Biofield therapy refers to a group of therapies that effect change in people’s health and well-being by interacting with their biofield. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines biofields as “energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body”[i].
As was explained in my previous article, Is Energy Medicine a Part of Your Healthcare?, there is increasingly convincing evidence that each human being is comprised of an energetic system that is highly integrated with the physical body, emotional systems and spiritual being of the individual. This will not necessarily be news to anyone with a spiritual practice. There are many ways to tap into this energetic system in a therapeutic manner in order to enhance both physical and emotional wellness. More commonly known therapies include acupuncture and homeopathy, but there is a rapidly developing group of therapies that can collectively be called biofield therapies.
The more common biofield therapies would be reiki, healing touch, craniosacral and qi gong although there are many others as well. These therapies all involve modification of the patient’s biofield using external energies or vibrations, usually brought though the therapist’s hands or by the introduction of colour or sound. In some therapies like reiki the therapist is thought to be bringing in a benevolent and healing “universal” energy via their hands. In sound healing, sounds are used to find and clear blockages in the energy field and to promote health by increasing the flow of vital energies through and around the physical body. The Surrender Method of craniosacral therapy is based on the understanding that there is a primary respiratory movement (PRM) taking place within the spinal fluid that circulates around the brain and along the spinal column. Amplifying the fluidity of the PRM activates the body’s innate intelligence and circulates energetic nourishment. Surrender Method practitioners enhance the auto-healing response within the patient thereby contributing to their overall well-being, both emotionally and physically.
Many biofield therapists believe that their role is to do just that – stimulate the auto-healing response so that the patient can effectively heal themselves. Western science has recognised this response and has labelled it as the placebo effect. However, many scientists have only recently come to understand that if the body has a mechanism to auto-heal, then we should be vigorously researching ways to initiate this response and to effect healing in ourselves and others.
Unfortunately this is the least researched area of alternative and complementary medicine. There have been fewer than 100 studies conducted around biofield work and many of these did not use good scientific practice so have been discarded within the medical community. The good news is that this is changing, and quickly. In the same publication quoted above, ACOG discusses healing touch therapy used in conjunction with standard cancer treatments. I quote, “Research has shown that patients undergoing chemotherapy have had statistically significant improvements in blood pressure, pain, mood and fatigue… Also research suggests that breast and gynecologic cancer patients receiving radiation therapy and undergoing therapy with healing touch show improved quality of life with increased scores in emotional function, vitality, pain, physical function, emotional role function, mental health and health transition.”[ii] The tip of the iceberg is beginning to show when an established medical group such as ACOG begins to review and understand biofield work.
Another interesting article was published by the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine in October 2009 – Biofield Therapies: Helpful or Full of Hype? A Best Evidence Synthesis. In this article two medical researchers from the University of California and UCLA have taken a critical look at 88 studies done over a 20 year period to try to come up with some useful conclusions. Each study was scored based on methodology, statistical methods and types of outcomes. Results were then tabulated in order to generate a global set of conclusions. 22 of the 88 studies were disregarded completely due to poor procedures.
The remaining results were quite interesting. The article concludes there is strong evidence to suggest that pain intensity can be effectively reduced in the general population, hospital populations and cancer populations. They also concluded there was moderate evidence of effectiveness in increasing quality of life in pain patients. Other areas were also examined, but the results were inconclusive due to the limited amount of scientific data.
From my own perspective, biofield therapy is effective on a very broad scale. In addition to the cancer related side-benefits noted above, I believe that receiving biofield therapy in conjunction with standard cancer treatments actually increases the overall chance of a successful outcome. Other benefits I have seen in my own clinic include:
- Quicker, more complete healing following injury or trauma (sports injury, car accidents, etc)
- Stress reduction and enhanced coping abilities during emotional trauma
- Reduction in chronic pain from arthritis and other conditions
- Quicker recovery from infectious disease
- Improved functioning of bodily systems such as the circulation, digestion and immune systems
- Smoother birthing with less pain and medical intervention
Certainly if a suffering individual can simply have their level of pain reduced, then the likelihood of a speedier and more complete recovery would seem greater. More importantly, the stimulation of the body’s own ability to auto-heal is a huge factor in any therapeutic situation, and in my opinion this cannot be understated. Simply put, our bodies have an absolutely amazing ability to heal themselves and this process is taking place every minute of every day. The successful therapy is one that works with the body’s natural processes to stimulate a quicker and more complete return to health and well-being.
Lauren Young is the author of “Journeys of a Thirsty Soul – Thoughts on Enlightenment and Evolution”.
Written by Lauren Young with editing and research assistance by Vicky Boldo.
[i] The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Clinical Updates Women’s Health Care – Volume X, Number 4, October 2011 – Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Page 9
[ii] The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Clinical Updates Women’s Health Care – Volume X, Number 4, October 2011 – Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Page 60