The Science Behind Energy Healing
- Written By:Dr. Will Cole
As a functional medicine practitioner, I immerse myself in learning about all types of natural therapies in order to provide the best care for my patients. Sometimes this includes things that would be considered a little too “out there” in conventional medicine. However, the research and anecdotal evidence I have seen proves otherwise.
Energy healing encompasses a wide variety of therapies that aim to harness the body’s own energy to restore balance and facilitate optimal health. And with certain therapies dating back thousands of years, enough people have experienced the benefits to continue practicing these therapies today. While there are many types of energy work, these are the therapies that have been studied more extensively for their health benefits and effectiveness.
Originating in Japan, this technique uses extremely light and no touch over a person’s body. Usually the person is lying down and fully clothed while the practitioner harnesses energy through their hand movements to activate the person’s natural healing abilities.
Benefits: Most of the research surrounding reiki has shown its ability to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that regular reiki sessions helped those dealing with depression and anxiety by improving their mood and feeling of relaxation.
Another study showed that anxiety levels were significantly lowered in women who had reiki sessions post-cesarean compared to those who did not.
Different types of sound therapy include music therapy and sound baths. Music therapy focuses on listening to music whereas sound baths utilize specific tools like bowls, tuning forks, and chimes that emit different frequencies. Both are aimed at boosting mental and emotional health.
Benefits: One study published in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, looked at a group of sixty-two men and women and measured their levels of tension and overall mood before and after a Tibetan singing bowl meditation. The results found that participants across the board experienced significantly less anxiety, tension, and fatigue and felt happier after the session. Additionally, those who were participating in this type of meditation for the first time experienced these benefits stronger than those who were familiar with sound meditation.
One of the more common forms of energy healing, acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for years. Energy is believed to flow through pathways in the body. By inserting thin needles into specific points on these pathways, the energy can be rebalanced to achieve relief of various health problems such as headaches or chronic back pain.
Benefits: Acupuncture is widely used to combat chronic pain. In fact, several studies have shown that acupuncture can provide greater, more long-term relief in some cases than opioid drugs with little to no side effects.
What has become a common wellness practice, yoga has its roots in ancient India as a tool to enhance and connect the mind and physical body. There are many forms of yoga that combine various breathing techniques, poses, and meditation to achieve a sense of relaxation and serve as a form of gentle exercise. A central focus of yoga are chakras - center points of energy throughout the body that can become blocked and trigger symptoms like anxiety, digestive distress, and fatigue. Yoga aims to restore balance to these chakras.
Benefits: The benefits of yoga are probably the most extensively studied out of all of the different energy healing methods. Research has shown that yoga can help reduce migraine frequency, decrease pro-inflammatory IL-6 and TNF-a, and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Similar to yoga, this Asian practice combines gentle movement, breathing techniques, and meditation to balance energy within the body. It is believed that a person can have too much energy or blocked energy. There are different types of qigong practices including wai dan which involves physical movement and nei dan which involves sitting meditation and visualization. These practices focus on internal and external ways of balancing energy.
Benefits: A regular qigong practice has been shown to support a healthy immune system by boosting the level of immune cells in the body. Qigong can also help enhance energy and reduce the effects of chronic fatigue.
Even if you haven’t tried any of these therapies before, if you are looking for a natural way to elevate your health with little to no side effects, energy healing can be a great tool to add to your wellness routine.