Years ago I visited a lady friend of mine in Florida. The place was called the Sunshine State for a reason. The sun was usually hot and bright in Florida. People loved the beach, far more so than my fellow New Jerseyans. They were always catching some rays. I caught quite a few of them myself during my visit.
My lady friend was young, blonde and pretty; she was enigmatic in that she was both wise to the world and somewhat naive as well. Yes, she was a hippie. She studied psychology through the University of Florida. She actually taught me some interesting things she had learned in the class and in her clinical work. One of those things was that research showed that in humans, behavior leads attitude, not the other way around. We’re so used to the idea of our actions being born in the brain and then being expressed in our physical actions that we laymen wouldn’t consider that it’s a complete falsehood. It was enlightening.
On the other hand, my friend also embraced the ideas of shamanism and the occult. She owned a book known as the Urantia book. Much of what she hadn’t learned about the human mind in the classroom she filled in with things borrowed from her belief system. This is nothing unusual, but as a student of physics, there was one thing among her beliefs that alarmed me. The conversation started with one single term: biophotons.
Even laymen have heard the term photon before, and I suspect they have some rudimentary idea of what a photon is. But in case you haven’t, here you go. A photon is a particle of light, and this particle possesses wave-like properties like frequency and wavelength. Photons exist in every form of light. They interact with matter everywhere in space at all points in time. Photons may very well be the most numerous of all the particles.
We know today that all matter emits photons. Normally, these photons are in the infrared portion of the light spectrum. We know these photons as radiated heat. Even biological matter emits photons, and we could technically call them biophotons.
There are studies that show that biophotons take place in intracellular communication. But there are profound claims about these biophotons. In researching for this article I’ve looked into these claims. It was quite educational. An important article I came across was from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), titled An introduction to human biophoton emission. The short of it is that biophoton emissions could eventually be used for diagnostic purposes, in a similar way to a CT scan, or for you chemistry buffs, IR spectroscopy.
But is there anything about biophotons that sets them apart from any other photons? No. ALL matter emits photons with frequencies in proportion to the temperature of the matter. Chemical reactions give off photons. Biological matter, and therefore life, is a complex mix of matter and chemical reactions. Granted, photons can do some crazy stuff (check out this link, or this one), but all photons do these things–not just ones that come from living cells.
Note: another claim (here) is that dead biological tissue does not give off photons. That is patently untrue. While nonliving tissue lacks the chemical activity to produce the photons of multiple wavelengths, it still puts out infrared photons.
But where we really tread into pseudoscience is the idea that biophotons can be used to treat illnesses. This idea has been put forth by organizations such as American Academy of Quantum Medicine (AAQM). AAQM does not currently have a website, but nonetheless, they have made such claims. It is likely that such claims have been made in order to sell some sort of product, and this should not be called quantum medicine; instead, it should be called quackery.
Finally, there is the idea that we are “beings of light,” the idea being that the soul is composed of light. I will admit there is a tender notion, and I’ve used the metaphor of light to describe the human spirit myself. That’s poetry, not science. In the same vein, the terms “frequency” and “resonance” have been used; you’ll also see references to “chi” in materials on the subject.
In visiting web pages about biophotons, you’ll see references to actual science with pseudoscientific ideas mixed in. My advice: do lots of reading on the subject, and appreciate the value of skepticism. If they cite references, check out the references. A little education goes a long way.