Energy Medicine and Spiritual Healing
Jonas, W.B., Schlitz, M., Krucoff, M.W. Edited by Chez, R.A. Proceedings: Bridging worlds and filing gabs in the science of healing. Samueli Institute for Informational Biology. Nov 29-Dec 3, 2001. pp.171-183
Review of Contemporary Biofield Measures including GDV:
Implications for Energy Medicine and Spiritual Healing
Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Human Energy Systems Laboratory
Department of Psychology
University of Arizona
With the development of sensitive and reliable biosensors and bioamplifiers it is possible to
record bioelectromagnetic signals that are sometimes referred to as “subtle energy measures” and
“biofields.” This paper reviews research from the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the
University of Arizona documenting the measurement of bioelectromagnetic signals that vary from
low frequencies (electrostatic body-motion effects, electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms)
to high frequencies (12 giga-hertz microwave signals, high frequency X rays, and gamma rays). Both
intrapersonal and interpersonal biofield interactions are discussed. Research on the subjective and
behavioral detection of biofields is also reviewed. New data using a coronal visualization discharge
system is presented that documents possible effects of human intention on physical-chemical
properties of water. Implications for developing new biomagnetic field measurement technologies
using the MRI are briefly considered, and an energy systems framework for integrating
bioelectromagnetics with spiritual healing is proposed.
Prior to the development of contemporary biosensors and bioamplifiers, clinicians and
healers used terms like “qi,” “prana,” and “subtle energies” to refer to presumed energetic
interactions in all living (as well as non-living) systems. It was speculated that invisible fields played
a fundamental role in health and healing, and that sensitive human beings could register and
manipulate these subtle yet significant energetic processes.
Contemporary research in bioelectromagnetism, as extensively reviewed in Oschmann’s
(2000) comprehensive book Energy Medicine, provides a compelling approach to scientifically
understanding and investigating various energy medicine and “spiritual energy healing” techniques.
This paper provides an overview to research conducted in the Human Energy Systems
Laboratory at the University of Arizona that illustrates the promise of applying energy systems
concepts and bioelectromagnetic technologies to energy medicine and spiritual healing.
Following a brief review of definitions of terms and concepts, empirical research recording
bioelectromagnetic signals is reviewed. The signals are organized from low frequencies to high
frequencies. The bioelectromagnetic findings are followed by recent research documenting the
capacity of humans to subjectively and behaviorally detect human biofields. New research using
coronal visualization discharge technology documents potential effects of human intention on
physical-chemical properties of water. Possible directions for future research, including extensions
of MRI technology, are suggested, as well as the potential application of energy systems science forintegrating conventional medicine and spiritual healing.
Defining Terms and Concepts
In conventional physics, energy is defined as the capacity to do work and overcome
resistance (Russek and Schwartz, 1996). Any process that has the capacity to do work and overcome
resistance, by definition, can be defined as energy – be it known or unknown in conventional
Information refers to pattern or form, whereas energy refers to power or force (Rubik, 1997).
Simply stated, information without energy is “powerless” and energy without information is
“purposeless.” What is quantified bioelectromagnetically can be defined as “informed energy” – a
combination of information (pattern) and amplitude (power) (Schwartz and Russek, 1999).
A system is a set of interacting units (or subsystems) (Miller, 1978; Russek and Schwartz,
1996). Information, energy, and matter, are circulated within and between the component units. The
units are interconnected and interdependent. Through their recurrent interactions (termed recurrent
feedback loops), holistic properties occur which are novel / emergent (Schwartz and Russek, 1997;
All systems, regardless of their level in nature – atomic, chemical, biochemical, cellular,
physiological, etc. – are classified as “open” systems in the sense that they receive and release
information, energy, and matter, to various degrees, in a dynamic fashion. Material systems are
therefore “organized energy systems” – in quantum physics, matter is defined as “organized energy”
(Schwartz and Russek, 1997).
To summarize, dynamical energy systems theory integrates concepts of information, energy,
and systems – emphasizing (1) interconnection, (2) sharing of information, energy, and matter, (3)
self-regulation, and (4) dynamic change and evolution.
These fundamental terms and concepts provide a scientific framework for energy medicine,
and by extension, spiritual medicine. Table 1 summarizes five dynamical energy systems
hypotheses and their applications to the hands.
TABLE 1. Five Dynamical Energy Systems Hypotheses and their Applications to the Hands
(from Schwartz, Russek and Beltran, 1995)