Crystal healing: Stone-cold facts about gemstone treatments

Crystal healing is an alternative medical technique in which stones are used to cure ailments and protect against disease. Proponents of this technique believe that crystals act as conduits for healing, allowing positive, healing energy to flow into the body as negative, disease-causing energy flows out.

Despite the fact that crystal healing has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, it is not popular with most medical doctors and scientists.

There is no evidence that crystal healing can cure diseases because they have never been found to be the result of an energy flow in the body. There are no scientific studies that show that crystals and gems can be differentiated by chemical composition or color.

Peter Heaney, a mineral sciences professor at Pennsylvania State University, told the Washington Post that he wasn't aware of any studies funded by the National Science Foundation. He explains that while crystals can be said to have energy, there is no energy transfer between them and humans.


At health spas and New Age health clinics, healing crystals are used in related practices of massage and Reiki. The use of crystals in such environments is not supported by scientific evidence.

Crystal healing proponents believe that gemstones have healing properties. The history of crystal healing is said to be 6,000 years old, dating back to the time of the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia. Ancient Egyptians were among the first people to adorn themselves with crystal to ward off illness and negative energy.

The Chinese concept of life-energy (chi or qi) and the Hindu or Buddhist concept of chakras are two of the traditional concepts borrowed from Asian cultures.

According to Time, crystals are supposed to interact with the energy field of the body, promoting physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

In crystal healing, stones are assigned various properties, though healers have different ideas about which stones possess which properties. According to Healthline, green aventurine and yellow topaz are believed to be beneficial for the body. The colors red and violet are associated with seven points on the body.

During a treatment session, a crystal healer may place various stones or crystals on your body aligned with these chakra points, roughly in the regions above the head, on the forehead, on the throat, on the chest, on the stomach, and on the genital area. The patient may choose the stones used and their positioning for their symptoms. This is all influenced by the knowledge of and belief in the chakra philosophy of disease and energy imbalances, a philosophy that is largely dismissed by practitioners of Western medicine.

Crystal healing also involves the use of crystals and stones worn on the body or placed under pillows to ward off sickness, shed negative energy or absorb positive energy, according to Crystal Vaults, a company that sells such crystals.

How crystal healing actually works

There are no scientific studies on the efficacy of crystal healing, but a study suggests that it may induce a placebo effect in a patient. Christopher French is the head of the anomalistic psychology research unit at the University of London.

French told Live Science that there is no evidence that crystal healing works over and above a placebo effect. Whether or not you judge crystal healing, or any other form of alternative medicine, to be worthless depends on your attitude to placebo effects.

There is no scientific proof that the result of crystal healing treatment has anything to do with the crystals being used during the treatment. In 2001, French and his colleagues presented a paper at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Glasgow, in which they outlined their study of the efficacy of crystal healing.

80 people were asked to meditate for five minutes while holding either a real crystal or a fake crystal, which they believed was real. Half of the participants were prepared to notice any effects that the crystals might have on them, like a feeling of warmth in the hand or a tingling in the body.

Participants were asked if they felt any effects from the crystal healing session. The effects reported by those who held fake crystals while meditating were the same as the effects reported by those who held real crystals.

Many participants in both groups reported feeling a warm sensation in the hand holding the fake crystal, as well as an increased feeling of overall well being. Those who had been primed reported stronger effects than those who hadn't been primed. The strength of these effects did not correlate with whether the person was holding a real crystal or a fake one. People who believed in the power of crystals were twice as likely to report feeling effects from the crystal as people who didn't.

There are many forms of treatment that have no therapeutic effect other than a placebo effect. There is no proof that these treatments can cure diseases or treat health conditions. French said that if you are suffering from a serious medical issue, you should seek treatment from a licensed physician.

It is hard to argue against people who believe in the psychological effects of crystals.

The popularity of alternative medicine shows a growing distrust of professional doctors that should encourage more empathy within the medical profession. It shows that we are not giving patients enough time, compassion, or empathy, and that we are not fulfilling a certain need.

A selection of crystals

One of the concerns in the medical profession is that patients opting to partake of crystal healing might do so as a replacement for proven medical treatments. (Image credit: Molly Aaker via Getty Images)

Is crystal healing safe?

Many of the natural medicine universities and clinics on the internet are not accredited by the central organization. There are no state or federal laws that regulate or standardize the practice of crystal healing. In some states, this type of alternative treatment may be classified as massage or bodywork therapy. In some states, crystal healers need to get a license in order to practice their trade.

Non-profit organizations such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork administer voluntary board certification exams for massage therapists. NCTMB only gives endorsement to schools and businesses that fulfill certain criteria.

Crystal healing is seen by some medical doctors as a therapy that can induce relaxation, which is therapeutic for stress management. It's important that those seeking a crystal healing don't go for a fake treatment for a life-threatening disease.

Many parents use Baltic amber necklaces for teething infants and toddlers, believing that the amber will help to take the pain away, similar to the use of other gemstones to cure other ailments. There is no evidence that amber works to alleviate teething pain. There are two theories about how the amber works, one is that a pain-relieving substance is released from the amber by the heat of the baby's skin, and the other is that the amber stimulates the baby.

Several claims are made about amber necklaces and how they may help reduce pain, according to an article written by a doctor on the website Science-Based Medicine. The only plausible claims that were made were that Baltic amber contains a substance that can be found in the human body, and that some molecule can be absorbed through the skin. The amount of succinic acid in the amber is minuscule and body heat does not release it from the amber. There is no evidence that succinic acid has a therapeutic effect.

The dangers of amber necklaces outweigh the slim potential of benefit was the subject of a 2016 letter to the editor. There are several documented cases of strangulation and choking with the necklaces. The authors point out that both the Canadian Pediatric Society and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against using amber necklaces, and that parents are properly educated about teething and the use of amber healing.

There are dangers involved in the production of crystals that should be considered by patients when choosing between crystal healing and traditional medicine. According to a report in The Guardian, some of the gemstones are beingsourced from mines in some of the poorer places in the world. In regions with poor access to water, electricity or other amenities, 80 percent of crystals are mined by small groups and families for little money.

Additional resources

We recommend you read about the time crystal made inside the quantum computer.

The first nuclear bomb test took place in 1945.


  • "‘Healing’ crystals are having a pandemic moment. But science says they’re just pretty stones," by Amanda McCracken, "The Washington Post"
  • "What is Reiki?" by Elizabeth Palermo, Live Science
  • "You Asked: Do Healing Crystals Actually Work?" by Markham Heid, "Time"
  • "Purported amethyst powers for healing," Healthline
  • "Empathy and ethics: five minutes with Edzard Ernst," by Abi Rimmer, "BMJ: British Medical Journal, Vol. 360"
  • "Teething Necklaces and Beads: A Caution for Parents," (from the American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • "Amber Waves of Woo," by John Snyder, Science-Based Medicine
  • "Amber jewellery: A dangerous popular trend for toddlers during their teething months and beyond," by Alexandra Hudson, Kim Blake, and Robyn McLaughlin, Wiley Online Library
  • "Dark crystals: the brutal reality behind a booming wellness craze," by Tess McClure, "The Guardian"