Healing Research

There are more than 400 clinical studies showing the beneficial effects of 'Healing'; the small selection of research abstracts shown below give some indication of the range of proven therapeutic benefits of Healing.  The last four bits of research do not demonstrate any healing effect but they do show that healers - whilst healing - are surrounded by Energy Fields that are far in excess of the norm.  The majority of these studies were obtained from MEDLINE – a vast medical database – or from the book "Spiritual Healing" by Dr Daniel Benor.

Miscellaneous Articles and Research Studies

Meridians and TCM

Do Meridians Really Exist?

Evidence Based Complementary Medicine

Healing Stimulates Bone-Cell growth in Lab Dishes

Spiritual Healing: A Unifying Influence in Complementary/ Alternative Therapies

Beyond the Obvious – Lecture given by Dr Manjir Samanta-Laughton

REIKI – Review of a Biofield Therapy (History, Theory, Practice and Research)

An Integrative Review of Reiki Touch Therapy Research

A Systematic Review of the Use of Reiki in Health Care

Science and Spiritual Healing

Inhibitory Effects of Bio-Energy Therapies on Cancer Growth

Reiki reduces heart rate and blood pressure in stressed lab rats

Reiki Treatment on Bacterial Cultures

Nervous System changes during Reiki Treatment

Effect of Reiki Healing on In Vitro Tumour Cells

Research Abstracts

Research on Cell Cultures and Enzymes

2008, Jhaveri A, Walsh SJ, Wang Y, McCarthy M, Gronowicz G; Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture;    J Orthop Res. 2008 Nov;26(11):1541-6. doi: 10.1002/jor.20688

This study, led by Professor Grnowicz (an orthopaedic surgeon) involved healers, students and cell cultures. Bone, tendon and skin cell cultures were divided into three groups; one group was treated by trained healers for 10 minutes twice a week, the second group was treated by untrained students who were told to hold their hands over the cultures for 10 minutes twice a week, the third group were left in their stands, untouched. After treatment, all cultures were returned to an incubator and later examined by scientists who did not know which group each culture had been in. This was repeated with different healers, different students and different cultures for 3 years.
The results showed that cells treated by trained Healers grew faster and stronger than those receiving sham healing or none at all; Gronowicz tested the cells using several different markers and found that treated cells grew at double the rate of untreated cells and that they absorbed more calcium (the essential mineral for strong bones). Gronowicz also tested cancerous cells, noting that the healers did not know whether they were dealing with healthy or cancerous cells, and found that healing did not make the cancer cells grow.

2006, Rubik et al; In Vitro Effect of Reiki Treatment on Bacterial Cultures: Role of Experimental Context and Practitioner Well-Being;    Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 12, No 1 : pages 7-13

In this study, 14 Reiki Practitioners completed 5 sessions on bacterial cultures; each session lasting up to 15 minutes.  Three of the sessions were done just on the cultures; two of the sessions were done after the Practitioners had first given Reiki to a pain patient for 30 minutes.  No overall difference between the control cultures and Reiki-treated cultures was noticeable when the Practitioners were just doing the cultures.  However, when the Practitioner was healing the cultures after first giving healing to a pain patient there was a significant increase in bacteria in the Reiki-treated cultures compared to the control cultures.  The study concluded that Reiki improved growth of bacterial cultures, when Practitioner first treated a patient.

1986, Rein G; A psychokinetic effect of neurotransmitter metabolism: Alterations in the degradative enzyme monoamine oxidase.    In Research in Parapsychology, 1985 (Debra H. Weiner & D. Radin. eds.). pp. 77-80. Scarecrow; Metuchen, NJ.

In a research study conducted by Glenn Rein, a Healer "Matthew Manning" gave healing to preparations of 'monoamine oxidase' (MAO); a human enzyme.   Healing Treatments last 5 minutes and the enzyme levels in the samples were measured before and after treatment; these were compared with untreated controls.   In nine of the trials, enzyme activity in the samples increased, in seven trials it decreased and remained unchanged in two of the trials. The combined results gave a significance of p<0.001 (i.e. the probability that the results were due to pure chance were less than 1 in a thousand).

1973; Haraldsson E. & Thorsteinsson T; "Psychokinetic effects on yeast: An exploratory experiment"    In Research in Parapsychology 1972 (W. C. Roll, R. L. Morris & J. D. Morris, eds.). pp. 20-21. Scarecrow Press; Metuchen, NJ.

In this study, the researchers used yeast cultures and asked three Healers and four non-Healers to attempt to increase the growth of yeast cultures, in tubes, from close by but not touching.   In each session, each subject worked with ten tubes and there were the same number of controls; in 12 sessions, a totla of 240 tubes were run both experimental and control. The results showed a non-significant result for the non-Healers but a high significant positive result for the Healers — p=0.00014 (i.e. the probability of the results being due to pure chance was less than 2 in 10,000).

1979, Braud, W., Davis, G., & Wood; "Experiments with Matthew Manning" Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 50, 199-223

Stressed human blood cells (erythrocytes) are sensitive to the osmotic pressure of the solution in which they are suspended; when this pressure is reduced significantly below that of blood plasma, they swell and rupture. In this research study, the Healer "Matthew Manning" was attempting to reduce the rate of cell breakdown when the cells were suspended in a hypotonic salt solution. The experiments consisted of a three series of 10 runs each with each run having 10 samples; five samples in each run were the controls and the Healer sought to prevent or reduce the rate of cell breakdown in the other five. Nine of the runs were done with the Healer in close proximity to the samples; one of the runs involved the Healer being in another room. Overall, the results were very positive (p<0.001) with the most significant results occuring in the distant room samples.

1977, Miller; Methods of detecting and measuring healing energies    Future Science (published by Anchor Doubleday)

In a study that took place over twenty years ago, a healer treated containers of copper salt solutions as if she were undertaking a healing.  The crystals obtained from these solutions were coarser than crystals obtained from solutions treated exactly the same minus the healing.  Further measurements showed changes consistent with an alteration in the hydrogen bonds of the 'healed' water.

1983, Patrovsky; Proceedings of the 5th International conference on Psychotronic Research, Bratislava    : pages 88-95

Another study showed that 'healed' water becomes polarized and polarized water is known to stimulate plant growth.

Research on Animals

1965, Grad, Bernard; Some biological effects of the 'laying-on of hands': a review of experments with animals and plants   Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 1965

Bernard Grad anaesthetized 48 mice and create similar sized wounds on their backs by removing a piece of skin that was approximately 0.5 by 0.5 inches.  He then divided the mice into three groups of 16.  The first group received healing for 15 minutes, twice daily, from the hungarian healer 'Estebany', the second group was an untreated control, and the third group was also an untreate control but had their cages heated to control for the possibility that heat from Estabany's hands might induce faster wound healing.  The Lab workers were unaware of which group they were handling.  After 14 days, the rate of wound healing of the control groups did not differ from each other but the wounds of the treated group had healed much more rapidly than those of either of the control groups (highly significant increase: p<0.001 - i.e. the probability that the results were due to pure chance were less than 1 in a thousand)

Research on Humans

1995, Brown, CK; Spiritual Healing in a General Practice:Using a Quality-of-life Questionnaire to Measure Outcome    Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Vol 3 : pages 230-233

In this study, 35 patients with chronic health problems were invited to attend healing sessions with two healers at the surgery.  33 of the 35 patients completed the healing sessions.  11 of the patients had suffered from anxiety/stress for an average of 12 years; 6 of the patients had been suffering from depression for an average of 6 years; and the remainder were suffering from physical problems.  Initially, the mean mental health score of the group was 49.6 (average for general population = 73.7) and they scored considerably lower than the general population on emotional and social functioning as well.

At the end of the trial, the mean mental health score of the group had risen to 63.5 with comparable improvements in emotional and social functioning.  23 of the patients elected to continue with healing and a follow-up questionnaire was sent to them after 6 months.  Nineteen patients answered and the results showed that the improvements in mental health had been maintained.

1998, Dixon, M; Does 'healing' benefit patients with chronic symptoms? A quasi-randomized trial in general practice;    J R Soc Med 1998 Apr; vol 91(4) : pages 183-188

This study looked at the effects of 'healing' on chronically ill patients in a large practice.  For the study, 57 patients were alternately allocated to receive ten weekly healing sessions or to be controls.  Two weeks after healing was completed, 22 of the 27 healed patients reported that their symptoms had improved and 15 of them reported that there had been a substantial improvement.  Healed patients scored better than controls on anxiety and depression ratings and these differences were still evident 3 months later.  The report concluded "that healing may be an effective adjunct for the treatment of chronically ill patients presenting in general practice".

1996, Benor, DJ; Spiritual healing for infertility, pregnancy, labour and delivery   Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery, 1996, Vol 2(4) : pages 106-109

Spiritual healing has been reported anecdotally to be of benefit for most of the ills of mankind.  Research in the past few decades amply confirms this assertion.  This paper discusses the applications of healing for infertility, pregnancy, labour and delivery.  Though healers in the UK are forbidden by law to give healing around the time of birth without the supervision of a midwife or other medical personnel healers are increasingly working alongside conventional carers in doctors' surgeries and hospitals.  There is a definite place for healers to participate in bringing life into the world.  Healers and grateful parents report that labour and delivery are eased when healing is given and that babies born after receiving healing seem more alert and 'connected' to those around them.

1976, Kreiger    Psychoenergetic systems, Vol 1 : pages 121-129

In this study, 32 nurses were trained in healing methods and they then acted as healers for research.  The conclusion of this study was that healing increased haemoglobin levels thus more oxygen was being transported to the cells with an obviously beneficial effect.

1989, Cohen, J;    The Practitioner, Vol 233, August 1989 : pages 1056-1057

In this study, 44 patients were referred to a healing group and data collected over 20 weeks on those who attended.  The results showed that 35 patients felt better for attending.

1994, Sundblom et al; Effect of spiritual healing on chronic idiopathic pain: a medical and psychological study   Clin J Pain, 1994 Dec, Vol 10(4) : pages 296-302

Twenty-four patients suffering from chronic pain were allocated randomly to receive Spiritual Healing or no treatment.  Patients were evaluated at the beginning of treatment, 2 weeks after the completion of treatment and a year after the completion of treatment using: Medical Interview (Visual Analog Scale and Pain Clinic Investigation Formula); IASP Data Base Outline; psychological interview (Hopkin's Symptom Checklist, Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire, Beck's Depression Inventory, Coping Strategy Questionnaire, Health Locus of Control Scale).  The results showed a reduction in drug intake and an improvement in sleep patterns among those who had received healing; there was also a decrease in the feeling of hopelessness and half of the treated patients felt that healing had given them some relief.  The study concluded that healing appeared harmless and was subjectively helpful to some patients suffering from chronic pain.

1997, Peck; Therapeutic Touch & Progressive Muscle Relaxation used to Reduce Pain in Elders With Degenerative Arthritis;    Journal of Holistic Nursing, Vol. 15, No 2 : pages 176-198

In a 10-week trial comparing the effectiveness of Therapeutic Touch (TT) with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) in elders with degenerative arthritis researcher Susan Eckes Peck, Ph.D. found that both TT and PMR significantly reduced baseline levels of pain and distress.  40 subjects received TT treatments and 37 received PMR treatments. The reduction was nearly equal with PMR showing slightly more pain and distress reduction than TT.  While this study did not compare TT or PMR to a control ("placebo") group, a number of studies have already shown that PMR is effective in reducing pain and distress in arthritis sufferers.  Therefore, this study shows that TT treatment is nearly as effective as PMR treatments.  The author points out that both TT and PMR can be used in "practice settings for chronic conditions requiring multiple treatments."  PMR can be taught to some patients so that they can practice on their own.  However, for patients not able to practice PMR on their own or who have difficulty following through with self-guided PMR, TT treatments by a practitioner can be helpful.  One must keep in mind that this study focused on TT and PMR only and did not consider the benefits of concurrent changes in diet, lifestyle, or concurrent holistic treatment programs.  Such a holistic healing programs can be quite helpful in curing arthritic conditions.

1996, Garrard; The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Stress Reduction and Immune Function in Persons with AIDS;    University of Alabama (Doctoral Dissertation)

In this study, twenty men suffering from AIDS were randomly assigned to Healing or Mock Healing. During the healing sessions they all wore sleep masks and headphones so that they would not be aware of the presence of the healer. Those assigned to healing received 20 minutes healing from the healer; in the case of those assigned to mock-healing the healer entered and stayed in the room for 20 minutes but did not give healing. Healing effects were tested by giving all twenty men a stress test before treatment and nine weeks after treatment; Immune system effects were tested by taking white blood cell counts, of a type known to be deficient in those with AIDS, before treatment and then at three, six and nine weeks after treatment. By the end of nine weeks there were significant difference between the two groups with the healed group showing significant increases in white blood cell counts and on stress reduction.

1975, Krieger; Therapeutic Touch: the imprimatur of nursing;    American Journal of Nursing 1975, Vol 7 : pages 784-787

In this series of 4 experiments, Krieger studied the effects of healing on haemoglobin levels in humans. For the first 3 experiments, healing was carried out by a well-known Hungarian healer, Oscar Estebany. In the last experiment, she used 32 nurses who had been trained as healers. All four experiments showed significant increases in haemoglobin levels in healed groups as opposed to the control groups.

1989, Wetzel, Wendy S; Reiki healing: a physiological perspective;    Journal of Holistic Nursing 1989, Vol 7(1) : pages 47-54

This was a replication of Kreiger's study using Reiki. Again, significant increases in haemoglobin levels in the healed group, as opposed to the control group, were demonstrated.

Meta Studies

1990, Benor, D; Survey of Spiritual Healing Research    Complementary Medical Research, Vol 4 (3), September 1990 : pages 9-33

This was a review of 8 Healing research studies.  Benor concluded that healing was a major contributor in breaking the vicious circles of anxiety,muscle tension, spasm, pain, anxiety, etc.

Research carried out on Healers

In the 1970s, the nuclear physicist Dr Robert Beck spent a decade travelling the world and studying the brain-wave activity in healers (using EEG recordings).  He studied the brain-wave patterns of Spiritual Healers, Reiki Healers, Shamans, Wicca Practitioners and a host of others while they were carrying out healing.  He found that, regardless of type, they all had similar brain-wave patterns that averaged ot at about 7.8 to 8.0 cycles/second (the Alpha frequency range of the Brain).  Additional studies on some of the subjects and found that during healing moments their brain waves became phase and frequency synchronized with the earth’s magnetic field – the Schumann Resonance.  All this means is that healers' brain pulses were operating at the same frequency as the Schumann pulses and also at the same time; this has led some to suggest that healers are able to take energy from the Earth's magnetic field and transmit it to their patients; this process is known as field coupling.

In the 1980s, the medical researcher Cohen tested the electrical potential of healers' hands during healing and found that the potential could surge to 221 volts; the norm for non-healers is about 4 volts.  Again, in the 1980s, Dr John Zimmerman of the University of Colorado carried out tests on the magnetic field surround the hands of healers during healing.  He used a SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) for his experiments and discovered that Electromagnetic Fields several hundred times stronger than the background noise are created around the hands of healers during healing — he also discovered that non-healers do not have these massive Fields.

In Japan, Dr Seto measured the Field emanating from healers' hands at between 10 and 30 Gauss; this is about a thousand times stronger than the magnetic field of the heart.  Seto also discovered that this Field pulsated at a variable frequency centred between 7 and 10 hertz.

The studies on cultures, enzymes and animals rule out any placebo effect; however, the first study Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture is the most convincing as thousands of tests were carried out, placebo was ruled out by using cultures, the researcher's competence was beyond question and, most importantly, the researcher was a sceptic — she had to be coaxed into doing something she didn't believe in by a colleague.

The research on healers does not show any healing effect but it does show that, while carrying out healing, something unusual and unexplained is happening to and around healers.