Letter writer: ‘Stone medicine’ in recent article isn’t backed up with science

I realize that the Mountain Xpress has a mission to publish “alternative” information which is often excluded from more mainstream media outlets. Yet the article in the latest issue on stone healing [“Stone Medicine: Healing Power From the Earth,” Feb. 18, Xpress] is so over the top in its claims of healing efficacy that I had to write a letter to debunk this claptrap. …

The claims made by the “stone healer” in the article have no empirical evidence to back them up. I could make the same “healing” claims about placing Twinkies on the body and have just as much credibility as she does. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” (see http://whatstheharm.net/).

Making claims that science doesn’t understand the power of crystals, elixirs, supplements, etc., is a way to avoid critical thinking about such practices. And scientific inquiry and critical thinking is the last thing that most of these shamans and “healers” want. Does this “healer” actually believe there is some therapeutic effect on the body from “energy” coming from stones? Granted, there are some folks (20 percent on average) who report feeling better after “alternative” treatments. This is the same success rate that placebos (fake medicine or fake treatments) have. …

Practices like stone healing should be seen for what they are: ancient practices of magic that have long been dismissed as having any therapeutic value. What’s the harm in playing along with this mumbo-jumbo?  Many people die prematurely when “Western” medicine is replaced by alternative therapies. … I suspect there are many people who come to Asheville for alternative therapies to cure illnesses that would be best served by proven therapies (with the clinical data to back up the claims).

Practices like stone healing, crystal healing, etc., also cast a bad name on proven supplemental therapies like massage, yoga, a more veggie-based diet and other practices that have shown some efficacy. When seeking answers to medical problems, one should keep in mind that “alternative” medicine that works is called medicine.

— Jim Willmot

Editor’s note: Because Asheville has such a varied mix of healing modalities, Xpress attempts to be balanced in covering both mainstream and alternative therapies. As journalists, our job is to inform readers about what healing modalities are being practiced locally, not to evaluate them. Since we are not scientists, we are not in a position to judge the scientific merit of healing modalities. And some healing modalities with anecdotal support that have not yet been scientifically studied may warrant sharing with readers. In the cases you mention, people did not choose alternative therapies that were not evidence-based; they chose not to avail themselves of traditional medical treatments because of their personal beliefs. We let readers know what’s going on in the wellness community as a whole and let them make their own decisions about treatment.


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8 thoughts on “Letter writer: ‘Stone medicine’ in recent article isn’t backed up with science

  1. Jason

    It works based on Intent; just like prayer, holy water, crucifixes… etc etc etc

  2. Deborah

    “Many people die prematurely when “Western” medicine is replaced by alternative therapies. …”

    And many people die prematurely when using “Western” medicine. All of western medicine is not proven, it is just accepted as “standard practice” so the practitioner cannot be held accountable if something goes wrong. Things go wrong far more often than we know, probably most of the time a “potent” medicine is ingested by our bodies. Why is there such a high percentage of Americans living on prescriptions?

    “Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions, reports CBS Atlanta. . . . Twenty percent of U.S. patients were also found to be on five or more prescription medications.” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-shows-70-percent-of-americans-take-prescription-drugs/

    Why wasn’t there body healed the first time they experienced the symptoms? Our western medicine practitioners don’t have a very good track record! Nor a very long one when compared to other healing modalities.

    • Jim Willmot

      “Our western medicine practitioners don’t have a very good track record.” Hmmm. Average US life expectancy in 1900: male – 46.3 female – 48.3. 1998: male – 73.8 female – 79.5. It took me 30 seconds to look this up. Condemn western medicine all you want…if your child has cancer you will be the first to run to western medicine and the drugs that we have developed (many from natural sources!). And if the Mountain Xpress writers want to refer to themselves as journalists, getting at the truth should be in their job descriptions, not continually writing puff pieces about any ‘healer’ with the latest incarnation of snake-oil. Think people, think!

  3. Jeff Fobes

    Different points of view are welcome and encouraged. Insults are not.

  4. Peter Robbins

    You shouldn’t mess with healing stones without the guidance of a qualified practitioner. After initial successes, I thought I could advance immediately from healing stones to healing rocks until I dropped one on my foot. Bad flow of energies that day.

  5. Speaking of stones supporting health, Flintstones Complete chewable multivitamins for kids help support Bone health with Calcium and the latest recommended level of Vitamin D along with Calcium from food; Immune health with Vitamins C, E, Beta-Carotene, Zinc and Iron; Eye health with Vitamins A, C, and E.*

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  6. Jim Willmot

    The questions are endless: Are stones (inserted anally), good for hemorrhoids? Do stones heal kidney stones? Do stones lose their “healing energy” after each use?

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