It is very difficult to get empirical confirmation of energy healing, particularly remote (distance) healing. Most of the evidence is anecdotal. When a result is noted, how much “would’ve happened anyway”? So when I run across any kind of lab experiment that shows a definitive result, I sit up and take notice.

And this one is BIG!

Why is it so rare to get “hard” evidence?

One reason is money. Reliable testing is expensive. Nobody gets rich if you show that touching someone in a certain way brings about a dramatic improvement in their health and well-being. A new drug? Sure.

Another reason is that the university professors and scientists who make their reputations by performing rigorous testing are hesitant about attaching their names to experiments that smell at all of quackery. The legitimacy that is gained by their scientific professionalism is undermined if they seem too frivolous.

So there is a culture that rejects out of hand anything that is too far off the reservation. It will also tamp down any exuberance that might come from any result that challenges the prevailing paradigm.

And perhaps the most important reason is that the very nature of energy healing is interactive. And that violates the “double-blind” standard that conventional testing relies upon. The very thing that makes energy healing so effective–that personal quality of meeting–is already considered a violation of the rules. It’s hard to even design a compelling experiment with objectively measured results.

But this one seems to do that.

Killing Cancer Cells from Thousands of Miles Away
The experiment was conducted at Penn State University by John E. Neely, MD, Professor of Humanities and Pediatrics, Hematology/Oncology,Penn State University College of Medicine.

In the Introduction to his paper, Dr. Neely wrote,

“In late 2006 I was approached by a master in qigong, a martial art that also claims healing capabilities through enhancing the flow of Qi, the Chinese term for life force. Master Li was hoping that distance energy transference could be demonstrated through changes in cell growth compared to controls. His goal was to stop the cancer cell growth. In many ways these experiments were straightforward, using standard cell culture techniques comparing treated and untreated cancer cells.

These experiments were intended, like all medically oriented experiments, to advance our knowledge that might lead to better health. But what part of health were they actually advancing? Also, interpretation of the results came to represent a microcosm of the ongoing battle of Mechanism (life is a clockwork cause-and-effect world) and Vitalism (vital energies flow that bring forth and sustain life) views in medicine.

I am proposing two issues for further exploration. First, how do Mechanism, Vitalism, and the interpretation of these experiments fit into a contemporary definition of health? Second, how has the battle of Mechanism versus Vitalism fared over time and, in view of what is currently theorized about the evolution of consciousness, is it time to stop labeling concepts of vitalistic medicine as pre-rational naiveté?”

The experiment was proposed by Li Jixiang, qigong master. Li had never met Dr. Neely, nor had he been to Penn State. The idea was to kill the cancer cells in one tray of a cell incubator and not kill the ones in another tray in the same incubator. A separate incubator was used as a control in a different room. Li would perform this from California, thousands of miles away, having never seen the laboratory or the cells in the experiment.

The results?

Dr. Neely: “The cells in all three treatment plates stopped growing, then began to disappear. The cells in the front-most treatment plate died. Both internal and external controls grew normally. After completion, the experiment was replicated without treatment.

The cells in the upper shelf still did not grow but, after 10 replications of the experiment (sans treatment) over 100 days, the growth on the upper shelf returned to normal, except in the front-most plate that has never supported growth of cells even after 250 days of observation. Master Li explained that the space around the front of the upper shelf had been changed from the energy and might never return to normal.

In essence, my incubator was “ruined” for further experiments.”

You will want to read Neely’s paper, Laboratory Investigations in Distance Healing: The Rocky Marriage of Mechanism and Vitalism,  for his thoughts on the implications of the experiment, as well as some of the challenges of fitting it into the mechanistic model. The experiment was conducted in 2006, and repeated in 2007.

Also visit Li Jixiang’s website, where he explains his “theory of Multi-Dimensional Unified Universal Energy.” That is also the title of his book, which includes lots mind-bending anecdotes about qigong masters from China and Japan.