New Age Medicine

Therapies from the Devil?*

Altered States of Consciousness

Definition:  The deliberate cultivation of abnormal states of consciousness (states not normally experienced apart from a specific technique or program to develop them).

Founder:  Unknown

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Proponents claim that altered states allegedly produce a "higher" state of consciousness or "being," including dramatic revelations and a positive restructuring of the participant's world view.

Scientific Evaluation:  Science cannot evaluate subjective claims concerning a particular state of consciousness. Scientific research in this area is a mixture of investigating normal, marginally altered consciousness (e.g., dreams), and occultic and parapsychological exploration of mystical, occultic states.

Occultic Potential:  Spirit contact, psychic transformation.

Major Problem:  Occultic associations.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Forbidden on the basis of occultic associations.

Potential Dangers:  Apparent "mental" illness; occult bondage; spirit possession.


Definition:  Acupuncture is the practice of ancient Chinese needle stimulation based upon the occultic religion of Taoism.

Founder:  Unknown; the traditional Chinese text is The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Acupuncture claims to work by stimulating acupuncture points with needles, supposedly permitting the cosmic energy of the universe (chi) to flow freely through the body organs and systems, maintaining health.

Scientific Evaluation:  Disputed, but largely discredited; while its Taoism is ignored in scientific studies, these studies have yet to demonstrate acupuncture's effectiveness scientifically. A definitive three-year study released in 1991 concluded acupuncture was nothing more than, at best, a powerful placebo.

Occultic Potential:  Taoist practice and philosophy; psychic practitioners; meditative programs and other occultic practices used in conjunction with acupuncture therapy.

Major Problem(s):  Acupuncture works on the basis of psychological, religious, or occultic principles, not scientific ones or its own stated theories.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Classical acupuncture involves the practice of an ancient pagan medicine inseparably tied to Taoism.

Potential Dangers:  Needle stimulation has occasionally produced physical complications and injuries, some serious; misdiagnosis of a serious illness; occult influence.

Attitudinal Healing

Definition:  Attitudinal healing is the regulation or maintenance of physical, "mental," and/or spiritual health by learning "proper" mental attitudes.

Founder:  Unknown

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Because the spirit, mind, and body are interrelated, "proper" mental attitudes may influence the entire person toward desired spiritual, psychological, and/or physical goals.

Scientific Evaluation:  Unsubstantiated claims.

Occultic Potential:  Adopting new age philosophy; encountering spiritistic revelations and contacts.

Major Problem(s):  Mental attitudes are typically restructured to harmonize with new age/spiritistic philosophy.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  The form of attitudinal healing examined in this summary is from Jane Robert's The Nature of Personal Reality, and the three-volume text, A Course in Miracles. These materials constitute spiritistic revelations admittedly produced by occultic means, which the Bible forbids (Deut. 18:9-12). Cultivating occultic or unbiblical attitudes toward life is not in harmony with Scriptural purposes, but rather is spiritually harmful.

Potential Dangers:  Adopting occultic philosophy and practice in the guise of physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Applied Kinesiology (Muscle Testing)

Definition:  Applied kinesiology is a method of diagnosis and treatment that combines chiropractic, muscle-testing, nutritional evaluations, and other methods for overall preventive medicine and health maintenance.

Founder:  George Goodheart

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Applied kinesiology claims to induce proper structural and chemical-nutritional organization in the body, as well as "left-and-right-brain" hemisphere balance. It claims to evaluate and correct problems of the nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, skeletal-musculature, and "meridian" systems, thereby maintaining health. Its practices are believed to permit the even flow of cosmic energy throughout the body, thus nurturing individual organs and systems with the proper supply of chi energy.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited; see summary on acupuncture (above) and chiropractic (below).

Occultic Potential:  Psychic healing; energy channeling.

Major Problem(s):  Unsubstantiated practice with occultic potential.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Practices that are quack or potentially occultic should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  Misdiagnosis; quack treatment; occultic influence.


Definition:  Channeling is a new age term for mediumism or spirit-possession, in this case, employing spirit guides in new age medicine. Channeling occurs when someone permits a spirit entity to possess him or her for new age healing purposes. The spirits may perform psychic diagnosis or healing through a healer, or they may speak through the person's vocal chords in order to give spiritual, medical, and other teaching. Automatic writing and inner voice dictation are other forms of spirit communication by channeling.

Founder:  The first recorded incident of channeling per se is found in Genesis 3:1 (see also 2 Cor. 11:3, 13-15; Rev. 12:9; 20:2).

How Does it Claim to Work?:  By meditation, visualization, hypnosis, altered states of consciousness, and other methods, the spirits are able to enter, possess, and control a person, much in the same manner a puppeteer controls a puppet. People claim that by permitting spirits to possess and speak through them, mankind can attain a wealth of spiritual and other wisdom directly from spirits who have "passed on" or are highly evolved. The spirits claim they can assist people's health concerns and direct them toward true individual and social enlightenment.

Scientific Evaluation:  Certain aspects of the practice can be "scientifically" evaluated, as in parapsychological research, but science cannot evaluate the channelers' specific claims concerning the spirits' existence, nature, or purpose.

Occultic Potential:  Channeling can be used for an endless number of occultic pursuits, including so-called higher (altered) states of consciousness, developing psychic powers, attaining new revelations, etc. The new age movement as a whole is largely based upon channeled revelations and activities.

Major Problem(s):  The spirits who claim to be "Ascended Masters" or wise and loving entities sent from God are really evil spirits the Bible identifies as demons (see below).

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Channeling is part of what the Bible calls spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-18) and is a practice specifically forbidden (Deut. 18:9-12). The spirits' hidden purpose is to bring about people's eventual spiritual ruin by gaining their trust and exerting influence over them (2 Cor. 4:4, 11:14).

Potential Dangers:  Spiritual deception, occult bondage, demon possession, mental breakdown, physical harm, shortened life, and a host of other harmful consequences.


Definition:  Physical adjustments to correct subluxations or "misalignments" of the spine.

Founder:  D.D. Palmer

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Spinal misalignments allegedly impinge or cause pressure upon spinal nerves, interfering with the flow of nerve impulses to the rest of the body and producing susceptibility to disease. By correcting subluxations (spinal misalignments), proper performance of the nervous system is restored, thereby maintaining health.

Scientific Evaluation:  Some physical manipulation employed by chiropractors may be both safe and beneficial. General massage for tension headaches and rational, conservative spinal manipulation therapy for some neuromusculoskeletal disorders is medically justifiable. However, the fundamental chiropractic theory of subluxations causing disease is false: subluxations have never been proven to even exist, let alone to function in the manner claimed.

Occultic Potential:  May lead to occultic practices or beliefs or other new age health treatments in that these are often employed by chiropractors.

Major Problem:  The basic theory underlying chiropractic treatment is false; the practice is employed far too extensively to be justified on the basis of its limited effectiveness. Furthermore, chiropractic theory and practice are easily integrated with many other new age therapies, thereby promoting new age medicine in general.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Avoid any irrational or potentially occultic aspects of chiropractic; to accomplish this would probably require an avoidance of it altogether.

Potential Dangers:  Misdiagnosis and/or delay or treatment of a serious illness; moderate to serious physical harm resulting from spinal adjustments; problems arising from over treatment; treatment by occultic practices; over radiation from unnecessary full spine x-rays.

Crystal Healing/Crystal Work

Definition:  The use of a supposed "power" inherent within crystals for healing, developing psychic abilities, spirit contact, and other new age goals.

Founder:  Unknown: but similar practices (e.g., the use of amulets and other magical stones or gems) have been employed for millennia.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Crystals supposedly contain the ability to focus and direct psychic energies for healing and other practices.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited.

Occultic Potential:  Psychic development; spiritism.

Major Problem(s):  Crystals per se have no magical powers and easily become an implement behind which spirits can work.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Forbidden on the basis of occultic usage.

Potential Dangers:  Misdiagnosis, occultic influences.

Herbal Medicine

Definition:  The use of herbs and other plant products to cure a wide variety of physical ailments; the use of "spiritually potentized" herbs and plants for psychic healing and/or other occultic pursuits.

Founder:  Unknown; the practice is ancient and cross-cultural.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Particular herbs, plants, or flowers are believed to possess particular healing properties, physical and/or spiritual. Roots, leaves, stems, plants, seeds, etc., are prepared in various ways, sometimes through psychic methods, and then either consumed orally as medicine or used on the skin as ointment.

Scientific Evaluation:  Some herbs and plants do contain medicinal properties and in extracted or synthetic forms are used in modern health care and medical treatment. Unfortunately, new age herbalism largely ignores scientific facts or concerns and pursues its own methods and interests.

Occultic Potential:  Developing altered states of consciousness and spirit contact by hallucinogenic plants; practicing psychic healing through a supposed occult power in herbs.

Major Problem(s):  New age herbal medicine is largely, if not exclusively, a combination of questionable commercialism and wishful thinking based on ignorance.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Prior to the Fall, human and animal life was vegetarian; seed-bearing plants and fruits were the intended diet of both man and animals (Gen. 1:29-30; cf. 9:3; Isa. 11:7; 65:25). This might suggest that plants were not only nutritious but also medicinal (see Isa. 38:21). Nevertheless, modern popular herbalism presents both physical and spiritual risk: quack or occultic applications should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  Many commonly sold herbs are potentially harmful by themselves (through "overdoses," for example) or through synergism; using ineffective or dangerous treatments which delay or otherwise acerbate serious illness; spiritistic influences through occultic herbalism.


Definition:  Homeopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment based on the principle of "like cures like" -- that the same substance causing symptoms in a healthy person will cure those symptoms in a sick person.

Founder:  Samuel Hahnermann

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Homeopathy claims to work by correcting an imbalance or problem in the body's "vital force" or life energy that is currently or will later be manifesting as disease. By an almost ritual process of diluting and shaking, substances supposedly become powerful energy medicines which, in turn, either stimulate the immune system or correct problems in the supposed vital force of the body, thereby curing the illness.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited.

Occultic Potential:  Psychic healing, spiritism, astrology, and other occult philosophies; use of pendulums, radionic instruments, and other occult devices.

Major Problem(s):  Homeopathic diagnosis is ineffective; homeopathic medicines are so diluted they cannot possibly exert a physical effect (without a spirituistic influence).

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Any system of medicine that is quackery or occultic should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  Incorrect and/or harmful diagnosis and treatment; occultic influences.


Definition:  Iridology is the study of the iris of the human eye to diagnose present and even future illness and disease.

Founder:  Ignatz von Peczely is considered the modern founder; however, similar practices can be seen in ancient Chinese practices related to astrology. Bernard Jensen is considered the leading U.S. authority.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Iridologists claim that the eyes can "mirror" the health condition of the body because the iris displays in detail the status of every organ system. The iris's connection with the central nervous system allegedly permits detailed information to be sent from the rest of the body back to the iris. Furthermore, each iris reveals what is happening on its own side of the body.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited in numerous scientific tests.

Occultic Potential:  Possible psychic diagnosis and healing.

Major Problem:  The diagnostic ability of iridology for both present and future illness is a myth.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Quack and potentially occultic practices should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  The progression of a serious illness that iridology fails to uncover; personal anxiety and loss of finances from misdiagnosis that a serious illness exists; occult influences.


Definition:  New age (Eastern/occultic) meditation involves the control and regulation of the mind for various physical and spiritual purposes or goals.

Founder:  Unknown; the practice is ancient and cross-cultural.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Meditation claims to work by "stilling" or otherwise influencing the mind; the mediator is allegedly able to perceive "true" reality and his own "true" nature, and achieve spiritual "enlightenment." Meditation promoters also claim the practice has numerous health benefits.

Scientific Evaluation:  Apart from a "relaxation response," scientific studies have also confirmed psychophysiological influences of meditation, but their meaning and value is variously interpreted; science cannot comment on its spiritual claims.

Occultic Potential:  The development of psychic powers, altered states of consciousness, astral projection, spiritism, kundalini arousal.

Major Problem:  New age meditation uses the mind in an abnormal manner to radically restructure a person's perceptions to support new age philosophy and goals; regressive states of consciousness are wrongly interpreted as "higher" or "divine" states of consciousness; meditation-developed psychic powers are falsely interpreted as evidence of a latent divine nature; mediators often do not realize the possible long-term results or consequences of these practices, such as kundalini arousal, nor would many have been likely to begin the practice had they known them.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  The nature, context, purpose, and type of meditation determines its validity and outcome. Biblical meditation (Psalm 19:14; 77:12; 119:97,99) is a spiritually healthy practice; new age meditation is an occult practice with harmful spiritual consequences.

Potential Dangers:  Occult influences; demon possession; physical, spiritual damage.


Definition:  Naturopathy is an approach to health and disease which assumes that "natural" methods of treatment are preferable to "synthetic" treatments, such as drugs and surgery.

Founder:  Unknown.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Naturopathy is based on the idea that illness is due to an accumulation of toxins or waste products in the body. Symptoms are the body's attempt to rid itself of such substances. By using only natural agents in the treatment of disease, it is claimed that the body will heal itself. Health is maintained by adopting a lifestyle that harmonizes with nature's healing agents.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited.

Occultic Potential:  Naturopathy may employ a wide range of New Age treatments having occultic potential, such as radionics, homeopathy, meditation, and yoga.

Major Problem:  Naturopathy is often biased against modern medicine. Natural methods are often not sufficiently powerful to cure specific illness. Further, the definition of "natural" is often subjective. "Natural" treatment may include the methods of occult medicine.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  With theoretical revision and practical safeguards, naturopathy could function as a commendable model for preventive health care and treatment of minor ailments. But as a whole, naturopathy is a part of New Age medicine; Christian enthusiasts should exercise extreme caution.

Potential Dangers:  Naturopathy may inhibit correct diagnosis of a problem, permitting a curable illness to assume serious or incurable proportions; it may also offer ineffective treatments, and involve clients in occultic methods.

Therapeutic Touch

Definition:  Therapeutic Touch is a form of psychic healing stressing the manipulation of alleged body energies (e.g., prana).

Founders:  Dolores Krieger and Dora Kunz.

How Does it Claim to Work?:  Therapeutic Touch claims to work by channeling (psychic transfer) the therapist's supposed prana into the patient. Practitioners claim that this prods the patient's own life energies toward healing.

Scientific Evaluation:  Discredited.

Occultic Potential:  Psychic healing; spiritism; developing psychic powers; occultic self-transformation; use of occult meditation; and altered states of consciousness.

Major Problems:  Therapeutic Touch appears so innocent and is sufficiently accepted within the nursing profession that many people refuse to classify it as a form of psychic healing.

Biblical/Christian Evaluation:  Practices that are occultic or potentially occultic (which include most if not all practices) should be avoided.

Potential Dangers:  Occultic influences.

* Each of the therapies described in this report have been excerpted and/or adapted from the Ankerberg and Weldon authored book, Can You Trust Your Doctor?: The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family. The book was published in 1991 by the now defunct Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 11/95