Bone Cells Treated with Healing

The following research shows that bone cells treated with Healing grew at double the rate of untreated cells and absorbed more calcium yet cancer cells were not stimulated.

Report from The Courant:

University of Connecticut researcher, Professor Gloria Gronowicz, has led a study in which healing performed by trained energy healers significantly stimulated the growth of bone and tendon cells in lab dishes. To Gronowicz's astonishment, the cells treated grew faster and stronger than those that received no treatment at all. The experiment was designed to rule out the placebo effect and the results provide evidence that there may be a powerful energy field that, when channelled through human hands, can influence the course of events at a cellular level.

Gronowicz and others have said that more studies are needed to figure out how and why healing seems to stimulate cell growth and if the findings can be applied to patient care. Through history and across cultures, spiritual healers have long believed that the laying on of hands could cure disease and relieve pain.

In the last 30 years or so, many forms of energy healing have found their way into hospitals and other clinical settings. Still, it is often derided, although some medical practitioners have come to accept it as a harmless diversion that, if nothing else, might relieve stress. Even when early studies showed some evidence of healing in patients treated with energy therapies, it was impossible to say whether the improvement was a result of the touch. More likely, critics suggested, the nurturing therapy simply improved the patient's frame of mind, promoting a healing response. Gronowicz was in the doubting camp. She had spent her career studying the biology of bone cells. Her work with hormones, growth factors and tissue engineering has shed light on the very elements of bone - a slow, sometimes tedious effort she hopes might someday help doctors find treatments for crippling diseases. But when a colleague asked her to collaborate on an experiment looking into the power of healing, she was curious.

As a full professor in the Department of Surgery, with tenure and respect, Gronowicz had the stature to dabble in an endeavor that some of her scientific colleagues might criticize as a fool's errand. "If I was just starting out, it would be the end of my career," Gronowicz said. She applied for a National Institutes of Health grant to fund an experiment designed to isolate the mind/body conundrum from the question of energy healing by applying healing techniques to presumably inanimate bone cells cultured in an incubator.

At first, even the NIH's branch that funds research in alternative and complementary medicine turned her down. Eventually, she received $250,000 for her study. Then, over the course of three years, healing practitioners arrived at the lab twice a week, cleared their minds and, for 10 minutes at a time, held their hands a few inches from cell-filled plastic lab dishes that were clamped in a metal stand. "I remember going in and thinking, 'How am I going to direct compassion and healing to a petri dish?'" said Holly Major, a nurse and healer who worked on the study. The laboratory environment was foreign to Healer Libbe W. Clarke, who usually practices in her Rocky Hill living room, where clients rest on a massage table surrounded by Native American artifacts in the dim glow of lightly scented candles. "I said, 'I've got no body that's at least 5 feet long, I've got this little dish,'" Clarke said. "But my mind said to me [that] this is a living thing. It was almost like I was working on a patient. It felt the same."

To put Healing to the test, cell cultures were divided into three groups. One dish of cells was treated by a trained healer. A second set of cells was treated by untrained students who were instructed to hold their hands over a petri dish for 10 minutes twice a week. A third dish of cells stood ignored in its metal stand.After the treatment, the dishes were returned to an incubator.

Scientists who later examined the cells under the microscope didn't know which group each dish had been in. To Gronowicz's astonishment, the cells treated by trained Healers grew faster and stronger than those that received the sham treatment, or none at all. "Healing stimulated growth in bone, tendon and skin cells at statistically significant rates," Gronowicz said. She tested the cells using several different biological markers for growth, and each test confirmed her finding.

In one test, Gronowicz found that cells treated with healing grew at double the rate of untreated cells. In addition to seeing increased cell division under the microscope, the bone cell cultures treated with healing also absorbed more calcium, the essential mineral for growing strong bones. Her findings were published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Gronowicz also looked at bone cancer cells. Cancer occurs when cells grow out of control, so a treatment that stimulates growth could be detrimental to people with cancer. But unlike healthy cells, bone cancer cells did not appear to be stimulated by the touch therapy - an interesting, though not fully explained, finding, Gronowicz said.

The results of the study were published in The Journal of Orthopedic Research and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.