Hammering Out A Cure

From:  What Doctors Don’t Tell You   -  Vol 20 07 October 2009    Bryan Hubbard

Hammering Out A Cure

Those who have a problem with acupuncture and meridian points will have their credulity stretched to the limits by Tong Ren Therapy, an energy healing system that doesn’t use needles and doesn’t even touch the patient.  Instead, the practitioner uses a doll to represent the patient, and taps on specific points of the doll with a small hammer. Not surprisingly, the ‘quackbusters’ and sceptics have been frothing at the mouth, describing Tong Ren (‘bronze man’) as a cross between acupuncture-itself a derogatory term in their books-and voodoo. To make matters worse, as with many similar therapies, there’s a paucity of research to support the claims of its founder, Tom Tam, a Chinese refugee now living in Massachusetts, and his many practitioners.

One study, by Amy Sullivan, from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, VA, Susan Bauer-Wu from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and Michael Miovic, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, found that 265 Tong Ren patients who completed a survey reported “amazing” improvements to their health problems. Even patients with major illnesses such as cancer said they were helped by the therapy; in the survey, 60 per cent of cancer patients reported dramatic improvements after several sessions of Tong Ren. It also appears to help those who are suffering from anxiety, depression and autoimmune disorders (Complement Health Pract Rev, 2009; 14: 19-35;
DOI:10.1177/1533210108329265). In a separate study of 500 individuals who received Tong Ren while on a conference phone call with a practitioner, 98 per cent said they could feel
sensations of warmth, pain relief and relaxation (unpublished data).

Beyond Placebo

Given such findings, Tong Ren might be dismissed as having merely a placebo effect were it not for the numerous case studies of patients whose life-threatening illnesses have been completely reversed. In 2004, Florri Kuethe was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands, and given a year to live without chemo- and radiotherapy. She took the ‘practical’ decision to have the treatment. However, its effects on her were catastrophic, triggering life-threatening lung damage, loss of mobility-she was unable to walk-and neuropathy. Florri was forced to abandon the therapy, while her oncologist warned her that the cancer would return. All this time, however, she had also been receiving Tong Ren treatment. Her husband went on to become a Tong Ren practitioner and, today, Florri is fully recovered. Her cancer has not returned, her mobility is restored and her lungs have recovered beyond her pulmonologist’s “wildest dreams” (Kuethe R. Tong Ren Therapy. Boston, MA: Fire Husker Publishing, 2009).


The Chi Connection

The theory behind Tong Ren is similar to acupuncture’s: illness is the result of a ‘blockage’ of energy, or chi, so the therapy is designed to clear blockages and allow the body’s self-healing activities to work. But unlike acupuncture, which uses needles at meridian points to restore the
flow of chi, Tong Ren uses a small hammer to hit specific points on a doll representing the patient. Tam calls on Jung’s collective unconscious and quantum physics to explain how, without touching the patient, his modality works. As he puts it, our internal, or body, chi is connected to the external, or universal, chi, and this connection allows others to influence your internal chi. Indeed, the patient doesn’t even need to be in the same room as the practitioner, and it’s just as effective over the telephone. The practitioner focuses on an area of the patient’s body via the plastic doll, as it is “only a focused mind [that] can create and transform energy”, says Tam. Over the years, Tam has developed a system that specifies points where blockages can cause different diseases. Each point is marked on the practitioner’s doll, with labels such as ‘GV22’ and ‘BL6’, and the practitioner taps on these points while focusing on unblocking the area.

      Rick Kuethe

Distance is No Object

Tom Tam still runs weekly “guinea-pig classes”, as he calls them, where people turn up and receive several minutes of treatment from practitioners. Sometimes, a hundred or more people are treated every week in these sessions, which are free of charge. A standard distance healing, usually by telephone, takes around 30 minutes or more, during which the patient is constantly asked to report any changes, sensations or feelings of warmth as these are signs of unblocking. If the patient reports feeling nothing, then the practitioner tries another point on the doll. Rick Kuethe has undertaken more than 5000 distance healings, the very first one on his friend, Kim. During a phone conversation, Kim complained of suffering from an allergic reaction, so Rick asked if he could try Tong Ren on him. Within minutes, Kim’s symptoms had completely cleared. “I don’t know which of us was more amazed,” Rick recalled. Cynics recoil and say that Tong Ren is absurd and impossible. Nevertheless, while some may agree that it does indeed seem absurd, there are enough people walking around who can testify that it is far from impossible.