Chakra system:

An attempt at possible reconciliation with biomedical science

According to ancient eastern wisdom, energy flows through the human body and “chakras” serve as important energetic centres. Through certain practices, it’s said, one should be able to regulate their activity. Moreover, by careful observation, it’s supposed to sense their manifestation. But is it really so, or are the “chakras” only a product of our imagination?

Unfortunately, the chakra system is described only in esoteric and alternative medicine literature. Attempt at biomedical characterization is profoundly missing. This is what we would like to change. However, we have to count on a possibility, that nothing like the “chakras” may be found in our body.

Unlike recent research proposals by Sadi [1], according to our 20+ years of experience in biomedical research on the one hand, and spiritual experiences on the other hand, the main shift in the research of the “chakras” should occur from oriental and New age beliefs in non-material or purely spiritual nature of the “chakras” separated from the physical body towards experimentation focused on biomedical correlates based on real quantities measured in domain of physics.

We‘ve formulated a number of research questions and hypotheses. Is it possible to find a physiological and biophysical basis for the “chakras”? What kind of measurement techniques are appropriate to attempt for collecting evidence? What kind of scientifically valid information can we extract from subjective observation?

Sensations in body areas where the “chakras” should be located might come from the activity of glands with inner secretion (Fig. 1) as well as nerve structures in adjacent regions. But is it possible to voluntarily regulate these structures?

Fig. 1: Could there be any correspondence between the chakras and endocrine glands?

Following is an example of practice and first-hand experience of sensations from different “chakras”. Let’s take the practice of loving-kindness/heartfulness (Mettá meditation). Occasionally, some kind of „vibrations“ in the middle of chests may appear. Just where the 4th “chakra” is supposed to be located. I’ve been empirically observing them, and estimating their onset, latency, cessation, frequency, amplitude, and evoking emotions. The practice of Mettá meditation can rapidly change our emotional state and general well-being. (By the way, be aware, how important applications this may find in our contemporary sick society.) But what is the mechanism behind it?

My guess is that, in this case, an increased secretion of hormones of happiness could be involved. The thymus gland is in the chest, between the lungs, and behind the breastbone, just in the location from where the sensations are coming. The thymus produces several hormones. The observed time scale of latency seems to coincide with the onset of hormonal effects.

However, after a closer look, location of the glands and assumed “chakras” don’t fit quite well. Moreover, our bodies are not able to sense glands, but can perceive sensations only from neural endings. Also, latency sometimes appears to be quite low – the first sensations (if not purely a placebo effect) may occur in a matter of seconds. Thus, the hypothesis might be formed as follows: Intended concentration to certain qualities/emotions excites neuronal activity in the vicinity of the glands, which, in turn may be triggered to secrete particular hormones with respective time lag. This would just be a domain of neuroendocrinology, that studies an interaction between the nervous and the endocrine systems.

Our goal is to develop innovative approaches for noninvasive monitoring of such localized activity, in this case originating from the thymus. Possible techniques include measurement of blood perfusion, temperature, electromyography, mechanical vibrations, or biomedical imaging.

Why aren’t such self-promoting practices taught at schools? It has tremendous potential for switching the inner state into a positive and pleasant one. And from a long-lasting perspective, increasing the functioning of the immune system and overall health. A natural explanation is, that because these processes are not well described and hence acknowledged. Regardless of the fact, whether the oriental term “chakra” would be omitted. Anyway, the first step would be their proper evidence-based description. It may require a similar process to the one of accepting (mindfulness) meditation, which begun in 1970s and is still ongoing.

How might the successful outcome of the research on the “chakras” look?

1) demystifying the “chakras” (if they ever exist), maybe by replacing the esoteric term by modern biomedical expressions

2) identifying with well established endocrine glands and neural structures,

3) biomedical characterization of their anatomy and physiology,

4) extending knowledge on their functioning by selected characteristics from the oriental approach,

5) providing practical applications for everyday life: regulation at will serving for health and well-being.

Typically for CAHUST, while dealing with advanced human studies, we apply the following approach also in this topic. We start from direct experience obtained from self-observation. However, how to combine subjective experience with scientific objectivity? Especially, when a majority of our subjective information may be distorted or misleading. That’s the reason, why mainstream science doesn’t enter this realm much often, or when it does, it stays within soft sciences (e.g. psychology), without bridging to natural sciences. Thus, while bearing in mind all these biases, we ask: Isn’t there a space left for scientific discoveries? How to use the subjective observation smartly?

Temporal verdict: Potential paradigm change in physiology/neuroendocrinology with subsequent expansion into biomedical applications and well-being.

Donors willing to support our research endeavours are highly appreciated.


[1] Sadi J.: Experimental Design to Assess the Existence of Chakras, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 36:4, 2023.