Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Some Magic Boxes - #3 Bioresonance Therapy

The 30 Second Skinny BRT is a treatment invented by Scientologist Franz Morell. It is based on the idea that all matter has a vibration, and that the BRT box is capable of recreating this vibration and as a result have the same effect on the human body as whatever generated the vibration. In other words, one could create the vibration of insulin, and it would have an insulin-like effect on the body. It is most commonly used today as a treatment for nicotine dependence, despite no clinical evidence or plausible theory behind it.

Bioresonance Therapy is a treatment currently still available which has received some media coverage of late in relation to its purported ability to assist people giving up cigarettes. This included a rather irresponsible news report by the BBC in which it was stated that there was no clinical proof that it worked "yet", but it did work. Evidence came in the form of a draw full of cigarette cartons, rather than a one- or five-year follow up of past clients.

The Theory

The theory of Bioresonance Therapy has it that all matter resonates at various frequencies, including toxins that are held in the body between cells. This resonance is a waveform and as such can be cancelled out by inverting it and sending it back to the resonant matter. BRT claims to be able to isolate the waveforms of toxins and cancel them out which, in a way that is not explained, neutralises the toxins themselves, allowing them to be passed out of the body, partly through the pores. Thus in the context of giving up smoking, the toxins of the cigarettes can be removed from the body giving an addict a fresh physical start to quitting tobacco so all she need focus on is the psychological aspect of the addiction.

The Process

Here it is as described at the website offering the service as a means of kicking the smokes.

First you will be asked to smoke two thirds of a cigarette & put the ash into a beaker. You will then stub out the remaining third also in to the beaker & spit into it. The beaker contains all the information needed for the computer to work out the energy pattern of your nicotine addiction. Your hands will be rested on copper plates & these are then connected to the Bicom computer before switching on. Although no electricity is passed through your body, you may or may not experience a mild tingling sensation as the energy pathways open. The beaker will then be connected & the computer will work out the electromagnetic pattern of the nicotine. It will then invert the energy pattern of your addiction & that pattern will be sent through your body via the sensors to cancel out the nicotine energy. The resonance of your body then becomes that of a non-smoker and cravings will disappear - you will suffer little or no withdrawal symptoms.

The treatment takes 20 minutes after that you will now be a non-smoker! Bioresonance treatment is completely harmless. The body is stimulated into healing itself and the process of detoxification is initiated. Nicotine is eliminated within approximately 24 hours after detoxification. However all other detoxification processes are also stimulated and patients may feel fatigue, headaches, nausea and dizziness for a few days after the treatment. If all instructions are followed, these symptoms will be kept to a minimum or not occur at all. On the day, it is advisable to rest following the treatment.
The device itself was created in 1977 by Franz Morell and his son-in-law Erich Rasche, who formed the MORA company that produced and marketed the "biobox". If the idea of someone gripping two large electrodes and being purified by toxins emerge from the skin suggests Scientology to you, it is no accident. Morell was very likely a Scientologist at some point, having apparently completed a False Purpose Rundown in 1986, and although the theory behind BRT seems different to that of the homecure ethos behind the Purification Rundown, there is much of the e-meter and Narconon to the look and feel of the process. What is more, Morell's MORA treatment is cited in Rheumatoid Diseases Cured At Last by Anthony di Fabio, pen-name of not doctor Perry A Chapdelaine, scientologist and Executive Director of Arthritis Trust0, who also pays a fair amount of lip service to the "detoxification" technologies of L. Ron Hubbard (along with scientific proofs supplied by director of research for the Scientology affiliated Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education, David W. Schnare; former Senior Science Advisor for FASE, Max Ben; and scientologist and chief Narconon researcher, Megan G. Shields). But I digress.
Whether or not the process involves passing electricity through the body depends very much on who you talk to. It is doubtful that whatever "energy" is being sent through the copper plates isn't electric. Why else would one need to complete a circuit? Note also that the description informs us that "all other detoxification processes are also stimulated". This falls completely outside the theory as it has been presented - if the waveform of the tobacco is being cancelled out, how can this relate to other toxins present in the body? Then the list of possible side-effects of this "completely safe" procedure - these are linked to the notion that the body is reacting to the toxins as they leave the body. Not only does this negate the idea that those toxins have been neutralised, but serves to disassociate the process itself from its side effects, in much the same way that Scientology's purification rundown assigns its own side effects to fleeing toxins rather than the exercise, sauna and dangerous levels of vitamin B intake.

The Theory Unpicked
BRT was first intended to be used as a means of replicating the waveforms of drugs in the body. The device would be able to record the resonant wave patterns of, say, penicilin, and then replay the penicilin waveform in the body of someone in need of it. This would be able to replace the need for a physical drug. This far-fetched (and therefore harder to sell) use seems to have been abandoned, and instead the device is now used to try and neutralise the waveforms of molecules already present in the body.
The theory is terribly patchy. If these waves exist, they do not consitute what the matter resonating actually is. If one took a pebble, recorded its waveform, reversed the waveform and fed it back to the pebble, the pebble would still be a pebble. The same is true on the microscopic level. It is no doubt this theoretical stumbling block that has led to the move away from drug synthesis to the slightly greyer notion of cancelling out toxins' waveforms.

If we for a moment go with the idea that the machine can actually isolate the wave-form of nicotine and reverse it and feed it back, you aren't just feeding it back to the nicotine itself but the subject as a whole. Whereas a reversed waveform would knock out the waveform of the nicotine, it will still have an effect on the rest of the subject. You're still adding two wave patterns together, and who knows to what end, considering the alleged effect of total neutralisation. What if two interfering waveforms happen to create the same waveform as depleted uranium, or arsenic?

It remains unclear as to how the device is capable of singling out indivual toxins waveforms from the tumultuous waveforms of a complex organism. A comparable example here is the much sought for noise reduction box that would work on a similar principle. A microphone picks up sound and a speaker kicks out the inverted soundwaves, but it can't do it quickly or accurately enough to have much of an effect, and certainly can't isolate, say, the pneumatic drill in the street outside, but leave alone the conversation one is trying to hear. Yet this is what BRT claims to be able to do. We are taking a hugely complex waveform and going through and isolating an element within it that we want to inverse. The level of information processing that that would entail is massive. What such suggested therapies seem to do with regularity is quite inadvertently make colossal claims of technological advancement that taken alone would be jaw-dropping. Yet such technologies are never seen to transfer elsewhere. The information processing allegedly at work here will not be put to other waveforms and attendant purposes.

Claim reduction

As explained, the device was initially designed to replace the use of medicine. Clearly if we tried doing this to replace someone's insulin a lawsuit would be arriving pretty quickly. So over time, much like the claims associated with de la Ware's device, the claims have bceom scaled down. Suddenly the therapy was said to be effective on less substantial conditions, such as allergies. The use of the device to quit smoking is a perfect claim for advocates in that being an addict is itself a vague notion, and the sting in the tail of bringing in introspection which, although no better than the "willpower required" caveat on nicotine replacement therapy1, means that the blame for failure will always rest with the subject, and not the treatment. This is particularly useful because it not only puts the blame on the subject's willpower, but exerts pressure on the individual not to complain or even report back to notify the practitioner of the failure.

Again, much like the de la Ware radionics devices, the BRT devices are sold for research purposes only, which makes one wonder on what grounds, legal or otherwise, the treatments are offered to the paying public. This blogger was tickled by the fact that one company offering BRT provided a second session should customers not be satisfied with the results of the first. What is twice nothing?

0 Digging away at CAM is a fruitful business because so much of it seems to connect up. Expect further posts about the Arthritis Trust, messrs Chapdelaine, Dr Max Curtis MD, and the wonders of the Oxford Educational Network and not Cherokee Professor Reverend Doctor Chief Swift Eagle.
1 Having quit smoking without resorting to nicotine replacement therapy, I nevertheless feel duty bound to point out that nicotine replacement therapy is based on the notion of finding a non-carcinogenic way of getting the nicotine in. Its science is rather more obvious and less exciting than the magical theory of BRT but it at least lives up to its scientific claims in a way that inverted wave mechanics cannot.


  1. Hi. I have just read your opinions on Bioresonance therapy and was disappointed in your views. My partner and myself had this therapy 3 years ago and after smoking 30 a day for 30 years we stopped straight away with no cravings or withdrawal symptoms.I have since helped hundreds and hundreds of people to stop smoking with Bioresonance therapy. It is shame you can rip this treatment apart when you have not had it yourself. It has helped to save lives by stopping people smoking. Carol Adams

  2. I'm glad that you have managed to quit smoking, but I don't see how you can suggest that it is down to BRT. Can you even say with any authority that you genuinely have gone on to help hundreds of people to quit? What kind of follow-up studies have you done of your own client base to prove this? Or have you assumed, based on your own experience, that BRT works, and therefore everyone you have subsequently treated must have been cured?

    Your task for the acceptance of BRT is plain - put it through a clinical trial as a treatment for smoking cessation; this oughtn't offend those that believe the treatment works, and will convince skeptics of its worth, opening the treatment to a wider number of individuals.

    The nature of the device will even allow for double-blind placebo-controlled trials, unlike CAM treatments such as acupuncture, where the sham treatment can only be given by aware practitioners. Smoking cessation seems to be the central treatment that BRT is used for (now it has moved away from the troubling use of drug synthesis within the patient), so it seems the most logical place to start. The only clinical evidence I have found for BRT ranges from weak (small samples all the way) to genuinely laughable (its use as an allergy test); the proposed mechanism, as discussed above, makes no sense. Should a treatment be marketed as a cure if there is no evidence that it works and it is not based on a feasible mechanism?

    And the "suck it and see" philosophy is a little flawed, wouldn't you say? Do you know what the effects of lengthy exposures to low level currents are? Would you pay £100-£250 for an untested and possibly dangerous treatment? Would you be comfortable with paying for such a treatment if it was a pill?

  3. If we were to take everything that had testimonials of people claiming they tried it and it worked, then we'd have to say that all supernatural, paranormal and occult claim ever made in the history of mankind. Homeopathy, snake oil, faith healing, dolphin therapy, psychics, feng shui, "the secret", life coaching, transcendental meditation, 12 step, Scientology, yoga, acupuncture,  phrenology , astrology, magnet therapy, Hoxsey Therapy, ear candling and all the other forms of quackery are in fact true. What needs to be done is a true scientific study based on the scientific principal to eliminate errors and the so called “placebo effect.”

    Unfortunately, bioresonance therapy has never shown to have any significant benefits over a placebo. I quit smoking recently using coffee, sugarless gum, and a chili mango tamarind candy with no side effects. My cravings were minimal and withdrawl sympoms were just limited to an oral fixation.

    Does my method work better than cold turkey?


    Yes, I am saying my method of quitting smoking is bunk. It did work for me, but that's the power of placebo.

  4. I have read, with a little disappointment, the article by Dr Ben Goldacre.
    I to have stopped smoking with the Bioresonance treatment as has my partner & two of my friends. I am therefor very concerned & surprised that a qualified doctor is so damming about anything at all that has helped people to kick this awful habit. If it has helped one person in this world, then that is enough for me & it should surely be condoned by any doctor. I am a little disappointed therefor that a, clearly well educated man, cannot accept that there may in fact be an alternative to putting yet more chemicals in ones body to counteract those we WERE already addicted to!!
    I don't pretend to understand how it works & I to was very sceptical. I can only tell you that it has now been nearly three years since having my last cigarette with little or no withdrawal symptoms & that that fact alone must surely be a good enough reason for other addicts to give this a chance. I have recommended it to countless friends & acquaintances & will continue to do so. So, even if Dr Ben Goldacre were to be just a little more open minded then he may give others like myself the confidence to at least try this method, which in turn could actually result in another life or two being saved.
    Give it a chance. It was the best thing I ever did & it may be yours!!

  5. I can only repeat what I have said before; if Bioresonance Therapy worked, then it would work in a clinical trial. To date it has not worked in a clinical trial. Take strength from this, RC; it means you quit through your own willpower and nothing else.

  6. It's just as well that not all Dr's are as narrow minded.
    "Alexander Fleming, a Scottish bacteriologist in London, discovered penicillin by mistake when he was trying to study staphylococci bacteria in 1928."
    I wonder what your view on that would have been prior to 1928 & your previous comment"the proposed mechanism, makes no sense" seems naive & a little out of touch with both past, present & future progress within the field of medicine.
    Respectfully, I am a busy man & will not respond further.

  7. But penicillin has an observable impact in clinical trials, which is rather the point. The proposed mechanism of BFT really does make no sense, for the reasons I have already given. If we are to embrace the mechanism then we will have to dispose of a great deal of our current understanding of the universe and admit that vibrations can somehow bring matter in or out of being. If the mechanism could be proved, then so be it, but there is no need to pursue the mechanism because as yet there is no proof that BRT actually works, let alone in the way that has been suggested.

  8. I have been sick for close to 2 years and doctors could not find what was wrong with me. Dr's may have passed the "clinical trial" but they were clueless. I had countless numbers of appointments with specialists and everything they found nothing. It started when I was 18 I was in severe pain from my sides could sleep all the time and was flat out on the couch all the time I couldn't even go to work. Doctors called me a medical mystery. I went for one session of Bioresonance treatment, I have no pain I have all my energy back and I know longer have to take any pain killers the doctors gave me. This may not pass "clinical trial." But it works better then any of the doctors I saw. This didn't only help me it helped my dad who was sick for nearly 6 years doctors had no clue once again as to what was wrong with him. One treatment for him as well and he is cured. So don't go and say this machine doesn't work because it isn't clinically proven, because it works when something that is clinically proven didn't.

  9. Anonymous,
    There's a few problems here. Your testimonial, regardless if it is genuine, is not applicable for many reasons:

    1. You are anonymous. I don't know anything about you or your credibility. You could very well be someone who never had any of this treatment and just want to investigate our commitment to our arguments for all we know.

    2. We don't know your condition, what your doctors credentials or histories are. They could be quacks as well as you never specify who they are.

    3. Pain and lethargy are 2 very common symptoms that are frequently are "cured" with placebos in double blind trials. This is the most likely senerio using Occam's Razor.

    4. Your case isn't documented and published for peer review. We don't know all the variables that could affected your case.

    Therefore your testimonial is no more or less credible than someone claiming their cancer was cured with prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If this does work, it will hold up to criticism and peer review. Unfortunately, when it was tested with the stringent and time tested rules of scientific rigor that is the underlying foundation of our civilization, it holds no more benefit than a simple sugar pill.

  10. I am the one who was anonymous. Explain how I had celiac disease and I went for one session and it is now gone. I can eat anything I want when I want with no pain. I went to go see a natural path and went to the hospital many times to go see doctors. I went to my family doctor and they all knew nothing they did 2 ct scans on me 4 ultra sounds and countless blood work and urine samples and nothing came up. I had sharp right side pains that went into my back as well as lower abdominal pain on my left and right side. The doctors were your regular ordinary doctors and they did nothing. I even saw an allergy specialist and still nothing. Doctors checked for kidney stones and said I had none. This guy I went to go see found I had a parasite; I was allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, corn and msg. I can now eat what I want when I want with no side pains….I’ll give you this much celiac isn’t something that just disappears.

  11. Hi ban_girl. I'm a little confused. How was it that you came to know you had Celiac if the doctors couldn't identify what was the matter with you?

    How was it that BRT could be used to treat a parasite?

  12. Every time I eat gluten or anything with a hint of it I am sick. I got severe side pains and turned gray my eyes are blue and they turned grey my lips and face turned sheet white and all I did was sleep all day. I'll give you this much that’s not what an 18 year old should be doing. I couldn't even work at my job. I stop eating it and I am fine. It is not just a fluke either because I can do it over and over or the same thing happens. I didn't tell the guy I had it I also didn't tell him i was allergic to dust and mold (dust and mold have been proven by doctors) this machine found it all. He helps with parasite by sending in the opposite frequency wave into your body. All bodies send out a frequency wave and he sends in the mirror image to reverse it, same thing he does with allergies.

  13. So the doctors knew you had a gluten intolerance?

    How was it that the BRT chap was able to isolate the frequency of the parasite, reverse it, and send it back?

    To be honest, your condition sounds like it was psychosomatic. Psychosomatic disorders respond well to what is genuinely just a placebo. I'm glad it appears to have worked for you, but the science behind it is non-existant.

  14. No, the doctors didn’t know about it. My parents massage therapist said she had the same thing so we tried it and it made the pains less but they kept coming back. so this guy found that I am allergic to dairy wheat eggs MSG and corn... no doctor has ever found this, and how could a doctor miss 2 different types of kidney stones, i had back pain and severe side pains.

    Just because science doesn't prove something doesn't mean it does not work. You stated that it did not work when it does. Doctors are supposed to be able to help but they are more concerned with getting more money out of you.

  15. Well here we enter into a problem. You went to a practitioner who told you you had a number of condition, treated you, then told you those conditions had cleared up. As I say, I'm glad you're not in pain any more, but I really can't see how you can be certain that it was the treatment that helped. Things can go away by themselves, and that is why clinical trials are so important in establishing whether or not a treatment actually works. I suggest you read Trick or Treatment, or Bad Science, as both volumes explain much better than I ever could the importance of proper research into treatments.

  16. I know i was allergic to gluten i ate it and i was sick... now i eat it and i can keep eating it without pain. That is how i know it works

  17. I used to react to eating certain cheeses but now I don't. I don't feel the need to associate it with anything I did prior to discovering my new-found tolerance.

    I know it is unlikely that I will ever convince you otherwise, simply because your personal experience and interpretation will always seem stronger and more persuasive than the less human face of a clinical trial. That said, do bear in mind that a clinical trial is really just a collection of personal experiences from which we draw a conclusion. Many people will have had experiences of Bio-resonance Therapy that are quite the opposite of yours.


Please keep comments on topic, and be respectful of one another.