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Energy Medicine

by Steven Novella, MD

Energy medicine intends to manipulate subtle energy fields (also called biofields) thought to exist in and around the body and thus affect health. All energy therapies are based on the belief that a universal life force (qi) or subtle energy resides in and around the body (vitalism). Historically, a vitalistic force was posited to explain biologic processes that were not yet understood. As science advanced, a vitalistic force was discarded as an unnecessary notion. No scientific evidence supports the existence of a universal (vitalistic) life force.

Energy therapies include the following:

In external qi gong, master healers use the energy of their own biofield to bring the patient’s energy into balance. Qi gong is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

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