Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Another Second Opinion

Aleisha McCormack roadtested yoga tonight. Aleisha roadtests some wacky therapy most weeks. After every one she feels "invigorated" and "re-energised". You get the idea. One wonders if she has any illnesses left, or even a single smidgeon of toxin lurking in her liver. At least yoga actually seems to be doing something - stretching and exercising are good things. Until the practitioners start telling us why it's so good. The external sweating detoxifies the body. We saw Bikra Yoga (developed 30 years ago) which is practiced in a room heated to 38 degrees Celsius. This is good because the heat "eliminates the risk of injury" (but probably not dehydration or heat stroke) and "also helps to eliminate toxins." The practitioner also blithely commented that it will "cure any illness you have." Let's hope she really didn't mean that.

Tomatis Listening Therapy was used to treat a young boy with Down Syndrome and mild autism. TLT involves the child wearing a special set of headphones which contain a 'vibrator' which rests on the top of the head. The mother speaks into a microphone and her voice (with the low frequencies removed) is played through the vibrator, as well as normally through the headphones. The 'theory' behind this bizarre practise is that sound is also transmitted through the skull to the cochlear (true in a very minimal, diffuse way), and doing this through the vibrator lets this specific band of frequencies "attune the ear to language." Notice how easily the True Believers make the leap from some fragment of scientific knowledge into the lands of uncharted fantasy and vague unprovable platitudes.

EoR finds this difficult to understand. He wonders what the difference is where the sound comes from? It still has to be processed by the brain. And why high frequencies? Lower frequencies would be transmitted through the skull much more effectively.

Nonetheless, the child had shown dramatic (unmeasured) improvements across the board in things like speech, interaction and eye contact. It must be due to the TLT. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he has also just started school. No other therapies were specified, but his parents had previously taken him to the US for treatment so it is more than probable that he was undergoing a range of other treatments as well (in fact, the TLT practitioner said that she always recommends that other therapies, such as speech therapy etc, be used in conjunction with it). The constant implication throughout the segment was that TLT was the sole miracle cure.

Of course, it's certainly a success for someone. It costs $A4500 for a full course of treatment. Unfortunately, people in the situation of this child's parents are usually desperate and likely to clutch at any straw offered to them no matter how high the cost (of course, there's always the "It's expensive so it must be good" error of logic as well).

Finally, there was a real corker. Craniosacral Therapy was used to treat sinusitis, in conjunction with naturopathy. The patient was prescribed mineral supplements and 'dietary changes' (these were unspecified other than that he must avoid the evil gluten). This apparently produced 'relief' of an unstated level after four weeks, but he Wanted More. So was it effective or wasn't it? We don't know, but he decided he needed the application of the Craniosacral Woo.

This started with the practitioner gently feeling his feet to "tune into the cranio sacral rhythm" of his spinal fluid. Speaking personally, if EoR could feel his spinal fluid in his feet, he'd be heading to Emergency. At least the practitioner told us she felt it at a "very very subtle level". This is another magic moulding of body parts through gentle touch. It "allows the body to unwind", it is "artistic" and "creative" (well, yes, creative it certainly is). Just to make sure we knew something was going on, otherwise we might ask for our money back, we were told that it was like "watching paint dry - not a lot happens". How true. How true. But at up to $A120 a session, it was a very expensive not happening.


  1. I'm puzzled by the 6 to 12 cycles per second of CSF the Craniosacral Therapist could feel through her client's feet. I understand CSF is produced in the ventricles of the brain at the rate of about 2 cups a day, and continually absorbed by the arachnoid villa into the venous blood, leaving a net quantity of about half a cup in the ventricles and spinal cord.

    The absorption of this CSF, moving via microscopic villa, really would be like watching paint dry.

    How can this throb in the feet? The CSF would already have mixed with the venous blood and be heading to the heart. How about all the other absorptions going on from the gut, capillaries etc? The impulses would be frenetically garbled.

    At least it reminds me of Bonzo Dog's song "In the canyons of your mind
    I will wander through your brain..." etc

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