Rather than focusing on a single complaint, Bowen Technique addresses the entire body, by restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of bodily functions and is very susceptible to external stressors.
Most people today live in a constant state of high stress and sympathetic ANS over-stimulation (fight, flight or freeze mode). Healing can occur only after the ANS shifts from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance (rest, relax and repair mode). Bowen Technique enables that shift.
During a session, the client often drops into deep relaxation or falls asleep, and loud peristalsis may be heard. Both of these changes are indications of a profound release from stress and a shift towards parasympathetic influence. This shift could explain, in part, the common observation that a Bowen Technique session seems to reactivate the recovery process in situations where healing from trauma, sickness or surgery has stalled or reached a plateau.
There are many theories about the physiological mechanisms by which the Bowen Technique brings about the results for which it is famous. In addition to the rebalancing of the ANS, described earlier, Bowtech moves and procedures may reset the body to heal itself by activating, through the nervous and endocrine systems among others, the following mechanisms:
- Stretch Reflex: Most moves are done either at the origin, insertion or belly of muscles where receptors are located, informing the nervous system on the state of tension, length or stretch in the musculotendinous tissue. These receptors are stimulated druring the 'challenge' and the 'rolling' part of the Bowen move which changes the stimulus received by the nervous system. This can change a pain/muscle spasm loop.
- Joint Proprioceptors: All moves are done around a joint affect the joint capsule and ligaments that are richly innervated with prorioceptors. Here again, stimulus will be received by the nervous system, inviting normalization of the joint functin, without the need for forceful manipulation. Research (Carter, Bernie, 2002, 'Clients experiences of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen technique', Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, v.8, pp. 204-210) has confirmed increases in the range of motion in restricted joints.
- Fascia: Each Bowen move is done at the level of the superficial fascia and affects the relationship between the fascia and the nerve, muscle or tendon being mobilized. Fascia plays a major role in muscle co-ordination, postural alignment and overall structural and functional integrity. All of these are negatively affected when the fascia stiffens, contracts, torques or dehydrates. Following a Bowtech session it is not uncommon to see adhesions loosen up, scar tissue soften and posture and mobility improve without harsh mobilization or stretching.
- Segmental viscerosomatic spinal reflexes: Several Bowtech moves engage these reflexes. They produce referred reactions to the internal organs through stimulation of the skin, muscles and nerves.
- Harmonic Vibration or resonance model: Bowenwork moves set up vibrational patterns which bring the body back into balance and harmony.
- Lymphatics: Some Bowtech procedures activate draining of the lymphatic system stimulating the immune system.
- Detoxifiaction: is often initiated during a bowen session, thereby improving the body's ability to function at a cellular level.