“Sound defects” (BioHarmonics)

CANTHEARA few enterprising folks hawk music that allegedly contains healing properties. BioHarmonics stretches this idea to an even more implausible level by selling medicine in the form of sounds that cannot be heard.

Linda Townsend began the practice, whose central plank holds that an undetected field of energy exists. It would be one thing to search for this energy. It’s quite another to assert its existence, base a medicine on it, and claim proof that patients are healed by it.

Being unable to detect the source of a health issue would be a major problem for a mainstream medical doctor. By contrast, it is a huge plus for the alternative medicine practitioner, since he or she could never be proven wrong, or the field ever shown to be flawed. It also enabled Townsend to sell her Harmonizer for $1,300. This magic medical machine, she claimed, could detect illnesses and retune them, thus healing all manner of ailments, from cancer to circulation problems, from bloods clots to digestive orders, from ear to colon problems.

Wide-ranging claims like this are a hallmark of pseudomedicine. Indeed, because Townsend was making medical claims that required FDA marketing clearance, she had to stop selling the Harmonizer. But she now offers magnets and polarizers, the latter of which she touts as “containing plant life chosen for its ability to attract cosmic light energy.”

Backed by plenty of anonymous anecdotes, though no data, Townsend insinuates that the polarizers have helped patients with cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, and paralysis. After the brush with the FDA, she is careful about explicitly asserting any medical benefits, writing, “We do not claim any medical conditions have been improved by BioHarmonics. We have only seen that bioenergy imbalances can be improved.” That puts her in the clear legally, but she remains muddled scientifically, proclaiming, “If someone is eating a disharmoic diet, there is no harmony in the bioenergy,” and “Frequency in BioHarmonics is a catalyst that influences energy motions.”

People hate being sick or seeing their loved ones suffer. When this unpleasantness and fear is coupled with a cure that seems new, miraculous, cheap, painless, or quick, the promised solutions will sell. That’s why fields like this prosper.

Meanwhile, BioHarmonics has a handy ad hoc reason for any setback: “There is no one frequency that will work on every person with the same disease. What is really needed is the missing harmonics of bioenergy motions for the individual person.”

This allows the BioHarmonics practitioner to claim victory for any seeming success, while brushing off any failure as the need to find the right frequency, which keeps the patient coming back until it’s found.

Of course, real medicine is also no guarantee. But the science behind it is understood, as is the method and, most often, the reasons for failure. By contrast, BioHarmonics is explained with phrases such as “retuning those weakened disharmonious areas of the body commonly found over sites of illnesses,” and “Blue dominates the left side of a healthy body in the outer bioenergy layer and is found in the blood bioenergy.”

BioHarmonics is classic pseudomedicine, incorporating legitimate medical terms (nerve, spine, vertebrae), science-sounding words (bioenergy), and nonsense (“Red dominates the right side of the body in the outer bioenergy layer.”)

A Townsend a disciple carries on her tradition on the Wisdom of Sound website. There, we learn that BioHarmonics is a “non-invasive technology using sound to strengthen the body, boost the immune system, and maintain wellness.”

I also offer non-invasive technology for doing all this:

Strengthen the body: Lift weights and increase protein intake.

Boost the immune system: I actually advise against this, since it’s only possible if one has first contracted HIV, is approaching death by hunger, or is undergoing chemotherapy.

Maintain wellness: Eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep and water, have regular checkups.

Wisdom of Sound compares the human body to an orchestra, and asserts that each part must be in sync or everything is thrown off. In classic snake oil tradition, they alone have the solution.

BioHarmonics is both an old and a new idea. Like an acupuncturist with nerves, a chiropractor with the spine, or an iridologist with the eye, BioHarmonics uses one aspect of the body as a purported window to overall health. The new part comes from using computers and ersatz electronic equipment such as the Harmonzier and Korg Tuner to decipher a human voice and plot a graph that is said to match pitch on a music scale. This method purportedly allows the practitioner to “detect stress or pain in the body.” This, as opposed to asking, “Where does it hurt?”

Through a process explained only as “making a formula,” the practitioner uses the voice results to design a healing mix tape. The website notes, “The sound used for treatment is just below the level of audible sound, so the healing is a frequency felt as energy.”

Since it can’t be heard, the patient has no way of knowing if anything is actually there. Perhaps employing an animal with lower-frequency auditory capabilities is the solution. If so, BioHarmonics has value among chronic pain sufferers who are elephant trainers.

One of the few other BioHarmoincs practitioners is chiropractor Steven Schwartz, founder of Bioharmonic Technologies. Schwartz boasts that he has “been able to reprogram our cellular biology,” which loosely translated means, “I’m a mad scientist.”

Under the “Scientific Evidence” tab on his website, he addresses “cellular attunement research,” without ever explaining what the cells were being attuned to, why this is happening, what it means, or how it works. He did, however, include a nifty dot of rainbow chakras of a patient who now experiences complete alignment.

He also sells an Energy Clearing CD, advertised as being “infused with sacred geometry to help create a space to release negative energy from your energetic biofield, with specific frequencies which will vibrate each individual spinal vertebrae, and high frequencies emitted by crystal bowls and chimes.”

Elsewhere he writes, “This is a perfect example of how sound can influence the energetics of a living organism.”

Indeed, if Schwartz used a spiel containing such language to prompt a living organism to buy this stuff, it speaks volumes about his influence.

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