Energy Medicine Gets Serious

Exploring a new force in health and healing, both doctors and wellness practitioners are uncovering the potential of electromagnetic, light and sound interventions to heal your ‘energy body.’

By Beth McGroarty
With Joanne De Luca & Janine Lopiano, co-founders, Sputnik Futures

“In every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.”
– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Biochemist and Nobel Prize Winner

When people think “energy medicine,” they think “the wellness world”: all those practices, whether acupuncture, chakra balancing, reiki, qigong or sound baths, that focus on healing the human “energy body.” It’s a striking fact that Western medicine and ancient medicines, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda and shamanic traditions, have revolved around a radically different model of the human body and healing. Western medicine has embraced the anatomical and biochemical model: innovating for that material body of flesh and blood. The major indigenous medical systems—even though they were, quite fascinatingly, separated by thousands of years and miles—independently devised healing approaches squarely based on the body as an energy field. They posit that a vital energy (whether “qi” in TCM or the doshas in Ayurveda) controls the processes of our bodies and brains, and that health and healing come from manipulating the flow of energy that courses through our bodies at specific energy points and balances the body’s electromagnetic field (which extends beyond the skin).

In modern Wellness Land, of course, nothing has been trending more furiously than ancient energy medicines, whether Ayurveda or shamanism. The desperation with which people seem to be trying to “fix” their energy is only matched by the skepticism of critics, decrying all this NewAgey, out-there wellness. Better to think like an anthropologist, and ask, what are people seeking so fervently…and why?

And whether you’re a believer in acupuncture but laugh at crystal-mania, medicine—which ignored the “energy body” for a century—is now validating that we are very much a complex electromagnetic field, immersed in other complex environmental, electromagnetic fields. A real paradigm shift is underway, with more scientific researchers (whether from Harvard or NASA) rapidly discovering that the body is indeed a complex biofield of electromagnetic frequencies and light waves that serve as “control central” for our physical and mental functioning. It’s shaking up entrenched thinking in biology. Scientists are also uncovering the ways that the entire world is electrodynamic: We’re surrounded by both natural—and increasingly man-made— frequencies that constantly change human cells. We’re at an interesting moment: where the medical world and “ancient wellness” are finding some common (at least in principle) theoretical ground.

The future: the medical, technology and wellness worlds all innovating new tools to optimize the human energy body. Joanne De Luca and Janine Lopiano, co-founders of future-forecasting consultancy Sputnik, who’ve researched the many new directions in energy medicine for years, note: “The future of medicine is understanding the crucial relationship between the material and ‘field’ aspects of the body, and adjusting human frequencies—and light, sound and electromagnetic interventions are crucial here—to prevent illness and boost health.”

Or, as Anna Bjurstam, wellness pioneer, Six Senses, and a keynote speaker at the 2019 Global Wellness Summit (GWS) on how energy medicine is now moving far beyond “woo woo,” puts it: “Indigenous people have been the knowledge-keepers of energy medicine for centuries, but the scientific community is now taking it seriously, so the world will listen. The invisible will become visible, and energy medicine will become as important as wellness itself.”

Anna Bjurstam, GWS 2019

This trend takes many directions. Medicine will be disrupted by discoveries about the bioelectric “language” that cells use to coordinate so many of our biophysical processes and will invent new technologies to positively impact/regulate the body’s “command central” electromagnetic fields. Frequency therapies (using sound, light and electromagnetic interventions) will rise in the wellness world. (Note: This year’s “Wellness Music” trend, exploring how music is being reinvented as a precision energy medicine, is very much a chapter of this trend.)

As humans get increasingly bombarded by man-made electromagnetic frequencies in our hyper-networked world (Hello, 5G)— anxiety over this potentially dangerous energy will rise, as will new solutions designed to shield us from the biophotonic blitz. And more wellness centers and travel destinations will go “high energy”: serving up even more ancient energy medicines; more high-tech, biohacking technologies to upgrade our energy field; and more blending the best of both ancient and modern solutions. In sum, energy medicine is about to get far more serious.


Tapping into our electromagnetic fields has been critical in medicine for years, whether electrocardiograms/EKGs for the heart or MRI scanning. But electrifying new insights will keep coming around bioelectricity, or the “organized lightning” that our cells use to grow and communicate. Biologist Michael Levin[1] at Harvard’s elite Wyss Institute states: “When cells and tissues are alive, there’s a bioelectric potential between the inside of a cell and the outside…So… bioelectricity is the spark of life. But more importantly, the bioelectric potential is not just a byproduct of living; it is a medium that cells exploit to communicate with each other and to form networks that are much more than the sum of their parts.” The future of medicine is scientists like Levin uncovering the bioelectric “language” that cells use to coordinate everything from their own regeneration to cancer suppression.

There’s a flurry of new directions in energy medicine coming from the scientific world. Just a few examples…

Biophotonics: Light Technologies to Transform Human Health

Decades ago, German physicist Fritz-Albert Popp identified biophotons, which are particles of light that radiate from the cells of all living things and, with laser-like coherence, transmit cell-to-cell information[2]. Scientists theorize that this biophotonic “web of light” may be responsible for the overall regulation of our biological systems. The future: using coherent light (lasers or lighted crystals) to positively impact tissues and organs, but also to modulate the body’s energetic system, the bedrock of healing. European physicians, such as Dr. Bodo Kohler, are putting biophotonic findings into clinical practice with bioresonance therapy, whose goal is to harmonize the biophysical fields of the body. The NES miHealth platform’s mission: use bio-electro stimulation and magnetic fields to transmit info to the body at frequencies that match specific parts of the body to activate self-healing.

Pulse Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
NASA scientist Dr. Thomas Goodwin found that tissues exposed to the correct pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF) see a 300 percent increase in mitochondria, the energy plants in cells responsible for aerobic capacity and restoring tissues to wellbeing[3]. PEMF frequency healing is now being used in more hospitals and wellness destinations, and an explosion of use-at-home technology devices—whether Oska Wellness or Nevro— are using PEMF neurostimulation to try to tackle pain and inflammation.

Neurobiologists are creating new “optogenetic” tools, which excite neurons using light, to allow them to map the brain’s connections and activate and silence brain circuits. These tools look to one day be used to treat pain, blindness, epilepsy and depression[4].

Big Pharma will take big notice of the big implications of an emerging branch of medicine called electromagnetic pharmacology[5], where wirelessly activated treatments and medication can be switched on/off remotely. Imagine radio waves that activate insulin production, the immune system or gene therapy—or even next-gen drugs that get activated by smartphone apps.


Electromagnetic pollution anxiety & solutions will grow

Humans buzz naturally at a 40-hertz frequency but never have our bodies been so bombarded by man-made electromagnetic frequencies—whether from cell phones, base stations, appliances, power lines, Wi-Fi routers or security systems. As Sputnik’s researchers note: “We now live in an intensely wireless, networked world and are immersed in an invisible sea of signals, with our bodies just another conduit. As the Internet of Things (IoT) peaks in the next five years, electromagnetic pollution will become the new public health issue. Both anxiety and solutions will rise[6].”

Electromagnetic pollution will only surge. The next-gen cell network 5G being rolled out (where basically everything becomes an IP address) requires far more cell towers bunched together, and it will unleash an unprecedented storm of higher-energy photons streaming through our dwellings and bodies. Climate change and extreme weather are disrupting the Earth’s electromagnetic field. And experts argue that proliferating technology is overburdening our aging electrical infrastructure, exposing us to high-frequency electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) called “dirty” electricity.

When you dive into the science of cellphones’ impact on human health, it’s a contradictory mess. The World Health Organization classifies wireless radiations as a class 2B carcinogen[7], while the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states there’s no definitive scientific evidence. The studies on electromagnetic pollution’s impact on human health overall shrilly disagree, and it could be because they have relied on observational data. But public health experts and watchdogs (Europe is out in front) will increasingly demand careful testing of how all these artificial frequencies impact human cells, and whether electro-pollution is triggering stress and disease.

The future: Experts (such as stress doctor, Wendy Hurwitz) argue that all of our devices will and must become compatible to the human energy field. Architects will build homes, schools, workplaces and smart cities designed to maintain a healthy human energy field, just as they now build for sustainability. Engineers will devise solutions that help shield us from dangerous EMFs. Geo-location-based apps will identify areas of high geopathic and energy stress.

Wellness resorts and real estate developers are already making moves to shield people. At Germany’s Villa Stephanie, a flick of a button copper-lines your room, so all electricity and Wi-Fi signals are blocked[8]; all rooms at Germany’s Lanserhof Tegernsee also block Wi-Fi and electro-smog with a single switch. San Francisco-based wellness real estate developer Troon Pacific’s luxury homes have shielded cables in all bedroom walls (close to where beds will be placed) to block exposure to electromagnetic fields. They also have the Wi-Fi system plugged into Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches, so when you flip off the lights at night, you also turn off all Wi-Fi signals.


More ancient energy approaches, more futuristic energy biohacking – and more combining both

In the wellness world, programming around ancient energy medicines has risen so powerfully that it sometimes feels there are now as many sound baths and shamans as spas. The hunger and the willingness to travel for that energy upgrade will only intensify.

We’ll see even more ancient energy medicines at the buzziest new wellness destinations. New York City’s newest wellness mecca, The Well, with its East-meets-West team of doctors and healers, not only offers TCM and Ayurvedic programs but also a “vibrational energy healing” track. New-to-us ancient energy medicines will define new destinations, such as Malabar Lu Jong Retreats (in Africa and Spain), grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist energy practice of Lu Jong.

More wellness centers will go all in on the highest-tech energy medicine, such as Los Angeles’ biohacking centers, Upgrade Labs, where you can experience the latest light, vibrational and electromagnetic interventions, including PEMF therapy, vibrational plates, red and infrared light treatments and electric brain stimulation.

Design features in Troon Pacific luxury homes include Wi-Fi systems plugged into PoE switches, meaning all Wi-Fi signals turn off with lights at night.

Ahead-of-the-now wellness destinations, which function more like experimental labs than mere “properties,” will increasingly blend ancient energy medicines with cutting-edge energy technologies. 1440 Multiversity, a new, fascinating, part wellness resort, part “wellness university” in the Santa Cruz redwoods near Silicon Valley (think: a neo-Esalen-meets-Stanford for tech professionals seeking a little more meaning in life), has a faculty of 400 experts and a packed lineup of workshops heavy on energy medicine. And whether a shamanism or sound healing workshop, they typically unite doctors, PhDs, top wellness practitioners and ancient + modern energy healing techniques.

Six Senses Resorts has been making eye-opening ancient + modern energy medicine moves. The brand’s recent “Grow a New Body” program—dubbed “neoshamanism”—brings together the latest thinking/technologies on the energy body from biology and neuroscience with ancient shamanic energy upgrading practices[9]. Designed by leading doctors and Dr. Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist who has studied shamanic healing practices for 25+ years, the program deploys many approaches to fix your energy body: on the modern side, energy-medicine evaluations with doctors, light therapies, IV infusions, altitude training and ozone and oxygen therapies. Shamanic approaches include a mitochondria-boosting, phytonutrients-rich diet; fasting; plant medicine; and intensive spiritual work to clear negative energy, entities and emotions.

Six Senses NYC (coming early 2020)—part wellness resort, part wellness residences, part membership club concept—will rewrite what an urban wellness community could be. And while it’s hard to grasp all its planned wellness offerings, their energy bio-hacking + ancient energy medicine mix is pretty head-spinning: from PEMF therapy, light therapies, chakra balancing, transcranial direct brain stimulation, vibrational plates and pulse massage, etc. All seamlessly delivered as you hang out: How about a little ITENs electric therapy on your shoulders over dinner, while your grounding-sock-covered feet rest on negative ion plates?


Science is now validating some crucial ancient energy medicine principles. For instance, scientists at Seoul National University have confirmed the existence of the body’s meridians, which they call the “primo-vascular system” and see as a critical part of the cardiovascular system, as well as the physical basis of the Acupuncture Meridian System (these acupoints are, of course, the key to the energetic effects of shiatsu massage, qigong, tai chi, yoga postures, etc.)[10].

We’re at a pivotal, powerful moment with energy medicine. In the coming years, there will be a rush by medical and technology companies to further crack the code on how energy networks organize our bodies and brains, and they will use that knowledge to design interventions into our electromagnetic and biophotonic fields to prevent disease and boost physical and mental health. It will create entirely new medical approaches, new products and new business models.

Both “wheat” and “chaff” will appear in consumer markets, as energy healing is particularly susceptible to exploitation and quackery. Hard science will validate some ancient energy approaches and invalidate others. Ancient energy medicines will teach Western medicine a few things, and scientific breakthroughs will point the way to new directions in wellness. New common ground leads to new conversations.

The wellness world focuses more on self-awareness and emotional and spiritual healing and connectedness, but, as physicists, biologists and neuroscientists uncover the mechanics of human energy fields—how they mesh with other people’s energy fields, and how we all mesh with the energy fields of the universe—the new energy medicine may solve a pesky little mystery that’s been preoccupying humans for millennia…consciousness, itself.

“Energy futures” in health and wellness? A very strong “buy.”


[1] The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, 2016.
[2] Extra Time: 10 lessons for an aging world by Camilla Cavendish, 2019.
[3] Japan begins to embrace the 100-year life by Leo Lewis, Financial Times, 8 August 2018.
[4] Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, 2016.
[5] Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit by Candice Kumai, 2018.
[6] The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, 2010.
[7] Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest-Bathing by Dr. Qing Li, 2018.
[8] Incense listening in Japan: as intricate as a tea ceremony – how you take part in a session by Lucy Dayman, South China Morning Post, 15 April 2019.
[9] Is Social Capital Good for Health? A European Perspective by Lorenzo Rocco and Marc Suhrcke, 2012.
[10] The Role of “ikiiki (Psychological Liveliness)” in the Relationship between Stressors and Stress Responses among Japanese University Students by Yoshiyuki Tanaka and Akira Tsuda, Japanese Psychological Research, Volume 58, No.1.71-84, 2016.


Copyright © 2019-2020 by Global Wellness Summit.
If you cite ideas and information in this report please credit “2020 Wellness Trends, from the Global Wellness Summit”.
For more information, email [email protected].

Sign up to receive updates from the Global Wellness Summit