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updated: 8/6/2013 10:42 AM

Crystals used in healing have a long history

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One of the most common and yet rarely discussed alternative therapies is the use of crystals and gems for healing. I have been unable to find any medical studies using crystals or gems, in a double-blind placebo-controlled manner, for the treatment of any medical condition. However, the use of crystals and precious stones for healing in our society is quite common.

Crystals are formed by three basic processes. For example, quartz is formed inside volcanoes. Dissolving and recrystallization of minerals is a second method of crystal formation. Common table salt is an example of this process. A third way is, under great pressure, new crystals such as diamonds can be produced. A crystal is an array of atoms or molecules that are arranged in a geometrically regular shape.

These geometric patterns are called lattices. There are seven different lattices. Cubic, like diamonds, is a lattice in which the crystals grow in the form of the square. Hexagonal crystals, quartz, are probably the most common and have six sides. Tetragonal crystals have a rectangular inner structure. Trigonal crystal shapes have a triangular inner structure. Orthorhombic crystals, such as topaz, are lozenge shaped. Monoclinic crystals are shaped like parallelograms. Finally, triclinic crystals have a trapezoid inner shape.

Crystals and precious gemstones can have significant monetary value and rulers would wear crowns or other jewelry that displayed crystals or precious gemstones. However, this was not done to show how much money they had, but for the perceived benefits of the crystals and gemstones themselves.

Certain crystals and gemstones are believed to have a protective effect against the negative thoughts of others. Other gemstones and crystals, when worn or used regularly, are believed to enhance mental and psychic abilities. The use of specific crystals and gems for physical, mental and spiritual healing is quite consistent in most cultures, dating back thousands of years.

The earliest stories of crystal use come from the legends of Atlantis. Some of the stories indicate that all disease could be cured through the use of specific crystals and crystal combinations.

Why have crystals and precious stones been historically used in healing? The answer may come from science itself. Crystals are commonly used in many aspects of the physical and chemical sciences because they resonate with specific vibrational frequencies.

Quartz is used in everything from wristwatches to computers. In medicine, we are realizing that diseased tissue has a different vibrational frequency than healthy tissue. We also use vibrational-based therapies, such as ultrasound and infrared in traditional medicine to stimulate healthy tissue.

We, as humans, express a number of different vibrational frequencies and are affected both by dissimilar as well as similar vibrations. In earlier times, someone may have discovered that certain crystals and precious gems had a positive affect on a person's health. This information seems to have been passed down, quite intact, over many generations.

Progress in medical therapy is not straight line. Discoveries that result in great improvements in medical care require a change of perception. Perhaps, crystal healing will be part of that new change of perception.

• Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D is medical director for complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Health System. His website is

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