December 24, 2015

The Possibility of Distance Healing—Results that Skeptics can’t Ignore.


In 1986, when I was in India studying Ayurveda, there was always a buzz about the healers who you just “had to go see.”

There were palm readers, palm leaf and akashic record readers, psychic astrologers, Ayurvedic pulse readers, distance healers and more.

If you paid Indian prices in rupees, you could get any of these readings for 50 to 100 rupees—which was about three to six bucks. Those were the good old days! Today, the healers have started charging 100 US dollars or more to foreigners for the same readings.

The healers I found the most interesting were the so-called distance healers, who could heal a loved one back in the states by simply looking at a picture of that person. There were a handful of pulse readers who were famous for a technique called “messenger pulse,” where they would take your pulse while you looked at a picture of a sick loved one back home. They would then either suggest herbs for the person, or bring that person into their daily prayers and offer to heal them.

I never did any follow up on any of these treatments, but the buzz in my New Delhi circles was that they were the real deal. It was very hard to not be skeptical about many of these techniques, but trying them was part of the Indian experience, and for six bucks, it was a steal!

Little did I know that even back in the ’80s, research was being done on different types of distance healing with enough success that studies have continued ever since, and the results will surprise you.

Before I share a few of these studies with you, many of these studies would likely be criticized by the more conservative research community and, clearly, much more research needs to be done in this area. But, what is also clear is that science is shifting from an old school world of Newtonian Physics—which is based on the manipulation of matter—to a Quantum Physics model, based on the movement of energy.

  • In a study conducted between 1992 and 1995 by the Institute of HeartMath, human DNA was isolated in a glass beaker. It was then exposed to a form of feeling known as coherent emotion by groups of up to five people trained in applying this specific technique (similar to meditation.) (1,2) The results were nothing short of astonishing. Without physically touching the DNA, and doing nothing other than directing positive intention towards the DNA, the participants were able to influence the DNA molecules in the beaker. They also investigated different kinds of intentions directed at the DNA. This resulted in the DNA double helix to either wind or unwind, and change shape depending on the intention. (1,2)
  • In another study, a volunteer’s DNA was moved into the next room, and a strong electrical discharge was monitored in both the volunteer’s cells and his DNA sample in the other room. The reaction was instantaneous and no time delay was monitored. This experiment was repeated at a 350 mile distance with the same results. (3)
  • In a double-blind experiment involving 393 persons admitted to a coronary care unit (CCU), prayer from a distance was offered to roughly half of the subjects. Subjects in the prayer group had a significantly lower “severity score” based on their hospital course following admission. (4)
  • In a double-blind experiment involving 40 patients with advanced AIDS, subjects were randomly assigned to a distance healing (DH) group or to a control group. Both groups were treated with conventional medications, but the DH group received distance healing for 10 weeks from healers located throughout the US. Subjects and healers never met. At six months, blind chart review found that the DH subjects acquired significantly fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses, and required significantly fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations as well as fewer days of hospitalization. The DH subjects also showed significantly improved mood compared to the controls. (5)
  • Researcher Carroll B. Nash, of Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s College, asked 60 student volunteers both to promote and inhibit the growth of E. coli bacteria. In this controlled study, they were able to mentally influence the bacterial growth in both directions. (6)
  • Jean Barry, a French physician and researcher, asked 10 people to mentally try to inhibit the growth of destructive fungus from a distance of 1.5 meters, in a controlled experiment. Growth of the “influenced” fungus in 195 petri dishes was significantly inhibited in 151 dishes, compared with the controls. The possibility that these results could have occurred by chance was less than 1 in 1,000. (7)
  • University of Tennessee researchers, William H. Tedder and Melissa L. Monty, replicated Barry’s experiment in a controlled study using the same type of fungus at a distance of up to 15 miles. (8)
  • In an article that reviewed 61 studies on distance healing—where healing is affected at a distance through an intention, wish, meditation or prayer—the following was found:
    • Distance, even thousands of miles, does not appear to limit the effects of healing. (9)
    • Significant effects of distance healing are demonstrated through randomized controlled trials in humans, animals, plants, bacteria, yeasts, laboratory cells, and DNA. (9)
    • While distance healing appears to contradict our ordinary sense of reality and the laws defined by Newtonian science, there are several theoretical paradigms that suggest explanations for healing. (9)

We are living in extraordinary times, where the models we have used in science for hundreds of years are changing as we speak. The new models of epigenetics, the microbiome and quantum physics are embracing the role of energy that might explain techniques like distance healing. Again, I find myself fascinated by how accurately the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda predicted the cutting edge of science today—a couple of thousand years ago.

One morning, I had a patient sum it up the best when she said, “Science is always just a little late!”



  1. Motz, “Everyone an Energy Healer: The TREAT V Conference in Santa Fe.” Advances Vol. 9 (1993): pg 95-98.
  2. Byrd R: Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population, South Med J 81(7):826-829, 1988.
  3. Sicher F et al: A randomized double-blind study of the effect of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS-report of a small-scale study, West J Med 169(6):356-363, 1998.
  4. Nash CB: Psychokinetic control of bacterial growth, J Am Soc Psychical Res 51:217-221, 1982.
  5. Barry J: General and comparative study of the psychokinetic effect on a fungus culture, J Parapsychol 32:237-243, 1968.
  6. Tedder WH, Monty ML: Exploration of long-distance PK: a conceptual replication of the influence on a biological system. In Roll WG, Beloff J, Editors: Research in parapsychology 1980, Metuchen, N.J., 1981, Scarecrow Press, pp. 90-93.
  7. Simon Fraser University Library. DISTANT HEALING. Daniel J Benor


Relephant read: 

3 Secrets Energy Healers Know.

Author: Dr. John Douillard

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Jl Hopgood/Flickr

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