bowen technique

Bowen Technique? What the heck is that?

What is the Bowen Technique?

The Bowen technique also called the Neurostructural Integration Technique uses a combination of soft tissue manipulation and energy work. Supposedly through a series of gentle movements at precise points the therapist promotes the flow of energy and creates vibrations throughout the body. This modality utilizes a variety of gentle strokes that may be applied through clothing. Within a typical session there will be many breaks, practitioners claim this is because the body needs to assimilate the new energy and vibrations.

The practitioners claim this modality will help treat the symptoms of asthma, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility and other reproductive problems.

With bold claims like these there is no wonder the scientific medical community looks down on massage. How in the world would a massage have any effect on asthma, IBS and infertility? This pseudoscience is equally ineffective as its snake oil cousins of acupuncture meridians and the Inate vitalism of chiropractics. This modality just like all pseudomedicines are placebos wrapped in a complex web of ritualism.

If you are suffering with infertility, asthma or migraines I strongly suggest you save your money, time and health by seeing a medical doctor specialized in these kinds of issues. A massage therapist rubbing on your body zones may feel great but it will do very little to treat serious health conditions.


Research

Shawn White Blog

Clinical Massage

What is Rolfing?

Massage is Amazing!

Looyen Work

Looyen Work? That’s a strange name! What does it have to do with Adhesions?

What is Looyen Work?

This modality may be described as a combination of physical therapy and psychoanalysis.

Looyen Work practitioners claim to have the ability to penetrate deep into a muscle to reduce tension, remove adhesions and improve range of motion. This modality uses a variety of techniques and pressure levels, from mild traditional Swedish strokes to brutally painful Rolfing techniques.

Massage therapists who claim the ability to detect and break apart adhesions with their hands are woefully mistaken. Massage therapists do not have the ability to affect an adhesion in any meaningful way.

So then, what is an adhesion? Adhesions are fibrous bands of scar tissue that form between internal organs and tissues, joining them together abnormally. An example of an adhesion would be Endometriosis, which is a condition in which the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus begins to invade other parts of the body.

How is an adhesion actually removed? Adhesions are permanent without a surgical procedure called adhesion lysis or Laparoscopic Lysis, this procedure is used to disrupt or remove the tissue. Here is a great video that explains adhesions in greater detail and how to treat them.

Practitioners of this modality are also known for attempting to council their clients through any emotional release that may occur during a massage session. This is outside of a massage therapist’s scope of practice. As soft tissue manipulators we are not allowed to treat your mental health issues. Be wary of any massage therapist who attempts to diagnose or treat any mental health issues you may have.


Research

Shawn White Blog

Clinical Massage

What is Rolfing?

Massage is Amazing!

Cancer coach

Cancer Coach: Treating Cancer with Nutrition, Reiki and Meditation?

Cancer coach  Kathy Bero claims that she was able to cure her cancer using  anti-angiogenic foods, reiki and meditation.

There is real science that is going to be there” This woman says, as she makes it clear there is no science-based evidence supporting her claim that diet alone can cure cancer. She is giving advice to people based on her anecdotal evidence, which is the lowest form of evidence. This is extremely dangerous. These kinds of activities put the lives of sick people at risk, leading them down ineffective treatment options and horrific agony. Unfortunately when the blind lead the blind, people get hurt. This is a perfect example of this. The advice given to these people  might lead them to refuse science-based treatment options to pursue the untested anecdotal testimony of one person.  A testimony that ignored all the prior treatment she received.

Kathy Bero underwent extensive chemotherapy and paid the price in pain for its healing properties. Once the pain became too much she stopped taking it.  I can empathize, when I was going through chemotherapy it was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. I would rather die than do it again, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.  When it comes to our life it is up to us to determine how much we are willing to pay.  When it comes to cancer we aren’t paying in money, we are paying in pain, how much pain are we willing to pay to live.

In her situation there are two likely explanations for her current health. We could say it was the reiki, meditation and nutrition, or it was the invasive and scientifically tested chemotherapy medicine.

I have never read or heard of any scientific studies with controls that support reiki, meditation or nutrition as a means of curing cancer. On the other hand, I have read the science-based evidence supporting the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

If we apply Occam’s Razor to this situation, which is a problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions. Chemotherapy and its effects can be measured. Its benefits can be compared against placebo and it has been proven under rigorous testing to have a benefit to people with cancer. On the other hand, practices like reiki have never been proven to have any effectiveness greater than placebo when controls are applied. Nutrition may improve wellness, but it does not have the ability to eliminate tumors and no amount of meditation will cure your cancer.

To believe nutrition, meditation and reiki cured this woman’s cancer requires a lot of assumptions. Simply put we must ignore the fact there is no evidence these practices have the ability to destroy cancer cells, especially metastatic cancer. She admits in her own interview that she believes her beliefs will be validated by science.

So which treatment option was responsible? The answer is simple, her chemotherapy. Had she not of underwent the terrible journey of chemotherapy, she wouldn’t be alive today. She can pretend her recipes and pseudo-medicine diet cured her cancer, but at the end of the day there is no science-based evidence to support her claims.


Discovering Hope

Shawn White Blog

Orthomolecular What?

 

 

 

benefit

Massage is amazing, but what are its benefits?

Why do you get a massage? For most it’s to feel amazing, get pampered or alleviate some ache or pain. Some go for the human contact, others want a holistic guide. Ultimately, we go to relax and feel better. It is a luxury, a costly endeavor, but worth every penny.

Often the massage industry sells unrealistic expectations and false hopes. Chains and businesses deify their therapists and claim benefits beyond their ability and scope. This creates a problem for the massage market. Through a cocktail of falsehoods and ineffective practitioners the public’s faith in our abilities will slowly deteriorate until there is no market to massage.

Where is the problem most often found? If you look closely you will see it within the modalities pushed as continuing education units throughout the community.

What are Modalities

A modality is a massage method employed to achieve a specific result, using branded techniques and underlying theories.

There are many modalities, such as: the Bowen technique, Looyen Work, myofascial realease, Rolfing, Swedish Massage and applied kinesiology. Dozens and dozens of modalities exist and all are equally ineffective and based on make-believe.

What makes them based on make-believe?

Would you like to improve circulation, stimulate your lymph system or increase your body’s ability to fight pathogens? Well look no further! My catchall generic massage modality has you covered!

These claims are made by nearly every massage modality. With a few sciency sounding words they expand the supposed benefits of massage. They attempt to convince the public a massage therapist’s role is equally important as doctors and nurses. Some target people with serious illnesses like cancer, ALS, MS and women suffering with endometriosis. Claiming their modality can treat and sometimes cure these illnesses.

I find these claims deplorable and so should the massage community, but by and large they don’t.

Why don’t they have a problem with it?

Most are so under-educated they don’t understand why these claims are terrible. Others are selfish and will do whatever they can to get an edge and some just don’t care.

The best way to resolve this is to eradicate the modalities, but that will never happen. Instead we can educate the public and future therapists to advocate for themselves and embrace science-based knowledge. Lets start by addressing the actual benefits of massage.

What are the benefits of massage

  1. It can down regulate the sympathetic nervous system.
  2. It feels great.

I believe it is natural to search for the truth, and I believe we should reach for the stars. The best way to understand our world and the celestial bodies beyond is with the scientific method. This process has paved the way for society to engineer lifesaving technologies that have saved countless lives.

It is healthy to desire knowledge and to ask why. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to ask why or what science is. Many massage therapists are never taught the scientific method, how to research or critically think. This is a serious problem and it paves the way for pseudo-medicine to continually infest our industry.

What are some claims massage modalities make?

I have created a list of the most common claims made by massage modalities. The lined out entries are those not supported by science-based evidence.

  • Increased circulation.
  • Increases stimulation of the lymph system to increase the body’s ability to fight toxic invaders.
  • Releases endorphins. 
  • Improved range of motion.
  • Relaxation of injured muscles.
  • Increased recovery time after exercise.
    • Massage has no effect on delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Increased joint flexibility.
  • Treats migraines.
    • Massage has only been proved effective in the treatment of tension headaches.
  • Reduces post-operative adhesions.
    • Only lasers and scalpels have an effect on adhesions.
  • Reduces scar tissue.
    • As per adhesions.
  • Helps eliminate lactic acid from muscles.
  • Removes toxins from the body.

An assortment of modalities claims a variety of benefits, here are some.

  • Whiplash. 
    • You should consult a Medical Doctor, Orthopedic doctor or physical therapist.
  • Chronic pain.
    • Massage has not been proven to be effective in the elimination of chronic pain.
  • Disc problems.
    • Consult your Primary Care physician for a referral.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Vulvodynia.
    • If you have this disease and need more information visit NVA’s website.
    • This video gives great detail into this disease and the treatments available.
  • Interstitial Cystitis.
  • Menstrual Problems.
  • Painful Intercourse.
  • Urinary Frequency.
  • Endometriosis.
  • Infertility Problems.
  • Urinary Incontinence.
  • Episiotomy Scars.

Research

Shawn White Blog

 

Rolfing

What is Rolfing? Its Painful!

What is Rolfing? This modality uses unproven techniques that claim to restructure fascia, muscles and other soft tissue to make improvements to a client’s posture. The techniques used in this modality are often very painful. Massage therapists implementing this modality use a considerable amount of force, enlisting knuckles, fists and elbows to dig deep into ligaments and tendons. In some instances a practitioner will place a client into a number of uncomfortable poses similar to assisted yoga.

The practitioners of Rolfing claim this modality may be used to treat a number of health conditions, such as: loss of balance, back pain, stress, anxiety, respiratory issues, decreased mobility, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and limited range of motion.

Unfortunately structural integration is still practiced. The no pain, no gain philosophy is an ineffective treatment option. Your massage should feel good during and after the session. If your massage therapist or health care provider is leaving your with bruises, consider letting this sadist go to seek out someone who actually has the education to help you.


Research

Shawn White Blog

Clinical Massage

alkaline diet

How effective is the Alkaline Diet? Should I have any concerns?

Do you believe an alkaline diet or a sodium bicarbonate infusion is an effective way to treat cancer? Are you considering an alkaline diet? Are you doing it because you want to live a healthy life, perhaps to fight and prevent disease? If that is the case then adopting the alkaline diet would be a step in the wrong direction. It does not cure, treat or affect disease in any positive way.

If you’ve read any of the pH Miracle books or are considering adopting an alkaline diet, I strongly suggest researching its inventor.

The Father of the Alkaline Diet, Robert O. Young and author of the “pH Miracle” books claims acid is responsible for all disease and the cure is alkalinization. Preying on the fear and desperation of the terminally ill he made millions of dollars with his diet plans, books and treatments. In 2014 he was charged with conspiring to practice medicine without a license and multiple counts of grand theft. As of 2017 he was found guilty of practicing medicine without a license and was sentenced to over three years in prison.[1]

Taking calcium has no effect on blood acidity. You could pour an entire bottle of calcium pills down your gullet and it would have no effect what-so-ever on your blood acidity. Sure it may neutralize some of the acidity of your stomach, but homeostasis would revert it back within a few minutes.[2]

Robert O Young “treated” seriously ill people with unproven and potentially dangerous procedures without a medical licence. Under his “care” many have paid the price of their life in addition to thousands of dollars for ineffective treatments.

In 2012 Naima Houder-Mohammed paid Young $77,000 for treatment, where he infused sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) into her blood stream. She was treated by him for three months, during which her health worsened until she died. [3]

When we are desperate we often take great leaps of faith in the pursuit of survival. It is important we are armed with the right information to protect ourselves from charlatans and snake oil salesmen.

If it is too good to be true, it probably is, the alkaline diet and the treatments of Robert O Young is a great example of this. Unfortunately, some believe the alkaline diet is the magical cure for everything. Like any magical cure, its effects are placebo at best. Its a nonsense idea created by the convicted felon Robert O Young. This supposed expert on biology and diet is not a microbiologist, hematologist, medical doctor, naturopathic doctor or trained scientist. In fact he doesn’t have any post high-school degrees what-so-ever[4].

Many seriously ill people have lost thousands of dollars and their lives due to Young’s pseudo-science treatments. If you are considering a new diet, consult your licensed health care provider and thoroughly research your options before committing to a new lifestyle.


Research

Shawn White Blog

The Placebo

Orthomolecular What?

Applied Kinesiology

Applied Kinesiology

Knowledge is the greatest light of life. Put on your head lamp and crawl with me into the subterranean depths of applied kinesiology. This venom is the snake oil of life coaches and charlatans, seeking to steal control of your life and livelihood. Traveling deep into this rabbit hole we will discover the strange methods they employ to confuse and manipulate.

What is the medical definition of applied? To put to practical use; especially applying general principles to solve definite problems.[1]

What is kinesiology? It is the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement. [2]

If we combine applied and kinesiology together what does it produce? In the hands of pseudoscience, an unethical gold mine named applied kinesiology (AK).

What is applied kinesiology?

In summary AK requires the practitioner to press down on a patient’s outstretched arm. When doing so the test reveals the patient’s muscle resistance. A strong resistance indicates “yes” or “that’s fine” while weak resistance means “no” or “that’s bad.” [3]

Supposedly tests like these identify pathologies, nutritional deficiencies and the general health of patients. Additionally, some practitioners like David Hawkins believe AK may be used to detect lies, determine motive and identify how enlightened someone is.

To perfect one’s ability to diagnose they must have a working knowledge of chi, acupuncture meridians and the universal intelligence of the body.

 

How effective is AK as a diagnostic tool?

A systematic review of AK published in 2008 concluded: “There is insufficient evidence for diagnostic accuracy within kinesiology, the validity of muscle response and the effectiveness of kinesiology for any condition.” [4]

A double-blind randomized study in 2014 assessed the validity of AK and concluded: “The research published by the Applied Kinesiology field itself is not to be relied upon, and in the experimental studies that do meet accepted standards of science, Applied Kinesiology has not demonstrated that it is a useful or reliable diagnostic tool upon which health decisions can be based.” [5]

Edzard Ernst MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd, in his article: Applied Kinesiology: implausible, unproven, and yet incredibly popular; described AK as: “it is utterly implausible” and “there is no good evidence that it works” [6]

What danger does AK pose?

Like any pseudoscience it steers people with serious illness away from effective treatment. In this instance patients literally fall into the unqualified hands of practitioners using a subjective diagnostic tool to diagnose and treat illness.

This subjective diagnostic tool is the Ouija board approach to medicine. It is equally effective as locating water with dowsing rods or helping disabled people talk with Facilitated Communication. It is an abusive practice exploiting people with ideomotor effects.

Let’s imagine your dream is buying a plot of land far from society. You’ve spent countless hours learning how to cultivate the land, raise and slaughter livestock and live a completely self-sufficient life. You need a well and you don’t know how to find water. You have two choices, and both cost the same amount of money. The first choice is to put faith in a dowser, a person who waves two sticks in front of them to detect water. The second choice is to hire a hydrologist. This person is trained “in all of the physical, chemical and biological processes involving water as it travels its various paths in the atmosphere, over and beneath the earth’s surface and through growing plants…”[7].

Are you going to put your life savings and dreams in the hands of someone literally wiggling two sticks in the air to find water? Or, would you hire someone with an advanced education with access to satellite imaging and technology specifically designed to find water?

Using a practitioner of AK to diagnose and treat your illness is equally foolhardy. Especially when this diagnostic tool is used to identify and treat pain, cancer, diabetes, headaches, learning disabilities, osteoporosis, vertigo and Parkinson’s disease. [8]

Tools & Treatment of applied kinesiology

Our head lamps lit the twisting tunnels showing us the way through this shadowy cave. As we stepped around the corner of this twisting tunnel we learned things weren’t going to be ok. It was then, at that moment, we saw our hole was not burrowed by a bunny, but instead a hungry slithery snake.

We must keep our eyes open, always looking at where we are going, to ensure we are hoping into a healthy hole. By staring at the snake of AK we have already witnessed how illogical this viper can be, but we have yet to taste its venom. To truly understand the poison of the applied kinesiology snake oil we need to study how they claim to help others.

AK uses a variety of techniques to treat illness, here are a few:

  • Quantum Pendants
  • Counseling
  • Chiropractics
  • Craniosacral therapy
  • Myofascial release
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Craniosacral therapy
  • Nutritional therapies
  • Homeopathy

 

Treatment of Quantum Pendants

Ernest the life coach and other charlatans love to twist and misinterpret placebo. They conceal their unethical practices with its warm wrappings. Perhaps these snake oil salesmen use the benefit of placebo to soothe their guilt for taking advantage of desperate souls.

This video shares the pseudoscience of AK and quantum pendants.

Treatment of Counseling

Sometimes Ak is used to counsel and advise patients on their personal lives. The very same muscle test used to determine the patient’s health is utilized to assess personalities of people they have never met. Imagine someone testing our worth, deciding whether we are a good person, if our spouse should leave us or if we should see our child, all by pushing or pulling on our significant other’s arm.

According to Rabbi Yair Hoffman, AK practitioners in his community have told their patients:

I am sorry, Mrs. Ploni, but the muscle testing we performed on you indicates that your compatibility with your spouse is a 1 out of a possible 10 on the scale.”

Your son being around his father is bad for his energy levels. You should seek to minimize it.”

Your husband was born normal, but something happened to his energy levels on account of the vaccinations he received as a child. It is not really his fault, but he is not good for you.”  [9]

In the following video we will observe how AK may be used to treat mental health issues.

While watching this video and others like it, notice how they call themselves kinesiologists. They do this to hide behind the veil of an actual scientific field. They falsely call themselves kinesiologists hoping to improve their credibility in the scientific community. If a practitioner doesn’t have the confidence to call their profession its actual name, how can we have confidence in their profession?

Lets look at AK in action.

There is an emotional thing that’s in here as well that’s connected itself, if you like, to the cheese. Lets just have a look at what that is.” She performed her diagnostic examination using her AK muscle testing.

“We’re looking on the five-element chart in fire, there’s metal, lung, large intestine, looking from the top to bottom. So, the emotions could be powerless, powerful, toxic shame, sadness.”

“Are there any issues at home that might be causing some sadness at the moment?”

The patient replied, “Oh well recently my grandfather passed and there’s been a lot of sadness home from that.”

Ok. So, your actually storing it in your body, actually in your digestive system. That emotion and that’s actually got itself connected to the food cheese, so when you’re actually ingesting it its like your body’s taking on board that sadness over and over and over again. So, I’m just going to give you a few drops of this virus essence under your tongue.” She drips some liquid into her mouth.

Let’s have another look and see how it is.” The practitioner returns to performing muscle testing and the patient expresses she feels better.

And how are you feeling about the issue with your grandfather now and the sadness we talked about?” The practitioner asked.

I feel lots more, light and a lot more calm.” Her patient replied.

That’s excellent, fantastic…” the practitioner replies.

A couple drops of water, some fidgeting hands and a few arm movements and this person is no longer sad about the passing of their father. Wow, they must not have been very close.

Treatment of Chiropractics

Applied Kinesiology often employs the pre-scientific belief of chiropractics. This practice claims to treat an array of illnesses by adjusting  subluxations, curing nerve impairment and innate.

Treatment of Craniosacral therapy

AK practitioners also use craniosacral therapy to treat their patients.

“A bump or other type of strain to the head can jam the skull bones, causing abnormal movement.  Improper nerve function may result that can cause problems in remote organs or other body structures. There are several methods for evaluating skull function that have been developed in AK examination. The doctor may test a muscle, apply a challenge to bones of the skull, and then re-test the muscle. The patient may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it, and then a muscle is re-tested to determine any change.  The doctor may have the patient touch various areas of their skull while a muscle is tested. Dysfunction of the skull is called a cranial fault.  If one is found, a specific gentle pressure, the direction of which is determined by the MMT examination, will be applied to the skull, usually with a specific phase of respiration.  If the correction is successful, there will be an immediate improvement of the MMT.” [10]

Here is an example of it in use:

 

Treatment of Nutritional therapies

Like most pseudoscience the best way to test their venom is to see how they spit their snake oil. So, how do practitioners of AK describe the tools of their trade?

According to Dr. Laura Sleggs, ND  she describes AK as “a non-invasive technique, it can help to identify nutritional deficiencies or excesses, imbalances in the body.”  She specializes in using AK to “test for bacteria, virus, yeast and parasites that may be affecting your body, food sensitivities and heavy metal toxicity.” [13]

How does Dr. Laura Sleggs discover harmful pathologies throughout the body with AK? I imagine the same way practitioners like Kamilla Harra does in the following clip.

She claims the nutritional methods of applied kinesiology are “extremely accurate at diagnosing food sensitives, even very, very mild and minor ones.”

When asked to describe the principles of AK she stated: “Every single particle in the universe, including yours cells, they consist of molecules and they consist of particles, they all have their own unique vibration and they have an electromagnetic field around it, and that’s pure science. So, when you take an essence of a food. Every vial has a particular electromagnetic field and when you place it on your body your brain would react to it, because everything that happens to us is registered by the brain. Then because the brain communicates with the muscles, the muscles will also react.”

In an article written by Dr. Stephen Barrett titled Applied Kinesiology: Muscle-Testing for “Allergies” and “Nutrient Deficiencies” he directs the reader to the bizarre claims of AK. Some of these include:

AK proponents claim that nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and other adverse reactions to foods or nutrients can be detected by having the patient chew or suck on them or by placing them on the tongue so that the patient salivates. Some practitioners advise that the test material merely be held in the patient’s hand or placed on another part of the body. A few even perform “surrogate testing” in which the arm strength of a parent is tested to determine problems in a child held by the parent. [11]

Many muscle-testing proponents assert that nutrients tested in these various ways will have an immediate effect: “good” substances will make specific muscles stronger, whereas “bad” substances will cause weaknesses that “indicate trouble with the organ or other tissue on the same nerve, vascular, nutrition, etc., grouping.” A leading AK text, for example, states:”If a patient is diagnosed as having a liver disturbance and the associated pectoralis major [chest muscle] tests weak, have the patient chew a substance that may help the liver, such as vitamin A. If . . . the vitamin A is appropriate treatment, the muscle will test strong”  [11]

Dr Barrett concludes his article by stating: The concepts of applied kinesiology do not conform to scientific facts about the causes or treatment of disease. Controlled studies have found no difference between the results with test substances and with placebos. Differences from one test to another may be due to suggestibility, distraction, variations in the amount of force or leverage involved, and/or muscle fatigue. If you encounter a practitioner who relies on AK muscle-testing for diagnosis, head for the nearest exit.

AK practitioners employ orthomolecular medicine to treat nutrient deficiencies and other ailments. This is not a type of medicine but a set of beliefs regarding the role of nutrition and supplements in human health and disease… not accepted by the majority in the scientific community. [12]

 

Conclusion

We have crawled down this dangerous snake hole to test the venom of applied kinesiology. I hope this journey has shown you the dangers of this poisonous practice and hope it will be enough for you to vaccinate against the harmful effects of pseudoscience.

 

The Placebo of Ernest the Life Coach

Sitting beside my friend Ernest we chatted the lazy morning away. We were in old town Saint Charles enjoying delicious coffee. Little birds scurried along begging for bread crumbs. Golden rays slipped through the fluffy cloud blankets creating kaleidoscope lightshows in the street.

Beside me was Ernest, he had a lean build halfway between a runner and a weekend warrior. His intensely bored eyes stared into the distance. He was tense and taut as a bow. “What did you think about the book I suggested?”

Watching the steam rise from my cup of coffee I placed my hand over the delightful heat of the freshly brewed deliciousness. Raising my eyes to his. “Oh yeah, the Mind Matter, You Are the Placebo book? It was boring with very little substance.”

Crossing his arms, Ernest’s face reddened as his brow furrowed.

I took a deep breath and continued speaking. “It was like four-hundred pages of pseudoscience garbage.  I get what the intent of the book is, but it’s the kind of message that can lead seriously ill people astray.”

Ernest shifted in his seat, his body movements sharpened, and began speaking faster. “I can’t fucking stand people like you. How can you just discount and dismiss what you read?” His words boiled with anger.

My eyebrow raised, I assumed he took my review as a criticism of him. I was kind of weirded out by his reaction. To ease the discomfort of the scene I raised the mug to my lips and took a sip; it was my favorite, highlander grog. Thankfully it had cooled enough for me to enjoy its exquisite flavor.

I looked at him, then back at the birds and the dark river in the distance. It took a few minutes of silence for his agitation to subside. As the air cleared his grimace lowered and his arms uncrossed.

You know I could’ve charged you when we first met?” He said with a stern face. “But, I value our time too much, so I didn’t…” Slowly he twisted his face into a half smile.  “…and I know you need our meetings.”

I shrugged and took a sip of my coffee. “I wouldn’t have hired you, so it wouldn’t have mattered.”

His half smile curled into a full fake smile.

Watching his reaction, I continued. “I’m sorry… I don’t pay for advice or for people to be my friend.” I said holding my hands on the sides of my warm mug.

A few moments passed. Ernest stretched his leg out, then sat back in his chair. The pallor of his face started to redden again as he pressed his lips together and narrowed his eyes. “So, what’s up, how are things?”

Eh, pretty rough, recovering from chemotherapy has been slow and hard.”

He stared off into space then back at me. “You know, the only reason you haven’t recovered is because you choose to stay sick. Right?”

Excuse me?” I could feel a warm anger in my stomach.

You’re choosing to be sick. As soon as you want to get better you will.” He paused for a moment. “That’s what Joe Dispenza is talking about right? This is all mind over matter.”

That’s not how it works, that’s not how chemotherapy or cancer works.” I was getting angry, but I was doing my best to remain calm.

That is how it works; if you tell your cells what to do they heal. If you chose to be sick, you stay sick. You have chosen to stay sick. Right? It is your decision; all of this is your decision. You’ve chosen to stay sick, just like you chose to get cancer.” His tone grated on my soul, like being stabbed by the splintered uneven edge of a broken spear.

My blood began to boil. How could this mother fucker actually believe this garbage? No one chooses to get cancer; no one wants to be sick.

He continued to explain. “I only get sick when I want to. I’ve been telling my wife and daughter this a long time. To prove it I told my wife I was choosing to get sick and I got sick. She used to have headaches all the time, now I’ve taught her how to choose not to have them, she doesn’t get them anymore. My daughter doesn’t listen though; she’s stuck like you and won’t accept she is in control of her health.”  Ernest’s smile and eyes became wide for a moment before continuing. “You are the placebo, if you want it hard enough, you can have anything you want.” He paused for a moment and looked at his phone. “I have an appointment, give me a hug brother, I’ll see you next week.”

I don’t like to see bridges burned, but I do like see boundaries enforced. To have a relationship with someone we must build a bridge from our island to theirs. It requires upkeep and understanding built from a foundation of empathy and respect. That day he was in the business of setting fires. There are certain things we don’t burn, just like there are certain things we don’t say. It felt like he was in the mood to set my island on fire, so I turned him toward the bridge. He first started by melting and discarding all his understanding, then set flame to empathy, and at the very end, once the bridge began to crumble and fall all my respect for him was gone. I could have stopped the conversation, told him how offensive his statements were, but why put out a flame when the arsonist is just going to set it ablaze again anyways?

Tell me about this book.

In the book: You are the Placebo, by Joe Dispenza he shared how he willed his vertebrae to regenerate after being crushed[1]. Where is the evidence? His followers claim things like x-rays and documentation aren’t needed to prove their prophet’s powers.

How did he heal his bones? Dispenza claims it was by becoming the placebo. In his words “The key is making your inner thoughts more real than the outer environment, because then the brain won’t know the difference between the two and will change to look as if the event has taken place. If you’re able to do this successfully enough times, you’ll transform your body and begin to signal new genes in new ways, producing epigenetic changes—just as though the imagined future event were real. And then you can walk right into that new reality and become the placebo.”[2

I have no clue what that meant, and I am sure he didn’t either. This is a common trait of followers and practitioners of pseudo-medicine, they love stringing together long unintelligible sentences.

Can we use the placebo effect to heal our body?

Harriet Hall, MD wrote: “Placebos are widely misunderstood. They don’t have any objective healing powers. Placebos have never been shown to change the course of any kind of illness; they have only been shown to temporarily improve subjective complaints like pain and nausea. You have a misconception about placebo surgery; no, it does nothing to activate the self-healing powers of the body. Placebo surgery is never used clinically for treatment. It has only been used as a placebo control in scientific studies, where it has been useful in demonstrating that a particular surgical procedure was ineffective and should be abandoned.”[3]

Harriet A. Hall is a retired family physician, former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, and health advocate who writes about alternative medicine and quackery for Skeptic magazine, Skeptical Inquirer and Science-based Medicine.