Does Biofield Healing Work? 3 Challenges of the New Field

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New is scary. That is especially significant in a field like medicine that is based on proven theories of respected experts, the evidence of scientific research, and finally the knowledge of clinical practice. Scientists are now only beginning to understand the potential impact that the human biofield can have upon healing.

Like all fields in their infancy, integrating biofield healing into mainstream medicine is slow and the field is facing some major challenges to progress.


1.     Lack of a biological mechanism.

Biofield healing processes cannot be understood by conventional explanations. This creates some resistance or friction amongst scientists, researchers and practitioners. It is not yet universally accepted how to properly measure the energy, how energy is transferred, or how to reproduce positive effects in studies. When the active factors aren’t known, it’s nearly impossible to control for those factors. Researchers need to learn the rules of the game before they can control for them.

2.     New field, new lexicon, no structure.

For any field to progress, a solid academic infrastructure is necessary. Being able to study and understand the mechanisms of healing will allow for the theory and practice to develop in a way that is critical but not biased. Biofield healing is also a broad term that includes many different practices related to energy. Because we do not yet know the underlying mechanism, the varying practices and terms confuse and lead to varied interpretations.

3.     Science on the fringe.

Some of the aspects of biofield healing like the role of healing intention are connected to parapsychology which skeptics criticize as pseudo-science. Some definitions also include practices that appear similar to prayer or “laying on of hands,” which have religious connections, making scientists hesitant to tackle these traditionally stigmatized topic areas.

Solving these challenges will require the research community to be boldbiofield special issue and innovative.

“The appropriate response of biofield advocates must be to continue doing empirical work and clarifying their own definition of the boundary of science. If biofield healing does emerge as part of a new medical paradigm, then presumably that will bring with it some salutary modifications to the boundaries of scientific medicine.” [1]

Learn more about these challenges and others in the new article, “Barriers to the Entry of Biofield Healing into ‘Mainstream’ Healthcare” in the new biofield supplement.

[1] “Biofield Science and Healing: An Emerging Frontier in Medicine,” published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, from the Special Issue in Biofield Science and Healing, released November 17th, 2015.