Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Biofeedback Benefits?

You often recommend biofeedback. Can you explain how it works and what it is used for?

Answer (Published 6/15/2006)

Biofeedback is a learned mind/body technique that enables you to influence supposedly involuntary physical functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and brain waves. During a biofeedback session, a therapist attaches electrical sensors to parts of your body. The sensors monitor functions such as heart rate variability, blood pressure or muscle tension and translate the information into sound or a flashing light - something you can perceive directly. For example, a temperature sensor on your finger can translate skin temperature into a beep tone that you can hear - the higher the skin temperature, the faster the rate of beeping. With that kind of "feedback" from your body, you can learn to warm your hands by raising your skin temperature. In doing this you learn to relax the pathways of the sympathetic nervous system that constricts blood vessels. The same pathways can also be used to control the fight-or-flight response, so by relaxing them you achieve a general relaxation response. This is a good thing.

Biofeedback can also be used to control brain activity, muscle tension, and heart rate and is used to help treat a wide range of health problems including asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, epilepsy, hot flashes and the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It has been approved by the National Institutes of Health for complementary treatment of chronic pain and insomnia.

I often recommend biofeedback for treatment of migraines, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, ulcers, chronic gastro-intestinal problems, Raynaud's disease and unconscious grinding of the teeth. To find out how effective biofeedback is for treatment of specific health problems, visit the Web site of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback ( To find a certified practitioner, visit the Web site of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America ( Computer compatible versions of biofeedback training, such as "The Journey to Wild Divine," are also readily available for home use.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here