Herbal Crystallization Analysis

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
August 30, 1998

Herbal Crystallization Analysis (HCA)—also called Saliva Crystillization Analysis (SCA)—is performed by adding a solution of copper chloride to a dried specimen of the patient’s saliva on a slide. The resultant crystal patterns are then matched to those of about 800 dried herbs to determine which of “24 body systems” supposedly have problems and which herbs or homeopathic remedies should be used to treat them. Herbal crystallization analysis reportedly evolved from the work of three people: (1) Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian occultist who, in the 1920s, developed a system of identifying botanical specimens by crystallizing the sap with a copper sulfate solution; (2) Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, one of Steiner’s “cheif researchers,” who used a drop of the patient’s blood as the specimen; and (3) George Benner, M.S., a botanist who developed a similar method using saliva.

Neither these procedures nor the theory behind them has the slightest validity. When substances crystallize, the crystals will ordinarily belong to the same geometric class or system. However, their size, shape, and appearance are highly variable and depend on such factors as concentration of the solution, temperature, time of formation, and the presence of impurities. Although the patterns of copper chloride crystals sometimes resemble those of fruits, leaves, plant roots, and other familiar objects, it is absurd to believe that the resemblance is related to the health status of a patient’s organs.

During the mid-1980s, Herbal Tracers, Ltd., of Hewlett, N.Y. promoted the saliva test to health-food retailers, chiropractors, and the general public. Its mailing to retailers promised:

The Health Care Professional/Retailer Referral Program [HP/RRP] is designed to be initiated by the Health Food Retailer in finding a preventive and/or nutritional practitioner in the community that the retailer can congenially and comfortably work with. The Health Practitioner must be certified in any of the accredited disciplines and modalities (M.D., D.O., D.C., N.D., Nutritionist, etc.). Ideally, the professional will be a person already having a friendly relationship and disposition to the Health Food Store and is not a dispenser of his own preferred brands of Professional Nutritional supplements . . . .

Because the average Test will pick up 6 to 8 Herbs of varying importance to the client, the Test educats people as to the importance of herbal usage in their personal healthcare. In addition, because of the ease in using the HCA, Professionals nationwide have learned quickly and easily how to integrate herbal healthcare into their practice. This can only mean more satisfied herbal clients and higher sales!

We feel that any retailer who fully participates in a HP/RRP with a fully participating health professional will, at a minimum, double their herbal clients and sales, and potentially herbal sales records will be broken. In view of what has already been experienced by the satisfied retailers who enjoyed the benefits of HCA Testing in their community. WE ARE EXPECTING MIRACLES!

In 1984, I prepared specimens by licking one slide with the left side of my tongue and the other slide with the right side of my tongue, and submitted them under different names to Herbal Tracers. One report found crystal patterns “closely resembling” those of nine herbs; the other listed only one of these but identified six others. Most of the “body systems” did not match either.

In 1985, New York Attorney General Robert Abrams filed suit against the company. Its owners agreed to pay $5,000 for court costs and penalties and to stop representing that the test is valid for use in the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease. I know of a practitioner in New York City who used the test during the early 1990s and referred customers to a drugstore for the products. However, I was unable to find out the name of or location of the laboratory to which specimens were sent.

This article was posted on August 30, 1998.