Wednesday, 1 June 2011

National Theta Healing's cancer cure

Theta Healing is a magical finger therapy invented by Vianna Stibal, who idly boasts that it cured her of cancer. I've complained about the practice several times before.

The latest scam comes from Catherine Shaw and Kiwiroa Marshall, the unwholesome duo pictured above. Their new website
claims to be

"The official website for all certified practitioners and courses within the UK"

Here in the UK, Theta Healing practitioners often forget that it's illegal to advertise a cure for cancer. Take this handout (available here, here and here), for example:

"Theta Healing was founded by Vianna Stibal in 1995. A naturopath and intuitive reader, Vianna discovered that the simple technique she used in her readings could heal physical diseases instantly. She healed herself of cancer instantly and went on to heal thousands of other people's illnesses."

A similar claim appears a second time on another page:

"In 2007, Elaine [Cole] suffered a serious road accident which revealed Lymphoma (a cancer). Chemotherapy failed and in May 2008, Elaine was given "weeks maybe months" to live... A healing with Vianna Stibal in 2009 saw the cancer retreating..."

These dangerous delusions soar to new heights on the couple's website.

"Vianna has successfully worked with such medical challenges as genetic defects, Hepatitis C, Epstein bar, AIDS, Herpes, tumours, a variety of cancers and many other numerous conditions."

No doubt Catherine and Kiwiroa will have plenty of time to perfect their Theta Healing skills while they're completing their prison sentences. Two ASA complaints follow.


"I'm writing to complain about a handout for National Theta Healing, which I picked up from their own stall at the 'Mind Body Spirit' exhibition in London on 26th May.

The handout promotes Theta Healing, which the advertisers claim can cure cancer.

1. "Theta Healing was founded by Vianna Stibal in 1995. A naturopath and intuitive reader, Vianna discovered that the simple technique she used in her readings could heal physical diseases instantly. She healed herself of cancer instantly and went on to heal thousands of other people's illnesses."

I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claims that Theta Healing can be used to cure cancer "instantly", that Theta Healing can be used to "heal physical diseases instantly", and that Stibal has healed "thousands of other people's illnesses" using Theta Healing.

2. An insert in the handout contains the following text.

"In 2007, Elaine [Cole] suffered a serious road accident which revealed Lymphoma (a cancer). Chemotherapy failed and in May 2008, Elaine was given "weeks maybe months" to live... A healing with Vianna Stibal in 2009 saw the cancer retreating..."

I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claim that Vianna Stibal cured Elaine Cole's cancer.

I can confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or with the alternative medicine industry in general."


"The website makes a number of health claims which I suspect are misleading.


"Use of the Theta Healing® technique has healed, changed and transformed the lives of many thousands of people around the world."

I challenge whether the claim that Theta Healing has "healed...many thousands of people" can be substantiated.


"The Theta Healing® technique (formerly called The Orian or Orion Technique) is not specific to any age, sex, race, colour, creed or religion. Anyone with a belief in the Creative Force can access and use the various parts of the Theta Healing® methodology. It enables the body to conquer physical illness and remove emotional blockages."

I challenge whether the claim that Theta Healing "enables the body to conquer physical illness" can be substantiated.


"Professionally, Theta Healing® is being used by a wide range of Professionals as a powerful supplement to their existing practice. Many have now incorporated Theta Healing® into their existing toolkit and are achieving amazing results."

I challenge whether the phrase "amazing results" is misleading.


"In 1995 Vianna Stibal - a Naturopath at the time, Massage Therapist, Intuitive Reader and mother of three young children, was diagnosed with cancer that began quickly destroying her right femur (thigh bone). Everything she tried using conventional and alternative medicine failed. Then she discovered that the simple technique she had been using in her Intuitive Readings could heal physical ailments instantly. She tried her new discovery on herself and her cancer was cured instantly. Her right leg, which had shrunk several inches, returned to normal length and size. She was instantaneously healed."

I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate their claims that Theta Healing can cure cancer "instantly" and cause bones to change size.


"Through thousands of clients she has discovered an amazing way to connect with the creative energy that moves in all things, and that this energy can be changed instantly. She also discovered that our beliefs and feelings can often be linked to illness. Vianna has successfully worked with such medical challenges as genetic defects, Hepatitis C, Epstein bar, AIDS, Herpes, tumours, a variety of cancers and many other numerous conditions."

I challenge whether any of these claims can be substantiated, whether they are misleading, whether they are irresponsible, and whether they may discourage essential treatment.

I have captured screenshots of the website, available at the following urls:

I confirm that I have no commercial interest in the outcome of this complaint."


  1. Thank you very much for the additional exposure! The more people hear about Theta Healing, the more that are likely to benefit from it. There is, as you know, no such thing as bad publicity. Your challenges - while, I am sure, being well meant - only demonstrate your own, sadly limited, view. You say you were at the MBS show - there were numerous experienced Theta healers and teachers on the stand, offering 'taster' sessions - why didn't you try one? Were you afraid it might show you something? Perhaps you might have had to accept that the world is broader in its possibilities than you imagine it to be?
    You complain about Catherine Shaw and Kiwiroa Marshall's promotion of their National Theta Healing website, yet you are very shy about revealing your own name! Why is that? Why do you hide behind a random theatrical image? What do you need to hide?
    As for your complaint about Elaine Cole's information - this is a country of free speech and Elaine Cole is as entitled as anyone else to tell of her experiences. She is not, in so doing, defaming or harming anyone. You say that you are concerned, by the claims made for Theta Healing, that people may be 'discouraged from seeking essential treatment'. Any legitimate energy healer will happily recommend that clients also seek a medical opinion, as appropriate. It is up to the individual to exercise their own judgement and free choice over what treatment they choose for themselves. However, whereas 'conventional' 'essential' treatment has often caused great damage, you will find that the insurance industry considers energy healing to be very safe - premiums for public liability insurance for healers are remarkably low, based on the fact that there have never been any claims. If only the same could be said for conventional medical practice. Sending you love, blessings and healing energy for your journey towards enlightenment.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for your interesting reply! Although I don't parade my name around on the back of a marching elephant, it's hardly a secret. Ten seconds with Google ought to satisfy anyone's curiosity.

    You ask why I didn't take advantage of your taster sessions. There are two good reasons why not.

    The first is a question of evidence. Even if one of your colleagues had been able to cure me of my chronic health conditions, it would not help their cause. Health claims need to be supported by proper research conducted under controlled conditions, not by anecdotal evidence.

    Forgive me for suggesting that the cancer cure claims in these handouts are not supported by any clinical evidence at all. (I never submit a complaint before doing the necessary research.)

    The second reason is one of professional detachment. By keeping my distance from the people about whom I've complained, I'm able to write "I have no connections with the advertiser" in my letters. The ASA and other regulatory authorities have a different investigative approach when the complainant and complainee know each other; my approach allows them to focus solely on the evidence.

    You mention Elaine Cole's testimonial and present it as a question of free speech. I wonder if you've ever read the advertising codes? Testimonial health claims like this one must be supported by clinical evidence - just like direct claims. Unless the advertisers can prove that Vianna Stibal cured Elaine Cole's cancer, their marketing is in breach of the codes.

    Cancer cure claims are also illegal - Cancer Act 1939 and CPR 2008. If the advertisers were to rely on a "free speech" defence they would very likely be sent to prison.

    You mention also the "discouraged from seeking essential treatment" issue. I've noticed that the ASA interpret this clause (CAP Code Section 12.2) quite liberally. If someone is claiming to treat serious diseases like "Epstein bar, AIDS, Herpes, tumours [and] a variety of cancers" it's quite likely the ASA will find them in breach of 12.2.

    Theta Healers may not like the legislative and regulatory frameworks as they stand, but they still need to comply with them.

  3. Thanks for all the Theta exposure - excellent!!! Keep up the good work because you've barely scratched the surface. And of course, when all your readers see all the testimonials on all those different healers' sites, well, they're bound to conclude it's all made up, aren't they?!
    Marvellous stuff on your site - incorrect references to the CAP codes (tsk! sloppy!) - and unduly heavy reliance on a piece of legislation that was framed when scientists still believed the universe was composed of matter rather than energy!!! Bit of a big change in thinking, that! eh?! You've been swallowing their 'double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed' dogma for years and then they go and pull a stunt like that on you! ie 'DOH! We were wrong! Let's change our minds quick!'
    Oh and by the way, the charity Cancer Research UK breaches The Cancer Act 1939! - quick quick, get one of your round robin complaints off!
    It's only a matter of time before that silly anachronistic Act is repealed completely. As it is now, so much has been repealed within it, it has more holes that lace!
    Something for you to grump over at your next Dyspeptics-in-the-pub event.
    Still! It HAS been fun!!!
    Oh BTW - as you can see from the above, I'm not so keen on your gleeful troublemaking activities against people who are genuinely trying to help others have better lives. Nevertheless, I am genuinely sorry to hear that you have chronic health issues. I or any one of those others would be glad to help you - you would only have to open your mind just enough to admit the possibility of improvement.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    If the Cancer Act were to be repealed tomorrow, misleading claims about treatments for cancer would still be illegal because of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008.

    By the way, which part of the CAP Code did I get wrong? It's not Section 12.2, which reads

    "Marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered..."

  5. Perhaps you should look more closely at 12.1 of CAP. It says that substantiation will be assessed on the basis of available scientific knowlege. Which is excellent news, since energy healing is moving increasingly into mainstream as more scientists get involved in the study of the quantum field and its implications.

    None of the passages you've complained about discourage 'essential treatment for conditions'. (Although I would personally argue that 'essential' treatment, left to big Pharma, carries more risks of damage to patients than patients are routinely told about.)
    Simply having information is not, of itself, either an encouragement or discouragement. It represents choice, that's all.

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    You may imagine, if you choose, that these health claims don't fall foul of the advertising regulations (CAP Code).

    Let us consult the ASA Council's past adjudications and see what they have to say about Theta Healing. (A different version of the Code was in force in 2010.)


    ISSUE: An ad in Kindred Spirit magazine promoted a Vianna Stibal workshop. Text stated “Theta Healing was developed when Vianna Stibal healed herself of cancer using a technique that she’d developed ... Now you can join Vianna and discover one of the most powerful healing and manifesting techniques in the world".

    ASSESSMENT: [Complaint] Upheld... Because we had not seen any evidence to support the claims made about Theta Healing or Vianna Stibal, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

    The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 11) clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).


    You may argue, if you like, that the adverts don't discourage essential treatment.

    It seems to me that the ASA Council regularly upholds complaints that advertisers have discouraged essential treatment when they claim to cure serious diseases. Here is one recent example from just last week.


    ISSUE: A website, selling Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) and magnesium products, on 1 March 2011, stated "... The proof of the efficacy of this simple protocol was in successfully helping over 75,000 people in several African nations - including Uganda and Malawi - rid themselves, primarily of malaria, but also hepatitis, cancer, and AIDS...

    ASSESSMENT: [Complaint part 3] Upheld - We noted the website contained a disclaimer for the information on the website. However, we also noted the disclaimer stated "We make absolutely no claims to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease ..." but the main text on the website stated that MMS could cure diseases such as malaria, hepatitis, cancer, and AIDS. We considered that was contradictory, and concluded the ad was irresponsible and discouraged essential medical treatment."


    All clear now?

  7. I can't comment on the first reference to the Theta complaint because it simply says that they didn't see evidence. I don't know what interaction took place - if any - to seek evidence from Vianna Stibal's organisation in the USA. My understanding is that evidence is available but I've never actually requested to see it.

    In relation to the second case, I read this on the ASA site and agree that the content of the advertiser's message was contradictory compared with their disclaimer.

    If someone gives a testimonial to say that they believe Theta Healing to have helped them heal a medical condition, they are entitled to that opinion. Especially if they can show that a change took place following a healing, by means of test results, etc.

    I can't judge how those circumstances would be seen by the ASA but it would not seem to me to be enough to discourage 'essential medical treatment'.

  8. Hi Anonymous,

    The advertising codes require Theta Healers to hold evidence for any health claims they make. For claims relating to serious diseases, the ASA demand rigorous clinical evidence published in respectable medical journals.

    How much clinical evidence is available for Theta Healing? Not a jot, as it happens. Here's the proof.

    I can understand how practitioners over here might believe that Theta Healing is supported by science. It would be an easy mistake to make, given the tone of Stibal's own writings.

    I'm afraid you have been misled. There is no evidence.

  9. I will of course have a look at the reference you have provided, but I write this reply without that benefit at the moment.
    I think - au contraire - that you have misread the CAP codes. The CAP codes make clear that they refer to the marketing and not the product itself.
    Further, the rules set out in section 12.1 state:
    "Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted
    on people. If relevant, the rules in this section apply to claims for products for animals.
    Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge."
    The key phrase here is 'if relevant'.
    The situation with energy healing is that individuals approach healers with a widely varying array of issues and potentially causal background factors. Each healing is tailored to those specifics and each is different, client by client.
    An inquisitive chap like yourself will doubtless be interested in the work of David R Hamilton PhD. He used to work in big Pharma, building drugs. His PhD was in Organic Chemistry. He became interested in the high proportions of people in the control groups of double-blind drug trials (mainly for Cancer and Cardio-Vascular drugs), who improved while on the placebo tablets (chalk etc). He started researching the power of the mind to heal the body. His book 'How your mind can heal your body' gives numerous case histories where people have mainly used visualisation and affirmations, and have healed cancer and other serious ailments. Many, not all, cite their physicians so that the facts of their recovery can be checked.
    Our bodies are designed to heal themselves - the reasons why some don't, and people develop serious illness, are usually to do with what's held in their subconscious.
    I'm sure you can see how this makes the standard scientific approach to trials, tricky. However, if western medical science had all the answers then the placebo effect wouldn't exist, and other forms of healing wouldn't work. But that's not how it is.

  10. Theta Energy healing can prompt faster healing. If the client has faith that the process works and he will be healed, then the process will work faster.The beliefs we hold are almost entirely subconscious. Some beliefs are formed based on our experiences: We touch fire--it burns us Read more


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