The purpose of this blog is purely educational. It does not advise any reader to forgo medical treatment for any condition. It describes methods that have not yet been proven effective through widespread scientific testing. Readers who are concerned about their health are advised to contact their physician.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Has cancer been misunderstood?"

I just ran across a brilliant article entitled "Has Cancer Been Completely Misunderstood?" It cites a relatively recent hypothesis which postulates that cancer cells are not random genetic mutations, but evolutionary throwbacks to a time when cells were undifferentiated and when the only available survival response for a colony of cells was unchecked growth. According to the researchers,
Cancer is not a random bunch of selfish rogue cells behaving badly, but a highly-efficient pre-programmed response to stress, honed by a long period of evolution.
In short, if you stress the human organism sufficiently, you will awaken primal genetic programming that causes cancer to develop in individual cells as a survival adaptation. This programming developed about a billion years ago, at a time when the earth was experiencing much harsher environmental conditions than we have today, so these cells can survive in low-oxygen environments and ultimately thumb their noses at anything medicine can throw at them in the way of chemotherapy or radiation.

This new hypothesis completely reverses the current view of cancer. Rather than being an unhealthy occurrence within a healthy body, it is an archaic survival response to conditions that threaten the body, i.e., an effort to reestablish health. The author of the article concludes
we need to shift our thinking away from the view that cancer is something unnatural that happens to us, to one where we see that cancer is something natural our body does to survive unnatural conditions. Change and improve those conditions, and you do more to change cancer than [by] attacking it as if you were fighting a war against an enemy.
As my summary is quite sketchy, I heartily recommend reading the article in full.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What cats teach us about energy healing

It has now happened twice. The first time I just thought it was strange. The second time I began to ponder what it meant.

Some years ago I was visiting my hairdresser and she asked me to treat her cat. The poor cat was suffering from kidney failure. It was all skin and bones, its fur dull, scraggly and matted. It looked like one very sick pussycat.

I treated the cat on the couch, with my hairdresser sitting on the other side. Both of us watched, dumbfounded, as during the treatment the cat's fur began to change, to puff out, to grow smooth and shiny, and gradually return to "normal".

When the cat had enough, it jumped off the couch (something it hadn't been able to do) and walked away.

The story didn't have a happy ending, because the very next day the cat was euthanized. The appointment had already been made, the owners didn't want the cat to suffer, they didn't really believe in "energy healing", and they didn't want to wait.

I filed the experience away for further reference, and the reference came last week, when I was asked to treat another cat in kidney failure.

I told the owners about the my experience with the previous cat and said that one of the effects might be that the fur would puff out and look normal again. It began to happen during the treatment, but not as dramatically as before. The cat slept for the rest of the day and then the day following was unable to walk. The owners had the vet on emergency standby but were willing to wait 48 hours.

At last report the cat seemed to be better and was lying in the sun, her fur sleek and soft and shiny, with a cowlick that had not been there before. (Postscript April 21: also, ever since the treatment, she has not been peeing blood, which I would consider to be a good sign.)

Some conclusions

Cats don't do "placebo effect". And fur puffing out is a clear sign of something physical going on.

Everyone assumes that a sick animal's fur is matted because it has stopped grooming itself. But neither one of these cats did a single lick of grooming during its treatment. The difference between healthy sleek fur and sickly matted fur seems to be, at least to some extent, energetic. To me this would seem to constitute some kind of proof that energy healing definitely does something.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some questions about publicizing the Bengston Method

I just ran across an FAQ posted by Equilibrium Energy concerning the Bengston Method and I could not help but notice this paragraph:
Over the past 35 years, Dr. Bengston and the therapists he has trained successfully treated people with many types of cancer—bone, pancreatic, breast, brain, rectal, lymphatic, stomach, leukemia—as well as other diseases, all using this hands-on technique that is painless, noninvasive and has no unpleasant side effects. To Dr. Bengston’s knowledge, no person he has healed ever experienced a recurrence.
The reason I noticed it is because it's very close to a paragraph in the introduction to Bill Bengston's book The Energy Cure (also published as Chasing the Cure in Canada and Heilen aus dem Nichts in Germany) which reads
Over the past 30 years I’ve cured bone cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, rectal cancer, lymphatic cancer, stomach cancer, leukemia, all using hands-on techniques which are painless, noninvasive and have no unpleasant side effects. To my knowledge, no person I’ve healed has ever experienced a reoccurrence.
What has been added is the clear suggestion that the therapists Dr. Bengston has trained over the past three decades have been as successful as he is at treating these deadly cancers. [Note May 11th: I have now been advised in a comment that Dr. Bengston himself says this claim represents a misunderstanding of his work and is not accurate.]

I cannot comment on Dr. Bengston's successes, but I can certainly comment on the experiences of at least some of his therapists, since I and my colleagues have been among their number after six Toronto workshops in 2007 and 2008.

As I have pointed out several times in this blog, our experiences with the Bengston Method did not include successful cures of documented cancers. We have palliated, ameliorated, arguably extended life spans, but we did not cure any fully documented cancers. Does that translate into "successful treatment"? Coming to Toronto in 2007 Dr. Bengston never claimed that he has ever successfully taught anyone to cure cancer in humans. He only claimed that the skeptical students he trained for his experiments went on to cure transplanted breast cancer in mice (and even then he added that he could not be sure that it was his method that was responsible for the cures). I have not heard him claim otherwise in any of the interviews that I've listened to since then—but maybe I missed something.

Here is what he said about teaching healing in a talk he gave to his colleagues at the Society of Scientific Exploration. The relevant bit begins at 1 min. 9 secs.

I wish and hope for the sake of cancer sufferers everywhere that the authors of this FAQ are encountering greater success than we have in obtaining fully documented cancer cures using the Bengston Method—and given Sheldrake's morphic field theory ("the bigger the field, the bigger the effect") it could even be possible. But in publicizing the method I wish they would give us their own clinical experience and their own proof, limiting claims to what they can show to be true now. I'd be more than impressed if I were to read that in the past two years they've been able to cure X, Y, Z cancers and have the documentation to prove it. There is no need to go back 35 years.

Most people have a hard enough time wrapping their heads around the idea that Dr. Bengston has been curing the most terrifying cancers humanity has seen for 30-plus years. It is doubtful that raising the credibility bar by suggesting that his students have been doing likewise will help the cause. Even I'm left scratching my head wondering where this came from.

A cautionary tale

In the summer of 2008 we treated a stage-4 pancreatic cancer patient who we were told was on his deathbed. After we began treating him he miraculously rallied and was eventually discharged to go home. He stopped taking morphine five days after his first treatment. His jaundice reversed. He was able to get out of bed, walk to the park, go shopping, spend weekends at the cottage. He started thinking that he might even go back to work. Six weeks after we began treating him his blood values were nearly normal, but in the four weeks after that he developed septicemia and then suddenly died.

A few months later I found some promotional material on the internet relating to two workshops Dr. Bengston held that fall. In it the promoter excitedly proclaimed that our deceased patient was alive and well and back at work, fully recovered from his stage-4 pancreatic cancer. This claim was made a mere three weeks after our patient had passed away.

I don't believe that the person who wrote the promotional material meant to deceive anyone. I believe it was a case of "broken telephone" syndrome—someone acting on outdated information, not bothering to check with the source. In this way all information is suspect, except information that one is able to verify. I can't help but wonder whether our pancreatic cancer patient forms part of the 35 years of successes that this FAQ alludes to.

So please feel free to ask many, many questions and do not rest with the answer unless you've assured yourself that the person you are talking to is not basing their evidence on hearsay. And don't necessarily accept the answer "because Dr. Bengston says so" on face value either, because it could be that he is being misquoted. Inadvertently, of course.

"Appropriating" the teacher's experience

I know first hand the dangers of appropriating one's teacher's experiences and treating them as one's own. This is commonplace in energy healing. Many people assume that because a Richard Bartlett, a Bill Bengston, or an Eric Pearl can move mountains, taking a few workshops with them will enable anyone to do likewise. Yes, a few people can. Many cannot. So when I read in this FAQ that Dr. Bengston recommends eight treatments spaced one week apart, I ask whether that means that in the authors' experience eight treatments spaced one week apart are sufficient to cure particular cancers. In Dr. Bengston's talks "dose response" still sounds like an open question and in our experience different patients had different treatment requirements (we could treat a small tumour once a week, but when we switched a pancreatic cancer patient from five treatments a week to two or three, it shifted the equilibrium in favour of the cancer and his condition worsened). Or when I read that aggressive cancers respond quickly I have to ask whether that is also the authors' experience or they are merely repeating what Dr. Bengston says in his seminars. Have they tried and succeeded curing leukemia, brain and pancreatic cancer in a handful of treatments? The same goes for how tumours react and how the method works. I don't believe Dr. Bengston himself claims to know for certain how exactly what he does works—as any good scientist he only postulates and then tests hypotheses. I've never heard him say that the "energy hyper-cycles tumours out of the body"—he even questions whether what does the healing is in fact "energy".

I'd be curious to know the answers to these questions.


A friend to whom I showed this post said that she would be hesitant to add to the morphic field of doubt concerning energy healing but thought that the questions I raise are reasonable. I try to walk a fine line in this blog between being enthusiastic and supportive of energy healing but also being level-headed about it. I probably more often than not fall over on the side of enthusiasm. And while I am enthusiastic about the future prospects of some of the methods I learned, including the Bengston Method, I would be leery about promoting them to cancer patients and care-givers as reliable cures. I don't think we are there yet. But I could be wrong.