21 March 2009

The Bowen technique: The philosophy of ‘less is more’

By Dr. Neetu Dhiman - Richmond Review

Chronic pain and inflammation are conditions that many suffer from and can trigger a host of imbalances in overall health if left untreated.

While I was in my fourth year of naturopathic medicine I came across a technique that I have used in my practice with quite promising results. The Bowen technique is based on the philosophy that we are all born with a certain blue-print of health and balance. With gentle non-invasive stimulation of neurovascular bundles, muscles and tendons, the body will be put in a resting state and innately know how to self heal and restore balance.

Tom Bowen, born in Australia, developed the manipulative therapy known as the Bowen technique. After serving in the Second World War, Bowen became interested in ways of alleviating human suffering. He noticed when he made certain moves on a body it had particular effects. He developed the technique without training in any health care field.
I was drawn to the Bowen technique due to the philosophy of “less is more.”

During a session, several moves are performed in a choreographed order with set breaks between moves. The patient is fully clothed and lying face down on a massage table. Treatments initially are once per seven days, with the treatments continuing to work during the week. The goal is the permanent reversal of pain, assuming re-injury has not occurred. If the pain has not started to shift at the end of five sessions, there is a re-evaluation to determine if Bowen is in fact the correct treatment for this condition or if there is in fact an underlying condition preventing healing from occurring.

Additional reasons for chronic pain aside from structural imbalance could include:
•Adrenal insufficiency: The hormone cortisol helps us respond to the demands on our body during times of prolonged stress or chronic pain. It is our body’s main anti-inflammatory hormone.

When cortisol levels drop after patients experience prolonged periods of elevated stress or pain, the body can respond with chronic pain and inflammation.

•Thyroid function: The thyroid gland produces hormones, which are responsible for our metabolism. Low thyroid function can be one of the main underlying causes of chronic pain, and possibly the reason repeated massages, adjustments, and Bowen treatments are required. In some instances, if the bodywork treatment you are currently undergoing is only providing relief with repeated sessions, adrenals and thyroid status may be worth investigating.

•Food sensitivities and toxic burden: Prolonged exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals can result in chronic pain and inflammation, water retention and muscle rigidity. It is common that certain foods can trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body. I have found gluten to be one of the major disruptors of the central nervous system. When I am treating nervous system issues and nerve related pain, I always consider an underlying gluten sensitivity. Individualized detoxification protocols and food sensitivity testing may be essential to reverse the chronic pain and inflammation in certain individuals.

As in nature, every organism is self-regulating. There is always an underlying reason for the pain or inflammation. It is our body’s natural defense mechanisms, trying to immobilize the joint and protect the injured area. Often anti-inflammatories such as steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories will mask this healing process and the “dis-ease” process will spread deeper in the body.

The Bowen technique is phenomenal for treatment of chronic pain from motor vehicle accidents. These have been my most successful cases. Chronic pain of sciatica, sports injuries, constipation, digestion, hernias, neck injuries, frozen shoulder, nerve pain, tendonitis, infertility, PMS, hormone imbalance, scoliosis pain, just to name a few.

The Bowen technique has amazed practitioners of all disciplines and can be an integral part of a successful treatment plan for healing chronic pain and inflammation. Although it is not a new technique it is still fairly unheard of in Canada. For more information see www.bowtech.com, and spread the word to family and friends across Canada.

Dr. Neetu Dhiman is a naturopathic physician and certified advanced Bowen therapist. drdhiman@yourbriohealth.com

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