How effective is Bowen Fascial Release Therapy?

Beth Crabb

March 24, 2021

This is a question that is often posed to me when discussing the therapy with new and prospective clients, who are naturally wondering if it could help them. It is not unusual for these clients to have tried other therapies already, often many different ones, chiropractic, physiotherapy, reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, cupping and the list goes on. As good as our communication helps, nothing helps as much as reports on the effectiveness by research.

I came across this article recently which contains useful research findings.


Amy Norman presented a study on Bowen therapy in 1998 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science.

Practitioners rated the following results in their clients:

  • 85% effectiveness in back pain with 4.3 sessions
  • 88% effectiveness in neck pain with 4.5 sessions
  • 83% effectiveness in stress, tension with 4 sessions
  • 83% effectiveness in “other” issues after 5.8 sessions

After receiving their treatments, clients reported the following results:

  • 85% effectiveness with back pain
  • 80% effectiveness for stress and tension
  • 80% effectiveness with Fibromyalgia
  • 95% effectiveness with TMJD
  • 80% effectiveness with hip pain
  • 75.6% for “other” conditions


Australian Bowen therapist and instructor Faye Ferguson did a research study using infrared thermography to illustrate the impact of a Bowen therapy treatment on the human body. Images were taken before the Bowen treatment and at several intervals after the treatment: one hour, two days, five days and five-thirteen days. The images clearly show an increase in heat and energy after the Bowen treatment.


London-based Bowen practitioner Nikke Ariff completed the Bowen therapy Migraine Research Program which studied the efficacy of treating migraine headaches. The 39 migraine volunteers consisted of 37 women and 2 men. Thirteen of them had been suffering from migraines for 1-15 years; seventeen of them had been having migraines for 16-30 years; and nine had migraines for over 30 years. In all, 31 participants experienced a positive result, representing 79.5% of the total group. At the end of the program, 36 of the 39 they would recommend Bowen therapy as a treatment to a friend or colleague.


There is compelling research that Bowen therapy may also be effective in relieving the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia:

In a study of twenty patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia conducted by Jo Anne Whitaker, M.D., at the American College of Rheumatology, almost all participants experienced various degrees of relief which lasted from a few days to several weeks. Most reported immediate relief following a Bowen treatment. For some, repeated Bowen therapy maintained complete clinical remission. The results were statistically significant and correlated with improvement of clinical well-being.


Learn how Bowen therapy can assist in preparing for and recovering from knee replacement surgery.


Nikke Ariff did research between 2003 and 2004 to test the efficacy of Bowen in treating asthma. This research, carried out during a twelve-month period, included a majority of participants who had had asthma for over 5 years, and most over 15 years. The results were positive. Eighty-three percent of participants reported a reduction in the frequency of asthma attacks with 75% reporting less reliance on medication than before the beginning of treatments.

Of 24 volunteers who completed the program, 22 reported that secondary health concerns had also improved, including back, neck and shoulder pain; knee and joint problems; headaches and migraines; hay fever; irritable bowel syndrome and digestion; circulation; insomnia; anxiety, stress, depression and energy level improvement.

Whatever the level of asthma, or similar respiratory problems, Bowen often seems to reduce the level of attack very quickly, and effectively. A number of case studies forming part of a study over several years have begun to illustrate how very successful the technique is proving to be.

As Bowen is both very gentle and non-invasive, there is no danger in using it with asthma and other respiratory conditions. The many cases treated have shown often to produce results very quickly which last. Treatment usually does not need to be continuous, and often just a very few sessions will change the situation for the sufferer. As with any allergy, the avoidance of contact with the allergen is an essential part of the treatment. However, what Bowen therapy does seem to achieve very often is the release of tightness in the chest which aids both asthmatics and other respiratory sufferers.

The study being undertaken by Alastair Rattray, a very experienced Bowen Therapist, and Teacher with the European College of Bowen Studies (ECBS) is showing that it makes no difference as to whether the person is under a regime of medication, or not. The results are proving, so far, to be usually exactly the same. The attacks often lessen until they no longer seem to be a problem. There are many cases recorded at all ages.


Six people took part in a Bowen tech study carried out by Glenys Sheedy. They had been suffering from pain and numbness in the fingers and wrist, shoulders and neck for up to 3 years. They received four bowen treatments over a 4 week period. Bowen successfully eliminated all symptoms for 3 of the 6 participants, and the remaining three were able to return to regular activities.


Published in England by Dr. Bernie Carter, at the Metropolitan University of Manchester (UK), this Bowen study showed effective results with frozen shoulder after 3 to 6 treatments, even with those who had long-standing conditions. The study involved 20 participants diagnosed with frozen shoulder and treated with Bowen therapy.

70% of participants regained full mobility, equal to the unaffected side, by the end of treatment. The other participants showed significant improvement in mobility and associated function. 80% of participants reports a pain level of 0-2, down from a level of 10. Some still reported mild ache but none reported any invasive or intense pain, which they had experienced before receiving Bowen therapy.

At the conclusion of this study, participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the therapy, a commitment to use Bowen therapy in any future case of relapse or for another condition, and the intention to recommend the therapy to friends and family.


California State University athletic coaches and training staff have both personally experienced the positive and almost instantaneous effects of Bowen therapy and seen the phenomenal results on their football, baseball, basketball, track, cross-country, and crew athletes.

Athletes who have had ankle, back, knee, neck, shoulder, groin and hamstring strains or pulls, have received immediate noticeable differences during and after receiving a treatment. i.e. increased range and ease of motion, athletic fluidity, and release of strain tension or muscle cramping. Other athletes who have had chronic shoulder, knee, elbow, or other joint pain due to old injuries had either an immediate noticeable decrease or total elimination of the pain. Still others who have complained of tightness in the chest and slight breathing difficulties have received immediate relief and a greater ability to breathe deeper.


Ashley Pritchard, at Swinburne University, department of Psychophysiology, Melbourne, Australia, showed that Bowen therapy consistently reduced subjects’ levels of anxiety, and enhanced individuals’ positive feelings by reducing tension, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion. Objective measures of decrease in Heart Rate Variability and muscle tension correlated with subjective feelings of relaxation.


A study at Coventry University in the United Kingdom revealed that Bowen Therapy has an immediate and direct impact on Hamstring flexibility that lasts at least a week without further treatment. This properly conducted study, with approval from ethics committee and applying strict methodology using Bowen therapy, has now been completed and was accepted for presentation at the First International Fascia Research Congress in Boston in October 2007.


Learn how Bowen therapy can aid in the management of arthritic pain. -click to read article


A published, 2011 pilot study determined that stroke patients undergoing Bowen therapy treatment showed improvements in gross motor and neuromuscular function.


Bowen therapy became more widely known as an treatment for Parkinson’s disease after John Coleman, a naturopath from Australia, utilized Bowen therapy in the treatment of his own Stage IV Parkinson’s in 1998. His is still enjoying a remission from his symptoms.


Bowen is helpful with many aspects of pregnancy from assisting in conception to safe management of pain and postpartum conditions.


The Bowen tech study by Marg Biorac from Australia included six people suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome. One participant did not receive any treatment and served as the control; the other five received four Bowen therapy treatments over a four week period. All five persons noticed a reduction in the frequency, intensity and duration of symptoms.


In Durango, CO, Dr. John Bauman, DDS completed a research project on the application of Bowen therapy on TMJ abnormality. Assessment of masseter tension by biofeedback, measurement of bite and subjective symptoms were compared before and after treatment. Immediately after the first treatment, one third of patients felt dramatic relief in some of their symptoms. 20 out of the 22 patients showed significant improvement on their post biofeedback assessment.


Ongoing research by Howard Plummer in Wales has produced encouraging results. Initial outcomes include increased vocalization, calmer behaviour, improved concentration and comprehension and improved head control and improved balance.


By measuring changes in value and pattern in heart rate variability before and after treatment, a study by Dr. Whitaker, MD, has shown that Bowen therapy directly affects the autonomic nervous system. This quieting of the autonomic nervous system allows the parasympathetic system to attend more clearly to healing.


A study of epilepsy patients in 2008 revealed that, in general, the number of seizures decreased and the intensity of the seizures lessened for all participants.

Similar Reading

Have you been out in the garden yet

Have you been out in the garden yet

The last few weeks have been more than a little unusual in terms of the weather. But perhaps the rain will stop soon and we can get out into the gardens and start on the jobs that have been prevented by the weather. Bowen in Motion can help with a...

How Bowen helps runners – a personal story

How Bowen helps runners – a personal story

  Runners, especially distance runners put their bodies through considerable stresses and strains, For amateur runners, which are the majority, this risk is even higher. By having regular Bowen Technique treatments you can achieve two things...

Radio 2 talks about Bowen Therapy

Radio 2 talks about Bowen Therapy

  One of the former presenters on Radio 2, Janey Lee Grace (on Steve Wright in the afternoon show) was talking about the Bowen Fascial Release Technique, and how incredible it was for helping back pain. Well it is and not just for your back....

Frozen shoulders are very painful, can they be cured?

Frozen shoulders are very painful, can they be cured?

Yes the pain associated with them can be reduced and a full range of motion restored. The simple and yet effective Bowen Fascial Release Technique is well suited to this particular area and is one that responds well to the technique. It is move...