by Milton Hammerly, MD
The Western biomedical model looks at the body as composed of anatomic structures which are in turn made up of systems, organs, cells, molecules and atoms. The concept of energy flow in the body, which is central to health and healing in other cultures, is ignored in Western medicine. For decades the field of quantum physics has looked at the energetic interactions of subatomic particles such as protons, neutrons, electrons, pions and muons.
Until the Western medical community incorporates the concept of energy flow in the body – which has both a rich tradition in other cultures and a scientific basis in quantum physics – our medical system will continue to suffer an “energy crisis.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), illness is thought to be associated with an imbalance in the flow of Chi. Through the use of a variety of techniques – Acupuncture, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi and Herbology – the energetic imbalance can be corrected and health restored. Similarly in Ayurveda (the healing system from India popularized in North America by Deepak Chopra and others), illness is felt to be associated with an imbalance in the flow ofPrana. Through the use of diet, exercise, mind-body techniques and other modalities, the energetic imbalance can again be corrected and health restored.
The healing modalities of Healing Touch/Therapeutic Touch (HT/TT), Reiki and Polarity Therapy all share some features in common. These techniques detect and correct energetic imbalances in the human energy field through the trained hands of the practitioners. There are scores of well-designed scientific studies that document physiological changes such as improved oxygenation, improved blood counts and accelerated wound healing with the use of HT/TT.
These studies are published in nursing journals and complementary/alternative publications, but are conspicuously absent from most medical journals. Apparently, the concept of the human energy field causes intellectual indigestion in the Western medical community – something akin to “I wouldn’t believe it even if it were true.” For a medical journal to publish a study on HT/TT, they would have to challenge the mechanistic (Newtonian), biomedical model which is the basis of our understanding of the human body.
My belief in the biomedical model was challenged shortly after completing residency training in Family Practice. I met a nurse who used TT on patients in the hospital, and showed me how to do TT. As she waved her hands in the air, I couldn’t help but think this was some absurd vestige left over from the Dark Ages. Fortunately for me, that nurse put up with my skepticism and went on to marry me. Eventually I came around, because I saw that TT often produces dramatic clinical results. Based on the biomedical model, TT should do nothing or at most have a placebo effect. The only conclusion left for me to draw was that somehow the biomedical model was inadequate to explain what I was observing clinically.
Dr Robert Becker – a respected orthopedic surgeon and author of The Body Electric and Cross Currents - has documented the wide range of research on the effects of electricity and electromagnetic fields on the body. Dr Becker and other researchers have found that an injury is accompanied by an abnormal electric charge and that electrons flow to the site of injury as a part of the normal healing process. This flow of electrons has been termed the current of injury and this principle has been used for over 20 years in the field of orthopedics to stimulate healing of bone fractures.
In addition, Dr Becker and several researchers have found that the Acupuncture points and meridians are actually low resistance electrical pathways. So while a practitioner of TCM may alter the flow of Chi in the body, a Western researcher would describe it as changing the flow of DC current. The Acupuncture meridians and points are essentially the electric grid of the body.
Dr Bjorn Nordenstrom – the world-renowned radiologist who invented the skinny needle biopsy technique – has studied electrical charge in the body as it relates to pathology and abnormal radiological findings. Dr Nordenstrom’s book Biologically Closed Electric Circuits details his extensive research. By using long, skinny needles as electrodes, Dr Nordenstrom was able to both detect and correct electrical imbalances (and the associated abnormal physiology) in the body.
Biomagnetics – the use of magnets to achieve physiologic changes in the body – is another approach that is being used with dramatic results in many countries around the world. Magnetic fields can favorably alter blood flow. They also induce currents in the body, can alter nerve membrane potentials, and have been shown to alter activity of certain enzymes and production of melatonin. Despite this, the Western medical community still largely looks on Biomagnetics as just another voodoo therapy.
There are thousands of years of experience with different energy based therapies, as well as an abundance of scientific studies showing both laboratory and clinical evidence that energy plays a profound role in the function of the human body. So why aren’t Energy Therapies embraced in the West?
There are undoubtedly several reasons for the energy crisis in Western medicine:
- The mystical language often used to describe energy therapies has certainly been one obstacle to serious consideration by the scientific community.
- An even greater obstacle has been the metaphysical baggage that often accompanies these therapies. In many cases practitioners of energy therapies espouse an entire belief system and a worldview which challenges the prevailing beliefs (Judeo-Christian or agnostic for the most part) of the West.
By speaking in a language that is universally understood – the language of physics – and leaving metaphysics out of the discussion, practitioners of Energy Therapies can decrease the resistance to these therapies in the West.
The energy crisis in Western medicine is caused by an incomplete understanding of how the human body works. The biomedical model is woefully inadequate in its mechanistic explanation of bodily function. We need to incorporate the concept that electron flow has profound physiologic effects and that abnormal physiology is accompanied by abnormal electrical activity. By speaking in terms that are understandable in the West and by leaving belief systems out of the discussion, practitioners of Energy Therapies will be doing their part to solve the energy crisis in Western medicine.
What the splitting of the atom did for physics, it will also do for medicine!
Also see the eGuide Energy Work Chapter.
Copyright © 2000-2012, CompWellness Network, Fairfield NJ USA, Milton Hammerly, MD, Denver CO from his website’s General Public articles. Reprinted with Permission.
After several years of practicing in a variety of conventional medical settings, Dr Milton Hammerly, MD experienced first hand the benefits of using Complementary Therapies in his own life. In 1996 he opened an integrative medicine practice in Denver CO with a team of more than 30 practitioners specializing in everything from Acupuncture through Yoga. Since then he has been very active as a writer and speaker (both in Colorado and nationally) on the topic of rationally integrating Complementary Therapies with Western Medicine. In addition to a maintaining a part-time clinical practice, Milt is currently a contributing editor for Micromedex, an internationally recognized medical database company, and Director of Integrative Medicine for Catholic Health Initiatives, a health care organization with more than 60 hospitals in 22 states. Contact Dr Hammerly by visiting his website, HealingPartner.com.