Energy. Quacks keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means. Certainly Luminas doesn’t. Yes, I know that I use a lot of variations on that famous quote from The Princess Bride all the time, probably more frequently than I should and likely to the point of annoying some of my readers, but, damn, if it isn’t a nearly all-purpose phrase to use to riff on various quackery.
Also, if there’s one concept that quacks love to abuse, it’s energy. Whether it’s “energy healing” like reiki, where practitioners claim to be able to channel healing energy from the magical mystical “universal source” specifically into their patient to specifically heal whatever ails them, even if it’s from a distance or you’re a dog, or “healing touch,” where practitioners claim to be able to manipulate their patients’ “life energy” fields, again to healing effect, so much quackery is based on a misunderstanding of “energy” as basically magic. So it is with some spectacularly hilarious woo that I came across last week and, given that it’s Friday, decided to feature as a sort of Friday Dose of Woo Lite. It even abuses quantum theory because of course it does. So much quackery does.
So what are we talking about here? What is Luminas? To be honest, more than anything else, it reminds me of the silly “Body Vibes” energy stickers that Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop were selling last year (and probably still are) that claim to “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies,” whatever that means. So let’s look at the claims.
Right on the front page of the Luminas website, you’ll find a video. It’s well-produced, as many such videos for quackery are, and it blathers on about how the product being advertised takes advantage of “revolutions in quantum physics,” as a lot of quackery does. Let’s see how this lovely patch supposedly works.
The basic claim is that the Luminas patch is charged with the “energetic signatures of natural remedies known for centuries to reduce inflammation.” These natural remedies include “Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Amino Acids, Arnica, Astaxanthin, B-Complex, Berberis Vulgaris, Bioperine, Boluoke, Boswellia, Bromelain, Chamomile, Chinchona, Chondroitin, Clove, Colostrum, CoQ10, Cordyceps, Curcumin, Flower Essences Frankincense, Ginger, Ginseng, Glucosamine, Glutathione, Guggulu, Hops Extract, K2, Lavender, Magnesium, Motherwort, MSM, Olive Leaf, Omega-3, Peony, Proteolytic Enzymes, Polyphenols, Rosemary Extract, Telomerase Activators, Turmeric, Vinpocetine, Vitamin D, White Willow Bark and over 200 more!”
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this video on this page! It starts out with an announcer opining about how “energy is all around us.” (Well, yes it is, but that doesn’t mean your nonsense product works.) The announcer then goes on about Luminas somehow infuses its patches with the energy from she substances above:
…energy that your body inherently knows how to absorb and use with absolutely no side effects.
What? Not even skin irritation from the patch or any of the adhesive used to stick the patch to your body? I find that hard to believe. I mean, even paper tape can cause irritation! Fear not, though! The announcer continues:
Through the use of quantum physics scientists and doctors now have the ability to store the energetic signatures of hundreds of pain- and inflammation-relieving remedies on a single patch. Once applied, your body induces the flow of energy from the patch, choosing which electrons it needs to reduce inflammation. Science, relieving pain, with the power of nature.
So. Many. Questions. How, for instance, do the Luminas “scientists” store these “energetic signatures” on a patch? (More on that later.) What, exactly, is an “energetic signature”? How does the body know which electrons it needs to reduce inflammation and pain? As a surgeon and scientists with a PhD in cellular physiology, I’d love to know the physiologic mechanism by which the body can distinguish one electron from another, given that there really is no known biological (or, come to think of it, no physical) mechanism for that to happen and if Luminas has discovered one its scientists should be nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Let’s get back to a key question, though: How on earth is all this energy goodness concentrated into a little patch roughly the size of a playing card? Physicists and chemists are going to guffaw at the answer, I promise you. First, the same page linked to above also notes that the “patches contain no active ingredients” because they “are charged with electrons captured from” the substances listed above. So is this some form of homeopathy? Of course not! Look at the video, which shows magical energy swirling off of the natural remedies and winding its way into the patch! There’s your energy, you unbeliever, you! How can you possibly question it?
But, hey, the makers of Luminas know that there are science geeks out there; so for the benefit of them included in the FAQ is an explanation of just how much natural product-infused electrony goodness you can expect in a single patch:
For the geeks and scientists among us: Each patch contains 5.2 x 10^19 molecular structures, each with 2 oxygen polar bonding areas capable of holding a targeted, host electron, creating a total possible charging capacity equal to 10.4 x 10^19 host electrons. After considering the average transmission field voltage of humans (200 micro volts) we can calculate the relative capacity, per square inch of patch, at 333 Pico Farads.
So basically, they’re saying that each patch contains around 86 micromoles of…whatever…and that that whatever can bind…electrons, I guess. Somewhere, far back in the recesses of my mind and buried in the mists of time from decades ago, my knowledge from my undergraduate chemistry degree and the additional advanced physics courses stirred—and then screamed! I can’t wait to see what actual physicists and chemists whose knowledge is in active use think of this. I apologize in advance if I cause them too much pain by showing them this. Not everyone’s neurons are as resistant as mine to apoptosis caused by waves of burning stupid. It is a resistance built up over 14 years of examining claims like those of Luminas.
Who, I wondered, developed this amazing product? In the first video, we discover that it is a woman named Sonia Broglin, who is the director of product development at Luminas. Naturally, she’s featured with a monitor in the background showing what look like infrared heat images of people. I actually laughed out loud as the video went on, because it shows her in very obviously posed and scripted interactions with patients with no shirts on and up to several of these patches all over their torso and arms. Me being me, I had to Google her, and guess what I found? Surprise! Surprise! She’s listed as a certified EnergyTouch® practitioner who graduated from the EnergyTouch® School of Advanced Healing. What, you might ask, is EnergyTouch®? This:
Energy Touch® is an off-the-body multidimensional healing process that allows the Energy Touch® Practitioner to access outer levels of the human energy field. It is based on the understanding that the human energy field is a dynamic system of powerful influences, in unique relationship to physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. This system consists of the field (aura), chakras (energy centers) and the energy of the organs and systems of the body.
We readily accept the many ways that our body functions and is powered by energy. Our heart beats using energy pulses. Our brain and nervous system communicates with our entire body through complex energetic pathways. Our human energy field is constantly reacting in response to the physical and emotional and spiritual needs of our body.
EnergyTouch® is distinctive in the field of energy healing in that the work takes place in a more expanded energy field allowing the practitioner to work on a cellular level. Our work includes accessing an energetic hologram of the physical body, which is a unique and vital aspect of EnergyTouch® Healing. This energetic hologram acts as a matrix connecting the energies of the outer levels of the field precisely with the physical body on a cellular level.
EnergyTouch® practitioners are skillfully capable of moving fluently throughout the levels of the human energy field, to access and utilize outer level energies to clear blocks and restore function at the most basic cellular level.
It’s all starting to make sense now. That is some Grade-A+, seriously energy woo there, and I’m guessing Broglin cranked it up to 11 when developing the Luminas patches.
Next up is someone named Dr. Craig Davies, who is billed as “Pro Sports Doctor.” Yes, but a doctor of what? It didn’t take much Googling to figure out that Davies is not a physician. He is a chiropractor, because of course he is. He ha actually worked on the PGA tour, apparently adjusting the spines of professional golfers.
Then there’s Dr. Ara Suppiah. Unlike Davies, Dr. Suppiah appears to be more legit:
He is a practicing ER physician, Chief Wellness Officer for Emergency Physicians of Florida and an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida Medical School. He also is the personal physician for several top PGA Tour professionals, including Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh, Graham DeLaet, and Kevin Chappell, as well as LPGA Tour players Anna Nordqvist and Julieta Granada.
However, his Twitter bio describes him as doing “functional sports medicine,” which suggests to me functional medicine, which is not exactly science-based. Basically, Dr. Suppiah looks like an ER doc turned sports medicine doc who was a bit into woo but has dived both feet first into the deep end of energy medicine pseudoscience by endorsing these Luminas patches. Seriously, a physician should really know better, but clearly Dr. Suppiah doesn’t. Either that, or the money was good.
Ditto Dr. Ashley Anderson, a nurse practitioner who also gives an endorsement. She’s affiliated with Athena Health and Wellness, a practice that mixes standard women’s health treatments with “integrative medicine” quackery like acupuncture, reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine, and the like.
Given the claims being made, you’d think that Luminas would have some…oh, you know…actual scientific evidence to support its patch. The video touts “astounding results” from Luminas’ patient trials, but what are those trials? Certainly they are not published anywhere that I could find in the peer-reviewed literature. Certainly I could find no registered clinical trials in ClinicalTrials.gov. What I did find on the Luminas website is a hilariously inept trial in which patients were imaged using thermography (which, by the way, is generally quackery when used by alternative medicine practitioners).
I suspect I will wait a long time. After all,
After nearly 14 years of regular blogging and 20 years of examining questionable claims, it never ceases to amaze me that products like Luminas patches are still sold. Basically, it’s a variety of quantum quackery in which “energy” is basically magic that can do anything, and quantum is an invocation of the high priests of quackery.