Energetic Medicine and the Search for a Scientific Basis

We have all heard, at one time or another, the fantastic expostulations of fringe(y), yoga posing people that there exists within the human body a subtle energy, which if cultivated, may function as an expedient to good health and an ‘expanded consciousness’, whatever that means.

Depending on the culture this subtle energy has been referred to by numerous titles:

The Japanese call it Ki; the Greeks dubbed it pneuma; yogins say it is prana; the Chinese use the term qi; and modern energetic sciences term it, rather blandly, bio-energy .

But despite the ubiquity of this bio-energetic concept as exhibited by various cultures, we are generally skeptical of such an ‘ethereal’ substance. Is it real?

If you are like me, then you find the preponderance of traditions, texts, oral anecdotes, and the display of seemingly supernatural human performances attributed to this elusive energy compelling enough to at least entertain the notion that there might be something to it.

The body of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is predicated on the affirmation that this energy, known as qi (pronounced ‘chee’) does in fact exist:

Qi, “is the intrinsic substance and vital force behind all things in the universe. It is the medium between and within all material substances. We are all immersed in it.” – Liang & Wu. (1997). Qigong Empowerment. p17

The health philosophy of TCM maintains that illness is the result of an imbalance of polar qi, divided into Yin qi (dark, soft, moist, lowering) and Yang qi (light, hard, dry, rising). By learning to balance the qi of the human body, it is thought that most health maladies can be remedied and holistic health, addressing the mind, body, and spirit, may be attained.

But of course, references to this bio-energetic underpinning to health has attracted skeptics who have disputed, in some specifics successfully, that the existence of this energy is nonsense. One can easily see why this conclusion is adhered to. There have been and will continue to be many charlatans who seek to turn a quick dollar on the ‘open-minded’, and it is seldom in good sense that we listen to those who have a confirmation bias for such fringe things as ‘spontaneous remission’, the laying of hands healing, and qi-gong practitioners that show off astonishing physical actions such as breaking blocks of concrete with their bare hands. Who is to say that an explanation well rooted in classical physics is insufficient in relegating the notion of qi to the category of myth?

Science, however, contends that subtle energy systems do exist. Not only that, but these systems are currently being dissected and analyzed in pursuit of a modern healing modality that can make use of the resultant understanding that we are more than random collisions and cohesion of inanimate matter. Vitalism is undergoing a resurgence, and the mechanistic, Newtonian science which seemingly explained away the workings of the universe is being supplanted by quantum experiments.

Follow the logic: We know that the human body is comprised of tissues, each of which is a composition of differentiated cells. These cells are composed of macro-molecules that themselves consist of atoms and sub-atomic particles. And the sub-atomic particles? Differentiated from one another by charge, mass, and energy.

In essence, all matter is energy, thus confirming the wisdom of the ancients who made use of such a principle in devising their own healing modalities centered in consciousness and the bio-energetic nature of the human body.

Can you heal yourself by wishful thinking? Probably not. Does energetic healing produce instantaneously tangible effects? Probably not.

The main point of all of this is to raise you to an awareness that the matter of energetic medicine and vitalism is not dead. It is therefore important to be open-minded on the subject, but not so much so that your brain falls out.

I am making an effort to sift through some scientific literature that ostensibly provides the theoretical framework of energetic medicine. More to come.

—-That consciousness has risen from matter inanimate, is perhaps the greatest mystery.—-


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