Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tuning fork therapy - it's not very likely is it?

Update: 25 November 2019
Apparently Marie Kondo (of joy-sparking decluttering fame) has started selling her own range of products, including a miniature tuning fork with a crystal. For $75. The tuning fork alone is $50 and emits a frequency of 4kHz (4,096 Hz) which, according to the Classic FM article pondering the baffling existence of this product, is "about the pitch of the highest note on a piano (C8)."

Update: 15 August 2012
I've noticed a few blog hits coming in along the lines of "does tuning fork therapy work" and "what is tuning fork therapy?". Just to be absolutely clear - it's a made-up therapy and does absolutely nothing of use whatever. I'm sure it will be fun and pleasant to listen to / play with tuning forks but anyone telling you they can use vibrational medicine to 'locate health problems' and then 'correct them' is (a) mistaken and (b) possibly breaking trading laws by making claims about health and diagnosis. There are no such things as chakras, or 'energy blocks'. Reiki is also fanciful nonsense but a kindly chat to someone can sometimes make you feel better anyway so if you want to waste your money, go ahead :)

Tuning forks are great fun and I don't believe there's a person alive who, if they meet one, isn't tempted to whack it on the nearest hard surface and then hold it next to their ear as the vibrating sound decays. You can get ones that are set at different pitches and growing up in a musical household meant I got to play with them fairly regularly. If you don't have one to hand here are some online tuning forks.

Recently there was an advert for a Sunday newspaper which went round the country and got different people to sing "The sun'll come out tomorrow...". I thought this advert could have done with more tuning forks because all the clips were sung at different pitches. Probably it was meant to indicate some homely charm or British eccentricity... but a tuning fork would have sorted that out.

Meanwhile tuning forks have cropped up in this advert I recently saw, for tuning fork therapy with bonus reiki.

I've cut out the contact details but the text reads:

Vibrational Medicine
Our bodies resonate biomagnetic frequencies
Vibrational medicine is a Sound Therapy
using tuning forks to locate health problems
and correct them with the right frequency.
It is effective at cleaning static energy,
releasing energetic blocks, balancing chakras,
healing specific problems.
Light-touch or no-touch therapy
into the body to enable healing
physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Reiki will bring awareness to where problems lie,
and why they are there.
While this is nonsense I did wonder how tuning forks might be used in real medicine, for example I know that they're to be found in clock mechanisms so possibly they feature in some way. No idea what though.

Update 3 June 2014
I've found an example of tuning forks being used to diagnose broken bones

"During a field evaluation, a tuning fork and stethoscope can be useful in evaluating potential fractures. However, this method should only be used in conjunction with a thorough assessment and sound clinical judgment."

COMMENTS ARE MOSTLY CLOSED ON THIS ENTRY.  Unless they're really comical. So far they've been mostly tedious.


  1. How do you know its nonsense? Are you an expert? Have you done research on tuning forks and Reiki? Or do you just quickly pass judgement due to ignorance? I work with Solfeggio tuning forks, these are ancient tones from biblical times
    I am also a Reiki practitioner, this universal energy is available to us all, its life force that connects us to a higher power, its in you too, though very dormant due to your lack of understanding of it.
    And this video shows how powerful sound is, the higher the frequency the more intricate the design, resembling mandalas.

    Open your mind a little, life is funner that way.

    Blessings of love and light to you

    1. "these are ancient tones from biblical times"
      I would be interested in seeing what solid scientific evidence you have that the physics of sound has changed over the millennia and that this "life force" exists.

  2. When people say "are you an expert? have you done research...?" this tends to ring warning bells. No I am not an 'expert'. Other people have done research into reiki and the conclusion is that at best it's unproven as being of any benefit beyond placebo. I do want to stress that placebo is a real and interesting phenomenon, but any effects aren't due to any mystical 'energies'.

    I don't really know what you mean by 'higher power' - it sounds typically vague.

    Tuning forks are all well and nice to play about with but if someone's claiming that they can diagnose or heal with them - in the manner of the above advert - then they are *possibly* breaking the law. Tuning fork-like devices are used in medicine but nothing like the advert claims, here's an example

    While we are in agreement about the amazingness of sound in general I'd have to say that anyone suggesting that a living human's DNA can be 'repaired' or activated by a sound that's not quite Middle C has possibly taken leave of their senses.

  3. Francine Milford LMT, CTN says

    "Hi Jo,

    I live with a scientist who is always skeptical of such fanciful things. So I did my research and have saved tons of information on doctors using tuning forks to locate the size and type of tumors and masses in lungs, NASA used vibratory plates on their astronauts ro help stop bone loss that occurs in space/weightlessness, and athletic trainers use tuning forks to locate hair line factures on injured athletes. In the 'old' days, tuning forks were used to test for hearing loss.

    So please, feel free to read about what tuning forks really can do-aside from the hype of some forks that have been channeled by who knows who-there is a science behind the use of several of them and they are documented in the Journal of Medicine.

    Hope this helps you and other one else who is interested in trying out this 'stuff.' If you have any particular questions I would be most happy to answer directly.

    I also teach courses to Holstic Nurses, massage therapists, athletic trainers, and health care practitioners for continuing education credits.

    I have tried to gather up as much information and articles that I can to post on my website. I am always open for more information from the science and medical community.


    Francine Milford, LMT, CTN"

  4. Good grief ;) I've had a look at the website.

    My concern, about the original advert, and nothing else - is that you cannot (in the UK at least) claim - without good evidence - that you can use tuning forks to diagnose or cure any medical condition.

    The phrases in the advert above "using tuning forks to locate health problems" and "correct them with the right frequency" both imply that the practitioner, who uses 'vibrational medicine', is able to diagnose (locate) and cure (correct) using tuning forks.

    Without good quality published evidence to back up these statements these claims are misleading. I have not found any evidence for these but others might know about them.

    The website Francine links to certainly doesn't seem to provide any evidence.

    Save your money people :)

    1. So silly to write about something you do not know about! Read Energy Medicine-The Scientific Basis by James Oschman PHD-forward by Candace Pert PHD. These scientists used the most current equipment and methodologies to study this to find out. They discovered that the most important system in the human body is the energy system that operates on frequencies. They learned that it is through frequencies that the body is instantly informed about what is happening within. They studied various types of healers using SQUID technology to find out if energies flow out of a healers hands and cause change in the patient. Guess what? Trained healers affect the current of injury in another which speeds up healing by informing the patients body through healing frequencies that flow in the range of .o3 - 30 hrtz. Tuning forks are used in many types of medicine-it's a no-brainer that they can be employed for healing. I wonder why you chose to denounce something without proof? As a Reiki Master I have seen countless positive changes in people who have used Reiki and tuning forks over the past 20 years. You are asleep and over your head to make such statements. The medical corporate world doesn't want to admit they are still using Newtonian physics as their working model for healing. Quantum physics disproves some of Newtons theory and opens the door to the reality that we live in a vibrational universe that underlies, interconnects everything and affects everything. When matter is studied and reduced it looses its physical properties and reveals itself as vibrational frequencies as the underlying nature.

    2. I'm not sure why people are struggling to understand the argument set out in my post.

      The advert (see photograph) is claiming to detect (diagnose) and correct (treat) health problems, using tuning forks. That is not possible, regardless of any use to which tuning forks might be put in any other medical setting. Depending on the health conditions included it may even be illegal although there's no suggestion that that's the case here as no conditions are named.

      For Christmas I bought my nieces and nephews a set of tuning forks (concert tuned to A, C and E) and we spent a jolly time whacking them on things and listening to the decaying sound. I have no objection to the sale or use of tuning forks but I do object when people start saying foolish and unevidenced things about them in the arena of health.

      If people advertise a service or product for which money changes hands then they need to have evidence for that, that's all - I don't believe that the person who posted this advert has any evidence that they can reliably detect disease or treat it.

      How do you tell if a chakra has been balanced? How do you measure that it is unbalanced? Will two healers be able to spot the same degree of chakra wobbliness in a client?


  5. Hi Jo -

    I agree with your assessment of the ad - but I would just like to tell you that I have been using tuning forks for 17 years and you really can use them to "detect and correct" energetic imbalances in the body and its energy field. I've taught over 100 people to do it and I could teach you too, very easily.

    It's actually a relatively simple process to determine if a chakra has been balanced, to measure its degree of imbalance, and as I have learned from teaching my classes, to have group consensus on the issue.

    The only "evidence" I have so far is almost two decades of anecdotal evidence - heaps of that. The process I have developed yields consistent, repeatable and predictable results, at least in clinical practice. I agree that it is important to bring the scientific method to the process, and that it's probably not legal to advertise that you can diagnose and treat disease.

    Eileen McKusick

    1. I cannot see there being much agreement here between us, beyond that advert being wide of the mark, though I wish you all the best. It's not at all clear to me that chakras are real, measurable things.

      I'm afraid group consensus has the opportunity to be spectacularly inaccurate. Generally anecdotal evidence is at best a compass bearing hinting at something potentially interesting, which might then be studied under proper test conditions.

      As long as people aren't charging money while also claiming that they can detect or treat health imbalances (as this advert does, where it should not) everyone can use tuning forks however they please.

  6. "It's a made up therapy and does nothing of any use whatsoever". I do take issue with that statement. I live in a poor rural area and I have a waiting list of people getting in to see me and I can pretty much guarantee you that while it is made -up (I made up the technique I use), it actually does many thing of use. Not only do I have people lining up to receive it but also to learn how to do it because they have experienced the effects themselves and are fairly blown away by it.

    So I would just like to offer to you the opportunity to open your mind a bit...

    1. I don't doubt that your clients like you and feel better, and more reassured, after talking to you. I also don't doubt that many of them will ascribe some of this to the technique you use.

      Probably what I'd need to see is some sort of evidence from blinded trials in which two or more people trained in your methods are able to come to the same conclusion about the chakras of clients of whom they have no prior knowledge. Ideally the practitioners might need to be blindfolded (though I can see that could be impractical!).

      A similar-ish sort of test was done for therapeutic touch (TT), by Emily Rosa, and it was found wanting - more at Wikipedia

    2. Hi there, I'm only two years late to the party, but anyway... I understand your skepticism and I agree it's not a good idea to give people false hope or to claim to be able to heal diseases. Having said that, I have had really good results with the forks. I'm a Reiki practitioner who had good results when working on myself with Reiki. I had a remission of an autoimmune disease. I have always thought that the placebo effect might have a something to do with it but if alternative therapies like Reiki and using forks helps, does it matter? I'm only commenting today because I have had the experience with working with another practitioner who saw the same Chakra imbalance as I did and we both felt the blockage get removed with the use of the tuning forks. That has happened a few times. So, even though I wouldn't claim to be able to heal people, people feel better after I use them. I like using them. The clients like them and I don't make any false promises so I think it's all good.

    3. • In the UK it's against advertising regulations to claim to heal diseases without good evidence. In some specific cases it's also against trading law (and there's a specific Act relating to cancer claims).
      • Many autoimmune diseases include periods of remission as part of their normal course, it has nothing to do with Reiki or tuning forks
      • There's no such thing as chakras or imbalanced ones so claiming that tuning forks can help with imaginary problems is probably as bad as pretending they can help with real ailments
      • Tuning forks used for anything other than tuning an instrument, learning about sound waves or just playing around with them is fanciful nonsense.

      It's just utter drivel. But I bet it's a pleasant experience and that people enjoy it and feel better after having it done - and I'm sure you're a lovely person and that your clients are happy to see you. If advertisers restricted themselves to "you'll enjoy the session and might feel better afterwards" I'd not bother writing or complaining about it. Unfortunately that wasn't the case in the advert above.

  7. I have only had two sessions but did experience great relief of low back pain. Bottom line is if they can break the sound barrier and create sonars which blasts whales onto beaches then why dont u believe sound vibrations through your body is useless.

    1. Good heavens. Has everyone deliberately misread my post? How can I make it clearer?

      I haven't said that sound waves can't do anything.

      I've just said that the advert, as it stands, may be misleading.

      Unless these are magic tuning forks you cannot use them to diagnose health conditions. The implication that they can find imbalances in chakras is nonsense because chakras aren't actually real. I can accept that they're an idea or a concept but they're not real. You also can't use tuning forks to treat any health conditions.

      Maybe you can use them to find out if someone can hear a tone, or sing at the same pitch as a concert-pitched A-note tuning fork.

      Tuning forks may well also be used IN devices that can be used to diagnose conditions, but I do say that in the post above, and I do not think that is what the advert is referring to: "Tuning forks are not only used for music. They are also used for science, medicine (hearing and vibration treatment) and electronics. In fact, the computer you're using right now has probably got several tiny tuning forks inside it, vibrating thin slices of quartz crystal to keep the processor's clocks ticking at the right intervals."

      Honestly having to re-explain this is becoming a bit tedious. If I see an advert like this I will simply report it rather than waste time blogging about it.

      If it works as well as everyone tries to tell me then the practitioners will have sufficient evidence for their claims and I will be happy to reverse my position, but thus far I maintain that it's every bit as nonsensical as I said it was when I first wrote about it.


  8. Sorry I meant possible.

  9. OK I know I said comments were closed but this is so ridiculous I had to post it.

    "Vibrations are scientifically proven to affect surroundings.
    [a website already linked above in an earlier comment] is just one of many sources."

    Yes, of course vibrations can affect surroundings. That isn't in doubt and I don't think there's anything in my post that says otherwise. All I'm saying, and have been consistently saying since I first put finger to keyboard, is that an advertiser probably should not imply that they can diagnose or treat any condition unless they are an appropriately qualified healthcare professional. Their advert puts them at risk of being sanctioned by the Advertising Standars Authority or (worse case scenario) put out of business by Trading Standards.

    Moreover, and this is an *entirely separate* point from the one above - tuning forks are not a valid diagnostic tool* or a valid treatment tool. That is *another* reason why claiming that they are puts your business at risk from the authorities.

    Reason 1: claiming to diagnose or treat health conditions without there being an appropriately medically-qualified person to oversee this.
    Reason 2: use of unevidenced diagnostic tools while making treatment-related health claims

    Generally Reason 1 is taken more seriously by the Advertising Standards Authority. It becomes less relevant how nonsensical the diagnostic tool is if someone's claiming to treat medical conditions (happily the advert above is sensibly vague about these) but isn't qualified to do so.

    It's really quite simple.

    I am now actively looking out for examples to report so that we can get some 'caselaw' or whatever the appropriate terms is on the ASA's pages.

    *Beyond use in testing one's ability to hear differently pitched sounds, perhaps as a hearing test.

  10. I am on the fence as to some claimed practices but I sit here and feel nothing but sorrow for you. Your negativeness permeates every sentence you write. Your justified sarcasm poisons every point you try to make. I would not ever believe a thing you say simply because you seem so angry.

    1. Thanks for your considered comment. I think if you read the rest of my blog or Twitter you will hopefully be satisfied that I tend towards cheeriness much more than anger ;) But yes, I am (I think justifiably) a bit miffed in this post, though I certainly do enjoy all the silliness in the topic.

      The advertiser is probably acting in good faith but they are offering something which costs money, cannot do what's claimed for it and making claims in an advert that are possibly not permitted.

      It doesn't really matter what the diagnostic tool itself actually is - it could be reading the entrails of fish - an advert should generally not be implying that someone can locate or heal 'health problems' no matter how vaguely the advert is written.

      Fair enough if you don't believe something I say because you think I seem angry - I find it quite difficult to pick out arguments if they're presented in CAPS LOCK or poorly punctuated.

  11. Chelsy Brown of HealTone says this "There is one more effective method of curing Fibroids with no side effects!! This treatment alternative is Sound therapy. Sound therapy uses Healing sounds to cure the ailed organ and make it function normally." - rubbish, I've redacted the link. I expected nonsense but am amazed that a website lets people download mp3s to 'overcome' hepatitis. Hopefully no-one will take it seriously as they could end up really quite ill.

  12. "I am that I am" informs me "Your body runs on electricity. A perfect example of this is the method neurons and nerves use to communicate. Chakras are just a name for areas where many of these currents intersect. Check out a microbiology book some time if you don't belive in this concept of energy flowing throught your body. Reiki and tuning forks are methods of interacting with this energy. So is acupuncture. I hope you take the time to research before speaking from a place of ignorance, as you claim that ad does." - which I shall reply to beneath this one

    1. Microbiology is the study of microcellular organisms so I don't think it's awfully relevant here, although it is absolutely fascinating as a topic.

      While neurons (neurons = nerves) do use electricity - in the form of ionic charge flowing, rather than the type of electricity found in our electric wall sockets - as part of their communication (and just generally staying alive) they also use chemical messengers. Admittedly I got my masters degree in neuroscience (the study of the nervous system) quite a long time ago but I don't think my knowledge is so far off as to have become a place of ignorance :) You might also be interested in cellular respiration, which is about how cells turn fuel (often glucose) into a usable form of energy

      All of these things I've mentioned - the voltage potential difference across the membrane of a neuron, the respiratory activity of an individual cell (or group of cells) are either directly or indirectly measurable (for example they might be inferred from a colour change of a marker dye). They can be increased or decreased with chemical agents and behave *reasonably* predictably. Last week I went to a lecture on tiny hollow glass tubes, a bit like straws, that are so fine (thin) at the end that they can 'pierce' the membrane of a cell and allow scientists to measure what's going on inside it.

      Tuning forks (used in a musical setting) transmit energy in an entirely different way. The sound waves formed from the prongs send a pressure wave through the air by compressing air molecules together, which then expand ('rarefaction'). We are able to hear sound because these pressure waves are converted, by the cells in our ear, into an electrical impulse which conveys 'information' as 'sound'. Again, all very measurable, but that is the limit for tuning forks 'interacting' with this energy.

      Reiki and chakras don't really talk about anything new, or anything measurable. They might be interesting as an idea but they don't stand up as a real thing and - more importantly in the context of advertising - don't have much good evidence in favour of being able to help in health conditions.

      My point is, as it has always been, that advertisers must keep their adverts in line with what they are permitted to claim. I suspect that this advert has crossed that. Acupuncture is also (mostly harmless) nonsense but I think this comment is getting rather long.

  13. Priyanka Singh would like it be known that

    "[REDACTED] are the most effective, affordable and easy alternative to release pain and perilous diseases. Sound therapy helps people to regain the peace of mind and relaxes the nerves. This is a natural process which has no side effects."

    I would like it to be known that from this point on no websites advertising tuning forks or related accoutrements, for any purpose other than tuning musical instruments, will get through on this blog :-)

  14. You should read up on the Wave Structure of Matter.

    I found it very fascinating and I think you would too. It opened my mind up completely to new possibilities and changed the way I see everything. I'm not commenting on the very long argument above lol I just thought you might enjoy it. Quite a bit of reading but well worth it.

    1. I'm not sure why you think this is relevant. The entire premise of my post is to point out that claiming, in marketing material, when you're not medically trained, that you can diagnose and cure ailments isn't likely to impress the Advertising Standards Authority. Or at least it hasn't impressed them so far. Wave structure of matter has nothing to do with that, this is about regulatory requirements for advertising in the UK.

      Tuning fork therapy also happens to be quackery but that's not actually the main thrust of my argument.

  15. From Jane (sorry the comments form was misbehaving)

    Hi, Jodie. Couldn't get the comment to record, so am sending you my comment on this.

    It's nuts. Musically, it's crazy. Even if there are universe "vibrations" and sounds, it's nuts. There's this woman who comes out to the barn and does "tuning fork therapy" for a horse with "behavioral problems." (Again, that's nuts: the only behavioral problems with a horse are those that are caused by an ignorant owner) I'm curious, as a musician and a horse owner.

    I was very nicey-nicey. I asked: Oooh, so this big one, what does it do? "Oh, the low vibration of that one, which is a C, has overtones in a perfect 7th which affect the horses' attitude and disposition." Sounds good, eh? Let me dig out my checkbook, right?

    So, my musical skepticism kicks in big time. Still, l'm nice. I tap it gently to listen to the note and the overtones. I say, "Well, actually, it's a B, and the overtones are a perfect 4th." Any musician could have told her that. (I don't bother to ask her if it's a "Major or minor 7th?" which is important, because both of those are different notes from the root note.)

    I didn't bother to ask her: Hey, you have tuning forks to about 8 of the 12 tones in a common Western scale. But of course, there are an infinite progression of teeny gradations between any two notes, like between A and A-sharp (or B flat); how come it's just coincidence that the universe lines up with those specific notes, and not semi-tones or smaller intervals between the notes?

    I didn't bother to ask her: Hey, if you don't even know what NOTES and OVERTONES you're hearing, how do you happen to pick out the right one?

    I didn't ask her how she sleeps at night charging people good money for such garbage.

    And I didn't say anything to the horse's owner, who is happy to kick out $70 bucks a pop to have her horse "tuned" to the "universe."

    Anyone who uses a musical tool (tuning forks are used to tune instruments, and that's all) but hasn't a clue about music, or about what she's hearing, has zero credibility. If I were the horse and she came at me with that thing, I would have kicked her into next week.


    1. Thanks for your comment - few things delight me more than tuning forks and horse quackery (there's an entire subculture of nonsense there) :)

      Far be it from me to defend anyone using a tuning fork outside of a musical setting but I think they can be used for telling if a bone is broken (though I don't know how much they're actually used in the real world). I don't think it matters which frequency of fork is used, though now I'm curious to know if there's any difference. ... OK I've googled and according to Wikipedia C128 is the preferred one for orthopedic use (!) - though no reference is given so let's not assume that it's correct. Also they can be used for obvious things like hearing tests.

      I suppose I'd use them to test that someone's sense of fun is intact (are they compelled to ping the tuning fork, given the opportunity?), much like Billy Connolly's idea that you should "Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, does not try it on".


  16. Its not that I don't believe it could work, I have a problem with all the money mongers here that are getting rich on them. Have you checked the prices? $300.00 and up. Now, when money comes into it, I'm distrusting of it. Was reading a book about the forks and about 3/4 through the book...BOOM!! the big selling pitch! Take my classes and be certified buy my forks they are the best etc.....Now I'm not so interested. Ill keep using my 528 Freq to heal and follow my own inner guide to lead me where the answers are at. When big money comes into it I'm out!

    1. Well, yes. You can buy a set of 3 concert-tuned tuning forks for about £30 or £40 in the UK from most music shops. They don't do anything particularly special beyond pinging out a few frequencies, and these don't offer any healing powers, nor does 528Hz (which is close to a C pitched an octave above middle C) for that matter.

  17. Jo, I don't like you.

    1. Well, OK, that's a bit harsh but I can't win 'em all. Though I hope you read more than this post to come to that conclusion, I'd be disappointed if you cherrypicked data hoho.

      Given that you're a "spiritual psychic reader with a speciality in Tarot Card reading" it seems we probably wouldn't get on particularly well anyway. However I send you all good wishes :)


  18. I feel you are very blocked, you are not open minded at all but judgemental of things that actually work. Your path, I feel, will be a long one of frustration. While we all move ahead, I feel that you will be left behind, you can always leave your ego and catch up.

    1. I think (or 'feel' if you prefer) that your comment is pretty smug and egotistical itself ;) But thank you for making it nonetheless.

      My path's been pretty good so far, but if it gets worse I'm not going to ask people to wave tuning forks at me. Open-mindedness is a great trait, but it's somewhat irrelevant here. My post is about an advert making health claims that are likely not permitted in the UK without evidence, it's that simple.


  19. According to British T1Ds, they get a feathery toe tickle to test for diabetic neuropathy, but in South Africa we get a tuning fork toe tingle (it was also used to check for nerve damage in my fingertips when diagnosed with pernicious anaemia)


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).