Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, BCCT Senior Researcher
Nancy Hepp, MS, BCCT Project Manager
Last updated August 23, 2021.
According to Healing Touch International (doing business as Healing Beyond Borders, Educating and Certifying the Healing Touch®):1
Healing touch is a relaxing, nurturing, heart-centered energy therapy using gentle, intentional touch that assists in balancing physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Classified by the National Institutes of Health as a biofield therapy and nursing intervention, Healing Touch may be used to address the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association diagnosis (NANDA-1) of “imbalanced energy field.”
The Healing Touch is a collection of standardized, noninvasive techniques that clear, energize and balance the human and environmental energy fields. Healing Touch assists in creating a coherent and balanced energy field, supporting one’s inherent ability to heal. It is safe for all ages and works in harmony with, is complementary to, and may be integrated with standard medical care.
Clinical Practice Guidelines
Therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life.
2009 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology conclude that therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life. Only limited evidence is available regarding their efficacy for symptom management, including reducing pain and fatigue. The Society for Integrative Oncology gives a strong recommendation for these therapies:5
- For reducing anxiety: grade 1B (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
- For pain, fatigue, and other symptom management: grade 1C (strong recommendation, low or very low quality evidence)
Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness
Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being
Few studies have investigated healing touch specifically with people with cancer. However, reviews of HT and other energy therapies have found positive benefit for symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and pain that are common in cancer survivors. Based on a lack of research we can’t be certain that those benefits also apply to people with cancer; however, information suggests that HT therapy is likely helpful in improving comfort and quality of life.
Optimizing Your Terrain
Creating an environment within your body that does not support cancer development, growth or spread; see Body Terrain and the Tumor Microenvironment
- Minimal decrease in natural killer cell cytotoxicity and immune system depression among women receiving chemotherapy and radiation for cervical cancer compared to sharp declines with relaxation training and usual care in a small RCT36
- Reviews of HT research in 2005 and 2013 noted improved biomarkers and accelerated healing.37
Typically, practitioners charge individuals between $40 and $90 for a one-hour private session. Costs are typically not covered by insurance.38
TRC Natural Medicines advises that even though the safety of Healing Touch has not been directly studied, no evidence indicates safety issues. They also caution that Healing Touch should not be used in place of proven treatments in diagnosed conditions.39
Note: BCCT has not conducted a review of evidence on Healing Touch. Information on this page comes from the Healing Touch International and other sources at noted.
- Healing Touch International: What Is Healing Touch?
- Finding a practitioner:
- Healing Touch Professional Association: Local Chapters Directory; consider contacting your nearest local chapter and inquire if they have a list of practitioner members.
- Healing Touch Certified Practitioner: Worldwide Directory of Healing Touch Practitioners
- University of Minnesota: How Can I Find a Healing Touch Practitioner?
- Clinical Trials: Find a Study: enter a specific cancer or other condition in the Condition or Disease box, then enter Healing Touch in the Other Terms box
- September 2018 Issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Wayne Jonas, MD: Your Healing Journey: A Patient’s Guide to Integrative Breast Cancer Care
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition