This post has been on my back burner for about two years now. It would have remained there for a little longer were it not for a brochure that got dropped where I reside about a month ago.
The brochure which I have scanned below (personal details have been blurred to protect the individual’s privacy) was advertising a health scanning camp at a local church.
What caught my eye, and which I hope has yours too, is that bold almost fantastical claim at the second paragraph: “Full body scan, no urine, no blood, no stool”
Is such a thing even possible? Well, it does seem as I was fortunate to witness for myself first-hand the magic behind this non-invasive scanning back in 2016.
I don’t want to bore you with the back story behind this event, but the short version is that after lab results showed elevated blood cholesterol levels, a relative got the suggestion from a fellow church congregant (happy customer I take it) to try some Chinese Supplements from a certain Chinese Company. The supplements, however, were to be prescribed after a convenient home scanning session.
The Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analyser (QRMA)
The scanning session I refer to was carried out by a device called a Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analyser (QRMA). I’ll assume most health scanning’s of this nature (i.e. broad and non-invasive at the same time) that are popular in the country either use this device or one that utilizes a similar principle (a rather simple one as we shall see later).
The QRMA, as we shall refer to it from now on, will undoubtedly capture the imagination of many that lay their eyes on it. That is, if the name alone (“Quantum” carrying most of the weight) is not sufficient on its own.
The device is comprises of three major parts:
- a handheld instrument
- a small electronic unit that the instrument connects to (they seem to vary in shape, size & functionality)
- a typical laptop computer to which the entire device is connected to via USB to communicate with the QRMA software (a different model is equipped with its own display unit, no need for a computer)
The scanning process is pretty simple: one takes hold of the probe in their palm, and the consultant turns on the unit to start the scanning. The scanning goes on for a couple of minutes meanwhile the QRMA software displays some nice graphical accompaniments of the organs it’s currently scanning while being fed, and presumably interpreting this vital data.
Once it’s done, the software outputs detailed reports of the state of all the major organ systems in the body along with tons of biochemical data to back it up. The reports themselves are very detailed and quite overwhelming (i.e, credible looking) to a layman’s eyes.
Out of curiosity I ended up keeping the relatives HTML scan reports with me that you can find here for your viewing pleasure (names have been removed).
Debunking the QRMA
If you do get around opening those reports, the first thing you’ll notice is how comprehensive they are. The verdict here is that the QRMA is a walking laboratory that only needs your palm to analyse the current state of your vital internal organs. This device is therefore an imminent threat to the medical laboratory profession as we know it.
How it manages exactly to do this without doing any physical test or taking blood and tissue samples is beyond comprehension. The only logical explanation is that the device is a gimmick, and a very dangerous one at that. Where’s my proof of evidence?
As you can tell, the QRMA is actually quite a basic thing and not the ground-breaking high-tech device you might take it for. At best, it’s a toy with plenty of shocking entertainment value for “at-risk of” adults. At its worse, though, it’s one of the many tools in the magician’s bag of tricks to make money from gullible and desperate victims who are genuinely concerned for their health.
But make no mistake, the magician here is not the “certified” health consultant going door to door (or rather church to church) with the QRMA. He or she is merely a magician’s assistant to the executives that have made a profitable business franchise out of something as critical as people’s health.
The QRMA works on a very simple principle: the software it’s paired with generates random biochemical data based on one’s age, sex, height, and weight. These are things that the consultant can easily estimate from appearances alone or will likely ask before the scanning begins (not that they will let you see the report anyway).
In a medical camp context though it’s likely they will carry out anthropometrics and a blood pressure assessment for good measure then leave the biochemical assessments for the QRMA. So it’s basically guesswork but educated guesses.
But even before we go there, first consider the demographic that is more likely to visit a health camp and the reasons that would prompt such an undertaking. You’d be hard-pressed to see a young person (below 35 years) at such a place, not unless the camp also caters for reproductive health in which case women of child-bearing age would take a sizeable proportion of the clientele.
Universally men of all ages tend to be somewhat of an endangered species in such habitats with the few that intersperse such gatherings either being elderly or those have been dragged there by the symptoms (the most profound being their caring wives).
Thus, the age demographic you’re likely to see going for health check-ups and scanning is that of between years 40+ and would disproportionately comprise more women than men. And what’s common about these age groups?
Well, they are at the highest risk of developing lifestyle diseases simply because of their age. And if that’s not enough, they are fully aware of this fact if their bodies haven’t already made sure they feel it. It’s all part of the health-conscious mentality that kicks in with ripening.
In that sense, these deceptive health scanning has the people it’s targeting working already in its favour. All that is left for it is simply to do its “magic” by capitalizing on the self-diagnosed apprehensiveness and conformational bias that’s naturally to be expected from its test subjects when around such an environment.
For example, it’s obvious that a 60-year-old African male that’s moderately obese (it will tell that from the weight and height) would no doubt be at a higher risk of hypertension compared to 30-year-old male that is of normal weight for his height.
It’s obvious that no woman would be at risk of prostate complications, and that a 70-year-old will likely have poor eyesight due to ageing. Likewise, the older one is the more likely they’ve accumulated more toxins (heavy metals) from the environment due to exposure over a longer period.
Low amino acids levels could be predicted from the fact one is underweight and thus likely to have wasted muscles. The exact levels the reports indicate are guesswork, and that goes for every “biochemical” data the device is allegedly analysing.
Still, the consultant can easily decide to forego the task of interpreting these data (after all, the graphics will long have sealed the deal) and instead prefer to give his take based on what’s actually on sale. You didn’t think it starts and ends with the scanning did you?
You see, the QRMA is merely a sales pitch. What’s actually on sale here are supplements. In our particular case it’s Chinese herbal medicine, though I take it the device can easily be repurposed to sell any kind of supplements — from local snake oil merchants to the popular GNLD MLM catalogue. A much better repurposing would however be as an educational toy.
The reports are however not without merit (much of the effort behind the device, namely the software, seems to have been concentrated on their sourcing and computerized generation) and thus would make for good use as cliff notes for medical students.
Armed with the reports, supplements can justifiably be recommended as a necessary prescription to address the diagnosis from a QRMA bolstered consultant. As expected, the supplements come in a wide variety and cost way more than the scanning.
The plan here is to set a precedent for future prescriptions should they prove successful in treatment. This would ideally then open doors for word of mouth referrals — a very viable business model it does seem now once coupled with an electronic quack.
With the specific company that the relative was referred to the supplements cost upwards of Ksh.2,000 (approx. $20). Their catalogue ranges from the usual calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin D tablets to fish oils, capsules containing various extracts/oils and tea/coffee drinks. They also have some machines including various massagers, something called a blood circulation machine and a slimming belt.
The company also runs a reward system where clients and I suppose the “consultants” earn points to redeem various products. So it’s likely that is essentially a multi-level marketing (MLM) business for supplements not unlike GNLD and the like.
What’s unsettling about all this however is if a client doesn’t do due process on the diagnosis that is meted out on him or her. For all we know it could be an overdiagnosis, an underdiagnosis or worse a misdiagnosis.
Fortunately, and rather crudely, it would seem some people merely use this scanning to “supplement” the diagnosis from a medical doctor; or rather, when they’ve had little success with western medicine and wish to try (or complement with) alternative options, the obvious choices being supplements and herbal medicines.
This way, one has an excuse not to take their prescribed medicine or to adhere to a nutritional care plan since supplements will supposedly take care of that. You usually witness this thought process with patients having life-long conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. It’s only after the symptoms get worse that they make the switch back.
For the rest, you can only hope that the supplements do work or are at the very least not harmful in any way to their health. I’m not equipped to comment on the efficacy of these Chinese supplements, but it would be fair to assume that they have beneficial effects in managing or preventing certain conditions, e.g., alleviating pain, detoxing.
The referrals can’t be without merit to an extent however it’s important to adjust for the likelihood of placebo effects and false advertising.
Where some salespeople go wrong, and with disastrous effects, is when such supplements are championed as complete substitutes for a prescribed drug therapy. They are called supplements for a good reason: to be supplementary, or rather, to function in a supporting capacity.
In this particular case, the means utilized to prescribe the supplements are dishonest (however harmless they may prove to be) and therefore one is more inclined to think the same towards them.
If one wishes to switch to a particular type of alternative medicine for their condition, it’s advisable to consult a health care professional prior to beginning it. If that’s not possible, an impartial research online may provide some insights. Otherwise, one may risk having a worsening condition. The same applies for supplements that one can easily get over the counter.
With that said, allopathic medicine is also subject to certain pitfalls so it’s pointless to endorse it over other forms without reservations. Where it does excel, however, is that it’s highly regulated and is guided by scientific research rather than on scientific guesswork.
Health Scanning the Recommended Way
Regular health check-ups or scanning are necessary to prevent and detect health conditions in their early phases. They should be done once in a while or as recommended by a health care professional.
However, rather than settle for quick cheap unscrupulous check-ups such as the one provided by the QRMA, it’s best to visit a reputable health facility and have a doctor recommend a series of tests to be done. They will cost you less in the long run and you will be at least confident of the results you get.
If you’re concerned with costs, you can try public health facilities which are more affordable. Basic tests such as anthropometrics (weight, height/length, BMI), blood pressure and blood sugar will cost you close nothing in such facilities and are a good place to start to get a general idea of your current health.
From here then you can work up to more comprehensive tests that test the function of various organs and for specific conditions such as cancer.
You can also take advantage of free health check-ups that are usually run by various NGO’s and institutions in the community, e.g. Beyond Zero.
Lastly, it would seem this new phenomenon has somehow escaped the ministry of health officials, so be on the lookout for such fake health scanning camps (churches tend to be the preferred targets) and sensitize your fellow community members on why to avoid them.