If you want to understand why ancient healing methods work, look to humankind's most modern science: quantum physics. Wave-particle duality, the properties of electromagnetic fields, the holographic effect, the impact of the observer - these discoveries can help explain how homeopathy cures, why the holistic approach is so effective, how Reiki and Qigong can heal tissues, what makes iridology an effective diagnostic tool, and why placebos work about thirty percent of the time.
For many years, we have had the tools to test alternative therapies and show that they work. But because we never had the scientific understanding to explain why they work, we pretended they didn't.
Remember this when your doctor tells you something is "unscientific." He may simply mean that the science he has learned is not advanced enough to explain it. Quantum science may explain it, but doctors are not required to take that class.
Before we see which of the discoveries of quantum physics explain the efficacy of various non-allopathic treatments, let's look at the deveopment of this twentieth-century science.
In the nineteenth century, when scientists began studying electric and magnetic phenomena, physicists such as Michael Faraday and Clerk Maxwell soon replaced Isaac Newton's old idea about forces with the new idea of force fields. They showed that force fields have a reality separate from the bodies upon which they act. In other words, gravity didn't need that apple.
The theory of electrodynamics was thus born, and it enabled physicists to discover the nature of light. They learned that light is a rapidly alternating electromagnetic field traveling through space in the form of waves.
Early twentieth century physicists moved the science forward, developing relativity theory and quantum theory. They discovered that the very building blocks of nature are not made of solid particles but of light waves.
Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared) showed that mass - solid objects, including the physical body - is nothing but a form of energy.
To add confusion to this confounding discovery, the new physicists then discovered that light particles are also solid. This paradox came to be called wave-particle duality. But how can an atomic particle - a piece of an atom, such as an electron - be both a solid object and a non-solid wave? When observed in one way, it has the characteristics of being solid. When observed in another way, it has the characteristics of being an electromagnetic wave. To explain this, physicist Niels Bohr coined the term complementarity, which means that the two descriptions complement each other by describing the same reality.
Then physicists discovered these waves were organized into unified fields. Solid matter - including the physical body - was now seen to be a web of relations between various parts of a unified field.
Physicist David Bohm postulated that everything in the universe is part of an "unbroken wholeness." He points to the properties of a hologram, in which each part of the projected image contains the whole image. In other words, if you have a holographic negative of an apple and shine light through just a tiny part of the stem in that image, the image of the entire apple will show up in the hologram.
Another thing scientists discovered in the quantum world was that cause-and-effect no longer applies. An electron may jump from one atomic orbit to another without a single event causing it. (This is the famous "quantum leap.") The dynamics of the system - its connection to the whole - determines the probability, but not the certainty, that the electron will jump from one orbit to another. Thus was born probability theory.
Quantum physicists also discovered that an "objective" experiment is impossible. The very fact of observing the experiment changes its outcome. In fact, observation determines the properties of what is being observed.
"The crucial feature of quantum theory," physicist Fritjof Capra explains in The Turning Point, "is that the observer is not only necessary to observe the properties of an atomic phenomenon, but is necessary even to bring about these properties." The means electrons - tiny building blocks of matter - do not have objective properties independent of our minds. "In atomic physics," Capra says, "the sharp Cartesian division between mind and matter, between the observer and the observed, can no longer be maintained."
Because mind impacts matter, objective scientific truth is impossible to come by. This is called the "uncertainty principle."
So how does this relate to medicine and healing?
First, the unbroken wholeness of matter calls for a holistic approach to medicine. Imagine if an oncologist understood that the dynamics of the whole human system determine the probability that cells would mutate into cancer. He would no longer look for a single causative factor, nor for one silver-bullet chemical to treat a cancer.
If he understands how mind moves matter, he will not pronounce a death sentence but, instead, affirm the patient's ability to heal even a malignant tumor. He might suggest that the patient can think the cancer away.
Thinking activates electrical and chemical processes and can therefore cause physical changes. Quantum physics allows doctors to see the science behind this statement.
From the perspective of most modern-day allopathic physicians, homeopathy doesn't make sense. If a substance is so dilute with water that no chemical trace of the substance remains, how can it impact the body? The quantum physicist can answer that. The water, he says, still contains the energy imprint of the substance. Because energy and matter are one and the same, its impact is just as intense as the chemical impact. Homeopathic practitioners have been saying for two centuries that disease symptoms are the body's way of responding to vibratory distortions. Today, we finally have the science to back that statement up.
Since matter - the physical body and its organs and tissues - is made of electro-magnetic waves, it is no wonder that homeopathy works. It also becomes evident why energy-based healing systems, such as Reiki and Qigong, are effective, and why the use of bioelectric devices, such as multi-wave oscillators, makes sense.
The quantum principle of nonlocality fits perfectly with the principles of acupuncture. And the principles of the hologram explain why alternative diagnostic techniques, such as iridology work. One small part contains the diagram of the whole.
If the physical world operates more like a thought than a machine, then the placebo effect, which has baffled scientists for generations, is also perfectly scientific and understandable. Suddenly, it becomes a powerful tool in healing rather than an experimental nuisance.
Of course, the uncertainty principle makes double-blind tests useless. The fact that the observer impacts the outcome of what he is observing makes all so-called scientific experiments very unscientific indeed. The only truly double-blind experiment would be one that was not observed at all.
"Every contemporary physicist," Capra says, "agrees that modern physics has transcended the mechanistic Cartesian view of the world and is leading us to a holistic and intrinsically dynamic conception of the universe."
This holistic view will one day permeate medicine. The reductionist philosophy that led us into allopathic folly will lead us to a new medicine in which healing is understood and "cure" is not a dirty word.