Evidence Behind Floatation Therapy

Floatation or float therapy is a practice that is not new, having first been studied back in the 1950s, but only in recent years we have seen it really take off. Endorsed by a number of public figures and celebrities, from Emma Watson, the Kardashians to even John Lennon whose biographer noted the positive benefits the tank had on the famous singer, particularly in his struggle with addiction, floatation therapy is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. 

Evidence Behind Floatation Therapy
[image: pexels by darya sannikova]

As the name suggests, floatation therapy involves floating in a pod or tub of lukewarm water mixed with magnesium sulfate also known as Epsom salt which mimics the magnesium concentration of the Dead Sea. The idea behind it is to create an environment where the ‘outside’ and all the stressors associated with it are muted out, leaving the individual to really focus on their feelings and emotions and connect with their body. 

So, what are some of the benefits associated with it? Both empirical and theoretical data have a lot to say and the applications of float therapy can be just as numerous as the types of people who access this service and swear by it. Firstly and most obviously, floatation therapy has been scientifically proven to minimize stress, depression, anxiety, and aid sleep quality. Researchers have attributed this to the therapy’s ability to lower cortisol levels and blood pressure. 

In 2018, Justin Feinstein, a trailblazer neuropsychologist who has been leading the charge in float therapy research and awareness-raising, published one of the first studies investigating the technique as a potential treatment option for individuals diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression. In his study, he assessed 121 participants with confirmed diagnoses and using three different types of self-report measures, namely baseline measures, before and after float measures, and follow-up questionnaires, he found that a single one-hour session had substantial effects on participants. Nearly 75%reported that they had achieved more relaxation than with any other techniques they have previously tried and 100% of participants said they would float again as it has helped reduce their anxiety and overall minimized depression symptoms.

Since 2018, more and more studies into the benefits of float therapy have been published, suggesting that the scientific community has its eyes on it. For example, in 2021, results from a randomized clinical trial evaluating the application of the therapy in chronic pain management was put out by the reputable JAMA Network. Different from Dr Feinstein’s study, this involved looking at 99 participants undergoing intervention, placebo, and wait-list control groups. In a nutshell, the main benefit reported was a relevant change in pain intensity a week following the last intervention. Similar to other chronic pain management techniques, the benefits were short-term and the findings suggest that in order to maintain the effects, the intervention needs repeating. Yet, it is evident that for many individuals living with chronic pain, an alternative that is non-invasive, safe and free from adverse effects that are associated with medication, is something that needs to be taken into account by healthcare professionals when establishing treatment plans. For instance, when thinking about cancer patients, wherever appropriate, float therapy can be an alternative to the more commonly used approaches across various stages of cancer and during remission when patients battle a number of symptoms and after effects. 

Looking more broadly, beyond individuals living with pre-existing conditions, those who have tried floatation therapy and swear by its benefits have used it for a number of situations. One of the most popular application of this intervention has been noted by endurance athletes. Improving recovery, both mentally and physically is incredibly important for this population and as any endurance athlete will confirm, effective recovery methods lead to improved performance. By reducing muscle soreness, increasing energy and focus levels and boosting the immune system, float therapy is extremely popular among sportspeople who want to be at the top of their game.

Another potential application focused on unleashing and boosting creativity, particularly since at its origins, the intervention was first used as a way to study the human consciousness. Celebrities such as Jim Carrey, Susan Sarandon or Michael Crichton are floatation therapy regulars when they are on the look out to relieve a creative block and tap into some inspiration. Because it allows people to ‘turn off’ the outside world, one possible answer for its creative juices inducing properties is focused on a phenomenon that happens in the brain, similar to the state people are in right before falling asleep or during a deep state meditation. 

Formally known as theta brainwave activity, this is classed as slow activity and usually characterized by a frequency of 3.5 to 7.5 Hz. Evidence suggests that people who produce more theta waves report having more ideas and feeling more creative. Therefore, whether you are working in a creative industry or have to come up with a solution to a challenge, hopping into the tank can be the place that provides you with the answers you are looking for. 

The above is, of course, a snapshot of an ever-increasing pool of empirical, theoretical and self-reported data that aims to build a comprehensive picture of the benefits and potential applications of floatation therapy as an intervention that is widely accessible, safe and pleasant. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Leave a Comment to show some Love ~ Thanks