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.