Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Continuing with my postings of "Book Talks" here is one of my all time favorite books.


Nine years ago I was preparing to discuss flower essences for “Book Talk” for PHENOMENEWS and I realized that readers would need some background information first. Therefore, I prepared a discussion of one of my favorite books, Vibrational Medicine: “New Choices for Healing Ourselves” by Dr. Richard Gerber, M.D. (Bear & Company, 1988). Recently I just recommended that book to a health professional who wanted to review the background of alternative medical practices. Actually, I recommended the newer, updated version of the book.

It is clear that when a book is valuable to readers, it stays in print, in this case for nearly 20 years. Gerber’s book is now in its Third Edition; it has grown to 608 pages; and has a slightly different title: Vibrational Medicine: The #1 Handbook of Subtle-Energy Therapies (Bear & Company, Inner Traditions, 2001). This work is certainly one that is worthy of reexamination here in “Book Talk.” The words that follow are only slightly changed from my original discussion in 1999.

As I said, I originally wrote about Vibrational Medicine as a forerunner to a discussion about flower essences. In case readers aren’t familiar with that form of natural therapy, I might note that I am still interested in the subject. I keep a wide selection of flower essences from California, Arizona, and Alaska on my shelves. My favorite, all-time flower remedy is the now rather famous “Bach’s Rescue Remedy.” I use it whenever I feel overly stressed. It is totally safe, even for pets!

Since flower essences are what might be called vibrational or energetic medicine, there was no question in my mind that the book to discuss as background must be the classic text by Dr. Richard Gerber, M.D., entitled Vibrational Medicine. This book provides a basis for any discussion of flower essences, homeopathy, or other forms of vibrational medicine.

I truly consider Dr. Gerber's book as classic and one of a kind. It has remained in print for nearly 20 years to date and I know of no other work that explains such a vast range of alternative medicines as thoroughly and as clearly as this book does. Even so, I must state upfront that this book is not light, easy reading. Its reading level is clearly that of a college textbook. I would consider it to be a perfect required text for any medical professionals who are studying alternative or integrative medical techniques. Nevertheless, it is also, with a little effort, accessible to general readers who would like to understand alternative medicine better. A few parts, however, such as discussions of Einsteinian theories, holograms, and wave-particle theory are a bit tricky for non-science majors like me. Nevertheless, in 2007 one finds discussions of quantum theory, Zero-point fields, non-locality, and other new physics terms becoming more and more common in current literature.

Gerber also provides a clear, simplified summary of the main points at the conclusion of each chapter. This is especially helpful for general readers who might wish to skip some of the more technical details. In any case, I believe this book provides such significant information that it is worth the effort that readers might need to exert in order to comprehend its informative content.

Dr. Gerber says his first chapter presents "the energetic foundations which will allow the reader to understand the remainder of the book" and that "each succeeding chapter builds upon the foundation of the previous one." Thus, the ideal way to read this book is sequentially. I rather reluctantly admit, however, that my reading of it has perpetually been more scattered. I would say: read this book in any order; just read it! You will learn more than you can imagine. But give yourself plenty of time to digest all the information.

In his "Foreword" to Dr. Gerber's text, noted Professor William A. Tiller, Ph.D., says, "This book . . . is an attempt to present a conceptual bridge between current allopathic medicine and future subtle-energy medicine." Tiller examines the dual nature of the "vehicle" which each person uses for its life experience. He defines one part of the vehicle as "of positive energy," forming "the physical part" of the vehicle. "The other part . . . is of negative mass and negative energy." "It forms the etheric part" of the vehicle. He concludes: "We know a great deal about . . . the physical, but very little about its conjugate part (the etheric). Now is the time to begin serious investigation of the etheric. . . ." And that is just what Dr. Richard Gerber does in his book. Vibrational medicine, energetic medicine, treats the etheric level (as well as even higher vibrational levels) of humans, rather than the physical body directly. To date, modern western medical science hasn't even recognized the etheric level to any extent.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the word "etheric," here is an oversimplified explanation. The etheric body is perceived as the "energy" body that co-exists spatially with the physical body. It isn't the soul, but rather pure energy--a life force, if you will. Some have called it the "ghost in the machine," the machine being the physical body. Eastern medicine explains that the "etheric" energy connects, or interfaces, with the physical body via various points or energy spots. Special points in the etheric are the "chakras" and they "connect" to various glands throughout the body. It is important to clarify that vibrational medicines--which in Gerber's book include a huge range from acupuncture to homeopathy, flower essences to psychic healings, color therapy to crystal or gemstone healing--do ultimately treat the physical body and its symptoms, but they do so indirectly by working at an energy level which holds a higher vibration than that of physical mass.

In the "Introduction" to Gerber's text, holistic physician Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., takes this point further. "This book thoroughly, clearly, and gently opens the reader's mind to the conclusion that we, as human organisms, are a series of interacting multidimensional subtle-energy systems." This is an especially important point because those doctors who accept the reality of the etheric level know that "disease states can be detected at the etheric level before they manifest on the physical plane. It therefore follows that if diseases can be detected at this etheric level, they can be prevented" [from reaching the physical plane].

In other words, the whole potential of vibrational medicine involves treating whatever is out of balance, or dis-eased, on one of the higher levels, or planes, so that the problem, the dis-ease, doesn't even manifest in the physical body. This, indeed, would be the ideal of health maintenance and disease prevention. Part of what Dr. Gerber does in his book is to provide an historical and analytical perspective of various research, developments, and studies of healing modalities which relate to what might be called the "physical-etheric interface."

This book is also valuable in its organization and research integrity. Dr. Richard Gerber includes a fine, workable "Glossary" of terms which is especially helpful to non-medical readers. A "Recommended Reading" list, organized by chapters, provides excellent sources for further research on various topics. Finally, this book provides a comprehensive index, enabling readers to locate information on thousands of topics. Anyone who is interested in any of the energetic or vibrational healing modalities will find thorough background, discussion of principles, reports on research, and various hypotheses in this book. Our book discussion, however, can only allude briefly to the wide range of information in Dr. Gerber's 500 pages.

Readers of this book will gain a comprehensive understanding of the difference between Newtonian and Einsteinian medicine, largely in Gerber's first two chapters. To explain this as simply as possible, the Newtonian model of medicine is mechanical in nature, seeing the human body as a complex mechanism. Modern physicians of the western world have had problems "accepting the validity of alternative healing methods" because "they see the physical body as the only dimension of human existence." Thus we have experienced the rise of allopathic medicine which traditionally only treats the physical symptoms. In other words, it "fixes" the mechanism. This is sometimes more simply explained by identifying the body as a “machine” and the doctor tries to “fix it” when it isn’t working correctly.

Einstein, on the other hand, viewed matter as energy. The Einsteinian medical model sees human beings as complex beings of energy which are "powerfully affected by our emotions and level of spiritual balance as well as by nutritional and environmental factors." Einsteinian medical theory would treat people with energy treatments. Unfortunately, "The Newtonian model of medicine does not account for, nor believe in, these other energetic systems." This has resulted in the current arguments between physicians who favor the Newtonian (allopathic) treatment methods, and those physicians who are beginning to accept the energy theories, and who would choose to integrate the allopathic and alternative therapies, often Naturopaths and other alternative healers, such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, etc.

Even so, energy based medicine has been a long tradition in other parts of the world, and gradually has worked its way into western medical practices, too. Healers in the eastern civilizations, such as India and China, have recognized for thousands of years the subtle energies of the chakras and nadis, the acupuncture meridians, and the etheric body. In Europe in the 19th century, a brilliant physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), researched and developed the treatment known as homeopathy. Acceptance for homeopathic medicine has expanded in Europe and today many European medical doctors are also homeopaths, especially in Germany and Great Britain.

Early in the 20th century, British homeopathic physician, Dr. Edward Bach, discovered and developed the now famous Bach Flower Remedies which are now "utilized by health care practitioners throughout the world." The fact remains, however, that homeopathy and flower essence treatments are still not accepted by the medical establishment in America. Only a few medical doctors here and there practice any of these techniques, but they compose a small minority overall. In general, these practices have been more accepted in Europe than in the U.S.

Dr. Gerber, in his early chapters, discusses the history and development of the medical energetic approaches that current medical theories have accepted, such as X-rays, radiation therapy, electrotherapy, CAT scans, and MRIs. He predicts, optimistically, the ultimate invention of an etheric body imager which could identify disturbances in the etheric body before they could manifest in the physical body. Only time will tell.

His next several chapters discuss numerous, rather difficult, subjects. First he presents an overview of what he calls the "multidimensional human," supported by various studies and research models. He discusses the acupuncture meridian system, the chakras, and the astral body. He relates some of these energy systems to theories of Dr. William Tiller and Albert Einstein. He even touches on the mental and causal bodies, often referred to in metaphysical literature. He points out that consciousness may be a type of energy. Other chapters present an in-depth analysis of acupuncture and the Chinese philosophy of healing. A following chapter covers the development throughout the world of various subtle energy technologies, many of which most of us have never heard.

My personal favorite chapters of Dr. Gerber's books are those that focus on certain specific modalities of healing. Chapter 7, "The Wisdom of Nature" provides an informative explanation and history of the development of flower essences. This chapter inter-relates to information Dr. Gerber presents earlier in his text. Back in a previous chapter, Dr. Gerber explores homeopathy: how it was developed and tested, and how homeopathic medicines are made, and the principles upon which they work. In that chapter he also explains the difference between homeopathic medicines and flower essences. The preparation of both of these "energetic" remedies is dependent on the "subtle energetic storage properties of water." I doubt that most readers have any idea of all the miraculous properties of water. Dr. Gerber's discussion is highly enlightening.

Since this book originally came out, many research studies have revealed greater insights into the almost magical properties of water. We would especially note the books by Masuru Emoto, such as The HIdden Messages in Water (Beyond Words, 2004) and The True Power of Water (Beyond Words, 2005). Numerous scientists are currently studying the mystery of water.

"Flower essences are used in a different manner than homeopathic remedies and have energetic effects at much higher levels." In general, homeopathic remedies primarily treat the physical body through the etheric, whereas flower essences primarily treat the emotional or spiritual levels of the person, although ultimately the effects filter down. Also, some more recent flower essence practitioners have apparently discovered some essences with more direct physical effects.

Gerber's chapter 7 then tells of the development of Dr. Edward Bach's flower remedies as well as of more recent developments in flower essence research and therapy world-wide.

Another fascinating chapter is Gerber's examination of "Our Relationship with the Chakras." Many of the points he makes in his discussion of the seven major chakras, such as that "Each chakra has a particular emotional and spiritual issue which affects its proper functioning," have turned up repeatedly in more recent books, such as those by Caroline Myss and Dr. Mona-Lisa Schultz.

I happen to be particularly partial to concluding chapters of most books. That is certainly true for Dr. Gerber's work. First, Gerber gives readers an optimistic view of "The Emergence of Medicine for the New Age." In the eleven years since the original publication of this book, readers could clearly see some of his prognostications happening in the medical fields. This is even more true in 2007. More and more, doctors are accepting humans as mind/body/spirit complexities. More doctors are opening to an integrated approach to healing. Nearly every major medical school in the U.S. now has a department of integrative medicine, or at least offers classes in the regular medical school. This includes UCLA, University of Michigan, Johns-Hopkins, University of Arizona, and many, many others. The only negative point that Gerber noted was the tendency of managed health-care (HMOs) to create situations less conducive to treating patients holistically (which requires more time with each patient.)

Gerber's concluding chapter is metaphysical and spiritual in nature. It deals with "Vibrational Healing and its Implications for an Evolving Humanity." It's all about personal and planetary evolution. He reviews the wisdom of the ancients from ancient legends through the various world religions. He deals with personal responsibility and spiritual growth. He reiterates that "Vibrational medicine appears to hold some of the answers for a world that seems quite ill, but it will only work if we can work with it."

Obviously we cannot be self-responsible and work to help ourselves heal unless we learn about what is possible. This book, VIBRATIONAL MEDICINE by Dr. Richard Gerber, M.D., is a place to start. We can educate ourselves to new possibilities in medicine so that we can work cooperatively and intelligently with our chosen physicians. The effort required to understand this information may require both time and self-discipline. But indeed, it can change our lives. At the very least, it will expand our perspective of what it means to be a human being.


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