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When children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or learning problems, parents naturally want to do everything possible to help them. If they are lucky, they will find reliable information. For autism, they may discover a website that offers real science and real hope for autism: The Association for Science in Autism Treatment. More likely, they will come across unreliable websites that offer pseudoscientific explanations, impressive testimonials, lots of hype, and false hope. And they will embark on programs with no evidence of effectiveness, programs that can be very time-consuming and very expensive. They will put their children on onerous special diets and submit them to all kinds of futile exercises. Some of them will continue useless treatments even after seeing evidence from controlled studies that they are indistinguishable from placebo.

Perhaps the most egregious of these untested programs is Karyne Jeanne Richardson’s elaborate mixture of electrodiagnostic testing, Bach flower remedies, and fractal sound therapy. Her website and her writings show that she believes in everything from ayurveda to Deepak Chopra to homeopathy to energy medicine. She says, “It must be known that true healing can be accomplished only when the spiritual nature of the human being is recognized as divine.”

SpectraVision/Bodyscan

SpectraVision supposedly represents the latest knowledge in the field of energy medicine. It will supposedly help you “rediscover your true nature, thereby eliminating the underlying imbalances that can manifest as physical disease.” Richardson also attributes many “conditions of ill health” in children with autism to Environmental Toxicology Overload (ETO). Toxins are identified by the scan, and modalities such as Epsom salt baths and massage of the head and feet are utilized to increase release of toxins from the body.

An explanation of Quantum SpectraVision Technology can be found here. It’s a pseudoscientific tour de force that you might find amusing. (Example: “all matter is just a form of energy, only the vibration rate is much slower.”) It says the machine can identify toxins, food issues, acid alkaline balance, spinal misalignments, etc. and will then recommend remedies in the form of things like orthomolecular nutrition, chiropractic or craniosacral adjustments, and homeopathic remedies.

SpectraVision is just another in a long list of quack electrodiagnostic devices derived from EAV (Electroacupuncture of Voll). The FDA has banned importation of these devices and has confiscated some of them. And there have been criminal prosecutions of marketers and users of the devices.

Flower essences

The SpectraVision scan presents 100 flower essences to the body and the body gives a numbered response. “The soul of the person chooses” the flower essences it wants. The chosen essences are administered at bedtime along with reading about the essences to invite that thought process into your dreams. She tells us there can be negative dreams at first, but they dissipate very quickly. “For some children, using the flower essences is the first time the soul wants to stay in the body.”

She says the foundational flower essences support the soul of the child: California wild rose, trumpet vine, Indian paintbrush, and five-flower formula. California pitcher plant essence is said to aid healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients for a healthy brain. When Indian paintbrush comes up on the scan, she says that means the child is ready to move from the phase of removing toxins to a new phase of creativity and coming into the body. They can do artwork during the hour and a half of listening to sounds to train the brain.

Bach flower therapy is a fanciful offshoot of homeopathy; proponents claim that flowers have a soul with affinity to the human soul. Their claims for clinical effectiveness have been tested. Edzard Ernst reviewed the published evidence and concluded: “The hypothesis that flower remedies are associated with effects beyond a placebo response is not supported by data from rigorous clinical trials.” I have written about Bach flower remedies before.

Fractal sounds

Richardson presents pretty pictures to show that fractal sounds on water sort of look like flowers. Wow! Who knew? That must mean something, right?

The SetiSMART patented software is the “sound codex” to the brain. It delivers a prescription sound program that synchronizes the heartbeat, the breath rate, and the brain waves. This supposedly balances the autonomic nervous system, reducing stress and the level of stress hormones, reducing inflammation, and allowing the brain to organize into functional neurological pathways. CCBT software uses Fractal Sonic Sounds (along with flower essences) to quiet and still the body’s hyperactivities and facilitate neurogenesis. The harmony supposedly affects epigenetics, switching genes on and off to restore balance, improve the immune system, and promote emotional bonding between parent and child.

Entrainment is a phenomenon where the vibrations of one object will change the vibrations of another object, synchronizing them. There have been reports of brain wave synchronization with repetitive sounds and beneficial effects of listening to music, but I don’t understand “fractal sounds” or what they are hoping to accomplish. And if entrainment occurs, I can’t imagine why synchronizing heart rate, breathing, and brain waves would be expected to have all the widespread effects Richardson describes (switching genes on, promoting emotional bonding?). And I can’t imagine the basis for prescribing an individual sound program. It doesn’t make sense to me, and I suspect that is because it doesn’t make sense. And of course there are no controlled research studies to validate Richardson’s program. She claims to have seen striking results, but these could be explained by natural development over time, relaxation, attention, suggestion, and other factors.

Richardson attempts to explain:

Sound organizes all matter in the Universe around us. Sound can organize our brain into coherent whole brain function.

When the body is not stressed, it does not produce cortisol and histamines, therefore inflammatory issues in the brain and body are reduced. Since stress can cause the stomach to shut down, the relaxation response in the body during the CCBT sound therapy invites better digestion. There is also deep sleep and deeper breathing, which provide the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the brain. With the appropriate flower essence, the whole spirit in the child feels safe, feels she/he can finally be at home on earth and want to stay inside the body. Then, as a result, good physical and emotional markers begin to improve on an ongoing basis.

I’m not buying this.

Who is promoting this?

Karyne Jeanne Richardson, BEP, APP, is the founding director of the Institute for Sound Health and Integrative Medicine and Director of PNI Graduate Studies Psycho-Neuro Immunology. I don’t know what BEP and APP stand for, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t degrees in any medical or scientific field. She has a degree in Theatre and Cinematic Arts and was an elementary school teacher, singer, and cast member of “Up with People.” She bills herself as:

  • Neuro Scientist, Researcher, Clinician, Author
  • Environmental Toxicologist
  • Certified Chopra Ayurvedic Instructor since 2004
  • Speech Pathologist & Balance Therapist
  • PMA Pastoral Medical
    • Diplomat of Pastoral Science
    • D.PSc. Ordained 2003
  • Ortho Molecular Nutritionist
  • Bio-Medical and Quantum Energy Medicine
  • Homeopathic Allergist
  • Brain Fitness Specialist—Autism through Dementia Spectrum
  • Stress Management personalized training

It could be argued that she is practicing medicine without a license.

Conclusion: Just too silly

I’m not going to bother to critique this in more detail: it’s just too silly. It’s a veritable cornucopia of woo woo. If you know anything about science and have read the debunking of claims for energy medicine, electrodiagnosis, flower remedies, homeopathy, etc. I won’t need to point out what is wrong with her claims. If you don’t accept science as the only reliable “way of knowing” and if you believe in the soul and believe that flower essences can persuade the soul to stay in the body, you wouldn’t listen to anything I might have to say anyway.

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.