Home Institution: Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
My Driving Question
What are the physiological mechanisms through which biofield therapies—such as reiki, external qigong, and healing touch—produce a therapeutic effect?
Scholar Project (2007-2013)Dr. Hammerschlag’s work as a Nova Institute Scholar focused on the physiological basis of biofield therapies, such as reiki, external qigong, johrei, and healing touch, whose purpose is to balance the energy fields that surround and permeate the therapy recipient. The project’s overarching goal was to frame biofield physiology as an area of study. It was guided by a working definition of the biofield as a confluence of electromagnetic as well as other conventional and non-conventional phenomena to which living systems contribute and within which they exist. The project sought to illuminate the role of biofields in the maintenance of health and to summarize current understanding of how the body generates and responds to biofields. Dr. Hammerschlag’s Scholar project included the performance and publication of two systematic reviews and a roundtable discussion:
- Randomized controlled trials of human biofield therapies that report use of only non-physical contact treatment (Hammerschlag et al. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012).
- Biofield-based therapies: a systematic review of physiological effects on practitioners during healing (Baldwin & Hammerschlag. Explore, February 2014).
- Biofield research: a roundtable discussion of scientific and methodological issues. (Hammerschlag et al. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2012).
Dr. Hammerschlag began his academic career conducting research in neurobiology at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, where he served as associate chair of the Division of Neurosciences. Twenty-five years later, a growing interest in acupuncture led him to change careers and become founding director of research at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Oregon. There he engaged in collaborative research projects in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine with Oregon Health & Science University, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, and the University of Arizona, funded by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
A co-editor of the book Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Establishing an Evidence Base, Dr. Hammerschlag currently serves as an executive editor for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Education and Training
- Postdoctorate, neurochemistry, University College, London, England
- PhD, biochemistry, Brandeis University
- BS, chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- BS, humanities and science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Executive Editor, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2006-present
- Editorial board, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2000-present
- Editorial board, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 2005-present
- Editorial board, Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, 1999-2003
- President, Society for Acupuncture Research, 1997-2003
- Invited presenter, NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture, 1997
- Chair, Research Methodology Panel, OAM/FDA Workshop: Status of the Acupuncture Needle, 1994
- National Institutes of Health, Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, 1989-96
- Council member, International Society for Neurochemistry, 1991-95
- Chair, program committee, American Society for Neurochemistry, 1993
- Editorial board, Journal of Neurochemistry, 1986-93
- Human Subject Effects on Torsion Pendulum Oscillations: Importance of Establishing the Contribution of Thermal Convection Air Currents. Explore, November 2016
- Human Subject Effects on Torsion Pendulum Oscillations: Further Evidence of Mediation by Convection Currents. Explore, December 2016
- Unanticipated Insights into Biomedicine from the Study of Acupuncture. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, February 2016
- Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges, and Recommendations. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, November 2015
- Biofield Physiology: A Framework for an Emerging Discipline. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, November 2015
- Biofield Science and Healing: History, Terminology, and Concepts. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, November 2015
- Nontouch biofield therapy: a systematic review of human randomized controlled trials reporting use of only nonphysical contact treatment. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, December 2014
- Effectiveness guidance document (EGD) for Chinese medicine trials: a consensus document. Trials, May 2014
- Biofield-based therapies: a systematic review of physiological effects on practitioners during healing. Explore, February 2014
- Biofield research: a roundtable discussion of scientific and methodological issues. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, December 2012
- Randomized controlled trials of human biofield therapies that report use of only non-physical contact treatment. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, June 2012
- Acupuncture and the emerging evidence base: contrived controversy and rational debate. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, April 2012
- AcuTrials®: an online database of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews of acupuncture. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, July 2013
- Comparative effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine and psychosocial care in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders-associated chronic facial pain. Journal of Pain, November 2012
- Reductions in pain medication use associated with traditional Chinese medicine for chronic pain. The Permanente Journal, Summer 2012
- Effectiveness Guidance Document (EGD) for acupuncture research – a consensus document for conducting trials.
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, September 2012
- See articles & papers on PubMed
- Co-editor, Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Establishing an Evidence Base. October 2007