WATCH — From quartz to moldavite: do crystals actually work? Science says no

Alexia Sabau
Story by Alexia Sabau • CBC Kids News • Published 2021-05-07 15:53

All aesthetic and no science


From DIYs to outfit inspiration, TikTok can be a loaded source for all things ✨aesthetic✨.

One visually appealing trend that seems to have caught the eye of users around the world is crystal collecting and crystal healing.

Videos with the hashtag #crystals have earned more than 2.5 billion views on TikTok and related hashtags, like #crystaltiktok and #crystaltok, have more than 30 million views.

But is there any scientific proof that crystals are more than just pretty rocks? The answer is a stone cold no.

A search for the hashtag #crystaltiktok will get you hundreds of videos on the topic, including crystals for beginners, crystal shopping hauls and crystal cleansing. (Image credit: @alsynmae/TikTok,, @arwencells/TikTok)

What are crystals?

Crystals are solid materials made up of molecules that fit together in a well-organized pattern.

Although snow and salt are technically crystals, too, rocks and minerals are the ones getting most of the love on TikTok these days.

The theories

Crystal enthusiasts believe they have unique healing properties and can help a person with various ailments or issues.

For example, it’s widely believed that amethyst, a purple stone that’s often used in jewelry, can help reduce headaches and acne.

Other stones, like selenite and rose quartz, are believed to help people find self-love and inner peace.

Pretty but no proof

Unfortunately, the science just doesn’t back that up.

“As far as I know, there aren’t any well-designed scientific studies that crystals have special healing properties,” said Dr. Melissa Lem, a family physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.

The lack of scientific proof means that Lem won’t recommend the use of crystals to her patients.

Lem said some of the practices that go along with crystals, like meditation and mindfulness, are beneficial for health, but crystals shouldn’t be chosen over healing methods that are proven.

Dr. Melissa Lem spoke with CBC Kids News contributor Alexia Sabau about how the concept of crystal healing can be traced back to the rituals and practices of ancient Egyptians. (Image credit: Kat Go/CBC)

Placebo effect at play

Although there’s a lack of scientific proof that crystals work, those who believe in crystals might swear that holding a piece of larimar does help them feel calmer.

“A lot of scientists think that this comes down to the placebo effect,” said Lem.

The placebo effect is a positive effect someone might get when they use a treatment that actually has nothing to do with the treatment itself.

Lem said this happens because of a person’s expectations of how a treatment will work.

“If you believe that something will happen, that influences what you notice or feel.”

Lem said the most notable scientific study done on crystal healing demonstrated that the placebo effect was in play.

How? Well, a number of participants in the study said they could feel the crystal working, even though the crystal the scientists gave them was a fake.

When Alexia heard sleeping with a piece of amethyst under your pillow can help improve your sleep, she gave it a try. Alexia said she slept well that night, but she isn’t sure if it was the crystal at work or just the placebo effect. (Image credit: Kat Go/CBC)

An option that’s tried and true

If you’re looking for a natural healing method that does have scientific evidence to back it, turns out it’s waiting for you right outside your window.

Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to help improve a person’s health, Lem said.

In fact, some doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals in Canada are even beginning to prescribe doses of nature to their patients.

“Nature is so powerful that just looking at pictures of nature on your walls or having plants inside your home can improve your mental health.”

Check out this week’s episode of Hey Alexia, What’s Trending? to find out more about the crystal healing trend.

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About the Contributor

Alexia Sabau
Alexia Sabau
CBC Kids News Contributor
Alexia Sabau is an inquisitive teen who has worked as a junior reporter for the Calgary International Children’s Festival and Shaw TV Calgary. The grade 10 student is a youth ambassador with a passion for community building, performing arts and science. She’s also a devoted Harry Potter fan who is excited to work her magic on CBC Kids News.

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