Alternate Title

  • Bowen technique

Related Terms

  • Bowen technique, Bowen treatment, soft tissue manipulation.


  • Bowen therapy, also known as Bowen treatment, is a technique that involves gentle, but precise, soft tissue manipulation. The approach was initially developed to treat musculoskeletal disorders. Later, it was used to treat other health conditions such as asthma.
  • In general, Bowen therapy does not aim to fix specific health problems, but rather to help the body reach a more harmonious state in which it can better cure itself. Short-term benefits are said to include a sense of relaxation. Long-term effects may include better overall well being or improvements in diseases.
  • Bowen therapists use their thumbs or fingers to make subtle rolling movements on the patient’s body. Bowen sessions may last from 30 to 90 minutes and are often customized to the individual. Many Bowen practitioners see this approach as being complementary to other medical treatments, such as prescription drugs or surgery, rather than as a replacement for other treatments.

Evidence Table


    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    Frozen shoulder

    Early research suggests that Bowen therapy may improve the range of motion in patients with frozen shoulders.


    Although Bowen therapy is popularly used for pain treatment, more scientific research is needed in this area to make a strong recommendation.

    Psychiatric disorders (adjunct in compliance)

    Bowen technique has been used in psychiatric inpatient care settings, but its effectiveness is unclear.

    Stress (job-related)

    Bowen therapy has been used in healthcare settings to reduce job-related stress. Further research is needed before it may be recommended.

*Key to grades:



    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.



    Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.


  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().



    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Carter B. Clients’ experiences of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen technique. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 2002;8(4):204-210.
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  • Dicker A. Using Bowen Therapy to improve staff health. Aust J Holist Nurs 2001;8(1):38-42.
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  • Long L, Huntley A, Ernst E. Which complementary and alternative therapies benefit which conditions? A survey of the opinions of 223 professional organizations. Complement Ther Med 2001;9(3):178-185.
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  • Carter B. A pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of Bowen technique in the management of clients with frozen shoulder. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2001;9(4):208-215.
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  • Hyland PS. Family therapy in the hospital treatment of children and adolescents. Bull Menninger Clin 1990;54(1):48-63.
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  • Zerbe KJ, Fabacher JE. Benefits and limitations of Bowen therapy with psychiatric inpatients. Bull Menninger Clin 1989;53(6):522-526.
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