(Science Daily) A significant number of patients use biofield therapies -- Reiki, therapeutic touch and healing touch -- despite very little research proving that they work. These techniques have been used over millennia in various cultural communities to heal physical and mental disorders. They have only recently been under the scrutiny of current Western scientific methods.
In a detailed review of 66 clinical studies looking at biofield therapies in different patient populations with a range of ailments, [California researchers] examine the strength of the evidence for the efficacy of these complementary therapies. They show that overall, published work on biofield therapies is of average quality -- in scientific terms.
Bearing that in mind, they find strong evidence that biofield therapies reduce pain intensity in free-living populations, and moderate evidence that they are effective at lowering pain in hospitalized patients as well as in patients with cancer.
There is also moderate evidence that these therapies ease agitated behaviors in dementia and moderate evidence that they reduce anxiety in hospitalized patients. There is inconclusive evidence for the efficacy of biofield therapies on symptoms of fatigue and quality of life in cancer patients, as well as for overall pain reduction, and anxiety management in cardiovascular patients.
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