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Spiritual healing

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Absent healing, archaeus, bioenergotherapy, bioenergy healing, chakras, clairsentient readings, distant healing, divine healing, energy healing, faith healing, hands-on healing, healing stories, healing touch, intercessory prayer, Johrei, laying on of hands, LeShan, magnetic therapy, meditative practices, mental healing, od, odyle, orgone, paranormal healing, pneuma, prani, prayer, psalms of lament and reassurance, psychic healing, qigong, reiki, rituals, scanning, shamanic healing, shamanism, spirituality, sympathetic medicine, telesomatic reactions, therapeutic touch.
  • Note: Researchers apply the term "spiritual healing" somewhat loosely. Some consider all energy-based modalities as forms of spiritual healing, even though they are taught as explicitly secular (e.g., qigong, therapeutic touch). This monograph focuses on studies of spiritual healing that are not identifiable as other specific modalities for which individual monographs are available (see monographs for healing touch, prayer/distant healing, qigong, Reiki, and therapeutic touch). However, due to ambiguity of research designs, some of the material reviewed here may discuss other modalities.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • The use of spiritual healing can be traced as far back as biblical times. Today, a number of therapeutic techniques involve spiritual aspects, and there is overlap among these different approaches. Individuals and organizations involved with spiritual healing may use many different approaches and styles. Spiritual healers may adopt manual techniques from secular forms of healing modalities (e.g., therapeutic touch (TT) and healing touch) and incorporate them into a spiritual framework. In place of secular concepts of subtle energies or life force, they may explicitly use a spiritual or religious conceptual system to explain the healing process (e.g., the energy of Spirit or God's love). Most healers do not identify with a particular religious or theological belief system.
  • Some schools offer certification in various types of spiritual healing, although there is no official licensure in this area. Some of the therapies used in the United States that involve spiritual healing or mind/body medicine include distance healing, therapeutic touch, Ayurveda, prayer, pastoral counseling, supernatural healing sources, metaphysical healing, and Reiki. These therapies may be grouped under the concept of holistic care. There is a difference between Eastern spiritual healing traditions and psychoanalysis. The Eastern traditions claim that the healer's meditative practices and communication to the patient are through channels other than verbal communication.
  • In early history, physical healing was intimately tied to concepts of religious salvation, spiritual healing, and the civilizing process. Various studies of Native American culture suggest that shamanism may be considered effective care, irrespective of age, gender, or degree of acculturation. In addition to spiritual healing techniques, the shaman may also use mineral, animal, and industrial-derived materials (ethnopharmacy) for specific conditions.
  • In England, there are thousands of practitioners registered in numerous healing organizations. Organizations may require a minimum of two to three years of training for healers. In the United States, therapies related to spiritual healing, such as therapeutic touch and Reiki, include thousands of practitioners. Therapeutic touch was developed by Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger in the early 1970s, and the technique is taught at various institutions in the United States. These techniques may have originated in traditional spiritual practices, such as the laying on of hands. In fact, practitioners of secular healing techniques often have strong personal spiritual beliefs, which they do not disclose to patients when practicing. Most American practitioners of therapeutic touch are trained nurses, although there is currently no known mandatory training.
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.