Successful Bodywork Requires Thinking Outside the Box
By David Stouffer
It is well known that a healthy physical body is important for overall wellness. So, when something feels out of place it is no surprise that bodywork therapies such as structural integration, chiropractics, and physical therapy can restore balance to the physical systems and help one maintain a positive emotional and mental wellbeing. What may be surprising is that new scientific evidence suggests that the human body is composed of an external energetic system that plays a role in maintaining aspects of our internal health.
Much like the earth has electromagnetic properties that extend well beyond its physical structure, emerging science suggests that humans also have magnetic and ionic components that extend well beyond the physical body. Thus, the health of the external human biofield may be important in maintaining complete wellness.
The biofield is currently defined as interacting and interpenetrating fields of energetic information that help regulate and balance the function of a living organism.
In the late 1990’s Dr. Valerie Hunt, professor of Physiology at the University of California Los Angeles, documented the existence of human biofields and measured biofield changes relative to thoughts, feelings, and environmental interactions. Evidence of a dynamic biofield was confirmed by audio and visual recordings that showed energy interactions with other humans and their environment. These may be the first quantitative findings showing conscious aspects of human beings extending and interacting with their surroundings.
More recently, Dr. Shamini Jain, Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego, showed evidence that the conscious biofield is intimately intertwined with aspects of mental wellness. One of her studies published in the Journal of Military Medicine shows biofield therapy is more efficacious at decreasing symptoms of PTSD in active military personnel than traditional cognitive behavioral therapies (PMID: 23025129).
Another study co-authored by Dr. Jain showed evidence that biofield therapy can affect the function of internal physiology. In this study, breast cancer survivors who had biofield therapy showed a decrease in fatigue and stabilization of the stress hormone cortisol (PMID: 21823103). Because stress hormones are involved in inflammation of the body, mind and gut, biofield therapy may help prevent or treat inflammatory and stress related diseases such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, and anxiety.
The journal Alternative Therapies recently included a study with evidence that fibromyalgia patients receiving biofield therapy reported a significant positive change in their symptoms related to depression and pain (PMID: 28987079). They also documented that all of the patients receiving biofield therapy showed a decrease in the dosage of medication needed to get the same effect (decreased tolerance).
Biofield therapy patients have reported a long list of positive outcomes ranging from migraine relief, decreased anxiety, decrease in medication, decreased pain and increased sense of wellbeing. Such anecdotal reports are common but the process of healing is not yet fully understood. Still, hospitals are integrating biofield therapies into common care protocols and according to US News and World Report, every one of the top ten hospitals in the US are incorporating some form of biofield therapy.
There is increasing data supporting the existence of human biofields. The combination of anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests including biofield therapy in one’s wellness routine can enhance the regulation of physiological functioning, restore emotional balance, and improve recovery from a myriad of health-related issues. Although the mechanisms of action are not fully understood, this safe and effective complementary modality should be considered as an important aspect of healthcare and a legitimate addition to any health routine that seeks complete wellness.