US study debunks claim that theraputic touch has health benefits
Agence France-Presse

CHICAGO, March 30 (AFP) - Claims that touch therapists can use hands to detect and manipulate "human energy fields" are groundless and the practice has no health benefits, according to a study by California researchers.

Results of the study by researchers from the National Council Against Health Fraud in Loma Linda were published in the latest issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Therapeutic touch, a technique taught in over 100 academic institutions in 75 countries and used by nurses in at least 80 hospitals in North America, is based on the concept that people have an "energy field" that can be readily detected and altered by touch therapists.

Under the study, 21 practitioners were tested to determine whether they could detect human "energy fields".

During a 1996 test, practitioners went through 10 trials in which they each rested their hands, palms up, on a flat surface roughly four to six centimeters (10 to 12 inches) apart to see if they could detect the "energy field" of a nine-year-old student who hovered her hand over one of the practitioner's hands.

Steps were taken to ensure that the student's hands could not be seen.

Further tests were conducted in 1997 in which each participant was allowed to "feel" the student's energy fields in each of her hands ahead of time and choose which hand the student would use for testing.

The practitioners correctly located the student's hand in 41 percent of tries, similar to results from a 1996 test.

"If human energy fields perception through therapeutic touch was possible, the experimental subjects should have been able to detect the experimenter's hand in 10 of 10 trials. Chance alone would produce an average of score of five (50 percent)," the researchers said.

"Twenty-one experienced therapeutic practitioners were unable to detect the investigator's 'energy field'.

"Their failure to substantiate therapeutic touch's most fundamental claim is unrefuted evidence that the claims of therapeutic touch are groundless and that further professional use is unjustified," they added.


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