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Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘bowen work’

Bowen Therapy and the ASA

Posted by apgaylard on February 18, 2012

I have, for a little while, been taking a careful look at the claims made for a decidedly second-division CAM called variously ‘Bowen Therapy’, ‘Bowen Technique’ or ‘Bowenwork’.  It involves a potentially relaxing, gentle manipulation of soft tissue using fingers and thumbs; moving them over muscle, ligament, tendon and fascia.

Aside from the potential benefits of a sympathetic consultation, the psychological impact of physical contact with someone who wants to help you and simple relaxation, it would appear to have little to offer.

It’s certainly not at all a plausible treatment for serious conditions like asthma.

I had a look at the research literature a little while ago, and it provides decidedly slim pickings.  As far as I could tell the sum total of the published evidence for Bowen listed in PubMed amounts to:

  • one or is it two (?) small uncontrolled trials for frozen shoulder from a single author (Carter 2001, 2002),
  • an uncontrolled intervention to try and reduce staff absence (Dicker, 2005a),
  • a small uncontrolled study on a range of issues with strong psychological components (Dicker, 2005b),
  • an RCT* showing improved hamstring flexibility in people with no hamstring problems (Marr et al 2011) and
  • a tiny case series that doesn’t show that Bowen technique helps stroke rehabilitation (Duncan et al, 2011).

Read the rest of this entry »


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Bowen Therapy – all fingers and thumbs

Posted by apgaylard on June 19, 2011

I stumbled across Bowen Therapy (aka Bowen Technique, Bowen Work) a few years ago when the other half decided to give it a try.  She found it relaxing and felt it provided a little immediate relief that was soon gone.  Essentially, it was worthless as a treatment for what was ailing her.

This therapy was invented by an Australian called Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916 – 1982).  Apparently, he referred to himself as an osteopath before the title became regulated in the 1970s.  The therapy that now bears his name involves the gentle manipulation of soft tissue using fingers and thumbs; moving them over muscle, ligament, tendon and fascia.

It’s a fairly common, but definitely second division, complementary therapy.  In the UK, Bowen Therapists can register with the pointless Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

After our experience of Bowen Technique, I decided to try and see what evidence is available for the effectiveness of this therapy.  I also decided that it was time to see what claims are being made for it.

A bare cupboard

After having a good look, I don’t think that there is really nothing resembling evidence to support the use of Bowen Therapy for anything.  A careful search of PubMed, The Cochrane Database and Google Scholar identified just six relevant references. Read the rest of this entry »

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