I was alerted to an article entitled ‘Energy Medicine: Current Status and Future Perspectives‘ by Christina L Ross, Wake Forest Center for Integrative Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, USA. Dr Ross’ paper , she tells us, was supported by the Wake Forest Center for Integrative Medicine. The Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine aims to expand knowledge of integrative medicine through research and educational opportunities.

The article in question is lengthy yet intriguing. Here, I will present just two short excerpts.

In the abstract, the author concisely explains the nature of energy medicine:

Quantum physics teaches us there is no difference between energy and matter. All systems in the human being, from the atomic to the molecular level, are constantly in motion-creating resonance. This resonance is important to understanding how subtle energy directs and maintains health and wellness in the human being. Energy medicine (EM), whether human touch or device-based, is the use of known subtle energy fields to therapeutically assess and treat energetic imbalances, bringing the body’s systems back to homeostasis (balance).

In the paper itself, the author explains what this means in relation to various SCAM modalities, such as acupuncture:

Acupuncture can be considered an electromagnetic phenomenon due to the ionic charge between 2 acupuncture points. This has been demonstrated by Mussat and others. Acupuncture needles with 1 metal (copper, silver, bronze, or an alloy) for the shaft and another metal for the handle, form tiny batteries. Some acupuncture therapies use additional electrical stimulation (2–4 Hz) applied to the needles. From this electrical perspective, each organ in the body is like a battery housed in a sac of electrolytes, with a positive potential on the surface of the sac that is the aggregate result of electrical processes in the tissues of the organs. The positive potential at the needle tip attracts negatively charged ions from the interstitial medium until a saturation equilibrium is achieved. The normal functions of an organ tend to generate stronger and more harmonic ionic effects than organs with trauma or disease. Acupuncture is considered a wiring system in the body, as is the analog perineural nervous system, and ion transfer within blood plasma. It is difficult to use a voltmeter to measure the voltage in organs because voltages pulse in the body. It is common to use an ohm meter to measure the voltage and convert ohms to volts using Ohm’s law (voltage = ohms × amps).

Table 1 shows frequencies that correspond to organ function. Assuming amperage is constant, then ohms = voltage.

Frequencies Associated With Normal Organ Function.

Organ Frequency (MHz)
Brain 70–78
Thyroid 62–68
Lungs 58–65
Thymus 65–68
Heart 67–70
Spleen 60–80
Liver 55–60
Stomach 58–65
Colon 70–78


Is that what the Wake Forest School of Medicine considers to be ‘expanding knowledge … through research and educational opportunities’ ? Where is the actual research that backs up any of the weird claims made above? Is it truly knowledge that is being expanded here … or is it perhaps total, utter BS?

33 Responses to A quantum-physics perspective on acupuncture and other SCAMs???

  • Quantum physics teaches us there is no difference between energy and matter.

    Energy-matter equivalence, better known as E=mc², arises from Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, you absolute mung beans. And clearly there is a difference between the two, or we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.

    Gahh. The moment any altie cites “quantum physics”, you know they’re talking clean out their ass.

    And these ignorant credulous quacks are associated with an actual medical school? Oh wait… but this is in the US, where the Holy Dollar ultimately rules all, and nothing puts ????? in the coffers like rubes with far more money than sense.

    Funny how the bold warriors of CAM, who normally love loudly condemning all the real and imagined ways in which real medicine is venal and corrupt and only after money, never raise a cheep over these absolutely real and shocking instances of medical corruption in pursuit of the fast buck. Ah well, at least Wake Forest School of Medicine can comfort itself that it’s not alone in its appalling double standards.

  • What a load of utter drivel that is.

  • Deepak Chopra must be envious.

    It is marvellously sciencey.

  • If an “enlightened” scientist mentions the term “quantum” or “quantum physics”, then one can assume with a probability bordering on certainty that comprehensive bullshit will follow in ANY paper or article.

    QED, Ms. Ross.

    BTW: “Christina Ross, PhD, is a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP), Registered Polarity Educator (RPE), and Certified Energy Medicine Practitioner (CEMP), who has earned bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and physics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned her PhD in Energy Medicine from Akamai University”

    What a underwhelming vitae. What a hotchpotch of pseudo-scientific and esoteric qualifications.

  • People would be well advised, one feels, to stay well clear of Wake Forest Centre for Integrative Medicine.

    As if a Junior High School ability to read an Ohmmeter turns you into a doctor. Sigh.

  • This paper is in opposition to one of the basic laws of quantum physics: “If someone uses quantum physics in an argument or to explain any phenomenon outside of physics and/or exceeding the scale of a few atoms or molecules: This is wrong.”

  • The gist of this ‘article’ by Christina L Ross can be summed up in just two words: Total Bollocks

    Somewhat more in-depth, almost every sentence and every claim in this piece betrays an utter lack of understanding of quantum physics, classical physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. And oh, she even manages to give basic logic a thorough thrashing in the process.

    I’m almost tempted to take this gibberish apart line by line, but that would be too much honour. So I’ll just touch on some of the most glaring exhibitions of Mrs. Ross’ lack of understanding.

    “Current practices in allopathic medicine measure different types of energy in the human body by using quantum field dynamics involved in nuclear medicine, radiology, and imaging diagnostics.”
    This is already mostly wrong. All those ‘different’ types of energy are, in fact, just one type of energy: electromagnetic energy. The only quantum effect used in diagnostics is nuclear spin (in MRI). All the other applications rely on absorption or emission of electromagnetic fields and/or nuclear particles, without using any quantum-mechanical properties thereof.

    “Once diagnosed, current treatments revert to biochemistry instead of using biophysics therapies to treat the disturbances in subtle energies detected and used for diagnostics.”
    And already here, Mrs. Ross completely flies off the rails. Those ‘disturbances in subtle energies’ (i.e. electromagnetic fields used for diagnostic purposes) are not the cause of of any medical problem; they are just the medium through which real causes may be diagnosed. She conflates of the method of observation with the thing that is observed. This is plain stupid.

    If I hit my thumb with a hammer, I can use a ‘subtle energy’ by the name of ‘visible light’ to detect a ‘disturbance’ to establish the cause of my pain: a purple colour, indicative of haemorrhaging in the tissue under the nail.

    Yet there is no way in the world that manipulating that very same ‘subtle energy’ will help cure my sore thumb. The tissue is structurally damaged, and it can only heal through biological and biochemical processes: all sorts of mechanisms are triggered to remove damaged cells, and stimulate regrowth of new cells by triggering the remaining healthy cells to divide.
    THERE IS NO ‘SUBTLE ENERGY’ INVOLVED IN ANY OF THIS, apart from the chemical energy associated with the hugely complex interactions between cells, hormones, peptides, enzymes etcetera.

    The only way that these interactions based on chemical energy can be influenced in any meaningful way is by – you guessed it – chemicals. E.g. the pain associated with a bruised thumb can be suppressed by e.g. acetylsalicylic acid, a molecule that blocks the formation of prostaglandins (which cause the pain and swelling associated with trauma and inflammation). There is no energy-based shortcut by which these biochemical processes can be replicated or even sped up in any targeted way.

    There are many, many other things wrong with Mrs. Ross’ article – too many to address here. So I’ll just leave it at this, and spend some of my ‘subtle energy’ on my bike in the beautiful countryside where I live in the next hour or two. That at least has been proven to be an excellent way to relieve stress and keep healthy.

    • I did wonder whether her Med school knows what BS she is publishing – or perhaps they couldn’t care less?

      • Unfortunately, there are no repercussions for MD’s who take up quackery, e.g having their licenses revoked (although here in the Netherlands, MD’s can lose their license if they fail to put in a required minimum number of hours annually practising real medicine, making it harder for full-time quacks to keep their MD title).
        It would certainly be nice if licensing authorities would stipulate a “Thou Shalt not Quack” provision in their (re)licensing requirements, as SCAM is simply suboptimal care.

        Then again, I do hope that one day, SCAM will indeed be, erm, ‘integrated’ in med school curricula – not as a way to heal people of course, but to teach med students how easy it is to fool and dazzle patients, and, most importantly, oneself.

        Because apparently, the vast majority of people involved in SCAM actually Believe in it with a capital B. OK, there clearly are ordinary fraudsters out there as well, e.g. the people who build and sell all those SCAMmy devices – many of which have been found to not measure anything at all when taken apart and analysed by someone knowledgeable. But it is my impression that most of the actual practitioners have a very firm belief in what they are doing, probably because they invested heavily in that belief – both in a sense of mental commitment, and financially.

        I think that teaching med students the underlying principles of SCAM can be beneficial in several ways; not only can they actually answer questions from patients about it, they may also recognize the signs that they themselves may be falling prey to ‘SCAMmy thinking’, such as biased or wishful thinking.

        • “I do hope that one day, SCAM will indeed be, erm, ‘integrated’ in med school curricula – not as a way to heal people of course, but to teach med students how easy it is to fool and dazzle patients, and, most importantly, oneself.”
          that’s how I tried to teach at Exeter.

      • The journal editors are in the same school.

    • I dont know about the subtle-ness of the energy but there are therapies that use energy rather than chemical approaches including laser and micro-current therapies. I know they make So-called Skeptics unhappy but they are in widespread use.

      • Sorry Roger, but sceptics only become unhappy when confronted by vehemently propagated nonsense without acceptable scientific evidence.

        Lasers absolutely have their applications in medicine, although unfortunately many quacks have also jumped on the ‘laser’ bandwagon in the past decades.

        Some 15 years ago, one of them contacted me because he wanted to have a ‘laser therapy device’ developed, based on nothing more than those milliwatt-range red laser pointer devices that are on sale for a few bucks.
        When I asked him for peer-reviewed evidence of any therapeutic effects, he started talking about how ‘we could make quite a bit of money’ instead of delivering said evidence. At which point I told him in no uncertain terms to shove his quacky ‘laser therapy’ where the red light doesn’t shine, and he became quite angry.
        After which I chalked up another job well done.

        About the application of microcurrents: if I interpret your linked article correctly, microcurrents are found to have a net negative effect on the healing of pressure ulcers, see
        But I haven’t had time for a more thorough assessment, so I’ll just archive this subject for future rainy days, when I have nothing better to do.

        • The OKB Ritm website has a number of articles in Russian, many translated into English, about Scenar devices which were developed for the Soviet space program.

          • Roger
            No `bioresonance’ device, including the Scenar, has any EU or UK licensed indication for any health purpose, other than TENS for pain. The many other claims for such devices are false. What has this to do with the topic of this post?

  • I remember a previous Ernst post along these lines entitled “Explaining homeopathy with quantum bollocks”.

    My response now as then remains the same:

    As quantum physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili has said: “Let me make this very clear: if you think QM allows for homeopathy, psychic phenomena, ESP etc then you’d better take a proper course in QM”.

  • How is it possible for a PhD to be awarded to a person with such a poor understanding of science? Quantum physics says nothing of the sort, resonance means vibrations matching phase and frequency and is not generated by cells, and a “battery” needs an electrolyte between the electrodes. The drivel gets worse as I read on. What kind of a journal publishes such utter dross? Can I suggest that a group of us writes to the editor asking for this paper to be retracted?

    • count me in; I also think we shouls write to the deen of the med school

    • Don’t hold your breath. Here are a few other papers from the same edition of “Global Advances in Health and Medicine”:
      Being Mindful: A Long-term Investigation of an Interdisciplinary Course in Mindfulness
      Sarah Ellen Braun, Patricia Kinser, Caroline K Carrico, Alan Dow

      Do Noncoding RNAs Mediate the Efficacy of Energy Psychology?
      Garret Yount, Dawson Church, Kenneth Rachlin, Katharina Blickheuser, Ippolito Cardonna

      Case–Control Research Study of Auto-Brewery Syndrome
      Barbara Jean Cordell, Anup Kanodia, Gregory K Mille

      A Review of Field Experiments on the Effect of Forest Bathing on Anxiety and Heart Rate Variability
      Marc R Farrow, Kyle Washburn

      Improvements in Psychological and Occupational Well-being Following a Brief Yoga-Based Program for Education Professionals
      Natalie L Trent, Sara Borden, Mindy Miraglia, Edi Pasalis, Jeffery A Dusek, Sat Bir S Khalsa

      Use of Ayurveda in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
      Allison Gordon, Zankhana Buch, Vanessa Baute, Remy Coeytaux

      Didgeridoo Sound Meditation for Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement in Undergraduates: A Randomized Controlled Trial
      Kamaira Hartley Philips, Carrie E Brintz, Kevin Moss, Susan A Gaylord

      Evaluation of a Novel Wellness Assessment Device (Preventiometer): A Feasibility Pilot Study
      Sanjeev Nanda, Saswati Mahapatra, Stephanie A Lindeen, Joleen L Bernau, Susanne M Cutshall, Bernd Schierwater, Tony Y Chon, Dietlind L Wahner-Roedler, Brent A Baue

      Integrating Chiropractic Care Into the Treatment of Migraine Headaches in a Tertiary Care Hospital: A Case Series
      Carolyn Bernstein, Peter M Wayne, Pamela M Rist, Kamila Osypiuk, Audrey Hernandez, Matthew Kowalski

      A Bridge of Light: Toward Chinese and Western Medicine Perspectives Through Ultraweak Photon Emissions
      Meina Yang, Eduard Van Wijk, Jingxiang Pang, Yu Yan, Jan van der Greef, Roeland Van Wijk, Jinxiang Han

      I would think there was enough there to keep your blog going for weeks.

      • Man, that is one impressively large tent.

        Considering how half of AltMed modalities mutually contradict the other half, you’d think they’d show some interest in working out which half of them must be incorrect. But I guess as long as they’re all in agreement that it’s EBM which is evil and wrong, they’re just one big happy family where anything goes.

        Is it wrong of me to want to beat every single one of them with a two-by-four.

      • I also think we should ask the National Library of Medicine why they are indexing this work of fiction.

    • Akamai University, the Alma Mater of Ross, is not accredited by an agency recognized by the US DOE. So, the PhD is a worthless piece of paper, which can only be used to decorate a wall. Or to impress a few naive people.

    • and a “battery” needs an electrolyte between the electrodes

      I guess you’re referring to this:
      “Acupuncture needles with 1 metal (copper, silver, bronze, or an alloy) for the shaft and another metal for the handle, form tiny batteries”
      This is one of Mrs Ross’ countless ways in which she misunderstands basic chemistry.

      Yes, two different metals in an electrolyte indeed form a sort of battery, building up a so-called redox potential that can be measured between both conductors. And yes, the internal human body can indeed be considered one huge bag of electrolytes.

      BUT this only generates a voltage difference (and hence a current) inside the tissue if
      1. both different metals make contact with the electrolyte, and
      2. both metals do not touch directly within the electrolyte, and
      3. both metals have an external connection (i.e. outside the electrolyte) through which a current can flow.

      This means that plain acupuncture with identical needles made from e.g. a steel shaft and copper handle windings will NOT generate any voltage difference with respect to the body whatsoever: (1) is not satisfied because the shafts that come in contact with the electrolyte are all the same material, (2) is not satisfied because the steel and the copper are in direct contact (and the copper doesn’t even make contact with the electrolyte), and (3) is not satisfied because to my knowledge, acupuncture needles aren’t interconnected by wires or other more or less conductive materials.

      And even if an external DC voltage is applied (electro-acupuncture), this doesn’t really do anything much but cause the creation and discharging of ions at the two electrodes (if the voltage is high enough to overcome redox potentials), i.e. local electrolysis around the electrodes. To my knowledge, there are no credible studies that report beneficial effects from this course of action – even though countless quacks claim all sorts of wonderful effects, up to and including the elimination of cancer (e.g. Hulda Clark’s ‘zapper’, which is just a pulsed DC current source).

      And oh, all this again has nothing whatsoever to do with quantum-mechanical effects …

      • Yes Richard, that’s exactly what I meant. Can I use your excellent text in a letter to the editor and medical school dean? If so I’ll need your affiliation please.

        • Hi Les,
          Sure, feel free to use my explanation – after all, it’s just basic high school chemistry.

          As mentioned before, I could deconstruct her paper further, as it contains more misconceptions and outright falsehoods, but that would take me one full day at least (and quite a bit longer even if I decide to assess all literature references).
          The resulting critique will probably be too voluminous for this comment section, so if I decide to do that, I think I’ll mail it to Edzard instead so he can forward it to you – with his permission, of course. Then again, it would be wise to have that critique assessed by others, mostly for the following reason:

          I am not affiliated with any educational or scientific institutions(*), and I have no academic or scientific credentials either.
          I have my own business designing electronic devices, often for biomedical purposes, and in that capacity, I have developed quite a bit of expertise in the interaction between electricity / electromagnetic fields and biological systems. Which is why I think I know what I’m talking about here.

          *: I am occasionally hired by universities to assist with their research, so I do have experience working in an academic environment.

  • Under the Human Touch Therapies paragraph, I saw a sentence which perhaps suggests more than was intended:
    “The practitioner grounds and centers himself/herself, meaning all thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations are neutralized.”

    Yes, all thoughts are neutralized…….

    Anyway, touch therapy was debunked by the published science of a nine year old girl.

  • And it’s utter utter nonsense to suggest that all physical sensations can be neutralized. Kick the practitioner in the shins and see how neutral their physical sensations are….

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