Kirlian photography

March 22, 2017


Kirlian photography

Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

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.

Scientific Evidence


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.


Disease diagnosis

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 against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).


The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.

  • 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.

Author Information

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


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Adamenko VM, Evangelopoulou T, Yfantopoulos J. Kirlian photography: a tool in the diagnosing of psychopathology. J Biol Photogr 1988;56(3):85-88. View Abstract

  2. Anon. Kirlian photography: a tool in the diagnosing of psychopathology. J Biol Photogr 1989;57(3):66-67. View Abstract

  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. View Abstract

  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. View Abstract

  5. Duerden T. An aura of confusion: part 2. The aided eye: "imaging the aura?" Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 2004;10(2):116-123. View Abstract

  6. Ebrahim H, Williams R. Kirlian photography: an appraisal. J Audiov Media Med 1982;5(3):84-91. View Abstract

  7. Greyson ND. "Kirlian photography" film artifacts. Can Assoc Radiol J 1989;40(6):331. View Abstract

  8. Hakimi R. Kirlian photography, holistic blood diagnosis, capillarity tests. Cancer diagnosis of a different kind. MMW Fortschr Med 2003;145(23):49-50. View Abstract

  9. Quickenden TI, Tilbury RN. A critical examination of the bioplasma hypothesis. Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR 1986;18(2);89-101. View Abstract

  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. View Abstract

  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. View Abstract

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

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.


March 22, 2017