The crystal craze

Quinn Brown, Writer

Recently, there has been a huge trend involving crystals, in addition to essential oils, rose water, pendulums and other products. I constantly see people carrying crystals for a variety of reasons, such as protection, love, clarity and happiness. I have seen so many people with crystal bracelets, necklaces, rings, all in an effort to improve their life in some way.

Crystal healing can be traced back to the roots of the original Buddhist and Hindu ideas of chakras: placing or holding a crystal over the body to correspond and interact with certain wheels of energy. This is different from ordering a thirteen dollar pointed rose quartz crystal off Amazon to rub on your temples and clutch in your hand every-so-often. Religion is a specific and organized set of practices, typically within a community, rather than something having to do with an individual’s peace and meaning. It is hard to understand whether someone is really interested in spiritual nourishment when they buy quartz products, or are grabbing onto the latest trend before stock runs out.

I am not religious in any way, so I will not tell you to follow a God instead of these crystals. But, crystals are simply the earth’s natural material, or fossilized minerals, not something able to provide spiritual healing. How can crystals, which are made from compressed minerals, be able to contain energy? This is the equivalent of charging a mundane rock.

Crystals are manifestations of pure earthly structure. They are visually appealing, easy to hold and use and typically not very difficult to obtain. And lastly, they do not require much effort to gain any sort of benefits.

In order to get the emotional, spiritual and physical benefits from crystals, it is said that they must be “charged.” Some ways to “charge” these crystals include: placing them in direct sunlight or moonlight, burying them in soil, visualizing your aura entering the crystal, etc. In theory, this is great, but it also isn’t realistic. People need to have a sense of security or faith, as there is a lot of uncertainty in life, and crystals used spiritually can ease that discomfort. However, the placebo effect is almost certainly at play here.

A placebo effect is when someone’s health appears to improve after taking a placebo treatment. It refers to a treatment that feels real, but in reality, is in the subject’s mind only, no real effects are occurring. Perhaps being in a meditative state helps awareness, making it easier to process what is bothering you and understand how to fix it. 

This specific crystal placebo effect is especially prominent, as the more popular it is, the more powerful and influential the placebo effect has on people. When you wear, let’s say an amethyst around your neck to soothe anxiety and feel a sense of peace, you might actually feel better. But, this is not because the crystal is actually laced with power, it’s because you have convinced yourself it is.

In 2001, psychologist Christopher French conducted a study regarding the healing properties of crystals, and how much of that derived from the placebo effect. Although now more than 20 years old, the study still holds prevalent today. 

In this study, French and his team divided 80 volunteers into two groups, while giving both teams information about the effects which the crystal would provide for them, including increased energy and focused attention. One group was given genuine crystals, while the other group received plastic crystals. The results of the study concluded that both groups reported feeling the sensations described earlier to them. 

Crystals themselves do not actually help you, you are simply helping yourself through the belief that these crystals are helping you. We need to separate experiences with material. There is no scientific evidence to support crystals or any pseudoscience usage in the treatment of anxiety or depression, but there is evidence that antidepressants and therapy sessions can improve mental health. 

Although the feelings associated are not necessarily harmful, but rather comforting and beneficial, relying on crystals for important tasks and situations is harmful. We can and should still use them if they provide good feelings, but realizing how far the “true” power of crystals is crucial, and can not be relied upon, as there just is not enough evidence to support it. Once we understand this, we can move forward with healthier lives.