Dowsing is the use of an instrument, be it pendulum, rods or a fork-shaped stick, that picks up some presently immeasurable energy. At the end of the nineteenth century it was realized that, if dowsers can locate the sites of water, metal and other substances under the ground, then they ought to be able to locate the sites of disease in the body in the same way. Tests were carried out, mainly in France, and it was discovered that they could. The orthodox world continues to be sceptical, but as we delve more into quantum physics I would not be surprised if, in the near future, we find some justifiable explanation of why a pendulum should swing or a divining rod rise or fall in a different pattern depending upon the substance over which it is held. The process does not seem to work if the instrument is attached to a nonorganic object, raising even more doubts in the scientist.

In the medical use of dowsing there seems to be an interplay between the energy of the practitioner and of the patient, or sample of the patient’s hair or blood. The pendulum or divining instrument merely reflects this. It is a bit like attaching a voltmeter to two ends of a battery: there need to be two opposing or different energies to create a movement.

Dowsing may also be used to determine the most effective treatment against the disease. The success of the technique relies largely on the skill and sensitivity of the practitioner rather than on the instrument used. Some dowsers do not need to use a pendulum at all, but simply by holding their hands over the patient’s body will be able to sense a change in vibration or heat and thereby detect the site of an illness. Healers, in this way, are in fact dowsers.

This is a diagnostic technique that may be useful in conjunction with more orthodox techniques but should not be relied upon by itself. This is not because I doubt the efficacy of the technique but because the assessment is very subjective, depending upon the practitioner.