photo of different crystals in tones of blue, green, yellow, dark gray, pink and white, superimposed on a tie-die background.
Collage: Philipp Sipos

Emily Bernal; USGS; Terriell Scrimager; Hao Zhang; Photoholgic; Jose G. Ortega Castro; Zdeněk Macháček; James Kovin; Pedro Miguel Aires; Unsplash


Sorry, TikTok – Crystals Can't Actually Heal You

CrystalTok is pretty innocuous till people start suggesting you use pretty stones to treat actual mental and physical health conditions.

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.

Social media algorithms are supposedly pretty good at pinning down exactly who you are and what you like as a consumer. Still, TikTok seems to draw a blank on my actual interests: It thinks I'm into women, that I’ve been renovating my house in the countryside for the last two years and that I'm in love with Harry Styles – well, that one might be a tiny bit true. The point is, my For You page is often a bit random.


At some point, I must have lingered a little too long on a video about healing crystals while scrolling through the app. Now I'm trapped in the world of #Crystaltok, where people hold up colourful minerals in front of the camera and explain how they will supposedly improve your health, salary and even sex life.

These precious gemstones form under high pressure and heat inside the earth. People have been turning them into jewellery for thousands of years, and some of them are used for industrial purposes.

But today, most people buy crystals for more esoteric properties. This is a €1bn-plus industry that’s seen an exponential growth during the pandemic, and exacted a significant toll on rival diamond sales. A representative of the online retailer Stein-Insel told us they saw a particular spike in sales among younger people “in TikTok’s target group”.

This boom could have something to do with the general sense of dread many of us experience when consuming news dominated by war, the pandemic and mounting inflation. When the world seems to be getting more complicated and threatening, many people seek support in conspiracy theories and esotericism.

The hashtag #crystaltok has been used over four billion times on the platform, with videos promising to help with anything from making a crush fall in love with you, dealing with strict parents, getting good grades, fighting your phone addiction or even purifying your skin of imperfection. The claims – clearly targeted towards a very young audience – become more and more absurd with every scroll.


The trend is generally innocuous – until you get to the part where random TikTokers start suggesting you use pretty stones to treat actual mental and physical health conditions. Amethyst, howlite and hematite allegedly relieve period pain. Black obsidian “removes depression”, celestite helps with Borderline Personality Disorder and fluorite with ADHD. Bloodstone helps healing a cough and citrine stomach issues.

The problem is, the healing properties of crystals have not been scientifically proven. One 2001 study found that crystals do have a placebo effect, meaning they improved patients’ physical and mental health without having any direct therapeutic effect. The study split participants into two groups – one was asked to meditate with a stone, the other with a fake crystal made of plastic. Both groups reportedly felt better after, but there was no significant difference between the two. 

This brings us to another issue – many crystals on the market are fakes. They’re made out of plastic and synthetic resin, and sold as genuine stones. It’s unclear how big this specific branch of the industry is, but even some videos on TikTok now feature tips on how to recognise the real from the fake. 

YouTuber and former metaphysical shop clerk Courtney Violetta, talked about her struggles with spiritual materialism in a 2021 video. “I’ve learned that we really don’t need any objects to connect us to our wise mind,” Violetta said, talking about how she stopped spending her hard-earned cash on crystals and other objects she saw in metaphysical influencers’ videos. 

At her job, she would often be confronted with customers who shared their story with her because they needed help. “I felt uncomfortable and guilty being required to sell them a crystal, herb or candle – as my job entailed – when they needed professional help,” she said. “I feel like people were going to this store and buying all of this stuff in the hopes that they would feel better with a quick fix, that all of a sudden, the work would be done.”

Violetta still believes in the energetic power of crystals, but also acknowledges there’s no way a pretty stone can help solve any of your problems. At the end of the day, it’s totally fine to want to surround yourself with beautiful objects. But if you are looking for actual help and think this is it, I’m afraid to say you’re probably being fooled.