C5 writes: “I listen to Catholic Radio and have heard that partaking in acupuncture and other alternative therapies. I have been to a natural healing center and the practitioner uses muscle testing which she says uses acupuncture ideas about energy flow in my body. That our bodies can let us know what part of our body is being challenged and what it needs to get back into balance. She uses her technique as an assessment tool not as treatment. If what she says is true then it would have to be of our God because it is amazing and miraculous. What is ‘bad’ about this?”
The first sentence in this question is incomplete so I’m going to assume that you meant to write “I listen to Catholic Radio and have heard that partaking in acupuncture and other alternative therapies is okay.”
Many people feel this way; however, there are a few important qualifiers which should always be given along with this kind of blanket statement. First of all, it is never okay with the Catholic Church to use an untested alternative therapy for a life threatening or communicable disease.
This teaching can be found in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services (Part V, No. 56) which is based on the Catechism and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (Evangelium Vitae).
These Directives state that “A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life.”
You can read more about this here.
If you want to use a homeopathic concoction to treat an earache, that’s okay, but it’s not okay to use it to treat diabetes or the mumps; however, the user may want to be fully informed about the origin of some of these practices, such as the muscle testing you describe above, because many are rooted in the occult and a pantheistic belief system that is not compatible with Christianity. In most cases, once a Christian becomes fully informed about an alternative, they’re no longer interested.
Now that I’ve explained this, you can see why making a blanket statement such as “it’s okay to use acupuncture” is really not telling a person what they need to know.
Second of all, what the healer is telling you is not true. There is no such “energy flow” in the body. The energy she is referring to is completely unsubstantiated by science and does not exist; but that doesn’t mean people won’t believe in it. Thanks to the New Age movement and its plethora of “energy workers”, this bogus medicine has become the snake-oil of the 21st century. It’s also why the Pontifical Councils refer to it as “the New Age god” in the document Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life.
Muscle testing is even more problematic. It is based on the notion that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness that can be detected through muscle-testing procedures. Proponents claim diseases can be evaluated through specific patterns of muscle weakness which they can heal by manipulating or unblocking alleged body energies along meridian pathways, or by infusing energy to produce healing in certain organs.
For instance, a weak muscle in the chest might indicate a liver problem, and a weak muscle near the groin might indicate “adrenal insufficiency.”
Patients can also be tested while chewing certain substances and if a muscle tests “weaker” after a substance is placed in the patient’s mouth, it supposedly signifies disease in the organ associated with that muscle.
The same test is applied for determining nutrient deficiencies. If a weak muscle becomes stronger after a nutrient (or a food high in the nutrient) is chewed, that supposedly indicates “a deficiency normally associated with that muscle.” Some practitioners contend that muscle-testing can also help diagnose allergies and other adverse reactions to foods.
Muscle testing is regarded by the medical and scientific community to be as goofy as it sounds to the rest of us, but researchers have nevertheless subjected the method to several well-designed and impartial tests to determine if it has any credibility.
Apparently, it does not.
In one test, three practitioners testing eleven subjects all made significantly different assessments on the same patients. Another set of researchers who conducted an elaborate double-blind trial concluded that “muscle response appeared to be a random phenomenon.” Without belaboring the point, no testing to date has turned up any evidence that muscle testing works.
You might also be interested in knowing that muscle testing (aka applied kinesiology) was “discovered” by a Michigan chiropractor named George Goodheart in 1964. By his own admission, the practice combines elements of psychic philosophy, Chinese Taoism, and a belief in what early chiropractors called “Innate Intelligence” a kind of universal energy or “life force.”
The fact that he relied on psychic powers in the development of his new idea was confirmed by Dr. William Jarvis, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud and professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University Medical School in California.
But none of this is any secret. Goodheart’s own published materials, along with those of other early proponents of applied kinesiology, openly describe the occult-based theories that have been incorporated into this practice.
“He combined the concept of ‘innate intelligence’ with the Eastern religious concept of energy ( chi) and the idea that muscles reflex (reflect back) the condition of each of the various body organs via the chi’s meridians. `Innate intelligence’ is described as spiritual intelligence which runs the body and is connected to the universal intelligence though the nervous system. . . .” (Kinesiology, Muscle Response Testing, p. 1])
Even though your practitioner talks a good game, and makes what she does sound so good as to be almost holy, don’t be fooled. These practices are not based on science and should never – under any condition – be used to diagnose illness. If so, the practitioner should be reported to the state medical board.