The Magic Touch

A couple days ago, I got an email about something called pranic healing -- an Eastern medicine treatment that I'd never heard of before.

Pranic healing, explained the email, is "an ancient art and form of healing that uses the principles of energy (or prana or chi) to accelerate the healing process in the body."

The concept is based on the Eastern notion that illnesses and pain stem from blocked or congested energy within our bodies. Much like acupuncture, which now gets a good deal of mainstream respect, pranic healing seeks to release that blocked energy to restore and improve our health.

The email also contained links to a few California news broadcasts that had done features on pranic healing. One news clip, from CBS affiliate KCAL 9, featured interviews with people who suffered brain tumors, serious burns, blood disorders, arthritis, even a wheelchair-bound guy who was unable to walk.

A wave of the hand, a roll of the wrist, a flick of the finger and all these people claimed to feel instantly better. In fact, the guy in the wheelchair said he was miraculously able to stand up and walk away after a visit from a pranic healer. It was even strong enough to cure the newscaster of her chronic candy addiction.

Being a bit of a skeptic (I believe that antibiotics have greater healing powers than, say, crystals), my first impression was that it sounded too much like faith healing in a revival tent to be legitimite.

Then the newscaster said something like, "before you discount this as New Age hocus pocus, consider that it's being practiced at the urology department of a major Southern California hospital."

I was surprised and pleased to see that these members of the mainstream medical community -- who once dismissed pranic healing as "quackery" -- are now teaching pranic healing seminars to their physicians. The Western physicians didn't know why it worked, but they said they saw significant results with their tough chronic cases. Of course, the physicians interviewed also stressed that energy healing can complement a comprehensive medical treatment program, not replace it.

Despite these success stories, I have no idea whether there's any data or scientific evidence to back up the claims. There's not much about pranic healing on the web; a Google search revealed very little, although I did find some basic information about it at Answers.com.

I do know this much: If I could figure out how to wave away my muscle soreness after a tough afternoon bike ride, I'd do it in a second. Till then, I'll keep the ibuprofin handy.

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