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Biofield therapeutics, often called energy healing or laying on of hands,
is one of the oldest forms of healing known to humankind. Discovery, partial
characterization, and use of the biofield have risen independently among
peoples and cultures in every sector of the world.
The earliest Eastern references are in the Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen
(The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), variously
dated between 2,500 and 5,000 years ago (Veith, 1949). The earliest Western
references are in hieroglyphics and in depictions of biofield hearings
dating from Egypt's Third Dynasty. Hippocrates, a major figure in Western
medicine, referred to the biofield as "the force which flows from many
people's hands" (Schiegl, 1983). Franz von Mesmer, an Austrian physician who
investigated and popularized this process in the late 18th century, referred
to the biofield as "animal magnetism" to differentiate it from "metal
magnetism," which he understood to be a similar but different medium (Mesmer,
1980). In the United States, use increased after Mesmer's "magnetic healing"
became popular in the 1830s. (Among others, both Andrew Still (founder of
osteopathy) and Daniel Palmer (founder of chiropractic) practiced for a time
as magnetic healers (Gevitz, 1993).
Historically, beliefs about causation in this type of healing have
clustered around two views that remain active today. The first is that the
"healing force" comes from a source other than the practitioner, such as
God, the cosmos, or another supernatural entity. The second is that a human
biofield, directed, modified, or amplified in some fashion by the
practitioner, is the operative mechanism. Some of the terms presented in
table 1 are devoid of religious or spiritual overtones, while others carry
religious aspects common to the culture in which they were or are used.
Therapeutic application of the biofield is a process during which the
practitioner places his or her hands either directly on or very near the
physical body of the person being treated. In so doing, the practitioner
engages the perceived biofield from his or her hands with the recipient's
perceived biofield either to promote general health or to treat a specific
dysfunction. The person being treated, who is usually clothed, reclines in
some forms of the process but is seated in others.
The process is not instantaneous, as it is in "faith healing." (Faith is
not a factor in the biofield process.) Treatment sessions may take from 20
minutes to an hour or more; a series of sessions is often needed to complete
treatment of some disorders.
The ability to perform biofield healing appears to be universal, although
most people seem unaware of possessing the talent. As with any innate
talent, practice and learning appropriate techniques improve results.
There is consensus among practitioners that the biofield that permeates
the physical body also extends outward from the body for several inches.
Therefore, no real difference is seen between placing the hands directly on
the body (either by direct skin contact or through clothing) or in close
proximity to the body. In either case, the practitioner's biofield is
understood to come into confluence with the recipient's biofield. There are
advantages and disadvantages to each approach in clinical applications.4
Extension of the external portion of the biofield is considered variable
and dependent on the person's emotional state and state of health.
Practitioners describe the external portion, sometimes called the "aura," as
tactilely detectable (see the "Biofield Diagnostics" section) and less dense
than the portion permeating the physical body.
Biofield practitioners have a holistic focus, for most treatment sessions
produce results that encompass more than one aspect of the person's health.
Within that focus there is, however, a range of therapeutic intents:
- General (e.g., stress relief, improvement of general health and
- Biologic (e.g., reduction of inflammation, edema, chronic and
acute pain; change in hematocrit and T-cell levels; and acceleration of
wound healing and fracture repair).
- Vegetative functions (e.g., improvement of appetite, digestion,
and sleep patterns).
- Emotional states (e.g., changes in anxiety, grief, depression,
and feelings of self-worth).
- Dysfunctions often classified psychosomatic (e.g., treatment of
eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, and
post-traumatic stress disorder).
Some practitioners incorporate mental healing, or focused intent to heal,
as part of their biofield treatments. This is also called psychic healing,
distant healing, non-social healing, and absent healing. Mental healing can
also be performed by itself at a considerable distance from the recipient.
It is an active process on the practitioner's part, involving centered,
focused concentration; it may include various imagery (visualization)
techniques as well. (See the "Imagery" section and the "Prayer and Mental
Healing" section in the 'Mind-Body Interventions" chapter.)
A related mind effect sometimes used in biofield healing is described as
the practitioner, by effort of will, extending the biofield (principally
from the hands) into the recipient's body with increased force, sometimes
from a distance of several feet. Chinese qigong masters are considered
especially adept at this. The process appears to be draining; interviews
with practitioners who do this procedure indicate they are limited in the
number of treatments they can perform in a day.
Some practitioners meditate before giving a treatment in order to enter a
so-called healing space; some others maintain a meditative state during
Biofield diagnostics. Detailed diagnostic methods have been
developed to determine the condition of the patient's general health and
present disorder by sensing, with touch, subtle perturbations in the
biofield (clairsentience). Janet Quinn, researcher of the therapeutic touch
method, writes that "assessment [of the external portion] focuses on
perceiving the way this energy is flowing and is distributed in the patient"
(Krieger, 1992). Patricia Heidt adds that areas of "accumulated tension" or
"congested energy" are detected (Heidt, 1981b). Barbara Brennan, developer
of the healing science method, describes the use of "high sense perception,"
which includes other subtle perceptions of the external biofield (Brennan,
Biofield researcher Richard Pavek writes of similar subtle tactile cues
detected when the hands are placed directly on the body during SHEN therapy
as 'changes in temperature..., tingles, prickles, 'electricity' (sensation
of light static), pressure or magnetism'... sensations are usually different
over an area of physical pain, inflammation, tension and/or when release of
emotion occurs" (Pavek, 1987).
Many practitioners develop their treatment plans entirely by interpreting
these various tactile sensations. Others use biofield diagnostics to
supplement conventional methods, such as nursing diagnostic forms or chronic
pain evaluation forms.
Current status. Considerable interchange of technique
occurs between Europe and the United States and some between the United
States and Asia.
United States. The process of using biofields has been treated
with a reflexive mixture of awe and disgust, reverence and fear, and belief
and disbelief, but this situation appears to be changing as more and more
people seriously investigate the process from a critically neutral
No formal census is available, but reasonable estimates suggest that some
50,000 practitioners in the United States provide about 120 million sessions
annually (Pavek, 1994). Of these, about 30,000 have trained in therapeutic
touch (Benor, 1994). For some, it is a major part of their vocational
activity; others use the process occasionally to help family and friends.
Many practitioners have had no formal training in the process, and many have
independently discovered biofield effects. Others learned rudimentary
techniques from friends or trained in one of several schools that teach
various forms of the process. Reviews of school enrollment records indicate
that most practitioners are women.
Some practitioners, often those who have independently discovered the
process, and some teachers ascribe to it a religious or spiritual basis.
A few link the process with specific religious activities.
No State has licensing requirements for biofield practitioners. Because
legal constraints in many States prohibit the use of the terms patient
and treatment, most practitioners use the terms receiver and
session in describing their work.
Some, possibly because they fear being charged with practicing medicine
without a license, have cloaked themselves by incorporating under the name
of a healing church. They often deny attempting to treat biological
disorders and describe their process as "healing the spirit," from which
"healing of the physical" will follow.
In the past 20 years or so, formal training in the process has emerged in
considerable strength in this country. At this time several teaching
establishments with standardized training programs teach different forms of
the process; most grant certificates. Schools differ considerably in
curriculum, focus, length of training, extent of internship, and
certification requirements. Some schools are semistructured associations of
instructors trained in a particular method; others are more centrally
At least four forms of biofield therapy-healing science, healing touch,
SHEN therapy, and therapeutic touch-have been taught in a number of medical
establishments. Currently, Student nurses are trained in one or another
system in more than 90 colleges and universities around the world.
Acupuncturists, massage practitioners, and nurses who pass these courses
receive continuing education credit from several State bureaus for training
in these four forms.
Most of the practitioners of this process work independent of
conventional medical and health practitioners. The conventional practitioner
may occasionally be aware that his or her patient-client is seeing a
biofield practitioner collaterally, but most are not.
However, while much of the current activity in this discipline can be
considered separate and alternative, the process is beginning to seep upward
into mainstream medical and health practices. It is likely that several
thousand practitioners of conventional therapies currently combine one or
another of the biofield therapy processes with their primary approaches.
Among these are nurses, counselors, psychotherapists, chiropractors, and
massage practitioners who at least occasionally use a form of biofield
therapy as an adjunct.
At least three forms are currently in use in hospitals: healing touch and
therapeutic touch are used for a variety of reasons in several hospitals
(Quinn, 1981, 1993), and SHENO therapy is used in alcohol abuse, drug abuse,
and codependent recovery programs in a few hospitals (Sunshine and Wright,
Europe. The United States falls far behind other countries in
legal recognition of biofield therapy. Currently, more than 8,500 registered
healers in the United Kingdom (British Medical Association, 1993) "are
permitted to 'give healing' (a term for the process in common usage in the
United Kingdom) at the request of patients" (p. 92). Approval has been
obtained to use the process at the 1,500 government hospitals. In some
situations, biofield healers are paid under the U.K. National Health Service
(Benor, 1993). Physicians receive postgraduate education credits for
attending courses in the biofield process, and healers are able to purchase
liability insurance policies similar to those covering physicians (Benor,
In Poland and Russia, biofield healing is being incorporated into
conventional medical practice; some medical schools include instruction in
the process in the curriculum. In Russia, the process is under investigation
by the Academy of Science. In Bulgaria, a government-appointed scientific
body assesses abilities and recommends licensing for those who pass rigorous
examinations (Benor, 1992).
Asia. China leads the rest of the world in research on therapeutic
application and methods of increasing biofield effects. Biofield healing is
called wei qi liao fa, or "medical qigong" (chi kung), in China, where
proficient practitioners are called Nigong masters." Qigong masters are
described as having developed their qi (biofield) to a high degree through
qigong exercises. (A few qigong masters are reported to be able to
anesthetize patients for surgery solely with this method [Houshen, 19881).
Reduction of secondary cancers by medical qigong masters is commonly
reported; there are clinics for that purpose alone.
Departments of medical qigong research exist in every college of
traditional Chinese medicine in China. Both national and regional
governments sponsor periodic international conferences on medical qigong.
American researchers are frequently invited to present papers at these
Explanatory models. No generally accepted theory accounts
for the phenomena of biofields. As one might expect of a discipline often
perceived as bordering between superstition and random process on the one
hand and science and technique on the other, there are profound
differences-both inside the discipline among practitioners and researchers,
and outside among theoreticians-as to the exact nature of the phenomena. In
many cases, the view of the biofield is not a clearly defined one; it often
mixes concepts of physics and metaphysics, or ancient and modern wisdoms
(see the glossary).
The current major hypotheses are that the biofield is
metaphysical (outside the four dimensions of space and time and
an electromagnetic field effect, and
a presently undefined but potentially quantifiable field effect in
There are three metaphysical approaches:
Spiritual energy. Practitioners of some methods believe that
they are channeling a spiritual energy that has innate intelligence or
logic and knows where and to what extent it is required (Baginski and
Sharamon, 1988). Reiki and also "radiance," a form of reiki, are examples
of this view (Ray, 1987). Reiki teaches that the practitioner is merely a
conduit for spiritual energy. After training, the practitioner is
initiated and given the power to heal; sacred symbols are often used to
give added power to the process (Jarrell, 1992). Another system with a
similar approach, mari-el, incorporates the use of angels or spiritual
guides in the healing practice.
Interacting human and universal energy fields. Heidt and others
have postulated that both the healer and the healed are vibrating fields
of energy (Heidt, 1981b) that interact with the environmental energy field
around them for healing purposes. Brennan describes a similar process as
one of "harmonic induction" (Brennan, 1987).
Repatterning of resonant vibratory fields. Going further, Quinn
and nurse-theorist Rogers state that current assumptions (about
Therapeutic Touch), which remain "untested" and 'untestable," [are that]
people are energy fields. We are not saying that people have energy fields
in addition to what they are.... [Instead they are] open systems engaged
in continuous interaction with the environmental energy field. [Therefore]
when a person is "sick" there is an imbalance in the person's energy
field, [and] when a person uses his or her intent to help or heal a
person, the energy field of the person may repattern towards greater
wellness.... The Therapeutic Touch practitioner knowingly participates in
. . . "a healing meditation," facilitates repatterning of the recipient's
energy field through a process of resonance, rather than "energy exchange
or transfer" (Quinn, 1993).
The healing intervention is seen as a 'purposive patterning of energy
fields, a mutual process in which the nurse uses his or her hands as a
mediating focus in the continuing patterning of the mutual
patient-environment energy field process" (Rogers, 1990).
In addition, certain models in physics may offer some explanation of
biofield phenomena. Although quantum physics, the branch of physics that
treats atomic and subatomic particles, has been proposed to explain the
effects of a related phenomenon, mental healing at a distance, it has not
proved to be a useful model to explain biofield healing. For example,
Brennan states, "I am quite unable to explain these experiences without
using the old [classical physics] frameworks" (Brennan, 1987).
Classical physics is a model that is applied with high precision to
large-scale phenomena involving relatively slow motion, such as the flow of
fluids, electromagnetic currents and waves, hydraulics, aerodynamics, and
atmospheric physics. It appears to be a reasonable model to apply in
studying biofield phenomena.
Indeed, much of the terminology used by biofield practitioners to
describe their work - while somewhat imprecise and variable-clearly
describes quantitative and qualitative factors similar to those in fields of
classical physics. For example, qi appears to be equivalent to flux in
electromagnetic fields, for it describes direction and quantity of field.
Polarity between the hands and between different bodily regions appears to
be equivalent to polar difference in electromagnetic fields and to pressure
differential in hydrodynamics. Pavek describes the biofield as having 11
circulating [flux] patterns ... similar in formation and function to
magnetic fields or electrostatic fields" (Pavek, 1987).
Around 1850, Karl von Reichenbach (discoverer of kerosene and paraffin)
demonstrated apparent biofield polarities and determined apparent velocity
through a copper rod to be about 4 meters per second (von Reichenbach,
1851). In 1947, L.E. Eeman demonstrated a polarity through the arms and
hands and another through the spine with his device known as an Eeman screen
In about 1950 Randolph Stone, developer of polarity therapy, determined
that flux density showed polarities within the physical body (Stone, 1986).
In 1978, Pavek compared paired-hand placements and reversed paired-hand
placements on patients by hundreds of trained and untrained practitioners;
he noted that one arrangement consistently resulted in relaxation and
feelings of well-being but that the other set consistently produced
agitation and anxiety. From this he deduced normal (healthy) qi polarities
and movement patterns in the body (Pavek, 1987).
In 1985 Pavek expanded on these findings by demonstrating coherent
linkages between qi patterns, emotional holding patterns, and
autocontractile pain response while developing biofield treatments for
disorders often classified as psychosomatic (Pavek, 1988b; Pavek and Daily,
1990) and correlating emotional holding patterns with Chinese five-phase
theory (Pavek, 1988a).
In 1992, Isaacs conducted a double-blind study using Eeman screens, which
confirmed polarity at the spine and arms (Isaacs, 1991).
It is unclear at this time whether the biofield is electromagnetic or
some other presently unmeasured but potentially quantifiable medium. It is
popularly hypothesized that the biofield is a form of bioelectricity,
biomagnetism, or bioelectromagnetism. This may well be the case but has yet
to be established. Some researchers discount the possibility.
Some Chinese researchers have conducted experiments indicating that when
wei qi (the external biofield) is used in fa qi (healing),
electromagnetic radiation in the infrared range is produced; others found
indications of infrasonic waves. However, both phenomena appear to be minor
secondary effects (Shen, 1988; Xin et al., 1988).
Research base. Rigorous research on biofield healing has
been hindered by the belief, held by many, that nothing more than a placebo
effect is the operative factor. This belief has affected funding,
publishing, and status of researchers. Because funding organizations and
scientific communities believed that any effects obtained were largely
placebo effects, not real effects of biofields, research has been considered
pointless. Moreover, many researchers have been unwilling to study biofield
effects that they would otherwise be interested in, because they fear being
ostracized by other researchers. Publication of research by the journals has
been limited for similar reasons.
Notwithstanding these limitations, a number of studies have been
implemented. In the United States, there are more than 17 published studies
on biofield therapeutics.
Published U.S. studies. Because no comprehensive database
of studies on biofield therapeutics exists, the following are considered to
be only a sampling.
In two controlled studies on therapeutic touch, Krieger found significant
change in hemoglobin levels in hospitalized patients (Krieger, 1975, 1973).
In a similar study, Wetzel found significant change in hematocrit and
hemoglobin levels of 48 subjects receiving reiki, and no significant change
with 10 controls (Wetzel, 1989).
Wirth found significant change in the healing rate of full-thickness skin
wounds in a carefully controlled, double-blind study of therapeutic touch
(Wirth, 1990), while Keller and Bzdek found highly significant decreases in
pain scores recorded on the McGill-Melzak Pain Questionnaire by patients
with tension headache in a controlled study of therapeutic touch (Keller,
1993; Keller and Bzdek, 1986).
Although Meehan found no significant difference on the Visual Analog
Scale and Pain Intensity Descriptor Form between postoperative patients
receiving therapeutic touch and controls, secondary analysis showed patients
receiving therapeutic touch waited longer before requesting analgesia
(Meehan, 1985, 1988). Similarly, Heidt found significant changes in anxiety
levels of hospitalized cardiovascular patients receiving therapeutic touch
versus controls as measured on the A-State Self-evaluation Questionnaire (Heidt,
1979, 1981a; Spielberger et al., 1983). Quinn (1983) found similar results
in a study of therapeutic touch versus mimic therapeutic touch without
centering and intention to assist.
In a replication study on patients before and after open heart surgery,
using therapeutic touch versus mimic therapeutic touch and no-treatment
groups, Quinn found no significant differences between the groups. Yet
changes occurred in the expected direction, and there was a significant
reduction in diastolic blood pressure among the therapeutic touch group that
was not seen in the no-treatment group (Quinn, 1989). In another study of
therapeutic touch versus mimic therapeutic touch, Parkes showed no
significant differences among elderly hospitalized patients (Parkes, 1985).
Collins (1983), Fedoruk (1984), and Ferguson (1986) found significant
relaxation effects of therapeutic touch with various subjects in different
studies, and Quinn (1992), in a pilot study of four bereaved people, found
significant reduction of suppressor T cells in all four after therapeutic
touch. Moreover, Kramer found significant differences in stress reduction
between treatment and control groups in a study of therapeutic touch with
hospitalized children (Kramer, 1990).
Other U.S. studies. A number of pilot and case studies in
fruitful areas have shown interesting results that are worthy of further
investigation. These studies were conducted without controls, usually
because of the severe limitations on funding.
In four uncontrolled cases, Pavek found that white cell decrease during
chemotherapy reversed and rose significantly after single SHEN therapy
treatments at the thymus gland (Pavek, unpublished, 1984-85). In a pilot
study on SHEN therapy and premenstrual syndrome, Pavek noted significant
long-term symptom relief and behavioral change with 11 of 13 subjects (Pavek,
Beal, in an unpublished study of 12 hospitalized major depressives, found
no statistical difference in time of release from the hospital between 6
subjects randomized to receive SHEN therapy and 6 controls receiving sham
SHEN therapy. However, in analyzing both subject and counselor reports,
Pavek found significant change in dreaming, emotional expressiveness, and
interpersonal contact with subjects receiving SHENO therapy and much less
change among controls (Beal and Pavek, 1985).
Other therapeutic touch research with promising indications includes
research on rehabilitation (Payne, 1989), helping patients to rest (Heidt,
1991), mental patients (Hill and Oliver, 1993), symptom control in acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (Newshan, 1989), and severe bum patients (Pavek,
Promising research with SHEN therapy includes research with occupational
therapy clients, third-trimester abdominal pain, reduction of pain during
birthing without pain medication, irritable bowel syndrome, posttraumatic
stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia, phobias, and chronic migraine.
International research. There has been considerable
research on biofield therapeutics in other countries. In China, more than 30
controlled studies on effects of fa qi on both humans and animals were
reported in the proceedings of just one meeting, the First World Conference
for the Academic Exchange of Medical Qigong. At the same meeting, 32 studies
were presented on effects on health of qigong exercises that raise qi
In an overview report, Daniel Benor has compiled data on 151 healing
studies from around the world (Benor, 1992). In many of these studies,
mental healing efforts were combined with the biofield processes. However,
61 were controlled, published studies of biofield healing effects without
the confounding factors of mental intent.
Promising clinical results. While technique, focus, and
range of treatments attempted vary considerably, a number of results are
common to all forms of the biofield process:
Acceleration of wound healing.
Reduction of the pain of thermal burns and acceleration of healing
Reduction of sunburn pain and coloration.
Reduction of acute and chronic pain.
Reduction of anxiety.
Release of pent-up grief.
In addition, practitioners of some forms of the process report
consistently good results with
recurrent panic attacks;
posttraumatic stress disorder;
irritable bowel syndrome;
nonbiological sexual dysfunction;
drug, alcohol, and codependence recovery;
anorexia and bulimia; and
third-trimester pregnancy and birthing.
Characterization of the biofield. That the biofield has
definable form, flux pattern, and polarities seems clear to practitioners
from the wealth of empirical evidence available. However, characterization
of the biofield is far from complete, and determining its nature is
paramount to its further development among the healing arts.
Two hypotheses should be tested: first, that the biofield is a field in
physics other than an already known field, and, second, that the biofield is
bioelectromagnetism. One approach that would support the first hypothesis
would be development of a device (transducer) that would react with the
biofield so as to exclude the possibility of bioelectromagnetism. Research
projects in China have shown that application of the biofield affects
lithium fluoride thermoluminesence detectors, polarized light beams, Van de
Graff generators, and silicone crystal plates (Proceedings, 1988). These
preliminary experiments suggest possible approaches toward further
Research design considerations. The following should be
considered in planning well-designed studies to evaluate potential effects
of biofields on health:
Mental healing techniques. Since mental healing techniques are
often mixed with biofield techniques, care must be taken in all research
designs to separate out the two factors. Unless this is done, unclear
results will prevent reasonable analysis.
Sham treatments. Unlike placebo pills, biofield healing cannot
be faked. According to the observations of practitioners, it is not
possible to touch subjects in a clinical study in a purely physical way
for any period of time without resulting in some effect from the
practitioner's biofield. Nor is there a way to shield the biofield emitted
by one person from another person's; this renders the notion of a "sham
control" meaningless. This particular confounding factor has adversely
affected results in several studies of biofield therapeutics (Beal and
Pavek, 1985; Meehan, 1988; Parkes, 1985; Quinn, 1989). In these studies,
controls were established by effecting a mimic, or sham, of the primary
method. The practitioners' hands were brought into close proximity with
the subject in a "sham treatment." In all such cases, some positive effect
was obtained with the mimic or sham treatments that was greater than could
be reasonably expected from notreatment controls.
Double-blind studies. Although it is not possible for a
biofield healing practitioner to perform in a strict double-blind
situation, it is possible to design studies in which the evaluators are
blinded to the treatment method and subjects are blinded to the method and
to the specific intended outcome.
Science and metaphysics. Because the metaphysical model lies,
by both definition and practice, outside the usual confines of science,
research on metaphysical explanatory models will be difficult. However,
outcome studies of clinical effect could be designed and executed.
Collaborations. The process could be speeded up if experienced
researchers sympathetic to energy healing work together with researchers
experienced in developing appropriate criteria. These criteria must (1)
provide the established medical and health communities with valid,
reproducible data and (2) be constructed so as not to negate the operative
Barriers and Key Issues
Hindrances. For various reasons, biofield healing has been
hindered from reaching its fullest potential. Principal among these reasons
are the following:
Until recently, few testable hypotheses.
Few theoreticians who are also practitioners.
The disdain of currently established scientists.
Lack of a solid research base.
Lack of an adequate outcomes database.
Unsystematic accumulation of empirical evidence.
Obscuring of the extent of efficacy by a plethora of conceptual
confusions and conflicting claims as to causal factors, best methods, and
Placebo and efficacy. Some people have attributed any
successful applications of biofield therapeutic to a high probability of
placebo effect. This assumption has inhibited reviewers and editors from
accepting as valid the usual, smaller pilot studies that would be acceptable
for other types of therapy.
No studies that have been done, however, indicate that placebo factors
are any higher with biofield therapies than with other healing methods. In
fact, a number of situations in which placebo effects would have been highly
unlikely cast doubt on the concern. Some such studies have had marked,
positive results (Benor, 1992) with animals and with small children below
the age of reason. There are also numerous anecdotal reports of children
receiving treatments while asleep and awakening with marked change. Fevers
have broken during such treatments, panic attacks have ceased, and comas
have ended (Pavek,1988).
Such evidence suggests that the reason why biofield treatments are
effective is other than the placebo effect.
Peer review. At this time, there are no peer review groups
that actually include "peers." True peers, who have a hands-on understanding
of biofield therapeutics, should be included on review committees. (See the
"Peer Review" chapter.)
Recommendations. Because the stigma associated with "faith healing" has been attached to
biofield therapy, it has not been seriously considered as a viable treatment
method. Consequently, the discipline languishes in a research doldrums The
following steps are recommended:
1. The biofield should be characterized. Reasonable approaches exist,
some of which have been described in this report.
2. Simple and appropriate instruments should be developed to begin the
process systematically collecting clinical data. With properly designed
forms, individual case studies could be statistically sorted and grouped by
disorder, treatment process, and results. This sorting would begin to
establish relative efficacy in the various categories, suggesting productive
avenues for future research. To implement this process, OAM should establish
a small study group, including members familiar with intake and outcome
forms and data collection and representative members of the discipline.
3. Studies should be undertaken to determine how much of biofield
therapeutics is attributable to mental healing and how much is attributable
to quantity and proper directional application of the biofield flows.
4. Appropriate review panels with actual peers should be established.
5. A number of open technical questions in the discipline should be
resolved. OAM should invite the leaders of the various systems to a general
meeting to discuss and compare techniques and methods and to begin resolving
these questions. Resolving these differences will enhance the techniques of
all biofield healing methods.
6. A number of clinical studies that have been done in Europe and in Asia
could be replicated here. Replication is necessary to assure the American
research community that the studies are valid and to point the way for
further research here.
7. A wealth of serious study proposals are available. These should be
reviewed, and the most promising should be implemented.
Biofield therapeutics and diagnostics have been struggling to cross the
border from metaphysics to physics and gain mainstream acceptance for a long
time. In spite of considerable difficulties, biofield methods are gaining
acceptance from health professionals and the general public in two areas(1)
the medical clinic and (2) hospital and psychotherapeutic settings. In both,
biofield treatments are reported to be of benefit for many people.
Biofield therapeutics are a low-cost, non-invasive, non-drug approach, and
applications have been reported in many medical and health situations as
alternatives or as complements to mainstream medicine. The potential
reward-to-risk ratio is great, and relatively small amounts of money are
needed to start a validation process, which should be done with dispatch.