“Sticker schlock” (Healing stickers)

STICKER

While many unproven, probably unworkable treatments have graced the alternative medicine landscape over the decades, Body Vibes has managed to put their own stamp on it. Literally. The company sells Healing Stickers that purport to solve a dizzying array of physical and mental maladies. Conditions that can be alleviated or controlled with the magic stickers include timidity, shyness, anxiety, inflammation, hangovers, pain, toxicity, dehydration, confusion, hormone imbalance, insomnia, and fatigue. Most bewildering, Body Vibes assures users they can attain “unicorn skin.” I guess if your medicine is make-believe, you might as well take it all the way.

To the veteran skeptic, the pseudoscience red flags pop up at once. Detoxing is the role of the liver and kidneys and if they are malfunctioning, you need an emergency room, not an adhesive adornment with butterflies. Second, the body produces several different hormones in varying amounts and each type is constantly in flux. There is no balanced state, so precisely what balancing hormones means, or how this would be beneficial, is unexplained.

The Body Vibes website also throws in the frequent alt-med gambit of saying the product “increases the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” This is a self-refuting claim since the body is not naturally healing itself if a product is needed to help it along.

Linguistic objections aside, the product’s description focuses more on stealth than health. It contains references to vibes, electrics, vibrations, bio-frequency, charges, receptor simulation, sub-harmonics, energy fields, electrical signals, mimicking frequencies, and optimizing brain and body functions. These are listed with no explanation of what they are, how they operate, or why accessing or altering them is beneficial.

While most of the language is consistent with the appeal to novelty (where a product’s recent origin is its main selling point), Body Vibes covers all the alt-med bases by employing the appeal to novelty’s equally evil twin, the appeal to tradition. Specifically, the website alludes to unblocking flow, which is a staple of acupuncture, Reiki, reflexology, chiropractic, and similar bogus healing methods that rely on non-existent meridians and chi.  

The website reads, “When we have an emotional block, the Body Vibes will help to move that energy and release it. Once these negative or challenging emotions are released our body is clear and in a good flow. It’s like driving and hitting all the green lights.” Nice auto analogy there, though I’d have preferred the sentence be used to define “emotional block,” or perhaps offer scientific evidence for how the block is released or specified what the body is being cleared of.

Forbes columnist Bruce Y. Lee took issue with another vague claim, that the stickers “target the central nervous system.” He wrote, “That doesn’t say much. Hitting your forehead repeatedly with a brick can target the nervous system as well.”

Body Vibes offers no peer review, no double blind studies, and no research to support any of their claims, which are so disjointed, meandering, and undefined that it’s not even clear what they are asserting.

Lee also noted that for all the supposed variety of afflictions that will be terminated or mitigated, there is a conspicuous uniformity to the stickers. Further, he wrote, “It’s not completely clear how many stickers you need to wear at a time, where on the body these should go, when you should wear them, or how long.” The website offers little clarity on that front, telling users only that, “Effects of Body Vibes may vary. Some people experience immediate benefits, while others realize the results over time. We recommend wearing Body Vibes for at least one month.”

The stickers’ purported abilities are so broad that users could credit any health improvement to them, and most alternative medicine is built on this ad hoc foundation. And a recommended one-month minimum use period, combined with the fluctuating nature of most illnesses and pains, means most users will think some benefit is being achieved.

In a mostly sympathetic interview with sporteluxe.com, Body Vibes co-founder Leslie Kritzer showed her scientific illiteracy by claiming the stickers are chemical- free. She also said the products are safe for everyone to use, which is a dead giveaway that the stickers have no medicinal properties. Genuine medicine is going to carry a chance of risk, even if very slight. Medicine, by design, impacts the body, and a blanket statement that a product is 100 percent safe for all persons in every circumstance shows it is not medicine.

Kritzer later claims that the material for the stickers was “originally developed for NASA and used to line the spacesuits of astronauts.” Assuming that’s accurate, it still says nothing about how applying a piece of Buzz Aldrin’s wardrobe will help your throbbing knee.   

 

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