By Diane Small
We recently covered so-called ‘spiritual jewellery’ in Eluxe, focusing on brands that claim to infuse their work with spiritual meaning, and even spiritual energy. But it’s not just jewellers who aim to harness the power of crystals; beauty brands do it, too.
Crystals have been the stuff of legends for many centuries, ranging from the famous gypsy’s ‘crystal ball’ that can foresee the future to the mysterious crystal skulls of Peru. Crystals do have some serious scientific and technological uses though – I mean, you’re reading this on an LCD screen (LCD = liquid crystal display), on a device that’s powered by a silicon chip (derived from silicate crystals). Before you had your phone, you probably had a quartz watch, which used the energy from a crystal to help keep the time regular. But by using these devices, you’re also surrounding yourself with other energies, from electromagnetic and radio wave radiation, which power your phones and laptops.
So, the question is: do crystals have vibrational qualities that can help us heal, or are they limited to technological aspects? In short, do healing crystals actually work?
The science of crystals
It’s a fact that crystals are millions of years old, forged during the earliest parts of earth’s formation. Physicists know that everything on the planet is in a state of breaking down – whether it’s animal, mineral or vegetable. But crystals have one of the most orderly structures that exist in nature, and therefore have one of the slowest rates of entropy (a measurement for disorder). Crystals are structured in a manner that allows them to respond to the inputs of all different energies around them, which in turn leads them to oscillate and emit specific vibratory frequencies.
Due to the fact that the crystal lattice is so orderly, the energy it emits is consistent. When dissonant energy is inputted, it is balanced and transformed into a harmonic energy. For these reasons, crystals are used in modern technologies – as I mentioned, silicon is used in every computer and mobile phone processor, and liquid crystals comprise the display screens of these devices. Ruby crystals were an important part of the first ever laser developed by Bell Laboratories in the 1960′s, and are still used today for their abilities to focus and concentrate energy.
As I also mentioned, quartz crystal is used in watches and clocks to help them tell time, because it helps stabilise and regulate the flow of energy. Recently, The Mind Unleashed reported how a clear piece of quartz crystal can be used to store data for up to 300 million years! To make battery-free radio receivers, galena and pyrite can be used. The list of technological uses for crystals could go on.
Beliefs in crystals throughout history
Before their technological uses were discovered, crystals, minerals and gemstones have been used to assist healing and enhance physical, emotional and spiritual balance for millennia. It seems that our ancestors must have somehow understood that crystal energies could interact with the human electromagnetic field to bring about subtle energetic changes. For example, royals have adorned themselves with crystals in their crowns, thrones and swords; perhaps they noticed that the placement of crystals on a crown could activate the crown chakra; a necklace would work with the heart chakra, rings would activate energy meridians, and earrings could stimulate reflex points (the chakras are points that concentrated energy in the body, in case you were wondering).
The Ancient Egyptians used crystals for protection and health, and buried the dead with a piece of quartz on their forehead to help guide them to the afterlife, whilst dancers wore rubies in their bellybuttons to enhance their sexuality, and a necklace over the heart was intended to bring love into one’s life. Interestingly, some Pharaohs carried a copper and zinc cylinder filled with quartz to balance the Ka and Ba (like yin and yang) energies of the body.
Moving on to Ancient Greece, it’s fascinating to know that the word ‘amethyst’ comes from the words for “not drunk” in Greek, because an amethyst was worn as an amulet to protect against drunkenness and hangovers. The Romans used crystals in medical treatments, as lucky charms, to boost health and to give protection in battle.
In India, the 5000 year old Hindu Vedas discuss the use of different crystals to treat certain medical ailments in detail, as well as the various specific properties of different crystals. Ayurvedic medicine has also recognized the healing powers of crystals for hundreds of years.
Today, some believe that the energy of healing crystals works closely with your body. When you are in a state of disharmony, whether through negative thoughts or an illness, your biomagnetic sheath (a.k.a. aura) is altered. Crystals have their own specific vibration and frequency that connects to different parts of our body and the chakras. Healing with crystals use the crystal’s energy to vibrate it with the specific point of focus and restore balance and harmony.
But what’s the science behind healing crystals?
Nikola Telsa said the energy, frequency and vibration of crystals could help us understand the universe itself. Crystals have been shown to oscillate at their own frequencies, and even respond to the input of vibrations.
The cells in the human body also vibrate at certain frequencies, as do the different chakras of the body (i.e. the different centers human energy). So when we come into contact with a crystal, its vibration interacts with the vibration of the cells in our body.
According to the Book of Stones:
“When we bring the crystal into our electromagnetic field, two things occur. The electromagnetic frequencies carried by the stone will vibrate with related frequencies in our own energy field through the physical law of resonance, creating a third larger vibration field. The nervous system is attuned to these shifts in energy and transmits this information to the brain. Here the frequencies stimulate biochemical shifts that affect the physical body and shift brain function.”
That’s all fine and well to say, but is there any scientific proof of this? The short answer is yes and no.
You can certainly measure the vibrational frequencies of a crystal with an oscillator, and the human body’s energy can also be improved by holding certain crystals. At Stanford University in the 1980s, researchers sent crystal pendants into 5 quantum energy generators to be charged with tachyon energy. People who later wore those pendants or held them found their bodies generated much higher energy levels than they did without them 50 -100 MV is the norm for most people, but for qi gong healers, for example, their voltage can be up to 250 MV.
Whilst some believe these frequencies can be healing, it’s very difficult to empirically measure increased frequencies, be they from crystals or mediation or positive emotions – have healing abilities. The subtle energies of crystal vibrations is what puts the “meta” in metaphysical. These are subtle because they are hard to measure – science hasn’t figured out how to do it yet, and what science can’t measure, it doesn’t believe in. There can be little doubt that you, reading this right now, have an energy, a frequency. But in spite of its many great achievements, science would not even know where to begin to measure it, or how much subtle energy you are putting out in the form of emotions that we can all somehow detect in people (“good vibes”, “angry vibes”…all those things we know we feel from others, but don’t know why).
That being said, I did find one study that suggests that crystal healing may induce a placebo effect in a patient who receives this type of treatment. Placebo effects are effects that accompany a treatment that are not directly due to the treatment itself acting on the disease of the patient, according to Christopher French, head of the anomalistic psychology research unit at the University of London.
In other words, a person may feel better after undergoing crystal healing treatment, but there is no scientific proof that this result has anything to do with the crystals being used during the treatment. In 2001, French and his colleagues at Goldsmiths College at the University of London presented a paper at the British Psychological Society Centenary Annual Conference in Glasgow, in which they outlined their study of the efficacy of crystal healing.
For the study, 80 participants were asked to meditate for five minutes while holding either a real quartz crystal or a fake crystal that they believed was real. Before meditating, half of the participants were primed to notice any effects that the crystals might have on them, like tingling in the body or warmth in the hand holding the crystal.
After meditating, participants answered questions about whether they felt any effects from the crystal healing session. The researchers found that the effects reported by those who held fake crystals while meditating were no different than the effects reported by those who held real crystals during the study.
Many participants in both groups reported feeling a warm sensation in the hand holding the crystal or fake crystal, as well as an increased feeling of overall well being. Those who had been primed to feel these effects reported stronger effects than those who had not been primed. However, the strength of these effects did not correlate with whether the person in question was holding a real crystal or a fake one. Those who believed in the power of crystals were twice as likely as non-believers to report feeling effects from the crystal.
Is modern medicine any better?
But before you go rolling your eyes and saying the power of crystals is all in our heads, be aware of this: even when a doctor prescribed pharmaceutical drug is said to ‘work’, a recent study shows that up to half of its impact on a patient may be due to one aspect of the placebo effect: the positive message that a doctor provides when prescribing the treatment.
That’s right: when 66 people suffering from migraines were given either a placebo or a common migraine drug called Maxalt, some were told they were taking a drug recommended by a doctor, while some were told the pill could be either Maxalt or a placebo.
The pain-relieving benefits of the migraine drug increased when patients were told they were taking an effective drug for the treatment of acute migraine. And when the identities of Maxalt tablets and placebo pills were switched, patients reported similar pain relief from placebo pills labeled as Maxalt as from Maxalt tablets labeled as a placebo, according to the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
This study is far from unique: 21 to 40 percent of patients respond to placebos with positive effects. For example, in pain studies using brain imaging, the administration of a placebo to patients who believed they were receiving a painkilling pill led to the actual activation of the endogenous opioid system in the brain, which releases natural pain-relieving chemicals produced in the body. It has also been shown that the placebo response in patients with post-operative pain could be blocked by the opiate antagonist naloxone, further lending support to the placebo effect. Dopamine, another central nervous system neurotransmitter, has even been shown to be directly activated in the brain after placebo administration to patients with Parkinson’s disease.
There are certainly many forms of medical treatment that are known to have no therapeutic impact apart from the placebo effect. What this shows us is that much of how we react to science based medicine relies on our belief it in. But this is not always the case; certainly some drugs, such as antibiotics, have a demonstrative effect proven to save lives.
ile such treatments could make you feel better temporarily, there is no proof that they can actually cure diseases or treat serious health conditions.
The same is somewhat true for crystal healing. A strong belief in crystals can indeed bring about some small changes in physiology – people report feeling lighter, happier, and more energised. But unlike modern medicine, crystals have no proven track record, as far as I could find, for curing disease.
Crystals certainly do give off vibrational energies, but these are so weak – and other energies around us, such as electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and radio waves (RFI) are so much stronger, it’s hard to believe that we could actually notice them.
Whilst a strong belief in crystals can possibly work in concert with the brain to create some kind of psychosomatic healing effect, if you’re suffering from a serious medical issue, you should seek professional treatment. But if you like wearing crystals, believe they have an impact on your well being and feel they look pretty – well, power to you!
All images: Wikicommons except main
Main image: indigowagoncraftshop.com