This is a Phase I study to examine the feasibility and safety of shamanic (spiritual)
healing for treating temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs).
Traditional systems of healing, such as shamanism, do not readily lend themselves to
conventional research methods, yet studying their effectiveness is especially germane in the
case of chronic conditions that involve an emotional component and that elude allopathic
treatment regimens. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs), which affect up to 10% of the
adult population, are a prime example of such conditions. Traditional treatment outcomes
for TMD pain are often unsatisfactory. Moreover, in women age 25-55 (the age-sex group most
affected), TMD is often found in association with depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances,
gastrointestinal symptoms, frequent infection,and fibromyalgia. Because these multiple and
complex symptoms suggest a loss of spirit or life energy, they may be particularly
susceptible to treatment by shamanic (spiritual) healing, which aims to bring disturbed
physical, mental, and emotional systems into balance. This phase I study will develop
methods to evaluate shamanic healing as an intervention for TMD and will evaluate the
feasibility of conducting randomized clinical trials of shamanic healing.
- Females Age 25-55
- TMD Research Diagnosis Criteria (RDC) clinical diagnosis of myofacial pain with or
without disc displacement, arthralgia, arthritis, or arthosis
- Three or more significant systemic conditions, e.g. depression, fibromyalgia, GI or
reproductive disturbances, upper respiratory problems, etc. in the preceding 2 years.
- Diagnosed organic or medication induced major mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia,
- Other neurological diagnoses (epilepsy, Parkinsons)