Actinolite is one of the six minerals in the asbestos group. Once hailed as a wonder material for its fireproofing qualities, asbestos is now synonymous with mesothelioma cancer, and its use is either banned or heavily regulated in the developed nations of the world.
Given its notoriety for causing an incurable and aggressive cancer, I was shocked when I recently discovered that certain alternative medicine websites recommend actinolite crystals for healing asbestos-related cancer.
Websites that promote the mystical practice of crystal healing are among the top Google search results for the term “actinolite.” Two of these websites list asbestos-related cancer as an ailment that actinolite crystals can help heal.
Despite ongoing research in the best mesothelioma cancer centers in the U.S. and abroad, mesothelioma remains without a cure, which is why their claim brings these two questions to mind:
It is beyond the scope of this article to speculate on whether or not the practice of crystal healing works. What I want to know is why anyone would recommend actinolite, a known carcinogen, specifically for curing an incurable cancer.
Actinolite, it turns out, is a popular healing stone.
I located more than a dozen different websites describing the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of this mineral. Many of these sites are commercial enterprises offering a variety of healing stones for sale but little scientific or medical evidence of those alleged benefits.
That’s always a red flag.
Physically, the mineral is said to support the immune system as well as kidney and liver functions. The websites purport that actinolite crystals have different metaphysical effects depending on their color. Some of the more exotic stated benefits of actinolite include:
Though many websites give detailed (and usually inconsistent) accounts of the healing properties of actinolite, only the first two I reviewed specifically mention using it to heal cancer caused by asbestos.
Neither website gives an explanation for this, but the support team at one site did respond to my email query, suggesting that an asbestos mineral may help treat asbestos-related cancer according to the “like assists like” school of thought.
My skepticism for this reasoning propelled me directly to my second research question.
In trying to find a quick, definitive answer to this question, I discovered the issue is not as simple as it seems. Here are the basics about asbestos:
However, just as not all asbestos is actinolite, not all actinolite is asbestos. A smooth, solid, nonfibrous piece of actinolite sold as a piece of jewelry or a healing stone will probably not release dangerous mineral fibers into the air, but how can you be sure you’re not getting a piece that is fibrous? Is it worth the risk?
Many of the websites, including the one whose team responded to my questions, warn users that actinolite is toxic, and the reality is you should avoid any type of asbestos.
Complementary and alternative medicines have their place when it comes to cancer treatments.
The cancers caused by asbestos are terrible diseases, and many patients have benefited from unconventional therapies. Stories abound about how cancer survivors have alleviated harsh symptoms and defied short life expectancies after turning to holistic practices that focus on healing the mind, body and spirit as one.
To date, there is no scientific basis for crystal-healing therapy. Nevertheless, many people claim to benefit from healing stones, and there are certainly many websites that sell them.
Actinolite, however, is not a mineral to mess around with. There is no doubt that fibrous actinolite can cause the same serious illnesses as the other forms of asbestos. Unless you happen to be an expert in all the diverse forms these sorts of minerals can take, I’d say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Ask your doctor about any alleged cure for mesothelioma that you may encounter online. The disease is not curable, but researchers are seeking ways to treat it using science, not unproven mysticism.