Laser/Biofeedback Treatment for Allergies = Snake Oil

from The Seattle Times

Miracle Machines | The 21st-century snake oil


The EPFX's slick and sophisticated graphics may impress, but no scientific research shows that energy machines can diagnose or cure medical problems. Still, clients may pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for treatments with practitioners. This session was at the Puyallup Fair.


The EPFX’s slick and sophisticated graphics may impress, but no scientific research shows that energy machines can diagnose or cure medical problems. Still, clients may pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for treatments with practitioners. This session was at the Puyallup Fair.

They can cure cancer, reduce cholesterol, end allergies, treat cavities, kill parasites and even eliminate AIDS.

“Energy medicine” devices can be as small as a television remote control, or as large as a steamer trunk.

Their operators say the devices work by transmitting radio frequencies or electromagnetic waves through the body, identifying problems, then “zapping” them.

Their claims are a fraud — the 21st-century version of snake oil. But a Seattle Times investigation has discovered that thousands of these unproven devices — many of them illegal or dangerous — are found in hundreds of venues nationwide, from the Puyallup Fair, to health-care clinics in Florida, to an 866-bed regional hospital in Missouri.

These are not the devices in wide use by medical doctors, such as electrical stimulators used for sports injuries. Nor are they the biofeedback devices used at respected alternative-medicine centers such as Seattle’s Bastyr University. Rather, these are boxes of wires purported to perform miracles. Their manufacturers and operators capitalize on weak government oversight and the nation’s hunger for alternative therapies to reap millions of dollars in profits while exploiting desperate people:

• In Tulsa, Okla., a woman suffering from unexplained joint pain was persuaded to avoid doctors and rely on an energy device for treatment. Seven months later, her son took her to a hospital. She died within hours from undiagnosed leukemia.

• In Los Angeles, a mother pulled her 5-month-old son out of chemotherapy for cancer and took him to a clinic where a 260-pound machine pulsed electromagnetic waves through his tiny body. The baby died within months.

• In Seattle, a retiree with cancer emptied her bank account to buy an energy machine. Shortly before she died, her husband, a retired Microsoft manager, examined its software, finding that it appeared to generate results randomly — “a complete fraud,” he said.

Over the past year, The Times investigated these machines and the people behind them.

The investigation took us to where the manufacturers of some of these machines are based, in Hungary and Greece. We found the operators — including a cross-dressing federal fugitive who moonlights as a cabaret singer — making outrageous claims as they peddled their wares. We discovered that the U.S. regulatory system has allowed them to flood this nation with an estimated 40,000 devices.

And we learned that many operators consider our state a safe haven for these “miracle machines.”


Can A Laser Cure Your Allergies?

A device just coming to America from Australia claims to end allergy symptoms in as few as two treatments with the use of lasers. Can it stand up to rigorous scientific testing?There are a lot of potential patients. It’s estimated that one in five Americans suffers with allergies. Adult allergy sufferers spend more than $500 each per year on treatments, according to 2005 numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.The report also showed that spending to fight allergies nearly doubled in the five years from 2000 to 2005 to $11.2 billion.David Tucker was among life-long sufferers looking for a cure.”It all stems back from when I was at Ohio State,” Tucker said. “On Saturday, everybody would wake up and go to football games. Because that’s when pollen season was, I’d spend time in the shower because I couldn’t breathe.”Later in life, he was selling electrodes to the chiropractic industry in Florida and suffering hay fever and allergies to cats and dust.Tucker said one chiropractor client turned him onto a device he’d seen in Australia.

Computer Diagnoses

“He’d been treated for his dairy allergy while on holiday. After 72 hours — he hadn’t drunk milk in 15 years — he had a full glass of milk and it had no effect,” Tucker said. “He set it up to have the equipment treat me for dust mites and, 48 hours later, I was fine. I’d always had to stay in a hotel at my mother-in-law’s because of cats. Now I can have cats on my lap.”Tucker said the device works based on biofeedback. The allergy sufferer wears a sensing clip on his finger for testing, and the computer simulates the bio-frequency for 10,000 known allergens. As the body responds to those stimuli, the computer lists which substances are irritants.”This digitized allergen actually matches the harmonic frequency of the actual allergen, making the body believe it is in contact with the real substance,” Tucker said. “The body will react if it is allergic to the particular substance.”The assessment takes about 20 minutes and can cost up to $250.

Curing Allergies

Once the allergens are identified, a laser stimulates biomeridian points on the body — the same points used in acupuncture and acupressure. Tucker said the idea is to strengthen organs to act properly the next time they encounter the allergen — that is, to treat them as harmless.Treatments are about $100, and Tucker said most people need two to 10 treatments to recondition the body’s response. After that, they’re done.Tucker said his own suffering, combined with his business experience, led him to bring the device to American chiropractors.He admits he doesn’t know all the science behind the device. But, he said, he thinks back on all the money he spent on shots and meds, and all the time getting jabbed, and he wonders why he didn’t have access to something so simple.

No Science Backs Device

So far, there is no science to prove the devices work, but Tucker claims a 70 percent positive response rate. He said he has patients filling out questionnaires so that researchers can begin scientific testing of the product.After opening his own AllergiCare Relief Center in Tampa, Tucker franchised the equipment to 11 more U.S. locations and two in Canada. More are planned.


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