Why People Believe Crystals Have Certain Powers


Alternative healing and other modalities are becoming more popular these days. One of those modalities involves using crystals—but do they really “work?” Is it a placebo effect, or is there some truth to using rocks to do your bidding?

Before you pull out your black tourmaline to banish our negativity, read on. The history of crystal healing is more interesting than you might think—even if you’re not sure that they have any powers.

How long have people been using crystals for healing?

Precious and semi-precious stones have attracted people for a long time. The history of using crystals for healing (and other purposes) dates back thousands of years. Pliny the Elder described different crystals and their physical properties, while there are also mentions of crystals in medieval writings. Ancient Egyptians used lapis lazuli to ward off illness. These rocks have captured the interest and attention of humans for millennia, and not just because they’re pretty.

They often represented “the more obvious symbolism of faith and innocence, [but] crystal was also a material for thinking about – and not merely representing – erotic love. Even in descriptions of exotic “Eastern” architecture in medieval texts, the crystalline qualities of fountains and buildings evoke mystery, uncertainty and desire. This was probably because the stone itself has contradictory aesthetic qualities. Crystal is transparent but you need to put effort in order to see through it. It refracts light, but it can also emit light,” writes Marisa Galvez, a Stanford scholar. She also notes that in medieval times, people believed that crystals had a spiritual presence.

Today, we know that quartz is used in electronics because of its piezoelectricity. That is, quartz crystals are “non-conductive materials which generate electricity when you subject them to pressure, and vice-versa. They undergo physical deformation when you run electricity through them. If you compressed a piece of quartz using a pair of pliers or a vise, it would generate a very small electrical charge, and if you connected a piece of quartz to either end of a battery, the crystal would bend or warp slightly. These effects are too small to be visible to the human eye. You won’t actually see the crystal bending or shaking, and you won’t notice sparks coming from it, but there will be very tiny effects, and these can be detected and used by electronic circuits.”

Modern crystal healing probably comes from Asian cultures, like the Chinese concept of qi (life force) and the Hindu concept of chakras—the seven energy centers of the body. The colors of certain crystals may correspond to the colors of the chakras, and produce healing effects. If you’ve ever try energy healing, a practitioner may place certain crystals on your chakras and use them to help conduct energy.

Crystal healing today

Does that mean that your quartz is capable of transferring other kinds of energy? Maybe—but there’s no scientific evidence of it. Research has shown that crystals are mostly effective as placebos. If you believe that rose quartz will help you attract love, you will probably approach life in a way that makes you seem more open to love. For example, you might be more prone to chat with a cute stranger, set up an online dating profile or go out to enjoy the nightlife when you have a talisman to encourage you.

Most people who believe in crystal healing also believe in other paranormal phenomena, including chakras, qi and an afterlife. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong—but it is definitely a faith-based belief, not a scientific one.

However, while scientists are quick to point out that there’s no scientific basis for crystal healing at this time, having a placebo isn’t a bad thing. As long as you’re not solely relying on crystals for your health and wellness, then you should feel comfortable sticking a piece of tiger’s eye in your pocket for courage. If it works, great—and if it doesn’t, well, you still have a beautiful piece of the earth for your own personal enjoyment.

Should you try crystal healing? If it fits into your budget and nothing else is working, there’s no reason not to give it a try. If you’re open to the possibility, you might receive a benefit from it—whether placebo or the force of spirit working its way through you. If not, stick to traditional medicine, meditation and healthy living: three things that do offer scientifically-proven benefits.

Abhishek Chauhan

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