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 is energy healing?”
At its most basic, energy healing is the practice of interacting 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 who codified the principle of the twelve meridians, or energy pathways within the body. The concept of the twelve meridians underlies several energy therapies still in practice today alongside 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 helped drive many of the scientific studies on the benefits and impact of energy healing we now have today. Still, many of these studies are small, leave room for other variables, and are in need of further inquiry to solidify our understanding of energy therapies.
Many studies explore the potential benefits energy healing practices can deliver. The most well-documented benefits for people include stress and pain relief .
To learn about the studies and research behind energy healing, read here.
The limitations of sample size and variability within existing studies prevents us from fully understanding energy healing’s impact. Future and ongoing research will serve to provide increased clarity.
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 when tissues within the body are imbalanced.
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
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.
Research suggests the benefits of Qigong may include : 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.
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.
Studies suggest the benefits of Reiki may include : reduced stress, improved relaxation, decreased depression, and decreased pain levels. Additionally, a recent study published in 2017 found that reiki may be more impactful than placebo . With the added benefits of placebo, reiki may also help reduce anxiety.
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.
The studied benefits of Therapeutic Touch may include : decreased stress, reduced pain, and improved wound healing.
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.
The studied benefits of Ayurveda may include : 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. Many 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 .
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 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.
Research suggests the benefits of bioenergy healing may include : increased production of cells that stimulate growth, improved wound healing, reduced pain, and decreased inflammation.
Healing Lab’s Energy Practice
The energy healing techniques used at Healing Lab were developed apart from existing energy healing modalities, derived 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 our innovative energy healing technique can be applied to any condition, 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.
Many of our clients report increased mobility, decreased stiffness, and pain relief. On a scale of 1-10, many clients find their pain drops by 3-4 points. 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.
Struggling with the chronic pain of osteoarthritis and don’t know where to turn? Give us a call. At Healing Lab, we specialize in energy healing for osteoarthritis and helping people get back to the activities that bring them joy.