Bowen Therapy (Bowen Technique)
Relax, Reset, Rebalance
As a much more gentle intervention than many conventional pain treatments (e.g., some forms of chiropractic manipulation or physiotherapy), Bowen Therapy may be an effective alternative for patients having much pain (e.g., severe injury), increased sensitivity to pain (e.g., having fibromyalgia); or simply requiring gentle treatment (e.g., elderly, children).
It addresses an area that most pain therapies ignore, “centralized pain”, “re-training” your brain to “let go” of it’s pattern of experiencing pain, particularly chronic pain, pain that has not responded well to other treatments (e.g., “frozen shoulder”), and pain in persons seeming to be extraordinarily sensitive to pain (e.g., fibromyalgia).
Bowen Therapy may be used as either a primary treatment, or supportive treatment. As a primary treatment, it typically used for chronic conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system (e.g., fibromyalgia, recovery from injury, “frozen shoulder”).
It is used as a supportive treatment in cases where the autonomic (“unconscious”) nervous system appears to be in need of being “re-set” (e.g., constipation, heart palpitation) or for stress management (e.g., management of anxiety).
The goal of treatment using Bowen Therapy is usually complete resolution of pain, or complete return to previous function.
Benefits of Bowen Therapy
Bowen Therapy may be of benefit, in some capacity, the treatment almost any health condition.
A study titled “The Bowen Technique: a study of it’s prevalence and effectiveness”, presented at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that Bowen Therapy treatment was:
- 95% effective in the treatment of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
- 88% effective in the treatment of neck pain
- 85% effective in the treatment of low back pain
- 83% effective for the treatment of stress and tension
- 80% effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia
- 80% effective for the treatment of hip pain
- 75% effective for the treatment of non-specific pain conditions
Other research has demonstrated that Bowen Therapy:
- Improves decreases tremor and improves sleep quality in patients having Parkinson’s disease
- Reduces heart rate variability (“normalized” heart rate) and slows heart rate in 100% of fibromyalgia patients
- Increased neck range of motion, and decreased “disability scores” in patients having trapezitis (neck and shoulder pain, and restricted movement) when combined with physiotherapy
- Improves mobility and function; and reduced pain (on average) from a score of 7/10 to 1/10 in 100% of “frozen shoulder” patients
- Reduces migraine headache frequency and/or intensity in 80% of patients
- Improves symptoms of restless legs syndrome in 3/5 patients receiving treatment
- Completely reduces symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in 4/6 patients receiving treatment, with complete resolution of symptoms in 3/4 of these cases
- Significantly improves motor function of patients recovering from stroke
- Improves sleep and a general sense of well-being
A single Bowen Therapy treatment has been demonstrated to:
- Decrease feelings of depression by 51%
- Decrease feelings of anxiety by 21%
- Decrease fatigue by 41%
- Decrease sense of tension by 62%
- Decrease feelings of anger by 47%
- Decrease confusion by 33%
- Increase flexibility (in hamstrings) by 26-34%
Learn more about the experience of, and results from Bowen Therapy treatment for a range of health conditions at these sites:
- Details of some of the research described above, including studies on treatment of frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome and restless leg syndrome
- Six case reports, including treatment of disc injury
- Six case reports, including treatment of sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and “tennis elbow”
- Six case reports, including treatment of hip and knee pain, and recovery from knee and lung surgeries
- Six case reports, including treatment of various neuralgias
- Five case reports, including treatment of sciatica; and further insight into potential mechanisms of action of Bowen Therapy
- Four case reports, including treatment of migraine headaches, sciatica and “frozen shoulder; and further insight into potential mechanisms of action of Bowen Therapy
- Three case reports, including recovery from auto collision
- 22 case reports, including treatment of children, “frozen shoulder” and sciatica
- Seven case reports, including treatment of “frozen shoulder”, carpal tunnel syndrome and migraine headaches
- Two case reports of treatment of Parkinson’s disease
- A case report of treatment of migraine headaches
What to Expect
Bowen Therapy involves application of gentle pressure to the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues at specific points, and in specific sequence.
Treatments are approximately 30 to 45 minutes long, and performed weekly or bi-weekly for the first four sessions.
Treatment frequency is then individualized to your response to treatment (e.g., if your pain is resolved, but returns after three weeks, treatments will be scheduled at three week intervals).
Improvements in pain levels or function may be experienced after as few as one treatment.
Bowen Therapy at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine
Bowen Therapy treatments at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine are performed by Du La, ND and Jonah Lusis, ND, both of who have been certified in Bowen Therapy by the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia since 2002.
Bowen Therapy treatments provided at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine are covered by most extended healthcare plans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Whitaker J. The Bowen Technique: a gentle hands-on healing method that affects the autonomic nervous system as measured by heart rate variability and clinical assessment. Paper presented at: The American Academy of Environmental Medicine; 1997 Dec; La Jolla, USA.
Nitsure P, Kothari N. The effectiveness of Bowen Technique as an adjunct to conventional physical therapy on pain and functional outcomes in subject with acute trapezitis – a pilot study. Revista Romana de Kinetoterapie. 2015 Dec;21(36):5-11.
Carter B. A pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of Bowen Technique in the management of clients with frozen shoulder. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2001 Dec;9(4):208–215.
Ariff N. The Bowen Technique national migraine research program [Internet]. [cited 2014 May 9]. Available at: http://www.bowenmigraineresearch.co.uk/migraine-research.html.
Duncan B, McHugh P, Houghton F, Wilson C. Improved motor function with Bowen Therapy for rehabilitation in chronic stroke: a pilot study. J Prim Health Care. 2011 Mar 1;3(1):53-7.
Dicker A. Using Bowen Technique in a health service workplace to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of staff. Aust J Holist Nurs. 2005 Oct;12(2):35-42.
Prichard A. The psychophysiological effects of the Bowen Technique. [Major research project]. Melbourne, Australia: Swinburne University; 1993 [cited 2014 May 9]. Available at: http://www.bowen-akademie.com/cms/images/file/ThePsychoPhysiologicalEffects.pdf.
Marr M, Baker J, Lambon N, Perry J. The effects of the Bowen Technique on hamstring flexibility over time: a randomised controlled trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011;15:281-290.