, the “subconscious”, the Divine Within, the Innate, or some other similarly identified entity somehow different from the client’s actual person to provide information about the client. The implication is that there is something existing apart from the person which can be addressed and influenced through “applied kinesiology”. Given the popularity of this practice in certain evangelical Christian circles, one wonders how this concept is integrated into the orthodox Christian understanding of the nature of the human being and the existence and nature of other beings.
The company kinesiology keeps is poor, as a similar use of muscle testing is described in The Psychic Energy Workbook, a New Age “how to” book. A series of exercises is supposed to teach people how to psychically (that is, by focused thinking) transfer or deflect emotions, energy, and/or power to or from persons and objects. The deltoid muscle test is used to determine the effectiveness of the transfer. The text identifies this psychic energy as ch’i, prana, or “bio-energy.”
Another reference is found in an attractive book entitled The Perelandra Garden Workbook: A Complete Guide to Gardening with Nature Intelligences by Machaelle Small Wright. Muscle response testing is described for use in assistance while gardening. By asking questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers and checking one’s own finger resistance, information can be obtained about thorny gardening questions. The inquiries are made to the “devas” — the gods/spirits — the “nature intelligences” — who inhabit the garden. Their responses supposedly will alter the electro-magnetic environment of the questioner’s body, affecting the muscle response.
New Age kinesiologists claim the energy emanating from herb and vitamin capsules, objects or even thoughts somehow balance (or unbalance) the body energy. This is closely connected with the occult concept that all objects, including foods, have different “vibratory rates” or energy which affect the “subtle energy” of the body to a very significant degree. The occult world view teaches that we can uncover hidden information about how to discover and control these energies. The evidence for and the significance of these beliefs cannot be substantiated in studies of the anatomy and physiology of the human body and the natural sciences.
For example, a 1988 study tested the claim that muscle testing can determine nutritional needs. Comparisons between kinesiologists, with standard biochemical tests, placebos, retests, and a computerized dynamometer to measure muscle strength, indicated that kinesiology is no more useful than random guessing to determine nutrient status. (Kenny, “Applied Kinesiology Unreliable for Assessing Nutrient Status,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 88:698-704, 1988) No well designed studies in reputable journals were found which validate the claims of applied kinesiology and its offshoots.
As an anecdotal antidote to many of the success stories offered to validate this practice consider this one. At a 1994 alternative health fair in North Carolina a woman was tested using muscle testing and found simply to have weakness in her kidneys. It should be noted that this woman has numerous serious health problem for which she receives treatment including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, insomnia, bursitis, irritable bowel syndrome, with a history of gall bladder disease (it was removed) and hysterectomy. This result could be attributed to the poor technique of the tester(s) but it should be noted that a highly accredited and experienced iridologist also missed everything.
Applied Kinesiology and its offspring are a form of metaphysics and also need to be evaluated from that standpoint. The explanation offered for the mechanism of kinesiology by the kinesiologists is the rather broad description “energy”. While presented as “electro-magnetism” in an attempt to sound scientific, it is clear from the common sources and uses that the line between pseudoscience and the psychic is blurry, if indeed it exists at all. In fact, in researching applied kinesiology William T. Jarvis, Ph.D., Professor of Preventative Medicine and Public Health at Loma Linda University Medical School, questioned a major proponent about how the complex relationships between nutrients and herbs, body organs, teeth, energy meridians, and muscles were determined. George Eversaul, author of several kinesiology books, stated that George Goodheart was psychic and developed his charts by that means (5:310, personal communication).
With the emphasis on personal responsibility in holistic medicine the question needs to be raised about the degree of responsibility a client is taking for one’s self if he uncritically accepts explanations of energy flows without investigating thoroughly. Hand waves which alter “polarity” and finger checks to validate it are, in fact, participating in a world view that is fundamentally incompatible with the scientific evidence and the teaching of Christian Scripture. The Reissers and John Weldon write in New Age Medicine:
“There is no ‘neutral science’ of life energy and meridians, but rather a highly developed mystical system with strong ties to the psychic realm (6:94).”
“What does all this mean? It means that energy therapists, whether they realize it or not, are carrying out a form of religious practice and conditioning their patients to accept its teachings (6:94).”
“Christian energy balancers…claim reliance on Scripture, but they carry out the practices of an occult system. Most are sincere in their desire to help their patients. Unfortunately, they lack discernment, failing to see the implications of the ideas they promote. Some are even dabbling in the psychic realm, diagnosing disease through hand passes or over long distances, claiming that this is a natural by-product of their sensitivity to life energy (6:95).”
There is in fact, no standard for the energy manipulator/kinesiologist to measure his practice against. The very precepts he bases his practice on are occultism and pseudoscience. Those precepts are poorly described and are unmeasurable, leading the practitioner into deeper dependence on magical thinking misnamed as science. For the professing Christian involvement is like spiritual quicksand which pulls one away from the Biblical absolutes into dependence on manipulation of mythical power for hidden knowledge. The Word of God is clear about God and His relationship to His creation. We are separate, not the same in essence or “energy”. The power and knowledge (real or imagined) to alter someone else’s “energy field” is not Biblical Christianity, but quackery and/or occultism, no matter how nice the practitioner is.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit.” I John 4:1
1. Diamond, John, Your Body Doesn’t Lie (New York: Warner Books, 1979).
2. Donahue, Joseph H., “D.D. Palmer and the Metaphysical Movement in the 19th Century,” Transitions, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 16-20.
3. Kenney, James J., R. Clemens, and K.D. Forsythe, “Applied Kinesiology Unreliable for Assessing Nutrient Status”, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Vol. 88, No. 6, June 1988, pp. 698-704.
4. Miller, R. Michael and Josephine M. Harper, The Psychic Energy Workbook (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1986).
5. Pollack, Robert L., and Edward Kravitz, Nutrition in Oral Health and Disease (Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1985).
6. Reisser, Paul, Teri Reisser and John Weldon, New Age Medicine (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987).
7. Thie, John, Touch for Health (Marina del Ray, CA: DeVorss Publishers, 1973).
8. Wright, Machaelle Small, The Perelandra Garden Workbook: A Complete Guide to Gardening with Nature Intelligences (UK: Perelandra Std, 1987).
Applied Kinesiology (AK), Touch for Health (TH), Behavioral Kinesiology (BK)
By Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
The invoking of life energy, especially in the spin-offs from applied kinesiology, throws critical thinking to the wind. Therapists who use such techniques have strayed far from the mainstream of objective knowledge about the human body. Their “science” is based on conjecture, subjective impressions, unreliable data and, most importantly, the precepts of Taoism. They stand separate from the scientific community. We challenge anyone who is involved in this therapy to take a hard look at its origins, its underlying assumptions, and it’s supporting evidence (or lack thereof).
Muscle testing is often a combination of chiropractic and Chinese acupuncture theory plus “muscle-testing” practices. It involves physical diagnosis, e.g., testing the supposed “strength” or “weakness” of muscles which are believed to be related to organ systems. And it may employ treatment or healing by acupressure, meridian tracing, “cosmic energies,” or other dubious methods.
George Goodheart (AK), John Thie (TH), John Diamond (BK)
How does it claim to work?
Muscle testing claims that disease can be evaluated, at least in part, through specific patterns of muscle weakness. It also claims to manipulate alleged body energies to produce and maintain healing. By supposedly “unblocking” congested energy along meridian pathways, or by infusing energy into deficient organs or bodily areas, practitioners believe that physical health can be maintained.
Examples of occult potential
Manipulating invisible energies can easily become an occult practice, e.g., a form of psychic healing. In addition, many muscle testers employ pendulums, dowsing instruments, and other radionics devices.
Muscle testing rejects the known facts of human anatomy by accepting undemonstrated connections between muscles and specific organs and diseases; it also claims to regulate bodily energies whose existence has never been proven.
Muscle testing is often based, in part, upon Taoist philosophy or other Eastern metaphysics, is scientifically discredited and potentially occult. It should be avoided on this basis.
The attendant hazards of misdiagnosis and occult influences.
This material is general and introductory. Modern “New Age” muscle testing methods must be distinguished from the scientific discipline of kinesiology proper. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and the Encyclopaedia Britannica both define formal kinesiology as “[the] study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.” Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines it as “the science or study of human muscular movements, especially as applied in physical education.” While New Age muscle testing may or may not employ some of the methods of formal kinesiology, scientific kinesiology never employs the methods of New Age muscle testing. The two disciplines are based on an entirely different approach to physiology and health.
INTRODUCTION AND INFLUENCE
On a windswept Sunday morning in Los Angeles, an articulate young Chinese woman surveys an audience of 2500 and asks for three volunteers. She has just concluded a message on the energy systems of the universe and their application to classical Chinese acupuncture. In return for braving the elements and leaving behind the Sunday Times, the audience now will be treated to a most unusual demonstration.
Two young women and an older man stand somewhat nervously onstage as the Chinese woman explains how applied kinesiology, or muscle testing, can demonstrate changes in one’s life energy. With arms stretched forward and hands clasped, the first volunteer easily resists the speaker’s efforts to pull her arms downward. Quickly, the speaker touches a few points around the head, and the startled volunteer’s arms are pulled down without resistance. More points are touched, and strength returns as before.
The second woman is tested for arm strength. The speaker then places her hands in front of and behind the volunteer’s head. Suddenly she passes her hands downward to the floor, like an illusionist making a magic pass over a box whose contents are about to disappear. After this is done, the second volunteer’s arms drop with an apparently effortless pull. Then with a quick upward sweep of her hands, the Chinese woman restores the volunteer’s strength as easily as she apparently drained it.
The third volunteer easily resists the arm pull, and then waits as the woman walks behind him. Twice she gives a thumbs-up gesture behind him for the audience to see, followed by unchanged tests of strength. After a thumbs-down gesture, the surprised volunteer’s arms drop with an easy pull. Another thumbs-up signal, and complete resistance returns. The woman ends her presentation with an admonition to use such abilities for good. Later she informs a small group of bystanders that she did indeed lower the third volunteer’s energy level simply by willing it to be done. “Is this magic?” one bystander asks.
“Only if you call it that,” she answers.
The Chinese woman is Effie Poy Yew Chow, Ph.D., who has served as president of the East-West Academy of Healing Arts, as an appointed member of the former National Advisory Council to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and as organizer of a major conference on holistic health and public policy in Washington, D.C.
The previous paragraphs began coauthor John Weldon’s book with Dr. Paul and Teri Reisser, New Age Medicine, as an illustration of the “muscle testing” technique of holistic medicine. In its most basic form, “muscle testing” is one of the simplest to learn and most popular of all New Age health practices. Three kinds of muscle testing dominate the marketplace—applied kinesiology (AK), “Touch for Health” (TH), and behavioral kinesiology (BK).
AK was developed for health professionals by chiropractor George Goodheart in the 1950s. According to at least one source, Goodheart allegedly received some of his data on AK by psychic means, although we have also been told that he denies this. In the early 1970s, AK was popularized and made available to laymen by New Age chiropractor, John Thie, through his “Touch for Health” method. The third form, behavioral kinesiology, is an extended, if bizarre, application of AK, developed in the late 1970s by psychiatrist John Diamond.
In essence, applied kinesiology and “Touch for Health” are very similar. Behavioral kinesiology is a related but separate discipline that has greatly expanded the application of applied kinesiology while incorporating additional strange theories of diagnosis.
Muscle testing is often employed in conjunction with other New Age treatments. Because it is easily integrated with a wide variety of New Age health practices, it is frequently combined with other techniques as part of a “comprehensive” health treatment program. For example, naturopaths, chiropractors, Reflexologists, iridologists, psychic healers, acupuncturists, and those using various forms of yoga and body-work techniques may all incorporate muscle testing in their treatment programs. And the “muscle testers” themselves often employ one or more additional methods of New Age health practice.
Like most New Age therapies, muscle testing is used for both diagnosis and treatment and stresses its “natural” approach to health by assisting the body’s “innate” ability to heal itself through the “proper” regulation and maintenance of mystical life energies.
NATURE AND USE
In part, muscle testing assumes that physical illness and disease result from a blockage or deficiency of psychic energy within the body. Thus, muscle testing claims to work by manipulating this mystical life energy (called chi, prana, the life force, and so on), which is supposedly circulating within the body. The purpose of manipulating these alleged energies is to cure illness and maintain health.
Muscle testing is also based on certain beliefs of chiropractic (including, in some forms, D.D. Palmer’s theory of “Innate Intelligence”), and on ancient Taoism, in particular the meridian structures of classical Chinese acupuncture. It teaches that, if left untreated, blockages or imbalances of the body’s “energies” (the “life force” or chi) eventually result in physical illness or aberrations.
One way to examine the condition of the “life energy” it is said, is through the body’s muscles. Because specific organs are allegedly “connected” to specific muscles through the Chinese acupuncture meridian system, when these muscles are “tested” and discovered to be in a “weakened” condition, this is said to indicate that the muscle and its corresponding organ are deficient of chi. Thus, various methods of physical, intuitive, or even psychic manipulation are used to “test” muscle strength and to treat alleged energy imbalances.
Muscle testing is used in two basic ways: for prevention of illness and for treatment of existing problems. For example, muscle testing may be used to treat current specific symptoms. A patient may complain of back trouble or a stomach pain. By applying pressure against the corresponding muscle(s) thought to be related to the illness, the muscles may test “weak,” indicating the underlying deficiency, or blockage, of cosmic energy. Treatment would employ acupressure methods (finger pressure applied to acupuncture points), or “hand passes” above the skin along specific acupuncture meridian lines related to the problem, which supposedly “unblocks” or “realigns” the energy imbalance and so restores health (see below). Muscle testers also claim that their methods can detect food allergies, dietary deficiencies, structural problems, and other maladies.
Muscle testing also purports to be used preventively to detect preclinical problems. In this case patients are encouraged to have a general diagnostic checkup, even when they feel fine. Here the therapist tests all major muscles to discover which ones are “weak.” Proper treatment is then applied before the underlying “problem” has a chance to manifest outward illness on the physical level. Because it is believed that months, or even years, may pass before the blocked energy causes an illness, disease, or other problems, muscle testers encourage regular checkups.
Some aspects of muscle testing may be indistinguishable from psychic diagnosis and healing. In applied kinesiology, chiropractor George Goodheart recommends a method called “therapy localization.” Here, the hand is placed on the body over an alleged point of energy imbalance so that the practitioner can diagnostically “test” an area for a suspected problem. The hand is thought to become a sort of psychic “conduit,” able to locate the point of impaired function, allowing the practitioner to successfully “treat” the symptom. Some practitioners claim that they use their hands to “sense” various energy imbalances in different organs, much in the manner used by practitioners of psychic healing. Goodheart calls “therapy localization” the “most astounding concept in applied kinesiology” because it “is capable of identifying virtually all faults and dysfunctions that have an effect on the nervous system. These encompass everything from [chiropractic] subluxations of the spine to imbalances in the body’s energy fields.”
Chiropractor John Thie teaches that “Touch for Health” can be performed in virtually the same manner as psychic healing. For example, in so-called meridian tracing, one can apparently regulate mystical energy flows by mental power alone. “In fact, you do not even have to make contact with the body. You can simply follow the meridians in your mind’s eye, through concentration, and produce much the same effect.” He further teaches a common New Age belief that “we are all one with the universe, the universal energy…. Our bodies are literally this universal energy in some of its various forms.”
Most muscle testing, therefore, is simply a combination of or variation upon classical chiropractic/acupuncture theory and the ancient Chinese practice of acupressure, plus the novel approaches to muscle “weakness” developed by George Goodheart or John Diamond.
Behavioral kinesiology (BK), an outgrowth of George Goodheart’s applied kinesiology, is the novel brainchild of John Diamond, M.D. Family Circle magazine is one of many popular newsstand periodicals that have carried glowing comments about its alleged “miraculous” powers. Famous personalities use it, and many athletes, dentists, artists, and New Agers swear by it.
Dr. Diamond himself argues that BK’s magic is applicable to literally every area of life, which explains its wide appeal:
It provides us with the means of assessing and evaluating the effects of nearly all stimuli, internal or external, physical or psychological, on the body. Furthermore, it gives us a new understanding of the comprehensive action of the entire body energy system. There is no area of life to which BK does not apply. It even sheds light on such diverse topics as instinctive behavior, the creative process, the origin of language, anthropology, ethnology, the aesthetic experience, and modes of communication such as gesture.
BK is established on the basic philosophy of applied kinesiology: “Every major muscle of the body relates to an organ,” and that muscles and organs can be “tested” to determine the condition of the “life energy” flowing through the supposed meridians related to them.
By “muscle testing,” BK claims that it is able to determine the “strengthening” or “weakening” effect of a vast array of objects upon a person’s “life energy,” from foods and other items to symbols and thoughts.
The centrality of the thymus gland is Dr. Diamond’s unique contribution to applied kinesiology. His book is subtitled “How to Activate Your Thymus and Increase Your Life Energy.” He calls the thymus gland “the seat of the Life Energy,” and relates the supposed powers of the organ to knowledge derived from expanded consciousness and the ancient “gods.” He even claims that his system “ushers in the Third Golden Age of Thymology.” “A major discovery of Behavioral Kinesiology is that the thymus gland monitors and regulates energy flow in the meridian system.”
The thymus is a lymphoid organ beneath the breastbone at heart level. In infants and children, it regulates the production of the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection. Alter puberty, the gland atrophies and continues to do so until death. Its role in the immune system of infants and children is established, and it retains that function in adults. It might even be a more important organ than we know. Yet, despite Diamond’s claims, it is not known to regulate mystical energies:
I have come to believe that all illness starts as a problem on the energy level, a problem that may exist for many years before it manifests itself in physical disease. It appears that a generalized reduction of body energy leads to energy imbalances in particular parts of the body.
What is the “life energy” that Diamond claims BK can regulate? It is the same old occult energy found in many different cultures:
Our Life Energy is the source of our physical and mental well-being… throughout recorded history it has had many names…. Paracelsus called it the Archaeus; the Chinese, Chi; the Egyptians, Ka; the Hindus, Prana; the Hawaiians, Mana. It is all the same thing.
Dr. Diamond believes we can use our thymuses to properly regulate our “life energy.” Indeed, everything in our personal world—from objects, to emotions and habits, to environments, lifestyles, and even beliefs—can and probably should be tested to determine if they “increase” or “decrease” our all-important “life energy.” For example, we can “test” the effect of the type of music we listen to, how to walk or swim properly, the color to paint our house, which tooth to have pulled, which medicine to use, which foods to eat, and which vitamins or homeopathic treatments to take. Apparently, we can even use BK tests to prevent or detect heart disease or cancer and treat them—the list seems endless. We can even test for individual lifestyles:
For many years I have used BK to investigate the environments, lifestyles, and personal habits of a wide variety of people. My findings have been generally consistent… by all means test them for yourself…. If the muscle goes weak, then you know that the stimulus has interrupted the energy flow to your thymus gland and thereby reduced the energy in your entire body-energy system.
The quack aspect of BK is easy to document. Consider the following claims, as reported on pp.74-106 of Dr. Diamond’s book. Thymus tests supposedly reveal that your life energy is:
Head nods (vertical)
Head shakes (horizontal)
Smiling (or merely seeing a drawing or picture of a smile)
Frowns (or merely seeing a drawing or picture of one)
Seeing normal faces
Seeing “sanpaku” eyes (with three sides of white visible around the eye)
The Roman cross
Synthetic or refined foods (the more foods are processed, “the less, if any, Life Energy will remain in them”
Life energy is also decreased by
The musical note C
Electric wristwatches (but only in certain positions)
Ice water/cold showers
Police “speed gun” detectors (effective within 100 feet)
And (surprise!) people do not respond well to breathing gas fumes!
If you want to find out whether you are affected by cooking gas, just go over to the stove and see whether the indicator muscle goes weak first before and then after you turn on the front burner. It’s as simple as that. Your body’s answer is immediate and direct. And according to BK, not just cooking gas, but most things in our modem technological world are conspiring against us, depleting our “life energy.” Anyone who believes all this is welcome to his views. But consider the following incredible claims and explanations offered by Dr. Diamond.
Concerning the Nazi swastika (a symbol which BK says will increase our life energy!),
“Even Jewish concentration camp survivors test strong in its presence.…” Goodness, can the people who survived the torments of Nazi Germany’s death camps really have their “life energy” increased while looking at the symbol of their destruction? And why on earth would the Christian cross supposedly deplete our life energy? Furthermore, the clockwise swastika will supposedly have a different result on people than the counterclockwise swastika.
Dr. Diamond also thinks that facial gestures, such as smiles and frowns, are related to the ancient Chinese acupuncture meridians. Smiles or frowns supposedly regulate life energy because “all gestures relate to specific meridians; these gestures of acceptance and rejection relate directly to the thymus, the monitoring center for energy imbalances of the entire meridian system.” Perhaps the National Academy of Sciences should look into all this.
If the previous ideas are not silly enough, consider that people with depleted energy can deplete others’ thymus energy just by being in their presence, even through the television set!
Somehow the Life Energy of the “strong” person was diminished by his coming into personal contact with someone with a weak thymus. Not only this: If you test various meridian (energy system) test points throughout the bodies of the interacting subjects, you will find that a specific imbalance can be transmitted from one person to another.
To be weakened by another person, you need not be face to face or even one to one. Your involvement can, for example, be over television. … If a public figure has a specific energy (meridian) imbalance or an under active thymus, he can adversely affect a large number of people [i.e., the TV audience]. An emotional state, negative or positive, can spread through a community and even a country from its primary source, the television personality, to the viewers, to their neighbors, and to all the people with whom they come in contact. If we are susceptible—of low Life Energy—we can pick up like an infection the emotional attitudes that are “going around.”
A photo of Adolf Hitler will “destroy your thymus” but, remember, the Nazi swastika energizes it. Advertisements can weaken you, and two slightly different portraits of the same person can have exactly opposite effects on your thymus, depending on whether you are looking at the original or a copy. Symbols must also be carefully evaluated. “Through the techniques of BK I have been able to demonstrate the effects of hundreds of symbols on the body. Each affects a specific energy system.” And although most rock music greatly decreases life energy, “In contrast, the Beatles never do.” Amazing. And refined white sugar is always bad. “A poison is a poison! So get out of the habit of thinking: ‘Well, a little sugar won’t hurt me.’ A substance either raises your energy or lowers it. It is one way or the other.”
Occasionally, even Dr. Diamond runs into trouble with his theory. For example, sometimes people will test strong with refined sugar and weak with raw honey. “This paradoxical finding is hard to explain,” as are other even more bizarre BK principles than the ones we have discussed.
It should again be stressed again that the use of the term “kinesiology” in muscle-testing practices involves an entirely different application than in formal kinesiology, which is the scientific study of bodily movements and the muscles which control them. Applied kinesiology, “Touch for Health,” and behavioral kinesiology are a distortion of scientific kinesiology, although they may employ its methods and insights. New Age kinesiology and scientific kinesiology are opposed to one another in the same way that New Age medicine and scientific medicine are opposed to one another. The former is based on mystical energy concepts and various novel, even bizarre, practices; the latter restricts itself to physical medicine regulated by the scientific method. Confusing them will be consequential.
Chiropractic can be safe and effective for a number of muscular and related conditions when used responsibly by adequately trained chiropractors. Unfortunately, there is another side to chiropractic, as we documented in Can You Trust Your Doctor? Not unexpectedly, the chiropractic profession is almost single-handedly responsible for the introduction and promotion of muscle testing in America. John Thie, the developer of “Touch for Health,” states that “most of these [Touch for Health] methods and techniques have been exclusively the province of the chiropractic profession.” A text on applied kinesiology confesses, “Most applied kinesiologists are chiropractors.”
Muscle testing was developed by chiropractors and is often taught at chiropractic schools. We have mentioned that George Goodheart was the chiropractor who may have used psychic methods to develop his system of applied kinesiology, that New Age chiropractor John Thie popularized it (with Goodheart’s help), and that John Diamond, an understudy of Goodheart, took applied kinesiology and extended its principles into his strange system of behavioral kinesiology.
It is important to understand the logical connection between chiropractic, the potential for dabbling in the psychic world, and muscle testing. Classic chiropractic theory easily lends itself to the acceptance of a psychic realm as related to health. (We documented this in Can You Trust Your Doctor?.) That Goodheart might have used psychic means to develop his system of applied kinesiology would not be surprising. Furthermore, although elements of the chiropractic profession are scientifically oriented and practiced responsibly, chiropractic itself often rejects the safeguards of the scientific method; historically, it has opposed medical science and rejected any findings disproving its theories. Chiropractic, for example, was founded upon a false theory of subluxations being the cause of all disease, and its early concept of the “Innate” is difficult to distinguish from psychic energy in general.
Thus, the two characteristics that have strongly influenced chiropractic historically—the rejection of medical science and an openness to the psychic—help explain the unscientific and New Age orientation of much modern chiropractic practice. It is hardly surprising, then, that chiropractic would be the principal agent for advancing the practice of an unscientific and/or psychically based system of muscle testing in the United States.
The ease with which chiropractic and New Age muscle testing are blended can be seen in the many books advocating a union of the two, such as the Valentines’ Applied Kinesiology, chiropractor David S. Walther’s Applied Kinesiology: The Advanced Approach in Chiropractic (Pueblo, CO: privately published, 1976), and Chiropractor
Fred Stoner’s The Eclectic Approach to Chiropractic (Las Vegas: privately published, 1976). Walthers is author of the “definitive textbook” on AK, Basic Procedures and Muscle Testing:
Goodheart’s original research is now being expanded, and more investigations are being carried out by many of his fellow chiropractors, hundreds of whom are finding applied kinesiology of inestimable value in their practices as a diagnostic aid. It is a fast and reliable way to discern where structural imbalances lie, to access dietary deficiencies and allergies, to detect organ dysfunctions, and even determine the extent to which psychological factors are involved.*
Each of these systems variously accepts the occult idea of a mystical “life energy” flowing through the body. Although promoters may attempt to explain it scientifically, they accept the unproven premise of ancient Chinese Taoism and of much occultism, which teaches that psychic or mystical energy (chi, prana, mana, and so on) flows along energy pathways in the body called meridians.
As a result, applied kinesiology, “Touch for Health,” and behavioral kinesiology are based upon an unfounded and unscientific concept, involving the same mystical life energies promoted in the occult and Eastern religion. Because these methods claim to manipulate invisible energies, some of the practices employed are indistinguishable from those used by psychic and spiritistic healers. This is why muscle testing may introduce people to psychic or spiritistic practices under another name, or influence them to seek out practitioners of these other forms of so-called “natural healing.”
We believe that any system which claims to regulate or manipulate “invisible energies” is, at least potentially, an introduction to occult energies and should be avoided. Since these methods are not based upon the findings of scientific medicine, they are unscientific, whether or not they introduce someone to the occult.
In New Age Medicine, Reisser, Reisser, and Weldon discuss why AK, BK, TH, and related methods should not be accepted uncritically, and why they should be avoided:
We strongly urge that patients avoid any therapists who claim to be manipulating invisible energies (Ch’i, life energy or whatever), whether using needles, touch, hand passes, arm-pulling or any other maneuver.
Why do we take such a hard-nosed stand? For two reasons. First, we have seen how the invoking of life energy, especially in the spin-offs from applied kinesiology, throws critical thinking to the wind. Therapists who use such techniques have strayed far from the mainstream of objective knowledge about the human body. Their “science” is based on conjecture, subjective impressions, unreliable data and, most importantly, the precepts of Taoism. They stand separate from the scientific community. You will never see muscle testing written up in Scientific American or recognized by the National Institutes of Health. We challenge anyone who is involved in this therapy to take a hard look at its origins, its underlying assumptions, and it’s supporting evidence (or lack thereof).
Our look at Jin Shin Do provided an example of our second objection: the general orientation of the literature which promotes the doctrines of Ch’i and meridians. The overwhelming majority of authors express a distinct spiritual perspective which is some variation on Eastern mysticism or the New Consciousness. We have seen no exceptions to date. John Thie, originator of Touch for Health, proclaims in Science of Mind magazine that “we are all one with the universe.”
Iona Teeguarden and
her spirit guide tell us how Jin Shin Do can open our psychic centers to experience the universal flow which is love and magic. Hiroshi Motoyama, a Japanese physician, acupuncturist, and psychic researcher, is actively seeking to unify ancient Chinese medicine, East Indian kundalini yoga, and virtually all other psychic or mystical experiences into a single “science of consciousness.” Psychic healer and medium Rosalyn Lee Bruyere, mentioned previously, claims to “see” auras, chakras, and meridians, and manipulates the latter two in her practice. Under the direction of two spirit guides who instruct her regularly, she teaches a blend of psychic healing, spiritism, reincarnation, and Eastern mysticism. The pattern is unmistakable. There is no neutral “science” of life energy and meridians, but rather a highly developed mystical system with strong ties to the psychic realm.
What does all this mean? It means that energy therapists, whether they realize it or not, are carrying out a form of religious practice and conditioning their patients to accept its teachings. Indeed, some therapists enter a trancelike state in order to become a channel to direct Ch’i (or whatever they choose to call life energy) into the patient. The idea of the healer’s injecting invisible energy into another person may seem innocuous to most (and silly to some), but the results may be anything but trivial. Brooks Alexander, co-director of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, warns:
It is not difficult to see that… psychic manipulation could turn an otherwise benign form of treatment into a spiritual booby trap. The nature of the doctor-patient relationship implicitly involves a kind of trust in and submission to the healer on many levels. For a Christian to accept the passive stance of “patient” before a practitioner who exercises spiritual power (either in his own right or as a channel for other influences) could easily result in spiritual derangement or bondage.
We find it particularly unsettling to see members of the Christian community having their energies balanced by chiropractors and other therapists who claim a Christian commitment and who feel that they are not involved in any questionable practices. These practitioners may claim that Ch’i, yin and yang, and meridians are neutral components of God’s creation (similar to electricity and radio waves), available for anyone to use; but they ignore the roots of these ideas.
The products of natural science—the technologies of electronics, biochemistry and so on—can be validated by controlled experiments whose results are not tied to the religious beliefs of the researcher. But the “technology” of life energy is totally defined by the belief system of its promoters: the mystics, the psychics and the leaders of the New Consciousness.
Christian energy balancers present us with a paradox. They claim reliance on Scripture, but they carry out the practices of an occult system. Most are sincere in their desire to help their patients. Unfortunately, they lack discernment, failing to see the implication of the ideas they promote. Some are even dabbling in the psychic realm, diagnosing disease through hand passes or over long distances, claiming that this is a natural by-product of their sensitivity to life energy.
To these therapists we offer a challenge and a warning. Take a long look at the world of Chinese medicine and then decide whether you belong there. Do you feel comfortable as a part of the New Consciousness movement, promoting Taoist philosophy, supporting a system whose basic message is that “all is one,” and helping usher in the New Age of miracles and magic? If not, then it is time to stop participating in therapies which lend credence and support to a world view which is antagonistic to the most basic teachings of Scripture.*
In conclusion, muscle-testing practices are scientifically un-established or discredited and potentially occult. Therefore, they are not true healing methods. And due to their reliance on “mystical energies,” they are vehicles for introducing ancient pagan concepts or irrational approaches to medicine into modern health care.
*Documentation for all quotations in this series may be found in the Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs
Therapeutic Touch healing
November 4, 2004
At my place of employment, I have the opportunity to attend a seminar on a “contemporary healing modality drawn from ancient practices…Therapeutic Touch is used to balance and promote the flow of human energy…TT is useful in reducing pain, improving wound healing, aiding relaxation, and easing the dying process”! Further information could be obtained from the Theosophical retreat center, and a website was given. This type of so-called therapy involves “smoothing” human energy fields disrupted by injury or disease, without actual contact.
I was encouraged to attend as this person presenting the seminar is “great, really great”. None of my peers seemed alarmed or put off by the theosophical society, and were unimpressed that other offerings by this retreat center involve reincarnation studies, theosophical tarot, Mysteries of the Future: Prediction, et al.
I am repulsed, and alarmed that this type of nonsense is offered as a “professional” seminar, for medical workers. I am considering attending if only to see what is being promoted, and how this promotion is being accomplished.
According to some of my peers, this person is well thought of, and highly regarded, and she has plenty of educational credentials to lend credence to this educational offering. I wish to see how she is received, but am almost afraid (well not really almost-I am afraid) that this message will be swallowed hook-line-and-sinker. Please advise. -Maryrose
I would seriously and strongly advise that you NOT attend this seminar. There is no reason to step into Satan’s sandbox and getting his sand in your shoes. I have had clients who have become demonized just from attending these sorts of seminars. Now, not everyone will come away with a demonic attachment when they attend, but why take the chance?
You already have your answer about how well this garbage is taken by people and can talk to participates after the seminar to find out more.
Therapeutic Touch is what I use to practice and teach. It is based upon the idea of balancing with the universal cosmic energy the “energies” that flow in the “meridians” throughout the body. Meridians and this energy do not exist.
Below I have copied a rather extensive discussion on this subject.
You bring up a method that is part of New Age Medicine. Some of the things in this holistic medicine realm are valid some are not. Even when there are valid aspects to the holistic medicine it is usually limited. For example, acupuncture has been clinically proven to be effective in certain pain management issues, but it is not in other areas that are sometimes claimed.
But since this gets into Holistic Medicine, let me discuss this in general and in doing so I will give you an answer WAY more than you asked for :-).
Many people, especially those with chronic illness have gravitated to holistic medicine. As a result sometimes this issue is emotionally charged. Regardless of the risk of offending some of our readers, I have no choice but to go forward with expression the truth of this issue as best as God gives me the insight to know that truth. But we cannot rely upon our own discernment of our own insight and thus most of this post is paraphrasing or quoting others.
I say I have no choice. That is because I am the in a position of answering questions for the general public and thus have a responsibility before God to make sure people who read these answers are not lead astray. I will be standing before God to account for every one of you and for what was said or not said in this forum. That is an awesome thought and one that I do not take lightly. I will do my best to provide an accurate and truthful answer to this question and to the question of holistic medicine in general.
In that light, the information I offer here on Holistic Healing Techniques is not my mere opinion, but is grounded in personal and professional experience. I use to be a Holistic Health Practitioner and did practice and teach Taoism, Chinese Philosophy, Chinese Healing, Therapeutic Touch, acupressure, and other New Age healing techniques and subjects.
But my word does not need to be accepted alone. The information I present here is consistently asserted by all Catholic and Protestant authorities who are not involved in the New Age, directly or indirectly in some fashion, and who have carefully researched this subject rather than taking it lightly and without critical analysis.
Father Pacwa, Father Groeschel, Mother Angelica, the whole EWTN crowd, I believe the whole Franciscan University at Steubenville crowd (Scott Hahn, et al), and about all of the evangelical Protestant crowd ALL share nearly the exact same views about this subject that I present here.
There is a reason for this massive common understanding among all these people — One, the science does not support most of the claims of the holistic health practitioners. Two, it is clearly seen by all who will care to honestly research this that the FACT is that it cannot be denied that the philosophies and techniques involved in many of the holistic health practices are inextricability tied to Chinese mysticism.
One CANNOT believe in many of these techniques without ALSO believing in, or at least acquiescing to, the Chinese mysticism that CREATED these techniques. Even those who know nothing of the mysticism behind these techniques, are still ‘involving’ themselves in that mysticism albeit unawares.
Here is an illustration: All of us are using a computer. This message came to you by computer. You believe in the computer, it is right in front of you, and you know that it can be used for great good [such as this list :-)].
But what are the principles BEHIND this computer that make the computer possible for it to exist and for you to use it? Do you know about the binary system of numbers, about the electrical circuits and impulses that open and close circuits inside your computer that render the “zero’s” and “one’s” in a binary numbering system that then create what you see on the screen? Do you know about the physics of electricity?
Many of you may not understand what I just said. But for you to use this computer you are agreeing with and are utilizing those behind-the-scenes principles whether you know it or not.
In fact, without those principles this computer would not exist!! If we remove the principles of the binary numbering system and of electricity there IS NO COMPUTER as we know it.
This is the same with the unscientific part of Chinese healing. These healing systems are completely and TOTALLY wrapped in a worldview of Eastern mysticism, philosophy, and religion that is UTTERLY incompatible with Christianity.
Even if we do not know what those behind-the-scenes principles are, or even if we read about those principles apart from the holistic healing we are wanting to participate in, and upon reading them reject them, we nevertheless “accept” them unawares when we participate in these particular healing techniques.
We accept the principles of the binary system and of electricity every time we turn on the computer — whether we know it or not.
If we were to remove the Chinese mystical and philosophical presumptions from the healing techniques, we would no longer have the technique – it WOULD NOT EXIST, any more than this computer would exist if we removed the underlying principles of electricity and binary mathematics from the picture.
BUT THESE TECHNIQUES WORK!
Well, sometimes. The number one reason that some of these techniques seem to work is NOT because the technique is having any real effect. It is due to the placebo effect — our desire to have it work creates psychosomatic effects upon the body sometimes or at least in our perceptions.
Our desire to have this work is STRONG and is sourced in one or two HIGH motivators (or in both)
1) We are ill, or a loved one or friend is ill, traditional medicine hasn’t helped, so we LONG for a treatment in Alternative methods;
2) We are already converts to Eastern Philosophy and Mysticism so “believing” in these methods goes with it as strongly as Christians believing in the grace of God.
Often #1 will lead to #2 in some fashion — perhaps not a complete conversion, but at least a partial one. This is what has happened to MANY, MANY, MANY priests and nuns.
The sneaky thing is that we can develop New Age attitudes and beliefs without knowing it. Once we open the door, even without our cognitive knowledge, we can find our thinking and belief system contaminated. This danger is so great that the Apostle Paul warned against it. He told us to guard our eyes and our thinking – to think only upon those things that are beyond any hint of being improper. The Bible tells us it is better to pluck out our eye than to allow our eyes to lead us to sin.
“It is better to go into heaven with one eye than to go to hell with both.” While that analogy is speaking of sinful activity it nevertheless gives a principle to live by: it is better and prudent to stay away from anything that offers a risk of damaging our life with Christ, than to take the risk of getting damaged.
We live in an age of MANY contaminations to the Christian worldview. We cannot be too careful and circumspect. It is better to avoid even good things if it brings us too close to things which are contaminated, than to indulge in those good things and risk the contamination.
Who among us would want to eat a good steak sitting on a good clean plate that is on a table smeared with feces? Sorry for the image, but it makes the point. The steak is good, and MAY not be contaminated, but do we want to take that risk?
Billy Graham once said, “Most people sacrifice the best on the altar of the good.”
And this is true. So many people cling to the “good” as if their life depended upon it and in doing so give-up or miss the “best.” God, like any father, wants the best for his children, not just the merely good.
Thus we need to remind ourselves of these things whenever approaching anything even REMOTELY connected with the New Age.
But in the case of Therapeutic Touch and other similar techniques, it is really quite black and white for the most part. It is not of God, but is a DIRECT result of, and is dependent upon, godless philosophies and mysticism.
A second reason that some of these techniques appear to work is that Satan is more than happy to see a healing if we will gain it through methods contrary to God. Satan will give-up his desire to make us ill, if we will be poster boys for unChristian healing techniques.
Although many of us may not go any further into the New Age when we accept some of these techniques, a vast number do get seduced further. That is Satan’s goal — to seduce as many people as possible.
We need to be careful of the arrogance expressed by, “Well I did it and it didn’t harm my faith”. Well we can stand in a barrel of gasoline, strike a match 100 times, and not be blown-up. Does that mean we should risk it? We can never know if the 101st time will kill us. And even if we always make it, our “promotion” of the barrel game by declaring, “Hey, I made it, you can too,” makes us culpable when, eventually, someone tries it, because they saw us do it successfully, but they don’t make it.
This subject is also a delicate one in that it is natural for people who are suffering to seek out anything they can find to alleviate that suffering. The biggest reason otherwise orthodox Christians fall into the trap of the improper aspects of holistic healing is when those people are suffering from some disease and they are looking for help. Often they find legitimate alternative methods: “some” methods involving herbs and “some” allergy therapies and “some” of the environmental medicine techniques are good. But since much of this stuff as been co-opted by the New Age, often the unsuspecting Christian will be indoctrinated into more than what empirical evidence shows. They will get seduced into thinking the “energy medicine” and many aspects of acupuncture, and the general gambit of Chinese medicine are okay too. This is the SEVERE danger.
I understand these dynamics. I have an incurable disease myself – CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome) and probably Fibromyalgia, and sciatica and arthritis in my lower spine. I am in pain every day. I have difficult walking or standing. I have the aches and pains that are like the flu 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. And, of course, debilitating fatigue.
It is tempting to try anything to alleviate these symptoms. I do what I can, given almost non-existent financial resources, but I will not, even if I am dying, resort to the improper aspects of Holistic Medicine.
Because we are dealing with such a personal experience as suffering, when people get involved in these alternative techniques it becomes very personal to them. If someone comes around and pops the balloon on alternative medicine, people will get very emotional. This emotional aspect is also what makes people vulnerable to the seduction into these improper techniques.
All this is understandable, but any emotional backlash is unavoidable when exposing the truth about this subject. I hope that my long introductory remarks will help to soften the emotional upset at least a little.
In discussing holistic medicine, we must discuss the famous Yin Yang symbol and its origins and purpose. This symbol refers to a central and fundamental understanding about the nature and theory behind holistic medicine – including Therapeutic Touch.
The symbol is called: T’ai-chi T’u. It means the “Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate”.
The Supreme Ultimate is the Tao. The Tao is called the “Way” interestingly enough (this was what the Christian Church was called in the first century; it wasn’t’ until the early 2nd century with St. Ignatius of Antioch in around 110AD that the term “Catholic” was used for the Church).
Taoism is concerned with process and change, the endless universal flow of cycles. Day becomes night, wet becomes dry, winter turns to spring, etc. Taoism seeks to encourage human beings to live in harmony with these cycles and to be “one” with the Tao. Failure to be in sync with the Tao causes disease. This is the basis of the Taoistic (Chinese/Eastern) “medical” model of health.
In these never-ending cycles we find bipolar opposites. These opposites are not antagonistic, they do not cancel each other out, they are the merely part of the whole just as the North and South poles are on opposite ends of the same Earth, as Reisser (see ref to his book below) remarks. Thus good and evil are also not antagonistic to one another, but merely opposites of the same unified reality — the Tao.
This fundamental principle is called Yin and Yang. It is believed that all of nature and all aspects of human life are affected by these forces.
Without getting into deep details, health is defined as the “state in which yin and yang are in perfect, dynamic balance over a period of time, with disease occurring when there is an excess of yin or yang accumulating anywhere in the body.”
The key to this lies in the idea of Ch’i — the invisible life energy which is believed to flow through the body in meridians or “matrixes”.
This invisible and scientifically unproven Ch’i is called many things depending on the culture. Below are the word concepts and their origin:
Ch’i = Taoism and ancient Chinese medicine
Prana = Hinduism
Mana = Polynesian
Orenda = American Indian
Animal Magnetism = Franz Anton Mesmer (hypnotism)
The Innate = William Reich
Vital Energy = Samuel Hahnemann (founder of homeopathy)
Odic force = Baron Karl von Reichenback
Bioplasma = Contemporary Russian parapsychologists
The Force = George Lucas (Star Wars)
Each of these concepts describes the same occultic energy allegedly flowing through the body and connected with the Universal plasma (force) (energy).
All of this is deeply steeped in oriental mysticism and occultism.
But what of observable effects?
Acupuncture/acupressure has shown promise in the use of pain control. And the whole issue of pain-control is where the Chinese medicine has interest for us. But in a closer examination of the physiological mechanisms involved in pain control — and again without going into detail here — the pain that is controlled through Chinese medicine techniques can be and had been explained in normal bio-physiology that CAN be measured and replicated by science. We do not need to rely upon ideas of “invisible energies” to explain the phenomena.
Thus what are the objections to Chinese Medicine and what are the Guidelines for Evaluation? Especially since “some” specific techniques seem to have a very real and positive effect, how are we to evaluate particular situations? Is it ever allowable to use such methods as a Christian?
Quoting from “New Age Medicine” by Paul Reisser (pp. 92-95), recommended by Father Pacwa and by me [my comments in the following text are in a light blue color and in brackets]:
Guidelines for Evaluation:
Our look at the mystical roots of acupuncture, acupressure, applied kinesiology and the rest of Chinese medicine has revealed that, in many situations, patients are being treated on the basis of religious beliefs rather than physiological principles. So the question remains, how can we evaluate a particular therapy? Should someone have acupuncture for chronic back pain, for instance, or is this particular technique occultic?
The issues, unfortunately, are not purely scientific, but have spiritual implications as well. After much study and reflection, we have arrived at some guidelines which we apply to individual cases.
FIRST: We propose that the only by-product of ancient Chinese medicine which has been reasonably validated is the treatment of chronic pain with counter stimulation therapy, using either needles or electrical pulses. If you are considering receiving such treatment, your pain problem should be evaluated by a qualified physician, and the therapist should be someone trained in conventional anatomy and physiology, not in meridians and life energy. This may seem like a trivial distinction when one is merely seeking pain relief, but “energy balancers” may tend to inject their mysticism into the therapy session.
The use of acupuncture for treating other medical problems, such as high blood pressure, hearing loss, obesity and so on, has not been validated (to our knowledge) by any controlled study and is extremely suspect. We emphasize the word controlled because the problems we saw in the claims made for miraculous cures in China. No one was counting the cases which failed, nor was anyone considering what other factors might have contributed to success. Therapists who treat such problems with acupuncture are in the twilight zone of medicine and usually are working from a mystical perspective.
SECOND: This brings us to our second guideline. We strongly urge that patients avoid any therapists who claim to be manipulating invisible energies (Ch’i, life energy or whatever), whether using needles, touch, hand passes, arm-pulling or any other maneuver.
Guidelines for Discernment:
1) Beware of therapies which claim to manipulate “invisible energies.”
Christian therapists may claim that the invisible energies they purport to influence are part of God’s creation, but in doing so they betray a misinformed notion of the scope of the natural realm. They are, in fact, toying either with the supernatural or an illusion.
2) Beware of those who seem to use psychic knowledge or power.
Scripture has posted a clear “No Trespassing” sign here (Deut 18:9-12)
[my comment: even if the therapist does not admit to psychic involvement one can get a clue by “how” they are able to come to a diagnosis. An excellent example is a diagnosis that one is toxic or blocked and the therapist knows this by touching and concentrating, passing his hand over the body and similar methods. Toxicity is a physical reality. If a person is “toxic” it will be revealed in blood tests, urine tests, and other similar diagnostic testing. Toxicity not so testable is HIGHLY suspect to be a variation of the “blocking of energies” theme that has no basis in reality.
The “discernment” of the diagnosis being from “concentrating” is a clear clue to psychic involvement.]
3) Beware of a practitioner who has a therapy with which no one else is familiar.
Someone with a “secret formula” usually keeps it a secret for two reasons: he or she has some of it to sell you (with a fat price tag), and independent analysis would show it to be worthless. This (guideline for discernment) has two important corollaries:
a) Beware of those who promote their “discovery” to the general public (usually via best-selling books) [my comment: or in recent times we have seen this happening through distributorships of the products that are supposed to heal you. These are largely “Amway” sorts of personal distributorships]
b) Head for the exit immediately when someone claims that the medical establishment is evil or satanic, that the government and the AMA are persecuting them, or that other doctors are intent on stealing their discovery. Such an individual is due for an appointment with the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance, a competent psychiatrist, or perhaps Rod Serling. Stick around only if you are seeking a visit to the Twilight Zone.
4) Beware of someone who claims that their particular therapy will cure anything.
You can only solve so many construction problems with a hammer. An important skill of caring practitioners is knowing when, and to whom, to refer a patient with a disorder which is beyond their expertise.
This problem plagued chiropractic practitioners for many years, and still remains to be settled for some to this day — (claiming that chiropractic could cure anything).
There remain, however, a number of practitioners (of chiropractic) who have reworked some of the old “vital nerve energy” ideas into a broader scope under New Age influence. We know of chiropractors who have blended their practice with numerous other methodologies, including energy channeling, meditation, aura work.
5) Beware of someone whose explanations don’t make sense.
If a physician, or any therapist, speaks in “doctorese” instead of English, stop and ask for a translation. Even the most complex problem can be explained in terms that anyone can comprehend. Many will save a lot of money and grief by paying “attention to his own common sense.”
6) Beware of therapists whose primary proof consists of the testimonies of satisfied customers.
7) Beware of therapies which rely heavily on altered states of consciousness.
The New Age movement promotes the motion that ordinary waking consciousness limits our potential. As we have seen, many holistic therapies are built on the idea that healings will occur, or important insights gathered, when we shut down the rational mind for a while (through meditation, chanting, yoga, hypnosis, sensory deprivation tanks, etc.) and experience an “alternate reality.” Such experiences are, in fact, critical if one is to accept a number of New Age concepts (especially “All is One”) which otherwise lack much support from everyday living.
8) Sincerity is no guarantee of legitimacy.
The most warm-hearted, sincere therapist may be sincerely wrong.
This (guideline for discernment) has two important corollaries:
a) A therapist’s expression of evangelical commitment [or orthodox Catholic commitment] is no guarantee of legitimacy either.
b) The endorsement of a therapist (or therapy) by a renowned evangelical pastor [or priest or religious], speaker, author or celebrity is, alas, no guarantee of legitimacy.
In summary, if and when an unorthodox therapy is offered as a solution to your health problem, so not hesitate to investigate fully and critically its roots, history, contemporary forms and promoters before submitting to it or recommending it to others.
9) “Caveat venditor”: in other words, “Let the buyer beware.”
We have directed all of our previous warnings to the consumers of health care. Our final comments are directed toward practitioners. Anyone who cares for the health needs of others has an enormous responsibility to maintain basic standards of quality. Those who offer practices to the public which are scientifically unsound (or bankrupt) and potentially dangerous are ultimately accountable to their patients.
For the New Agers who sincerely and enthusiastically believes in the spiritual messages of holistic health, we offer a loving challenge to consider the life and claims of Jesus Christ as face value. We are not gods, or part of God, but men and women who are estranged from our Creator. Jesus Christ has made that reconciliation possible through his death on the cross. Only after we surrender our quest for godhood to him can true enlightenment and fulfillment be experienced.
For the evangelical Christian [and orthodox Catholic] who promotes New Age practices without paying attention to their spiritual implications, we offer an exhortation: you should know better.
Objections to Chinese Medicine:
Why do we take such a hard-nosed stand? For two reasons. First, we have seen how the invoking of life energy, especially in the spin-offs from applied kinesiology, throws critical thinking to the wind. Therapists who use such techniques have strayed far from the mainstream of objective knowledge about the human body. Their “science” is based on conjecture, subjective impressions, unreliable data and, most importantly, the precepts of Taoism. They stand separate from the scientific community. You will never see muscle testing written up in Scientific American or recognized by the National Institutes of Health. We challenge anyone who is involved in this therapy to take a hard look at its origins, its underlying assumptions, and it’s supporting evidence (or lack thereof). Our look at Jin Shin Do provided an example of our second objection: the general orientation of the literature which promotes the doctrines of Ch’i and meridians. The overwhelming majority of authors express a distinct spiritual perspective which is some variation on Eastern mysticism or the New Consciousness We have seen no exceptions to date. John Thie, originator of Touch for Health, proclaims in “Science of Mind” magazine that “we are all one with the universe.” Iona Teeguarden tells us how Jin Shin Do can open our psychic centers to experience the universal flow which is love and magic. Hiroshi Motoyama, a Japanese physician, acupuncturist and psychic researcher, is actively seeking to unify ancient Chinese medicine, East Indian kundalini yoga, and virtually all other psychic or mystical experiences into a single “science of consciousness.”
Psychic healer and medium Rosalyn Lee Bruyere, mentioned previously, claims to “see” auras, chakras and meridians, and manipulates the latter two in her practice. Under the direction of two spirit guides who instruct her regularly, she teaches a blend of psychic healing, spiritism, reincarnation and Eastern mysticism. The pattern is unmistakable. There is no neutral “science” of life energy and meridians, but rather a highly developed mystical system with strong ties to the psychic realm.
What does all this mean? It means that energy therapists, whether they realize it or not, are carrying out a form of religious practice and conditioning their patients to accept its teachings. Indeed, some therapists enter a trancelike state in order to become a channel to direct Ch’i (or whatever they choose to call life energy) into the patient. The idea of the healer’s injecting invisible energy into another person may seem innocuous to most (and silly to some), but the results may be anything but trivial. Brooks Alexander, co-director of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, warns:
“It is not difficult to see that … psychic manipulation could turn an otherwise benign form of treatment into a spiritual booby trap. The nature of the doctor-patient relationship implicitly involves a kind of trust in and submission to the healer on many levels. For a Christian to accept the passive stance of “patient” before a practitioner who exercises spiritual power (either in his own right or as a channel for other influences) could easily result in spiritual derangement or bondage.”
We find it particularly unsettling to see members of the Christian community having their energies balanced by chiropractors and other therapists who claim a Christian commitment and who feel that they are not involved in any questionable practices. These practitioners may claim that Ch’i, yin and yang, and meridians are neutral components of God’s creation (similar to electricity and radio waves), available for anyone to use; but they ignore the roots of these ideas.
The products of natural science–the technologies of electronics, biochemistry and so on–can be validated by controlled experiments whose results are not tied to the religious beliefs of the researcher. But the “technology” of life energy is totally defined by the belief system of its promoters: the mystics, the psychics and the leaders of the New Consciousness.
Christian energy balancers present us with a paradox. They claim reliance on Scripture, but they carry out the practices of an occult system. Most are sincere in their desire to help their patients. Unfortunately, they lack discernment, failing to see the implications of the ideas they promote. Some are even dabbling in the psychic realm, diagnosing disease through hand passes or over long distances, claiming that this is a natural by-product of their sensitivity to life energy.
To these therapists we offer a challenge and a warning. Take a long look at the world of Chinese medicine and then decide whether you belong there. Do you feel comfortable as a part of the New Consciousness movement, promoting Taoist philosophy, supporting a system whose basic message is that “all is one,” and helping usher in the New Age of miracles and magic? If not, then it is time to stop participating in therapies which lend credence and support to a world view which is antagonistic to the most basic teachings of Scripture.
Much of Holistic healing is based on spiritual principles derived from 1000’s of years of human traditions (Eastern philosophical, mystical, and religious traditions). The Apostle Paul warns:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.” (Col. 2:8)
Catholics and the New Age by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., Servant Publications, 1992
Unmasking the New Age by Douglas R. Groothuis
Confronting the New Age by Douglas R. Groothuis
New Age Medicine: A Christian Perspective on Holistic Health by Paul C. Reisser, M.D.
Theosophy: Origin of the New Age-Part 1 and Theosophy: Origin of the New Age-Part 2 by Father C.C. Martindale, S.J.
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
A Christian Reflection on the New Age by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
April 24, 2007
Is this form of healing detrimental to ones spiritual health? –Edsak
Yes. Kinesiology, acupressure and similar techniques are based upon ancient Oriental cosmologies that are inconsistent with Christianity. These techniques are dependent upon the notion that there are meridians of energy that pass through the body like a circulatory system. Illness is caused when there are energy blocks.
The techniques allegedly “clear” the energy so that it flows unimpeded making a person “in tune” with the cosmic energy.
Practitioners of these techniques often silently offer prayers to the “spirits” or “forces” while doing their therapy on a client. These “spirits” or “forces” are not of God.
I was trained in this myself and was a practitioner for a while. It was part of my New Age nonsense years in which I was away from God. I came to my senses after God brought me to my knees and gave me a vision of hell and my dead soul.
I suggest you stay away from this. Stay with that which is consistent with the Christian Faith. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
April 25, 2007
I just read the post about “Kinesiology”. Our family has been going to a Chiropractor that went on for further training in “Applied Kinesiology”. He never mentions these “energy” pathways to us when he is giving us adjustments but he has charts on his office walls showing the meridians. He doesn’t do Acupuncture or anything New Age. His adjustments seem to be just of a chiropractic nature. He’s always telling us to drink more water and eat less sugar. He sells vitamins, water pillows, pillows shaped for your neck, no crystals or other way out stuff. Is it possible for a Chiropractor to just do adjustments to your body/muscles and not do these other things? Would it be alright to go to him in that case? -Linda
It is very difficult to find a Chiropractor who limits his practice to that which is legitimate and scientific. The underlying theory of chiropractic is problematic at best and outright bogus at worse.
To quote Samuel Homola, D.C., who practiced chiropractic for 43 years:
It is now generally accepted that spinal manipulation can relieve some types of back pain. (But) most chiropractors claim to do more than just treat back pain, however. Clinging to the scientifically rejected theory that misaligned or “subluxed” vertebrae cause “nerve interference” that results in disease or ill health, many chiropractors use “spinal adjustments” to treat disease and infection as well as back pain. The Association of Chiropractic Colleges bolstered support for this theory in 1996 when the presidents of all 16 North American chiropractic colleges reached a consensus and issued a position paper stating that “Chiropractic is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation.”
The chiropractic profession continues to define itself as a method of correcting subluxations to restore and maintain health, despite the fact that there are no scientific studies to indicate that vertebral misalignment or any other problem in the spine is a cause of disease or infection. Basing their treatment on the vertebral subluxation theory, many chiropractors claim to be primary care physicians capable of treating and preventing a broad scope of human (and animal) ailments.
Some chiropractors advise that spinal adjustments should begin at birth to correct subluxations caused by “birth trauma.” The entire family may be advised to undergo regular life-long spinal adjustments in order to maintain optimum health by “keeping the spine in line.” Some chiropractors specialize in chiropractic pediatrics. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 10% of patient visits to chiropractors are made by children and adolescents who are treated for such maladies as otitis media, asthma, allergies, infantile colic, and enuresis (bedwetting). An article in the April 2000 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine warned that chiropractic pediatric care is often inconsistent with recommended medical guidelines. “When I contemplate a chiropractor treating a 2-week-old neonate with a fever,” said the editor in a sidebar comment, “I get a gigantic headache.”
Studies conducted by chiropractors and published in “peer reviewed” chiropractic journals often recommend treatment for such conditions as infantile colic and asthma. A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics for example, concluded that “Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic” — a conclusion not confirmed with reliable, unbiased research and recently refuted by a well designed study by a Norwegian research team.
When medical researchers tested chiropractic manipulation as a treatment of asthma in children, they reported that “the addition of chiropractic spinal manipulation to usual medical care provided no benefit.” Although chiropractic manipulation can be beneficial in the treatment of some types of neck and back pain, I always advise parents not to take their infants and children to a chiropractor, since the risk may outweigh any benefit.
Chiropractic may have benefit only in limited context, mostly with pain in the back and other issues of neuromusculoskeletal conditions of a mechanical origin. Chiropractors need to be in close relationship with a medical doctor and limit their practice to this relationship and specific practice.
Dr. Homola continues:
Since chiropractors work on the back, most people think of the chiropractor as a back specialist. But when back-pain victims visit a chiropractic office, they may be given pamphlets suggesting that chiropractic treatment is also beneficial for asthma, infantile colic, ear infection, digestive disturbances, and a host of other organic or visceral problems. There are many good chiropractors who do a good job treating back pain, but few voluntarily limit their treatment to the care of back pain. Chiropractic colleges are still teaching the theory that using spinal adjustments to correct vertebral subluxations will restore and maintain health. Unless you see a chiropractor who has been recommended by an orthopedic specialist or who works with physicians in a back-pain clinic, your chances of finding a properly limited chiropractor are slim. Poorly informed consumers may not know where to draw the line when they visit a chiropractor.
“That spinal manipulation is somewhat effective symptomatic therapy for some patients with acute low back pain is, I believe, no longer in dispute,” said the editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. But “there appears to be little evidence to support the value of spinal manipulation for non-musculoskeletal conditions. For this reason, I think it is currently inappropriate to consider chiropractic as a broad-based alternative to traditional medical care.”
Dr. Homola offers the following five guidelines and caveats that should be observed when seeking chiropractic care for back pain.
1. Be on Guard
Look for a chiropractor who openly states that his or her practice is limited to the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal problems that have a mechanical origin.
Members of a small group called the Nations Association of Chiropractic Medicine (NACM) have openly denounced the chiropractic subluxation theory, but the chance of finding an NACM chiropractor in your community is small.
If you cannot find a chiropractor who is a neuromusculoskeletal specialist or who works in a back-pain clinic as a member of a back-care team, you have to be on guard as an informed consumer if you are to protect yourself from the nonsense associated with chiropractic treatment. There are many chiropractic procedures and techniques you should avoid — some of which are dangerous as well as a waste of time and money.
2. Seek Appropriate Manipulation
Properly performed spinal manipulation is always done by hand. Chiropractors who believe that slightly misaligned vertebrae can cause disease often use machines or small hand-held spring-loaded mallets to tap misaligned vertebrae back into place. A 1998 survey by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners found that 62.8% of survey respondents said they used an Activator mallet to adjust subluxations. Such chiropractors might also use instruments to measure heat and electrical activity over skin surfaces in a search for subluxations. The only treatment they may offer is a spinal adjustment for whatever ails you.
A good chiropractor who specializes in the care of neuromusculoskeletal problems does not use instruments and machines to diagnose and treat subluxations. And his treatment is not limited to the spinal adjustment. Physical therapy, massage, exercise, rest, home treatment with hot or cold packs -or no treatment at all-are sometimes more appropriate than spinal manipulation.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Treatment
While an acute episode of back pain can be incapacitating and scary, remember that most back pains resolve in two to four weeks. After limiting bed rest to a couple of days, most back-pain victims can begin moving around and gradually resume normal activities over a period of a week or two. If you go to a chiropractor for relief of back pain, you should not continue with treatment if your pain worsens during the first week or if you are not any better after two weeks. If your symptoms persist after one month, see an orthopedic specialist for a definitive diagnosis.
A chiropractor who is reasonably competent in making a diagnosis might immediately refer you to a specialist if certain red flags are present, such as: fever; a history of cancer; prolonged back pain unrelieved by rest; the possibility of a fracture resulting from advanced age, long-term use of steroids, or severe injury; and so on. In the case of a simple strain, you might be advised that rest and time are the ‘best treatment. But you cannot always rely on the diagnostic ability of a chiropractor. Some chiropractors “analyze” the spine in a search for subluxations rather than make a diagnosis. They always find subluxations that require spinal adjustments. Such chiropractors are less likely to offer appropriate advice and are more likely to subject you to prolonged and unnecessary treatment.
Be wary if your chiropractor’s diagnosis is “subluxated vertebrae.” Be even more wary if you are given a treatment plan that recommends daily visits that are gradually reduced in frequency over a period of several months. Such plans usually lead into “maintenance care” that requires one or two treatments a month for the rest of your life!
4. Popping Normal Backs
As a general rule, chiropractic treatment, or manipulative treatment for back pain, should be discontinued when symptoms disappear and you are feeling well. It is not necessary to continue with occasional spinal adjustments unless you have a structural problem that causes chronic back pain that can be temporarily relieved with manipulation. Frequent and unnecessary manipulation may do more harm than good, causing you to seek treatment for symptoms caused by the manipulation. Normal spinal joints often make popping sounds when the joint surfaces are forcefully separated by manipulation. Chiropractic patients often interpret these sounds as movement of vertebrae that are out of place. Some chiropractors use the popping sound to encourage patients to return for regular spinal adjustments in order to “maintain vertebral alignment.” While such treatment has a strong placebo effect, it is misleading and tends to perpetuate illness or fear of illness.
5. “Neck Specialists”
Some subluxation-based chiropractors believe that most ailments, including low-back pain, are related to misaligned vertebrae in the neck. These “upper cervical specialists” always adjust the neck, usually the top two vertebrae at the base of the skull. This can be dangerous, since excessive rotation of the head and upper cervical spine places a strain on the vertebral arteries and can result in vascular injury or stroke.
There are special cases in which cervical manipulation can be beneficial when vascular problems have been ruled out and head rotation during manipulation does not exceed 50 degrees. But cervical manipulation should never be done routinely, especially as a preventive-maintenance measure. Most of us will never need cervical manipulation. Upper cervical chiropractors who manipulate the neck of every patient they see should be avoided. Elderly persons, especially those who have vascular disease or who might be taking blood thinners, should not submit to neck manipulation of any kind.
Finally, Dr. Homola informs us of the dangers of Chiropractic:
A 1996 RAND report on The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine estimated that stroke and other injuries resulting from cervical spine manipulation occurred about 1.46 times per 1,000,000 manipulations. It also concluded that only 11.1% of reported indications for cervical manipulation could be labeled appropriate. A patient who receives regular, frequent, and totally unnecessary neck manipulation is subjected to greater risk. Since many cases of stroke caused by cervical manipulation have not been recognized as such, studies are being done to determine how many stroke victims had neck manipulation prior to their stroke. The incidence of stroke from cervical manipulation might be much higher than indicated in past studies. A study by the Canadian Stroke Consortium, published in the July 18, 2000, Canadian Medical Association Journal, for example, reported that stroke resulting from neck manipulation occurred in 28% of 74 cases studied. Other causes were sudden neck movement of various types. The most common finding was vertebral artery dissection (splitting or tearing of arterial walls with clot formation and embolism) caused by sudden movement or rotation of the top two cervical vertebrae.
Chiropractors commonly manipulate the upper cervical spine as a treatment for head and neck pain. But since such pain in itself can be a symptom of vertebral or carotid artery dissection, especially following injury, it may be wise to forego neck manipulation for sudden onset of head or neck pain until risk factors can be better identified. Informed consent should always be obtained from patients about to undergo cervical manipulation. In many cases, massage, traction, and other forms of therapy can be substituted for prescribed cervical manipulation. Tension headache, for example, is commonly treated with chiropractic neck manipulation. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that spinal manipulation was no more effective than massage in relieving episodic or recurring tension headache. So be cautious. Until studies on cervical manipulation have been completed, don’t submit to neck manipulation unless you have a problem that cannot be treated any other way. A chronic “cervicogenic” head pain, for example, in which pain is transferred from joints in the cervical spine, can often be relieved with appropriate cervical manipulation. But such manipulation should be done only after a correct diagnosis has been made and other forms of treatment have failed.
Dr. Homola’s Bottom Line:
Many people go to chiropractors for relief of back pain. But there is reason for caution. Much of what chiropractors do is nonsense, and they often misinform their patients.
A good chiropractor can do a lot to help you when you have mechanical-type back pain and other musculoskeletal problems. But until the chiropractic profession cleans up its act, and its colleges uniformly graduate properly limited chiropractors who specialize in neuromusculoskeletal problems, you’ll have to exercise caution and informed judgment when seeking chiropractic care.
Now, with all that said, now we go back to your original question.
Chiropractors are often involved in various Oriental alternative medical theories. You have identified that your Chiropractor has received advanced training in Kinesiology. Kinesiology is, by definition, involved in the “energies” theory that I mentioned earlier. The Meridians Chart, if that is what it is, on the wall of your Chiropractor is a map of these fake energy circulatory system.
This means that he is involved, at least philosophically with fake science. But, as outlined above, any Chiropractor who does anything other than deal with neuromusculoskeletal problems for “mechanical-type back pain and other musculoskeletal problems” should be avoided.
I did not get into it, but there are many other problems, especially with neck adjustments that have cause serious medical problems with many people including stroke and death.
The bottom line is to avoid Chiropractors unless they limit their practice as advised by the quotes above. –Bro.
Ignatius Mary OMSM
Alternatives to Kinesiology
November 3, 2007
I have benefited from kinesiology for some years now, it’s practitioners have healed a few ailments I’ve had.
My fiancée was concerned about me being treated by kinesiologists and she showed me some articles from this sites archive relating to kinesiology.
After having read them i feel it’s best to leave alone a practice that may be dubious and spiritually dangerous.
Can you please suggest an alternative treatment for musculo-skeletal pain that is free from eastern and new age spiritualism? Of course I realise a lot is dependent on the practitioner’s personal influences. But what treatment would you say is generally free from eastern and new age influence? –Ben
The best thing is to go to your regular Doctor of Medicine (MD), and/or a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO).
You can also try a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), but you have to be VERY careful with them. Many Chiropractors are into kinesiology and new age practices. If the Chiropractor limits their practice to the narrow issue of skeletal-muscular issues then they can be helpful. Be sure to read http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=293 before trying them out. -Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
Dr. David Hawkins
February 6, 2009
I am in great need of finding good Catholic (even Christian) critique of Dr David Hawkins. I do research for my spiritual director and this famed psychiatrist has taken a foothold at our local catholic spiritual center by someone teaching one of his books: Force vs. Power.
I have had another occasion of writing to the center and the bishop about the different new age occultic material being there. And now, again it pops up with the teaching of Hawkins. But I cannot find good catholic resources on the internet about him. Good critique that can be submitted to the Bishop. I only have my gut feeling and after reading his babble, it is disconcerting for sure. But I am not an authority that would accepted by either the center or the bishop.
Could you help me? This doctor has published many, many books and regards himself as God. I believe this is very dangerous and his teachings are based on Course in Miracles.
Thank you for your time and many blessings in your ministry. I have written before and you have provided great wise answers. And I have followed through. –Shoshana
If this psychiatrist’s teachings and methods are based in any way on the Course in Miracles then he should be rejects out-of-hand. That should be enough for the bishop to disapprove his materials.
I do not have the time to do a formal review, but a quick search on him seems to reveal that he uses applied kinesiology. This is based on non-existent energy flows in the body. It is hogwash and this fella, who is supposed to be a scientist, should know better.
While I cannot review this book of his I did find a review of the book from http://www.spiritualteachers.org/david_hawkins.htm
It did not take long to doubt Hawkins’ claim that “the truths reported in this book [Power vs. Force] were scientifically derived and objectively organized.” David Hawkins cloaks Power vs. Force in a veneer of mis-applied scientific jargon and presents highly speculative theories as facts. It is hard to imagine that a person, who once wrote journaled scientific papers, is now stating that subjects experienced “desynchronization of the cerebral hemispheres” as if this were a recognized medical condition. He references Karl Pribram as having shown the brain acts “holographically,” while, in truth, Pribram’s is one of several theories. Hawkins makes vague references to nonlinear dynamics, chaos theory, and attractor patterns in support of his theory of consciousness. He displays a knack for obscuring the obvious by attempting to appear scientific: labeling an emotional upset as “turbulence that occurs in the attractor fields of consciousness.” Power vs. Force is filled with attempts to be scientific that wind up worthy of ridicule rather than respect.
Dr. Hawkins refers to the “absolute replicability of test results,” yet makes no mention that kinesiology has never been verified by double-blind studies, as evidenced by reports from the National Institutes of Health.
The ideas Dr. Hawkins teachings are derived from Chinese cosmologies and other philosophies that are hostile and incompatible to Christianity.
As a former practitioner and teacher of applied kinesiology I have first hand knowledge of the fraudulence of this theory and technique, as well as occult connections that oftentimes go along with it. –Bro.
Ignatius Mary OMSM
Kinesiology: Spiritual Director approved!
April 20, 2009
I have a dear friend who, desperate for a cure for her son’s unidentified wasting disease, found her way into the holistic health arena. Both her and her son embraced applied kinesiology and Lifesystems (returning the body to proper electrical balance). Her son experienced great improvement after diagnosing what his body lacked or had too much of. Treatments were mainly lifestyle and nutritional changes.
Both mother and son became practitioners after being assured by their spiritual directors, Catholic priests, that as long as they stayed Christ centered, they were doing no harm, only good. But, of course, “stay away from the eastern mysticism aspects”. They are assured that there is no moral problem with treating patients through long distance muscle testing. Having been (along with almost everyone in my family) a patient of hers, I can say that she is amazingly accurate. She sees this as a gift from God. She will pray, before and after treating people.
This woman and her son are regular adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, daily communicants, rosary praying, scapular wearing Catholics who frequently use the confessional. I know because I have seen this.
I have renounced these (muscle testing, etc) practices and really desire to help my friend see the light. But how do you approach this when the believer has the blessing of her spiritual director? I know her director and find him to be unwise about more than just this issue.
As of today my friend has 3 gravely ill sons, one with brain tumors, one with leukemia, and I’m not sure what else. She feels this must be God’s Will because they refuse to apply themselves 100% to natural remedies. I believe it to be a backlash from the evil one. My family is experiencing some strong oppression in all areas, spiritual health, physical health and financial. We are seeking deliverance through the prayers of a good and holy priest.
I need direction so I can help her. –Geraldine
I am sorry to hear about the problems of your friend, but any spiritual director or priest who recommends or advises in favor Kinesiology should be fired. There is no way that a Christian can involve themselves in this technique, which is based upon false science and a spirituality and worldview that is utterly inconsistent with Christianity.
I have a rather extensive analysis of Kinesiology that you may find useful:
Ignatius Mary OMSM
Is kinesiology compatible with Christianity?
November 27, 2010
Note: this Q&A is from the “Defending the Faith” forum -Michael
Hi Benjamin Mathew!! Categories: Alternative Therapy, new age
I see that you have a degree in kinesiology*. I go to a chiropractor who is a kinesiologist as well and a Catholic. Yet on the walls of his office is a chart of the “meridians” of the body.
I only go to him when I have a strain or something that I know he can help me with as I am a little leery of the idea of energy going through the body. Could you tell me how this idea of “energy in the body being blocked causing harm” is compatible with Christianity? –Linda *
Categories: Alternative Therapy, new age
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