Biofeedback Therapy and Mind-Body Medicine

Biofeedback Therapy & Mind-Body Medicine
Michael Smith Naturopathic Physician Plainfield, IL

Dr. Smith is passionate about health for the whole family. He holds a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University, where he was trained as a primary care physician (PCP). He has an interest in environmental medicine, mind body medicine, biofeedback, nutrition, herbal medicine, and stress management techniques.... more

Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions between the mind and body, and the ways in which mental, social, emotional, and behavioral factors can have a direct impact on health. Mind-body medicine uses biofeedback, visual imagery, guided relaxation, breath work, meditation, and other tools to bring about personal growth and transformation. Biofeedback is the use of instrumentation to feed back physiological responses (breath rate, heart rate, muscle tension, sweat response, temperature response, etc.), so that the individual can become aware of such responses and establish control to change their physiology.

The goal of biofeedback is to become mindful and aware of your responses and eventually control these responses without the use of biofeedback instrumentation. At first, the individual learns to control the external signal (biofeedback machine) and then learns to use internal sensations as physical cues to change their response and physiology. Biofeedback uses tools such as breath training, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, self-talk, heart-centered mediation, autogenic training, movement therapy, yoga, etc. 

Think of Mind-Body Medicine/Biofeedback as a specialized training to rewire your nervous system towards health, help you discover new ways to engage in your life with ease, and cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose. This modality takes effort. If you want to run a marathon, you train. If you want to balance your nervous system, you need to give it the same respect and dedication. This approach is collaborative, where you actively participate in your care. Together we will set goals, identify assessment measures, and determine training practices to move you towards resiliency. The more you practice, the better the results. 

Mind-body medicine and biofeedback both require mindfulness, which is awareness without judgment or elaboration. This involves noticing what is happening in the moment without adding to the experience by labeling it as good or bad, which can lead to a multitude of reactions, including tightening up against it, pulling away from the experience, continuously ruminating about the experience, etc. When we become mindful of our sensations, emotions, and thoughts, we learn to develop tolerance and impermanence. With this, we learn new ways of orienting to our environment and over time with practice, we generalize these new orienting responses into new daily patterns to happen automatically. 

Mind-body medicine and biofeedback are indicated for a number of ailments, including stress, chronic pain, migraines, tension headaches, essential hypertension, anxiety disorders, phobias, PTSD, ADHD, IBS, and other digestive disorders, tinnitus, asthma, TMJ disorders, insomnia, tremors, performance enhancement, pelvic floor disorders, etc. Biofeedback should not be used in severe depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, medical decompensation, and delirium. Side effects or adverse reactions are minimal and rare; however, hyperventilation, dizziness, disorientation, and relaxation-induced anxiety have been reported. 

Mind-body medicine and biofeedback are excellent tools to learn how to improve your ability to adapt and change your response to stress, as well as providing a sense of wellbeing. If you desire to be more alert and focused, more fluid mentally, be fully present, and begin to build new healthy habits, then mind-body medicine and biofeedback training are the right techniques for you!