Research: KJELLGREN and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 82


KJELLGREN and colleagues, Department of Psychology, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden, investigated the possible benefits of rest/relaxation in a flotation tank to patients suffering chronic muscle tension/pain.


Floating and relaxing in a high-salt content flotation tank is a form of restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) termed ‘flotation-REST’.


This randomized, controlled study involved 14 men and 23 women suffering from chronic muscular pain/tension in the neck and/or back. 17 of the subjects served as controls, while 20 were given the opportunity to use the flotation-REST technique in a flotation tank (filled with water containing a very high salt concentration) up to nine times over a 3-week period.


The flotation-REST technique significantly reduced perceived pain that was of the most severe intensity, but did not affect perceived pain that was of low intensity. In patients who undertook flotation-REST, blood levels of 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyethyleneglycol (a metabolite of noradrenaline) were significantly reduced following treatment, whereas such levels in controls were unchanged. Flotation-REST did not significantly affect endorphin levels. However, patients in the flotation-REST group did report experiencing elevated optimism and reduced anxiety and depression and were better able to fall asleep at night compared with controls.


The results indicate that the flotation-REST technique may offer benefits for patients suffering from chronic pain.


Kjellgren A et al. Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain. Pain Research & Management 6 (4): 181-9. Winter 2001.


The above research studies show how powerful mind/body therapies are for a broad spectrum of conditions, from muscular pain, coping with the distress of dying, headaches, cardiovascular and sleep problems. These techniques and approaches need to be integrated into medical education, as well as made available as add-on services to conventional health services.

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