“Use amethyst for calming effects.” Okay, fine. “Peridot helps with lethargy and Angelite will give you peace.” Sure, whatever. “Rub a garnet for fertility.” Hang on, you’re losing me here. “Treat your cancer with opal and hematite” Woah woah woah, what?!
Those are some of the many crystal prescriptions listed on the website for Aura Shop, a Los Angeles-based marketplace for crystals that they claim have healing powers. The idea is that crystals can heal people by pairing with our chakras — centers of spiritual energy within our bodies according to the Hindu and Buddhist mythos — and “balancing vibrational energies within the body.” And for the low, low price of 200 dollars per hour, they can help you too.
“It’s bullshit,” geologist Emily Nicholson says in regard to people’s belief that minerals have healing abilities. “Rocks are rocks. Doesn’t mean they’re not pretty though. I myself enjoy minerals and rocks and jewelry, but nothing more.”
According to a 2013 research article published in Medical Anthropology, accounts of crystals being used for medical and spiritual purposes date back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. And with the recent controversy surrounding Gwenyth Paltrow’s debunked and dangerous Goop products, the idea has persisted.
Unfortunately, that same article describes at length how crystal healing procedures are performances. Important performances to the people who find meaning in them, perhaps, but performances all the same, not medical procedures. In fact, the paper cites crystal healers saying that the crystals themselves are accessories for the shamanistic healer, who must improvise to convince the client that they “are good at being a healer.”
This can create an authentic, meditative moment for people who seek out such spiritual encounters, concludes the article, but in fact it does not rid them of any disease.“People will always believe what they want to hear,” Nicholson says.
A 2010 study titled “Mystical stones in oncology: crystal healing power or perfect nonsense” that was published in Trace Elements & Electrolytes describes how every analyzed case of people being allegedly healed by crystals is entirely a result of the placebo effect, in which actual physiological changes occur in our body based on our expectations.
There is no direct harm in people seeking out magical rocks to help them focus or improve their clarity, but all placebos aside, there’s no good in it either. And for serious conditions like cancer, HIV, heart attacks, addictions, and Alzheimer’s Disease — all of which are maladies that can be cured with crystals according to the Aura Shop — telling people that some random mineral will heal them is straight up dangerous.
In that Trace Elements & Electrolytes paper on crystals and the placebo effect, the scientists who conducted the research provided a strongly worded statement on their goal to prevent their patients “from wasting hope, time and money in an ineffective treatment.” Pursuing crystal-based treatment instead of real medicine would postpone any form of effective treatment and put people in danger.
There are many reasons to be skeptical about pharmaceuticals, but those reasons should be more related to the amount of money and corruption within large corporations and the FDA’s inability to enforce its own regulations. They should not have anything to do with Aura Shop’s ludicrous assertion that crystals are “alive in the sense that they have energy, they are growing and they have DNA.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, a representative from Aura Shop politely refused to provide a comment for this story, as did a representative of Vibrational Energy Medicine, another company that offers crystal and stone therapies.