A Brief Review of Biofield Therapy Effectiveness

biofield image

(by Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP)

This blog is a brief synthesis of a 2009 literature review by Shamini Jain and Paul Mills on the effects of biofield interventions (such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, and healing touch) for various problems such as pain and anxiety in a variety of populations (e.g. people with acute pain, cancer, heart disease). The authors did not review any energy psychology literature.

The authors reviewed and rated the quality of 66 studies. This was not a meta analysis of these studies. It was a systematic review. The authors stated that the studies were too diverse to use a meta-analysis approach.

The Results
  • Overall the studies had medium level of quality, and generally met the minimum standards for validity of inferences.
  • Biofield therapies showed strong evidence for reducing pain intensity in pain populations, and moderate evidence for reducing pain intensity in hospitalized and cancer populations.
  • There was moderate evidence for biofield therapies’ ability to reduce negative behavioral symptoms in dementia and decrease anxiety for hospitalized populations.
  • There was equivocal evidence for these therapies’ ability to make beneficial effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients.
  • There was also equivocal evidence for biofield therapies’ ability to influence comprehensive pain outcomes and affect in pain patients, and for decreasing anxiety in cardiovascular patients.
What do these findings mean?

By 2009 there were 66 studies that met the inclusion criteria for this review. Until I read this report I did not know that. It is important for us to recognize that energy-healing methods are being studied through the lens of the scientific method, regardless of the outcome. Why is this important? When done properly, scientific methods help us understand what is effective and what is not effective.

Science is not a perfect vehicle for assessing the effectiveness of new techniques, and it usually runs far behind the clinical or healing world. For example, it has only been in the last few years that we have known scientifically that meditation changes the brain. However, spiritual adepts have known for thousands of years that meditation changes consciousness. This is to be expected. It is not easy to create conditions to measure and control the variables involved.

You can consider the scientific method to be a “language” that helps us communicate with other people and provides structures that enable us to speak the same language. To the extent that we want energy psychology and other energy healing methods to become part of mainstream healthcare, we need to be able to speak the language of the people in those systems. And they speak the language of science.

Furthermore, the more fluent we become in scientific discourse, the more we can use this language to become more clear about what we are doing as practitioners.

The Jain and Mills review points to several clinical areas where there is strong to moderate evidence that biofield therapies can be useful. This suggests that practitioners can be more confident with clients about the potential of help in those areas. It also suggests that in the areas where there is less evidence, there either needs to be a change in the way these things are studied or the clinical methodologies should change. Perhaps people need a stronger or longer dose of biofield therapy. Perhaps a different biofield therapy is needed. Perhaps another therapy might be more beneficial, either by itself or in conjunction with biofield therapy. For example, anxiety in cardiovascular patients might respond better to biofield therapies if they were also treated with energy psychology for the trauma of the specific cardiovascular event (e.g a heart attack).

The bottom line: this is a very interesting time. There is growing interest in studying energy healing methods. There is growing information about the effectiveness of energy healing methods. One of the biggest problems we have now is being able to track all the information and put it into a context and narrative. Hopefully this chapter of the blog has done a bit of that.

Robert Schwarz, PsyD, DCEP

ACEP Executive Director

Author, Tools for Transforming Trauma & We’re No Fun Anymore

energypsych.org

P.S. One final thought. It is interesting that the authors did not include any review of the energy psychology literature. I am not saying this was wrong or a problem. However, it does raise some interesting questions about how we categorize our selves and our “cousins” (or is it brothers and sisters?). The questions are interesting both internally within the field(s) as well as externally – how we are perceived by the rest of the world.

You can read the entire article here.

Jain, S. & Mills, P. (2009) Biofield Therapies: Helpful or Full of Hype? A Best Evidence Synthesis.   Int J Behav Med. 2010 Mar; 17(1): 1–16.

Published online 2009 Oct 24. doi:  10.1007/s12529-009-9062-4

Comments

  1. I wrote and extensive comment but it was erased

  2. OM: My colleague and co-founder of our Institute, Dr. Gary Schwartz at UofA in Tucson, published a book titled “Energy Healing Experiments” and provides deep insights to the topics you reference.
    Thank you.
    As we live and thrive in an Energy-Frequency-Vibrational universe, we are also evolving instruments that can validate very subtle influences from the inside – out.
    One such system with highly advanced algorithms, based on cloud computing has been deviced by a notable bio-physicist Dr. Konstantin Korotkov.
    The device is called the Bio-Well and can be of immense benefit to the community.
    More info can be obtained at bio-well.com
    Namaste

    • Hi Krishna, We are allowing this reply to stay up for a few days. However, it is essentially an advertisement which is not something we do. Please write something more informational and we will take this down and post that.

  3. Biofield therapy and energy healing can be approached, but not completely understood by the traditional scientific methods. Science is essentially a cycle of observation-> hypothesis -> designing experiments. Each of the three components are conscious activities that occur undoubtedly in consciousness. In other words, the activity that we call science is metaphysical by its very nature, yet science avoids the metaphysical. Until science is open to metaphysical interpretations it won’t be able to fill in the gaps and fully understand the concept of energy. But we can still get a lot closer.

  4. Biofield Therapy is very effect treatment i also have a knowlede of Biofield energy Treatment taken by the Mr. Mahendra Trivedi

  5. I like this article it is a very informative. Biofield therapy is a very effective treatment i also have knowledge of biofield therapy treatment given by the Mr. Mahendra Kumar Trivedi

  6. Thank you for the article. There will be those who do not want to be educated and remember not to
    give them too much of our energy or thoughts. They will be or someone close to them will be in our offices/practices soon.

  7. Bob, thanks so much for finding this research. We at ACEP have embraced the value of biofield interventions some time ago. Our ACEP Comprehensive Energy Psychology trainings and certification program include biofield as one of the three subtle systems that are used to customized treatments for our clients. I have been using biofield work in my private practice for over 23 years and have found it to be an essential ingredient in my work that stabilizes the work in all the other subtle energy systems. I have seen again and again that the biofield balancing or clearing and stabilizing will allow for all other systems to become more resilient and the treatment results more robust and longer lasting.

  8. Renee Pisarz says:

    Thank you for this. I healed from grief by tapping into this universal energy. I was told all my chakras opened at once from the trauma. I became a magnet absorbing all this healing light. I see, hear and feel the subtle energy. I trained in healing touch and became certified. We all have this ability if we raise our vibration and have an open mind and heart.

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