Helps restore emotional stability – but $650 (U.S.) price tag under fire
Jack Fong, a dentist and naturopath, sent away for a laminated multi-coloured card when he read in an alternative health magazine that holding it could have positive effects on a person’s energy field.
“I got a lot of improvements after holding it,” he says. “I noticed a better sense of calm and well-being in myself. I felt more mental clarity and a better ability to concentrate. Now I make sure to hold it for 15 minutes every day, some days in the morning and some after work.”
The Texan also offers it to his patients, he says in a phone interview from his Amarillo home, and some have reported positive experiences with it.
The plastic card is made by the Gentle Wind Project, a registered non-profit organization based in Kittery, Maine. They call it a trauma card, and believe that it can help reduce the damaging effects of past or present life traumas in some people, says Mary Miller, one of the co-founders of the organization.
“It’s not perfect and it doesn’t help everyone, but a large number of people who have used it report being helped to regain emotional stability,” Miller says. “It’s a non-toxic, non-invasive way to help some people get their mental and emotional stability back.”
The trauma card, a little bigger than a postcard, has certain herbs, minerals and cell salts in homeopathic amounts embedded between the layers of the laminated card, which has symbols, colours and shapes on both exterior sides. The designs look something like a diagram of an electronic circuit board. Miller says the contents of the card and its colours and patterns all have their own energies, and work together to give it its impact. The instructions that come with the card say it is essential to use it in the presence of light.
It’s all highly unconventional, if not downright odd. It’s impossible to prove the claims made for the card. But the people who believe in the card’s effectiveness are very enthusiastic about it.
Fong has given more than 100 of his patients his card to hold, he says, telling them it may help to balance their energies. It seems to help calm them, he says, and occasionally it appears to have more dramatic results.
When one patient who suffers from high blood pressure appeared in his office with a very flushed face, in a nervous state, he gave her the card to hold while he worked in another part of his office for a while.
“When I returned, her face was not flushed and she said that this was the best she had felt in two weeks,” he says. “Her blood pressure was 132/84. I am getting positive responses like this frequently after having patients hold the card.”
Miller says people at the Gentle Wind Project believe the trauma card is a physical object that gives off a non-physical energy, and is meant to work on emotional healing after trauma. People occasionally do report physical changes after holding the card, however. “There is a strong connection between a person’s mental and emotional history, and the current and future state of their health.”
The trauma cards do not come cheap. They cost $650 (U.S.) each. But they can be tried out free of charge when representatives of the Gentle Wind Project visit Toronto Oct. 9 and 10, and make the cards available to the public at an open house at the Sheraton Centre Hotel , 123 Queen St. W. from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Saturday and 12 to 1 p.m. on the Sunday.
Mary Ryan, 39, who has a Ph.D. from Oxford in biological anthropology, is a researcher at the University of Massachusetts and also operates a clinic in Tibetan and Chinese medicine. She says she has had such excellent results from using the card with her patients that she has set up a 16-week randomized clinical trial of the card at a pain clinic in Northampton, Mass.
Ryan says she believes she knows, in part, how the trauma card works, from her understanding of the impact sodium and potassium cell salts in the body’s cell membranes have on the release of chemical neurotransmitters. In her studies of ancient Chinese Taoist texts, she found references to the way in which holding particular cell salts in the hand was believed to create a low magnetic charge that went into the body’s meridians. There are cell salts embedded in the card, she notes.
“I use the trauma card with a lot of clients who have suffered sexual abuse, as well as patients with anxiety,” she says. “I try to get it into the hands of everyone I can. It’s one of the tools I use regularly with clients. Some of them hold it and don’t want to let it go.
“I’ve lost a few clients after they used the card,” she adds. “They say it is all they need. That can be a little annoying, actually.”
Rachel Miller, 63, of Dover, N.H., is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in counselling and psychology. She works in two long-term care facilities with many people who are seriously ill or in rehabilitation.
“I really notice the effects of the trauma card, especially with dying patients,” she says. “I’m thinking of one terminal patient who was on morphine and was very restless. When she held the card, her breathing slowed and she became a lot calmer. All their vital signs are more stable after holding the card. I’ve started to keep a log of the good results I’ve observed.”
Miller says she doesn’t know how the card works, and she doesn’t care. “I’m not concerned about that. I know from experience that it works. I use it myself and I’m unbelievably calmer now. And I’ve seen it calm the relatives of sick and dying patients.
“I don’t go to work without it. I’ll turn around and go home to get it if I forget.”
Ruth Molin, 56, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and mental health counsellor in Massachusetts. She says she believes that blocked energy is the cause of disease, and that the trauma card uses energy somehow to change the way a person perceives a traumatic memory, without removing the memory itself.
“I see 30 clients a week and there’s no doubt in my mind that the trauma card is helping my clients to heal.” she says.
“It seems to help soften people’s fears. They become more detached from their troubles. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it does for some. And some of my clients have noticed profound change after holding the card. The only problem I have is: Why does it have to be that expensive?”
Lee Metcalf of the Gentle Wind Project says their non-profit organization operates the way U.S. public television does in their funding drives: If someone donates a certain amount of money, a particular item is sent to them. A trauma card is sent out in return for a donation of $650 (U.S.) funds. This helps to finance the production of the devices, she says, and also funds the ones they send at no charge to people in dire need in other parts of the world and combat veterans of wars in all countries.
Sep. 18, 2004