Bowen Technique – Remarkable results with respiratory problems
By Alastair Rattray & Janie Godfrey
“Bowen has changed my life. I no longer live with back pain and do not have to worry about asthma attacks with my daughter or watch her fight to get her breath.” – B.C. Feb 2000
It was mid-July 2000 when thirteen year old Helen’s mother called Bowen Technique practitioner Alastair Rattray asking for an appointment. Her homoeopath had recommended trying this new “Bowen” treatment.
Helen had suffered from asthma since she was a baby. She frequently missed school through illness, catching anything that was going, which often initiated an asthma attack. To add to her misery, over three years previously she had also developed chronic sinusitis.
Helen’s first appointment was on 1st August and she was relieved to find it did not include the use of needles. In fact, she was very surprised to find how gentle it was. By the end of her first treatment, she felt her face clearing for the first time in a long time. Helen’s sinusitis completely cleared soon after and, since that first day, she has not had a single asthma attack.
The Bowen Technique was developed by an Australian, Tom Bowen. He set out to treat musculoskeletal problems and was so successful that, by 1974 it was estimated that he was treating 13,000 people a year.
They usually only needed between one and three treatments to solve their problems. The phenomenal number of patients that Tom Bowen treated per year was possible because of the 2 minute breaks that occur throughout a Bowen treatment, enabling a practitioner who has several treatment rooms to treat more than one person at a time.
The essence of Tom Bowen’s technique is to make small, gentle rolling-type “moves”, using thumbs and forefingers, across muscles or tendons at specific points on the body.
These moves stimulate the body to heal itself by rebalancing the energy and causing gentle muscle movement in the various systems of the body to restore its healthy functioning.
This stimulation is enhanced by the recurring short breaks throughout the treatment, which give the body a space in which to absorb the prompting and begin to respond. During the breaks, patients commonly report feeling warmth or tingling or ‘things moving around” and their stomachs often rumble as their bodies respond to the moves.
Unlike most other treatments, it is the body that makes the decisions on the repair, rebalancing and healing that takes place. The treatment and/or therapist do not force it. So, when something like Helen’s sinusitis is fixed, it stays fixed.
Respiratory problems come in many different guises.
The interesting thing about The Bowen Technique is that the results seem to be consistent when applied to children. Adults tend to have other stresses, which can have a bearing on what is really going on. So results in adults, while often good, can take longer to achieve and be more varied.
Rachael, who works as a restorer of antique rugs and carpets, received Bowen treatment. She was using “puffers”, sometimes every hour, and looked terrible -black rings round her eyes, no energy and a grey complexion.
It was discovered during treatment that she was highly allergic to wool and course dust. She had to seriously consider whether she could continue with her chosen career after years of study and apprenticeship.
This was 5 years ago. Rachael started having weekly Bowen treatments and was often sick after the Bowen asthma moves but felt better for it. She now has maintenance Bowen treatments every four to six weeks. Although she still has asthma it no longer plagues her life and her use of “puffers” is minimal unless she is treating a really dirty rug. The only treatment that Rachael has is Bowen.
Bowen therapist, teacher and sports coach, Paula Esson, has found the Bowen Technique to be an invaluable tool with athletes. She tells the story of a young woman’s response to Bowen.
Katharine is a member of the England Junior Basketball Team and was involved with the multi-stage fitness test used to analyse an athlete’s aerobic performance. A standard is expected at this level and the peer pressure to achieve the necessary grade is immense.
Katharine was struggling for breath soon into the test causing some concern early on. Determination kept her going until she had to stop because she could not gain a breath at all and had commenced a panic attack, which complicated the situation.
Katharine was removed from the concerned crowd and Paula carried out the Bowen emergency asthma move. Immediately, a normal breathing pattern resumed and after 30 minutes Katharine carried on training with no further symptoms.
The Bowen treatment used for asthma in young children is very easily given and consists of some 8 gentle “moves’; 4 on the child’s back over the erector spinae and 3 on the front, two over the rectus abdominus at the costal margins and the third being a simple “holding point” just below the sternum.
The total time to carry out this simple procedure on a young child is some 30 – 40 seconds, depending on the level of cooperation from the child! However, case after case has shown that the effects can range from good to dramatic.
Typical of some of the child respiratory cases that Alastair Rattray has seen are a brother aged 6 and a sister aged 3 who were both prescribed Ventolin. The boy had been having regular, severe attacks rather like asthma, where he would eventually be very sick.
He had been on Ventolin for over a year. His sister had had a persistent cough for about 18 months and her ‘puffer” for a month. In spite of the medication, there was no change to either situation. The two children received one Bowen treatment only, the girl’s lasting about 40 seconds and the boy’s about 5 minutes where other Bowen moves were also given to try to rebalance more of his body’s systems. Within 3 – 4 days, both children changed completely and the conditions cleared up.
The boy had no further attacks and the girl stopped coughing. The parents decided to stop the medication immediately, though this had not been suggested by the therapist. Ten months on, both remain in good health. These results are consistent with other cases such as that of Piers, aged 18 months, who was also on Ventolin and always became very wheezy, sometimes developing into an attack, when he had a cold.
Two weeks after his first treatment, he had a cold but, as his mother reported, it was just a ‘normal” cold with no additional side effects such as wheezing, which had always happened previously.
It does not seem to matter whether the child is taking medication or not. The results appear to be totally consistent. In the case of Tiger, then aged 21/2, who had just been prescribed an increased dosage of steroids due to the strength and frequency (often every two weeks) of her asthmatic attacks, the steroids were stopped by her mother because she had reacted so badly to them.
Hearing about Bowen, she brought her for a treatment. Her persistent wheezing stopped almost immediately, and she has not had another asthmatic attack in over two years.
While she becomes wheezy from time to time, another Bowen treatment seems to settle the situation quickly. Her mother, who suffered increasing back, neck and leg pain for over 12 years and had had this resolved with only two Bowen treatments, wrote: “Bowen has changed my life. I no longer live with back pain and do not have to worry about asthma attacks with my daughter or watch her fight to get her breath.’
An asthmatic attack is usually caused by the muscles controlling the lungs and breathing going into increasing spasm.
The triggers for such an attack can be various, such as a cold or illness; an allergy such as those causing hay fever; or other lung related diseases. The probability is that the muscles involved, such as the diaphragm and the smooth muscle around the bronchioles, appear to be slightly in spasm as though ready to cause the respiratory system to go into spasm at the slightest hint of a problem.
As soon as a trigger is detected, the spasm increases. Hence, one of the first signs of the increasing problem can be wheezing, sometimes there all the time. In an acute asthmatic attack, the patient can breath in but is unable to breath out as the diaphragm is in full spasm. This can be illustrated by the fact that the stomach appears to collapse inwards.
The Bowen emergency procedure for one of these acute attacks
is to do a reasonably strong downwards movement with the thumb starting about 11/2 inches below the xiphoid process.
The procedure is started by gently pushing the “skin slack” upwards to make room for the move, then applying a reasonable amount of pressure and moving the thumb downwards over the diaphragm. An important centre of energy is at this point of the body and the move releases this pent-up energy that is holding the diaphragm in spasm and an immediate release of air from the lungs is achieved. it is very effective.
Much success has been achieved with hayfever and especially sinusitis. In one case, a lady who had suffered from chronic sinusitis for 14 years, had had four operations with the last one making matters much worse.
After a course of Bowen treatment the condition completely cleared and she has remained clear without any further treatment for some 15 months. In a similar case, infection of the right side of the sinus had continued for a year and a half and a third operation was scheduled. Within a short time after commencing Bowen, the infection stopped and the sinus cleared soon after.
This patient had been taking 6 Anadin a day for the whole period of infection. By the end of the Bowen treatment programme, she needed none.
With The Bowen Technique, the hayfever and sinus treatment includes moves on the jaw and temporomandibular joint. A key part of that treatment involves the draining of the lymphatic system hidden behind the sternoclydomastoid muscle in the neck.
It seems that this area being blocked over a long period of time, or in response to a hayfever trigger, is the key to why it is so difficult to successfully clear the sinus area. When the Bowen treatment is given, this part of the treatment often produces an immediate positive response to the sinus blockage.
Once started, it does not then seem to re-block. However, with the chronic cases, clearing this area can take a number of treatments which must continue, without a break, every seven days or so until the blockage is clear. This can take more or less 6 weeks and sometimes more. Once cleared, however, it seems to stay clear.
This incredible technique is being learnt by a wide range of people: nurses and doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and complementary therapists as well as people who are new to health care. Some people learn it in order to help family and friends. All are astounded by the results they are achieving. You don’t have to have a medical background to achieve significant success. The Bowen Technique’s gentle moves send their messages to the body and consistently and reliably produce remarkable, welcome results.
Nurse 2 Nurse
By Alastair Rattray & Janie Godfrey