Studies funded on energy healing

Chicago Tribune/January 23, 2012

Energy healers say they can detect and channel a "universal energy" and even manipulate this energy in another person.

Science has not determined that this energy exists, let alone that anybody can detect it or manipulate it, or that it has anything to do with disease.

Yet the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has funded studies of energy healing for fibromyalgia (a $300,000 grant), prostate cancer (a $370,000 grant) and rats stressed out by white noise (a $370,000 grant).

One grant, worth $104,000, led to a study of "energy chelation" as a treatment for fatigue in breast cancer survivors. In an energy chelation session, the healer places his or her hands 5 or 6 inches away from the body "to see if they could tell any difference in pressure or texture in your local atmosphere," said the Rev. Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light Center Church in Sierra Madre, who invented the technique. The healer then scans the body, starting at the foot and working up to the head, eventually treating problems by channeling energy.

For the study, 76 fatigued breast cancer survivors were divided into three groups. One group received eight energy chelation sessions from healers trained in Bruyere's technique. Another group received mock energy chelation sessions from skeptical scientists who were told to think about studies and grants during the sessions. Members of the control group were told they were on a waiting list and received no treatment.

At the end of the study, those receiving energy chelation said they felt less fatigued. But so did people in the placebo group who received sham sessions from the preoccupied skeptics. Those in the control group felt no improvement. The results were published last year in the journal Cancer.

Dr. David Gorski, a breast cancer surgeon with Wayne State University in Detroit, called the study "brain-meltingly bad." Energy chelation is "magic, faith healing," he said. "The whole thing, from a scientific standpoint, is laughable."

Bruyere, one of the study's authors, agreed that it was flawed — but not for the reasons mentioned by Gorski. The problem, she said, was that the skeptical scientists probably were healing the patients despite their best efforts.

"The sham is not really a sham," Bruyere said. "You can tell me to think about research and a grocery list, but my energy is going to fill them. It's human nature."

Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of NCCAM since 2008, said the center has not awarded any new grants to study practices like distant prayer or other energy healing for several years.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.