Distant healing is a very powerful way to treat people who are not able to come for a session in person due to distance or physical inability or if there are other reasons.   Although there are a growing amount of research done on this, it is still mostly unknown how it works.   When we do a distant healing session, we will usually talk for a few minutes via skype, face time or telephone and then have you receive the energies for 15-30 mins and then a follow-up call will be done either immediately afterwards or the next day.   Each session will be different depending on what is needed.

Clinical Evidence for Distant Healing/Prayer

Several randomized, double-blind investigations support the clinical efficacy of DH (Astin et al., 2000; Roberts, Ahmed, & Hall, 2000; M. Schlitz, Lewis N, 1996). Based on a systematic review that was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, (Astin et al., 2000) reported that approximately 57percent (13 of 23) of the randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) reviewed showed a positive treatment effect in a wide range of human populations.

In one controlled study at San Francisco General Hospital (Byrd, 1988), 393 Coronary Care Unit (CCU) patients were randomized to an intercessory prayer group or to a control group. While hospitalized, the first group was prayed for daily by a Christian prayer circle given the first name and diagnosis of each patient. Multivariate analysis found a significant decrease in medical complications during the hospitalization, including decreases in the incidence of treatment complications such as incidence of pneumonia (p<.03), requirement for antibiotics (p<.005), intubation (p<.005) and overall illness severity (p<.01) in the intervention group. In addition, significantly more of the patients were found to fall into the “good” category in a summary score for medical recovery course. The study suggests a significant efficacy of DH in some aspects of cardiac illness, although concerns about possible multiple testing problems have been raised.

A larger replication of the Byrd study was recently published by (Harris et al., 1999). In this study, 990 consecutive new CCU admissions were randomized to either a standard treatment only group, or to receive intercessory prayer from religious community members for four weeks. The study was double blind, and as in the Byrd study, patients and “intercessors” never met. This study also used a summary CCU medical course score as a primary outcome measure. Compared to the usual care group, the Prayer group had lower mean scores (p<.04). Length of CCU and hospital stay did not differ between the two groups. Unfortunately, like the Byrd study, it used an unvalidated final outcome measure, where ultimate clinical significance is uncertain. Both the Byrd and Harris studies involve the prayer offered by lay practitioners operating in community, rather than DH efforts by individuals whose professional work is attempting to use intention for healing purposes.

More recently, Krucoff, et al. (J. Alternative Therapies 5(3):75-82, 1999) conducted a pilot study in which DH represented one arm of a five-arm randomized and controlled clinical trial. His study compared the results of healing touch, stress relaxation and off-site intercessory prayer with standard care alone in patients newly admitted to a hospital CCU to undergo invasive heart catheterization and balloon angioplasty. Using a “Unity” monitoring system, patients were noninvasively and continuously monitored for heart rate, blood pressure, ischemia and heart rate variability. Healers were recruited worldwide from a wide range of spiritual healing traditions. The results showed that each of the CAM interventions produced a larger effect size than standard care alone with DH producing the strongest evidence of healing. A multi-site, expanded study is now underway to explore these findings in depth.

Another randomized double-blind clinical study of post-operative patient (Bentwich & Kreitler, 1994) documented psychological as well as physical improvement in a healer-treated group. In this study, 53 male patients who had undergone hernia surgery were randomly assigned to a group receiving pre-recorded taped suggestions for accelerated recovery, to a group exposed to DH effort by an experienced healer, or to a control group. The healer was an individual who claimed substantial healing ability. She was given the names of the patients and spent approximately one hour directing positive healing intentions toward them in the hour before their surgery. The DH group showed a significant difference (p<.05) on 9 of 24 variables associated with improved recovery course, including improved wound appearance, less fever during hospitalization, and a number of subjective attitudinal factors including less pain, as well as more confidence in the treatment when compared to the suggestion tape and control groups. The finding of benefits in the DH group over and above those found in the suggestion tape group in this study provides evidence that DH may offer benefits beyond what would be predicted for simple psychological expectation or placebo.

More recently, Dr. Elisabeth Targ and colleagues from our laboratory conducted a pilot study and then replicated the results in a randomized controlled clinical trial of DH directed to advanced AIDS patients. AIDS patients given 60 hours of DH had a significantly decreased medical utilization and better psychological outcomes in both studies conducted under double-blind conditions (Sicher et al., 1998).