Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another Healie-Feelie Book

The recent flood in my basement ruined a perfectly good book. Actually, the book was perfectly awful: it is Healing Crystals and Gemstones: From Amethyst to Zircon by Flora Peschek-Böhmer and Gisela Schreiber. (I won't say how it came to be in my basement, but I will say that I don't own it.)

This book is typical of the "healing crystal" literature: a lack of understanding of basic geology and chemistry, combined with healing claims that are not substantiated in any way, resulting in dangerous advice for people with serious health conditions.

The book is littered with errors. Even the very first sentence is incorrect, when it claims that all gemstones originate from hot magma. (Opal, for example, can be sedimentary.) The authors claim "jasper ... always has a trigonal structure", when in fact jasper essentially doesn't form crystals at all. On page 150, the authors claim that fluorite is "also known as feldspar", when in fact feldspar is an entirely different mineral. On page 75, the authors confuse native antimony with the mineral stibnite, which is actually antimony sulfide. On page 85 the authors claim that that aragonite is silicon dioxide, not calcium carbonate. The mineral Charoite is consistently misspelled as "Chaorite". They claim that the crystal structure of Herkimer diamonds is similar to that of real diamond, when in fact they crystallize in completely different systems. They claim that kunzite is "aluminum acetate-lithium", when in fact it is a lithium aluminum silicate; no acetate at all is contained in it. They claim that Magnesite "consists almost entirely of pure magnesium", when in fact it is just magnesium carbonate. They claim that Magnesite "was first discovered in Africa", when in fact its co-type localities are in Greece and Italy.

The authors recommend the use of various minerals without noting health problems associated with them. For example, the authors recommend actinolite to stimulate "the inner organs such as the liver and the kidneys", but fail to note that the tiny fibers of actinolite have been associated with severe and potentially life-threatening respiratory disorders. They recommend using orpiment "externally as a powder to treat sexual disorders", but this is not a good idea, as orpiment is arsenic sulfide.

But the most serious problem with the book is the repeated and unsubstantiated health claims, all made without a single reference to any study in support of them. Someone with serious health problems might be persuaded to use the entirely ineffective remedies suggested in this book instead of seeking effective medical treatment. Cancer is unlikely to be helped by toumaline, sugilite, or lapis lazuli. High blood pressure cannot be improved with sodalite, lapis, or chrysoprase. Diabetes sufferers will find no relief with citrine or pyrite. Kidney ailments will not be improved with jade. For ulcers you should see your family doctor, not wear jasper or topaz.

Ahh, well, I doubt any of this will convince the healie-feelie crowd. When they're done with this, they can move on to the other immortal works of Flora Peschek-Böhmer, such as Urine Therapy: Nature's Elixir for Good Health. Urine therapy, in case you didn't know, consists of drinking your own urine. Great idea! You can use it to wash down some crytals of orpiment.


Mark said...

A meal of urine and orpiment crystals? Better follow it with a coffee enema!

Phil said...

It's sad that despite all these errors in the book (and others), the information presented is still given consideration. And these recommendations can be dangerous, as you have proved in your blogs! I never knew it was so serious.

On an unrelated note, I enjoy your blogs on religion, keep them coming!