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Complementary therapies

Any topic related to science can be discussed here.
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Alan C.
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#41 Post by Alan C. » September 27th, 2007, 8:09 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Don Alhambra
And one of the authors on the paper about whether foetuses can feel pain that was all over everywhere a couple of years ago, if you're interested.
I'd love to read the paper if you have a link for it Don.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Alan H
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#42 Post by Alan H » September 29th, 2007, 9:38 pm

See Ben Goldacre's response to the acupuncture tests.

squiffy
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#43 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 10:40 am

This is an interesting thread. I have two opinions on complementary therapies, one subjective and one objective.

The objective one is that it is ridiculous to claim that Herbal Remedies don't have any curative properties; a large percentage of efficacious drugs have plant origins, Digoxin, Vincristine and Aspirin to name but three. Obviously there are other "preparations" which have less quantifiably successful effects, but that can be said of almost any branch of medicine.

Now it's confession time. I "do" Reiki. I have read about it quite extensively and it has to be said that there are an astounding number of ridiculous claims made by various charlatans, but I have weeded out the nonsense and ignored the - struggling for word here - sensational. I don't broadcast my practice and I offer as reassurance to sceptics the arguments that it will,

a) do you no harm (especially if you don't believe) and

b) give you an hour of peace and quiet.

It works for me and my aged mother thought it did her knees no end of good, but then she fell and broke her hip so that kind of banjaxxed it :grin:

I don't practice for money, but I will happily offer a session to a sceptic in exchange for a week in Barbados or similar...


I'll get me coat :exit:

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Alan H
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#44 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 4:56 pm

squiffy wrote:I have read about it quite extensively and it has to be said that there are an astounding number of ridiculous claims made by various charlatans, but I have weeded out the nonsense and ignored the - struggling for word here - sensational. I don't broadcast my practice and I offer as reassurance to sceptics the arguments that it will,

a) do you no harm (especially if you don't believe) and

b) give you an hour of peace and quiet.
I'm not aware that there's anything left once the nonsense is removed. What do you think is left?
Barbados or similar
Barlinnie, Bardyke...

squiffy
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#45 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 6:11 pm

That depends on your definition of nonsense.

Is Barlinnie not a prison? Gee thanks!

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Lifelinking
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#46 Post by Lifelinking » September 30th, 2007, 7:14 pm

give you an hour of peace and quiet.
something not to be underestimated...particularly if accompanied by somebody who listens, a kindly word, a gentle touch. If no wild claims are being made for it and no one is getting ripped of, I see little or no harm.


L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Alan H
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#47 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 7:53 pm

squiffy

It's difficult to know what source to use. The UK Reiki Association seems to have omitted to say how they think it works.

The International Center for Reiki Training also don't seem to say how it works, but says:
While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not.
So far, so good!
Because Reiki comes from God, many people find that using Reiki puts them more in touch with the experience of their religion rather than having only an intellectual concept of it.
Ah!

From Reiki for Christians:
Reiki is a Japanese word that comes from two words - Rei and ki. In the Japanese language...the word Rei means universal spirit, Higher Power or God. The word ki refers to the life energy that flows through all living things. Therefore, Reiki means life energy that is guided by God. Some also feel this is just another way of saying Holy Spirit.
From Wikipedia:
Theory

Reiki teachings state that there is a universal 'life force' energy, which can be accessed by practitioners to induce a healing effect. It is claimed by believers that anyone can gain access to this energy by means of an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master.

The belief is that the energy will flow through the practitioner's hands whenever the hands are placed on, or held near a potential recipient, who can be clothed. Some teachings stress the importance of the practitioner's intention or presence in this process, while others claim that the energy is drawn by the recipient's injury to activate or enhance the natural healing processes. Going further, the belief is that the 'energy' is 'intelligent', making diagnosis unnecessary.

A second level of training, including another initiation, is said to equip the practitioner to perform Reiki treatments from a distance. This method, it is stated, involves the use of special symbols to form a temporary connection between the practitioner and the recipient, regardless of location, and then to send the Reiki energy. Techniques are also taught whereby Reiki can be sent to a specific point in time, either in the past or the future.

The energy involved in a Reiki treatment is said to be 'from the Universe,' rather than the personal energy of the practitioner, and is therefore inexhaustible. (Some teachings say that the energy enters the practitioner through the crown chakra at the top of the head, before being emitted from the hands.)As a consequence, Reiki practitioners are taught that they can treat themselves with Reiki.
Whilst this may be presented as an explanation, I can't see anything here that explains anything.

Can you point me to any source that explains reiki?

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Alan H
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#48 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 7:54 pm

squiffy wrote:Is Barlinnie not a prison? Gee thanks!
Sorry! Just being mischievous! :-)

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Alan H
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#49 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 8:14 pm

Missed this on The International Center for Reiki Training website:
How Does Reiki Work?

We are alive because life force is flowing through us. Life force flows within the physical body though pathways called chakras, meridians and nadis. It also flows around us in a field of energy called the aura. Life force nourishes the organs and cells of the body, supporting them in their vital functions. When this flow of life force is disrupted, it causes diminished function in one or more of the organs and tissues of the physical body.

The life force is responsive to thoughts and feelings. It becomes disrupted when we accept, either consciously or unconsciously, negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves. These negative thoughts and feelings attach themselves to the energy field and cause a disruption in the flow of life force. This diminishes the vital function of the organs and cells of the physical body.

Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and charging them with positive energy. It raises the vibratory level of the energy field in and around the physical body where the negative thoughts and feelings are attached. This causes the negative energy to break apart and fall away. In so doing, Reiki clears, straightens and heals the energy pathways, thus allowing the life force to flow in a healthy and natural way.
This is full of suppositions and unfounded assertions and I can't see how this is an explanation either.

Life force: I'm not aware of any evidence for this.
Pathways: Have any been found in the hundreds of years of dissection of corpses?
Aura around the body: Again, no evidence.
Life force nourishes organs and cells: No evidence.
Disruption of life force causing malfunction of organs: Ditto.
Reiki heals by charging organs with positive energy: How does this work?
etc, etc.

All-in-all, this doesn't explain anything to me. So, is there a 'real' explanation?

squiffy
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#50 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 8:46 pm

Lifelinking, that sums it up pretty well. I haven't felt ripped off and I have no intention of ripping anyone else off either.

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Alan H
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#51 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 9:01 pm

squiffy wrote:Lifelinking, that sums it up pretty well. I haven't felt ripped off and I have no intention of ripping anyone else off either.
Perhaps not, but many do rip others off.

The Reiki Association:
Which conditions can Reiki help?

It is possible to heal at any level of being: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Acute injuries can be helped to heal very quickly but more chronic illness takes longer. In some cases such as terminal illness, there is not enough time for the progress of the disease to be reversed.
To me, this is encouraging people to seek out reiki (at whatever cost) rather than seek proper medical help for serious conditions. If this was in an advert in a magazine, it would breach the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines because it is dangerous. Their last sentence is atrocious.

squiffy
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#52 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 9:34 pm

Alan H. The short answer to your question is, "No, I can't."

The long answer is that the internet maybe isn't the best place to start looking for a reasonable explanation of Reiki. There are as many stories of its origins as there are people to tell them and as many tales of miraculous cures as there are at Lourdes. I choose not to believe them all, but to apply the same scepticism to them as I do to theism. I waded through several books and picked out what I feel fits my way of life and what I'm prepared to not disbelieve. The two books I have got most from are "Reiki for Life", by Penelope Quest and "Essential Reiki", by Diane Stein. The latter contains more gobbledegook than you could shake a stick at!
I chose a Reiki teacher who made no wild claims for the efficacy of Reiki and who believes that it is adaptable to suit the individual.

There are five precepts and they are -
Just for today - I will not anger
I will not worry
I will respect all living things
I will appreciate what I have
I will earn my living honestly.

None of them seem too far removed from humanism although my daughter laughs like a drain when I lose the bap with other drivers in the morning. She reckons I'm failing badly on the "I will not anger" one!

squiffy
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#53 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 9:42 pm

I don't belong to any of the associations or societies and I don't subscribe to the notion that anything can be cured. I am a nurse by profession and I know very well the difference between, cure, relief and treatment. I can also confirm that everyone dies, believers and non-believers alike and no-one has found an alternative to that.

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Alan H
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#54 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 10:14 pm

I don't really have a problem with the five precepts, but I'm still no nearer seeing anything that explains (never mind understanding) how reiki works. It's easy to dismiss anything found on the Internet, but I quoted from several organisations purporting to represent reiki practitioners.

I think that before we can answer whether reiki works or not, I think we have to understand how its practitioners claim it works.

If these organisations are not to be reliable sources, can you explain how it works?

squiffy
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#55 Post by squiffy » September 30th, 2007, 10:27 pm

No I can't, nor can I explain the big bang theory. I'm not trying to sell it. I wish I hadn't mentioned it.

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Alan H
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#56 Post by Alan H » September 30th, 2007, 10:54 pm

squiffy

Sorry, I'll leave it alone now. :)

Fred
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#57 Post by Fred » October 1st, 2007, 3:21 pm

squiffy wrote:T
I don't practice for money,
I think this is the important bit. If you are

1. not ripping anyone off AND
2. not encouraging (either explicitly or implicitly) people to avoid real medical treatment AND
3. you are making people feel better

then I don't see the harm.

IMHO it's a pity that you can't do that without the mumbo jumbo, but maybe it wouldn't have the placebo effect without the mumbo jumbo???
Fred

squiffy
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#58 Post by squiffy » October 1st, 2007, 6:01 pm

"IMHO it's a pity that you can't do that without the mumbo jumbo, but maybe it wouldn't have the placebo effect without the mumbo jumbo???"

Thank you for those kind words Fred. It's nice to meet you too.

DougS
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#59 Post by DougS » October 3rd, 2007, 6:11 pm

I think you're being a tad over-sensitive, squiffy. I don't think Fred meant 'you' in the personal sense but as a general comment on reiki, which is undoubtedly surrounded by a great deal of mumbo-jumbo if this description from the Skeptic's Dictionary is accurate.
the practitioners of reiki believe that health and disease are a matter of the life force being disrupted. Each believes that the universe is full of energy which cannot be detected by any scientific instruments but which can be felt and manipulated by special people who learn the tricks of the trade.
Fred's point is a sound one: would people actually bother to go for a reiki massage, even if it were free, if all that was being offered was an hour of peace and quiet and relaxation? People can get these elsewhere. Isn't what attracts people to reiki is the idea that it is 'alternative' and and appeals to the 'spiritual'?

I'm wondering if it would work on somebody who is totally sceptical about it. Perhaps all of us who are should test it out for ourselves.

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Alan H
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#60 Post by Alan H » October 15th, 2007, 7:15 pm

I'm glad to see that there is a statutory register of healthcare professionals covering the whole country that can be checked by the general public to see if someone is bone fide (and presumably that their profession is also legitimate and professionally controlled). The Health Professions Council regulate the following professions:
Arts therapists, biomedical scientists, chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical scientists, dietitians, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, paramedics, physiotherapists, prosthetists & orthotists, radiographers, speech & language therapists. We do not regulate nurses or doctors.
I don't know anything about arts therapists, but at least the others seem to be legitimate. Unfortunately, the page that says what they don't register doesn't seem to work.

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#61 Post by Maria Mac » November 4th, 2007, 9:59 pm

Wonderful cartoon strip from viz lampooning complementary therapies (and boys comics from the 1960s).

The sniper of death :laughter:

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