*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and am not offering medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you have any medical concerns.
1 – Is Bowen Therapy Legitimate?
The legitimacy of Bowen Therapy is a pertinent question that both patients and therapy providers need to understand. Medical evidence is still scant and inconclusive, leading many in the healthcare profession to proclaim Bowen as bogus.
However, while the medical establishment is still out to lunch on the efficacy of Bowen treatments, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence from people around the world who swear by the effectiveness of Bowen therapy.
People with chronic pain conditions who couldn’t walk, or had limited mobility, or jaw problems or neck problems or back problems, or even extending to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bowen helped to cure them, while the medical establishment was unable or unwilling to help them.
Bowen is not technically a medical treatment due to the lack of concrete medical and scientific evidence. Some people refer to Bowen as a massage, which also is not true. But while the cases of success are primarily anecdotal, the believers in Bowen Therapy are devout followers.
2 – Is Bowen Therapy Quackery?
To be fair to the critics, Bowen is still lacking substantial medical backing and endorsement. However to the proponents of Bowen, this only adds to the allure and mystique of Bowen, as philosophically most are outright opposed to the medical establishment on principle.
This study from 2016 by National Library of Medicine reviewed the effects on hamstring flexibility when participants received a Bowen Therapy. They found that hamstring flexibility continuously improved over one week in participants receiving Bowen, and no similar gain was found in the control group.
And while increasing hamstring flexibility is far from a medical miracle, it does suggest that Bowen has a scientifically observable ability to improve people’s lives. Even small advances like being able to increase flexibility and mobility, can going a long way to increasing life satisfaction.
This article of Edzard Ernst, a medical doctor in the UK, poses the question of whether the Royal College of Nurses is promoting Quackery by promoting the Bowen profession.
As an interesting side note, according to OxfordLanguages, the used of the word ‘quackery’ has been on a steady decline since it peaked in 1850. Not very chic anymore.
3 – Bowen Therapy Rubbish
In fairness to the critics, Bowen Therapy is still lacking a certain amount of scientific and medical credibility, meaning it is unable to obtain mainstream acceptance within the medical establishment. This leads many to proclaim Bowen is complete quackery and rubbish.
There are many people who even go so far as to declare Bowen as not only rubbish, but completely fraudulent. This thread here on SingleTrackWorld is a prime example. Is that a fair assessment, or are they completely out to lunch?
Unfortunately it is a Catch-22: as long as there is no clear medical evidence, Bowen will always remain suspect at best, however many of Bowen Therapy’s biggest supporters love it specifically because it remains an alternative to the conventional medical establishment.
Many people in the world feel let down, lied to or forgotten about by mainstream Western medicine, and as a reaction they cling to and love any therapy that not only is able to help them heal, but positions itself as the underdog – the David v Goliath story in action.
4 – Does Bowen Therapy Actually Work? Bowen Success Stories:
Depends who you ask. If you ask a medical doctor, they’d say no, but if you asked Rosamund Burton, Kristin North, and Lucy Atkins, they’d tell you a different story. And while each of their stories is unique, they all share a common thread: overcoming pains and stiff joints, and discovering a new found freedom and mobility.
It is unfortunate that the medical literature on the subject is so scant, as the anecdotal evidence to its effectiveness is huge. There are volumes and volumes of success stories, of people who’d be willing to drive across entire countries to have their injuries healed, largely because the medical establishment was simply unable or unwilling to actually help them.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when people have no other options available, they’ll try whatever they can. This in and of itself doesn’t prove that it works, however the stories or car crash survivors who were told they’d be crippled for life, and suddenly are able to walk again, are simply astounding.
This video by Dr. Heidi Rootes shows you exactly how Bowen can be used effectively for pain relief:
5 – What Conditions Does Bowen Therapy Treat?
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Frozen shoulder
- Muscle spasms
- Plantar fasciitis
- Mental health issues
- Joint pain
- Foot, ankle and Knee pain
- Mobility issues
- Reducing stress
- Improving blood circulation
6 – Dangers of Bowen Therapy
While there are no reported dangers associated with Bowen Therapy, there are some mild side effects that have been reported to be aware of. These include feelings of:
- Hot flashes
- Hot cheeks
- More pain
- Fever-like symptoms
7 – Can Bowen Therapy Make You Sick?
Bowen has not been documented to make patients sick, however some possible reactions to watch for include: feelings of warmth, hot flashes, emotional release, lightness, light-headedness, sore muscles, drowsiness, disorientation and fever-like symptoms.
All of these side-effects are however temporary, and expected to dissipate within a few hours to a few days. If side-effects persist, do consult your Bowen Practitioner directly so they are aware and can offer solutions.
Bowen typically takes 48-72 hours for the moves to ‘activate’ and your original symptoms may actually temporarily worsen in that time. This is all perfectly normal, and simply part of the healing process.
8 – Bowen Therapy Vs Chiropractic
At its most basic level, Bowen Therapy is gentle, where Chiropractics is forceful. A chiropractor uses forceful manipulations to physically reorient and adjust the spine. It is a physical process of realignment. Bowen by contrast uses small, gentle moves on the fascia, to encourage natural healing.
9 – Bowen Therapy vs Massage
On the surface, Bowen and massage look quite similar to each other. They both involve gentle hand movements on the body. However, massage is more about a full body feeling of relaxation, Bowen is specifically targeted to activate nerve centres within the body to encourage healing.
10 – Bowen Therapy vs Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy involves a series of exercises to help increase muscle strength and flexibility. It is a more active process. Bowen by contrast, is all about signalling to the body to heal itself, by allowing it to relax and switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, a more passive approach.
11 – Bowen Therapy vs Osteopath
Osteopaths fall somewhere between Bowen Practitioners and Chiropractors. Osteopaths perform similar forceful manipulations as Chiropractors, however they believe in a more holistic vision of health, and are more massage-like to warm the body up, similar to Bowen Practitioners.
12 – 30 Minute Full Body Bowen Therapy Demonstration
This video by the Integrated Bowen Therapy, gives you a full 30 minute Bowen Therapy Demonstration, so you can better understand exactly how it works, and how it helps to heal the body:
13 – Is Bowen therapy covered by Medicare?
Bowen therapy is not currently covered by Medicare in the USA.
14 – Is Bowen Therapy Safe In Pregnancy?
As Bowen Therapy uses such small and gentle movements it is safe for use with pregnant women, newborns and the eldery. Do inform your Bowen Practitioner if you are pregnant, as it is essential to avoid moves around the tailbone (coccyx), as it may induce a misscarriage.
15 – Can Bowen induce Labour?
According to the Noosa Bowen Centre, Bowen can be used to induce labour, relieve morning sickness, help with back pain and sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, better fetal positioning, and help to breech a baby.
16 – How To Market Yourself:
If you’re a Bowen Therapist or are curious about becoming one and you want to know how to market and grow your practice, I’ve prepared a comprehensive Bowen Therapy Marketing guide to get you started – jump to any section here:
Wishing you all the best on your journey 🙂