Blog Post

Belly Button Healing? Seriously?

20996114_sYes, seriously. I was researching something else on the Science-based Medicine Blog when I came across an article they wrote about Belly Button Healing which is a kind of acupressure for the gut.

Apparently, it’s the brain child of Ilchi Lee, founder of ChangeYour Energy, who bills himself as an “international mind-body expert.”

A South Korean author, Lee claims to have struggled in school due to an inability to focus – which he later learned was Attention Deficit Disorder – and said he was able to overcome it through the rigorous physical and mental training of the martial arts. He would eventually get a degree in clinical pathology and physical education from Dankook University and opened his own clinic.

However, a search for answers about the meaning of life in his early thirties led him into the wilderness of Korea’s Moak Mountain for 21 days of ascetic practice during which time he did not eat, sleep or lie down. He claims to have gained enlightenment and insights during this time which became the philosophical underpinnings of his methods, all of which are geared toward facilitating a shift in human consciousness toward a more peaceful world.

Belly Button Healing is one of his many techniques for bringing about total body health. It aims to stimulate the body’s “reset button” and harness the power of what he refers to as our “2nd brain” – the human gut. He claims that 30 years of research went into discovering that the belly button is a gateway to this second brain and his method of healing gives internal organs a “workout” thereby pumping vitality back into your life.

“You can turbo-charge your natural healing power and reconnect to your body’s innate wisdom with a few minutes of practice a day,” claims his book, Belly Button Healing: Unlocking Your Second Brain for a Healthier Life.

belly button healing kitSo how does it work? A person uses a special “Healing Life Wand,” a small plastic device with four different sized points that were supposedly modeled on “an inspirational branch of the sacred Hwangchil tree (aka the “cure all tree”) that Lee discovered one day. People are instructed on how to poke themselves in the belly button in various ways.

“Why the different points matter isn’t explained on the website or on any of the available videos. Maybe it’s explained in the illustrated how-to book, which you can own along with the wand and access to an online course for only $99,” writes Science-based Medicine blogger Clay Jones, M.D.

Lee’s site explains that "In East Asian Medicine, major energy lines, or meridians, run through the abdomen, so when you stimulate your belly button, energetic blockages are released."

In other words, it’s all about “chi” – a scientifically unsubstantiated form of energy.

But the website goes to great lengths to make the technique sound very scientific in spite of the fact that it is based on the manipulation of something that doesn’t even exist.

According to the website, “just below the surface” of the belly button is a number of vital structures, key neurotransmitters, the Enteric nervous system, 90 percent of the body’s happiness hormone known as serotonin and 50 percent of the joy hormone dopamine. About a third of the body’s blood supply is also in this part of the body.

As Dr. Jones points out, “the same would be equally true of any other location on the abdomen” so there’s nothing at all special about the belly button.

“Belly Button Healing is acupressure with a gimmick device and a silly underlying philosophy that attempts to connect the magic of TCM with the science of the enteric nervous system,” Dr. Jones concludes.

“It’s just another example of the theater of alternative medicine that might appear to be of benefit through myriad placebo effects. There is absolutely no plausible scientific reason to make a connection between the intestines, the enteric nervous system, or nearby organs with the belly button any more so than anywhere else on the abdominal skin, and there is no reason to believe that manipulation of the belly button would yield systemic benefits as described on the products website.”

I fully concur with his advice to consumers: “Don’t waste your money.”