A few years ago, a number of skeptics worked tirelessly to expose the Quantum Pulse, a device that claimed to treat a range of serious medical conditions. In this success story, the FDA recalled the device in 2008.1 However, like a whack-a-mole game, the machine continues to resurface; a fraud by any other name it is also known as the VIBE Machine and Tesla Energy Lights. 2 It takes the vigilance of the skeptical community to keep the machine banned.
Linda Rosa was one of these skeptics. An indefatigable watchdog for pseudoscientific claims, she has since drawn our attention to a new menace; the Life Vessel.
THE LIFE VESSEL is a patented non-invasive technology and technique by which Frequency, Vibration, Sound and Light Waves are applied to the human body in a resonate frequency, resulting in the body being able to perform its innate Natural Ability to Heal Itself.3
The device makes the usual vague claims, that it “uses energy in the form of light energy and sound energy in order to create harmony, balance, peace and well-being within the body.”4 However, dig a little further on their websites and the claims become more specific. According to their videos, testimonials and publications, the Life Vessel can treat electromagnetic sensitivity, male pattern baldness, Lyme disease, stuttering, dementia, PTSD, ADHD, diabetes, chronic pain, high cholesterol, high/low blood pressure, hepatitis, Parkinson’s disease, cystic acne, poor eyesight, sleep apnea, heavy metal poisoning, migraines, autism, cancer and much more.
But their websites also claim they don’t make any claims.
The statements made or services provided through this website or by the Company are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Testimonials regarding the Life Vessel are voluntarily given and do not represent the opinions of the Company. The services provided by the Company are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
However, they proudly state that the Life Vessel is “approved by the FDA”.
The company started in Phoenix, AZ, and the machines are now popping up everywhere, including Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, Scottsdale, Santa Fe, Wichita, Tulsa, Boulder and Denver, with more clinics on the way. (Incidentally, Sound Health in Boulder also operates a VIBE machine.) There are 16 machines in the country, which allegedly cost $100,000 to purchase. A single session with the Life Vessel is charged at $125, while the recommended series of four sessions over three days costs $500.
Rosa enlisted the assistance of paranormal claims investigators Bryan and Baxter to investigate the company further. Do the promoters actually claim that the Life Vessel can cure diseases including cancer and diabetes? Posing as a potential client, Bryan contacted the local Denver ‘clinic’.
My mother has been diagnosed with early stage ovarian cancer and we have been told that her prognosis is not good. I have looked at some treatments that the doctor recommends for her and they are so invasive and the treatments seem to have so many side effects that we aren’t sure which one to use. If the life vessel treatments would help I will help my mom travel to your location and get help asap.
Gail, the “Wellness Advancement Director” responded with the following email.
I understand your concern about the invasive treatment options and my hats off to you in looking for more natural approaches. We do have clients with the same conditions. However, I cannot make any claims that she will have the same success as them. Good news is that she is in early stage of the disease and the body does have the ability to heal itself. If it were me I would do Life Vessel. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
In saying she has clients with the same condition who have enjoyed “success” with their treatments, Gail is indirectly claiming that the Life Vessel can treat cancer.
Bryan and Baxter contacted local station CBS 4 who exposed the device to thousands of viewers in a news segment. During the interview the owner denied making claims or guarantees of cures. However, on the basis of the tip-off, the crew did an undercover investigation, and discovered that in ‘off-the-record’ consultations and communication the company is promoting the device as a cure for cancer, autism, diabetes and other diseases. Their hidden cameras captured the following conversation.
Gail: “I had a lady, who was 80-years-old and given a week and half to live. She flew up to our Arizona Life Vessel center. This was six-years-ago and she’s still dancing and carrying on with no cancer problems.”
CBS4: “Do you think it cured her cancer?”
Gail: “Yeah, she knows it does.” 5
However, the exposé hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Life Vessel followers. They have come out in full force to support the device with anecdotal evidence on the CBS4 news report page, Life Vessel forums, Yelp and elsewhere. Likewise, skeptics should have a presence on these kinds of forums to counter these claims.
So, what exactly is the Life Vessel? It is a wooden box with lights and speakers that looks like a tanning bed. Surprisingly, it is true that the device has received FDA clearance, but only as an infrared lamp for muscle relaxation, not as a treatment for cancer or any other disease.
510(K) FDA Certification: Device Classification Name - Lamp, Infrared, Therapeutic Heating.
Ironically, the company has taken out the heating lamp and replaced it with painted light bulbs, so the device doesn’t even do what it’s certified to do. Without the heating lamp it is simply a box with colored lights that plays music.
The Life Vessel is nothing more than a disco coffin.
It takes the grassroots efforts of skeptics to sniff out these dangerous devices at the local level, to expose them to the media and public, and ultimately have them banned - however many times we need to do it.
1. FDA Announces Class I Recalls of Two Unapproved Devices. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2008/ucm116990.htm Accessed 03/07/2012.
2. Stollznow, Karen. Hard (Pseudo) Science: The Second Coming of the VIBE Machine. http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/hard_pseudo_science_the_second_coming_of_the_vibe_machine/ Accessed 03/07/2012.
3.Life Vessel of the Rockies. About. http://lifevesseloftherockies.com/about/ Accessed 03/07/2012.
4. Life Vessel of the Rockies. http://lifevesseloftherockies.com/ Accessed 03/07/2012
5. Life Vessel Gains Popularity, Some Question Healing Claims. http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/02/23/life-vessel-popularity/ Accessed 03/07/2012
Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist, author, skeptical paranormal investigator and a research fellow for the James Randi Foundation. You can follow Karen on Twitter here.