Understanding Bioenergy Medicine with Dr. John Ives


Thanks to Einstein, we know that all living matter is made up of energy. But there is a difference between traditional energy used in sound, light and magnetic therapies and the more ancient concept of subtle energy that may be behind the healing practices of therapeutics touch, healing touch, Reiki, and Qi Gong.

“All living things, all living cells-plants, animals, every living thing on this planet actually emits light. That light maybe carrying information.” –John Ives, PhD

Practitioners and patients are finding value in self-care practices with roots in bioenergy medicine. While once reserved for those interested in non-traditional or alternative forms of healing, bioenergy medicine is now working its way into more traditional medicine. Even the military has taken interest by adding Reiki and Tai Chi into its offerings.

Challenges of Bioenergy Medical Practice

In a medical system focused on pills and procedures, this shift to self-care can be challenging for patients. Beginning the healing process requires making a commitment to self-care according to our experts.

What’s perhaps more challenging for practitioners who promote bioenergy healing is backing up their practice with science. Though the knowledge of bioenergy itself has settled within the medical community, the idea of tapping into bioenergetics to actually treat and heal patients is fairly new. Samueli Institute’s Senior Director of Research, John Ives, PhD, believes that there is still much more information to be gathered on the topic.

“We’re still figuring out what the information is–what the Rosetta Stone would be.” –Dr. John Ives

Watch Videos from Samueli Institute

Dr John Ives on Bioenergy medicineThe questions that still exist about Bioenergy are questions that allow understanding of just how powerful human energy is. Can humans detect the heartbeats of other humans without medical machinery? This is a thought Dr. Ives has about Bioenergy, but to get to the answer, the field needs more time.

Understanding Bioenergy Medicine

In the military, the are therapies being used by service members and veterans to tap into their own bioenergetics. According to the science, these complementary, integrative medicine modalities have been proven to be a more of an efficient treatment form than prescription medications for chronic conditions like pain, depression, and sleep disturbances. These therapies include:

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Reiki
  • Yoga therapy
  • Tai Chai
  • Qi gong
  • Other meditative modalities

The science behind bioenergy medicine is still developmental and therefore, a lack of understanding about how bioenergy medicine can improve practices in our healthcare system still exists. SI’s goal is to play a part by better understanding bioenergy as it relates to healing, which, according to Dr. Ives, is not a far-off goal.

In the next 10 years, Dr. Ives believes that the medical population will be able to define and measure bioenergy in a way that will be acceptable to the majority of the population. He argues that once bioenergy can be measured, it can then be implemented into normal medical practice.

“My prediction is that there will be interface between scientific understanding and the human experience of bioenergy.” – Dr. John Ives


Samueli Institute recently launched the mind-body website brainmindhealing.org to materialize the evidence behind mind-body medicine, encourage the implementation of mind-body practices in standard care and discuss how mind-body medicine can positively impact the future of our healthcare system. Be sure to visit the site