The Scientific Argument for Float Therapy

Kriss BrooksFlotation TherapyLeave a Comment

When you hear about being closed inside of a tank filled with water that has been warmed to body temperature and packed with enough Epsom salts to make you float, you might not immediately think of the benefits. But there are many advantages to the practice of restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST).

For the past 65 years, the scientific community has studied ways to relieve stress, heighten senses, and manage chronic and temporary pain through sensory isolation. Due to extensive studies over the years and a lot of trial and error, scientists have discovered the benefits of floatation REST are real.

Where Did It Come From?

Neurophysiologist John C. Lilly invented the practice of what he dubbed Sensory Deprivation in the middle of the 20th century. Known in the scientific and medical communities to be a bit of a radical thinker, Lilly used some pretty unorthodox methods. For example, he was famous for his 1965 study where a woman lived with a dolphin for 10 weeks. His studies with LSD and sensory deprivation even inspired the 1980 film Altered States. His experimentation didn’t exactly instill faith in floatation therapy as a health benefit.

Fortunately, the ideas, methods, and name of sensory deprivation were changed to the floatation REST in the 1970s. A pioneer in the research of REST, Peter Suedfeld began his own studies using these sensory isolation tanks.

What Did the Research Show?

The first modern floatation tanks were created in the mid-70s, and studies began to show the real health benefits of floatation REST. Here’s some of the research and findings uncovered over the last 80 years:

  • Pain management (1985-2010). These studies focused on chronic pain due to several kinds of ailments. Test subjects suffered from internal illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis and external factors such as whiplash. All felt a reduction of pain during their floatation time, and most enjoyed relief that lasted after the therapy.
  • Psychological effects (mid-90s and into the 2000s). Benefits were measured for neuroendocrine and psychological issues. Relaxation from stress related ailments, increased imagination and cognition, and in combination with psychotherapy, even symptoms of anxiety and depression were reduced.
  • REST for women (mid-2000s). REST was found to be beneficial for stress relief, pain reduction due to premenstrual syndrome, and pre and postoperative gynecological pain.

The recent insurgence of floatation centers cropping up across the country isn’t part of a new-age health fad. Floatation REST has been shown to have many health benefits for the mind and body. To experience them firsthand or learn more about floatation REST, stop by or contact us at Northwest Float Center. We’ll be happy to assist you.

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