(Investigator 163, 2015 July)


Shamans used crystals for healing and other purposes thousands of years ago and crystal pendants have been unearthed from Neolithic sites dating back more than 80,000 years.

In 300 B.C, in his book, On Stones, Theophartus mentions quartz more than any other mineral in that ancient work indicating its popularity. The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead advocated heart shaped amulets made from quartz to be laid in the chest cavities of mummies to thwart heart snatchers. In medieval Europe, amethyst was in great demand to prevent bacchanal excess.


Proponents claim that crystals have an energy field;possess an elemental spirit; will improve a vehicle's fuel consumption if attached to the carburettor; purify water; help plants to grow; make dreams come true; amplify ESP powers; and so on ad nauseum. Part of the evidence, purporting to be scientific, evolves from the belief that a quartz crystal can generate power.

A principal use of quartz crystals is in the field of alternative medicine where it is claimed that they can focus healing powers. It is alleged that the crystal amplifies the energy and it flows to the pain area. The theory is that as pain is simply a signal from the brain telling you that something is wrong, and that energy is being sent to the cells to correct the problem, the technique of using the amplifying ability of a crystal to give us extra energy to be directed to a specific area speeds up the natural healing process.


Crystals and gemstones are worn in the form of jewellery such as bracelets, pendants, rings and pendulums, or are laid on various parts of the body, on chakras, and along acupuncture meridians in particular. The latter form of healing is claimed to regulate the flow of vital life energy within the body by removing energy blocks. Some practitioners "diagnose" using a crystal pendulum dangling over a patient's chakras. Most work with crystals is done in a self-help context.


When cut into precise thicknesses and a potential applied, a quartz crystal will vibrate at a specific frequency and can be used in electromagnetic circuits. Another application is in computer memory circuits, where thin slices of quartz are used to store large amounts of data and transmit information within the computer. Ironically, all the claims attributing extraordinary powers to crystals are based on an erroneous understanding of simple physics.

Quartz is simply oxidised silicon or silicon dioxide (SiO2). Its chemical name is silica. The value of quartz lies in two remarkable properties. It is highly resistant to temperature change, and it changes shape (vibrates or oscillates) when an electrical potential is applied. It is around the latter phenomenon, known as the piezoelectricity effect, that the misconceptions of the crystal fad have grown.

As well as the slight change in shape when a voltage is applied to opposite faces of a quartz crystal, the converse takes place if it is squeezed in a vise — a voltage appears across the electrical contacts.

Depending on the frequency specifications, crystals are precision cut from high-purity quartz and used in electrical circuits to regulate and stabilise frequency vibrations such as those in radio transmitters, clocks and watches.

As a supposed power source, one need only remove the battery from a quartz clock and ask oneself why it stopped working. Further, while it is true that a voltage can be produced by squeezing a quartz crystal in a vise, it is not possible to exert the same pressure manually or as rapidly as when an electrical potential is applied.

To suggest that electromagnetism supposedly generated by crystals can be used for healing purposes (when in fact they do not, of their own accord, generate anything), is simply a reiteration of a long discredited belief in the healing powers of magnetism.

A quartz crystal is an inanimate mineral which simply does not have the mystical, magic or healing powers attributed to it. Any perceived efficacy in respect of
healing can only be in the mind of the believer.

The dangers in promoting this false concept as a healing therapy should be apparent to any prepared to give it a few seconds thought, for it is on a par with the cure-all elixirs sold by the travelling snake oil merchants of old.


Bonewicz, R. 1986. Cosmic Crystals, Turnstone, UK.

Chirgwin, R. 1988. "Crystal Clear", the Skeptic. 8 (3), p11-13 Australian Skeptics Inc.

 Galde, P. 1991. Crystal Healing: The Next Step, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Jerome, E.J. 1989. Crystal Power, The Ultimate Placebo Effect. Prometheus Books. Buffalo, NY.

Markham, U. 1987. Fortune-Telling By Crystals. A Practical Guide to Their Use in Divination, Meditation and Healing. The Aquarian Press. UK.

From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Austalian Skeptics Inc.