This is the first of a two-part question from AR: “I have been helping out an elderly women that mentioned that she has used, and would like to use again, something called Bowen Therapy. I looked it up and on one of the sites, I did see some link to meridian/accupuncture and it had a ying/yang symbol, but it really seems like simple stimulations and trying to move toxins out of the body…like what would happen if one simply had a massage. Anyway, do you have any info on this therapy and any concerns? Some of this new age stuff is obviously problematic, but I can’t help but think that some “alternative” medicine is much better than the ‘treat the symptom’ form of western medicine.”
Bowen Therapy (BT) is an alternative medicine technique that falls into the category of “vibrational healing.” It was developed by an Australian engineer with no medical training named Tom Bowen (1916-1982) and was introduced into the U.S. in 1990.
BT is based on the belief that the underlying cause or source of many musculoskeletal, neurological, neuromuscular and other health or pain problems can be found in the soft tissue or fascia of the body. Fascia is a specific type of connective tissue that forms a kind of web around every tissue in the body. Practitioners describe fascia as the “body organizer” that embraces all nerves, bones, arteries, veins and muscles, which is why treating fascial dysfunction can be so effective.
During a typical treatment, which lasts about 30-45 minutes, the practitioner uses his/her fingers to make a gentle rolling type of motion on different muscles in the body. The practitioner then pauses, sometimes even leaving the room for a few minutes, to allow the body to “make its own adjustments” or, in a sense, to heal itself.
The Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia says that the actual origins of this type of treatment are unknown but admits “there do appear to be links with traditional Chinese medicine.” Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the alleged existence of a universal life force energy (a pantheistic belief not compatible with Christianity), which could be why so many of the practitioners display the yin-yang symbol on their sites.
However, many of them are typically vague about the type of energy involved, which can lead unsuspecting consumers to believe practitioners will be working with the legitimate natural energy systems of the body rather than a universal life force energy that science says does not exist (see this blog for more detailed information on this subject). For instance, here’s how one practitioner explains it: “The Bowen Technique stimulates circulation of energy and clears energetic blocks. Coincidentally, several of the moves are located along acupuncture meridians or on specific acupuncture points which are known to stimulate and balance the body’s energy.”
Notice how the practitioner makes it appear to be only a coincidence that several of the spots on the body targeted during a Bowen treatment correspond to acupuncture meridians.
Another rather serious problem is that independent scientific testing of BT has been largely inconclusive and there is no regulation in this field, which means it is open to just about anyone who wants to hang out a shingle.
AR is correct in saying that some “alternative” medicine techniques are much better than those that “’treat the symptom’ form of western medicine” but those that have any association with the false god known as a “universal life force” should be strictly avoided by Christians.