Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine News of the Weird Quackery

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Harry Potter called and wants his broom back

It’s Friday, which means that it’s time once again to delve deeply into the world of woo, all for your edification and (I hope) education. Even though I started out with less motivation than usual for tending to the blog, it actually turned out to be yet another rather eventful and surprisingly productive week on the old blog, with topics ranging from plumbing the depths of antivaccination lunacy, to doing some nice straight science blogging about the anticancer drug dichloroacetate (which actually gave me some ideas for my research), to discussing the “individualization” of treatments in alternative medicine, and finishing up with the Discovery Institute’s latest sockpuppet, Dr. Michael Egnor. Given the utter embarrassment that Dr. Egnor routinely brings to surgeons everywhere concerned with good science, it was actually pretty easy when I dipped into my Folder of Woo to look for this week’s victim–I mean, subject.

After Dr. Egnor’s “I can’t see how evolution could have produced so much biological complexity so it must be wrong” and “God of the gaps” pontificating, I feel the need to make, if you’ll excuse the term, a clean sweep of things. Yes, I feel the need to clean out all those “toxins” and all that “negative” energy that leads me to want to keep applying my infamous brand of Respectful Insolence™ so liberally to pseudoscientists like Dr. Egnor (at least with respect to evolution; I have no idea what kind of scientist he is otherwise). Fortunately, Le Canard Noir had already shown me the way a couple of weeks ago. I had just forgotten about it until I delved into my Folder of Woo the other day! Yes, what better instrument to achieve this “clean sweep” than the Healing Broom, a beautiful gem of woo that earned the coveted perfect score of ten canards? If you believe the claims of its makers, the Healing Broom is every bit as magical as Harry Potter’s famous flying broom.

What, you may ask, is the Healing Broom? Ah, my friends, it is the answer to all the woo needs you have or could ever have. It’ll clean out those toxins and realign your qi to only the finest vibrational energy. Just ask Ronald J. Williams, M.Ac., Lic.Ac, of the Salem Bodywork Cooperative:

By using the Healing Broom, one can increase circulation of “Qi” (or energy) and blood, either to an area of concern or throughout the whole body. The stimulation caused by the broom and one’s holding of breath and tensing of the muscles affects many levels. It causes the cells to vibrate into an excited state, thus giving more energy to the internal body. It decreases lactic acid and breaks up toxic accumulations. It will also greatly increase the amount of Qi in the area being stimulated. This in turn will release stagnation in the meridians and increase the Qi flow to the internal organs. It will also stimulate the bone marrow, thus efficiently producing red blood cells.

It is my opinion that the Healing Broom should be included in one’s practice. In treatments such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis and poor circulation, it is a most valuable tool.

That’s just what I like: My cells vibrating into an excited state. I wonder if this thing’s an aphrodisiac. Probably not. After all, just look at it:


I’m sure you’re wondering two things. First, what is that smaller metal thing next to the Healing Broom? Why, that’s the Tooth-shaped Rolling Magnetic Acupressure Stick. Isn’t it obvious? If you’re going to flagellate yourself with the wondrously powerful Healing Broom, you’re going to want to do acupressure afterwards, and mabe even reflexology–better yet, acupressure and reflexology with magnets. The second thing you’re probably wondering is: Why are the fibers of the “business” end of the broom made of thick metal wire? That certainly looks like it would hurt to use it as shown in this advertisement:


After all, doesn’t the above Healing Broom look a lot like this:


The difference, of course, is that religious self-flagellation rituals like the one depicted above usually use rope or leather devices, and even that can draw blood, although some use small chains. So, there must be a really good reason to be using a metal broom instead of leather or rope, mustn’t there? Oh, ye of little faith! Of course there’s a very good reason that the broom must be made of metal. It’s simple, really:

In order to maximize stimulation, the products are made of a special blend of alloy to yield an ideal weight. When the Healing Broom is used, the metal rods clash against each other releasing ions. As a result, the metal sticks may appear dark after a few uses. Use mild dish detergent to clean the broom tips. Wipe with paper towel to dry.

There, doesn’t it all make sense, now? And the benefits of the Healing Broom are incredible (as in “not believable”):

The Healing Broom can benefit almost every adult in a holistic way. For example, athletes and gym enthusiasts can use it as a warm-up before the sporting event or workout, senior citizens for daily low-impact workout, martial artists to relieve sore and achy muscles, computer/office workers to ease and relieve carpel tunnel and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), busy business men and women who can’t find time to stay in shape, and holistic health conscious individuals who want to strengthen their inner body resilience. The following summary points describe the general benefits you can gain from regular usage of the Healing Broom.

  1. Improved blood circulation: helps relieve aches and pains.
  2. Vibration of cells back to normalcy: cleanses off impurities, help cells shift back to their correct position.
  3. Exercise: stretches and flexes muscles.
  4. Stimulation of potential energy: When the human body is stimulated, it creates a natural reaction. A potential energy of self-defense automatically switches on and stimulates to activate cells and helps repair our body’s biological tissues, which leads to improved physique and health. This is known to some as the “Knife Therapy Theory” in which every living creature has this kind of potential self-defense energy. An example, when fruits from an old tree become inferior, farmers usually cut a few places on the tree trunk, branches and roots. This stimulates the tree’s potential life energy that causes newly born fruits from the same tree to become big and beautiful. This is the concept that the Healing Broom is based on. When the aching feeling passes on to the hypothalamus in your brain, it secretes H.G.H. (Growth Hormone) to nurse and heal affected areas.
  5. Chi Practice: breathing therapy strengthens internal constitution.
  6. Holistic Healing: stimulates your body’s acupuncture points, meridians, and reflex areas to activate your body cells and avoids dependency on medication and negative side effects.
  7. Persevere and results will follow: Although results vary for each individual, make slapping entire body your daily regimen to help improve your overall wellness.

I wonder if it will do anything for neurosurgeons with creationist tendencies. Maybe Dr. Egnor would like to give it a try. Just a thought. In any case, that’s just what I want to do: Slap my entire body every day with a metal broom. It sure sounds energizing, if pain energizes you. I wonder if it would be too much for me to point out here that people are not trees, and “cutting a few places on the tree trunk and branches” won’t make us become big and beautiful, unless it’s done by a truly talented plastic surgeon. You know, it just occurred to me. The whole reference above to cutting seems to be an implicit admission that, if you hit yourself with a metal broom, even if you do it fairly lightly, you will break skin from time to time and you will bleed. Maybe the real reason the broom becomes dark with use is a combination of oxidation and blood. Maybe that explains the recommendation not to use the broom if you’re prone to bleeding and these additional recommendations:

  • Do not wear light color clothing when using the product to avoid staining.
  • Wash your face after slapping on your face
  • You can use the broom cover to cover the product up before use. When slapping the head area and upper orbit, you can have the product covered up to avoid hair or eyebrow damage.

Staining? Staining with blood, I’m guessing. I have a better idea: If you’re going to slap your head and upper orbit, instead of using a metal broom with a cloth cover on it, why not use something nice and soft, like a big fluffy pillow? Of course, my favorite warning is the one where they tell you, “Do not slap on reproductive organs or artificial heart.” Good advice, particularly the former if you’re a male. The thought of hitting my nether regions with a metal broom, as you can imagine (particularly if you’re male) does not sound at all appealing.

So, Orac, you may ask. This is weird enough, but is it really YFDoW-worthy? If you still have doubts, I point you to this instructional video below. Tell me that it isn’t one of the more bizarre bits of woo that I’ve ever presented:

Healing Broom-acupuntureThe funniest home videos are here

Come on, you can use the Healing Broom to perform “bone marrow washing” to cleanse and produce blood cells more efficiently! Just ask the acupuncturist. I have to admit that I’m having trouble visualizing how hitting yourself with a metal broom will “wash” your bone marrow out, but maybe that’s just me. Or maybe it causes you to bleed enough that the bone marrow has to into high gear to replace the lost red blood cells. Of course, we’re informed that, you want to think of it in terms of Western science, by whacking yourself across the back, butt, arms, legs, chest, and head, you will bring the cells to an “excited state.” i-2b306b6b2b5501cf4052984909a22090-oakie.jpgAnd who wouldn’t want that? (I do question, though, whether the same result couldn’t be obtained with a bit of Starbucks extra high test coffee.) Of course, “excited state” is usually a term reserved for chemistry in referring to the orbits of electrons in atoms, usually to be followed by the electron dropping to an lower-energy orbital and releasing the extra energy as a photon. I didn’t know that it could apply to entire cells, but, then, when it comes to woo, I guess I learn something new every day (or at least every Friday).

Still not convinced? Well, take a look at this nice young woman as she instructs you in the finer points of how to use the healing broom on your arms, head (don’t forget to put the broom cover over the broom and to grit your teeth so that you “can slap your head properly”), back, and legs. And, above all, don’t forget to learn how to use the Tooth-shaped Rolling Magnetic Acupressure Stick to deliver magnetic therapy to your body wherever and whenever you need it. (I particularly like the look on her face at the very end of this last video.)

What are we missing now? Let’s see. Woo? Check. Bizarre “mechanism of action” that makes little sense physiologically and relies on a nonmeasurable, amorphous “life energy.” Check. Testimonials…wait a minute. We haven’t had testimonials yet. Fear not, they’re here, and various woo-meisters who use the Healing Broom on their clients praise it here.

So, why would this device be appealing? Why would people shell out $89.99 for the set of the broom and the Tooth-shaped Rolling Magnetic Acupressure Stick, plus either $9.99 for the instructional DVD or $6.99 for the illustrated manual? Well, I’m sure that it probably does temporarily improve blood flow to the areas that are slapped, much in the same way your face turns red due to pain and an inflammatory reaction when you’re slapped with a hand. Also, I have little doubt that hitting yourself with this broom all over your body can be a pretty good workout that leaves you feeling as refreshed as a normal workout, as long as you you’re careful not to hit yourself too hard or get any blood on those nice white workout clothes. Unfortunately, there doesn’t look like there’s much of a margin for error. And besides, wouldn’t a workout at the gym followed nice massage accomplish many of the same things?

It just occurred to me, though. If people will pay good money to buy a metal implement with which to flagellate themselves, maybe they’ll pay good money to purchase something else with which to hit themselves and thus “improve blood flow” and “stimulate the flow of qi” in the treated areas. Yeah, I have just the ticket:

Sorry, it was the best YouTube of this I could find, but you Python fans out there definitely get the idea. If you don’t, maybe this will clarify it a bit:

Ah, yes. Gets ’em every time. How could the marks–I mean, customers–resist? How much, I wonder, would the purchasers of the Healing Broom pay for the Healing Board of Antioch, with which to slap one’s head, vibrate one’s cells back to normalcy, and stimulate potential life energy?

At least $49.99, I’m hoping, plus an extra $9.99 for the instructonal DVD on how not to lose consciousness while utilizing the Healing Board of Antioch.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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