Contemporary Biofield Measures including GDV

Review of Contemporary Biofield Measures including GDV: Implications for Energy Medicine and Spiritual Healing

Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Human Energy Systems Laboratory Department of Psychology University of Arizona


With the development of sensitive and reliable biosensors and bioamplifiers it is possible to record bioelectromagnetic signals that are sometimes referred to as “subtle energy measures” and “biofields.” This paper reviews research from the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona documenting the measurement of bioelectromagnetic signals that vary from low frequencies (electrostatic body-motion effects, electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms) to high frequencies (12 giga-hertz microwave signals, high frequency X rays, and gamma rays). Both intrapersonal and interpersonal biofield interactions are discussed. Research on the subjective and behavioral detection of biofields is also reviewed. New data using a coronal visualization discharge system is presented that documents possible effects of human intention on physical-chemical properties of water. Implications for developing new biomagnetic field measurement technologies using the MRI are briefly considered, and an energy systems framework for integrating bioelectromagnetics with spiritual healing is proposed.


Prior to the development of contemporary biosensors and bioamplifiers, clinicians and healers used terms like “qi,” “prana,” and “subtle energies” to refer to presumed energetic interactions in all living (as well as non-living) systems. It was speculated that invisible fields played a fundamental role in health and healing, and that sensitive human beings could register and manipulate these subtle yet significant energetic processes.

Contemporary research in bioelectromagnetism, as extensively reviewed in Oschmann’s (2000) comprehensive book Energy Medicine, provides a compelling approach to scientifically understanding and investigating various energy medicine and “spiritual energy healing” techniques.

This paper provides an overview to research conducted in the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona that illustrates the promise of applying energy systems concepts and bioelectromagnetic technologies to energy medicine and spiritual healing.

Following a brief review of definitions of terms and concepts, empirical research recording bioelectromagnetic signals is reviewed. The signals are organized from low frequencies to high frequencies. The bioelectromagnetic findings are followed by recent research documenting the capacity of humans to subjectively and behaviorally detect human biofields. New research using coronal visualization discharge technology documents potential effects of human intention on physical-chemical properties of water. Possible directions for future research, including extensions of MRI technology, are suggested, as well as the potential application of energy systems science for integrating conventional medicine and spiritual healing.

Defining Terms and Concepts

In conventional physics, energy is defined as the capacity to do work and overcome resistance (Russek and Schwartz, 1996). Any process that has the capacity to do work and overcome resistance, by definition, can be defined as energy – be it known or unknown in conventional science.

Information refers to pattern or form, whereas energy refers to power or force (Rubik, 1997). Simply stated, information without energy is “powerless” and energy without information is “purposeless.” What is quantified bioelectromagnetically can be defined as “informed energy” – a combination of information (pattern) and amplitude (power) (Schwartz and Russek, 1999).

A system is a set of interacting units (or subsystems) (Miller, 1978; Russek and Schwartz, 1996). Information, energy, and matter, are circulated within and between the component units. The units are interconnected and interdependent. Through their recurrent interactions (termed recurrent feedback loops), holistic properties occur which are novel / emergent (Schwartz and Russek, 1997; 1999).

All systems, regardless of their level in nature – atomic, chemical, biochemical, cellular, physiological, etc. – are classified as “open” systems in the sense that they receive and release information, energy, and matter, to various degrees, in a dynamic fashion. Material systems are therefore “organized energy systems” – in quantum physics, matter is defined as “organized energy” (Schwartz and Russek, 1997).

To summarize, dynamical energy systems theory integrates concepts of information, energy, and systems – emphasizing (1) interconnection, (2) sharing of information, energy, and matter, (3) self-regulation, and (4) dynamic change and evolution.

These fundamental terms and concepts provide a scientific framework for energy medicine, and by extension, spiritual medicine. Table 1 summarizes five dynamical energy systems hypotheses and their applications to the hands.

Full text: 2001 Review of Subtle Energy Measures

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