What is Feng Shui?
Chinese medicine assumes that all health is governed by the flow of energy (Ch’i) and the balance of yin and yang within the body, but these concepts can also be applied to the things that surround us. Feng shui is the Chinese art of placing objects in accordance with the theory of yin and yang in order to optimize the flow of life energy, which, in turn, is thought to influence health and wellbeing. Feng shui consultants give advice on the position of objects in an office or home. They may, for instance, place a screen in a certain position to make sure that the energy is travelling in the right direction, or they might advise their clients to reposition their beds so that they can benefit from the right energy flow while sleeping.
Feng shui is not biologically plausible, because its basic tenets make no sense in the context of modern science. The benefit some people experience after following the advice of feng shui consultants could be due to expectation and has no physiological basis, nor is it likely to last.
Feng shui consultants do not normally claim to cure diseases, but they say that their work can improve wellbeing and prevent ill-health. Increasingly, feng shui consultants are giving advice on how to deal with the health effects of electromagnetic fields in the home, even though there is no evidence that such fields are harmful. These consultants generally charge considerable amounts of money for their services.
What is the Evidence?
It would not be difficult to test some of these claims, but as yet there have been no serious studies. However, informal tests comparing the judgements of feng shui consultants demonstrate significant conflicts over their interpretation of the energy flow in any given space, which implies that their advice is based on subjective imaginings.
Therefore all we can say is that there is no evidence to show that feng shui does anything but enrich those who promote it. A competent interior designer can probably offer equally good, if not better, advice.
For More Information:
This extract is taken from “Trick or Treatment?” (Transworld), a book that contains a series of 1-page summaries looking at the evidence for and against a range of alternative therapies. The authors of the book are Simon Singh (founder of the Good Thinking Society) and Edzard Ernst (the world’s first professor of complementary medicine