Energy Medicine refers to a broad range of therapies that all have one thing in common. They all consider that the human being consists of a physical body capable of thoughts and emotions, but also has an energetic system that supports and nourishes the physical, emotional and mental, with all of these systems being tightly integrated.
The integration between our emotions and our physical body is obvious to anyone who has gone through a period of great stress. By using emotion altering techniques such as meditation and visualization, a person can actually impact on the physical body, triggering its ability to auto-heal, an ability often referred to as the placebo effect. What is less commonly understood is that there is an energetic component to this mix and that both an individual’s emotions and physical body can be directly affected via energetic intervention.
To put things in perspective, let’s examine a few of the more widely accepted therapies that are based on an energetic understanding of the human being. Perhaps the most widely known system is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been around a long time. One of the classic texts of acupuncture, still held to be largely valid today, is Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Medicine Classic), believed to have been written in the second century BC.
The basic premise of acupuncture is that there is a vital energy (Qi) that sustains the body and gives it life. This Qi circulates throughout the body in a system of meridians (like flow lines or highways). Simplistically stated, when some part of this energetic highway system gets blocked or overcharged, then the body does not have what it needs to sustain proper health, and “dis-ease” then results. This “dis-ease” can take many forms. As an example, a weakness in the energy flow affecting the immune systems of the body can result in infection taking hold within the body. Another example would be that an imbalance in the flow of Qi caused by emotional stress or trauma can result in digestive problems. By treating the energetic imbalance, both the physical and emotional complaints can be directly improved.
The professional acupuncturist can diagnose imbalances in the flow of Qi. Once a diagnosis is reached, then the acupuncturist can increase or decrease the flow of Qi along the meridians that require correction. Acupuncture has documented results in dealing with a wide variety of conditions, including many conditions where western medicine has no effective treatment protocol. Because acupuncture is using the body’s own energies to help the body heal itself, treatments are generally safe and are often used as alternatives to medicine or even surgery.
Another type of energy medicine that is gaining popularity in North America is Homeopathy. The underlying premises of homeopathy are quite different from those of acupuncture. One of the fundamental principles of homeopathy is the “law of dilutions”. This law holds that the lower the dose of a remedy, the more effective the results will be. Homeopathic remedies begin with natural plant extracts which are then diluted to a point where virtually no active molecules remain. The belief is that the diluted remedy contains the essence of the original substance and that this essence will interact with the patient’s physical, emotional and energetic being to produce the desired improvement.
Unlike acupuncture, homeopathy has only been around a few hundred years, being first proposed by a German physicist named Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. Homeopathic remedies are best delivered by a homeopathic doctor, who will take into consideration the full situation of the patient in determining the remedy. A case history will include not only the physical symptoms, but will also explore in depth the emotional and mental well-being of the patient so that the diagnosis will result in a solution that considers the whole patient.
A lot of homeopathic remedies are readily available over the counter in pharmacies and health food stores. Some of these are highly effective – Rescue Remedy from Bach Flower Remedies is great for getting past a short term trauma (especially with children) and Arnica is often used in homeopathic form for muscle soreness and arthritis. Homeopathic remedies are completely non-toxic and when properly used can be an effective alternative to medication.
Many other forms of energy medicine are becoming increasingly available within the North American marketplace. Many of these involve interactions with a therapist who is using their own being (usually their hands) to transmit or impart energy to the patient. Some of these therapies have a long history, such as Qi Gong, which like Acupuncture dates to the time of the Yellow Emperor in China, or Chakra healing which dates back even further into the East Indian culture. Most are more recent such as Reiki, which was discovered by Dr. Usui in Japan in 1922 and was first taught in the west during the 1970’s. Therapies that began in the last two hundred years include Cranial Sacral Therapy, Healing Touch, Body Talk and others. While each technique is different, often these practitioners are channelling either their own energies or a “universal” energy into the patient, or are in some other way working to enhance the patient’s own natural energies, removing blockages and enhancing the energetic flows. A key ingredient in these treatments is often the intent to heal and to do no harm.
Numerous forms of energy medicine can be practiced by the individual themself. Yoga, Tai Chi and some martial arts are considered by many to be practices of energy medicine as they work directly on the integration of the physical, the emotional and the energetic.
There is little scientific documentation on the efficiencies of many types of energy medicine, in large part due to a lack of western research. However, more and more established institutions are beginning not only to explore these therapies, but to accept them into their array of healing tools. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a teaching hospital affiliated with the Harvard Medical School. Included within their organization is the Osher Clinical Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies. The Osher Clinic is offering as well as researching such therapies as Acupuncture, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Therapeutic Tai Chi and Yoga along with other alternative therapies. As these therapies become both better known and better documented, we can expect to see more medical organizations responding to their clients’ needs with holistic, non-medicinal approaches.
Lauren Young is the author of “Journeys of a Thirsty Soul – Thoughts on Enlightenment and Evolution”.
National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – http://nccam.nih.gov
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine – http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/history/zhou.html
Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute – http://www.afcinstitute.com
Homeopathy – http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/
Cranial Sacral Therapy – Upledger Method – http://www.upledger.com/
Cranial Sacral Therapy – Methode Surrender – http://www.methodesurrender.fr/
International Institute of Medical QiGong – http://www.qigongmedicine.com/
Reiki.org – http://www.reiki.org/faq/HistoryOfReiki.html#usui