Biofield Science & Healing: A New Chapter

By Diane Hannemann


Institute Scholar Emeritus and renowned neuroscientist, Richard Hammerschlag, PhD, is part of a visionary team of scientists who recently founded the Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI), an international collaborative accelerator of scientists, health practitioners, innovators, educators and artists, that aims to forward the transdisciplinary science and real-world application of consciousness and healing practices.  As a co-founder of CHI and its Director of Research, Dr. Hammerschlag guides an effort to review, disseminate and design research studies that explore the science of consciousness, with particular emphasis on the biofield view of health and healing.

Biofields, generated by all living systems, include the electromagnetic patterns from the brain (EEG) and heart (ECG).  The use of biofield-based therapies can be traced back to ancient systems of care including Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.  While evidence continues to build that biofield-based approaches can have a positive impact on health, significant research funding to examine the effects of biofields has historically been limited as it is often perceived by federal funding agencies as high-risk and outside the dominant biomedical paradigm.

In 2007, the Institute recognized the importance of understanding biofields for health and supported Dr. Hammerschlag as an Institute Scholar to investigate the physiological mechanisms through which biofield therapies —such as Reiki, external Qigong, and Healing Touch—produce a therapeutic effect. Building on his work as an Institute Scholar, Dr. Hammerschlag was a key driver in the creation of CHI and the Institute is honored to be a part of that journey.

In a landmark effort to advance the understanding of the science of biofield-based therapies, CHI’s first major activity was to convene a conference on “Biofield Science and Healing.” Conference attendees drafted and published a unique collection of twelve white papers as a Special Issue of the scientific and medical journal, Global Advances in Health and Medicine. These papers provide a comprehensive perspective on the state of the science of biofield research, including traditional Indo-Tibetan concepts related to biofield, the current preclinical and clinical evidence base, biofield-related medical devices and biophysical theories of the nature of biofields.  Dr. Hammerschlag lead-authored the paper on biofield physiology and co-authored several other of the papers, while current Institute Scholar Paul Dieppe, MD, FRCP, FFPH, co-authored the paper that considered practitioner perspectives on energy healing.

Visit www.chi.is to learn more about CHI activities, to join CHI (cost-free), and to receive electronic access to the special issue, “Biofield Science and Healing” of Global Advances in Health and Medicine.