Blog Post

The Dubious History of the Vita Flex Technique

We recently had a question from a reader about the merits – or demerits - of Vita Flex. What is it? Where did it come from? Does it work?

Vita Flex is similar to reflexology and was supposedly developed by the Tibetans thousands of years before acupuncture. It’s name means “vitality through the reflexes.”

It’s based on the premise that you can apply slight pressure to certain points on the body which creates an electric charge that supposedly clears nerve pathways and eliminates blockages caused by toxins and damaged tissue.

Vita Flex is often used in conjunction with essential oils which allegedly contain electromagnetic properties, thus enhancing the healing effect of the therapy. Typically, a therapist will apply essential oil to a certain point on the client’s hand or foot and use a gentle rolling motion with the fingers to stimulate the nerves.

There are 13 Vita Flex techniques that supposedly cleanse the colon, respiratory and lymphatic systems as well as the sinus and digestive systems. Proponents claim it can improve hearing as well as posture and mobility issues.

However, there is no objective science to support any of these claims.

The practice originated with a man named Stanley Burroughs (1903-1991), who was not a medical doctor and whose claim to fame came about after he wrote the popular book, The Master Cleanser, also known as “the lemonade diet” in the 1950s. Much of what is contained in the book is not supported by medical science.

Defend Your Health reports that Burroughs, who was also known as Aaron Hayes, was a nudist and a vegan and was always very interested in alternative health theories such as light therapy and reflexology, as well as deep tissue massage.

His lack of reliance on sound science found him eventually convicted of second-degree felony murder in the death of a man named Lee Swatsenbarg who came to him for treatment for cancer. Burroughs put him on his famous “lemonade diet,” subjected him to vigorous massage and used colored light exposure with which he claimed to have treated thousands of people successfully. Swatsenbarg was told to consume nothing but herbal tea, salt water, and the special lemonade for 30 days.

Unfortunately, Swatsenbarg’s condition deteriorated within just a few weeks. Burroughs told him to stick to the plan and to postpone the bone marrow test that his physician was recommending. When Swatsenbarg began vomiting and experiencing severe pain in the abdomen, Burroughs did deep abdominal massages that caused a massive hemorrhage that led to the man’s death.

The California Supreme Court eventually reversed the second-degree murder conviction but they upheld other convictions, such as the unlawful sale of cancer treatments and felony practicing medicine without a license.

According to Defend Your Health, this case was the most serious of his legal problems but it wasn’t the only one. He was also convicted of practicing medicine without a license in 1960.

Suffice to say, the Vita Flex technique is as a dubious as its origins and those seeking healing would be wise to look for it in more credible places.

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