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Kirlian photography


Related terms

Related Terms
  • Aura photography, coronal discharge photography, fingertip aura, gas discharge visualization (GDV), Kirlian diagnostics, Kirlian electrophotography, Kirlian energy, Kirlian-graphic, spark electrography, Tesla coil Kirlian photography.

  • Developed by a Russian couple and based on the theories of Rudolf Steiner, Kirlian photography is a diagnostic technique that makes use of a high-voltage, high-frequency electrical field. This electrical field interacts with an object (for example, a part of the human body) that is "photographed." The photographic "plate" may be used to make a diagnosis.
  • Kirlian photography can produce a colored image, which is believed by some to reflect a person's aura.
  • The safety of Kirlian photography has not been established. Kirlian is not a substitute for established methods of diagnosis. People with pacemakers and implanted cardiac defibrillators should use Kirlian photography with caution, as they may be affected by the electrical field.

  • In Kirlian photography, high-frequency currents are applied to the human body, and the subsequent electromagnetic discharge is visualized on a photographic plate. It is suggested that these images are caused by a process of high-voltage coronal discharge.
  • Coronal discharge refers to the observation of discharge patterns around circular objects on the film. (These spark patterns along the edge of objects resemble the outer corona of the sun during an eclipse.) Different colors or shadings may appear around photographed objects, depending on the type of film used.
  • It is asserted that every organism or substance radiates and absorbs energy differently and exhibits unique geometrical frequency and radiation characteristics.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Research suggests that Kirlian photography may be more reliable than chance but less reliable than conventional diagnostic tests. Further research is needed.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Insufficient available evidence.


Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

  • Kirlian photography is unproven as a diagnostic or therapeutic technique and should not be relied upon as the sole source of medical information or treatment.
  • The safety of Kirlian photography has not been established by available scientific studies. Kirlian photography should not be used in people with pacemakers or implanted cardiac defibrillators. People who have heart disease or are pregnant should use this technique with caution.
  • Because Kirlian is a non-invasive procedure, it is not expected to cause adverse effects.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Adamenko VM, Evangelopoulou T, Yfantopoulos J. Kirlian photography: a tool in the diagnosing of psychopathology. J Biol Photogr 1988;56(3):85-88.
  2. Anon. Kirlian photography: a tool in the diagnosing of psychopathology. J Biol Photogr 1989;57(3):66-67.
  3. Bundzen PV, Korotkov KG, Unestahl LE. Altered states of consciousness: review of experimental data obtained with a multiple techniques approach. J Altern Complement Med 2002;8(2):153-165.
  4. Cope FW. Magnetoelectric charge states of matter-energy. A second approximation. Part VII. Diffuse relativistic superconductive plasma. Measurable and non-measurable physical manifestations. Kirlian photography. Laser phenomena. Cosmic effects on chemical and biological systems. Physiol Chem Phys 1980;12(4):349-355.
  5. Duerden T. An aura of confusion: part 2. The aided eye: "imaging the aura?" Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 2004;10(2):116-123.
  6. Ebrahim H, Williams R. Kirlian photography: an appraisal. J Audiov Media Med 1982;5(3):84-91.
  7. Greyson ND. "Kirlian photography" film artifacts. Can Assoc Radiol J 1989;40(6):331.
  8. Hakimi R. Kirlian photography, holistic blood diagnosis, capillarity tests. Cancer diagnosis of a different kind. MMW Fortschr Med 2003;145(23):49-50.
  9. Quickenden TI, Tilbury RN. A critical examination of the bioplasma hypothesis. Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR 1986;18(2);89-101.
  10. Kirlian SD, Kirlian VK. Photography and visual observation by means of high frequency currents. J Sci Appl Photogr 1964;6:397-403.
  11. Stanwick M. Aura photography: mundane physics or diagnostic tool? Nurs Times 1996; 92(25):39-41.
  12. Treugut H, Koppen M, Nickolay B, et al. [Kirlian photography: accidental or person-specific pattern?] (in German). Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2000;7(1):12-16.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.