July 1, 2022

A Guide to Energy Healing

8 Therapeutic Techniques

Read to learn about the eight most widely-practiced and well known energy therapies currently used, as well as their benefits and the research supporting them.

What is Energy Healing?

You wouldn’t be the first if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “what exactly is energy healing?” 

At its most basic, energy healing is the practice of interacting with and adjusting imbalances within people’s bodies.

Relatively new to the world of contemporary western medicine, energy therapies have been gaining traction and awareness in the United States since the 1970s. But while we’re only now beginning to explore the potential benefits of energy healing for modern medicine, energy therapy’s origins date back to the earliest days of recorded human history.

A Brief History of Energy Healing

The earliest record of energy healing can be traced back thousands of years to Ancient Chinese healers. These healers were among the first to distinguish the unique pathways of energy in the body. These pathways were called the twelve meridians. The theory of the twelve meridians underlies many energy therapies used today, as well as alternative therapies like acupuncture.

Pythagoras wrote of the concept of pneuma (life energy) during the 6th century in Ancient Greece. A century later, Hippocrates built his medical theories on the understanding that the body could heal itself to certain extents (vis medicatrix naturae). 

Ayurvedic principles from the 8th century B.C.E. similarly share the concept of prana or life force. Interest in energy healing as a therapeutic practice faded during the enlightenment but emerged with re-invigorated interest in the 1970s. 

It’s fair to say that energy healing’s history is a lengthy one.

The Research Behind Energy Healing 

Fresh attention and the creation of new therapies in the 1970s spurred on many of the scientific studies on the benefits and impact of energy healing we have today. While many of these studies use randomized controlled testing (the gold standard for research), they are typically small in number. As such, more research is needed to solidify our understanding of energy therapies and exactly how, why, and when energy healing works.

Many studies explore the potential benefits energy healing practices can deliver. The most well-documented benefits for people include stress and pain relief [2][4].

To learn about the studies and research behind energy healing, read here.

A Note about Energy

If someone asked you to define energy, how would you describe it?

➵ Sometimes we think of energy as our mood or how we feel. It can reflect an ambiguous state of being or vibe that we get from someone.

​​➵ At other times, we think of energy as a biological necessity that drives movement, motivation, and critical functions. 

➵ We could also look at energy through the lens of kinetic energy (energy resulting from acceleration and movement).

None of these answers are wrong – each speaks to a different type of energy. 

In this article, we’re talking about the energy signatures produced by the body that practitioners look for to adjust imbalances within the body. 

Common names for this type of energy include: energy, bioenergy, chi, ki, qi, prana, aura, mana, and energy field.

Without further ado, let’s explore the eight types of energy healing you’re likely to come across in the 21st century.

8 Unique Types of Energy Therapies

Qigong 

Rooted in ancient Chinese fundamentals of chi (life force) from over 4,000 years ago, Qigong is a mind-body-spirit practice aimed at improving mental and physical health by opening up the flow of chi through the twelve meridians. Many also refer to Qigong as qi or chi energy healing.

Qigong can be practiced personally or by a practitioner who uses techniques to influence the energy of another person’s life force. Personal cultivation of Qigong typically begins with the practice of breath, movement, intention, and self-discovery. 

Qigong practitioners employ their training and self-cultivation to adjust chi transmission and instruct clients on prescriptive Qigong meditations or exercises to restore them to health.

Qigong techniques include: movement, static poses, massage, breathing techniques, sound, and meditative, and focused intent.

A comprehensive review of health benefits  have found that Qigong: reduced blood pressure, improved heart health, increased bone density, decreased risk of fractures, improved balance, reduced arthritis pain, lessened pain levels, and improved immune function and balanced inflammation responses. [1]

Reiki

Reiki is a type of Japanese energy healing that seeks to balance the flow of universal life force energy running between the world and the client. Reiki practitioners use their hands as conduits to guide the universal life force energy through their energy field into the patient.

In a Reiki session, the patient usually lies on a massage table while the practitioner places their hands over the affected areas and guides universal energy there to restore balance.

Some studies have found Reiki to benefit: reduced stress, improved relaxation, decreased depression, and decreased pain levels [2]. Additionally, a recent study published in 2017 by David McManus, PhD, found that reiki may be more impactful than placebo [3]. With the added benefits of placebo, reiki may also help reduce anxiety. 

Therapeutic Touch

Designed in the 1970s by Delores Krieger, Therapeutic Touch has become a cornerstone of full-patient care for nurses. Therapeutic Touch relies on the transfer of energy from the practitioner to the patient.

In Therapeutic Touch sessions, the practitioner performs an energy scan to attune themselves to the energies of their patient’s condition. After identifying areas of dis-ease, the practitioner lays their hands over the affected area and adjusts its energies. The practitioner must maintain a focused, meditative state where the mind completely aligns with intention.

A meta-anayltic review found Therapeutic Touch to benefit: decreased stress, reduced pain, and improved wound healing. [4]

Ayurveda

Ayurveda tackles the concept of life force and healing energy a bit differently. Ayurvedic practices were founded on the belief that every living creature comes from the five elements of fire, water, earth, air, and space. In humans, these elements take the shape of the three doshas: Pitta dosha, Vata dosha, and Kapha dosha. In ayurvedic philosophy, illness results from imbalances between the three doshas.

How ayurvedic healing works: Rather than relying on a mental manipulation of energy, Ayurveda relies on adjusting the three doshas through nutrition, exercise, massage, essential oils, and herbs.

Various studies found Ayurveda to benefit [6]: pain relief for people with osteoarthritis and help managing symptoms of Type II Diabetes.

Quantum Energy Healing

Coined in 1989 by Deepak Chopra in his book Quantum Healing, quantum energy healing combines elements from numerous fields to use your own body’s life force to heal from within.

Quantum energy healing techniques include meditation, breathing exercises, movement, healing touch, hypnosis to connect with your Higher Self, and using machines or accessories to regulate health.

The research on quantum healing and quantum healing hypnosis technique is minimal and findings are often challenged. While meditation and breathing techniques have been well-researched for the benefits to stress, focus, and relaxation, many other quantum energy healing practices make claims with no valid scientific evidence to back them up. 

Additionally, state agencies in the U.S. have found many quantum healing items designed to support health can actually contain trace metals that are radioactive and toxic [7][8].

Crystal Energy Healing

People who practice crystal energy healing believe different crystals emit distinct vibrations that lead to specific results. 

Therapeutic practices using crystal healing energy typically begin with finding a comfortable position and either holding the stone in your hand, setting it in front of you, or laying down and placing it somewhere on your body. The practitioner or individual will then meditate and align their intentions with the stone’s energy.

Anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of different crystals ranges from boosting creativity and decreasing anxiety to healing digestive issues and reducing insomnia.

However, controlled studies examining crystal healing are limited. Most researchers suggest the power behind crystals lies in the placebo effect. It’s important to note that placebo doesn’t mean made-up – very real health effects can come from a placebo. A placebo refers to our mind delivering effects based on our expectations of experiencing them in the first place. 

From this perspective, healing practices that induce placebo results still produce results and may prove beneficial to you. It’s just that those results likely stem from your belief rather than the crystals themselves.

Bioenergy Healing

Bioenergy healing relies on the core concept that each of us emits an electromagnetic energy field called an aura

Practitioners of bioenergy healing work by clearing blockages found between the seven core energy centers called chakras. Each chakra is associated with different benefits and blocks. Practitioners identify the affected chakra before using a trained mental focus to clear and balance the chakras.

A study on the history, terminology, and concepts of Biofield Science found bioenergy healing to benefit: increased production of cells that stimulate growth, improved wound healing, reduced pain, and decreased inflammation. [9]

Healing Lab’s Energy Practice 

The energy healing techniques used at Healing Lab were developed by a systematic process of observation, practice, and adjustment. At Healing Lab, we test energy techniques application to ensure we’re using energy, not placebo. While we’ve been able to adapt our techniques to support clients with different conditions in the past, we specialize in osteoarthritis.

For example, one of the exercises we regularly practice to control for placebo involves one practitioner sending energy to either the left or right hand of a blindfolded partner, who then has to identify which hand the energy was sent to. You can learn more about our energy practices here.

We follow a similar process of exploration and assessment during healing sessions with our clients. After hours carefully studying the unique energy signatures associated with inflammation, bone damage, and cartilage damage, we’ve become skilled at identifying and adjusting these tissue’s energies towards optimal functioning and health. 

In our session we’ll begin with a few intake questions, before performing a body scan and adjusting the energy in damaged areas.

Previous clients have reported increased mobility, decreased stiffness, and pain relief (with pain dropping by 3-4 points out of 10.) You can read more about our client’s experience here.

Driven by science, Healing Lab works hard to contribute to growing scientific research in energy healing, so more people can trust and benefit from the beneficial results energy healing can offer.

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Take the next step in your healing journey. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation with our founder and expert healer, Mike Sententia, and find out if Healing Lab is right for you.

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