Is It Safe for You to Trust Your Health to the Holistic Health Practices of Today? – Program 4

By: Dr. Norman Shealy, Dr. Robert Leightman, Dr. Jane Gumprecht, Dr. Paul Reisser, Dr. John Weldon; ©1994
Is there any scientific research to back up the claims made by practitioners of these therapies?

Homeopathy and Chromo therapy


Today on the John Ankerberg Show, four medical doctors and a Christian theologian will debate the question: Is it safe for people to trust their health to the new unconventional medical therapies? The New England Journal of Medicine reports that one-third of all American adults now seek out and use unconventional medical treatments and holistic health practices. By definition, an unconventional medical therapy is a practice that not in conformity with the standards of the scientific medical community. But if so, how can the public know which therapies are safe? Who has tested the principles upon which each holistic health practice claims it can cure illness? And what about harmful spiritual effects? Haven’t some holistic health treatments incorporated parts of occult belief and practice?

During this series, doctors representing all sides of these issues will discuss the individual holistic health practices by name, and express how they may impact your physical and spiritual well-being.

My guests are: Dr. Norman Shealy, the founder of the holistic health medical association in America. He is a neurosurgeon and former professor of medicine at Harvard university; Dr. Robert Leichtman, a medical doctor, who is also recognized as one of the premier psychics in America; Dr. Jane Gumprecht, a Christian doctor who has warned the public about many holistic health practices; Dr. Paul Reisser, also a Christian doctor, who has written extensively on the medical dangers of unconventional health methods; and finally, Christian theologian Dr. John Weldon, who did his Ph.D. work on the beliefs and practices of the eastern religions. We invite you to join us as we investigate the question: is it safe for you to trust your health to the holistic health practices of today?

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re glad you’ve joined us this week. We’re talking about a very interesting topic. And the topic is: Should New Age holistic health techniques be cataloged as quackery or the new wave of medicine? And we’ve got five doctors on the platform. And let’s start off with something that I was fascinated with. Norman, in your book, AIDS: Passageway to Transformation, Dr. Dossey, the guy that wrote the foreword to the book. . .
Shealy: Larry Dossey.
Ankerberg: Larry said this. He said, “If the new mental factor in medicine sounds new, it is not.” He said, “In most places today there are no modern hospitals and folk healers and shamans”—the old witchdoctor term—“still account for most of the medicine practiced on the face of the earth.” I was actually in Africa for five, six different years, going back and forth, and I saw some of these powerful, powerful shamans or witchdoctors that he’s talking about here. “These techniques of theirs,” he said, “while they employ various esoteric”—that is, secret—“methods relying heavily on the powers of consciousness of the healer and the healee,” he said, “the power of the mind has been the veritable backbone of shamanism whose history extends for 50,000 years.”
What I found fascinating was, “From this perspective, we are treading old paths. We are rediscovering truths.” He says they are ancient truths, but “they’re truths about ourselves which we have almost forgotten in an age of science.”
Then he ties you and Carolyn to those same views, which got me thinking about what Michael Harner had written in his book. And he said, “The burgeoning field”—by the way, he’s an anthropologist who is supposed to be the world’s leading expert on what a shaman is—“The burgeoning field of holistic medicine shows a tremendous amount of experimentation with techniques long practiced by the witchdoctors or in shamanism such as visualization, altered states of consciousness, aspects of psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, meditation, positive attitude, stress reduction and mental and emotional expression of will for health and healing. In a sense, shamanism is being reinvented in the West.”
Now, my question is this: Are the techniques that we are using today under the new scientific names nothing more than what the witchdoctors used to do without those scientific names? Paul—I’ll leave Norman off the hook for a moment—the guy says… that’s in his book, but what do you think?
Reisser: I think that many of the principles are the same, even though the setting and the costumes and the rituals are different, in that some of the techniques acquire a certain amount of—I know Norman will disagree with me on this—but I think require a certain degree of a passive acquiescence of the patient to a system or to a belief set of ideas that really doesn’t make sense to them.
You mentioned homeopathy at the beginning. Let me just throw that out for openers. Homeopathy actually proceeds the New Age Movement; it really isn’t part of the current, well, it is part of the current crop, but it’s sort of tagging along. It was developed in the 19th century by Dr. Hahnemann, who felt that some of the methods of his day were a little bit overbearing. Which was actually true, but he felt that to go to the other extreme would really work better. If we simply gave people a very slight amount of material that would otherwise cause a symptom that this could improve the way they feel. Now, this has been refined into a very elaborate system that is almost impenetrable to me as to how one can possibly function with it. But, into a system where taking minuscule amounts of material is supposed to affect, again, the energy level. We’ve talked about this before.
Ankerberg: Yeah, let’s slow down a little bit for the people at home. The basic formula, all the books I’ve written, Norman’s book, your books, “like cures like.” That was his basis. That if you take a substance, he said, which causes a certain symptom in a healthy person, it will generally lead to improvement in a sick one.
Reisser: Yeah, but that’s not like a little dose of a ipecac tablet that would make you throw up if you take a little piece of it, it will make you not throw up. That theory actually is part of homeopathy. But the idea is that you dilute the thing down. . . .
Ankerberg: And the reason was exactly what you said: if you took a lot of it, they found out they were wiping out these people. So then they diluted it, diluted it, diluted it, until they got. . . .
Reisser: Right.
Gumprecht: Right. They also had to shake it. They call that succussion. And it’s the succussion that is supposed to change this, supposedly. I mean this very, very dilute particle–they can’t even measure what’s in it and the succussion.
Ankerberg: Well, the thing I think we ought to get to is that what the founder found out was that he diluted the thing all the way down. He knew there was nothing there. And, in fact, he found out that it worked better when he knew that was nothing there, which caused him to go to the secondary theory which was it had to do with the energy. The vital force is what he talked about.
Shealy: That’s right.
Ankerberg: And that’s what people need to know: that are going to these homeopathy doctors that that’s the basis upon which we’re working on here.
Shealy: I agree totally. I find the whole concept of homeopathy almost impossible to digest and understand. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. I just say I don’t understand it and it doesn’t appeal to me as a great therapeutic tool.
Ankerberg: What warning would you throw out, then, on that one? Because what we’re talking about is we don’t. . . .
Shealy: Well, it’s alright to use it if you don’t have anything wrong with you.

Ankerberg: I’d like to say a word about homeopathy. Did you know that homeopathy is now a $250 million a year business here in America? It is being marketed in drug store chains and in multitudes of health food stores.
Classical homeopathy is the name of a treatment that alleges that it can cure almost any imaginable illness, from ulcers, heart disease, and migraine headaches all the way to hiccups, nervous conditions and diaper rash. It was developed by Samuel Hahnemann around 1796. Hahnemann, a maverick medical doctor, was also a mystic and follower of the noted 18th century medium Emanuel Swedenborg.
How did Hahnemann claim homeopathy cured illness? He taught that substances which caused illness, like poison, when shaken and diluted with water to extremely small amounts—such as one part poison to a billion parts water—became powerful medicines.
In fact, homeopathy claims that the greater the dilution of a substance which causes illness, the more powerful that mixture will be to cure the illness. This has resulted in homeopathic potions being so dilute that often not even a single molecule of the original substance remains in the mixture. How did Hahnemann believe this diluted liquid would heal? He said this became powerful in affecting not the physical body but the vital force, or inner spiritual nature of the body. Thus, homeopathy is actually based on an occult premise; namely, that the diluted potion will really affect the spirit, which then, in turn, affects the body. Medical science has tested Hahnemann’s theories concerning diluting substances and found them to be ludicrous.
In our book, Can You Trust Your Doctor?, which deals with such unconventional medical practices, Dr. Weldon and I present eight logical and scientific errors Hahnemann made in creating homeopathy. We also document that practicing homeopathic doctors who set out to scientifically prove the claims of homeopathy, have turned away from their own practice because of the evidence. Still, we are aware of the many testimonials people have given on behalf of homeopathy. So, in our book, we explain why the testimonials of alleged cures are not credible. In addition, we show why scientists are correct in stating that almost all homeopathy functions according to the placebo effect, and that cures on animals and infants do not nullify their conclusion. [Information received at press indicated the probability that even animals may be affected by the placebo response.]
If you avoid homeopathy, you will save yourself a good deal of time and money; you will avoid the possibility of occult entrapments; and you will escape the possible psychological and theological consequences.

Reisser: You are a part of a movement of which homeopaths are active…
Gumprecht: Very active.
Reisser: … of which some of these other therapies we’ve discussed, the acupressurists and the kinesiologists, are right on board the holistic bandwagon. Are you saying, I know you’re not speaking for all of them, but are you saying that, in essence, well, it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere? Is that kind of the idea?
Ankerberg: Let me ask a further question, Norm, and that would be, as first president and founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, did you let them in?
Shealy: Well, I’m not a person that censures other individuals for that matter. And so if a person chooses to practice homeopathy, as long as they do it with good medical judgment, I don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. I choose not to. But, you know, in California they have holistic massage, which means massaging the whole body. I don’t believe in that either.
Ankerberg: Before we go away from that, is it good, bad or, I mean, Norm, you cut it down. What do you think, Jane?
Gumprecht: Well, I think the problem with all of these things is they’re buying into an occult system. A lot of this stuff is alright. Satan puts out 90% good and 10% evil. But you go to one of these practitioners and you might be conditioned to accept some of their belief systems. For example, in homeopathy, the founder of homeopathy, Hahnemann, believed in reincarnation. And it’s the same way with Bach, and I was just going to say that Norm here in his book says that he endorses Dr. Bach.
Ankerberg: Who’s Dr. Bach?
Gumprecht: Dr. Bach was an English physician. I have his book here called Bach Flower Remedies, and he quotes from a part of the book called Heal Thyself. But I’d also like to quote to you what he said about being a parent. “Fundamentally the office of parenthood is to be the privileged means and indeed it should be considered as divinely privileged of enabling a soul to contact this world for the sake of evolution.” And then he goes on to say, “Be it remembered that the child for whom we may become a temporary guardian may be much older and a greater soul than ourselves and spiritually our superior.” In other words, the child that you have might have gone through many more reincarnations.
Ankerberg: Reincarnations. Let me ask you a question about the flowers, because on the pictures in Time magazine there was a guy there right underneath one of the guys that was channeling, and then we had the nurse with the laying on of hands, and then there was this guy out there with a flower stand. Please explain to me what the flowers do.
Gumprecht: Well, they relate each flower to moods. His was sort of a psychosomatic approach, that each flower that you use in these remedies is supposed to take care of some sort of mood. Like, for example, it says here “sulkiness,” “tearfulness,” “violent temper,” “tension through fear”…
Ankerberg: And what’s that based on? In other words, how did he get to that information?
Gumprecht: It’s purely intuitive.
Shealy: Well, I don’t really believe in the Bach flower remedies. But that doesn’t mean that Bach’s philosophy was wrong. His philosophy about the root causes of disease, I think, is a very appropriate one. Just as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a phenomenal folk healer and wrote marvelous books on the folk remedies of the day, some of which would be absolute nonsense today; nevertheless, much of what Wesley said was great stuff.
Reisser: Yeah, I don’t really question so much the folk remedies so much as just, again, the spiritual message. I mean, the fact that a root or an herb or a flower has some medicinal value I don’t think is any question. I’m sure there’s probably a lot of drugs out there or medications that could be very dangerous. Some are poisonous.
Gumprecht: Some of them are very dangerous. Yes.
Reisser: But the point is, you know, I’m sure Wesley was not thinking when he did his folk remedies that there were, you know, demons of pneumonia that he was exorcising by the flower. He didn’t put it in that kind of spiritual language which seems to permeate a lot of the therapies. I guess, you know, it seems like we’re hammering on this so much except that, it hasn’t been brought out as much in some of the very reasonable approach that you’ve given to this, but it just seems all throughout the movement the spiritual message, the spiritual orientation, spiritual world view is the whole core of holistic health.

Ankerberg: Now, let me comment on herbalism. Americans now spend almost three quarters of a billion dollars a year on herbal remedies. Herbalism involves the use of herbs and other plant products to potentially cure a variety of physical ailments. Now, what should the public know about herbalism?
First, we believe that there is a legitimate field of scientific investigation in this area called pharmacognosy. This discipline seeks to scientifically study the extracts of various plants and herbs to determine possible medicinal value. We believe that plants and herbs tested this way can lead to legitimate medicinal value. For example, an extract from the leaves of the foxglove plant produces digoxin which has saved the lives of many people with cardiovascular disease.
But on the other hand, most popular and New Age herbal medicine has little to do with the scientific approach. In many health food stores there is a considerable problem with mislabeling, possible contamination and contradictory advice as to a herb’s given usefulness.
Further, there is widespread ignorance on the part of the general public concerning proper dosage, usage, properties and the side-effects of certain herbs. Many of them have potential dangers.
Then, there’s another aspect to herbalism of which we want to warn you. This is the unscientific New Age form of herbalism which may use herbs and plants in an occult manner. Here, practitioners claim that herbs can be “spiritually potentized” in various ways. An example of this is the Bach Flower Remedies and many forms of aromatherapy, which both claim to benefit those using them as a result of the supposed energies latent within flowers, plants and herbs.
The originator of the Bach Flower Remedies was Dr. Edward Bach, a British mystic and physician, who claimed to have psychic abilities. Bach alleged that he could determine the effective healing power of a flower merely by holding his hand over it. In fact, this is how he arrived at his conclusions for his thirty-eight remedies. These remedies are derived from the liquid essences of thirty-eight different flowers, each of which he claims has curative power. Bach’s own books reveal that he is in fundamental agreement with many of the erroneous premises and occult views found in the New Age Movement.
Further, scientific testing has failed to validate the claims made for his remedies. In essence, consumers should be certain as to the quality, the safety, and the effectiveness of the herbal product being marketed.

Reisser: But it just seems all throughout the movement that the spiritual message, the spiritual orientation, spiritual world view is the whole core of holistic health. You can’t seem to get away from it.
Shealy: Well, I would like to say that I think to attack a word because there happen to be some charlatans and some people who are unwise in it is no different from attacking from Christianity. There have been more people killed in the name of Christianity than in all other efforts in the history of the world. That doesn’t mean to me that Christianity is bad, it’s just that there were some misguided periods in Christianity.
Ankerberg: I agree with you, Norman. I think what we’re talking about, though, there’s a lot of kooks that go around in all kinds of sides, but is the basis wrong? And that’s what we’re talking about. And what I’m hearing from you is that the basis for some of these therapies is way off base and we don’t agree with it. There may be some things that work, but it’s not because of the reasons those people are claiming. And that’s what I find interesting.

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