What are Biofield Therapies?
This article aims to explain, provide evidence for, and demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of biofield therapies. Biofield therapies have the potential to impact multiple dimensions of the human body and serve as an underlying quantum level matrix that integrates them together.
Our bodies are composed of trillions of particles, referred to as subatomic particles. Examples are electrons, protons, and neutrons. Each of these particles has a pattern of spin. When the direction or speed of particle spin changes there is a corresponding energy wave is generated.
Now imagine multiple particles (we have trillions in our body) spinning in concert together.
It is the sum pattern of all of these waves emanating from the particles in our body that comprises our biofield. Furthermore, the patterns within these torsional waves represent information of the body. For more details on the quantum physics of a biofield, Dr. Claude Swanson’s text, “Life Force: The Scientific Basis” is recommended. There are currently numerous scientific publications that explain biofield science (Jain et al., 2015; Kafatos et al., 2015; Kreitzer & Saper, 2015; Movaffaghi & Farsi, 2009; Rein, 2004; Rubik, 2002; Rubik, Muehsam, Hammerschlag, & Jain, 2015).
Brief History of Biofield
In 1992, during the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) Conference, the term “biofield” was defined as: “a massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body.” In 1994, biofield therapies were officially recognized as an alternative treatment by NIH and were defined as “noninvasive, practitioner-mediated therapies that explicitly work with the biofield of both the practitioner and client to stimulate a healing response in the client.”
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine was formed in 1998 (now referred to as The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)) and is the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.
In 2017, NCCIH had an annual budget of $130.5 million.
Ideally, the patterns of energy waves in the biofield would be “in tune” with one another. This is referred to as coherence and is analogous to listening to a symphony. Let’s pretend that each string on an instrument represents an atom, each instrument to be a cell, each section of instruments to be an organ, and the entire symphony to represent the whole system of the body. In a well-played and conducted symphony/human system all of these parts would be in harmony and coherently synchronized with one another. On the other hand, if there are areas that are not in tune and dissonant, incoherence will manifest.
In sum, a biofield is an energy blueprint that corresponds holistically to an entire organism. It allows for rapid communication throughout the body. It is the matrix that connects our physical, emotional, and mental dimensions.
The Biofield Objective
The goal of biofield therapies is to create improved coherence within the biofield so that the corresponding physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the body also become more coherent and healthy. There are currently many different types of biofield therapies. Some examples include Healing Touch (HT), Pranic healing, Reiki, Qigong, Therapeutic touch (TT), Biofield Tuning, and the Regenetics Method. Therapeutic touch is recognized in the Nursing Intervention Classification Code and in some state licensure boards as within the scope of nursing practice.
Biofield therapies are generally classified as either direct or indirect. In the direct method, the practitioner utilizes physical contact with the recipient over the targeted treatment area. Whereas in the indirect method the practitioner delivers the therapy without direct contact with the recipient. This is possible because biofield therapies work within the biofield where direct contact is not required.
Regarding utilization of biofield therapies, in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, >3.7 million US adult citizens surveyed “have ever” seen a practitioner for energy healing therapy, and >1.6 million adults in the US reported seeing an energy healing therapy practitioner at least once in the past 12 months.
Biofield Therapy Effectiveness
There is a substantial body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of biofield therapies. In the publication “Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges, and Recommendations” by Jain et al (2015) over 30 published clinical trials were identified demonstrating positive effects of biofield therapies for pain in ambulatory and hospitalized patient populations with chronic pain, arthritis, and movement restriction.
Jain and Mills (2010) performed a systematic review of 66 clinical studies utilizing a variety of biofield therapies in different patient populations. The results showed that biofield therapies had strong evidence for decreasing pain intensity in pain populations and moderate evidence for improving pain intensity in hospitalized and cancer populations, decreasing negative behavioral symptoms in dementia, and reducing anxiety for hospitalized populations.
Additional studies have demonstrated positive results on improving heart rate variability (HRV) and anxiety (MacIntyre et al 2008); decreasing depression, persistent fatigue, and positive effects on diurnal cortisol variability in fatigued breast cancer patients compared to mock treatments or standard care. (Running et al, 2015), (Fitzhenry et al, 2014); reducing depressive symptoms and blunted drop in natural killer cell cytotoxicity in cervical cancer patients (Lutgendorf et al, 2010); and improving symptoms of depression, chronic widespread pain, and tenderness in patients with fibromyalgia (Sarmento et al, 2017).
A group of Physical Therapists conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on the effects of Oscillatory Biofield Therapy (OBFT) on individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome (Nourbakhsh et al, 2016). OBFT involves a hands-on technique where the practitioner intentionally directs therapeutic energy to the targeted area. 30 subjects were randomly assigned to either a treatment or sham control group. Both groups received the same exact physical procedures in that they underwent 6 sessions over a two week period of the practitioner providing direct hand contact to the carpal tunnel at the wrist.
In the treatment group, the practitioner had the intention and therapeutic manipulation of the patient’s biofield whereas in the mock group there was no conscious intention to interact with the recipient’s biofield. The results showed clinically and statistically significant changes in the intensity of pain with activity, night pain (DASH questionnaire), and Functional Status Scale (FSS) between the treatment and placebo groups. There was a statistically significant reduction in the number of patients with positive results on the Phalen’s test, Tinel’s sign, and hand paresthesia in the treatment group. At a 6-month follow-up, 86% of patients in the treatment group remained pain-free and had no functional limitations.
It is reasonable to consider the potential limitations and misinterpretation of placebo-controlled randomized trials in biofield therapies. While biofield therapies may serve to increase the placebo effect (as does any potential therapeutic intervention), it does appear that biofield therapies enhance outcomes over and above sham-controlled groups, particularly for pain. Current data suggests it is unlikely that biofield therapies are reducible to placebo responses alone, but like other forms of mind-body interventions, biofield therapies may intentionally facilitate the patient’s conscious and unconscious expectations and desires in synergy with the treatment being delivered to enhance outcomes. (Jain et al, 2015)
The physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the human body are ultimately interconnected with one another and represented within the matrix of the biofield. Therefore, creating improved biofield coherence can in turn facilitate improved physical, mental, & emotional function. Likewise, facilitating better physical, mental, and emotional function can result in improved biofield coherence. There is a bidirectional relationship between these domains of bio-matter and bio-energy.
Within the realm of Physical Therapy, a Physical Therapist is trained to intervene at the level of the physical body to create a beneficial physical change. In many cases this is sufficient in order for one to achieve their physical goals. However, in some cases, soley physical based interventions are not enough of a stimulus to create a new pattern and healing within an individual. This tends to be particularly so when there are concurrent patterns of self-limiting beliefs and emotions such as fear, anxiety, and depression.
There is a plethora of scientific research that supports the connection between these mental and emotional variables with physical pain and disability. (Alfvén, Grillner, & Andersson, 2017; Bunzli, Smith, Schütze, Lin, & O’Sullivan, 2017; Eckhoff, Straume, & Kvernmo, 2017; Hodges & Tucker, 2011; Lotze & Moseley, 2015; Marin et al., 2017; Racine et al., 2016;).
Within the professional landscape of Physical Therapy there is a relatively new evidence-based paradigm referred to as “Pain Science” that supports the need to educate patients about the impact that their perceptions and beliefs have on their experience of pain and function. (Dilek, Ayhan, Yagci, & Yakut, 2017; Lotze & Moseley, 2015; Marin et al., 2017; Moseley & Butler, 2015; Schabrun, Elgueta-Cancino, & Hodges, 2017)
This is an invaluable tool and treatment aspect to helping individuals overcome patterns of pain and movement restriction by reducing fear and facilitating empowerment. By changing one’s beliefs about their potential for recovery in a positive context actual recovery and change may manifest. Bruce Lipton clearly supports this in his scientifically-based book, “The Biology of Belief.” (Lipton, 2015)
What is significant to note about Pain Science is that it is primarily a conscious based learning approach. Meaning, it provides awareness and a rational explanation for individuals to understand why they may hurt and be limited in function. This insight is an important first step and component in the healing process and research, as just referenced, supports its effectiveness.
However, such a conscious based approach does not always provide enough of a stimulus for true changes to manifest within a multi-dimensional body. This is because much of the essence that creates one’s self-limiting beliefs and emotional patterns is sourced at the unconscious level.
Science has shown that our brains make decisions and take action before we are consciously aware of them. Sam Harris’s book, “Free Will” describes compelling evidence of this phenomenon supporting the idea that it is primarily our unconscious self that is directing our behavior. Taking this a step further, these unconscious patterns are ultimately encoded within our biofield which contains the informational hardware of our bodies.
Because of the power of biofield based therapies to go into the unconscious realms of the mind and body, shifts, and the ability to learn patterns that were previously unobtainable can then become achievable. Furthermore, when you couple biofield therapies with conscious-based physical, mental, and emotional therapies an even more powerful stimulus for permanent change is born. It is through this multidimensional integration that true healing can manifest in our conscious physical reality.
The following are two case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of integrating biofield therapies with Physical Therapy intervention.
Case # 1
History: In August 2015 this 64-year-old woman was referred to One 2 One Physical Therapy for the insidious onset of right leg radiculopathy of about 5 weeks duration. However, in April 2015 she had fallen and dislocated her right jaw. Since then she had been experiencing balance problems and visual disturbances such as trouble parking her car in a straight line.
Her posture and gait demonstrated a significant amount of trunk and head side bending to the left. She leaned and veered off to the left when walking. At this time, she received 5 Physical Therapy sessions utilizing the method of Postural Restoration over 6 weeks. At her final session, she was less oriented to the left at head and trunk but still was not completely neutral. She reported her parking was straighter and was experiencing significantly less pain.
2 years later on 7/21/2017, she presented to Physical Therapy again with a similar pattern that she had 2 years ago but this time it was more pronounced. She complained of difficulty walking and balance in which she had fallen off her bike twice over the past few months. She was experiencing visual disturbances (lines on the road moving), problems with depth perception making stair negotiation difficult, and light sensitivity. In addition to these issues, she reported low back pain.
She had decreased balance standing on one leg where she could balance on the left ~ 3 sec and on the right ~10 sec. When she lay down on her back her head was oriented ~20 degrees to the left as depicted in the picture below. You can see in the video below that her gait pattern is significantly oriented to the left as well as veering to the left. She also requires sunglasses due to light sensitivity.
For this episode of care it was determined to integrate biofield therapies. The pattern that this individual was posturing in indicated that she was still in a trauma pattern related to falling onto the right side of her face ~ 2.5 years ago. Her physical behavior demonstrated an aversion to the right side of her body.
In order to assist her with processing this the biofield therapy, Biofield Tuning was chosen. Biofield Tuning was created by Eileen Day McKusick over 20 years ago. Eileen discovered that the human body could hold traumatic or stressful memories in their biofield. These patterns could be detected as incoherent sound patterns via activated tuning forks within the field. Furthermore, these areas of dissonance within the biofield could be entrained into a coherent pattern via the tuning forks.
This 5-minute video by Eileen describes the basic principles of Biofield Tuning:
Prior to receiving Biofield Tuning, 5 minutes of cold laser (Terra Quant Pro at 660, 875, 905 nm) at 5Hz to the right face and forehead was applied. The laser emits coherent light at specific wavelengths and frequencies which can serve as a stimulus to not only facilitate cellular healing (as what it is traditionally intended for) but to also create coherence within the associated biofield.
After the cold laser, 20 minutes of Biofield Tuning was performed working vertically towards the feet and then towards the head. This diagram depicts this intervention pattern.
Immediately after treatment her orientation to the vertical significantly changed from 20 to 10 degrees.
|After Biofield Tuning||Before Biofield Tuning|
Her gait also significantly improved demonstrating improved orientation to the vertical.
|Before Biofield Tuning||After Biofield Tuning|
She returned to therapy 10 days later and demonstrated very good carryover from the first session as indicated in the first picture below where her head is much more vertically aligned. The treatment rendered during the 2nd session incorporated 5 minutes of tactile vibration to the right face and head using 54.18 Hz and 62.64 Hz tuning forks followed by 20 minutes of Biofield Tuning working vertically towards head followed by approaching the right side of the head. Here is the schematic:
|Head Angle Before Treatment #2||Gait Before Treatment #2||Gait After Treatment #2|
You can see in the before and after gait videos a significant improvement in trunk rotation and arm swing. She has also removed her sunglasses.
3 weeks after her 2nd session (1 month after the first session) she returned for visit #3. She reported “I am doing better. I am not listing to the left or feel dizzy anymore. I still see the lines on the road sometimes cross over and have some trouble doing 1 leg poses in Yoga, on both sides.”
The picture and video below demonstrate her presentation prior to treatment #3 and the carryover from the prior session. Her head position is straight and she has maintained improved trunk rotation and arm swing.
|Head Angle Before Treatment||Before Treatment|
At this point, it was determined that the trauma associated with her fall had been appropriately processed as indicated by her straight vertical orientation. Her primary complaint and objective limitation was balanced, particularly on the left leg. The focus of treatment was thus redirected and Postural Restoration training was initiated to improve her ability to ground and balance.
She received 15 minutes of Postural Restoration teaching her how to properly activate and integrate her left hamstring, abdominals, diaphragm, and right gluteus maximus which resulted in an immediate and positive improvement in her left single leg balance ability.
|Left Leg Balance Before Treatment #3||Right Leg Balance Before Treatment #3||Left Leg Balance After Treatment #3|
2 weeks later she presented for her 4th session reporting good improvement with her balance but her parking still seemed to be a little off. Treatment this session consisted of continued progressive Postural Restoration training. Her 5th visit was 2 months later (5 months after her initial first visit). Below are videos of her gait and left single leg balance at the start of this final session.
|Gait Before Treatment #4||L Single Leg Balance Before Treatment #4|
This first case study had control because this individual was seen for the same issues in 2015 and again in 2017. Her 2015 course of treatment did not include biofield therapies and only consisted of Postural Restoration. Even though she made adequate progress during this time she still postured to the left in space at the time of her final 2015 session.
When she presented again in 2017 her symptoms were more profound than in 2015 but her 2017 treatment course integrating biofield therapies and Postural Restoration resulted in a far superior outcome.
One may argue that it was merely the sound-evoked by the tuning forks at specific areas around her body that redirected this individual to a more neutral orientation. What makes Biofield Tuning special is that it has therapeutic elements that translate over into both our biofield and physical sensory realms. The sound and tactile sensory stimuli generated via the unweighted (sound only) and weighted forks (applied directly to the body) provide a coherent biofield and neurosensory stimulus in which both can be therapeutic in nature.
Furthermore, when combined these dimensions are likely to create even more potential for beneficial change. As described by Eileen in her video, merited by the thousands of other Biofield Tuning practitioners, and the thousands of recipients of Biofield Tuning when the forks are actively engaged within an individual’s biofield the sound and sensation of the fork changes depending on the level of coherence or incoherence in the biofield. This demonstrates the variety of tone and information that can be picked up within one’s biofield as a real phenomenon and that it is not only an auditory sensory experience.
Case study #2
This next case study involves a 60-year-old woman with a 30-year history of multiple sclerosis. She required a rollator for community and mobility and a quad cane/rollator for household mobility. When she went downstairs she needed a cane plus assistance because she felt like she was constantly falling backward and had to lean forward to not fall.
She felt like she did not know where the right side of her body was. At the time of her evaluation, she was unable to attempt lifting either leg for single-leg balance. When attempting left single leg balance she required upper body support. During ambulation, she demonstrated decreased left compared to right stance stability with a slow cadence and no appreciable trunk, pelvic, or arm movement which is depicted in the video below.
Her objective tests were as follows:
- Modified Falls Efficacy Scale 4.07 (0 least, 10 most confident with functional mobility tasks)
- Berg Balance Test: 22/56 (41-56 = low fall risk, 21-40 = medium fall risk, 0 –20 = high fall risk)
- Buteyko Control Pause: 5 sec (40 sec: excellent, 30 sec: good, 20 sec: fair, 10 sec: poor)
- Hip Adduction: 0 degrees bilateral
- Hip Abduction: R ~ 0-5 degrees, L not tested
- Straight Leg Raise 90 degrees L, 60 degrees R
- Shoulder Internal and External Rotation: 80 degrees bilaterally
- Shoulder Flexion ~ 170 degrees bilaterally
- Shoulder Horizontal Abduction: ~ 30 degrees bilaterally
- Cervical Sidebending: Restricted 100% bilaterally
- C0-1 (subcranial) Sidebending: Restricted 100% bilaterally
- C7-8 Rotation: Restricted 100% L, 75% R
Below are videos of her initial ability to balance on one leg and walk. You may notice that when attempting to balance on the left leg she is unable to let go of the table for support. She does not feel comfortable trying to lift either leg.
|Initial Attempt at Singe Leg Balance||Initial Gait Pattern|
During this first session, she was instructed in Buteyko reduced breathing to improve carbon dioxide tolerance and subsequent cellular oxygen delivery. For more information on the Buteyko breathing method please refer here. After a few minutes of reduced breathing training her control pause improved from 5 to 10 seconds. She was also instructed in proper tongue posture as she did not habitually fully rest her tongue on her palate.
Proper tongue posture has important implications for breathing and neuromuscular tension in the body. For more information on this topic please refer to the following article. By the end of her session, her cervical range of motion had improved from a 100% to ~ 75% restriction. She was instructed to continue with reduced breathing and tongue posture mindfulness as her home program. Finally, she was educated about biofield therapies and their connection to our physical, mental, and emotional health in which she was open to trying at her next session.
Her second session was 5 days later. Objectively, she presented as she did the prior session with a carryover in the improvement of her cervical range of motion that was gained during the first session (100% to 75% restriction). Her gait and single-leg balance remained unchanged from the initial evaluation.
During this second visit, she received a biofield therapeutic technique using intention and vowel sounds at specific frequencies (Regenetics Method developed by Sol Luckman). For more information about this technique please refer here.
She returned for her 3rd session 1 month later (during this time she received no other types of intervention) with a very significant improvement in not only her physical but mental and emotional status as well. This is clearly depicted in her subjective report as follows:
“I am walking better and am seeing better without my glasses. Things are sharper and clearer. I was really tired the first two weeks after the last session but slept soundly. I feel less exhausted but still can’t walk very far (~ 150-200 ft). Going up a flight of stairs I get winded but I am leaning forward less because the tendency to fall back is less. I have noticed having less frustration and anger. My anxiety is diminished. The motto I have come to embrace is “less is more.” I understand that I don’t have to do everything and there is more peace about that. I tend to let things roll off which has not been so in many years. The fact that I am now not agitated about not being able to cook is huge. There is a deeper level of acceptance.”
Below are comparison videos of her walking before the biofield therapy and 1 month later. She demonstrates significant improvement in left stance stability, gait speed, pelvic/trunk rotation, and arm swing. The blur to her face hides her expression and remarks that communicate how thrilled she is with her progress. Objectively, her straight leg raises improved to 80 degrees bilaterally (initial 90 L, 60 R), her hip abduction range of motion on the right improved from 0-5 to 25 degrees, and her hip adduction range of motion on the right improved from 0 degrees to about 15 degrees.
|Initial Gait Pattern Before Treatment||Gait Pattern 1 month after Biofield Therapy #1|
Treatment during her 3rd session consisted of 20 minutes of Biofield Tuning (as described in the prior case) focusing on the biofield associated with her left pelvis; reviewing Buteyko reduced breathing, and adding a standing dynamic balance exercise. This exercise consisted of standing circles and figure 8s in clockwise and counterclockwise directions to facilitate her ankle and hip balance strategies.
Her 4th session was ~ 2 weeks later where she reported “I am not using the walker anymore. I don’t think I need the quad cane anymore. I don’t need my glasses to watch TV anymore. I don’t feel like I am falling back anymore on the stairs. I am doing stairs better but I get tired very easily. I get tired of getting from the car to the house (18 steps in total). I am not depressed or feel anxious.” Her objective postural testing was similar to the prior session but her C0-1/subcranial sidebending was now only minimally restricted (max at initial status) and her cervical side bending was moderately restricted (max at initial status).
Treatment during her 4th session consisted of 20 minutes of Biofield Tuning including her entire left biofield, circular/figure 8 clockwise and counterclockwise weight shifts as previous, and instruction in a Postural Restoration breathing technique using a balloon in a short seated position.
She presented to her 5th session 2 weeks later with a subjective report of “I am walking faster. Sometimes I don’t carry a cane. The other day I was tired going up the last bit of stairs but overall they aren’t an issue. Endurance is better. I don’t feel like I am falling backward anymore.” This 5th session consisted of a co-treat with a behavioral Optometrist (Robert Jacobs, OD) to ensure her current glasses prescription was still appropriate for her.
It is common with these types of cases that as an individual makes significant postural progress their visual system also improves due to the integrated nature of our postural and visual systems. Her initial visual prescription was OD: +50 OS: -125-75 x 155 indicating significant asymmetry between her left and right eyes. Dr. Jacobs then determined that her prescription had changed to OD: +75-25×20 OS: -87-75×160 indicating less asymmetry and nearsightedness in the left eye. Below is a demonstration of how her single leg balance improved when she was in the more appropriate visual prescription.
|Balance with original eyeglass prescription||Balance with updated eyeglass prescription|
Her gait was also filmed during the start of session #5 in her original visual prescription. As compared to the video 2 months prior there is even further improvement with her left stance stability, gait speed, pelvic/trunk rotation, and arm swing.
|Initial Gait Pattern Before Treatment||Gait Pattern 1 month after Biofield Therapy #1||Gait Pattern 2 months after Biofield Therapy #1|
Two days after the Optometric co-treat session she came for a regular Physical Therapy session. Her initial single leg balance was equivalent to what it was 2 days prior (shown in the video below). She then received 10 minutes of Postural Restoration training focusing on improving activation and integration of her hamstrings, abdominals, and diaphragm using the following technique developed by Ron Hruska of the Postural Restoration Institute. Immediately after performing this technique her single leg balance dramatically improved as shown below.
|Single Leg Balance Before Balloon Technique||Single Leg Balance After Balloon Technique|
In summary, this individual demonstrated a powerful response to biofield therapy intervention where there was a direct physical, mental, and emotional carry-over. However, she still required concurrent Physical Therapy intervention using the method of Postural Restoration to facilitate further physical progress and carry-over.
In conclusion, biofield therapies can be an effective tool to integrate within an individual’s treatment plan. Biofield therapies have the potential to impact physical, emotional, and mental patterns that comprise the multi-dimensional aspects of a human being.
The profession of Physical Therapy is increasingly recognizing and incorporating “Pain Science” education within individuals’ plans of care as evidence has shown that our beliefs and emotions have a significant impact on our physical state of being. Biofield therapies offer the potential to impact these patterns at the unconscious level and in their elemental form within the biofield.
There currently is strong evidence supporting the use of biofield therapies for pain and moderate evidence for improving negative behavior and emotional patterns. Clinical experience (~ 1500 sessions to date (4/2018)) supports biofield therapy integration in cases where other physiological conditions (examples-autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia), trauma, negative emotional patterns, and/or self-limiting beliefs may be limiting progress.
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