By Dr. Christopher Kent
In previous columns, elements of the mental impulse have been discussed [1,2,3,4]. It is clear that the mental impulse is properly characterized as a message, not a biological process. The various physical and chemical processes available to propagate such messages are far more extensive than the nerve action potential.
According to Stephenson, “We might conceive of this mental impulse as being composed of certain kinds of physical energies, in proper proportions, which will balance other such forces in the Tissue Cell; as electricity, valency, magnetism, cohesion, etc., etc.. Perhaps some of these energies are not known to us in physics. What right have we to assume that we have found them all?” 
In 1969, the physiologist Hewitt  proposed a classification of physical mechanisms associated with signaling in the human body:
1. Diffusion of particles along concentration gradients.
2. Diffusion of quanta along electromagnetic gradients.
3. Circulation within structured channels.
4. Wave propagation.
These physical mechanisms are operative in both linear, synaptic processes and nonlinear, nonsynaptic processes.
A recent study  evaluated the effect of low force chiropractic adjustments on the body surface electromagnetic field. Fortyfour subjects were randomly assigned into control (20 subjects) and experimental (24) groups. A triaxial fluxgate magnetometer was used to measure the electromagnetic field on the subjects’ body surface. Readings were taken at the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions.
Following one low force adjustment, significant decreases in the electromagnetic field were found in the cervical and sacral areas of the adjusted group. Decreases were also seen in the thoracic and lumbar areas, but did not reach statistical significance. No significant changes in electromagnetic field measurements were found in the control group.
Another study  used electrophysiological methods to demonstrate effects of intuition. 26 subjects were involved in the study, which were shown “calm” and “emotionally arousing” pictures. Skin conductance, EEG, ECG data were collected. Surprisingly, physiologic responses to an emotional stimulus were observed prior to its presentation. The authors reported that both the brain and the heart appear to receive and respond to intuitive information, and the heart appears to receive intuitive information before the brain. The authors propose a theoretical model explaining how intuitive perception accesses a field of energy.
A third study  investigated the longterm effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and selfperceived stress . Fortysix participants were assigned to handson Reiki (energy healing), distance Reiki (nontouch), or distance (nontouch) placebo groups. The subjects were evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory, the Back Hopelessness Scale, and the Perceived Stress Scale. One year after completion of six treatments, significant differences were found between the treatment groups and the control group. No significant differences were found between the handson and nontouch treatment groups.
These and other studies are part of the growing body of evidence that there are energetic mechanism of communication between human beings, which challenge traditional notions of space, time, cause, and effect.
Chiropractors who employ lowforce and “energy” techniques may find some of these experimental designs helpful in implementing research strategies. By exploring indicators of vertebral subluxation, in addition to other outcomes assessment tools, the profession may develop more effective adjusting methods and strategies.
5. Stephenson RW: “Chiropractic Textbook.” Davenport, IA. The Palmer School of Chiropractic, 1948 edition.
6. Hewitt WF: “Somatic aspects of applied physiology.” In Hoag JG (ed): “Osteopathic Medicine.” McGrawHill Book Company. New York. 1969.
7. Zhang J, Snyder BJ, Vernor L: “The effect of low force chiropractic adjustments on body surface electromagnetic field.” J Can Chiropr Assoc 2004;48(1):29.
8. McCraty R, Atkinson M, Bradley RT: “Electrophysiological evidence and intuition: Part 2. A systemwide process?” Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2004;10(2):325.
9. Shor AG: “Longterm effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and selfperceived stress.” Alternative Therapies 2004;10(3):42