resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
December, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 12
Effects of Healing Touch in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Energy-based healing practices have been part of various cultures throughout history. Use of these complementary therapies, referred to as biofield therapies, is gaining popularity in the U.S.The theory behind energy-based healing practices is that humans have an energetic dimension necessary for sustaining life. A healthy person's energy field is symmetrical and balanced, allowing optimal energy flow. Imbalances in the energy field might result in pathological physical and psychological symptoms.
Scientific study of the biological mechanisms, effectiveness and safety of biofield therapists is limited. However, this month's Massage Therapy Foundation research column reviews an interesting, systematic, evidence-based approach study of the biofield therapy Healing Touch that was conducted at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and recently published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing.
Healing Touch is a "hand-mediated" therapy involving the practitioner using his or her hands, either on or above the client's body, to restore, energize and equilibrate imbalances in the client's energy field, with the goal of health, well-being or to alleviate specific conditions. Healing Touch originated in the nursing field in the late 1980s as a patient-centered modality in which the practitioner and client both participate in the healing process. Reported benefits include reducing stress, anxiety, pain and depression symptoms, while increasing relaxation and an overall sense of well-being.
This published systematic review evaluated data from randomized clinical trials (RCTs). The systematic review examined the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch as supportive care for medical conditions. Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, and ClinicalTrials.gov) were searched for peer-reviewed articles about Healing Touch. Of the 332 potentially relevant articles, five were included in the review (327 articles were excluded). The five articles selected, involved studies which used random assignment to the treatment condition. Some of the five articles were selected because they employed a blinded study design, which means the studies had data collectors or participants who did not know what type of treatment the participants received (e.g. treatment or control).
The five selected studies involve the use of imagery, stress-relaxation therapy, prayer, therapeutic massage, Healing Touch, mock Healing Touch and presence (as in the presence of someone with the participant, but who did not perform any type of treatment). The sample sizes ranged from 62 to 237 participants. The participants included both men and women who had a mean age between 50 and 65 years old. The studies included multiple conditions including cancer, coronary artery bypass surgery or surgery to enlarge coronary arteries blocked by plaque (percutaneous coronary intervention).
While one study had no significant results with Healing Touch alone, the other four studies show significant findings. One study showed that recipients had significant improvements in respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, pain and mood disturbance after receiving Healing Touch. Two of the studies showed that recipients who received Healing Touch had a significant increase in overall functioning, satisfaction, emotional role functioning, mental health and health transition and a decrease in worry. And the fifth study showed that Healing Touch recipients had a significant decrease in anxiety and the length of their hospital stay.
More studies about the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch for improving health-related quality of life are required, given the inconclusive findings and limitations of the studies reviewed. Limitations included one study which did not include a "usual care alone" group, i.e. a control group, which is a group of participants that received only the usual medical care and no biofield therapy or other type of therapies. Usual care alone groups are essential when making comparisons with the standard of care. One study used a standardized Healing Touch method involving a "modified" chakra connection, but the modification was not explained. This makes replicating the study difficult. In another study, music was played during Healing Touch treatments; in this case, theoretically the music could have been the reason recipients felt more relaxed. Also, a standard Healing Touch protocol was not used and recipients had different types of cancer. Both of these factors could have potentially contributed to some of the variability in the results. Further, one of the studies used Healing Touch involving different lengths of treatment without the use of a standard protocol, again making replication of the study difficult.
None of the studies justified the protocol or length of time chosen for the Healing Touch treatments. Additionally, because there are several levels of training, the experience of the Healing Touch practitioners should have been described.
Additionally, a limitation of systematic reviews is that studies with positive results are more often published than those with negative results which can lead to a bias toward the publication of studies that are more positive rather than representing all RCT findings.
Research in biofield therapies is difficult because there is a question about whether it can be analyzed using conventional scientific approaches, such as RCTs. Few clinical trials use adequate research methods, including the use of blinding and control treatments; which can result in exaggerated treatment effects. Sometimes trials do not have large enough sample sizes. Another issue is that biofield therapy practitioners are not always involved in developing research protocols and researchers might be unfamiliar with the language used in complementary therapies. Yet another potential problem is that many different types of subjective assessments can be used to determine treatment outcomes; this makes it difficult to compare studies. An approach using mixed-methods including both quantitative and qualitative data, might prove vital to understanding the effects of Healing Touch.
How exactly Healing Touch has an effect is currently unclear. The biofield has only recently begun to be measured. Future research in biofield therapies such as Healing Touch should continue to improve in rigor and detail, as well as investigate whether the effects of these therapies are comparable to the effects of other complementary modalities such as massage therapy.
In closing, though inconclusive, the results of the effects of Healing Touch are promising. It is encouraging that research is increasingly being done to address the effectiveness of therapies based on ancient healing practices involving the human energy field. The current challenge in this field of inquiry is to develop rigorous and replicable scientific research protocols that will demonstrate both the effectiveness and therapeutic capabilities of biofield therapies such as Healing Touch.
Source: Anderson, Joel G., Taylor, Ann Gill. Effects of Healing Touch in Clinical Practice: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of Holistic Nursing. Published online 12 January 2011; DOI: 10.1177/0898010110393353
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