.

  • Written by Philippa Martyr, Lecturer, Pharmacology, Women's Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Western Australia
Vibration devices have been used to treat everything from 'hysteria' to hair loss. So Marie Kondo's tuning forks and crystals are nothing new. from www.shutterstock.com

You might remember how Gwyneth Paltrow’s health and well-being website Goop was selling “medical” products with no proven measurable health benefits.

Decluttering expert Marie Kondo may be going down the same path.

Kondo now has a tuning fork and rose quartz crystal for sale in her online shop for US$75 (around A$110).

Striking the fork against the crystal creates pure tones that help to restore a sense of balance […] The rose quartz crystal in this set is associated with purification, connection and comfort.

Kondo’s decluttering approach draws on her personal blend of Zen Buddhist and traditional Shinto beliefs. Traditional Buddhism sees sound and vibration as building blocks of the universe. Buddhists believe chanting creates a healing resonance and reverberation that benefits the universe.

Much media discussion has focused on how Kondo’s decluttering seems at odds with running an online store. But her tuning fork does appear to reflect the philosophy that underpins her decluttering.

Her tuning fork is also part of a long history of humans using vibrations to understand our world, to treat illness, and to improve well-being. So why are we so fascinated with using vibrations to heal? And is there any evidence to back it?


Read more: Time for a Kondo clean-out? Here's what clutter does to your brain and body


From vibrations in the womb

Human beings have always been instinctively drawn to vibration. It may go back to our experiences in the womb, where we live daily with our mother’s heartbeat and vibrating breathing.

The idea of the music of the spheres — that the universe produces vibrations that are harmonic and hold everything in place — goes back to the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Marie Kondo’s tuning fork and crystal set promises to purify, connect and comfort you and your home. from www.konmari.com

But it wasn’t until the 1960s that English osteopath Sir Peter Guy Manners developed tuning fork therapy. He believed sound vibrations could provide comfort and healing for a range of conditions: chronic inflammation, arthritis, and even bacterial infections. This was based on ideas that were common to Western alternative practitioners and traditional Eastern practitioners.

These practitioners argued all created things, including the body, are a network of living energies. These energies could be disrupted and restored by different interventions into this force field.

You will find this idea today in acupuncture (qi), Ayurvedic medicine (prana), and reiki energy healing.


Read more: From Ayurveda to biomedicine: understanding the human body


Certainly, energy is real and used in modern medicine all the time. Lasers, electricity and radiation are all forms of energy. Magnetic energy and sound vibrations also appear to have some therapeutic properties. However, we don’t fully understand these yet.

The existence of other forms of physical energy like qi or prana or “biofield energy” is unverifiable. We can’t prove scientifically they exist, even though many schools of healing believe in them and build their practice around them.

Back to the tuning fork

Kondo’s tuning fork is tuned to a frequency of 4,096 hertz. The idea is that you strike the crystal with the fork, and this sets up a reverberation of 4,096Hz in the crystal.

Quartz is an unusual mineral. It acts like a tuning fork all by itself: it transforms energy applied to it into mechanical energy, which keeps the quartz vibrating almost indefinitely.

This is very useful if you are making watches. A watch battery can run a charge through the quartz and keep it oscillating. This is why quartz movement watches are incredibly accurate until the quartz begins to deteriorate.

The Kondo tuning fork also comes with a choice of three types of quartz: clear, rose, and smoky quartz, each with different apparent effects.

Crystals can’t really do anything by themselves, except refract light. But many people believe in their healing properties. from www.shutterstock.com

However, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest crystals are associated with anything other than different structures and colours. There is also no scientific evidence connecting particular quartz frequencies with health or psychological effects. Crystals can’t really do anything by themselves except refract light.

But if you believe strongly enough that crystals are healing you — or are bringing you confidence and joy or peace or stability — then there may be a placebo effect. If you culturally associate healing or peace with a particular type of crystal, then it may help you — but again only because you believe in it. Crystals are also comparatively harmless.

Vibrators, weight loss and massage devices

With the industrial revolution, more doctors in the United Kingdom and Europe began to integrate electricity — known then as “medical galvanism” — into their treatments. This included using electricity to stimulate wasted muscles, which actually works, as does shocking a stopped heart back into action. So it’s not surprising doctors also tried to use vibration as a therapy.

In the late 19th century, it’s alleged doctors used vibrators to treat women with “hysteria”. However, this may be a myth, and a salacious one at that. There’s no real evidence to suggest this was normal practice, or even experimental practice.


Read more: Vibrators and hysteria: how a cure became a female sexual icon


Today, vibrators have moved into the sexual entertainment industry (and the home). But “massage devices” are still sold by mainstream retailers.

Then there’s the long history of why your hairdresser gives you a scalp massage while shampooing and conditioning. At the beginning of the 20th century, Australian hair salons used very popular vibrating devices to provide customers with “vibro-massage”. This was believed to keep away grey hair and stop hair loss.

Vibrating pads and belts were also popular for decades because they promised easy weight loss with no effort. However, it’s not possible to lose weight unless you are actually doing the moving, rather than the machine — that’s what burns the kilojoules.

This hasn’t stopped “fitness” vibrating devices and belts still being marketed enthusiastically today.

Vibration belts were once thought to help you lose weight, and are still marketed today for a variety of uses.

There’s also the idea about vibrating your whole body to lose weight at the gym. But again this hasn’t been fully tested and verified.


Read more: Whole body vibration: a genuine therapy or just another 'weight loss' fad?


As you read about these products, it’s possible to see the same appeal to unverifiable energies. These can’t be proven to exist. But this also means they cannot be proven not to exist.

The Australian Women’s Weekly advertises an electric face massager in 1961. Author provided

Practitioners of this so-called “energy medicine” like to appeal to quantum theory to explain and legitimise their therapies.

The idea of “quantum healing” is that electrical and electromagnetic activity takes place at a subatomic and molecular level to bring about healing in individual cells in the body.

We have no equipment specialised enough to detect these changes in individual cells in the human body, or to measure it over time. So it can’t be proven. It also can’t be distinguished from the placebo effect.

We also need to remember there’s a difference between energy and vibrations we can’t perceive naturally (such as from oscillating crystals), and those we can perceive. Most people can tolerate or even enjoy a small amount of vibration, but too much can induce discomfort, nausea, or even injury.

Ultimately, if you want to buy Marie Kondo’s crystals and tuning forks, feel free, but buyer beware. Or you can choose to use healing techniques that have been shown to make a real difference in people’s health at a much lower cost. Some of these, like walking and singing, are free.

Philippa Martyr does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Philippa Martyr, Lecturer, Pharmacology, Women's Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Western Australia

Read more http://theconversation.com/from-marie-kondos-tuning-fork-to-vibrators-for-hysteria-a-short-shaky-history-of-curing-with-vibrations-127443

14 Surprisingly Easy Housekeeping Hacks That Will Impress Your Guests

Everyone wants to present a perfect house when guests come over. The problem is, no one also wants to spend the whole day scrubbing everything super clean. If you follow these smart hacks to prepare...

Giancarlo Stangherlin - avatar Giancarlo Stangherlin

Award winning, ASX-list data SIM card company promises BIG changes for travellers

FLEXIROAM’s attachable SIM card, FLEXIROAM X Microchip is shaking up the telecommunications industry, fundamentally changing the way travellers use data overseas.   According to Founder and CEO...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Friday essay: living with fire and facing our fears

The smouldering ruins of a child's bike lies amongst a property lost to bushfires in the Mid North Coast region of NSW last month. Darren Pateman/AAPIt is only mid-November but we have to walk early t...

Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University - avatar Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University

Explainer: why homicide rates in Australia are declining

Latest figures reveal homocides in Australia are at historic lows. AAP/James RossAccording to the latest figures, homicides in Australia are at historic lows and compare well against international tr...

Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University - avatar Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University

Making space: how designing hospitals for Indigenous people might benefit everyone

Sunshine Coast University Hospital uses evidence-based design to provide outside spaces with views that Indigenous people tell us they value. Architectus, Author providedWelcome to the next article in...

Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland - avatar Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland

Vital Signs: Australia's slipping student scores will lead to greater income inequality

While no test is perfect but the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings are pretty useful for understanding the skills young people are being equipped with. www.shutterstock.comThe la...

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW - avatar Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

We're using lasers and toaster-sized satellites to beam information faster through space

The electromagnetic spectrum we can access with current technologies is completely occupied. This means experts have to think of creative ways to meet our rocketing demands for data. NASA Johnson/Flic...

Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia

Grattan on Friday: Angus Taylor's troubles go international, in brawl with Naomi Wolf

Morrison would rather live with a problem minister in a key post than give a scalp to Labor. Mick Tsikas/AAPScott Morrison said it with a straight face, and repetition for emphasis. “I’m v...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Early medical abortion is legal across Australia but rural women often don't have access to it

Australian women can have an early medical termination – which involves taking two oral medications – up to the ninth week of pregnancy. Jonatán Becerra/UnsplashAround one in s...

Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne - avatar Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne

All hail apostrophes - the heavy lifters who 'point a sentence in the right direction'

Doing away with the apostrophe is not just the beginning of the end ... it's the end. www.shutterstock.comReports this week about the demise of the Apostrophe Protection Society may have been greatly...

Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland - avatar Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland

It's the 10-year anniversary of our climate policy abyss. But don't blame the Greens

In 2009, a Bob Brown-led Greens party voted against an emissions trading scheme – but they can't be blamed for what came after. Mick Tsikas/AAPFederal Labor this week commemorated a dubious anni...

Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney - avatar Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney

Morrison cuts a swathe through the public service, with five departmental heads gone

Scott Morrison has announced a dramatic overhaul of the federal public service, cutting the number of departments and creating several new mega ones, while removing five secretaries. The departments...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Tick, tock... how stress speeds up your chromosomes' ageing clock

At a molecular level, stresses and strains can make your body clock break into a sprint. Lightspring/ShutterstockAgeing is an inevitability for all living organisms, and although we still don’t ...

Szymek Drobniak, DECRA Fellow, UNSW - avatar Szymek Drobniak, DECRA Fellow, UNSW

The government wants to privatise visa processing. Who will be held accountable when something goes wrong?

The Department of Home Affairs has begun taking steps to outsource its visa processing to private service providers. This move has sparked an important national debate on transparency, accountability ...

Marina Khan, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University - avatar Marina Khan, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University

Left-leaning Australians may look to New Zealand with envy, but Ardern still has much work to do

Jacinda Ardern created an indefinable aura of promise – but just as people fall in love, some have fallen out of love, too. AAP/Mick TsikasIn October 2017, 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern became prim...

Grant Duncan, Associate Professor for the School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University - avatar Grant Duncan, Associate Professor for the School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

Scientists fear insect populations are shrinking. Here are six ways to help

Scientists need your help to protect Australia's insects and track their numbers. Joe Castro/AAPAre you planning a big garden clean-up this summer, or stocking up on fly spray to keep bugs at bay? Bef...

David Yeates, Director of the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO - avatar David Yeates, Director of the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO

Aquariums, meerkats and gaming screens: how hospital design supports children, young people and their families

This aquarium at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne helps reframe hospitals as exciting hubs of activity with things to do and friends to meet. Shannon McGrath/Advanced Aquarium TechnologiessW...

Stephanie Kathleen Liddicoat, Lecturer, Architectural Design, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Stephanie Kathleen Liddicoat, Lecturer, Architectural Design, Swinburne University of Technology

To stop a tech apocalypse we need ethics and the arts

If recent television shows are anything to go by, we’re a little concerned about the consequences of technological development. Dystopian narratives abound. Black Mirror projects the negative ...

Sara James, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, La Trobe University - avatar Sara James, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, La Trobe University

To restore public confidence in apartments, rewrite Australia's building codes

Compliance with the National Construction Code provides no guarantee that an apartment won't leak. ShutterstockA prestige apartment building in Sydney built by a well-known developer is undergoing a ...

Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW - avatar Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Ways Love and Relationships Benefit Body and Mind

Being in a happy relationship is great. You always have someone to greet you when you come home ...

The Importance of Smiling: How You Can Smile More

Happiness is something we all strive for and is often just out of reach. Of course, it’s impos...

5 Things to Do On Your Wedding Morning

After months of meticulous planning, wedding mornings usually find the bride excited but stressed ...

How to Make Your Girlfriend’s Birthday Extra Special

Your girlfriend’s birthday is your opportunity to show her how much you care. But how exactly do...