A few months ago my colleague, Dr. Jinnie Cristerna, and I gave a lecture at the University of Chicago on the real and potential applications of bio-field therapy in medicine.
Bio-field therapy is also known as "energy" medicine. Over the past 20 years its use in healing has become so popular that it is even available at medical centers across the country.
Energy medicine is based on the theory that healing can be made easier and faster by balancing the amount and flow of energy in the body (bio-energy). Every culturally based medical system in the world, and possibly throughout history, uses some form of energy-based therapy including Western medicine.
The basis of energy medicine is that the physical expression of illness is the result of erratic energy flow: there may be not enough energy; the energy may be blocked; there may be too much energy.
Enhancing and balancing the energy flow promotes the innate healing abilities of the body. Indeed, the entirety of traditional Oriental medicine, especially acupuncture, is based on adjusting the flow of bioenergy.
Although bioenergy is one of the five classifications of alternative medicine by the National Institutes of Health, to many energy-based healing is thought to be either a placebo effect, "all in your head" or outright fraud.
Yet, there are at least 60 publications in the traditional medical literature describing the effects of bioenergy on bacteria, cancer cells in the test tube, laboratory animals and humans. Energy-based healing has become so popular in the United States that for some medical illnesses like cancer almost 40 percent of patients have used it as part of their therapy.
Energy healing increases (sometimes decreases) and balances the flow of a person's bioenergy.
Anyone can increase and balance their own energy through meditation, rhythmic exercise or specific breathing patterns used in qigong, tai chi and yoga. However, most energy-based healing requires someone to add to or adjust the energy flow in someone else, usually a person with an illness.
Energy-based healing often involves the energy practitioner laying their hands on or just above the body of the recipient. Energy passes through the energy system of practitioner into the energy system of the recipient. Where the energy comes from is a point of much discussion however the recipient often feels something happening … sensations of heat, vibration, lightness, heaviness, peace, etc.
There are numerous energy therapy approaches like Reiki, qigong, Therapeutic Touch, color and sound, Quantum Touch and others. Even though most of the medical research has focused on energy therapy reducing the side effects of cancer therapy, energy-based healing may benefit most medical conditions. It is well tolerated and rarely has side effects (usually mild).
My clinical experience with energy healing is quite positive and I regularly prescribe it for many medical conditions.
I am giving an in-depth, free, community lecture titled "Energy healing: what is it? What is the science? Is it real?" from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 29, at my office, 1544 Nerge Road, Elk Grove Village. Call (847) 923-0046. Space is limited.
• Patrick B. Massey, MD, PH.D., is medical director for complementary and alternative medicine at Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and president of ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy, 1544 Nerge Road, Elk Grove Village. His website is www.alt-med.org.