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…. and in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: “I do  not think it means what you think it means.”

At least, that’s what I thought when I came across this website (courtesy of PZ Myers & also discussed on various Australian media sites, although I’m not sure that I’m grateful as now I need to rinse my brain).

For Universal Medicine & its founder claim to make one feel better through a range of ‘sacred esoteric healing’ treatments, including: ‘esoteric’ massage, ‘esoteric’ chakra-puncture, ‘esoteric’ connective tissue therapy, & so on. After reading that list I had to go & refresh my memory of the definition of ‘esoteric’: designed for, or understood by, the specially initiated alone; limited to a small circle.

Yet massage is surely just that, massage, & chakra-puncture seems to be acupuncture by another name. A lot of people around the world will know something about them, so they can hardly be ‘esoteric’ in the dictionary sense. Maybe it’s just a nice-sounding word? But no, Universal Medicine uses it in a different sense.

As for the connective tissue therapy:

What is Connective Tissue Therapy?

Essentially, it is a deeply stilling form of manual therapy that allows the body to re-instate its deepest form of energetic status. This is achieved by allowing the pulse of the Lymphatic System to symbiotically correspond with the body’s own ensheathing web – the connective tissue. When the two combine, under a specific pulse activated by the practitioner, the body begins to respond and thus there is a certain flow in its deepest and most natural innate state.

Last time I looked, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pulse, & goodness knows how that system is supposed to ‘combine’ with the collagen fibres that comprise much of our connective tissue. Word salad, yes; energy woo, yes; vaguely science-y sounding, yes: I’m well on the way to completing my pseudoscience bingo card already! UM’s ‘esoteric’ connective tissue therapy is claimed to be supported by research evidence, However, I see that this is ‘published’ in-house & has not been subject to any external peer-review process. It involved 50 clients in a series of sessions that included ‘craniosacral therapy‘, & the effectiveness of this was ‘measured’ in the following way:

The Craniosacral Pulse was measured using gentle hand techniques at the skull to measure the time of expansion and relation of the cranio-plates in the skull, as the cranio-sacral fluid moves in and out of the skull in a cyclic rhythm.

In other words, a purely subjective ‘measurement’ of a non-existent phenomenon: the plates that make up the cranium’s bony dome are not normally free to move against each other once individuals reach adulthood, nor is there independent evidence that the cerebrospinal fluid actually pulses in this manner. And it’s ‘supported’ by anecdotal evidence of well-being from the clients.

Research. That word – I do not think it means what you think it means.