A Q&A with Dr. Tina Marcantel about energy medicine:
Q: What is “energy medicine”?
Dr. Marcantel: The term “energy medicine” covers a wide range of modalities that work with the energy systems that are present in the body. Depending on the healing tradition you’re talking about, these systems and the energy associated with them have different names. In traditional Chinese medicine it’s called qi (chi); in ayurvedic medicine it’s called prana and it’s said to be centered in various energy centers in the body called chakras. Working with this energy to help people with both emotional and physical problems has been common practice for thousands of years. Acupuncture, acupressure, homeopathy, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and even counseling are just a few of the many modalities that are used in energy medicine.
Q: What does energy have to do with my physical symptoms?
Dr. Marcantel: We are flesh and blood and bone, but we are also spiritual, we are energy, we are mental, we are emotional. And it’s all connected. In conventional Western medicine we tend to compartmentalize everything. There’s a tendency to treat a specific symptom instead of looking at the bigger picture. From a holistic perspective we believe that you have to address and treat the whole person in order to get to the root causes of problems, and particularly with chronic conditions. That’s why I like to use energy medicine with people who are ready for it.
Q: But with all the scientific advances in Western medicine, does energy medicine still have a place in medical practice?
Dr. Marcantel: Most of those advances are great! The development of antibiotics, medicines, surgeries, and advanced technological testing methods are wonderful. However, that doesn’t mean we should throw out thousands of years of human experience with healing. Just because something like the energy systems of the chakras can’t be measured yet doesn’t mean they are invalid.
I like to use the example of the microscope. In the mid-1800s a doctor named Joseph Lister figured out that if he just washed his hands and his instruments between surgeries that a lot more of his patients survived. Other doctors scoffed at him because at the time they didn’t have a real concept of germ theory—the idea that infections could be caused by identifiable outside organisms. Eventually his ideas were accepted and surgeons realized that using sterile procedures helped patients. It was only later that microscopes were refined and used to actually identify the bacteria that were causing the infections.
For centuries healers have worked with the body’s energy systems. It’s only been fairly recently that we’ve been able to measure some of the flow of energy with EEG and EKG machines. We can’t fully measure it yet with respect to the flow of qi or the chakras, but one day that technology will probably exist.
Q: Can you give me an example of how a holistic practitioner might use energy work to get to the root cause of a physical problem?
Dr. Marcantel: Sure. Suppose you came to see me because you were experiencing certain symptoms like chronic fatigue, insomnia, and feeling emotionally stressed. After we discuss your case and look at laboratory testing, we may come up with a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue, meaning that your adrenal glands are not producing proper amounts of important hormones to keep your body functioning properly.
At this point it might be appropriate for me to recommend treatment such as intravenous therapy or food supplements to help support your adrenal glands, but I’m also interested in helping you identify the root cause of the problem. If we don’t deal with those root causes, this will be an ongoing problem for you. After we get you feeling better by treating your physical symptoms, I might suggest some energy work so you can have long-lasting benefits from the treatments you’ve received.
Each energy system, each chakra, always starts at an emotional, behavioral, or thought processes level, and then eventually it affects the physical tissue. What happens is that we may be affected emotionally at some point, causing certain ways of thinking, and that affects our belief systems, which in turn affects our behavior. In terms of energy medicine, we call that blocked energy or dense energy and it can cause physical signs and symptoms.
So, for example, the third chakra is about self-worthiness. If your belief system is that you are not good enough, your behavior may be that you are constantly working for approval from others. Whether it’s at your job, or being a good mommy, or doing volunteer work, whatever you do will never get you enough of the approval you think you need. And, of course, it just wears you down because you are constantly putting stress on your body that can lead to a condition like adrenal fatigue.
The holistic practitioner's role would be to work with you to get the energy moving freely again through various methods like the ones mentioned earlier and to help you identify those false beliefs like “I’m not good enough” and move past them. Once you accept and love yourself for the person you are apart from needing the approval of others, you can change destructive behavior patterns. When you become awakened to a new belief system, the deeper healing starts that will manifest in the physical body, as well. What’s really powerful about this is that when you change your thoughts, you change your energy flow; when you change your energy flow, you change your life.