Recent Energy Healing Research

There is very little energy healing research being done due to lack of federal funding.  NIH refuses to fund any study of energy healing.  So I am always pleased to find peer-reviewed articles related to energy healing.  Here is some recent energy healing research:

Beseme S, Fast L, Bengston W, Turner M, Radin D, McMichael J. “Effects Induced In Vivo by Exposure to Magnetic Signals Derived From a Healing Technique”. Dose-Response, January-March, 2020:1-10.

In this paper, the “healing technique” refers to the Bengston Method of energy healer William Bengston who is known for his ability to shrink tumors in mice.  The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) research group, led by Dean Radin, recorded “magnetic signals” during one of Bengston’s healing sessions, and converted these signals to an audio CD.  In this study by Beseme et al. (2020), mice were injected with tumors and then exposed to the audio CD with the healer’s “magnetic signals”.

The authors observed significant changes in cellular and molecular parameters, but the effect on the tumors was relatively weak as compared to actual hands-on healing.  The magnetic signal/audio recording was not enough to elicit tumor remission.  This research group speculates that other physiologic signals may be necessary to recreate Bengston’s healing potential.  Years ago, I met another healer who wanted my help getting his healing energy recorded on an audio CD, so this seems to be a popular idea.

For experimental purposes, it is much easier to create an audio CD of “magnetic signals”, then to re-create a magnetic field.  But sometimes the more difficult task is the route to take.  Electromagnetic field (EMF) researchers in the Michael Persinger (now deceased) lab demonstrated that an applied low-frequency, rotating magnetic field, using a particular waveform called the “Thomas field”, is extremely effective in shrinking tumors. The Thomas magnetic field pattern is similar to the magnetic field wave that I have recorded in the vicinity of healers (Moga, 2014), suggesting that natural waves may have healing potential.  Recently, researchers have found that specific EMF wave patterns and frequencies can inhibit cancer cell growth, supporting the use of EMF therapy in oncology (Zimmerman et al., 2012; Crocetti et al., 2013; Cameron et al., 2015; Vadala et al., 2016; Buckner et al., 2017; Rick et al., 2018).

For energy healing to be accepted by the scientific community, we need to record healer vibrations and then re-create the healing signal or signals, demonstrating an effect.  So the Bengston/IONS/Beech Tree Labs group is conceptually correct, but needs to use actual magnetic fields rather than “information fields” on an audio feed.

Yang P, Jiang Y, Rhea PR, Conway TL, Chen D, Gagea M, Harribance SL, Cohen L. “Human Biofield Therapy and the Growth of Mouse Lung Carcinoma”. Integrative Cancer Therapies, Volume 18, 2019: 1–12.

This recent energy healing research was done in a mainstream cancer lab at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Longtime healer Sean Harribance did hands-on healing of lung cancer (LC) cells grown in vitro and of experimental mice with lung carcinoma.  Yang et al. observed that the biofield therapy slowed the growth of lung carcinoma in the mice and reduced the viability of the cancer cells in vitro.  The authors propose that some sort of electromagnetic radiation (EMF) produced by Harribance is involved in the tumor effect.

This is a good paper and a welcome contribution to the field, but with one major problem.  They do not cite other relevant articles that, 1) show tumor remission with other healers, and 2) demonstrate EMF emissions from healers.  This is a big problem in the energy healing research field.  Many current investigators do not cite early energy healing papers because they are published in non-indexed journals or parapsychology journals, but my god!, they were the only journals that would accept the early work.  One pertinent parapsychology paper would be Joines et al. (2012), who studied the electromagnetic emissions of healers.  The authors do not cite any of Bengston’s papers, which clearly demonstrate the effects of a hands-on healer on tumor growth. They promote all of the Harribance papers, while downplaying a critical paper in the Persinger lab (Hu et al., 2010).   They do not cite my papers at critical points in their paper, stating only that “it is known” with no citation!  We can’t move forward if everyone thinks and acts like they are the first one to study the problem.  Source amnesia – not citing pertinent sources – is bad scholarship.

So we have a good mainstream lab taking a risk and studying energy healing, but they are not yet ready to take the risk of citing prior research, regardless of what journals it is in, which is the scholarly thing to do.

Connor MH, Connor CA, Eickhoff J, Schwartz GE. “Prospective empirical test suite for energy practitioners”.  EXPLORE, August, 2020:1-10.

Connor has been working on this study for 15 years, testing over 1000 energy healers with more than a dozen different meters and instruments, and presenting her findings at 16 meetings.  For this paper, she focuses on 213 healers.  Her goal is to develop standardized tests to measure the level of competence in energy practitioners, as an aid in the selection of energy practitioners for scientific studies.  She seems to place great faith in the Samueli Institute’s recommendation that for a healer to be used in a scientific study, “the professional practitioner [must be] doing a minimum of six paid healings per week for a minimum of three years prior to testing”.  The irony is that this standard is arbitrary and not empirical – there is no scientific basis to support it.  Most frustrating, she tests a large number of healers, and then just gives us statistics and lots of idiosyncratic wisdom regarding energy healing.  She does not analyze the data, does not sift through her results and come up with a better standard for a “professional practitioner” based on all this empirical testing.  For example, it would have been good to know whether skill on these tests correlated with the number of years practicing or number of clients per week.  This was not analyzed or discussed – a missed opportunity!

The thought that occurred to me while reading this paper was, my god, she has done a large-scale psychokinesis (PK) study.  The healers in her study are trying to affect or alter the readings on meters and instruments, rather than heal clients.  Energy healing is regarded as “bio-PK”.  So if she is studying PK in healers, why not use random event generators (REGs), which have been used extensively in micro-PK research?  Experienced healers can significantly alter the output of a REG.

Overall, it is good to see some of her data published, but it does not really advance the field of recent energy healing research.

References cited in this blog:

Buckner CA, Buckner AL, Koren SA, Persinger MA, Lafrenie RM. (2017). The effects of electromagnetic fields on B16-BL6 cells are dependent on their spatial and temporal character.  Bioelectromagnetics 38:165-174.

Cameron IL, Markov MS, Hardman WE. (2015). Daily exposure to a pulsed electromagnetic field for inhibition of cancer growth: Therapeutic implications.  In (Markov MS, ed.): Electromagnetic fields in Biology and Medicine.  CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, pp. 311-318.

Crocetti S, Beyer C, Schade G, Egli M, Frohlich J, Franco-Obregon A. (2013). Low intensity and frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields selectively impair breast cancer cell viability. PLOS ONE 8(9): e72944,  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072944.

Hu JH et al. (2010). Growth of injected melanoma cells is suppressed by whole body exposure to specific spatial-temporal configurations of weak intensity magnetic fields.  Int J Radiat Biol. 86(2): 79-88.

Joines, W. T., Baumann, S. B. & Kruth, J. G. (2012) Electromagnetic emission from humans during focused intent. Journal of Parapsychology, 76, 275-294.

Karbowski LM, Harribance SL, Buckner CA, et al. Digitized quantitative electroencephalographic patterns applied as magnetic fields inhibit melanoma cell proliferation in culture.  Neurosci Lett. 2012; 523:131-134.

Moga, M.M. (2014) Magnetic field activity during psychic healing:  A preliminary study with Healing Touch practitioners.  Journal of Nonlocality 3(1): http://journals.sfu.ca/jnonlocality/index.php/jnonlocality/index

Rick J, Chandra A, Aghi MK. Tumor treating fields: a new approach to glioblastoma therapy. J Neurooncol. 2018;137:447-453.

Vadala M, Morales-Medina JC, Vallelunga A, Palmieri B, Laurino C, Iannitti T. (2016) Mechanisms and therapeutic effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic field therapy in oncology [Review]. Cancer Med 5(11): 3128-3139.

Zimmerman JW, Pennison MJ, Brezovich I, et al. (2012). Cancer cell proliferation is inhibited by specific modulation frequencies.  Br J Cancer 106: 307-313. Doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.523