Medical dowsing

For centuries, healing systems been using a form of a biofeedback system to diagnose illness and discover hidden things. Its constant elements, the tester and the instrument, are the same as in applied kinesiology. The pre-agreed upon response is a little different; it uses a impulse of movement rather than resistance to movement. That biofeedback system is dowsing.

Dowsing is a form of clairvoyance and has the same appeal to scientists as people who bend spoons. But people find water, cure illness, and solve mysteries with it.  Dowsers use the most elaborate diagnostic systems with homeopathy today.

Medical dowsers generally use a pendulum, which has been proven to work by providing an amplification of normally undetectable movements of the wrist muscle. Some use diagnostic machines. These movements are transferred into the motion of a weight on the bottom of a string or chain. The response of the pendulum is read as a direction for which pre-agreed upon lines of movement mean something. This is very similar to kinesiology's measuring the wrist muscle response by way of a baby scale. Dowsers also use the deltoid muscle group, as well as wrist and other muscles, to facilitate a response as in kinesiology. Others dowsers even use resistance to a muscle group exactly like muscle testers.

Many systems

Dowsing methods vary only by the tools that are used to produce a result. The only causative element is the mind itself. The dowsing rod, L-rods, the aurameter, the stick pad, the planchette, the pendulum, even parts of the body are all meters that gauge and report the response of the mind. The mind has such a variable control over how an expression of force is made that we have many books of methodology. They are valuable only in that they give a person some building blocks to work with. So when we talk of dowsing by a willow branch we are tuned in the the same phenomena that a pendulum brings to a verification of a remedy.


Nick Franks' web site. He wrote an article for The Homeopath on the subject.

More recent popular writings about dowsing have departed further from scientific method by combining a personal belief system with the basic elements that are necessary to dowsing. Some of the terms coined for the more esoteric systems of dowsing are Radiesthesia, Radionics, Bio-Energetics, Psycho-Metrics, Biophysics, and Psychotronics. One muscle testing book I have is padded with a mixture of Christian mysticism and technological wonder. It assumes that you will agree, by association, that what the author will later say is also true. They all are just different ways of dowsing producing the same results through different methods.

Dowsing vs. divining

Dowsing is only for finding out what exists or has existed. Dowsing does not attempt to predict the future. People who ask questions based on future events are diviners and not dowsers. They also use pendulums. Divining is for finding out what will exist. In divining, there are Biblical prohibitions that the French fathers who pioneered dowsing methods would never have crossed in getting support from the Vatican for doing what they did. Their instructions are concerned with dowsing only.

Divining opens up the gates to more confusion being that the future is never certain. It is open to subjective criticism and the questions can be of disputable construction. More than that it depends on your spiritual convictions more than the present does. Some believe that it cannot be altered and others believe that we have free will. The error of auto-suggestion will creep in here for sure. I just heard of a new high-tech dowsing machine that will accurately predict the future with a 95% accuracy. What I want to know is why the race-tracks and casinos aren't out of business yet.


Modern French Catholic priests are known to uphold the tradition of dowsing since Father Mermet brought it to favorable public light at the beginning of this century. Mermet credits himself with inventing "pendular diagnosis." He puts the subject into perspective with the rest of our medical practices by saying, 

"Of course, I do not advocate pendular diagnosis as an exclusive method aiming at replacing all others, but only as a means of control giving supplementary knowledge and based on different principles."

Another priest, Father Jean Jurion, followed in the steps of his clerical predecessors, studied both homeopathy and dowsing, and was confronted with the same confusion that is still with us today. He found that, like kinesiology, there were many unnecessary elements that were imposed on the art of dowsing. He chose a crystal, which he liked because it reflected light and as he said, did not rotate any better or worse than any others he tried. After liberating himself from what he called a conglomeration of 'self-imposed servitudes,' Jurion found he could dowse anywhere, any time, under any conditions. When he began his own first attempts at diagnosis, he obtained excellent results which were confirmed by doctors.

Varied results

There is really no substantial difference between using kinesiology for a diagnosis or using dowsing like Father Jurion did to accompany his homeopathic prescribing. However, two people using the same materials, or one person in two different moods, can produce different results in dowsing. The ability of one dowser to be successful and not another leads me to believe that there is a natural, or psychic, ability that is not being measured. Experiments have to be verified through repeatability according to the scientific method and that's not possible when psychic ability is brought in.

Any form of medical dowsing on the outside looks like a new way to discover what is good for your body. But in reality, it is just another variation on tuning in on your brain's natural ability to know information and have it amplified through a part of your body. Dowsers have done this for centuries and used it with homeopathy.

Psychic nature

In the diagnostic portion of homeopathy, only the observable symptoms of the patient are supposed to be used. It is not operator dependent. In Applied Kinesiology (AK) the reason that an arm moves or stays rigid is not perceived. All we perceive is the movement from the muscle group. We can reason back to assuming that the brain is the initial cause of the action for sending the muscle group the electrical signals to constrict or relax. Another possibility is that the tester has modified the response through limiting his strength somehow, but takes us back to the same basic spot. He is being electrically controlled by his brain. But how did the brain know?

As quoted in a conversation to the authors of The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird, Galen Hieronymus, a patent holder of a radionics device, said:

Is the force and its manipulations basically in the realm of the psychic? We know that powerful psychics such as Frances Farrelly can produce results with no help whatsoever from a device, but other seem to be helped by a radionics instrument even when, like the De La Warrs, they have well-developed psychic powers. . . I can take an ordinary empty cigar box and mount a tuning dial on top of it. . .By properly setting the dial at a given tuning, some psychics have been able to cure a given disease. I think they do this because they believe that they are using the box, when, in reality, they are using only psychic ability.

Dowsers are fully aware of the muscle movements of their arms and wrists but rarely question how they are able to know about the results. The pendulum proponent consciously or unconsciously uses signals from the brain to control the weight's movement through their wrist muscles. 

The Ouija board user assumes that his arm movements are spiritually controlled but are first of all controlled by commands from his brain. The Ouija board and kinesiology are in the same group of diagnostic devices because of the psychic element. Unfortunately, the Ouija board is not known for its diagnostic capability. It was too successful as a popular parlor game.

I fully believe in the ability of these people to achieve positive results even though they are relegated to the realm of psychic activity. Somehow, they are able to tune into their brain's natural ability to know information and have it amplified through a part of their body or another's body.

System variants

Personally I don't listen to anyone's preconceived notions about what to wear, which way to turn, what foot to keep on the ground and so on. Also the substance of the pendulum makes no difference to me. In fact it makes no difference whether I have the actual substance before me as a witness or not and the subject need not be present for diagnosis. I do find it helpful for sake of concentration to have something associated with the person. At times when my concentrative powers are stronger the need for a link is not as great.

About the only thing that I find that gets in the way of confirming my repertorizing work is fatigue. Sometimes I don't even know that I'm very tired and it will show up a false movements that are contradictory in my pendulum. Other types of errors that I found that seem to make sense are listed by Father Mermet in his text, Principles and Practice of Radiesthesia: A Textbook for Practitioners and Students:

Causes of errors:

  1. Lack of natural aptitudes, or training, or relaxation results in the reactions of a pendulum being unreliable. . . .

  2. Radiesthetic work involves a certain degree of nervous energy. If it is prolonged without interruptions, it causes fatigue and exhaustion. Then one should rest, or else the indications will be unreliable.

Errors due to the mental state:

  1. Auto-suggestion - One imagines, a priori, or owing to certain information, or because of another dowser's opinion, that there exists a treasure in a certain place. The pendulum will then give the figure of gold which exists only in the operator's imagination. One must remain calm, indifferent, and in a passive mental state, without any preconceived ideas, and submit to reality without trying to distort it. Men endowed with powers of creative imagination, false philosophers, are the most dangerous of all. I often receive maps and plans on which a local dowser, and sometimes a well-known one, has written: 'Here, at the foot of the old tower, there is a treasure at a depth of 10 metres, I feel the presence of gold, diamonds, etc.' But, actually, there is nothing at all. Or, sometimes, the magnetic image of an old gilt snuff-box kept under a glass case. The art of dowsing consists in finding what actually exists, and above all in not finding what does not exist.

Errors due to erroneous interpretation:

  1. Undertaking difficult researches for which one is not qualified. Though Radiesthesia has brilliant successes to its credit, there is no reason why one should lose one's sense of measure, and that other sense often wrongly called common sense.

  2. Generalising rashly after a single experiment and putting forward premature theories on a meager basis of observations with the result that research work is carried out on principles which are not exact.

  3. Concluding hastily, without checking oneself, and without taking the trouble of repeating an experiment at a different time of the day.

  4. Being influenced by auto-suggestion; for auto-suggestion, and suggestion coming from outside, have a certain influence on interpretation.

  5. Hurry, negligence, distraction, inattention, chattering, various preoccupations, nervousness, all contribute to giving poor results.

  6. Attributing to the pendulum more than it indicates; reaching conclusions beyond given indications; showing self-assurance and giving precise information which neither the movements of the pendulum nor boring operations will confirm. Lacking sufficient intellectual humility to say: 'I don't know.'

Integrity of homeopaths

By identifying with these more fringe groups, homeopaths get shortchanged. The dowsers got a powerful scientific medical system for healing people and the homeopaths got identified with finding lost car keys. If kinesiology ever gets going stronger I'm sure that they too will learn the benefits of homeopathic medicine and the homeopaths will again be linked to another type of study that scientists see as nothing more than a parlor game of bending someone's arm.

The combination of a psychic element with homeopathy is not good for PR. Parapsychology is still not well-received in scientific circles. If anyone thinks that homeopathy is related to psychic phenomena, they will discount it as being "another one of those wacko frauds." I hate to see homeopathy fall into disrepute any more. The internal battles that have splintered the art have hurt too much already.

In order to clarify the stance of the homeopath using kinesiology or any other form of medical dowsing, I believe they should preface their work by saying that they use a form of dowsing or the non-homeopathic diagnostic practice of kinesiology. Patients who trust in the practitioner will give their support for the use of applied kinesiology. Patients who do not feel comfortable with the use of non-traditional medical methods will be put more at ease when they can refuse. They then can trust the straight repertorization and diagnostic skill of the homeopath.

It is my view that homeopathic organizations should not involve themselves with any other discipline other than classical homeopathy. The political nature of merely opening discussion on such a topic invites derision. If a question comes up that involves the use of acupuncture or kinesiology, the proper association should be referred to. There are several kinesiology groups as well as dowsing groups. You can be an alternative medicine organization and talk about other therapies or diagnostic procedures but not a homeopathic one.

My interest is to see the scientific community regard homeopathy as a viable alternative with which to complement what they use and know. By associating with other fringe arts, be they psychic, mystical, or otherwise, we run the risk of making an outcast of the next Kent or Dudgeon.


Tomkins, Peter and Bird, Christopher, The Secret Life of Plants, Avon Books, New York, New York, 1973, p. 365-366.

Mermet, Abbe, Principles and Practice of Radiesthesia: A Textbook for Practitioners and Students, trans. by Mark Clement, Element Books, Great Britian, 1935, reprint 1987, p. 193.

Bird, Christopher, The Divining Hand, The 500-Year-Old Mystery of Dowsing, New Age Press, Black Mountain, NC, 1979 , second ed., 1985, p. 289.


Comments from email

You mention Father Jean Jurion only to quote his remark about his overcoming dowsing's "conglomeration of self-imposed servitudes". You pulled this quote out of Christopher Bird's book where he devoted 3 pages in praise of Father Jurion's famed healing work using homeopathy in the treatment of more than 30,000 patients.

Then you cite the work of Abbe Mermet , who did very little medical dowsing, only to quote a passage of his book describing the many reasons for failed results when using dowsing. You didn't mention that his few attempts at medical dowsing proved generally successful, nor do you point out that he was a peerless master at finding water for the villages in his region of Europe and at finding hundreds of lost, destitute or drowned individuals. In this, his area of expertise, he was rarely wrong.

I've practised medicine for 23 years and classical homeopathy for 12 years, long enough to see that homeopathy is encumbered by its own brand of "self-imposed servitudes"....and long enough to know that dignified, selfless, and dedicated souls like Jurion and Mermet are rare, even among homeopaths, and do not deserve your disparagement. Sincerely, Truman C. Wadlington ( 4/26/2005)


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