This morning we look at the moon…more specifically moonbeams. The Earth’s only planetary satellite has long attracted man’s curiosity, and a venture just west of Tucson stands ready to see if moonbeams are the antidote to some people’s ills. KJZZ’s Tony Ganzer reports.
It’s Wednesday night in a brush-checkered patch of Arizona desert. The deep, dark sky plays backdrop for a spotlight moon and flashbulb stars.
About a dozen people gather near an RV lined with a snack table, and patio chairs. A few yards ahead is a five-story, 30-ton structure with square mirrors attached to it. It’s like a massive blue chess board with adjustable squares.
“We’re here for another moonlight beaming, and hopefully will heal people,” says Richard Chapin, the designer, operator, general contractor, and financier for this moonbeam collector.
“It was all funded privately by my wife and still is, by my wife and I,“ he says.
Chapin has owned a lucrative swap meet in Tucson for 33-years. Losing a friend to an aggressive form of cancer prompted Chapin to spend $ 2 million to research moonbeams.
Chapin’s project acts as a tribute to his friend, who believed the frequency of moonbeams could affect a person’s health, both physical and mental.
“It’s funny: NASA’s Web site says moonlight is reflected sunlight let’s go on, but sorry folks it’s different than sunlight,” Chapin says seriously.
Hydraulic arms ease the device into position as visitors step into a small booth and stand before a concave mirror.
A beam of reflected moonlight soaks visitors with an eerie white glow. Chapin and many of his visitors hope this light will heal them in some way.
“It couldn’t hurt,and we’re at the point where we’ll try anything,” says Steve Garber. He can barely walk, and he’s helped to and from the moonbeam booth by his wife, and others.
Garber says he’s been ill for a few years, and thought even if the moonbeams don’t cure him, his experience may spur further research into the experimental practice.
“If that doesn’t happen I’m no worse off than I was. If it does I can spend the rest of my life with my wife and kids,” he says.
The effects of moonbeam therapy haven’t really been vetted by conventional scientists, but so far they haven’t reported adverse side effects.
“The fear of all doctors is alternative medicine will divert patients from conventional treatments,” says Dr. Larry Bergstrom heads the Mayo Clinic’s integrated medicine program in Scottsdale, which makes him a bridge between conventional and alternative medicine. Consider him a doctor with an open mind.
“People are going to have treatments with cancer. If they’re still seeing their oncologist then I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he says.
The biggest problem with the moonbeam collector or treatments like it, says Bergstrom, is that they take time. Time that could be used on proven medical practices.
“People can go there and will feel better benefiting from the desert in the night, is that the same as the moonbeam curing them? It’s not; there’s no proof of that. And the creators admit that,” he says.
“I think it’s the moonlight,” says Eric Carr, a hypnotherapist who volunteers at the moonbeam collector. He says the moonlight cured his asthma.
“I wasn’t expecting it…it just spontaneously happened. I’m still wrapping my head around it,” he says.
Carr developed asthma at age 15, but a few moonbeam treatments seemed to change that. Now he runs everyday.
“I think there is some placebo effect but there’s a little of that with any healing modality,” Carr says.
“We have some ability to heal ourselves so placebo isn’t nothing,” admits Dr. Bergstrom. He says it appears the folks at the moonbeam collector are genuinely interested in the effects of that light, and it’s a good sign they’re not charging for entry. But the actual effect of moonbeams…
“…relates to how they feel. The treatments from the moonbeam collector is that people feel better and we can’t measure that. We don’t look at experience as being a valid measure of effectiveness,” he says.
Richard Chapin at the moonbeam collector is trying to gain the support of conventional science for his work. But so far breaking into the mainstream has been a hard sell.