Today we explore Chapter Five – Biofield therapies of my new Volume III of The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy and Chapter 7- Aromatherapy, TCM, Systems Biology and Precision Medicine.
Don’t worry I will come back to Chapter 6 – Mindfulness in a separate blog.
In the second edition the title was Subtle Therapies. The change to Biofield Therapies has disappointed several individuals, so please allow me to explain why I decided to change the title of the chapter.
Western science has often ignored descriptions of ethereal anatomy and physiology, because their existence cannot be documented by anatomical dissection. However, we know that acupuncture meridians, chakras and nadis, the etheric body and other systems of multidimensional anatomy have long been described in traditional healing systems to describe the subtle body.
We must also acknowledge that there is often no consensus between traditional modalities, making it difficult for researchers to explore the many different schools or styles of energy medicine.
I am not suggesting that we can understand the complex interactions involved in energy healing with our existing knowledge of science; however, it is exciting that biofield sciences are an emerging field of study that provide us with a scientific foundation for understanding the relationship between physics and biology, allowing us to arrive at a better understanding of the foundations of biology as well as concepts of energy medicine.
The challenge that researchers have is that the energy being activated is of such a low intensity that it may not be measurable. In this chapter we also examine the relationship with consciousness and intentionality and how this creates a more receptive atmosphere for subtle energies. We will explore the common concepts used to describe the subtle body used in TCM and in traditional Indian Tantric traditions.
We investigate the fascinating research of Dr Valerie Hunt who was considered a pioneer in human energy field research and established a link between states of consciousness and human energy fields. We explore modalities such as Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, Homoeopathy, flower essences, colour therapy and crystals; exploring their relationship with aromatherapy.
Researchers have recently identified ultraweak biophoton emission (UPE) by all cells. It appears that increased biophoton emission takes place in cells during the process of aging and oxidation. Researchers have suggested that biophotons could be used for diagnostic and clinical purposes. Increased UPE activity occurs during oxidative process and researchers have found that cancer cells exhibit increased biophoton emission. Studies have also found that persons practicing meditation had reduced biophoton emission compared to non-meditators.
We also discuss a range of biofield devices and their potential future role in medicine. I conclude by outlining some guidelines for practicing aromatherapy as energy medicine and describing ways we can work with essential oils for subtle healing.
Chapter 4 – Biofield Therapies was without a doubt, one of the most exciting chapters to write and I will be discussing many of the topics outline in this chapter in the Aromatherapy and Biofields Masterclass that I will be conducting later this year.
I am most passionate about integrating aromatherapy with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). I was drawn to study acupuncture after reading The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk. The holistic framework underpinning TCM just made so much sense to me and when I was studying aromatherapy, I immediately related to the essential oils in terms of TCM energetic influences. For example, it made sense to me that essential oils such as sweet fennel or juniper berry eliminate Damp and are often associated with the Earth Element. You can imagine my joy when, in 1989, I discovered Peter Holmes books, The Energetics of Western Herbs – Volume I & II. Peter was able to clearly articulate the properties of essential oils and herbs in a language that I clearly understood based on the concepts of TCM.
Before I continue, I have a beagle story to tell you about these books. Many years ago, I lent the books to a friend. These were expensive books so I insisted to my friend that they must be promptly returned. Several weeks later, one afternoon as I was driving home, I noticed many pieces of paper scattered all over our front yard, I immediately thought that Chopper our beagle must have shredded a newspaper. He had a really bad habit of collecting newspapers from our neighbour’s yards. However, as I drove into the drive way, I noticed that my friend had dropped back the books and left them on the front porch. To my horror one of the books was missing. Yes, all the pieces of paper floating about in the front yard were pages of The Energetics of Western Herbs book that Chopper had shredded!!I was able to salvage as much as possible of the book and to this day it is still a very important addition to my library. My beagles have a thing for Peter Holmes books. Peter’s Aromatica books are beautifully published in hardback cover. While Lucy was still a puppy, she decided to practice her chewing skills on one of the books, luckily, I was able to salvage the book before too much damage was done!
I was so excited when I was able to participate in a workshop taught by Simon mills, author of The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. I believe that Simon Mills was way ahead of his time in developing a holistic systems biology framework which integrated TCM with modern pharmacology. In 1997, Gabriel Mojay wrote Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, in which he so eloquently describes the association between essential oils and the psychospiritual aspects of Five Elements.
In writing this chapter I am sincerely indebted to the work of Kaptchuk, Holmes, Mills and Mojay. I am a little disappointed that the principles of TCM have not gained greater traction within aromatherapy; however, I am now so exciting to know that science is now embracing concepts of TCM through systems biology.
In this chapter I outline the exciting research into systems biology and precision medicine and explain why I believe that Marguerite Maury, may have been one of the first aromatherapists to integrate principles of TCM into her aromatherapy practice. She clearly articulated an approach which incorporates principles of system biology and precision medicine.
In her book, originally published in 1964 – Marguerite Maury’s guide to aromatherapy – the secret of life and youth, she explains that to create the ‘Individual Prescription’ (IP) we need as much information as possible about the patient. She explains the need for a detailed physical examination and results of pathological tests in order to compose the IP which will be able to restore balance to the patient.
She also explains the need to find essential oils to match the patient’s constitution and the need to match to modify an aromatherapy formula as a patient’s condition changes.
The biggest challenging in preparing this chapter was not to take short cuts in explaining the complex terminology used in TCM. While clearly explaining basic concepts of TCM such as Qi, Yin and Yang, Zang Fu and the Five Phases, I introduce you to the origins of disharmony and causes of disease according to TCM. In classifying the patterns of disease, I focus on the disharmonies associated with the Five Elements and explain how aromatherapy can be used to balance disharmonies associated with the Five Elements.
I also explore the psychospiritual dimension of the Five Elements and how disharmonies of the Five Spirits – Hun, Shen Yi, Po and Zhi influence our psyche. In this section I also provide a range of essential oils to balance each of the Five Spirits.
This was another very exciting chapter to prepare and I will be discussing many of the topics outline in this chapter in the Aromatherapy and Five Elements Masterclass that I will be conducting later this year.