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Effectiveness of Bowen Therapy

Amy Norman presented a study in 1998 at the University of

North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physical Education,

Exercise and Sport Science.

Practitioners rated the following results in their clients:

  • 85% effectiveness in back pain with an average of 4.3 sessions

  • 88% effectiveness in neck pain with 4.5 sessions

  • 83% effectiveness in stress, tension with 4 treatments

  • 83% effectiveness in their "other" category after 5.8 treatments

After receiving their treatments, clients themselves reported the

following results:

  • 85% effectiveness with back pain

  • 80% effectiveness for stress and tension

  • 80% effectiveness with Fibromyalgia

  • 95% effectiveness with TMJ

  • 80% effectiveness with hip pain

  • 75.6% for "other" conditions


Psychological Effectiveness

Ashley Pritchard, at Swinburn University department of Psychophysiology, Melbourne, Australia, showed that the Bowen Technique consistently reduced subjects' levels of anxiety, and enhanced individuals' positive feelings by reducing tension, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion. Objective measures of decrease in Heart Rate Variability and muscle tension correlated with subjective feelings of relaxation.

Effectiveness on the Autonomic Nervous System and the Heart

By measuring changes in value and pattern in Heart Rate Variability before and after treatment, a study by Dr. Whitaker, MD, has shown that the Bowen Technique directly affects the autonomic nervous system. (This quieting of the autonomic nervous system allows the parasympathetic system to attend more clearly to healing.)


In her study, Dr. Whitaker, MD showed the positive effect of the Bowen Technique on twenty patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Measurements of shifts in the autonomic nervous system by heart rate variability studies fully complemented the clinical assessments.
Almost all experienced various degrees of relief, which lasted from a few days to several weeks. For some, repeated Bowen Therapy maintained complete clinical remission.


A separate pilot study was carried out by Bowen practitioner and trainer Tim Willcocks on four participants (aged 39-52) who had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia from 3 to 5 years previously. Each was given four Bowen treatments over a five-week period.

All four patients experienced improvement, including better sleep, ease in walking, cessation of vertigo, lessened neck pain, improved balance and decreased exhaustion.


Nikke Ariff did research between 2003 and 2004 to test the efficacy of Bowen in treating asthma. This research, carried out during a twelve-month period, included a majority of participants who had had asthma for over 5 years, and most over 15 years. The results were positive. Eighty-three percent of participants reported a reduction in the frequency of asthma attacks with 75% reporting less reliance on medication than before the beginning of treatments.

Of 24 volunteers who completed the program, 22 reported that secondary health concerns had also improved, including back, neck and shoulder pain; knee and joint problems; headaches and migraines; hay fever; irritable bowel syndrome and digestion; circulation; insomnia; anxiety, stress, depression and energy level improvement.


In Durango, CO, Dr. John Bauman, DDS completed a research project on the application of Bowen on TMJ abnormality. Assessment of masseter tension by Bio Feedback, measurement of bite and subjective symptoms were compared before and after treatment. Immediately after the first treatment, one third of patients felt dramatic relief in some of their symptoms. 20 out of the 22 patients showed significant improvement on their post Bio Feedback assessment.

Blood Chemistry

Dr. Whitaker, using darkfield, phase and fluorescent microscopic live cell analysis, has demonstrated that blood chemistry changes following treatment. These changes corroborate reports by some patients of flu-like symptoms due to detoxification, which can occur following a session.

Frozen Shoulder

Published in England by Dr. Bernie Carter, at the Metropolitan University of Manchester (UK), this study showed effective results with Frozen Shoulders after 3 to 6 treatments, even with those who had long-standing conditions. The study involved 20 participants diagnosed with frozen shoulder and treated with Bowen Technique.

70% of participants regained full mobility, equal to the unaffected side, by end of treatment. The other participants showed significant improvement in mobility and associated function. Some still reported mild ache but none reported any invasive or intense pain, which they had experienced before receiving Bowen.
At the conclusion of this study, participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the therapy, a commitment to use Bowen in any future case of relapse or for another condition, and the intention to recommend the therapy to friends and family.


London-based Bowen practitioner Nikke Ariff completed the Bowen Technique Migraine Research Program which studied the efficacy of treating migraine headaches. The 39 migraine volunteers consisted of 37 women and 2 men. Thirteen of them had been suffering from migraines for 1-15 years; seventeen of them had been having migraines for 16-30 years; and nine had migraines for over 30 years.

In all, 31 participants experienced a positive result, representing 79.5% of the total group. At the end of the program, 36 of the 39 said they would recommend Bowen as a treatment to a friend or colleague.


Additional Research on The Bowen Technique Compiled by Anna Dicker

  • Kinnear H. & Baker, J., (2000). 'Frozen Shoulder Research Programme', UK. published on the internet only.

  • Biorac M, 2000, The effect of Bowen Therapy on Restless Leg Syndrome, Private research not published.

  • Carter, B., 2002, The effect of using Bowen therapy on the frozen shoulder. Accepted for publication in -Complementary Therapies in Medicine vol 9 no 4.

  • Pritchard, A.G, (1993),' The Psychophysiological Effects of the Bowen Technique Therapy', Swinburne University, Melbourne. Psychophysiology Major research Project.

  • Rayment, J., 1997, Reclaiming a sense of wellbeing as a result of receiving the Bowen technique. (A study of the effects of Bowen Therapy on chronic lower back pain.) Thesis for Master HSc Victoria University of Technology (unpublished).

  • Whitaker,J.A., Gilliam,P.P., Seba, D.B. (1997). 'The Bowen Technique: a Gentle Hands-on Method That Affects the Autonomic Nervous System as Measured by Heart Rate Variability and Clinical Assessment'. Abstract presentation American Academy of Environmental Medicine 32nd Annual Conference La Jolla California.

  • The Bowen Technique National Migraine Research Program Oct 2001-April 2002 (review pending)

  • Amato, D., 'Accelerated Healing Response' (review pending)

  • Lambeth, B., 'An Examination of the Bowen Bunion Treatment' (review pending)

  • Sheedy, G., (2000) 'Bowen Therapy as an alternate treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome' (review pending)

  • Medline Literature Search
  • Victorian Government. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Osteopathy, Naturopathy and Chiropractic. 1975
  • Russell, J,K., (1994), 'Bodywork-The Art of Touch', Nurse Practitioner Forum, 5:2, pp 85-90.
  • Stammers,G., (1996) 'Bowen Therapeutic Technique', Journal of Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 2:3, 85-86
  • Rappaport, S., (1997), 'Clinical Experiences of a Bowen Therapist', Positive Health, 18, pp 62-64.
  • Whitaker,J.A., Gilliam,P.P., Seba,D.B. (1997). 'The Bowen Technique: a Gentle Hands-on Method That Effects the -Autonomic Nervous System as Measured by Heart Rate Variability and Clinical Assessment'. Abstract presentation American Academy of Environmental Medicine 32nd Annual Conference La Jolla California
  • Whitaker, J.A., Marlowe, S.,(1998) 'The Bowen Technique: A healing modality, alleviates Myofascial pain of Fibromyalgia and Balances the Dysfunctional changes of the Autonomic Nervous System as measured by clinical assessment and Heart Rate Variability'. Abstract presentation at MYOPAIN '98, Silvi Marina, Italy.
  • Nixon-Livy,M.J., (1999) ' Neurostructural integration Technique (Advanced Bowen Therapy)', Positive Health, Aug 1999, 48-51
  • Figov, J., (1999) 'Gentle Touch Bowen Therapy' Positive Health. (44):47-9 1999 Sept
  • Lund, E., (1999) 'Bowen and Lymphatic Drainage', British Lymphology Society Newsletter, 24, pp 10-13.
  • Hodgson, K., (2000) 'Bowen:simplicity in movement' Physiotherapy Frontline. 6(19):22
  • Rousselot, P., (2000) 'Bowen Technique', Clinicians Complete reference to Complementary/Alternative Medicine, Mosby, Missouri, 371-380.
  • Carter, B., (2001) 'A pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of Bowen Technique in the management of clients with frozen shoulder', Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 9(4):280-15
  • Dicker, A., (2001) 'Using Bowen Therapy to improve staff health' The Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing. 8(1):38-42.
  • Dicker, A., (2001) 'Bowen Therapy', Nursing Aust The Journal @ The New South Wales College of Nursing', 2(3) 7
  • Carter, B., (2002) 'Clients' experience of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen Technique' Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery. 8(4):204-10
  • Akkermans, G., (2002) 'Physio recommends Bowen for facial palsy, Physiotherapy Frontline. 8(10):30
  • Potter, R., (2002), 'Evidence points to effectiveness of Bowen for frozen shoulder' Physiotherapy Frontline. 8(7):16
  • Olafiminhan,K., Hall, S., (2002) 'Bowen- moving blocked energy: Bowen is a gentle but highly effective technique for the treatment of many conditions'. Positive Health. (74):51-4 2002 Mar
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