Bowen Therapy: What it is, Benefits, Dangers

What is Bowen therapy

Bowen therapy, also known as Bowenwork or Bowtech. It is a gentle form of bodywork that involves rolling hand movements applied to specific points on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It stimulates the nervous system and promotes the body’s own healing mechanisms.

The therapy was developed by Thomas Ambrose Bowen, an Australian osteopath, in the 1950s. It is a holistic therapy, which means that it takes into account the whole person, including their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Uses of Bowen therapy

It’s used to treat musculoskeletal or neurological problems, such as acute sports injuries and chronic conditions.

It can help with:

  1. Pain relief: Relieves muscle pain, headaches, and stress
  2. Improved body function: Improves joint mobility and circulation
  3. Reduced inflammation: Activates the lymphatic system, which helps drain toxic material
  4. Reduced stress: Helps with deep relaxation and anxiety

Does Bowen Therapy work?

According to Pivotal Physio, many scientific studies have shown Bowen Therapy to be effective in treating many different ailments.

It is also effective in the prevention, repair, and recovery of sports injuries, and can offer relief minutes after a sporting injury has occurred.

Most people see improvements after 3 to 4 sessions. However, chronic or long-standing conditions or repeat injuries may require additional treatments.

How does Bowen therapy work

Bowen therapy works by:

  1. Stimulating the body’s natural healing response
  2. Releasing tight and adhered muscles and tissues
  3. Calming the nervous system
  4. Improving joint mobility
  5. Increasing circulation of lymphatic and venous fluid
  6. Enhancing the assimilation of nutrients
  7. Eliminating toxins

How long does it take to work

does bowen therapy work

On average, 3 to 4 treatments are required to see a significant improvement.

Some issues may be resolved after only 1 session, but others may require regular sessions to maintain the improvement.

Bowen therapy can take up to ten days to be fully integrated.

Benefits of Bowen therapy

Here are some potential benefits:

1. Pain relief.

This is likely the most common reason people seek therapy, aiming to alleviate pain in muscles, joints, and various conditions like back pain, headaches, and sports injuries.

A 2020 study found that people experience a short-term reduction in pain compared with a control group.

2. Improved relaxation and stress management.

The therapy is said to promote relaxation and reduce stress, hence improving sleep and overall well-being.

3. Enhanced circulation and lymphatic drainage.

The rolling movements are thought to stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage, which could aid in removing toxins and reducing swelling.

4. Increased range of motion and flexibility.

It may improve flexibility and range of motion, potentially benefiting individuals with restricted movement due to various conditions.

A systematic review found that 33% of studies reported improved mobility.

5. Reduced anxiety and depression.

Some users report reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm this claim.

6. Reducing inflammation.

It can reduce inflammation and swelling by activating the lymphatic system, which helps drain toxic material.

7. Relief from chronic illness.

A review of five studies found that it can help relieve symptoms experienced by people with chronic illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis.

Dangers of Bowen therapy

It is generally non-invasive and does not cause major side effects. It’s safe to use for every age, from newborns to elders, and for any musculoskeletal or related neuromuscular complaint.

Some people experience unusual reactions, mainly after initial treatments. Some clients get up and go as if nothing has happened, others feel a little light-headed, and others have a sense of being lighter, more energized, or looser.

Bowen Therapy Cost

It can cost between $60 and $90 per session. Treatments usually last 30 minutes to an hour.

Here are some indicative costs of Bowen therapy in different countries:

  1. United States: $50-$150 per session
  2. United Kingdom: £30-£70 per session
  3. Australia: $50-$100 per session
  4. Canada: $60-$120 per session
  5. New Zealand: $50-$80 per session

Is Bowen therapy quackery

Whether Bowen therapy is considered “quackery” depends on how you define it.

Arguments for not considering it quackery:

  • Safety: It is generally considered safe and non-invasive, with minimal side effects.
  • Potential benefits: Some people report relief in pain and other positive effects after the therapy.
  • Complementary approach: It can be used alongside conventional medical treatments, potentially offering additional benefits.

Arguments for considering it quackery:

  • Limited scientific evidence: There is no strong scientific evidence to support its effectiveness for any specific condition.
  • Lack of clear explanation: The exact mechanism of how the therapy works is not fully understood, and some explanations offered may be considered implausible by some.
  • Marketing claims: Some practitioners make exaggerated or uncertified claims about the benefits of the therapy, which can be misleading.
  • High cost: It can be expensive, and insurance coverage is often limited.

Ultimately, whether you consider Bowen therapy “quackery” is a personal decision based on your individual risk tolerance and evaluation of the evidence.

How to do Bowen therapy on yourself

Due to the specific techniques and precise hand movements involved, it’s not possible to effectively do it at home.

The therapy relies on subtle but specific positioning and pressure, with breaks in between moves allowing your body to respond. Successfully applying Bowen therapy techniques requires training and knowledge of muscle anatomy and fascia connections, which aren’t achievable solely through self-instruction.

Difference between Bowen therapy and massage

Here are some differences between Bowen therapy and massage:

Point of DifferenceBowen therapyMassage
1. TechniqueIt is a combination of light moves and hands-off periods.It is a hands-on technique.
2. FocusIt seeks to restore balance within the body.It primarily focuses on relieving muscle tension and stress.
3. PausesIt includes pauses between moves to allow the body to adjust.It usually doesn’t include pauses.
4. ClothingIt can be performed through light clothing and doesn’t use oil. It is performed without cloth and requires the use of oil.

Both Bowen therapy and massage are very relaxing and have many benefits.

The Bottom Line

Bowen therapy presents an intriguing option for pain relief, relaxation, and improved well-being. While anecdotal reports and individual experiences paint a positive picture, the scientific evidence remains limited, leaving its true effectiveness shrouded in uncertainty.

If you’re considering Bowen therapy, approach it with caution. Consult your doctor to ensure it aligns with your health conditions and treatment plan. Remember, it’s not a substitute for conventional medicine, but a potential complementary tool.

Choose a qualified therapist who focuses on safety and evidence-based practices. Ultimately, listen to your body, explore, and see if it resonates with your individual journey towards better health.

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