Saturday Night : Here's something to excite your molecules

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The School of Electro-Crystal Therapy looks just like any other semi-detached brick house in South Ruislip. Having walked past it twice, I ask why there is no sign outside. "We don't advertise, we rely on recommendations," says the founder and inventor of electro-crystallography, Harry Oldfield, ushering me into the front room. "And no brass plaques," he adds. "For the same reason I don't like white coats. They're pretentious."

Harry Oldfield is a former science teacher. Fifteen years ago, he decided his secondary school's science club should investigate Kirlian photography - which purportedly depicts the electromagnetic auras surrounding animate objects. A local hospital invited him to experiment with Kirlian images of cancerous and normal cells in their patients. He was appalled by what he found. Far from curing patients, he claims, many conventional treatments were making them worse. And he had the pictures to prove it. "I questioned their therapies and was given my marching orders."

Fired with a reforming zeal, he quit his teaching job and studied for a doctorate in homoeopathic medicine, while continuing to develop electromagnetic field generators in order to improve his pictures. While taking Kirlian photographs of large quartz crystals Harry noticed how "they had a natural resonance with the electromagnetic field". He devised an electromagnetic circuit combining the two, and found it had "profound effects" on the body. Electro-crystallography was born.

"The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians knew of the healing properties of certain crystals, but I discovered that with electronics they could be excited, and produce a field that is rich in vibration, rich in harmonics, which the body likes. You might think of it as a massage on the molecular level."

Harry believes his technique has proven efficacious in the treatment of a variety of disorders and illnesses ranging from bone cancer to schizophrenia. He has trained more than 200 people in the use of his electronic equipment, which is manufactured in a back-room lab in Cambridge by a former British Aerospace engineer.

In his dining room, Harry introduces Wayne and Brooke, two Australian homoeopaths who have come to learn about his technique. Wayne, a fat, sincere man with a goatee beard, is convinced of its validity.

"Some of the stuff I've seen here has brought tears to my eyes," he assures me. "I was humbled."

Just then, Jane the secretary opens the door: Wendy is on the phone, and wants to know if she can go swimming. "Yes," says Harry, "It's not that kind of body of water, that's OK. It's vast expanses she should avoid."

Wayne, whose background is "biomedical engineering", has seen the evidence, too: conventional cancer treatments are at best harsh, at worst, toxic. They do not recognise the energetic disturbances that are causing the "cancer epidemic" sweeping the western world, in particular environmental factors he defines as "geopathic stress" - subterranean water, hydrocarbons, pollutants, geological fault lines, pylons, and local radioactivity. My head is reeling at the thought of leaving the house and re-entering the hostile ambience of South Ruislip.

"When she's meditating it tends to open up her third eye," says Jane, who has entered again. "Is there any danger of it infiltrating?"

"Not with positive meditation and prayer," says Harry. "It won't hurt her."

Harry and Wayne also share a conspiracy theory: they believe that the American Food and Drug Administration, the CIA, and the drugs industry have systematically suppressed research into new methods of treating cancer. "The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar, multinational industry with the clout and the political influence of the Opec nations," says Harry. "They are not interested in a cure for cancer. It is clearly against their interests."

Wayne says he has visited cancer clinics in Mexico that employ alternative therapies with an 80 per cent success rate. "Whatever the merits of electro- crystal therapy, Harry Oldfield is clearly not out for a quick buck. At £15 for an hour's treatment, electro-crystal therapy seems remarkably cheap: children and those with terminal illness are merely asked for a donation. But this presupposes that it works, which is by no means certain. Despite his grateful patients, and the "stacks of independent evidence" supporting his work, Harry is regarded as an embarrassing maverick by the medical establishment. This, he says, is due to the influence of "the pharmaceutical cartel". But he is wary of making too much fuss.

"If we become too charismatic, legislation would be introduced to prevent us practising," he says. "I have to wait for someone else to argue our case. But I'm happy to put my work on trial tomorrow. I'll take any challenge."