The nature of the universe has been the object of thorough investigation for thousands of years.At least since written history began, this inquiry has divided itself into two camps, the purely physical versus the non-physical approach.
With the notable exception of homeopathy and the eventual introduction of alternative therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture to the West, twentieth-century medicine has continued to narrowly focus on disease symptoms and body parts—physiology, biochemistry and genes—becoming ever more compartmentalized and specialized, relying on surgery and drugs as the preferred methods of mitigating disease symptoms and other physiological issues.
Despite groundbreaking scientific discoveries including Einstein's famous equation E = mc2 declaring the equivalency of mass and energy, the discovery of sub-atomic quantum particles and their fundamental wave-like, energetic nature, and our understanding that the most fundamental language of the universe is frequencies and vibration,1 to this day, the 'parts and pieces' physical approach to medicine has prevailed, and any mention of energy healing, touch healing or psychic healing has been mocked, reviled and dismissed by the mainstream as hoax and quackery.
And yet, in 1992, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) officially labeled ancient healing practices that are understood to sense and modulate "subtle energies" of the body, such as reiki and qigong, as biofield therapies. The biofield itself was defined as "a massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body."2
In the late 1990s, the NIH included mind-body medicine and energy medicine as two of the five defined areas within its complementary and alternative medicine classification, and 'subtle energy' was another term introduced to describe healing energies of very low intensity.
Qigong is the Chinese science of using breath, gentle movement and meditation to clear, strengthen and circulate life energy, or qi, in the body. For decades, scientists have been using physical and biological signal detectors to detect external qi in the human body during qigong healing sessions.
External qi specifically refers to qi that can be transmitted from one living thing to another. These studies have confirmed the existence of measurable external qi effects, but none have given much insight into the nature of qi or how energetic healing works.3
In addition to the more established fields of energy-based medicine such as TCM, acupuncture, homeopathy and Ayurveda, there are dozens of therapies that employ components of energy healing, such as aromatherapy, reiki, flower and gem essences, chiropractic, therapeutic and healing touch, reflexology, guided imagery, craniosacral therapies and electromagnetic therapy, just to name a few.
"All of energy medicine can be explained as impacting the biofield, which is regulating all of the chemistry and physiology," says Dr Beverly Rubik, biophysicist and founder of the Institute for Frontier Science. "There is no agreement as to how this works. There's a lot of conjecture because there's a lack of funding for the kind of science that we need to really understand this.
"Therefore, you'll find a lot of different opinions and no singular agreement. However, the rapid signal propagation of electromagnetic fields comprising the biofield as well as its holistic properties may account for the rapid, holistic effects of certain alternative and complementary medical interventions."
In addition to combating serious illness, clinical studies of the biofield could have "far-reaching consequences in all areas of biological science," including an organism's origin and development (ontogeny) and evolutionary theory, according to researchers at the Institute for Bioelectromagnetics and New Biology in Slovenia.4
To date, the majority of clinical studies on the effectiveness of biofield therapies have focused on symptom management for pain and cancer. But there is also growing evidence that biofield therapies are promising for people suffering from heart disease, arthritis and dementia.5 Therapeutic touch, a treatment modality where therapists place their hands on or near their patient's body while holding the intention of healing a particular condition or situation, has been clinically proven to mitigate pain6 and has also shown effectiveness for speeding up wound healing.7
Healing touch, a similar energetic approach to therapeutic touch, has shown effectiveness for improving joint function and mobility, as well as alleviating depression, in men and women with osteoarthritis.8 It also reduced patients' anxiety and length of hospital stay while recovering from coronary bypass surgery.9 Reiki, a hands-on healing modality in which a 'universal energy' is believed to be transferred from the practitioner's palms to the patient, has shown potential in managing chronic health conditions and improving postoperative recovery.10
With the increasing acceptance of energy healing and investigation into the biofield, many new modalities that utilize a light touch or no touch at all combined with the use of healing intent have arrived on the medical scene in the West.
Many of these approaches, such as the Matrix Energetics method developed by Dr Richard Bartlett, DC, ND, Positive Body Language (PBL), developed by Dr David Milgram, DC, and GarciaEnnergetics, developed by Dr Hector Garcia, DC, have emerged out of the more traditional world of chiropractic, with its nuts-and-bolts physical adjustments, transitioning into purely energetic territory.
For example, Bartlett's life took an unexpected turn in 1996 when he was working as a chiropractor while attending Bastyr University of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle. During this time, he experienced a life-changing event, a spiritual vision that guided him to start lightly touching patients with focused intent rather than doing traditional adjustments.
"Bones would realign themselves, chronic pain patterns would disappear, often with only one brief session," Bartlett writes.
"Scoliosis curvatures would realign right before my eyes. And then, much to my astonishment, I discovered how to duplicate my results creating a readily teachable system." Thus, Matrix Energetics was born.
For David Milgram, a chiropractor with practices in Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona, the process was, well, a process. "Every day I have people come to me who are too fragile to physically adjust," he says. "Maybe they're too old, or they have blood clots, have too much fear, or they've been raped. Often you can hardly do anything physical without risking complications or ending up with the patient feeling dishonored.
"Many times, I have had to do adjustments energetically. Over the years, I found that the less force I used, the gentler I was, the bigger the healing effect I would get. So Positive Body Language was just a natural evolution."
PBM utilizes various sequences of lightly held acupressure points on the spinal column, cranium, torso and extremities to communicate to the brain, the chakras and the meridians (energy centers and energy channels in the body identified in Ayurveda and TCM), offering the practitioner a safe and effective way to encourage physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual harmonization within the whole energy field of the patient.
Milgram, who claims to have been extremely psychic and sensitive since childhood, says he uses various methods to diagnose patients, including muscle testing (kinesiology), dowsing and, most often, simply "reading the necessary information" from the patient's biofield telling him what's wrong and what to do to correct the situation.
Sometimes the information received is pretty wild. For example, one of his patients was a 70-year old Native American woman who had been in the hospital for two weeks, paralyzed, with her eyes locked in one position. The doctors didn't have a clue what was wrong with her, so one night her sons snuck her out of the hospital and brought her to Milgram, carrying her into his office on a board.
He tested her energetically through a surrogate and discovered she had red algae disease. Apparently, a red tide had bloomed over 300 miles away in a coastal area, the spores had dried out in the sun and then drifted on the winds to Arizona.
"Her body clearly indicated she had an allergic reaction to red algae, so I gave her a vibrational antidote just by holding the intention of an antidote to red algae in my mind while lightly touching her," says Milgram. "Within 10 seconds her eyes unlocked. Within a minute she could move her arms and legs. A half-hour later she walked out of my office waving goodbye, saying 'Thank you,' almost normal." He laughs. "She hasn't had a single problem since. She's over 90 now."
Not understanding the root cause of a patient's symptoms and pain is a situation most mainstream doctors find themselves in on a near-daily basis. And as patients, we're used to puzzlement, head scratching and 'it must be all in your mind' diagnoses. Yet when information is received energetically, straight from the body itself, sometimes the diagnosis can be almost too precise, too unexpected and strange, for the client to accept.
"I had a young man about age 17 come in with his mother," Milgram says. "He had learning disabilities and features of autism, walked with an uncoordinated gait and had a lot of anxiety. I checked him out really carefully, and I sensed that there was a hair negatively affecting his liver." With that diagnosis, not surprisingly, the mother politely left the office with her son, clearly not intending to come back.
But she did, seven years later, to tell Milgram that her son had had a gallbladder attack, and when the doctors operated they found a hair strangling the young man's gallbladder right below the liver. (In TCM, the gallbladder and liver are known to closely interact.)
They removed the hair, and in a short time all her son's symptoms disappeared. Within a year he had started his own company. "It knocked the socks off of me, I have to tell you," says Milgram. "But it sure taught me I'm supposed to believe what I get, no matter how weird it is."
Dr Hector Garcia, D.C., a San Diego-based medical intuitive, holistic chiropractor, Matrix Energetics practitioner and founder of the GarciaEnnergetics method, says energy work is all about intention and relationship. "We are creatures of light and information," he says.
"I treat everything that comes into my office based on the energy pattern I perceive as I scan the patient's energy field. Then it's all about asking questions of the patient's field and tracking what the body tells you. The body basically says, 'I intend to give you, Garcia, the information you need to fix me, to harmonize me.' Then I allow for the field to guide me."
Like Milgram, sometimes the field guides Garcia to startling conclusions. One patient, a woman in her mid-40s, came in with a grapefruit-sized mass in her uterus. She had gone to her gynecologist that morning, and they'd done an ultrasound. While they were preparing the report, she went to his office. "She asked me, 'Can you scan my energy?' Because she was a client of mine, I tested her and found that, yes, there was an active mass that matched up with her ultrasound and MRI results."
At that point, Garcia says, he "got" that the mass was not energetically sourced from her physical body. Rather it was an energy 'bleed-through' from another life in a parallel universe. "As soon as my awareness went there, I matched up the energies and inverted the field, canceling out the energy of the tumor as if it had never happened," (which, in his understanding, on Earth, it never had).
She felt a shift in her pelvic region and said, 'Something is happening. I don't know what it is. But something's happening!' And I said, 'Well, the energy is harmonizing. I hope that it helps you.'"
His patient went back to her gynecologist for the physical part of her exam. The doctor proceeded to show her the MRI with a huge mass in her uterus. However, upon examining her he couldn't find the mass that had been there that morning. Two other physicians were brought in and none could find the mass.
Says Garcia, "Basically she went to the gynecologist at 10 am, then came by my office about one o'clock. I did the energy work quickly, she went back to the gynecologist's office at three o'clock for the exam, and it wasn't there."
How does it work?
Of course, the real question is, "How does energy healing work?" Numerous explanations, none verified, have been proffered over the past few decades. Dr Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1937, introduced the notion of proteins as electronic semiconductors carrying information throughout the body, and reintroduced the idea of electricity as central to the living state of the human body.
Naturally occurring coherent electromagnetic fields within the body are speculated to arise from the cytoskeleton, a tree-like microscopic network of protein filaments and tubules in the cytoplasm of living cells throughout the body. Milgram believes the energetic carrier of information to be the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the central nervous system.
Another theory is that nanostructures in water called coherent domains, discreet regions where the water molecules are unusually organized, are "exquisitely sensitive" to electromagnetic or other energetic fields that may underlie the dynamic organization of life itself. Since the human body is comprised of 70 percent water, these discreet domains have been suggested to serve as the possible carriers of subtle energy information and intent in both hands-on and remote healing.
"Energy does carry information," agrees Rubik. "But I don't think we really understand how the energy carries intent, or if it even does carry intent. Because intent is in the realm of the mind, and energy is in the realm of physics or the body. So the question is, is intent something really separate from the energy or is it hooked to the energy somehow, riding it like a modulation? I don't think anybody understands that because we really don't understand the nature of consciousness or intention yet."
Scientists also don't understand whether energy from hands-on healing and distant healing is really even the same as conventional energy. "I've done research that suggests that it is not, that it goes beyond conventional energy," says Rubik. "You can put up a shield for conventional magnetism, electricity, electromagnetism and thermal energy, and it is going beyond those things. So what, in fact, is the energy involved?"
Although the equipment has not yet been patented, Rubik says she and other scientists at the Institute for Frontier Science have developed a detector for field dynamics of emotion around the body, opening up an entirely new field of physics that goes beyond conventional science. "There is something that people exude around the body that is related to their emotional state," she says.
"It's different when they have positive affects such as love and joy and when they have anger and fear or disgust. Then we can see the needle on the detector that we developed move in the opposite direction. And this effect is constantly shifting because people are constantly shifting their emotions. They're dancing around, connected to their thoughts. That's one energy that I know goes beyond conventional physics, and I believe there are more."
Only time, decent funding and hard work will explain the 'why' of energy medicine. For now, we have to be content with the thousands of stories of miracle healings that cannot be explained by mainstream medicine.
Harmony, resonance and homeodynamics
For Dr Hector Garcia, DC, founder of GarciaEnnergetics, healing is a matter of aligning and harmonizing the body's energy fields with new information.
He recommends that patients and practitioners get past thinking in concrete terms of "tissue issues," as he calls them, and adjust their thinking to a more fluid, non-static, multidimensional energetic picture.
"Don't think the problem's a headache or a backache, a migraine or a brain tumor," he says. "It's all about energy in the field and shifting the mindset, the consciousness of the individual and what they believe they have. And that will change it."
Biophysicist Dr Beverly Rubik doesn't call the process harmonization—although bringing two fields into resonance is exactly that.
Instead, she thinks in terms of different resonant frequencies, and how—whether the resonant frequencies of the body are changed by shifting environmental conditions or new resonances being introduced by a healer—the entire physiology of the body will shift when the new frequencies are introduced, orchestrating a completely different physiology and chemistry.
"With energy medicine, you are making changes in the resonant frequencies of the body so that the body engages in new homeodynamic states," she says. (Homeodynamics is a concept that suggests human beings are ever-changing, dynamic, holistic and interactive with their environment rather than merely adaptive.)
Rubik explains that homeodynamics is different from homeostasis and the old ways of looking at the body. "Homeostasis is passive, like a thermostat," she says. "Homeodynamics is a living system that's dancing around in a dynamical way.
"When healing ensues, the body/mind integrates information about the last malady or irregularity and moves on to a new dynamic state. Unlike a thermostat resetting itself to the old position, the body is never going back to the old state. It's moving on to something brand new."
Or is it biophotons?
One major candidate for a vehicle that can carry invisible energetic information to and from the human body is light, in the form of biophotons.
These tiny discreet packets of light in the ultraviolet and visible light range are produced and emitted by all biological systems, including humans.
Scientists know that modulated waves of visible, ultraviolet and infrared light can carry enormous amounts of information. It is possible that biophotons are equally efficient when it comes to carrying subtle information to and from the body.
Human biophoton emission counts have been mapped. Our forehead and hands emit the highest levels of biophotons, while the abdomen emits the fewest.1
Energy healers have been observed to produce increased levels of infrared radiation from their palms and foreheads when they begin the healing process—an emanation that declines when they stop.
Furthermore, studies of individuals and meditation groups reveal up to a 100,000-fold increase in baseline ultraviolet light readings in the room when healing begins.2
"The biophoton is a real physical light, a very low-level light that we can measure with conventional detectors," says biophysicist Dr Beverly Rubik. "And light can carry a lot of information."
She says her studies show that biophotons are emitted from the hands of healers, especially from the center of the palm and the ring and middle fingers, when they are used in healing as well as in directing external qi.
"My studies show that when people shift their intent to a different energy center, their light can be upped to almost 400 percent brighter than normal, which means that it's probably bio-informational."
Becoming a believer
Dr Beverly Rubik, an internationally-renowned frontier scientist exploring biofield science and energy medicine, holds a PhD in biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley and has published over 60 papers and two books.
A Congressionally-appointed member of the Program Advisory Board to the Office of Alternative Medicine at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1992 to 1997, she chaired the NIH panels on electromagnetic medicine and manual healing. In 1996, Dr. Rubik founded the Institute for Frontier Science.
Dr Rubik became interested in the biofield after her own remarkable healing by the renowned psychic healer Olga Worrall back in the late 1970s.
"I was scheduled for exploratory surgery of my knee after a ballet injury," Dr Rubik says. "Back in the 1970s, we didn't have medical imaging like we have today. So if you had an injury, you'd go in for surgery to find out what was going on.
"I didn't like the idea, but I scheduled the surgery. And then somebody said to me, 'Did you know there's a famous healer coming to Berkeley?' I thought, 'Well, what do I have to lose? I'll go see her.' So I did."
During the healing session with Olga, she felt an amazing tingling and energy sensation in her damaged knee. After the session, she found that she could bend her knee and walk without any pain or limitation whatsoever. She laughs, remembering. "I thought, 'Well, maybe I'm just in a trance, and all the pain will come back.' But it didn't."
At that point in her life, Rubik was finishing her dissertation at Berkeley, doing investigative work into the subtle energetics of living systems and spiritual healing on the side. Not surprisingly, she ended up asking Olga to come into her laboratory to conduct some experiments.
"Back then it was all very unclear what was happening," she says. "We called energy healing 'psychic healing' and 'micro PK'—microscopic-psychokinesis, which means doing some small thing inside of a living being."
Forty years later, her own knowledge has increased exponentially. However, she says, very little has changed in the US when it comes to investigating subtle energies, biofields and energy healing.
"There's more interest now in China in this area because of their history with acupuncture, energetic herbs and other modalities and even external qi. It's very difficult to do this work in the US. And most of it is because of Big Pharma and their business model. They don't want this happening because it would take away so much business."
Frontier Science Foundation: frontierscience.org
Dr Richard Bartlett, DC, ND: matrixenergetics.com
Dr David Milgram, DC: 7keysforhealing.com
Dr Hector Garcia, DC: garciainnergetics.net