Some people claim it’s a “miracle” that is revolutionizing the healthcare world. Others claim it can change lives with just a short series of touches. Still others maintain that the Bowen Technique, also known as Bowen Therapy, can radically alter the way we feel in just three short sessions. So what is it?
Well, to start with, it sounds a bit bizarre. Bowen Therapy, a hands-on system of healing that is designed to provide pain relief to everyone from newborns to octogenarians, is not based on osteopathy, chiropratic procedures or even plain old massage https://zencare.com/. It is a therapy unto itself, and relies on thumb-and-finger massages that come in short bursts.
In between each burst, the practitioner actually leaves the room, ensuring that that patient is all alone until he or she returns. It is thought that this rather odd combination of short touches and longer pauses, as well as the exact precision of the moves used, is what makes the technique so effective.
History of Bowen Technique
This rather unusual technique was, not surprisingly, founded by an Australian whose last name was Bowen. In the 1950s, Tom Bowen was considered a gifted healer, although he had no formal medical training. What he did have, or what he said he did have, was the ability to sense a the vibrations in an individual’s muscles, soft tissues and ligaments.
Once Mr Bowen sensed these vibrations, he claims, he was able to discern where tension in the body was, and help it to dissipate by using his fingers and thumbs. Not surprisingly, he called his self-proclaimed ability a “gift from God” and set about bringing it to the masses. This was accomplished by the founding of a clinic based on his technique. It was reported that he treated almost 300 patients a week on his own (with the help of a receptionist, of course, to keep track of everyone) and that his success rate was 88%.
Bowen, who sadly lost his legs to diabetes, went on treating his patients even when he was ill. It wasn’t until he died that his disciple, one Mr Oswald Rentsch whom he met in 1974, started bringing the Bowen Technique to the world. By 1990, he and his wife Elaine had brought it to all of Australia and New Zealand, and eventually brought it to North America.
How it Works
Like many similar alternative therapies, the Bowen Technique is based on several principles. They are:
* We are sometimes out of balance in our own bodies, and need to bring back that balance to be healthy.
* Helping the body’s two main regulatory systems, the nervous and the energetic systems, can help bring about that balance we so desperately need.
* We all need the universal life energy, or Chi, in our bodies to flow properly in order to be healthy. In ancient Chinese medicine, Chi must flow unobstructed. This is what the Bowen Technique sets out to do.
During a typical session, a patient will be asked ideally to lie down on a massage table, although they can also sit. They do not need to undress. The practitioner will perform roughly three basic sequences initially, which are designed to rebalance the lower back, upper back and the neck. Later, the practitioner will perform additional sequences based on the client’s specific needs and wants, or the problems he or she is seeking to be addressed.
The sessions are meant to be gentle and relaxing, and it is not uncommon for a client to feel relaxed and even fall asleep during one. Sometimes they feel the tension leaving their bodies as they have this type of “massage.” Unlike other chiropractic techniques, Bowen Therapy does not involve the use of cracking joints, crunches or violent twists, so there are no nasty surprises.
The pauses in between sequences are important. They help give the patient’s body adequate time to respond to each move. Leaving the room allows the patient to relax, reflect and feel completely comfortable. The effect is designed to be completely holistic, and enable the patient to use his or her own body to encourage healing.
Whether it really works or not, however, is questionable. Few scientific studies carried out to date to see if the Bowen Technique really is a plausible method as far as healing or pain relief is concerned, or not. One study on shoulder pain showed that it did have a significant effect but unfortunately the ethics of the study came into sharp question. A second study looked at the heart rate of patients with fibromyalgia and a placebo group, but it also lacked scientific credibility. A third study has been carried out but not yet been published.
What Bowen Therapy Can Treat
Practitioners of this therapy claim that it can help alleviate a variety of ailments, or at least be instrumental in helping them show considerable improvement after just a few sessions (interestingly, the sessions can last anywhere from five to 50 minutes, depending on what needs to be treated). The list is long, but includes:
* Arthritis and rheumatism
* Headaches and migraines
* Heart problems
* Scoliosis, back pain, frozen shoulder
* Digestive ailments, colitis
* Balance and coordination problems
* Fertility problems
Equine Bowen Therapy
The good news is that the folks who seek to make Bowen Therapy available to the masses are also working to make it easily accessible to horses as well. According to the European School of Equine Bowen Therapy, the technique can treat:
* Unlevelness, disunited gait or irregular action
* Uneven wear of shoes
* Muscle atrophy or uneven development
* Stiffness on one rein
* “Cold back” or sore back
* Sluggish lymphatic system or weakened immune system.
* Uncharacteristic change of temperament or deterioration of performance
The Bottom Line
Practitioners of Bowen Therapy, who often refer to it as a precise and gentle form of bodywork, claim that while it can help the body heal itself, as well as making us more balanced in general, it is no substitute for conventional medical care, when needed. If you – or your horse – are interested in trying this therapy out for yourself, give it a whirl. But don’t expect miracles – you might not get any.