Bowen and Fibromyalgia Relief

Research studies of the Bowen Technique indicate that it may be effective in relieving the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.

In a study of twenty patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia conducted by Jo Anne Whitaker MD (1998), at the American College of Rheumatology, almost all participants experienced various degrees of relief which lasted from a few days to several weeks. Most reported immediate relief following a Bowen treatment. For some, repeated Bowen therapy maintained complete clinical remission. The results were statistically significant and correlated with improvement of clinical well-being.[1]

A pilot study on the effect of Bowen treatments on fibromyalgia sufferers was carried out by Tim Willcocks (Bowen Practitioner and Trainer). Four participants (aged 39-52) who had carried the diagnosis of fibromyalgia from three to five years, were given four Bowen treatments over a five week period. All four participants experienced improvements in sleep, ease in walking, cessation of vertigo, eased neck pain, improved balance and less exhaustion.[2]

Effects of the Bowen Technique on the Autonomic Nervous System and Heart Rate Variability

By measuring changes in the intensity and variability in heart rate before and after a Bowen treatment, a study by Jo Anne Whitaker, MD demonstrated that fibromyalgia patients with myofascial pain and other clinical symptoms of autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction receiving Bowen therapy experienced mild to marked relief. Significantly, ANS dysfunctional changes before therapy were partially balanced following therapy.[3]

Surprising and Unexpected Recoveries

People with chronic disabilities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, MS, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and arthritis have shown a gradual improvement in the condition and also in quality of life. It is always worth trying the Bowen Technique because in many cases it has been known to trigger surprising and unexpected recoveries when nothing else has worked.

Case Histories


Exhaustion had become a stable part of ‘Sheila’s’ life, as had the pain. During a visit to a new doctor, a brief mention of the Bowen Technique was made and she was referred to a practitioner. Sheila had no idea what to expect and she was very nervous during her first visit. The therapy was explained in a very reassuring way, even though she didn’t really understand the part about ‘energy flow’ and she found the whole thing a little weird. But she had come this far, so she thought she might as well give it a try.

The treatment itself was very relaxing. In fact, she almost fell asleep several times. Since she was accustomed to a life of conventional drug therapy, Sheila tried to rationalize how Bowen could possibly help, especially after nothing else had worked. The week after her first session she remained sceptical, and so it was to her surprise that within a few days she began to feel different. Her pain was still there, but she felt different – like she could do more. She decided it was probably a coincidence.

Over the next few weeks Sheila began to take regular walks and, without even noticing it, she slowly developed less reliance on pain killers. Gradually the time between Bowen treatments grew longer. It is now months since her last treatment and she still doesn’t understand the whole process, but what does that matter? When did she ever understand how conventional medicine worked? All she knows is that without the aid of prescription drugs, she is slowly regaining much of the life she had lost for so long.

Heel Spurs

‘Henry’s’ major concern was the debilitating pain he experienced every day. His job called for him to be on his feet all day. By the middle of the afternoon, he could barely stand. He had tolerated this pain for the last two years. Doctors diagnosed it as heel spurs. He had tried various orthotic shoes, to no avail. They told him there was nothing they could do and that he would just have to live with it. He was desperate when he decided to try the Bowen Technique as a last resort.

After his first session he felt an improvement in his lower back. It was still stiff and achy, but it felt improved. His knees also felt better, but he still had headaches and severe foot pain.

After the second session the pain in his feet was gone. He was able to work all day and then go home and walk around the house with no shoes, something that had not been possible for the past two years.

After the third session, his back pain, headaches and knee pain were gone. He still felt some minor foot aches at the end of the day, but with short rests, they quickly went away.

TMJ, Migraines and Back Spasms

‘Jennifer’ was told she had to ‘learn to cope’. Cope with daily souvenirs of her auto accident: TMJ, migraine headaches and back spasms. Along with massive amounts of painkillers she also had heat packs, ultra-sound massage and cold packs three times a week for 18 months.

She had to restrict her life to accommodate her limitations. A soft diet not to tax the TMJ. No heavy lifting or severe bending. New pains appeared in her right hip. She would never be the same.

A dear friend could not bear watching her suffer and suggested she try Bowen therapy. She had never heard of Bowen, but her mind was open and curious. During the first three weeks she was treated with Bowen, she couldn’t lie on her stomach because her sinuses clogged up. Then at week four she noticed she was lying on her stomach with no pain in her shoulders, no discomfort and – strangest of all – she was breathing clearly.

She had more strength, more energy and much more flexibility whether on the treadmill, walking the dog or climbing up stairs. No back spasms. No low-back aches or throbs. She could even bend over and touch her toes. And she hadn’t had a migraine for a long time. No earaches either, because the TMJ was better. After eight weeks of Bowen therapy, she was coping very well: getting out of bed without a stiff aching low back, bending, lifting and moving around. Slowly she learned to live once again without earaches, without migraines and without daily jaw pain.

That’s called having a normal life.

Bowen Technique Hailed by Health Professionals

Dr JoAnne Whitaker, MD was facing a hip replacement and back surgery when she discovered the Bowen Technique. After receiving Bowen treatments, not only was she able to walk, but she went back to playing golf, all without surgery. She was so impressed that she flew to Australia to train in the Bowen Technique and now treats patients with ailments ranging from bunions to heart disease.

According to Dr Whitaker, “Bowen Therapy is the single, most important hands-on healing technique in medicine”.

Brenda Williams, Director of the Quiet Miracles Program in North Carolina, chose the Bowen Technique as the sole hands-on component of her hospital’s pain management unit.

Audrey Butko, MD considers the Bowen Technique to be a blessing in her medical practice because of its simplicity, positive results and patient satisfaction. It has nearly eliminated her need to use cortisone injections.

Dr Christine Staub, a family physician with a special interest in the treatment of chronic pain, has seen the Bowen Technique ‘unlock the door’ for patients who had reached an impasse in their pain treatment. “I am thrilled to have Bowen Therapy as a resource for myself, family, friends and patients”, she said.

Gerry Townsend, MD offers the Bowen Technique to acute and chronic patients who have not responded to traditional treatment for myofascial pain syndrome, back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis or fractures.

Dr Michael Buckman has said: “As the success with Bowen is in most cases so astonishing, people seeking an explanation as to what it is prior to receiving treatment often think you are some incredible charlatan making wild claims when you give an explanation. But it is true. Clients, who present with both acute and chronic pain, having often sought in vain treatment from a variety of other experts and specialists, are consistently free of their problems within a very short time by using Bowen. In fact, most clients require only two or three sessions to achieve long-term benefits.”

Ordinary Miracles

According to Patrik Rousselot, Bowen Instructor, “New practitioners frequently obtain outstanding results even before having completed their training. I recently taught a level 3 refresher where a level 2 student practitioner was able in one session to totally alleviate a woman who had been suffering chronically for 20 years from acute lower back pain due to herniated disks.

“This woman had tried many different forms of therapy and had seen various kinds of practitioners for years. They all came to the conclusion that she had to live with it. Some days her pain was so bad that she couldn’t get out of bed, walk or dress herself unassisted.

“I personally met this woman months later, and she was still totally symptom free!!! That one session changed her life.

“All this to say that as a patient… if no experienced long time practitioners are available in your area, it is still worth trying a new practitioner, even a student practitioner, still in training … as the Bowen Technique can often achieve what some of us refer to as ‘ordinary miracles’.”


The main difference between Bowen and other modalities is how fast it works, how gentle it feels and how long the pain relief lasts. For me, the ‘miracle’ lies in the fact that doing so little can produce such profound and long-lasting results.


1. Whitaker, JA, Marlowe, S. The Bowen Technique: A healing modality alleviates myofacial pain of fibromyalgia (FM) and balance the dysfunctional changes of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as measured by clinical assessment and heart rate variability. In MYOPAIN. Silvi Marina, Italy. 1998.
2. Tim Willcocks. Effect of Bowen Treatment on fibromyalgia sufferers. 1997-98.
3. Whitaker, JA. The Bowen Technique: A gentle hands-on healing method that affects the autonomic nervous system as measured by heart rate variability.