Interviewer: Can you cure illness without medicine or surgery? Energy healers say yes. Energy healers say they can heal without touching the patient. In the studio, to tell us about energy healing, is Amber Chesterman, who is a qigong healer. Amber: Hello. Interviewer: Also with us is Professor Julius Silver who is skeptical about qigong. Professor: Hello. Interviewer: But to start us off, Amber. Can you tell us about qigong heating? Amber: Qigong is holistic. It sees illness as a problem of mind, spirit, and body, so the whole person is treated, not just the illness. Interviewer: Right. And qi is important isn't it? What exactly is qi? Amber: Qi is energy. Qi is part of everything that exists. Illness, you see, is caused by an imbalance of qr‘, and a qigong healer restores energy balance so that healing can happen. Interviewer: And you heal from a distance, don't you? Over the telephone? Amber: That's correct. I practice extemal qi healing. I speak to my patients by telephone. Interviewer: And you unblock their qi? Amber: Put simply, yes. Interviewer: Thank you. Professor Silver -you don't believe in qi, do you? Professor: No. I have found no evidence for qi, no. Interviewer: And yet energy healing does work, don't you agree? Professor: It does work, sometimes, yes. Interviewer: So how do you explain it? Professor: We find a lot of evidence for a placebo effect. Belief is seventy per cent of any treatment. In other words, my hands can't heal you, but if you believe I have healing hands, then i can heal you by moving my hands over you. Interviewer: So, what's really going on here? Professor: Well, we do know that being completely relaxed helps us recover more quickly. Interviewer: So, you are saying that all l need is to relax and believe that you have the power to heal me? Professor: Exactly. My explanation is not as interesting as Amber's, but we live in the twenty first century and …
A lot of knowledge which we call 'alternative medicine' has come from watching animals, because not every pharmacist is a human being animals treat themselves with medicines too. You may have seen a dog or a cat eat grass, for example. They do this because it makes them sick, and clears their stomachs of worms.
In Tanzania, leaves from a tree which local WaTongwe people call the bitter leaf tree', are eaten by chimpanzees. Both the WaTongwe and the chimpanzees know that the leaves can cure stomach aches and relieve tiredness.
Bears know about the medicinal properties of the root of a plant called Ligusticum. They chew its root, and apply the juice to wounds as an antiseptic. Ligusticum is used by Navajo Indians too. A folk story says they were told about the plant by bears.
When African elephants are going to give birth, they will walk many kilometres to eat the leaves from a certain tree that will help labour The leaves are used by Kenyan women for the same thing.
Clay is eaten by many animals, from cows to rhinoceroses, because it breaks down poisons in the stomach. It is also the main ingredient of kaolin, which is used in treatments for stomach illnesses in humans. When some birds build their nests, they choose aromatic plants that will keep their babies healthy. The plants chosen by the birds are also used by herbalists for skin problems such as ulcers, sores, and eczema.
Because bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, it is becoming more and more important to find alternatives, and zoopharmacognosy a word from Greek meaning animals' knowledge of medicine may give us important new information about very old ways of dealing with illness.
If a patient believes that a drug will cure them, it often will, even if it is just a tablet with no active ingredient. This is known as the placebo effect.