A correspondent from Friends of Science in Medicine in Australia sent me information about the Bioptron, suggesting it would make for a colorful article. Their organization has succeeded in getting it removed from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration listings but, to our shame, it’s still available in the US. She points out that “devices with FDA numbers give companies like Bioptron an easy ride, around the world!” It seems customers are interpreting Bioptron’s 510(k) number as an endorsement of its effectiveness. It’s no such thing! The 510(k) designation only means that the company made a premarket submission intended to show that the new device is substantially similar to another device on the market. It does not imply that the device is effective for anything. It is colorful indeed, but just too silly to write about. There is no science to critique; in fact, it is completely out of touch with reality. It’s based on pure imaginative fantasy.

Despite it being too silly to write about, I’m a sucker for silliness. It makes me laugh and illustrates the foibles of human psychology. How could anyone fall for this product? If it’s not a scam, it’s a great imitation; and I don’t believe the people who sell it could actually believe their own extravagant claims. So I wrote about it. When something is too silly to write about, it’s too silly to read, so feel free to stop reading. There is no science here, but it may have entertainment value. If you want to have a laugh, you can visit the Bioptron website.

They say “The indications [sic] for use is [sic] “in providing temporary relief of minor chronic neck and should[sic] pain of musculoskeletal origin“. The grammatical and other errors are typical of the often incoherent writing. The company claims to have TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approval in Australia. That’s wrong. It was listed (twice) with the TGA but both times it was de-listed because of multiple complaints.

In the US, the Bioptron is promoted by All Nature’s Ways, whose list of treatments offered reads like a textbook of everything wrong with alternative medicine, including homeopathy and even zappers! I urge you to click on that link; you will undoubtedly encounter some alternative treatments you weren’t aware of. It was the first time I had heard of many of them. That same link lists an astounding array of conditions they think they can treat. And the tab for “clinical studies” consists of nothing but testimonials and case reports.

Bioptron is even recommended as a treatment for COVID-19.

Bioptron is an energy medicine device intended to balance your chakras and do all sorts of wonderful things. The chakras are color-coded and supposedly are affected by light of the proper color. They claim it is supported by extensive research – in Switzerland – but I don’t believe it has ever undergone a controlled scientific test. By “research” they don’t mean what I mean by “research”.

You can buy the whole package on EBay for $649 or a single lens for $104.

As I said, just too silly! Just looking at the images should be enough to discourage potential customers:

If you believe in chakras, how do you imagine they figured out which chakras corresponded to each color? Imagination is the key word here. And colored bullshit is an apt description.

Author

  • Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.

Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.