Crystals have been used by humans for centuries as both decorative items and objects of power, but do they really work?
Most recently, celebrities such as Miranda Kerr have spoken to the press about their habits of carrying a healing crystal (like rose quartz) with them at all times. Readers of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop would be familiar with the belief that crystals have energies that can interact with the human mind and body to positive effect. Crystals and their perceived powers have been present in pop culture for years, most notably during the late 80s and 90s when grunge, goth and new-age cultures peaked.
‘Crystals’ is the name given to a group of minerals or fossilised resins that are believed to have beneficial health properties. Holding crystals or keeping them on your person is thought to promote spiritual, mental and physical healing and energisation. Crystals are also thought to interact with your body’s energy field, or chakra.
Historical evidence of crystals being used in alternative medicines and rituals aside, there isn’t actually any scientific evidence to suggest these claims are true. In fact, modern science has actually proven the opposite, that crystals do not work.
In 2001, Goldsmith’s College psychologist Dr. Chris French gave crystals to 80 volunteers, along with an information book about their supposed mystic attributes. Half the participants had the real thing, while half were given cheap, plastic knock-offs, yet both groups reported to feel the tingly, feel-good vibes described in the book. A mere six participants in the study reported they didn’t feel a thing.
Dr Richard Wiseman, psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield and a researcher into paranormal claims, told the Telegraph UK in reference to the study that:
"It is suggestive that the power of crystals is in the mind instead of in the crystals. Clearly there is an effect, but people are paying hundreds of pounds for crystal and they might as well pay just a couple of quid."
The study, which was presented at the European Congress of Psychology in Rome, seemingly proves the power of suggestion, rather than the power of the crystals.
While crystals may not have any scientifically proven healing properties, in 1880, French physicist Pierre Curie with his brother Jacques found that putting pressure on various crystals – such as quartz, topaz and tourmaline – created electricity. This phenomenon, called the Piezoelectric effect, is why crystals are used as essential elements in microphones, quartz watches, computers and inkjet printers.
Furthermore, VitaJuwel, a range of crystal water bottles that infuse water with the power of crystals, was tested by Institute Hagalis, an international research laboratory for water quality. The institute studied the differences between tap water from Ueberlingen at Lake Constance, Germany and a sample of the same water after being treated with a VitaJuwel drink bottle. They found an improvement in water quality, neutralisation of harmful substances, improvement of the pH-value and oxygen content, increase in bioavailability of minerals, and an increase in energy balance.
So, do crystals really work?
The scientific evidence suggests that no, crystals do not have any mystic powers or attributes that can aid in physical, mental or spiritual healing or wellbeing. Rather, the powers or vibrations people claim to feel from crystals are more likely to be a case of being susceptible to the power of suggestion, or the placebo effect.
In saying that, the power of positive thought has been proved to reduce the risk of disease. For example, Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., found that people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions—including traumatic brain injury, stroke and brain tumors.
So, perhaps the power of crystals could also be linked to the power of positive thought, and the idea that believing in something can manifest it.
However, the other mentioned studies suggest that crystals do have powers, albeit more ordinary and practical, such as purifying water and conducting energy when correctly utilised.
According to science, crystals do not have any healing or restorative powers over the mind, body or soul, but belief can certainly be a powerful thing. What do you believe?