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Healing touch influences a
person's physical or emotional health without anyone physically touching the
person. Healing touch is a common practice. Healing touch is related to
spiritual or energy healing, therapeutic touch, and distant healing.
In the 1970s, nurses developed a specific form of healing touch called
therapeutic touch to provide a more holistic (viewing the body and mind as a
whole, not as individual components), compassionate approach to healing. Many
nursing schools in the United States teach therapeutic touch, and it is often
used in conventional medical settings (such as before and after surgery) to
help comfort patients.
Central to healing touch is the belief that
a vital energy or life force flows freely through space and sustains all living
organisms. In a healthy person, this energy is thought to flow in and out of
the body in a balanced way. It is believed that illness results when the energy
flow is out of balance.
Practitioners of healing touch use their
hands in an attempt to change a person's energy flow and restore health.
Healing touch does not require contact between the practitioner and the person
during treatment. The practitioner moves his or her hands several inches above
the person's body.
Like other complementary medicines, healing
touch starts with the idea that people are naturally healthy. The way people
live and think may disturb their natural energy, and they may become ill. The
aim of healing touch is to focus (or channel) healing energy to restore natural
People use healing
touch to help treat many diseases. Supporters of healing touch believe it is
especially helpful for healing wounds, curing infections, and relieving pain
and anxiety. Some research studies have shown that, like yoga and meditation,
healing touch reduces anxiety and stress.
Little research has been
done on the effects of healing touch, and it is a difficult form of therapy to
study using traditional scientific techniques. But some studies on distant
healing show benefits.
You can safely use healing
touch along with conventional medical treatments. But it is not considered
appropriate or safe for serious, life-threatening situations or to replace
other proven treatments that are known to help with a disease. There is no
known risk in adding healing touch or distant healing to your medical
Always tell your doctor if you are using an
alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative
therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo
your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative
Other Works Consulted
Coughlin P, Micozzi MS (2002). Principles and Practice of Manual Therapeutics, 1st ed., pp.
184–197. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Weze C, et al. (2007). Healing by gentle touch
ameliorates stress and other symptoms in people suffering with mental health
disorders or psychological stress. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4(1): 115–123.
June 29, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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