The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are you allowed to know about "energy healing"?

Recently I participated in a vigorous debate on a sceptical blog about the merits of energy healing. The participants wanted me to learn about the importance of science-based medicine, but what I learned instead was a lesson about the human propensity to develop lynch mobs. All it takes is a group of passionate, like-minded individuals, a single outlier, and a few maliciously inclined, self-righteous people who shout "let's go get 'er!" for the pitchforks and the torches to come out. It was a sobering lesson. I got the distinct feeling that if this were the Middle Ages some of the people there would have cheerfully burned me and my ilk at the stake and felt good about themselves for doing it too.

The issue at hand was whether "energy healing" is real. I cited studies on my side of the debate; they cited studies on theirs. The studies I most relied on were Dr. Bengston's studies with mice, in particular the ones described in his paper "The 'Laying on of Hands' in Transplanted Breast Cancer in Mice." For the uninitiated, this paper refers to four studies in which mice injected with a fatal form of breast cancer were treated with a form of energy healing. They should have all died within 27 days, but instead 87.9% of them survived and recovered. But the kicker is that a large percentage of the control group also survived. According to Dr. Bengston, once the first two control mice died, he peeked in on the surviving controls, and then they too went into remission. Thinking that there was maybe a field effect, in a subsequent experiment he also used outside controls, housed in a different building. Those controls died on schedule.

According to the sceptics, the survival of the control mice made all the experiments invalid. The whole point of using controls is that it is their death that makes the experiment viable. Even though the remotely housed control mice died, for the sceptics they "didn't count". The fact that Dr. Bengston did multiple experiments at several accredited institutions didn't count. It is supposed that several separate sets of lab technicians at different institutions using different sets of mice all somehow made fundamental errors; or that all these different sets of mice, obtained from Jackson Labs and bred to be used in cancer research, were all somehow defective; or that the cancer, usually virulently fatal, simply did not take in any of the experiments. What are the odds?

On their side they quoted as most authoritative a science fair experiment, conducted by 9-year-old Emily Rosa, in which Therapeutic Touch practitioners were shown to be unable to detect the presence of a human energy field. Emily was helped to write up the experiment by Dr. Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch and her parents, and the paper was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This one study is supposed to prove, to everyone, for once and for all, forever and always, that energy healing in all its forms is bunk.

The sceptics just know that energy healing cannot possibly work. From their perspective for someone to suggest to cancer patients that something like Reiki might improve their quality of life is, in the absence of gold-plated, double-blind studies, a heinous lie. Never mind that many hospitals already have Reiki programs or that Dr. Oz's colleague, Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman (Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery in New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center), followed in his footsteps in inviting Reiki practitioners into his operating room, and found Reiki to be helpful to patients. Dr. Oz's recommendation on his show that Americans should try Reiki just proved to the sceptics that he had "gone over to the Dark Side."

"It's just not scientific!"

From the sceptics' point of view energy healing at best only works because of the placebo effect. People just "think" they feel better; they don't "actually" feel better. The sceptic says so. They just imagine that their mobility has improved or that their knee no longer hurts. The sceptic says so. Healer and client are seen as locked in a mutual dance of self-deception. All because in the sceptic's mind energy healing could not possibly exist. It's just not scientific.

Never mind that there are scientists who accept the possibility of energy healing and want to know more. The scientists in "What the Bleep Do We Know?" The scientists in Lynn McTaggart's The Field. Many of the scientists with PhDs who are members of the Society for Scientific Exploration. William Tiller. Rupert Sheldrake, author of The Science Delusion. Even some medical doctors: Larry Dossey, Deepak Chopra, Bernie Siegel, Andrew Weill, and of course Mehmet Oz and his colleague Sheldon Marc Feldman above. All dismissed as having no credibility at all, despite their years of study and their multiple credentials, simply for being interested in phenomena that "real" science doesn't recognize.

So are you allowed to know about energy healing? Yes, you are. Are you allowed to make up your own mind about energy healing? Yes, you are. Are you allowed to try energy healing as an informed, consenting adult living in an ostensibly democratic society? You ought to be. But the sceptics' concern, and here they are being commendably humanitarian, is that you will forgo or delay important medical treatment in favour of "woo", their term for anything not backed by science which conveniently overlooks the fact that a good chunk of medical practice is not backed by science either. The answer is simple: don't forgo or delay medical treatment in favour of "woo". Be a responsible consumer of healthcare. Does that mean don't try energy healing, ever? No, it doesn't.

But there are some sceptics who go one step further to suggest that you should not even be able to try anything they define as "woo". If they had their way, "woo" would not be available for you to try. There would be no Reiki programs in hospitals. Practitioners would be prosecuted. This blog would not exist for you to read because I would not be allowed to write it.

For me, that's going just a bit too far.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why the cost of delivering medical care is bankrupting America - one example

In my previous post I discussed Dr. Marty Makary's book Unaccountable about what goes on behind the scenes in American hospitals. One of the issues he raises is the number of unnecessary or unwarranted procedures that are done on patients. In his aptly numbered chapter 11, entitled "Eat What You Kill", he describes the excesses of a system in which the doctor has become more a salesman than a primary healthcare provider. One result of this business model is that many procedures such as back operations, spinal fusions and angioplasties are done to excess, with huge costs to the system.

To support this Dr. Makary cites a 2012 study, entitled "Appropriateness of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention" (PCI, or more commonly known as angioplasty). The study found that in the space of a little over a year (July 2009 to September 2010), there were altogether 500,154 such operations, of which 355,417 (71.1%) were for acute indications (such as myocardial infarctions and unstable angina) and 144,737 (28.9%) were for nonacute indications, which I imagine means that the patient was experiencing symptoms, but not in distress or imminent danger.

Of the latter group, surgery for nonacute indications, "72,911 PCIs (50.4%) were classified as appropriate, 54,988 (38.0%) as uncertain, and 16,838 (11.6%) as inappropriate."

In short, that's almost 17,000 unnecessary operations, and almost 55,000 questionable ones, for a total of 72,000, all in the space of 15 months.

Out of curiosity, I next went on Google to find out how much an angioplasty costs. I found this topic discussed at The numbers varied wildly. One quoted price was this:
About the cost of angioplasty and stenting in the US based on medicare payment: Cardiologist fee: $838 for one vessel, each additional $233 Hospital fee: $10,371-$18,227
Then a man from Texas spoke up and said he paid $101,000.00 and it was worth every penny. Other people chimed in with numbers in the vicinity of $50,000 to $90,000, and people from outside the US gloated that theirs was free (in Canada) or a few hundred euros for the hospital stay (Ireland).

At any rate, the reason I bring these numbers up is to point out that those 72,000 unneccesary or questionable angioplasties from July 2009 to September 2010 cost Americans anywhere between $720,000,000 (if you calculate $10,000 per procedure) and $7,200,000,000 (if you calculate $100,000). That latter figure is $7.2 billion, by the way. Now add in all your unnecessary back operations and spinal fusions at $12,000 a pop, give or take a few thousand, and you have numbers for unnecessary or questionable surgeries that are not just in the stratosphere, but way beyond, hovering somewhere around Jupiter if not out of the solar system altogether. No wonder America is in danger of going bankrupt.

PS: And the true shocker is that according to a recent study angioplasty for these nonacute patients (who had stable angina or narrowed arteries) was no better than optimal medical therapy and lifestyle change. The study found that
getting angioplasty and a stent to hold open a narrowed artery didn’t offer any extra protection against a heart attack, stroke, hospitalization for acute coronary syndrome (the umbrella for heart attack and unstable angina), or premature death ... If you have chronic angina, it’s worth giving medical therapy the old college try. One of the findings from [the study] that surprised even researchers was how effective medical therapy was at relieving angina and improving quality of life. You might be surprised at how well exercise, a better diet, and medications can make you feel. If, after six months to a year, your angina is still bothering you or keeping you from doing activities you enjoy, angioplasty or bypass surgery are reasonable next steps.
If that is indeed the case, then the number for unnecessary angioplasties may be a lot higher than 17,000.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Iatrogenic disease - part 2

Oh my God. Oh ... my ... God. I am just reading a book, Dr. Marty Makary's Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Healthcare. Dr. Makary is a surgeon and an associate professor at Johns Hopkins. I can't put the book down. My blood pressure must be in the stratosphere. I am reading things that are making my hair stand on end.

Dr. Makary is scathingly honest about his profession. His candor burns like a cauterizing iron. In this book patients die; patients are maimed; mistakes are swept under the rug; surgeons who should never be allowed near patients continue to practice; professional bodies that are charged with overseeing doctors routinely fail to do so; and whistle-blowers who advocate for patients get fired or drummed out of the profession.

The scale of the problem is huge. In his introduction, and later in his chapter 8 (entitled "Impaired Physicians"), Dr. Makary writes of attending a conference where a renowned Harvard surgeon asked his audience if any of them had a colleague who they knew should not be performing surgery -- in an audience of thousands, every hand went up. He calculates that if only 2 per cent of America's doctors are impaired, that's 20,000 unsafe doctors, who altogether see about 10,000,000 patients a year. He calls this "a public health crisis".

As an intern at Harvard, Makary trained under a surgeon who was referred to behind his back as Dr. Hodad. "Hodad" stood for "Hands of Death and Destruction". Dr. Hodad had impeccable credentials, an unimpeachable presence, and a splendid bedside manner. His patients adored him and had no idea that his incompetence was the reason for their long hospital stays and their post-surgical complications.

Hospitals have no reason to rein in such surgeons, Makary tells the reader, because post-surgical complications add dollars to their coffers. The greater the number of procedures that need to be done, the longer a patient needs to stay, the more money a hospital makes: about $10,000 on average for each complication. Incompetence only becomes an issue if the patient who dies as a result is famous and the story gets wide-spread public airing, causing the hospital major embarrassment. There is a culture of omerta. Makary relates the story of a heart surgeon, one of four in a well-known hospital, who had "six consecutive deaths during routine bypass surgery". Soon after the sixth death, he was about to operate on yet another patient, when the patient asked the anasthesiologist, "Is my surgeon a good surgeon?" Thinking quickly on his feet, the anasthesiologist replied, "He is one of the four best heart surgeons we have here", and the patient luckily didn't ask how many there were. This young doctor was routinely protected by the other heart surgeons, who attributed the deaths of his patients to "extenuating patient circumstance".

Makary's point is that patients have no way of knowing whether they are in the hands of a competent doctor or a Dr. Hodad. Medical students who barely pass, or who have untreated substance abuse or psychiatric problems, also become doctors and receive a license to practice -- with little or no accountability. Doctors with known substance abuse problems may not be allowed to drive their cars, but they are still allowed to wield scalpels and prescribe potentially lethal drugs. Makary writes:
After we doctors graduate from medical school, the government, via state medical boards, pretty much gives us a pass to do whatever we want.... After ... I got my license based on a 70-per-cent-or-higher passing score on my board exam, I was literally licensed to do anything in medicine -- perform brain surgery, prescribe chemotherapy, remove varicose veins, or do electric-shock therapy for psychiatric disorders ... I can legally do anything.
The issue is not only a small percentage of incompetent physicians, but also the "Wild West" attitude endemic in the culture and practice of medicine. Much has been written about the conditions under which young doctors are trained: brutal work hours; little sleep; inadequate support; even psychological abuse. The conditions are such that it is often impossible for them to deliver even adequate care. Makary writes about one night when he was an intern at D.C. General Hospital, trying to handle twelve emergency cases all at once. He called his chief resident for help and got shouted at for his pains. He then did his best on his own, with the help of a medical student, but two of the patients died. He mentions other cases where patients died because the intern on duty was spread too thin. So when he also cites a study claiming that one in four hospitalized patients experience some kind of harm due to medical error, the surprise is not that the number is so high, but that it is so low.

Makary quit his medical training after one of his own patients came to grief despite his best efforts to prevent her having the entirely unnecessary procedure that harmed her. He says:
I felt disillusioned. It seemed as if, despite all the book knowledge I had gained, nearly half of the patients I saw in the clinics had problems for which modern medicine had nothing to offer except phony names for diseases we didn't understand. The other half .... seemed to be sick because they were obese, smoking or not taking care of themselves -- preventable problems.
He switched to the Harvard School of Public Health, where he learned a whole new perspective on disease, and later returned to medicine because he missed the contact with patients, resolving to practice medicine as he thought "it ought to be practiced -- with honesty".

The economic angle

The book also takes aim at the business model of medicine, in which doctors are encouraged to perform ever more procedures to generate income for the hospital, and in which the CEOs of children's hospitals are compensated to the tune of millions of dollars. As an example of the business attitude that pervades healthcare he quotes an email sent by a hospital administrator to the surgeons in his department, which reads, "As we approach the end of the fiscal year, try to do more operations. Your productivity will be used to determine your bonus." He points out that doctors and hospitals profit from prescribing chemotherapy, that doctors receive commissions, royalties and consulting fees from using prosthetics and surgical implants. Between paying for errors, unnecessary procedures, and excessive compensation under what Makary calls the "eat what you kill" model, it is little wonder that the U.S. is staggering under the costs of delivering healthcare to its citizens.

Parts of the book deal with solutions, which is just as well, because otherwise it would be an infuriating and depressing read. The larger perspective Makary attained at the Harvard School of Public Health allows him to provide suggestions for systemic improvement. He advocates salaries for doctors rather than payment per procedure; transparency about patient outcomes; public access to information; changing the workplace culture of hospitals to privilege teamwork over hierarchy and safety over profit. He especially highlights the importance of teamwork: in the interest of patient safety, everyone who works at the hospital, regardless of where they are in the hierarchy, should be able to speak up, just as anyone on the Honda assembly line is allowed to shut it down if they spot a problem.

After lambasting his profession for most of the book, Makary reveals at the end that he is optimistic about the future. The culture is changing; the medical students he now works with are more into openness and honesty with patients and are less willing to put up with hazing and shenanigans than his generation was. New technologies such as interactive patient records and video cameras in the operating rooms aid transparency. The internet has revolutionized the ability of patients to obtain information so they can ask more knowledgeable questions. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. My blood pressure back to normal, I was pleased to read that the new generation of medical students is open even to alternative therapies.

And in the meantime, until the system is thoroughly reformed, Dr. Makary offers patients a list of questions to ask their doctors on his website,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On palliative chemotherapy and "false hope"

Almost a year ago I posted an Open Letter to Oncologists in which I detailed our experiences with energy healing and terminal cancer and advocated offering patients who could not be cured with conventional methods the energy healing option. My reasoning was that in our experience bioenergy healing was better at palliation than chemo, offering improved quality of life without any debilitating side effects.

There are many cancer patients who come to the point in their treatment where their doctors tell them that they have run out of curative options and that further chemotherapy and radiation would only serve palliative ends. In other words, when the cancer gets bad enough, treatment is offered to shrink the tumour to make it interfere less with the body's functioning.

But now comes research from the Dana-Farber Cancer institute that shows that patients who receive such treatment are more often than not unclear about its purpose. A research article published in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Patients' Expectations About Effects of Chemotherapy for Advanced Cancer" shows that a large percentage of terminal cancer patients surveyed (69% of those with lung cancer and 81% of those with colorectal cancer) were not aware that the treatment they were receiving was meant to be palliative and not at all likely cure them. The rate of misunderstanding was higher among patients who rated their communication with their doctor very favourably.

I find it highly ironic that the same medical establishment that accuses alternative therapists of selling "false hope" and "snake oil" finds itself in the position of inadvertently doing just that. At the same time I can see the difficulty of making clear to patients that the treatments they will be receiving, which will likely make them feel quite awful, have no curative purpose. But perhaps it is time for the medical establishment to take off its blinkers and start looking at other therapies that may serve this patient population better than chemo.

Update November 13: Just ran across an informative article entitled "Palliative Chemo: When Enough is Too Much" in Clinical Oncology. Well worth the read on this topic.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Follow up to "Open Letter to Oncologists"

Recently I received an e-mail from a fellow energy healer, Reiki Master Alice Langholt. She and a colleague have been treating a woman with inoperable breast and bone cancer who had been bed-ridden for six weeks. The patient was exhausted and in pain, unable even to sit up on her own. With treatment she sat up, experienced more energy, developed better colour, then was eventually able to get up and to get around with a walker and even walked downstairs with the help of her physical therapist for the first time since July. She has been receiving bioenergetic support in the form of Reiki, Quantum Touch, or cranio-sacral therapy three to four times a week. Alice has also taught both her and her husband Reiki so they can do treatments on their own. While Reiki will likely not halt her cancer, for now she is feeling better.

In an earlier post I spoke directly to oncologists advocating bioenergy therapies for patients who in their view have come to the end of the road of curative treatment and were now looking at hospice and palliation. I pointed to our experience which showed that with energy healing the qualitative daily experience of life could be considerably improved for such patients, sometimes even bringing physical improvement.

Bioenergetic support makes sense for cancer patients in any phase of their illness. Many hospitals now offer Reiki or Therapeutic Touch, in most cases free. In most cities there are competent Reiki practitioners and teachers and there is now a growing number of Bengston Method and Domancic Method practitioners throughout North America. One single appointment can show a cancer patient what these therapies can do for his or her well-being.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Iatrogenic disease": the view from up close

Here is a frightening statistic: an article published in the year 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association calculated "that between 230,000 and 284,000 deaths occur each year in the US due to iatrogenic causes, or physician error, making this number three in the leading causes of death for all Americans."* That's a quarter million Americans dying each year due to hospital mix-ups, adverse drug reactions from prescriptions drugs, hospital-acquired infections and botched surgeries. Quite a number to swallow: the equivalent of about five hundred 747s crashing every year, killing all passengers on board. And this number does not even included those are not killed by the error, but "only" maimed.

[Now you can also read "Iatrogenic disease - Part 2"]

My mother was only 51 when she died a few short hours after her first radiation treatment for a recurrence of breast cancer. Her tests showed her to be cancer free when her oncologist, whom she said she "trusted with her life", suggested "prophylactic radiation". She was on Tamoxifen, implicated in causing blood clots, and had to have the radiation rescheduled because her chest cavity had been "mismeasured". A second such mismeasurement could have led to radiation burns in her lungs, edema, and death. Yet there was no inquest into her unexpected and untimely death.

The mother of a friend of mine has had repeated, and devastating, experiences with iatrogenic disease. She was already suffering from Alzheimer's when she was diagnosed with a particularly deadly form of lung cancer. Her doctors were 99% sure she had this cancer and recommended surgery. So deadly was the cancer believed to be that they recommended against doing a biopsy. She had the "cancerous" lung removed. She then went into full-blown dementia as a result of the stress of this horribly invasive surgery. When the lung was sent to the lab, it turned out that what the doctors believed to have been cancer was in fact scar tissue from a bout of pneumonia. There was no cancer.

Fast forward a few years. Once again a doctor saw something he suspected to be cancer; this time skin cancer. He proposed doing multiple biopsies. The woman's daughter raised objections, which the doctor overrode. Two days after the biopsies were done, the elderly patient became septic. No antibiotic seemed able kill the bacteria raging through her system. By the time the infection was finally brought under control, the patient had lost the will to live and passed away.

Not all these patients die; some are "merely" maimed for life. While they don't become part of the statistics on medical error causing death, these instances cost untold amounts of money to an already overburdened system. First there is the cost of the initial, often unnecessary, intervention, then there is the cost of trying to fix the mistake, and then there is, in the case of younger patients, the economic loss when the victim becomes so disabled that he or she is no longer able to work.

And more important than cost is the burden of suffering, borne largely by the elderly. In my mother's case the judgment of a doctor ended up costing her her life, but at least her death was quick and relatively painless. My friend's mother's case became a textbook example of what Bill Bengston bluntly calls "torturing [the elderly] on the way out."

Simply put, what is the benefit of doing a biopsy for basal cell carcinoma on an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's? What is the benefit of doing a double mastectomy on an 86-year-old patient with a slow-growing cancer who then dies of a stroke less than a year later? How many painful procedures should the elderly have to endure? Shouldn't we ask, how necessary is this? Shouldn't we do a humane cost/benefit analysis as in "how much suffering is this going to cause? how likely is this to harm/benefit the patient?" This is a discussion that should take place in every single case, possibly in the presence of a medical ethicist or a professional who specializes in elder care. Many doctors are way too "intervention happy". If the only tool you have is a hammer, then you see everything as a nail. If intervention is the only tool in your toolkit, that's all you will do. Family members can also buy into the medical mystique and believe that more intervention is better, until their loved one comes to harm. In many cases palliation and alternative therapies offer better outcomes.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 showed that lung cancer patients who received palliative care along with conventional treatment lived longer and had better quality of life than patients who received conventional cancer treatment alone. The study "showed that people who received the palliative support services were less likely to choose aggressive, and often futile, measures to prolong their lives." In contrast I recently heard a doctor say in an interview on CBC that he sees more and more advanced cancer patients going from chemotherapy straight to the ER, and then from there to the morgue, as many doctors prescribe more and more aggressive treatments. This is definitely "torturing them on the way out", and it's questionable how necessary it is.

Obviously no doctor or other medical professional does a procedure with an intent to injure. But the truth of the matter is that cookie-cutter medical protocols applied or mis-applied to unique human bodies will result in at least some of them being harmed when things go wrong. Should we continue to accept this "collateral damage" as part of the business of practicing medicine in North America?

Postscript Sept. 26: And now see this NBC article, which estimates that only about one percent of events that cause harm to patients are reported by hospitals and asks why patients themselves are reluctant to report medical errors.

And also this: The Drugs Don't Work, an alarming expose of how drugs are approved.

And now the medical perspective:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bioenergy therapies and mainstream medicine

Two news items came my way recently offering encouragement that bioenergy therapies are gaining acceptance in the mainstream.

The first was a headline in Science News proclaiming that "Touch Therapy Helps Reduce Pain, Nausea in Cancer Patients, Study Suggests". The study, conducted by the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center and involving 159 patients, showed that Jin Shin Jyutsu, a form of acupressure similar to shiatsu, lessened the side effects of treatment, with patients reporting significant decreases in stress, pain, and nausea.

The second news item came from the Columbia University Department of Surgery no less, announcing that Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman, Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery in New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, would be participating in an upcoming Reiki conference. Dr. Feldman (like his famous colleague Dr. Mehmet Oz before him) introduced healers into the operating room and has seen first hand the benefits that Reiki offers to his breast cancer patients.

This is huge news. I've been advocating for this kind of integrative approach for the benefit of patients for a while now (see my "Open Letter to Oncologists", posted last November).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cats and the Domancic Method of Energy Healing

The last time I wrote about cats and energy healing, I raised the ire of some skeptics on Twitter, who proceeded to poke fun at me about the cosmetic effects of the treatment not offering any kind of proof for the efficacy of energy healing. This time I have something more concrete to offer: two cats, one with a case of hyper-thyroidism and the other with uncontrollable diabetes due to a benign pituitary tumour.

I treated both cats with the Domancic Method. Cat number one, the one with hyper-thyroidism, doesn't like energy healing. Aim it her way, and she'll be gone in a flash. Her response to the Domancic Method was interesting, to say the least. She growled. The first session she started growling the moment I began. She bristled and growled like a dog but stayed put. The second session she started growling a little later. The third, she didn't begin growling until towards the end, and the fourth, she didn't growl at all. What amazed me was that she stayed put. She didn't like it, but didn't run away, even though she had the option.

Two weeks after the fourth session, her owner called me to tell me that her thyroid had normalized. All her symptoms (over-vocalizing, excessive grooming, not eating) cleared. The improvement was lasting.

Cat number two apparently developed diabetes, which could not be controlled with insulin. His blood sugar was all over the place. I tried the Domancic diabetes protocol on him, and it didn't work. Although this would not in the least surprise the skeptics, it surprised me: Domancic protocols are usually quite effective on pets. Then the cat's vet finally came up with a diagnosis: the irregular blood sugar was caused by a benign pituitary tumour. She said the only way to control the condition would be radiation, which the cat's owner opted not to do. I then switched the cat to the Domancic protocol for tumours, and four series of treatments later, his blood sugar stabilized. This was about two months ago and it's still holding.

Years ago I worked on a cat that had a brain tumour that affected her nasal passages and caused her to sound like Darth Vader as she breathed. I treated her with the Bengston Method. After every treatment her breathing was normal for about three days. It quite amazed me. Animals don't do "placebo effect". If something works on them, it's not because they have some kind of magical belief in its effectiveness but because it really works.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

An update about the Domancic Method

Zoran Hochstatter, Zdenko Domancic's authorized representative in the West, has been quite busy in the three years since I first learned the method from him. He has taught students in the U.S., in London, England, and in Toronto, Canada. He has authorized a level-3 student in Toronto and another in London to hold Domancic clinics. He has also written a book entitled Three Chairs about the method and is now working with Dr. Craig Oster, an 18-year ALS survivor and supporter of alternative healing, who has a website called The Healers that is a veritable who-is-who of the future of healing.

This is what Dr. Oster had to say about his experience with the Domancic Method:

My work with Zoran this week using the Domancic Method of Bioenergy Therapy has been remarkable, with improved speech and my breathing best over the last 3 1/2 years.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Has cancer been misunderstood?"

I just ran across a brilliant article entitled "Has Cancer Been Completely Misunderstood?" It cites a relatively recent hypothesis which postulates that cancer cells are not random genetic mutations, but evolutionary throwbacks to a time when cells were undifferentiated and when the only available survival response for a colony of cells was unchecked growth. According to the researchers,
Cancer is not a random bunch of selfish rogue cells behaving badly, but a highly-efficient pre-programmed response to stress, honed by a long period of evolution.
In short, if you stress the human organism sufficiently, you will awaken primal genetic programming that causes cancer to develop in individual cells as a survival adaptation. This programming developed about a billion years ago, at a time when the earth was experiencing much harsher environmental conditions than we have today, so these cells can survive in low-oxygen environments and ultimately thumb their noses at anything medicine can throw at them in the way of chemotherapy or radiation.

This new hypothesis completely reverses the current view of cancer. Rather than being an unhealthy occurrence within a healthy body, it is an archaic survival response to conditions that threaten the body, i.e., an effort to reestablish health. The author of the article concludes
we need to shift our thinking away from the view that cancer is something unnatural that happens to us, to one where we see that cancer is something natural our body does to survive unnatural conditions. Change and improve those conditions, and you do more to change cancer than [by] attacking it as if you were fighting a war against an enemy.
As my summary is quite sketchy, I heartily recommend reading the article in full.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What cats teach us about energy healing

It has now happened twice. The first time I just thought it was strange. The second time I began to ponder what it meant.

Some years ago I was visiting my hairdresser and she asked me to treat her cat. The poor cat was suffering from kidney failure. It was all skin and bones, its fur dull, scraggly and matted. It looked like one very sick pussycat.

I treated the cat on the couch, with my hairdresser sitting on the other side. Both of us watched, dumbfounded, as during the treatment the cat's fur began to change, to puff out, to grow smooth and shiny, and gradually return to "normal".

When the cat had enough, it jumped off the couch (something it hadn't been able to do) and walked away.

The story didn't have a happy ending, because the very next day the cat was euthanized. The appointment had already been made, the owners didn't want the cat to suffer, they didn't really believe in "energy healing", and they didn't want to wait.

I filed the experience away for further reference, and the reference came last week, when I was asked to treat another cat in kidney failure.

I told the owners about the my experience with the previous cat and said that one of the effects might be that the fur would puff out and look normal again. It began to happen during the treatment, but not as dramatically as before. The cat slept for the rest of the day and then the day following was unable to walk. The owners had the vet on emergency standby but were willing to wait 48 hours.

At last report the cat seemed to be better and was lying in the sun, her fur sleek and soft and shiny, with a cowlick that had not been there before. (Postscript April 21: also, ever since the treatment, she has not been peeing blood, which I would consider to be a good sign.)

Some conclusions

Cats don't do "placebo effect". And fur puffing out is a clear sign of something physical going on.

Everyone assumes that a sick animal's fur is matted because it has stopped grooming itself. But neither one of these cats did a single lick of grooming during its treatment. The difference between healthy sleek fur and sickly matted fur seems to be, at least to some extent, energetic. To me this would seem to constitute some kind of proof that energy healing definitely does something.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some questions about publicizing the Bengston Method

I just ran across an FAQ posted by Equilibrium Energy concerning the Bengston Method and I could not help but notice this paragraph:
Over the past 35 years, Dr. Bengston and the therapists he has trained successfully treated people with many types of cancer—bone, pancreatic, breast, brain, rectal, lymphatic, stomach, leukemia—as well as other diseases, all using this hands-on technique that is painless, noninvasive and has no unpleasant side effects. To Dr. Bengston’s knowledge, no person he has healed ever experienced a recurrence.
The reason I noticed it is because it's very close to a paragraph in the introduction to Bill Bengston's book The Energy Cure (also published as Chasing the Cure in Canada and Heilen aus dem Nichts in Germany) which reads
Over the past 30 years I’ve cured bone cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, rectal cancer, lymphatic cancer, stomach cancer, leukemia, all using hands-on techniques which are painless, noninvasive and have no unpleasant side effects. To my knowledge, no person I’ve healed has ever experienced a reoccurrence.
What has been added is the clear suggestion that the therapists Dr. Bengston has trained over the past three decades have been as successful as he is at treating these deadly cancers. [Note May 11th: I have now been advised in a comment that Dr. Bengston himself says this claim represents a misunderstanding of his work and is not accurate.]

I cannot comment on Dr. Bengston's successes, but I can certainly comment on the experiences of at least some of his therapists, since I and my colleagues have been among their number after six Toronto workshops in 2007 and 2008.

As I have pointed out several times in this blog, our experiences with the Bengston Method did not include successful cures of documented cancers. We have palliated, ameliorated, arguably extended life spans, but we did not cure any fully documented cancers. Does that translate into "successful treatment"? Coming to Toronto in 2007 Dr. Bengston never claimed that he has ever successfully taught anyone to cure cancer in humans. He only claimed that the skeptical students he trained for his experiments went on to cure transplanted breast cancer in mice (and even then he added that he could not be sure that it was his method that was responsible for the cures). I have not heard him claim otherwise in any of the interviews that I've listened to since then—but maybe I missed something.

Here is what he said about teaching healing in a talk he gave to his colleagues at the Society of Scientific Exploration. The relevant bit begins at 1 min. 9 secs.

I wish and hope for the sake of cancer sufferers everywhere that the authors of this FAQ are encountering greater success than we have in obtaining fully documented cancer cures using the Bengston Method—and given Sheldrake's morphic field theory ("the bigger the field, the bigger the effect") it could even be possible. But in publicizing the method I wish they would give us their own clinical experience and their own proof, limiting claims to what they can show to be true now. I'd be more than impressed if I were to read that in the past two years they've been able to cure X, Y, Z cancers and have the documentation to prove it. There is no need to go back 35 years.

Most people have a hard enough time wrapping their heads around the idea that Dr. Bengston has been curing the most terrifying cancers humanity has seen for 30-plus years. It is doubtful that raising the credibility bar by suggesting that his students have been doing likewise will help the cause. Even I'm left scratching my head wondering where this came from.

A cautionary tale

In the summer of 2008 we treated a stage-4 pancreatic cancer patient who we were told was on his deathbed. After we began treating him he miraculously rallied and was eventually discharged to go home. He stopped taking morphine five days after his first treatment. His jaundice reversed. He was able to get out of bed, walk to the park, go shopping, spend weekends at the cottage. He started thinking that he might even go back to work. Six weeks after we began treating him his blood values were nearly normal, but in the four weeks after that he developed septicemia and then suddenly died.

A few months later I found some promotional material on the internet relating to two workshops Dr. Bengston held that fall. In it the promoter excitedly proclaimed that our deceased patient was alive and well and back at work, fully recovered from his stage-4 pancreatic cancer. This claim was made a mere three weeks after our patient had passed away.

I don't believe that the person who wrote the promotional material meant to deceive anyone. I believe it was a case of "broken telephone" syndrome—someone acting on outdated information, not bothering to check with the source. In this way all information is suspect, except information that one is able to verify. I can't help but wonder whether our pancreatic cancer patient forms part of the 35 years of successes that this FAQ alludes to.

So please feel free to ask many, many questions and do not rest with the answer unless you've assured yourself that the person you are talking to is not basing their evidence on hearsay. And don't necessarily accept the answer "because Dr. Bengston says so" on face value either, because it could be that he is being misquoted. Inadvertently, of course.

"Appropriating" the teacher's experience

I know first hand the dangers of appropriating one's teacher's experiences and treating them as one's own. This is commonplace in energy healing. Many people assume that because a Richard Bartlett, a Bill Bengston, or an Eric Pearl can move mountains, taking a few workshops with them will enable anyone to do likewise. Yes, a few people can. Many cannot. So when I read in this FAQ that Dr. Bengston recommends eight treatments spaced one week apart, I ask whether that means that in the authors' experience eight treatments spaced one week apart are sufficient to cure particular cancers. In Dr. Bengston's talks "dose response" still sounds like an open question and in our experience different patients had different treatment requirements (we could treat a small tumour once a week, but when we switched a pancreatic cancer patient from five treatments a week to two or three, it shifted the equilibrium in favour of the cancer and his condition worsened). Or when I read that aggressive cancers respond quickly I have to ask whether that is also the authors' experience or they are merely repeating what Dr. Bengston says in his seminars. Have they tried and succeeded curing leukemia, brain and pancreatic cancer in a handful of treatments? The same goes for how tumours react and how the method works. I don't believe Dr. Bengston himself claims to know for certain how exactly what he does works—as any good scientist he only postulates and then tests hypotheses. I've never heard him say that the "energy hyper-cycles tumours out of the body"—he even questions whether what does the healing is in fact "energy".

I'd be curious to know the answers to these questions.


A friend to whom I showed this post said that she would be hesitant to add to the morphic field of doubt concerning energy healing but thought that the questions I raise are reasonable. I try to walk a fine line in this blog between being enthusiastic and supportive of energy healing but also being level-headed about it. I probably more often than not fall over on the side of enthusiasm. And while I am enthusiastic about the future prospects of some of the methods I learned, including the Bengston Method, I would be leery about promoting them to cancer patients and care-givers as reliable cures. I don't think we are there yet. But I could be wrong.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The new "new kid on the block" part 2: Russian Organ Regeneration

I've now had the opportunity to attend two workshops on this somewhat awkwardly named method. It is called "organ regeneration" because that is precisely what the founders claim it can do: regrow organs. In a series of videos on Youtube entitled "Light of Eternity" people speak of regrowing organs: wombs, gall bladders, missing bits of lung, new teeth.

Another name for the method is "Russian New Knowledge". It is based on the work of three Russian healers, Grigori Grabovoi, Arcady Petrov, and Igor Arapjev. When I first encountered the method, I saw it as a kind of targeted prayer, and I wondered if it was similar to what Dr. Issam Nemeh did when he healed people.

The main premise of Russian Organ Regeneration is that there is a state of divine perfection from which one deviates in illness and to which it is possible to return. The name for this state of perfection is "the Creator's norm". The second premise is that the healing of anyone benefits all of Creation, as it helps return Creation to the norm of perfection that the Creator intended. The third premise is that we are co-creators with the Creator, and therefore have a say in how things unfold.

The method works in part by going back to the time before the illness started, to the first event which caused one to deviate from the Creator's norm. From that point in time a different path is chosen, the path that leads one back to the state of health that is the Creator's norm. This is similar to some Hawaiian huna practices. In huna if you injure yourself you replay the scenario in your mind in a way that avoids the injury altogether. The body can then be tricked into behaving as if the injury never happened. But this requires a certain kind of concentration that most people are not able to produce. Some of the practices of Russian Organ Regeneration, meditations developed by Grigori Grabovoi, focus on developing this level of concentration.

Russian Organ Regeneration shares with Matrix Energetics the belief that we are essentially made of light and information. Information can be manipulated to create changes in the physical body. To me the most helpful part of the second workshop -- a true "aha" moment -- was the understanding that change percolates down from the information level through the energetic level to the somatic (the body). It is easy to create change on the information level, but it takes energy and focus to bring it down into the body. Elsewhere I've discussed the difference between energy healing and informational healing. Energy healing supports the physical body and can speed up healing -- but informational healing can be instantaneous. This is the level at which spontaneous remissions happen.

According to Grigori Grabovoi information can be manipulated through vibration. Everything has vibration: light, sound, colour, numbers. Grabovoi has devised a "number pharmacy" in which each condition is paired with a number that corrects its vibration. The "number pharmacy" and the concentration exercises Grabovoi teaches to help people develop focus are both available on Amazon.

This method should resonate with those who have deep spiritual grounding and are comfortable with prayer and the idea of a benevolent Creator. I personally would not rule out the notion of organ regeneration just because it sounds implausible. The Russians are well ahead of the west in the science of what we call the paranormal. I recommend reading Claude Swanson's huge tome on the subject, Life Force: The Scientific Basis, also available through Amazon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Audio interview with Anita Moorjani and Wayne Dyer on the Aware Show

And the good stuff keeps coming ... Here is a link to an interview with Anita Moorjani and Wayne Dyer on the Aware Show.

The stuff needs to be shouted from the rooftops. About 20 minutes into the interview Anita explains how she can still return to the bliss state she experienced during her NDE:
It's actually the opposite of focusing or choosing ... it's almost like a release, like a letting go, like a surrender ... so there is no goal or anything ... it's like any sense of wanting to attain anything has to be released. This is the dichotomy: even the desire to attain that state has to be released, so it's literally a state of total release and total surrender, so there is no attachment to anything physical, any outcome or even a physical body ... Once I do that ... it feels as though I have access to the infinity, to the higher, to the unlimited, to the potential, to the ambiguity. The minute you put limitations on it, any kind of limitation, even the limitation of "this is the state I want", you are limiting the possibility. It really means opening yourself up to absolutely anything ... with no expectations, and you become available to everything, absolutely everything.
At about the 48 minute mark Wayne and Anita discuss the role of fear in cancer. Anita points out that we have been socialized to fear cancer when in fact cancer is a symptom, like a scab over a wound. She suggests everything we now do just treats the symptoms and no one looks at what really causes cancer. She believes the real cause is fear, that when fear becomes deeply ingrained on a cellular level it is physically expressed as cancer. Cancer awareness campaigns and the focus on early detection only exacerbate this fear (I would comment that cancer treatment exacerbates it even more). The solution (from Wayne): discover the changeless, deathless part of you, remind yourself that you are not your body, but an infinite spiritual being having a human experience. Anita's solution: find your joy and live from your passion. Your job here is not to please others but to live from your own authenticity. Amen to that.

Their advice ultimately boils down to developing absolute trust in a benevolent universe in the face of all fear and all apparent evidence to the contrary, which would seem to me a difficult task for cancer patients -- but a very necessary one.

To those who scoff, I would suggest perusing the research of Dr. Alastair Cunningham on long-term cancer survivors in his Healing Journey Program, which corroborates what Anita suggests here. I would also suggest that the testimony of someone who came back from the brink of death, and shortly afterwards found herself mysteriously cured of terminal stage-4 cancer, is of far greater worth to me than the testimony of a dozen oncology experts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Censored by the mainstream

Yesterday I noticed a few hits on my blog from a discussion group at Out of curiosity I clicked on the link and found that someone had posted a link to my post "Open Letter to Oncologists" and asked "What do you think?" Another member named Anjou promptly replied "sounds like a duck--quack quack".

I responded to this very politely, suggesting that the poster was being prematurely dismissive. A discussion ensued, which the poster began by adding "squawks like a duck too". She then accused me of marketing. I had no intention of marketing; I only joined the discussion because of her attitude. In the end I provided them with a list of links which had nothing to do with this blog (or me marketing it), but with providing information that the readers of could have benefited from -- links to Anita Moorjani's book Dying to be me, Leigh Fortson's book Embrace, Release, Heal, Dr. Bengston's SSE talks on Youtube, and Dr. Claude Swanson's Youtube interview. Anita Moorjani and Leigh Fortson are both cancer survivors, Anita in particular a lymphoma survivor. One might think that the participants of a discussion group on lymphoma might be interested in what they had to say.

All of this was deleted by the Moderators, because God forbid that the readers of should find out about anything other than the standard medical treatments. And Anjou thanked them. And then I received the following message from
You have been banned for the following reason: Insulting behavior - posting outside forum rules.
Date the ban will be lifted: Never

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Anatomy of a miracle - Part 3

Last summer I read a book entitled Raising the Dead: A Doctor Encounters the Miraculous by the impressively named Chauncey W. Crandall IV, MD. The title says it all: the book is about Dr. Crandall's encounter with a miraculous recovery and his attempt to make sense of what he saw.

The book begins with the remarkable story of a patient named "Jeff" who collapsed of a massive heart attack in the ER of the hospital where Dr. Crandall worked as senior cardiologist. By the time Dr. Crandall arrived in the ER, Jeff had been shocked six times, to no avail. A seventh shock was likewise unsuccessful. By then the ER team had been working on reviving Jeff for 40 minutes, his pupils were fixed and dilated, and his lips and fingers and toes were "cyanotic", which means "black with death from lack of oxygen". All that was left for Dr. Crandall to do was to pronounce the patient dead.

And this is where the story gets interesting. Everyone left, except for Dr. Crandall, who had to write up his report, and a nurse, whose job it was to prepare Jeff's body to go to the morgue. As Dr. Crandall turned to leave, he sensed that God wanted him to pray for the patient. Feeling foolish, he ignored it, but the sense became more insistent. So he stood beside the body and said a few words of prayer. And then, still prompted by the same impulse that had caused him to pray in the first place, he called to the ER doctor to shock the patient one more time.

After the next shock the patient came back to life with a perfect heartbeat. Here is Dr. Crandall's account:
His abdomen started to tremble and move and then his chest started to rise and fall. He was breathing on his own! Then his black, cyanotic fingers twitched. Next his toes. In almost no time he was mumbling.

The nurse screamed ... "Doctor," she asked, "what have you done? What are we supposed to do?" She was not only terrified but angry ... This was not a miracle to her, as I found out later, but more like the creation of Frankenstein.
The nurse later explained her reaction to Dr. Crandall: she fully expected the patient to be brain dead. But he wasn't. In spite of his brain having been deprived of oxygen for over 40 minutes, a few days later Jeff was sitting up in his bed in the ICU, talking. The only sign of his ordeal was that his fingers and toes were still cyanotic, "bruised by death."

In the remainder of the book Dr. Crandall tries to make sense of this experience, and of others he has had. As an evangelical Christian, he filters his experience through his religious beliefs, and has much to say about Jesus and Satan. This doesn't accord with my own more pluralistic view of spirituality and religion, so I found the rest of the book disappointing. But Jeff's extraordinary return to life does belong in the same league as Anita Moorjani's NDE, and both of them belong in a very real category of people whose experiences defy the laws of physics and biology as we define them, but are all the same very real. Not understanding them, we call these experiences "miracles".

In a previous post, "More about Bennett Mayrick?", I wrote about a patient described by Dr. Deepak Chopra who suffered an electric shock while working on the roof and fell to the ground 15 feet below. He too had an NDE. This is how Deepak Chopra describes his experience:
And you ask him, "Bob, what happened?" He says, "I went into the gap." I say, "What was there in the gap?" He says, "It was sheer unbounded joy. It was absolute, total bliss." You ask him, "Were there any thoughts there?" "No. I didn't have a mind." "Did you have a body?" "No. I didn't have a body." "So what was there?" He said, "l was just aware. " You ask him, "What were you aware of?" "I was aware that I was aware. But it was pure wakefulness. I was grounded totally and completely in the experience of my own immortality."
It's interesting to speculate what would happen if we began to understand and became familiar with this "gap", which appears to be the place where we come from and to which we return when we leave our physical bodies. If we knew and understood, would more of us have miraculous recoveries? Would we lose our fear of death? Would we become better people? By all accounts, most people who return after an NDE completely lose their fear. I wonder what would happen if the rest of us did too.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Anatomy of a miracle - part 2

In "Anatomy of a miracle" I described several cases of spontaneous remission from advanced cancer. And now here is another one from Qigong Master Chunyi Lin, who was recently interviewed by Shifra Hendrie on her internet series Quantum Healing.

Chunyi Lin's wife suffered from lung cancer, and like Anita Moorjani, she came to her final hours. Unlike Anita Moorjani, she was not in a coma and she did not have an NDE. What she did have, like Anita Moorjani, was a miraculous recovery from terminal cancer -- in her case lung cancer.

In the interview Chunyi Lin describes his wife as having had a lot frustration and anger in her life and not being open to healing. In her final days he had a doctor friend speak to her and tell her that a Western medical diagnosis was only one part of a much larger picture and that people could heal from life-threatening diseases even in terminal stages by opening their heart, and by deploying that most powerful tool of healing, forgiveness. Two days later in the emergency room Chunyi Lin heard his wife openly express feelings of love publicly for the first time. Then she closed her eyes in meditation and saw a beautiful light and within two weeks all her tumours disappeared.

Chunyi Lin believes that all healing comes from the heart. "No one can heal you," he says, "unless you believe you can heal yourself from your heart." He also believes in the power of unconditional love and forgiveness. Like Larry Crane, he advocates loving your tumour, loving your asthma, loving your arthritis unconditionally. With that love, you consciously bring in light and joy, and bathed in that light and joy your conditions can dissolve into healing. The mind makes a decision to open the heart, and the heart brings in the energies you need to heal you.

All this may seem quite simplistic to Western minds, and even evoke anger. But as I give bioenergetic support to cancer patients the image that often comes to me is that the patient is like a nut: a soft kernel encased in a hard shell. That shell is the ego, and it forms a barrier to the healing energy the patient needs. It's not only a barrier to the energy I try to provide, but also to the universal life energy (qi or ki) that circulates freely through us all, day in day out, when we are soft and open.

Qigong in all forms, including the Spring Forest Qigong Chunyi Lin teaches, opens us to the energies of the universe. When this energy available to us and circulates freely inside us, many diseases can be healed from within.

Here are some beautiful qigong meditations I received from reader John Hill, who used them to facilitate the healing of his 93-year-old mom from end-stage cancer.

Postscript March 5, 2012: A few days ago I ran across an article on Yahoo News about a 48-year-old woman who had a massive heart attack. Doctors worked for hours on reviving her but were unsuccessful and finally her husband and daughter were called in to say their goodbyes. Leaning over, her husband whispered "I love you" in her ear. She suddenly gripped her daughter's hand and came back to life -- with no brain damage from oxygen deprivation. Another testament to the power of love?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bioenergy healing and fear

I had coffee yesterday with a friend and colleague of mine, Ellen. She and I had studied with Dr. Bengston together, then we both learned the Domancic method together. We were two-thirds of the team that treated "Mischa" and another pancreatic cancer patient, both of whose lives were significantly extended through bioenergy treatments.

Ellen is now part of a group of practitioners who run monthly Domancic clinics in Toronto. These are based on the clinics run by the founder of the method, Zdenko Domancic, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Mr. Domancic has been holding clinics in Kranjska Gora since the nineties, and he and his therapists have successfully treated hundreds of thousands of people with conditions such as cancer, heart disease, MS, diabetes, among many others.

People have been finding out about Ellen's Domancic clinics mostly through word of mouth, although she also sends out e-mails and I put the most recent one on Kijiji. People call, inquire, ask questions and then maybe decide to attend. Sometimes they decide to attend and then call back to say "something else has come up". Sometimes the people who call to say "something else has come up" are very ill and very much in need of what the Domancic Method has to offer. So yesterday over coffee we were discussing the meaning of "something else has come up".

My opinion was that people don't understand energy healing and because they don't understand it they are afraid of it. They are afraid that it might not work, but in some cases they are equally afraid that it might. For Ellen and me, immersed for years in the world of healing energy, it is as natural as breathing. It is just a different way of looking at the world, including the unseen as well as the visible, as simple as making the shift from living in a Newtonian universe of objects bumping off each other to a quantum universe of intersecting waves and energies. In our view the quantum universe is both more benign and offers greater opportunities for healing than the Newtonian one. In my view, the quantum universe is the place where "spontaneous remissions" happen.

I am puzzled by this fear of the unknown. People are scared to try energy healing, yet these same people will go to doctors and hospitals to be poked with needles, cut open, radiated and burnt, and to have poisonous fluids injected into their veins that cause them to vomit and lose their hair. Some of them will die from the treatment. The same people who are brave enough to subject themselves to these painful physical assaults are afraid to receive healing energy. Why? One answer is that they are afraid it might not work. But are they not afraid chemo or radiation might not work? The worst-case scenario with energy healing if it "doesn't work" is that nothing happens. The worst-case scenario with chemo and radiation is far, far, far worse.

Ellen and I treated a patient with pancreatic cancer for a whole year after he received his stage-4 diagnosis. Yes: a whole year, even though he was supposed to be dead in 7 months. During that year he took long walks, did major clean-up jobs and some improvement projects around the house, and helped a neighbour with a building project. His naturopath marvelled at his condition and told him that people with his kind and stage of cancer usually came to see him with walkers, wheelchairs, or not at all. Then after a year he stopped his energy treatments. Eventually a family member convinced him to try palliative chemotherapy. Why? What do people think palliative chemotherapy will accomplish? The family member did not understand energy healing but apparently had some kind of magical belief in medical treatment. So the man who was able to take long walks on an energy healing regimen started throwing up and losing significant weight on the allopathic one, and soon after became unable to live any kind of a normal life. Palliative chemotherapy was abandoned because it wasn't working and a short few months later he died.

So let me ask the question again: what are people afraid of with energy healing? Please send me your questions and comments and let's get a discussion going.

PS: to be clear, I am not advocating that people with treatable cancers abandon their allopathic treatment in favour of energy healing. I am saying, however, that energy healing does have something of great value to add to that treatment, and in the case of very advanced or end-stage cancers, it can produce a far better quality of life than palliative chemo and radiation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Energy healing and the "globalization of medicine"

On CTV's Canada AM Dr. Oz recently made the startling and thought provoking statement that alternative medicine was in fact nothing more than the "globalization of medicine". Much has been globalized in this new interconnected world of ours, but here in North America the medical establishment continues to insist that patients should only have access to Western medical care and that everything else is "unfounded superstition". Dr. Oz asks the question why North American patients should not be able to put their money on the table and have the best medical practices other cultures have to offer, such as Ayurveda or TCM, made available to them.

Both TCM and Ayurveda recognize that the body is more than a collection of biological nuts and bolts, and that the energy that animates the human physical structure is an important component of health. Working with that energy is an integral part of ancient Eastern medical practices. Only here in the West have we declared that this energy does not exist. And in fact the great-grandfather of both TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and current forms of energy healing is Qigong, an ancient Chinese energy healing practice developed by Daoists back in the mists of time. Energy healing along with herbalism is the oldest form of medicine on the planet.

In the truest sense the "globalization of medicine" means not only importing for western use the best practices of other cultures' medicines, as we've seen with acupuncture, but also understanding the philosophies behind them. Recognizing the energy that animates us all would be a huge shift in Western medicine. Imagine the health innovations we would see, the staggering amounts of money we could save on public healthcare, if, instead of investing billions of dollars in researching the next expensive designer drug, we made an investment in exploring healing in the human energy field.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Anita Moorjani, "Dying to Be Me" -- a commentary

I just finished reading Anita Moorjani's newly released book, "Dying to Be Me". As you may have seen in previous posts, I am a great fan of Anita's message. Her book is a must-read for cancer patients, their family members and caregivers -- maybe even their doctors, although I could see some doctors scoffing at her story as being just too unbelievable. It may be unbelievable, but she does have the medical tests to prove its truth, and it does classify as the mother of all "unexpected remissions".

Anyone who reads this post likely knows at least the bare-bones sketch of Anita's story, her lymphoma, her arrival at the hospital in a coma, her diagnosis of organ failure and imminent death, her near-death experience, and her exuberant return to health. To me the most important part of her message to cancer patients is "you have nothing to fear". Since everyone's greatest fear usually concerns dying and ceasing to exist, her experience of death as a release into painlessness, lightness, love and acceptance offers a huge message of hope.

To me the greatest problem with how we view cancer today is the phenomenal fear that is associated with it. People receive a cancer diagnosis and immediately their mind processes it as a death sentence. The way the world looks at them changes; they become heroic victims. Everyone participates in the fear.

I have long sensed that cancer feeds on fear, and in Anita's book I read that she feels that her cancer was caused by fear. Fear causes contraction in the body, in the spirit, in the mind. Contraction is contrary to health. So the disease that was caused by fear is then fed by fear. This is not far fetched: fear is a huge stressor, and studies have demonstrated that stress helps cancer grow.

Anita's book offers an antidote to that fear.

To me as an energy healer the most hopeful part of her message was that cancer is a disease of the soul that expresses itself first in the energy field and then in the body. If you remove it from the energy field, it will also disappear from the body, without needing to leave through the usual physical channels. This is what happened to Anita: her doctors said that if her billions of cancer cells had been eliminated by her liver, her kidneys, her lymphatic system, the toxicity alone would have killed her. Yet her cancer simply vanished, with no adequate explanation.

Could this be how all spontaneous remissions happen? Something causes the disease to vanish from the energy field, and then it just goes poof from the body as well? Should we then not be concentrating on finding the best way of treating diseases in the energy field rather than mucking about, painfully and inefficiently, with surgery and drugs on the physical plane?

Here is the link to Anita's book, a link to my previous post, "Anita Moorjani quotes for energy healers", and now also a link to a great audio interview with Anita and Wayne Dyer.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Recent healing stories

Two stories of miraculous healings of cancer came way my recently. One was told to me by a member of my meditation group. She related that a colleague of hers went on medical leave back in November. The colleague had had a heart attack and subsequently a shadow was discovered on her lung, and diagnosed as lung cancer. The next piece of bad news was that the lung cancer had metastasized to her brain, where a lesion was also discovered. The medical team decided to concentrate on the brain lesion first, and she received radiation. The lesion disappeared. She was next going to receive radiation for the cancer in her lung, but there turned out to be no need for it, because by then the lung cancer had also disappeared, even though it was never treated. In addition to her allopathic treatments, she also received healings from a women's healing group of which she was a member. I discussed the power of such healing groups in a previous post, "Are Healing Groups the Way of the Future?"

The other story came my way through a Reiki practitioner. She treated a woman at a health fair who had great difficulty walking due to cancer in her spine. Six months later she saw the same woman again at another fair, and this time the woman came up to her dancing. She was so impressed with her initial Reiki treatment, she said, that she decided to have weekly Reiki treatments.

Even if Reiki and other energy practitioners can make no promises of miraculous healings, it is very much worthwhile for cancer sufferers to seek out their services. Energy practices strengthen the body and the immune system. They can make radiation and chemo easier to bear, which is why many hospitals now offer Reiki for cancer patients who are receiving treatment. In cases where the cancer is terminal, energy treatments contribute to the patient's well-being. I discuss this in my post "Open Letter to Oncologists".

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Radical Love and Cancer

I've been listening to the interviews on Shifra Hendrie's The Coming Era: Aligning With the Power of Your Core. Interview #3 was with Larry Crane, teacher of the "Release Technique". Being a hands-on guy rather than one who likes to lecture, Larry took a few callers through the Release Technique to demonstrate how it worked. The essence of the technique is radically loving oneself and others. One particular caller had a brain tumour and Larry took her through a process of accepting, loving, then releasing her tumour.

I mentioned this to my friend Ellen, who reminded me of the movie "The Divine Matrix", in which another woman, also suffering from a brain tumour, although not a malignant one, approached the tumour with radical love and acceptance. The implication made in the movie was that the tumour then dissolved.

This radical love and acceptance are the exact opposite of what we normally do to tumours, which is to try to cut them out or burn and poison them to death. The fight against cancer is seen as (and too often becomes) a fight to the death. But it is important to note that cancer is a part of oneself, which is why radiation and chemotherapy take such a horrendous toll on the body. In fighting cancer one is fighting oneself. But what would be the effect of radically loving and accepting that same self, extending that unconditional love to one's cancer as well?

What would be the effect of releasing all the negative feelings and grudges accumulated throughout a lifetime so that this love can thrive?

This is what Leigh Fortson, author of Embrace, Release, Heal advocates, and it's what Lester Levenson (on whose thought the Release Technique is based) did, in 1952, after he had a heart attack from which doctors said he would not recover. He went home and reviewed his life, and worked on releasing negativity and developing radical love and acceptance. He recovered and lived until 1994, another 42 years. He went on to teach that ultimately we are all seeking love and that the source of our suffering is that we all look for it outside of ourselves, from others, where we cannot find it, and not inside ourselves, where it lives.

In this blog I've been grappling with the question of miraculous cures and how they become possible. In Anatomy of a Miracle I quoted Anita Moorjani, who recovered from stage 4 cancer after a near-death experience, John Hill, who helped his mother heal from stage 4 cancer with qi gong, and "the Geordie healer", whose blog details his full recovery from lymphoma. "You must first love yourself", Anita Moorjani says. "Negativity is poison to our body," says David, the Geordie healer. "negative thoughts, feelings, anger, fear, keeping alive past hurt, extreme emotion, ego responses. Our preoccupation with negativity has a resonance that usually manifests dis-ease." In John Hill's meditations "you are breathing love from the center of creation to the infinite ends of creation, you are also breathing this love from the center of each cell in your body throughout the universe that is your body/mind/spirit." Healing is all about love.

The opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Cancer is arguably the one single word in our collective vocabulary that evokes the most fear. People diagnosed with cancer get on a treadmill of fear: even if they go into remission, the fear remains. I would argue that fear feeds cancer. Cancer thrives on fear. In fact studies have shown that stress helps cancer grow. If you go to a place of no fear and no stress, a place of love, your cancer has a lot less to feed on. Radical love is worth a try.

See also my post below "Why is meditation a good prescription for cancer patients" and corroboration for the mind-body-spirit link from a physician in "Revolutionary health message from a woman doctor".

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gathering momentum towards the tipping point

I just ran across a website called The Healers. It is the website of Dr. Craig Oster, who was diagnosed in 1994 with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). Instead of dying as expected within a few years after his diagnosis, Dr. Oster has soldiered on. He even earned a PhD in psychology while fighting the disease. He was admitted into a hospice in 2008 and then "kicked out" in 2009. The Healers is his vision. "There is always hope in life on some important level," the website says, "regardless of your situation or whatever has occurred in your life":
All humans have tremendous healing power, and we are here to help strengthen your own quest to realize to a greater extent the level of healing power that is within you. Are you ready to claim yourself as one of The Healers? Many people have been so brainwashed by the status quo medical establishment, big pharmaceutical companies and the media that they believe that their only hope for healing comes from the external sources of prescription drugs or some medical/surgical procedure ... Let’s focus on the tremendous powers within you and opportunities for orchestrating healing processes.
Dr. Oster has brought together fifty "advisors", a group
of holistic health experts dedicated to changing the way the world views healing and holistic therapies. Dozens of internationally renowned scientists, physicians, holistic health experts and integrative medical professionals have joined together in this never before seen association dedicated to breaking through establishment medical assumptions to bring the world a better and more complete understanding of how holistic healing can benefit everyone.
Years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, which is about how a thing or idea that is ridiculed, disbelieved, or not even a blip on a horizon can gain momentum and suddenly become huge. Well, to me this website shows that we are heading towards the tipping point on healing. Welcome to the coming new possibilities, everyone.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"The Beautiful Truth" - another movie about cancer and nutrition

I thank "Chris Beat Cancer" for bringing my attention to this movie. After the 15-year old protagonist, also called Chris, loses his mother, his father decides to home-school him and gives him Max Gerson's book on the Gerson therapy. Chris ultimately embarks on a cross-country tour to speak with scientists, doctors and cancer survivors to find out what's behind the book.

I found the movie informative, but I felt sorry for "the kid", who was likely still traumatized by the loss of his mom, and then had to go on this odyssey to find out that everything in the modern world is bad for you. And I didn't understand the dad's motivation in assigning him Max Gerson's book as a home-schooling project, given that the mom seems to have died in an accident and not of cancer. At one point in the movie "the kid" visits a company that manufactures coffins (the point being that Americans nowadays need larger coffins because they are so fat) and we see him climbing into coffins to test them out for size. This just seemed morbid to me.

At any rate, there is interesting information about things that are very bad for you, such as dental amalgam, aspartame and anything produced by Monsanto (who declined to give an interview) and things that are good for you, such as organic vegetables.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Year's Gift for You

Shifra Hendrie has put together another free teleseminar series, entitled "Quantum Healing, Consciousness and Soul: The Coming Era, Aligning With the Power of Your Core." The speakers include, among many others, Norm Shealy, Donna Eden, Richard Gordon (the founder of Quantum Touch), Gregg Braden, and Lynne McTaggart (author of The Field).

I have had the pleasure of listening to Shifra's interviews from a previous teleseminar series and I was impressed with her warmth and her ability to engage her guests. The interviews are deep and thorough. Listening is free; there is a cost if you would like to purchase downloads or transcripts.