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Journey into chaos: quantifying the human energy field.

Photo at right: Valerie S. Eschiti at the Human Energy System Laboratory for Integrative Frequency Medicine Research in Tucson, Arizona in June 2004.

Intuitives for millennia have claimed to sense changes in the human energy field (HEF). Indigenous healers of many cultures have facilitated healing through interaction with energy fields of those who have come to them seeking relief of illnesses. In our modern technological society, people want empirical proof that such an energy field exists.

Those of us who intuitively know the HEF exists and can be interacted with in order to support the healing process would like to be able to provide research findings showing a numerical value relating to a HEF. Such a numerical reading could be ascertained from a client receiving an energy-based modality pretreatment and post treatment. This may serve to demonstrate differences in the HEF we intuitively feel, and may be correlated with changes in a client's symptoms.

Why is it so vital for us to be able to quantify the HEF? We need quantification in order to a) mathematically determine differences and relationships between various energy modalities and patient conditions pretreatment and post treatment, b) provide evidence of the HEF to refute claims of skeptics, c) determine the effectiveness or lack of it regarding the influence of energy-based modalities on the HEF, and d) determine if disease can be prevented by measuring changes in the HEF that may be indicative of disease development and providing interventions before the disease has the opportunity to develop later symptoms in the physical body.

As a practicing intensive care nurse, certified healing touch practitioner, and certified advanced holistic nurse, I have yearned to find a valid and reliable method for measuring changes in the HEF. In this article, I will describe my journey in search of quantifying the HEF.

Martha Rogers posited the existence of the HEF in her work of the Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB). Drawing upon her vast reading of the sciences and physics, Rogers stated,

Energy fields are postulated to constitute the fundamental unit of both the living and the non-living. Field is a unifying concept. Energy signifies the dynamic nature of the filed. Energy fields are infinite. Two energy fields are identified; the human field and the environmental field. Specifically, human beings and environment are energy fields. They do not have them (Rogers, 1986, p. 4).

Leddy's Human Energy Model (HEM) provides an excellent framework for nurses to conceptualize how they can facilitate client health through energetic patterning (Leddy, 2004, p. 18). Leddy explained, "The purpose of nursing in the HEM is to facilitate harmonious health pattern manifestations of both client and nurse (2004, p. 22).

Leddy aptly described the healing process, Healing is based on a unitary and open person-environment process. Actual physical touch and "exchange" of energy are not needed for energetic healing because of the outward extension from the body of the field that permeates a physical body, and mutual process between the essence fields of the practitioner and that of the client. The field interaction may be experienced as a cool breeze, a tingling or prickling feeling, a pulsation, a vibration, heat, or other changes in temperature, and expanding force, electricity (sensation of light static), or pressure or magnetism. It is often not necessary for the healer to "do" anything. The client heals him or herself through resonance with appropriate energy frequencies (2004, pp. 22-23).

I alluded to the start of my inquiry in the Visions practice column last year, mentioning my graduate research assistantship (GRA) as a doctoral nursing student (Eschiti, 2004). I was employed as GRA in the Texas Woman's University (TWU) Center for Nonlinear Science in Denton, Texas for two semesters. My mentor and Director of the Center, Dr. Patti Hamilton, encouraged my search for ways to measure the HEF. She bravely arranged several meetings between herself, me, and several physicists from the Center for Nonlinear Science at the University of North Texas in Denton. My hopes were that the physicists might have knowledge regarding HEF measurement, as well as access to instruments that could measure the HEF.

At our first lunch meeting, I knew I was in for a rough ride after explaining my interest in the HEF and energy-based healing modalities to one of the physicists. He replied by explaining how "the placebo effect" is certainly very powerful, implying that the HEF could be explained away.

At an additional lunch meeting, a second physicist showed slightly more interest, and suggested that an experiment be designed. He had the very "hard science" approach I desired. However, none of the instruments he described that were in his lab were suitable for measuring the HEF.

During an informal gathering at my mentor's home, I met a third physicist, Baris Bagci, a doctoral student in physics, who provided the most encouragement. This gentleman was from Turkey, and was familiar with Turkish shamanism. This knowledge opened his mind to the possibilities of intuitive knowing and energetic healing. He advised me to look into ways that measured the piezoelectric effect. As a crystal healing practitioner, I was familiar with the piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectricity is defined as follows,

Piezoelectric materials can generate an electric charge with the application of pressure; conversely, they can change physical dimensions with the application of an electric field (called converse piezoelectricity). In material having piezoelectric properties, ions can be moved more easily along some crystal axes than others. Pressure in certain directions results in a displacement of ions such that opposite faces of the crystal assume opposite charges. When pressure is released, the ions return to original positions (Resonance Publications, Inc. sec.1, [paragraph] 1).

This idea resonated with me, as I viewed human beings as a living crystal, just as Dr. James Oschman, who has degrees in biophysics and biology. He explained,

Physiologists are aware of this, and have studied the generation of electricity by bone. Each step you take compresses bones in the legs and elsewhere, and generates characteristic electrical fields. The pezoelectric effect is not, however, confined to bone. Virtually all of the tissues in the body generate electric fields when they are compressed or stretched (2002, p. 52).

Not one to be easily dismayed, I engaged in worldwide Internet email discussions. One of my initial contacts was with Dr. Gary Schwartz, Director of the Human Energy System Laboratory for Integrative Frequency Medicine Research in Tucson, Arizona. This center was funded by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Dr. Schwartz suggested that I visit with his research assistant, a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Maureen Campesino. She received her PhD in nursing, so I knew we would have some common interests. I excitedly arranged an in-person visit to Tucson, to coincide with the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) conference I would be attending in nearby Scottsdale.

Dr. Campesino took time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and answer my questions regarding HEF measurement, and ideas I had for research. She then obtained permission for me to attend a meeting of the research team for the Human Energy System Laboratory (see photo). It was a fascinating meeting, wherein the team members discussed data collection and preliminary findings of current research study involving Johrei, a biofield therapy, with patients recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery. This gave me the opportunity to meet one of the research project coordinators, Dr. Lewis Mehl-Medrona. He is the Coordinator for Integrative Psychiatry and System Medicine, Program in Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine.

The laboratory had a Gaseous Discharge Visualization (GDV) machine. I was disappointed that the technicians who operated the GDV at the Human Energy System Laboratory were not available during my visit, so I was not able to see the GDV at work.

By photographing the light energy of the fingertips, it is hypothesized that one can determine the energy from the entire body. This is based upon the location of acupressure points and meridians found on the hands and fingers.

The term "GDV" is simply "shorthand" for a much longer and more complicated description of the actual process, more precisely--Biological Emission and Optical Radiation Stimulated by Electromagnetic Field Amplified by Gas Discharge with Bisualization Through Computer Data Processing (GDVUSA, sec. 1, [paragraph] 3).

GDV has advantages over Kirlian photography in that it provides a filter for extraneous interacting variables, such as the presence of sweat and temperature changes. Through emails with the creator of the GDV, Dr. Konstantin Korotkov, I learned there were no other more exact ways of measuring the HEF. Through email correspondence with Dr. Beverly Rubik, President of the Institute of Frontier Science, she acknowledged that there was no single way to measure the HEF, but various methods that each yields an aspect of it. She felt the GDV was a good research tool, so she used it regularly in her work.

I corresponded with Dr. Iris Bell via email, after my mentor mentioned that Dr. Bell had previously emailed and phoned the TWU Center for Nonlinear Science in Denton. She was serving as Director of Research at the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Bell shared, "Overall, the GDV is the one many of us have ended up with, knowing that it is a crude measure. One of my colleagues here is doing basic science research on biophoton measurement with special cameras, but there is no commercial product available on this yet" (personal communication, April 10, 2004).

Dr. Bell was referring to an additional technology: biophoton measurement. I emailed Dr. Katherine Creath, who was employed in the Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science, Optical Sciences Center, and Department of Medicine, University of Arizona, to find out more. She kindly sent me some articles she had coauthored. One of the articles contained beautiful fluorescence images of leaves (Creath & Schwartz, 2004). In the article, she described biophotons,

Biophoton emission is a type of biologic chemiluminescence in which photons are emitted as part of chemical reactions occurring during metabolic processes. This radiation is not stimulated by chemical or optical markers. It exists in all living organisms and persists at a steady-state level as part of living metabolic processes and has been measured in all types of plant, animal, and human cells. This radiation is strongly correlated with cellular function (as first noted by Gurwitsch in 1925) and state of health ... Unhealthy, stressed, and injured cells emit more photons than healthy cells (Creath & Schwartz, 2004, p. 24).

The drawbacks to this approach are that it is not yet designed for humans, and only measures light energy.

Another instrument worth mentioning is the SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device), a measurement tool espoused by energy expert James Oschman, PhD. The SQUID is a magnetometer that can be used to measure the human energy field. Oschman explained, You will see that I focus on magnetic and biomagnetic fields. This is because we know a lot about these fields and they are relatively easy to measure. But this is not meant to exclude other kinds of energy from the inquiry. The body also emits light, sound, heat, and electromagnetic fields and, like all other matter, it has a gravitational field (Rand, 2002, p.2). In

In continuing my journey, I traveled from Tucson to Scottsdale for the AHNA preconference. Speakers included my new colleague, Dr. Campesino, as well as Dr. Iris Bell. Dr. Campesino discussed her use of two theoretical frameworks for holistic research: Rogers' SUHB and Watson's Transpersonal Human Caring (Campesino, 2004). She described the essential features of the theories, including the inseparable nature of humans and their environment. Campesino also shared guidance she received from the theories, including the connection between the researcher and patient, and transpersonal caring consciousness as a guiding ethical framework when conducting research. Her stories reinforced my draw towards Rogers' SUHB to inform my nursing practice and research.

Dr. Bell addressed a number of fascinating ideas, including the paradigm shift in modern science from linear thought to utilizing methods such as nonlinear dynamical systems modeling (Bell, 2004). She included chaos and complexity theory in this new system of thought. She remarked that health and illness may be seen as systemic rather than localized processes. Bell identified complementary and alternative modality (CAM) interventions as systemic therapy. One of the conceptual levels she related to health care and healing was energy medicine.

These ideas are echoed by Rubik, Living systems are regarded as complex, nonlinear, dynamic, self organizing systems at a global or holistic level according to the principles of nonequilibrium thermodynamics of open systems and chaos theory ... This biophysical view of life provides the rudiments of a scientific foundation for CAM modalities involving the transfer of bioinformation carried by a small energy signal (Rubik, 2002, p. 704). Near the conclusion of the preconference, I met Dr. Schwartz, whom I had corresponded with previously by email. I was impressed that he took time out of his busy schedule to hear some of the preconference speakers, and to participate in the discussion period. Dr. Schwartz served as a model of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of energy medicine. He has done extensive work that has enhanced understanding of energy medicine (Schwartz & Russek, 1999).

At the AHNA conference, I experienced Kirlian photography firsthand by having a Kirlian photograph taken of myself. The photographer then provided an interpretation of the colors emanating from around the photo of my head and shoulders. This is a method of photography developed by Semyon Davidovich Kirlian in 1939 (Alvino, 1996). The hand of a participant is placed on a photographic plate. Through computer technology available today, the image from the fingers is correlated to colors that hypothetically emanate from around the head and shoulders. Kirlian showed there was a difference in the HEF of a person who had a disease, even though they had not yet manifested symptoms (Alvino, 1996).

My stubborn nature kept me on my hunt for an accurate way to measure the HEF. I joined the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energy and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM). The society's monthly publication, Bridges, was informative and refreshingly esoteric. In one issue, Drouilhet echoed my frustrations, "Without a firm foundation in scientific methodology, energy medicine lacks reliability and replicability, and consequently its credibility, broad application, and perhaps effectiveness may be hampered" (2004, p. 1).

I had the opportunity to travel to Seoul, Korea to do a research presentation. While there, I curiously viewed vendor displays at the conference relating to acupressure tools. Koreans are very much aware of meridians and energy flows throughout the body. I visited local museums, and learned about Korean shamanism (Tae-kon, 1998). Incorporated into the culture's healing practices are a variety of energy-based modalities. The idea of energy existing in humans, referred to as qi, was well-accepted in Korea. This encouraged me to continue my search.

None of the technologies currently available adequately measure the HEF. In my estimation, a full-body scanner of some type is needed which can measure combination of electromagnetic and biophotonic energies. There may also be types of subtle energies that exist which we have not yet even identified. Of course, I'm not an engineer or physicist. But believe me, I've talked to plenty of them! Whenever I meet a professional in those fields, I inform them of my quest. The responses I receive are usually either a blank stare, no response, or a look of 'You must be crazy." I made acquaintance via email with a biophysicist at Los Alamos Research Lab, Dr. Joel Berendzen. He had done work in many areas, including crystallography. He thought I might have a different meaning for the word energy field than he and his scientific colleagues. He stated,
 In science, an energy field is something that you can measure with
 a power meter, with no spiritual meaning ... Usually, though, I work
 hard to avoid being holistic, to be as specific and precise about
 exact positions and interactions of things as possible. I still
 believe that there are times when a holistic approach is valid, and
 that's when I'm being a patient myself and need treatment for more
 things than just a little complaint (personal communication,
 February 6, 2004).

Dr. Berendzen's comments illustrate that most scientists feel they need to have a reductionist viewpoint in order to be taken seriously. However, when they need care, they want a holistic approach. It seems to me that there needs to be a new educational approach in the sciences; one that emphasizes valuing a holistic perspective.

What have I learned from this trip? I'm not the only one who is looking for a way to measure the HEF. I tend to agree with Drouilhet, who concluded, "... ethereal attributes such as compassion, forgiveness, and love, are really the most potent healing energies of all" (2004, p. 10). My journey has been filled with chaos--but such is the nature of being fully alive.


The author would like to acknowledge the support of Dr. Patti Hamilton, who courageously assisted in bringing new ideas into mainstream academia. Gratitude is also extended to all of those cited in this article, which have brought the author and a multitude of others a greater understanding of energy medicine.


Alvino, G. (1996). The human energy field in relation to science, consciousness, and health. 21st Convergence and More. Retrieved February 20, 2004 from file://C:\DOCUME~1\CONSA\LOCALS~1\Temp\DG6Q0FK2.htm.

Bell, I. R. (2004, June). Quantitative methodologies: Implementation and issues. Oral presentation at the American Holistic Nurses Association Preconference, Tucson, AZ.

Campesino, M. (2004, June). Role of the researcher in a clinical study of prayer. Oral presentation at the American Holistic Nurses Association Preconference, Tucson, AZ.

Creath, K. & Schwartz, G. E. (2004). Biophoton images of plants: Revealing the light within. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(1), 23-26.

Drouilhet, S. (2004). Defining energy medicine. Bridges, 15(1), 1,5-10,

Eschiti, V. S. (2004). A light in the darkness: Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings in 21st century nursing practice. Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science, 12(1), 50-53.

GDVUSA (n.d.). What is "GDV"? Retrieved September 5, 2005 from

Leddy, S. K. (2004). Human energy: A conceptual model of unitary human science. Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science, 12(1), 14-27.

Oschman, J.L. (2002). Energy medicine: The scientific basis. Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone.

Resonance Publications, Inc. (n.d.). Piezoelectric effect. Retrieved September 5, 2005 from

Rogers, M. E. (1986). Science of unitary human beings. In V. M. Malinski (Ed.), Exploration on Martha Ropers' science of unitary human beings (pp. 3-8). Norwalk, CT: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Rubik, B. (2004). The biofield hypothesis: Its biophysical basis and role in medicine. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(6), 703-717).

Schwartz, E. R. & Russek, L. G. S. (1999). The living energy universe: A fundamental discovery that transforms science medicine. Hampton Roads: Charlottesville, VA.

Tae-kon, K. (1998). Korean shamanism--Muism (C. Sookyung, Ed. & Trans.). Seoul, Korea: Jimoondang.

Valerie S. Eschiti, RN, MSN, CHTP, AHN-BC

Assistant Professor. Midwestern State University

Wilson School of Nursing
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Title Annotation:PRACTICE COLUMN
Author:Eschiti, Valerie S.
Publication:Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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