new woo for you – ‘sound’ therapy

By Alison Campbell 14/12/2011

Over at Orac’s place, one of his commenters mentioned the therapeutic use of didgeridoos for various health issues. Surely this is a joke, I thought – but no: it seems that didgeridoo sound therapy is indeed alive and well… 

Apparently it works by a) producing ultrasound frequencies that have a massaging effect (no, really!); b) clearing "emotional and energetic stagnation"; and c) allowing "meditation and mind-body healing". And of course

[m]editation can also be used to quantum manifest healing and the co-creation of our universe.

Wow! Who’d have thunk it? Every time someone meditates, they’re fine-tuning the universe (if not actually remaking it anew).

So, we have all the signs of classic ‘woo’ here. Quite apart from the (mis)use of words like ‘quantum’ (in the words of Inigo Montoya, "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"), we have information-poor statements like this (original grammar but I’ve emphasised a phrase):

This low frequency producing characteristic of the didgeridoo creates a no touch "sound massage" and has been reported to provide similar results as conventional ultra sound treatments and relieve a wide range of joint, muscular and skeletal related pain.

"reported"… By whom, to whom, and where? In other words, show us the data. Without that, we are simply dealing with anecdote and testimonial.

And there’s the energy cleansing: here the website blurb refers to both TCM and Ayurvedic ‘medicine’, and gushes that the effects of playing a didgeridoo are as follows:

The most basic description one could give for the energetic clearing power of the didgeridoo is "it is like a reiki or qi gong power washer." It has been reported that the energetic clearing effects are similar to traditional five-element acupuncture.

This might be fine if reiki actually did anything… And there’s that "reported" again. Plus, how was the similarity to the results of acupuncture measured, & for which ailments? (There’s quite a list of health issues for which didgeridoo therapy is supposedly useful, on that website. At least they don’t claim that it actually cures cancer…)

One testimonial, featured on the website, describes didgeridoo music as an "Ancient Vibrational medicine" (it would be interesting to know how Australian aborigines view this), which fits with the statement that 

Sound Therapy is based on the theory** that all life vibrates at various frequencies and specifically the human body has multiple vibrational frequencies that can slip "out of tune" due to emotional or energetic stagnation. When these frequencies are "out of tune" they can lead to physical and emotional health issues.

This vibration thing has been around for a while – Orac has taken several looks at the various claims made about it (including the truly bizarre claim that DNA produces sound waves, that these can be recorded, & that those recordings can be transmitted to someone else & change their DNA in turn!) However, the idea’s longevity doesn’t actually mean that it’s in any way an accurate reflection of biological reality.

And finally, we have this (emphasis in the original):

Didgeridoo Sound Therapy & Sound Healing is not an Aboriginal Australian tradition or practice, though love and respect is given to them for sharing this amazing instrument with the world.

So – not an "Ancient Vibrational medicine" at all, then… 

** Not ‘theory’ in the sense of ‘strong, scientific explanation for a large number of observations/measurements’, but rather, in the sense of ‘some idea I’ve*** come up with.’

*** Not me personally!!

0 Responses to “new woo for you – ‘sound’ therapy”

  • So pseudoscience has now used:

    Sound therapy
    Colour therapy
    Touch therapy

    The only sense that seems to be missing is taste therapy. Anyone fancy discarding their morals and making money off ofgullible people who might beleive that different tasting foods will recalibrate their quantum vibrational fields?

    ….. sound of crickets…….

    damn, far too many ethical people around here 🙂

  • Ultrasound from the didgeridoo? There’s a physics principle that says that large musical instruments (e.g. the tuba) give low frequency sound (because they set up a large wavelength) and small ones (e.g. the piccolo) give high frequency sound. A touch perplexing how a didgeridoo can emit ULTRAsound – which is so high to be beyond the range of human hearing.

  • Re Alison & Marcus:

    It’s been a while since I did either physics or music but if I remember rightly although there is a note played and the pitch heard of the note is the lowest harmonic produced at the time there are also higher harmonics produced giving the timbre of the sound. Don’t know about ultrasound specifically but I guess it’s possible.

    It’s also possible they’re making shit up, I know which one I think it is. ;P