Energy in alternative medicine

The approaches known collectively as "energy therapies" vary widely in philosophy, approach, and origin. The ways in which this energy is used, modified, or manipulated to effect healing also vary. For example, acupressure involves manual stimulation of pressure-points, while some forms of yoga rely on breathing exercises. Many therapies, in regards to the given explanation for their supposed efficacy, are predicated on some form of energy unknown to current science. In this case, the given energy is sometimes referred to as putative energy.[1] However "subtle energy" is often equated with empirically understood forces, for example, some equate the aura with electromagnetism. Such energies are termed "veritable" as opposed to "putative". Some alternative therapies, such as electromagnetic therapy, use veritable energy, though they may still make claims that are not supported by evidence. Many claims have been made by associating "spirit" with forms of energy poorly understood at the time. In the 1800s, electricity and magnetism were in the "borderlands" of science and electrical quackery was rife. In the 2000s, quantum mechanics and grand unificat on theory provide similar opportunities. Insofar as the proposed properties of "subtle energy" are not those of physical energy, there can be no physical scientific evidence for the existence of such "energy".[2][6] Therapies that purport to use, modify, or manipulate unknown energies are therefore among the most controversial of all complementary and alternative medicines.[1] Theories of spiritual energy not validated by the scientific method are usually termed non-empirical beliefs by the scientific community. Claims related to energy therapies are most often anecdotal, rather than being based on repeatable empirical evidence.[6][7][8] Acupuncturists say that acupuncture's mode of action is by virtue of manipulating the natural flow of energy through meridians. Scientists argue that any palliative effects are obtained physiologically by blocking or stimulating nerve cells and causing changes in the perception of pain in the brain.[9] The gap between the empirically proven efficacy of some therapies and the lack of empirical physical evidence for the belief-systems that surround them is at present a battleground between skeptics and believers.