The field of energy medicine (EM) is perhaps the most controversial branch of integrative medicine. Its core concept – the existence of an invisible healing energy – has not yet been validated by Western medicine, and the mechanism(s) of action of its techniques have not been fully elucidated. This paper addresses these problems by marshalling several types of evidence: basic science research into electromagnetic fields (EMF), subjective sensations experienced when receiving EM treatments, and clairvoyant perceptions of EM in action. The latter two sources of information, while not solid enough to meet current standards of scientific rigor, can nonetheless generate important new information. A hypothesis is then developed to explain these findings. First, the main components of the human subtle energy system are presented: the “subtle anatomy” of the meridians, of the energy centers and of the biofield. Several representative EM techniques are then analyzed to determine which specific components of that energy structure they impact. Next, EM’s mechanisms of action are explored by describing how these altered energy dynamics can affect biologic processes. This subject is termed “energy physiology”, in parallel with conventional medicine’s foundation in anatomy and physiology. Finally, potential research into energy physiology is outlined that focuses on several common but distinctive experiences which are not fully explained by the current mechanistic biomedical model. Plausible and testable energy-based explanations are proposed for phantom limb pain, emotional entrainment in groups, unusually rapid symptom response to EM, and the invisible templates that guide cell growth and differentiation. This analysis is intended to serve as a guide to future clinical and research explorations into the multidimensional nature of human beings. As Western medicine develops technologies that can generate objective empiric evidence in these subtle domains, we will be able to more fully understand the energetic components of health and illness.
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