Did The Qigong Master Really Materialize Herbs That Cure Cancer From The Palms Of Her Hands? (And Other Unpublished Sacred Medicine Excerpts)

Lissa Rankin, MD
7 min readJul 6, 2023

Some of what I thought I witnessed and experienced during ten years of researching my book Sacred Medicine was so out there, “woo,” and mysterious- and some of the healers I worked with turned out to be so corrupt- that I wound up cutting huge swaths of my original manuscript from the final draft of my published book. As part of educating myself about what else had been written about energy healing and spiritual healing, I had read about 50 books ( like this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one.)

Most of the books I read seemed full of hard to believe stories with little to no scientific rigor, medical evidence to back up the claims, or even the healthy skepticism and critical thinking one would expect from anyone with intelligence writing about such a controversial topic. (This is why I was so impressed when I read Jeffrey Rediger, MD’s Cured, Kelly Turner, PhD’s Radical Remission, Shamani Jain, PhD’s Healing Ourselves, and William Bengston, PhD’s The Energy Cure — because these authors had either medical degrees or PhD’s and all at least tried to apply critical thinking, healthy skepticism, and whatever science that lends itself to studying something so unscientific.)

The majority of the books I read were written by people who are energy healers themselves and seemed to have whatever skepticism they might have had blinded by what seemed to be a series of personal agendas- to promote energy healing as a legitimate alternative to conventional medicine, to improperly and manipulatively use pseudoscience to trick people without much real scientific understanding, and to make money and gain power for themselves. I came away from reading most of the books out there and perceived them largely as grandiose advertisements for energy healing, without the scientific rigor or healthy skepticism required to write anything actually trustworthy.

Once the idolized Oprah-endorsed and Omega Institute-endorsed alleged “psychic surgeon” João Teixeira de Faria (“John of God”) wound up in jail for 9 rape convictions and 500+ unlitigated allegations of rape and sexual assault, and once the truly horrifying 2021 John of God documentary on Netflix came out, I felt really grateful that I had only mentioned John of God as a cautionary tale in Sacred Medicine, rather than participating in validating, legitimizing, and promoting him (and potentially unwittingly participating in getting innocent victims raped) the way people like Oprah had done. I felt like I dodged a bullet- but just barely. I got bamboozled by some other healers whose spell I fell under, but I never quite made it to Brazil. It wasn’t because I was too smart to be vulnerable to his abusive mob boss, sexually abusing shenanigans. I could have been conned too by someone like him. I was vulnerable to pedestalizing people and revering them, just like Oprah was. It’s like a part of me that got orphaned too young was always looking for somebody to fill a “perfect Mommy” or “spiritual father” hole in my life. The only thing that spared me is that one of the healers who I did write about in the final manuscript spotted my vulnerability, took pity on me, and taught me a thing or two about narcissistic spiritual healers (as well as gently pointing out my own narcissistic tendencies.)

I almost gave my advance back to Sounds True and considered not even publishing Sacred Medicine after all the horrors I witnessed and experienced, both as bystander trauma and as direct trauma to me personally. But instead, I decided to write a very different book than the one I originally thought I’d write. I originally intended to write Part 2 of my New York Times bestseller, Mind Over Medicine, which I imagined would be a magical, mystery ride through the spiritual aspects of spontaneous healing. I had no idea that to be integrity with what I actually learned from traveling the globe in search of the truth about spiritual healing, I would write the book I actually wrote.

After many experiences I’ve not yet written publicly about, I got very motivated to both help people with the potentially useful aspects of energy/spiritual healing but also warn people about the dangers. I decided to publish a book of true stories and real science about any parts of energy healing, faith healing, spiritual healing, or trauma healing that might actually help real patients who feel hopeless because conventional medicine has been unable to cure them.

I count my blessings that I got properly schooled about how many of energy healers and spiritual healers I was studying, interviewing, and witnessing were at the extreme end of the narcissism spectrum. It can be easy to miss the red flags- because they’re hiding their narcissism where few people would think to look for it- under the cloak of being “spiritual” or “enlightened” or having a dedicated meditation practice or having the direct 411 to some healing God force. But when you break it down you realize…oh.

Grandiosity. Check. Superiority complex. Check. Preoccupied with fantasies about being special. Check. Exaggerate or lie about achievements and talents. Check. Feel deserving of adoration or special treatment. Check. Need excessive attention and centering. Check. Expect special favors. Check. Take advantage of others to get what they want. Check. Have an inability and unwillingness to recognize and acknowledge the needs of others. Check. Expect to be treated as superior even without any obvious achievements. Check. (For more signs and symptoms of narcissism, check out this Mayo clinic list.)

Once I realized I was dealing with a lot of corrupt, power hungry narcissists, not enlightened beings, the rose colored glasses came off, and I started to doubt everything I had previously, in my naive gullibility, at least considered believing to be true. I had to rethink everything. Anyone who has done their psycho-education to understand how narcissists operate knows that people at the extreme end of the narcissism spectrum have no problem and no remorse about lying, exaggerating, confabulating pure fiction, and conning innocent, traumatized, and sick people out of their hard earned cash- all the way to the bank. What was true? What was just narcissistic drivel?

Most of these healers had some fascinating and intoxicating origin story that I initially believed but later came to doubt. They also told me a lot of wild stories about their own magical powers and greatness that I had no reason not to believe, at first. But I wised up and came to realize that while some healers are pure con artists and charlatans, others might have some real healing powers- or at least the ability to help activate the innate healing powers in the client. But the ones you’ve heard about are also very often narcissists, drunk on power.

Because I didn’t want to publish stories that I couldn’t prove were true, I decided not to write about a lot of the healers I later realized were not good people. To protect the attempt at purity and integrity in what I did publish, I initially cut about 1/3 of what I originally wrote. Then, after so many of the people I had initially written about by name went off the deep end into Covid denialism, QAnon, and anti-vax propaganda during the pandemic, I removed all of those chapters as well. I just did not want to promote or validate with my medical degree and reputation as a scientist anyone who was so ruthlessly interfering with public health measures aimed at saving lives. I wound up cutting 2/3 of the unwieldy original manuscript and whittled it down to the published book you might have read. God bless the editorial team at Sounds True for sticking by me through that process. They were beyond wonderful. (You can get SACRED MEDICINE here if you haven’t read it and want to.)

I didn’t know what to do with all that I had written, so I took a lot of those true stories about corrupt, unkind, money hungry people preying upon the vulnerable, people who I would never mention by their real names because I don’t want you to get hurt by them, dear reader, and I turned them into barely fictionalized fiction. What you’re about to read really did happen. (I’m loosely the “Piper” character.) But I found out later that the “Qigong master” who I wrote about is as corrupt as John of God wound up to be. I’ll be publishing the rest of what I think might be helpful or at least entertaining for my paid subscribers here on Substack. But today, I’ll release the first one for all of you. It’s a story about the “Qigong Master” that I did write about in the final draft of Sacred Medicine — in the chapter about narcissistic healers who hurt people on purpose, the shadow of Sacred Medicine, and how to keep yourself safe from shady characters like this. So with that disclaimer, here’s the first of many unpublished stories I cut from Sacred Medicine. Read at your own caution! You’ve been forewarned…

To read the first installation of excerpts about the Qigong Master alleged to cure cancer and manifest herbs out of the palms of her hands, scroll down past the disclaimer and

If you want to read more, subscribe to my Substack newsletter! You’ll still get emails from my blog here, but you’ll get this Substack only content from Sacred Medicine excerpts and other unpublished book material there.

Thank you so much to those of you who have already subscribed to Substack and especially to those who have paid for my extra content. Those of you who help fund my writing pay for all the unpaid time I’m investing in my nonprofit Heal At Last, which is making good progress to help bring Sacred Medicine and trauma healing to those who cannot afford you. So really…thank you.



Lissa Rankin, MD

Lissa Rankin, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling.