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Folks -

There previously was a discussion on this site in which a skeptical attitude toward energy work was being discussed, but that discussion eventually got deleted. The reason seems to be that it was judged not to belong in the location where it was taking place, which was inside one of the energy work groups.

I was the person who introduced the skepticism to the discussion. Some people did not appreciate that, but others did. Given how many participants there are on this site, and how many threads and groups are dedicated to discussing energy work with no skepticism, I thought maybe it was time to open a discussion where such skepticism is invited and welcomed.

I look forward to seeing how this discussion might develop. Is there interest?

-CM

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Bert, might this discussion be timely? I feel it could be both ways. Therapists are at a lost, if this is the case.

Bert Davich said:
Again regarding Bodhi's news share posting. It is an article originally written in live science.
The original can be found here: http://www.livescience.com/health/091208-alternative-medicine.html
Written by Christopher Wanjek who is a health and science journalist and author. He does have a master's degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. NO REFERENCE CITATIONS ARE CITED IN THE ARTICLE that I could find.

Regarding his statements on Kava. I can attest that some of it is just not true. I used Kava root powder as far back as 1978 for symptomatic treatment of colds, Flu and throat infection and inflammation. For which it is particularly effective as it has analgesic (that numbs better than chloraceptic), as well as antiseptic properties that reduced the inflammation fairly rapidly when I used it. I can also say that during those illnesses I often drank small amounts of brandy which had no ill effect.

Kava is used (outside the US) for sleep, fatigue, asthma, urinary tract infections, anxiety, insomnia, menopausal symptoms.

I can attest to the sleep part also. It does not 'knock you out but allows you to sleep if you want to. My experience was often vivid dreams and waking up in 6 hours or less feeling like I had a good 8 or 10 hours sleep.

Here is one link that would appear to debunk the articles statements on Kava: http://www.anxiety-and-depression-solutions.com/articles/complement... There are many other sources, just google Kava

The Wanjek article also had 2 comments which I cannot substantiate, but I don't doubt simply because I have had the experience of mixing Kava and Alcohol, though not to the extent claimed and the other one at least cites the Cochrane Review as a reference.

COMMENT 1
"About kava: There is no credible evidence to suggest that kava and ethanol is a toxic mixture, and the reports of drug interactions have not been shown to be clinically relevant (unlike known drug-drug interactions and some drug-ethanol interactions such as barbiturates, which can kill). Kava abuse has it's own peculiarities, which do not mimic alcohol abuse."

While rare instances of possible liver damage have occurred from kava consumption there is no proof that such events are tied more to use of non-traditional plant parts (stems and leaves) than root, rhizome, and root stump. A more reliable meta-analysis (Cochrane Review) concludes that kava is an effective anti-anxiety agent. It has far fewer side effects (doesn't make you stupid) at therapeutic levels than drugs used for anxiety. Asking your doctor would be a good suggestion before taking kava, but most doctors will unable to provide an informed opinion. In spite of this you should tell your doctor if you are taking medicines prescribed by one.

Bottom line, kava appears to be a far safer and efficacious anxiolytic without the side effects of other known materials. Pretty cool from a plant, eh?

COMMENT 2
"In 1980, I was in Fiji, staying at a budget bure and I got to know a few of the islanders - to the point where we all dug up the roots and made kava kava. Then we partied, drinking kava kava from coconut shells and Canadian whiskey from Duty Free. I feel sure, if there were interactions, we would have experienced them."

Wanjak clearly was speaking off the top without really researching Kava. To me that makes anything in this article, or for that matter anything he writes period, suspect. It should be noted that no references were included in the original Wanjek article.


I have respect for Bodhi and he did not actually write the article, but did put it on news share. The problem is Bodhi is respected for his evidenced based position and I don't see any indication he did mindful research on the information he passed on. I do feel that If he is going to insist on evidence based work, he should hold himself to the same standard whether writing an article or passing on information.

(and no I don't believe magnetic therapy works there is reliable evidence it does not)
Choice = Having said that, I would not discredit any practice if it works on someone else.
You are a perfect example of someone who can still stay open minded dispite going through hell. Many people suffering such as you. would have become very anti energy work.

Bert =
my concerns over the rush to stamp out entirely certain modalities that have some lines of teaching that continue to make undocumented and sometimes ridiculous claims.
I can now see how certain schools could become overly eager (and in some cases spoil massage education) in leaning too heavily towards energy work. Getting a balanced or even non introduction into schools must be difficult in the extreame without a BOK.

Robin =
.Also, the article Bodhi posted has no citations so does one no good in checking the studies mentioned./i>/i>
The way the "scientific community" siezes on articles such as these, (with no citations ) is in fact worse than the " energy community " as they are the ones seeking to carry a higher more creditable/scientific authority !
Its the open minded MTs such as your good self that are shaping a very constructive debate dispite the gross negativity of the thread starter.

Mike, I like you, am fearfull for research donations to the massage therapy foundation, so your thread could prove very revealing.
I guess I did things backwards, because I was taking classes and performing energy work five years before I attended massage school, and I know quite a few people who have done the same.

Looking back on my career, and the numerous CE classes I have taken since becoming licensed as an MT, they have been massage-related, not energy related.

Choice states below about taking reflexology, acupressure and C-S in massage school and getting nothing out of it. That wasn't the case for me. I did get something out of it, but that might have been because I had prior experience with energy work. I do remember many students who didn't get anything out of it, and some who just refused to participate altogether. And I agree with him, I won't discredit something just because it hasn't helped me personally, if other people feel it has helped them.

I would like to say in fairness to my school, that we were taught never to impose energy work on anyone, and not to do it to people without their permission (unless they were in a coma, for instance, and we had a family member's permission). I recall in one of these threads Christopher talked about an MT informing him that the last few minutes of his massage would be reiki---I wouldn't do that to anyone unless they wanted it.

Robin Byler Thomas said:
I agree with Bert; a skilled therapist with experience can use energy modalities well. Maybe the real issue is energy work might not be a good idea for student curriculum and should be provided as a CEU only.

Also, the article Bodhi posted has no citations so does one no good in checking the studies mentioned.

Here's an article that identifies the problems with applying RCT's to whole systems of CAM research study; with citations. It's a must read for energy workers who'd like a research voice and for skeptics as well.

I consider MT a whole system CAM approach to health care. The term massage is well defined as a manual manupulation of soft tisses for healing purposes, however, massage therapy addresses many levels. These levels may include psychological, social, environmental, physical, and spiritual/cultural.
Mike,
I do feel the discussion you referred to below has relevancy. Predisposition toward a subject, or a method of research, whether for or against, can effect how far anyone (including researchers) will go in gathering evidence, and what they will look for and consider in that process. I also believe lack of understanding of a subject results in studies that use models and testing methods that are not suited to the subject. These two caveats can effect evaluations, results and conclusions. One thing that comes to mind is a studies lack of being able to prove something does or does not exist being claimed as "conclusive proof", then applying the specific conclusion to a generalization of the entire subject.
Regarding the conclusions formed in the Yahoo article about Reiki, I have had the experience that many members of the clergy--Catholic and otherwise--are practitioners; one Methodist minister in our town even holds a "Reiki-share group" once in awhile. My own Reiki master/teacher is a former nun, and the guy sitting next to me in my Reiki II class many years ago was a priest.

I followed the route Laura and many other did, having learned energy work many years before learning massage therapy, which is now how I happily make my living and I don't combine the two modalities without permission...and only if the client brings it up. The learning curve can work both ways.

Robin, thanks for the link, I look forward to reading this other article tonight.
Bert, I think you stated that perfectly!
I recently rented from netflix the video "the massage video library volume 1, Fascia & Myofascial Techniques" Produced by the Upledger Institute.

The video presented ideas for sports massage that were to me more on the energy side of massage. has anyone else seen this video?
Ditto, Bert.

Bert Davich said:
Mike,
I do feel the discussion you referred to below has relevancy. Predisposition toward a subject, or a method of research, whether for or against, can effect how far anyone (including researchers) will go in gathering evidence, and what they will look for and consider in that process. I also believe lack of understanding of a subject results in studies that use models and testing methods that are not suited to the subject. These two caveats can effect evaluations, results and conclusions. One thing that comes to mind is a studies lack of being able to prove something does or does not exist being claimed as "conclusive proof", then applying the specific conclusion to a generalization of the entire subject.
Hey all. This thread has been pretty active! I'm going to try and catch up, if I can.

RP in CO:

You seem to be saying that when energy work is effective it is more of a psychological effect. Is this a correct understanding of what you are saying? Would you say that the psychological phenomenon that is occurring in that case is or is not influenced by the bodyworker?


I would word it differently than you did. I don't think energy work even can be effective, because I don't think it exists. When practitioners or recipients experience a change in response to conducting or receiving energy work, I believe that it must be a placebo effect. Placebo effects can certainly be of some benefit to people, but practicing with placebo effects as an aim is problematic, ethically and otherwise.

When an energy worker is "working with energy", what is your assessment of what they think they are doing? I ask to know from what perspective you are coming, but also because I am confused by this discussion because of the many, many types of energy work.

From everything I have read and heard, the various forms of energy work are variations on the same idea - that the practitioner is channeling some kind of life force, or altering the recipient's vital life force, in a way that causes benefit.

Actually, I don't think the question I asked regarding your skepticism requires a long answer. It is actually a very simple question: exactly what is it that you - or any of the other skeptics - are skeptical about? Regardless of the potential complexity of the reasoning behind your answer, the answer itself can be expressed simply, and I believe it is an essential answer for a discussion to move anywhere.

Your original question contained several details that I didn't want to have to expand on in this format. But this question, as you have worded it, is not so hard to answer. I am highly skeptical that anyone who claims to work with "energy" because the energy they claim to work with can't be detected, its effects can't be detected, et cetera.

Western and traditional Eastern medical theories are based on completely different philosophies. [snip]

Nah. I've read all those same descriptions and I'm just not buying it. I used to think there was something to that, but the more I learn, the more I've come to see Western/Eastern as a false dichotomy when it comes to modern medicine. The W/E distinction might be more important in the arts, but we're not talking about the arts.

It is interesting that you say there are only two kinds of medicine, the kind that works and the kind that doesn't. I would love to get back to that after you answer some of these questions. Do you know anyone who has undergone acupuncture treatment? Was it effective for them?


Sure, I know people who have had acupuncture. Was it effective for them? Well, how would they know? It's not possible to know if a treatment worked just because one tried it. We're going to need to compare it to something else. All kinds of things *look* like they work when we only consider a before-and-after comparison, even things that don't actually work at all. If we want to know if acupuncture works, we've got to do a real experiment.
Robin Byler Thomas said:


Christopher actually has done research on the MT/client relationship; please share dude, when you get a chance.

Well, there is just the summary that I sent to you via email. One of my goals for the winter break is to get that study written up! I"m ashamed that I have let it go so long without doing that.
Hi Denea.


Energy, Qi or heat if you will- is caused by the movement of things, be it blood, water, clouds, or the leaves on a tree. A car is not a "being" but a vessel that a person can channel energy through by filling it full of the necessary fluids and manipulating those fluids so that they flow or move through the system SO a car can be thought of as an energy 'vessel' because it does not continuously pump the fluids by its own accord - one must have the intention to make this happen.


Intention has nothing to do with it. The car doesn't care what I intend. The car runs thanks to four things - air, fuel, compression, and spark. :)

In my opinion intention is 80% of energy work and the other 20% we do it with out even knowing it. Think about heat radiation, if you are standing next to a recently parked vehicle you will feel the heat created by all of the motion that it just performed but now nothing is moving so the energy or heat is dissipating or leaving and if you were to touch the car the heat would transfer from the hood to your hand and you hand would be warm, thus holding that heat or energy.This is exactly like people- except people have constant motion or heat or energy so the transfer is constant.

You use heat in your example, which is a verified form of energy. But heat cares not a whit for anyone's intention, nor does any other known form of energy. If this so-called qi is a form of energy, why is it different in this respect? Further, why can't anyone demonstrate its existence scientifically, as we have with the verified forms of energy? Further still, why would this so-called qi be limited to living things? Physical scientists in all subdisciplines are able to describe the functions of both living and nonliving things very well with the exact same forms of energy.

Even further still, at what point does this so-called qi recognize that an object is not life and so does not get involved? Do squirrels have qi? Crickets? Starfish? Coral? A dormant yeast cell? A virus?

I found that analyzing energy from a more scientific perspective helped- think about all of the inventions that where powered by heat such as a candle- it is all motion.
When you massage a person and only think about how hungry you are or how your spouse ruined your sleep last night the person can tell that there is a difference in the effect- most will say you were not present/focused- OR your intention to heal the person or relieve them of their current pain was non-existent, you really could have cared less if they felt better at that moment in time you are just going through the motions, your energy was low and you and little offer those outside of you. This happens to even the best therapists from time to time but if left unattended and it leads to burn out.


Now all of THAT I can certainly agree with. But, the difference in our thinking is that I don't ascribe that phenomena to qi. If a therapist is not optimally focused, or is not in an optimal state of intention if you prefer that term, it is likely to be the case that the work suffers. But we don't need to invent qi to explain that. The lack of intention/presence/focus or whatever we should call it will alter the person's strokes, their touch, their attention and receptivity, the tone of their voice, their pace, et cetera. It would be amazing if the recipient didn't notice this!

As you can probably tell I am a strong supporter of energy work but I love a good challenge so I bet I will be on this thread quite a bit, thanks for making me think, but I really can go on and on and on about it so I will save some for next time. I know tons of exercises and experiments you can do to feel energy

O.K., cool! I look forward to your continued participation in this discussion.
Do Squirrels have QI? Course we do! We've got more qi than humans. You humans are virtually qi-less compared to us!
Well Chris,
As I mentioned to you in another conversation "I am thinking that Robin may be an intellectual force that has yet to reveal it's true depth"

Thanx again Robin!

Christopher A. Moyer said:
Robin Byler Thomas said:


Christopher actually has done research on the MT/client relationship; please share dude, when you get a chance.

Well, there is just the summary that I sent to you via email. One of my goals for the winter break is to get that study written up! I"m ashamed that I have let it go so long without doing that.

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