Bio-energy Healing and Back Pain
What is it? Bio-energy healing is based on the premise that each individual is surrounded by an electro-magnetic field of energy known as an `aura'. Bio-energy therapists work to clear any blockages in this energy as it flows through seven energy centres, known as chakras. It is largely a hands-off therapy, although there may be some laying on of hands.
What does it treat? Bio-energy healing is a complementary therapy and not an alternative to medical advice. Clients have noted improvements in asthma, arthritis, backache, insomnia, migraine and tension headaches, depression, anxiety, allergies and skin conditions. Usually, three sessions are recommended initially.
A first timer's experience (40-year-old artist): The session began with the therapist asking me a little bit about myself. She then explained a little about bioenergy and how it involved checking and restoring the chakras. As I had done T'ai Chi for a while years ago, I understood something about the chakras.
She asked me to take my shoes off and stand on a mat. She began to do hand movements around my body. During this time, she said she was feeling the strength of my energy centres. I felt very relaxed. Then, about 15 minutes later, she asked me to sit on a reclining chair. She did more hand movements - both fluttering gestures with her fingers and spiral movements with her palms, sometimes touching points of my body. There was a feeling of time being suspended.
Afterwards, among other observations, she commented on a shoulder injury, which I hadn't mentioned to her. I came out of the one-hour session feeling very calm. I felt the whole thing had quite a charming mystique about it, far removed from therapies such as chiropractic which I have had for back pain. By 10 p.m. that evening, I felt tired, as the therapist had said I might. She recommended that I drink one litre of water in the 24 hours after the treatment.
An advocate's view (Marian is a 46-year-old civil servant): "I had suffered from back pain for up to 20 years. I had gone to doctors, specialists and was attending an osteopath. I came across bio-energy healing at the annual Mind, Body and Spirit Fair. I tried it out there and felt some sort of heat and energy. Later that year, when I was going through a bad period of pain with my back, I decided to try it out again.
When I went to the bio-energy healer, he told me that all my energy was coming down from my head and being compacted around my back area. I began to feel a bit better after the session. Altogether, I went for about five or six sessions at that time and it completely cured my back. I felt I could run again.
I could do all the things that everyone else can normally do. Now, three years later, my back is so much better. I still go to the osteopath about once a year to keep things in check. But, I feel that manipulation alone wouldn't have cured the problem if the energies around my body weren't aligned. I go back for a bio-energy session about once a year to keep them aligned.
The medical view: Dr Muiris Houston, Irish Times Medical Correspondent, says: "There is no research evidence for the specific disease benefits of bio-energy therapy. It should certainly never be used as a substitute for the conventional treatment of the conditions it claims to improve. As with all alternative treatments, there may be non-specific benefits for patient well-being which could be attributed to the placebo effect."
There are approximately 100 therapists practising bio-energy healing in the Republic. The Bio-Energy Therapist Association (BETA) is in the process of registering qualified therapists. Tel: 01-2889919. A one-hour session costs between £35 and £4.