According to Healing Touch International (doing business as Healing Beyond Borders, Educating and Certifying the Healing Touch®):1
Healing Touch is a relaxing, nurturing, heart-centered energy therapy using gentle, intentional touch that assists in balancing physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Classified by the National Institutes of Health as a biofield therapy and nursing intervention, Healing Touch may be used to address the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association diagnosis (NANDA-1) of “imbalanced energy field.”
The Healing Touch is a collection of standardized, noninvasive techniques that clear, energize and balance the human and environmental energy fields. Healing Touch assists in creating a coherent and balanced energy field, supporting one’s inherent ability to heal. It is safe for all ages and works in harmony with, is complementary to, and may be integrated with standard medical care.
Clinical Practice Guidelines
Therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life.
2009 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology conclude that therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life. Only limited evidence is available regarding their efficacy for symptom management, including reducing pain and fatigue. The Society for Integrative Oncology gives a strong recommendation for these therapies:5
- For reducing anxiety: grade 1B (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
- For pain, fatigue, and other symptom management: grade 1C (strong recommendation, low or very low quality evidence)
Treating the Cancer
Working against cancer growth or spread, improving survival, or working with other treatments or therapies to improve their anticancer action
Few studies are available regarding the effects of Healing Touch on cancer outcomes. These studies provide early evidence of modest potential benefits:
- A prospective, randomized controlled trial in 2010 studied the effect of HT, relaxation training and usual care on cellular immunity support and treatment delay, among other outcomes. Women receiving chemotherapy and radiation for cervical cancer also receiving HT did not experience immune system depression compared to the other two groups7
- Reviews of Healing Touch (HT) research in 2005 and 2013 noted improved biomarkers and accelerated healing.8
Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness
Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being
Few studies have investigated Healing Touch specifically with people with cancer. However, a number of studies demonstrate positive benefit for symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and pain that are common in cancer survivors. Based on the paucity of research we can’t conclude that those benefits convey to people with cancer; however, information suggests that HT therapy is likely helpful in improving comfort and quality of life:
TRC Natural Medicines advises that even though the safety of Healing Touch has not been directly studied, no evidence indicates safety issues. They also caution that Healing Touch should not be used in place of proven treatments in diagnosed conditions..15
Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on January 7, 2019. Note: BCCT has not conducted a review of evidence on Healing Touch. Information on this page comes from the Healing Touch International and other sources at noted.
- Healing Touch International: What Is Healing Touch?
- Lutgendorf SK et al. Energy Medicine in Cancer. Chapter 15 in Abrams DI, Weil AT. Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2014.
- Potter PJ. Energy therapies in advanced practice oncology: an evidence-informed practice approach. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology, 2013 May-Jun;4(3):139–151.
- Finding a practitioner:
- Healing Touch Professional Association: Local Chapters Directory; consider contacting your nearest local chapter and inquire if they have a list of practitioner members.
- Healing Touch Certified Practitioner: Worldwide Directory of Healing Touch Practitioners
- Clinical Trials: Find a Study: enter a specific cancer or other condition in the Condition or Disease box, then enter Healing Touch in the Other Terms box
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition
- Wayne Jonas, MD: Your Healing Journey: A Patient’s Guide to Integrative Breast Cancer Care
- September 2018 Issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine