This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Biofeedback is a mind-body technique in which a practitioner uses a special monitoring machine to teach people how to control bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and muscle tension, in order to improve their health and well-being.
The first important studies on biofeedback were conducted in the late 1960s by Barbara Brown, of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, California, and Elmer and Alyce Green of the Menninger Foundation, a clinical and research center for mental illness in Topeka, Kansas. Prior to these studies, it was thought that the body's autonomic functions--heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, brain waves, and muscle behavior, for example--could not be voluntarily controlled. The researchers' studies of Indian yogi masters showed that the nervous system and metabolic rate could be consciously regulated. Their work led to an exploration of the use of biofeedback for a wide range of physical ailments, including migraine headaches, insomnia, and circulatory and gastrointestinal disorders.