Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: The perfect last minute gift for Christmas–woo!


As hard as it is to believe, yet another Christmas is fast approaching. I can feel it in the blogosphere. Heck, I can feel it here on the ol’ blog. Once garrulous commenters here have gone strangely silent for the most part (at least in comparison to their usual prodigious output), and traffic has already begun to plummet in anticipation of the even bigger plunge that it usually takes during that dead week between Christmas and New Years. It’s almost enough to make me wonder whether I should just put the blog on hiatus until after the 1st.


I might slow down a bit and throw a few reruns your way here and there interspersed with the new material (even a Plexiglas box of blinking lights likes to take some time off around the holidays, after all), but, fear not, because the wonder that is Orac does not have much of a life, there will be new material next week, just not as much as readers have become accustomed to–unless I get really bored, that is.

Before any of that even becomes a consideration, I’m sure that many of you are frantically running around looking for last minute gifts to get that special someone or other loved ones. Sure, this year, you made the same vow that many of us make every year, namely that you wouldn’t wait until the last minute. Yes, this year would be different.

But it wasn’t, was it?

So, what to do if you have a woo-loving relative for whom you’re looking for just that perfect gift? Easy. Get him or her a Chi Machine. Just listen to John Johnson, Massage Therapist, Psychotherapist, and Health Researcher describe its wonders:

The Chi Machines you see on this site have all been used in medical, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture clinics. I guarantee* they will make a difference in your health and well being.

He’s sold me. Well, not quite yet. First I’d want to know just what the heck a chi machine is and what it does. So let’s delve a bit deeper, shall we? Yes, we shall:

Moving the body in playful ways? including rapid side-to-side movement of the legs? is the basis of the Trager massage method – the inspiration for traditional chi health machines. After using a chi health machine, energy surges throughout your body, warming your muscles and organs, stimulating the sympathetic and lymphatic systems, and giving the sense of health and fitness that requires hours of exercise to achieve.

Ah, yes, exactly what I want! A way of getting healthy and fit without all that horrible exercise. But the benefits apparently are even more than that–if you believe Johnson. and why would he lie or exaggerate? After all, all that energy “surging through your body” and warming your muscles and organs is chi, isn’t it? All it takes is–yes!–the chi machine:

The power of the process occurs at the end, when you lay quietly in savasana (corpse pose), and let the body integrate what just occurred. It is at this stage that new neural pathways are formed, and the body begins the healing process. The body uses the energy generated from the steady, rhythmic movement to wash the lymphatic system and the other fluid systems in the body.

I don’t know about you but personally I’d prefer not to attain the corpse pose any faster than nature and my natural lifespan force me to. I also don’t understand why it’s necessary to “consolidate” whatever woo I’ve been subjected to. But maybe I should consider changing my mind. Wow! New neural pathways? The cleansing of my lymphatic system? The total purification of my precious bodily fluids? What’s a little being creeped out by the corpse pose in comparison to that?

Not much.

But what other benefits could I expect? Surely new neural pathways and cleansing of my lymph is more than enough, but the chi machine can do a lot more (of course):

  • Say good-bye to stress and related conditions, from headaches to anxiety and depression.
  • Ramp up your circulation and metabolism
  • Expand your energy
  • Maximize your athletic performance
  • Drop those excess pounds you’ve been wanting to get rid of
  • Optimize your oxygen intake
  • Balance and strengthen your spine
  • Soothe sore muscles and nerve pain
  • Fine-tune your autonomic nervous system (it regulates the body’s use of energy)
  • Strengthen your immune and respiratory systems
  • Powerful lymphatic massage, to relax your autonomic nervous system and aid in healing

Wait. Now I’m less impressed than I was. The above are pretty much standard “altie” claims for just about any woo–with one exception. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a product that can fine tune my autonomic nervous system, in order, I guess, to fine tune my use of energy as well. Of course, the autonomic nervous system does much more than affect metabolism, but why let facts interfere with a little woo? I mean, if you believe the woo they’re laying down, then you’d also believe that one of these nifty little chi devices can treat diabetes and fibromyalgia. And of course it does much better if you combine it with the other woo on the site, such as the Green Defense Detoxification and Antioxidant Support or Zymitol. Of course, taking enzymes as supplements, as one would be doing with Zymitol, isn’t much use, given that enzymes tend not to work very well after being subjected to stomach acid and then the digestive enzymes in the duodenum and proximal small intestine. But that never stopped woomeisters, now did it?

I’d be more likely to believe the claim that it can improve my golf game, which desperately needs some improving. A good muscle massage (assuming that the Chi Machine can even do that right) might be just the ticket.

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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