Bowen and Asthma
Written by Alastair Rattray. Published on 19 November 2003.
An article about asthma and the Bowen Technique published by "Nurse2Nurse" magazine.
It was mid July 2000 when thirteen year old Helen's mother called asking for an appointment. Her Homeopath 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. "She's rather small", her mother told me. Imagining I would find a thin, sickly child, I was surprised to meet a well-built girl. "Nothing wrong with that body", I thought to myself. It just didn't seem to be working properly.
Helen's first appointment was on 1 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 for a long time. Helen's sinusitis completely cleared soon after and, since that first day, she has not had a single asthma attack. Surprisingly, she also began to grow significantly soon after the treatment started.
The technique was developed by an Australian, Tom Bowen. He set out to treat muscular-skeletal problems and was so successful that, by 1974 it was estimated that he was treating 13,000 people a year. They usually needed between one and three treatments to solve their problems. Tom died in 1982 but one of his six "boys", as he called them, started to teach the technique now used in many countries.
Tom Bowen's technique was to make small, gentle moves across muscle or tendon in specific parts of the body. These moves encourage the body to heal itself by re-balancing the energy causing muscle spasm and the various systems which make the body work. Unlike most other therapies, it is the body which makes decisions on healing, not the therapist. So, when something like Helen's sinusitis is fixed, it stays fixed.
The technique used for asthma in young children is very easily given and consists of some 8 gentle "moves"; 4 on the child's back and 3 on the front, with one 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 co-operation from the child! However, case after case has shown that the effects can range from good to dramatic.
Respiratory problems come in may different colours. 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, while often good, can take longer to resolve and be more varied.
Typical of some of the child respiratory cases we have seen are a brother aged 6 and 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 re-balance 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 seem to be totally consistent. In the case of Tiger, then aged 2½, who had just been prescribed an increased dosage of steroids due to the frequency (often every two weeks) and strength 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 emergency procedure taught on the Bowen courses for one of these acute attacks is to do a reasonably strong downwards movement with the thumb starting about 1½" 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 then moving the thumb downwards sharply. As this point of the body is an important centre of energy, the move releases this pent-up energy 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 hay fever 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. With another 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 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 hay fever and sinus treatment are combined with the jaw. 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 hay fever 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 treatment 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, it seems to stay clear.
This incredible technique is being learnt by all sorts of people such as nurses and doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and other therapists while some just want to treat friends and family. All are astounded by the results they are achieving. "You don't have to have a medical background to be very successful," says Bowen teacher, Alastair Rattray from the European College of Bowen Studies. Students can start treating a number of conditions, such as back and neck problems, arms, elbows, knees and ankle conditions and "frozen shoulder" problems successfully, immediately after their first course.
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