More than 60% of Americans believe that prayer can heal. Here, we look into the research behind how and why this may be true.
Does Prayer Help the Healing Process?
Have you ever prayed when you or a loved one was in a dire situation? So many people turn to prayer in times of need, and now we are beginning to see scientific support for its power.
Prayer and meditation have been used for thousands of years to support healing and spirituality. Our ancestors believed in the healing power of connecting with our inner space as a way to connect with a higher power, spirituality, and healing.
According to a 2016 study by Barna, a research company that specializes in spirituality, 66% of Americans believe that prayer can heal.1
Documented Self-Healing with Meditation or Prayer
So, does science back the ancient practice of prayer as a way to heal?
The short answer to this question is yes, but the evidence is still very fuzzy! There is plenty of science on both sides of the prayer-healing aisle that I will attempt to share with you.
There have been numerous reviews and studies of prayer or distance healing for medical conditions.
A 2009 meta-analysis published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatryevaluated 23 studies involving 2,774 patients. In this review, distance healing included spiritual healing, prayer, and any form of healing from a distance resulting from a conscious act intended to benefit another person.2
The researchers reported that 57%, or 13, of the studies evaluated yielded a statistically significant result in favor of distance healing2
The researchers found evidence that meditation and prayer had the following benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces heart rate
- Alters melatonin and serotonin levels
- Boosts immune function
- Decreases reactive oxygen species or free radicals
- Reduces anxiety or pain
- Boosts self-esteem
- Boosts mood
- Enhances quality of life2
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In a related review of distance healing, where half of the 90 studies evaluated were done in clinical settings and the other half in a laboratory, 71% of the clinical studies and 62% of the laboratory studies reported positive healing effects.2
One of the studies evaluated in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry paper looked at 219 women from Seoul, Korea, with infertility concerns. The study group that received prayer had almost twice as many pregnancies as the group that did not receive prayer.2
Finally, a group of primates called bush babies were evaluated to determine the effect of prayer on wound healing. Having prayer applied to primates who didn’t know what was happening removed the possibility of a placebo effect. The group of prayed-for primates showed a greater reduction in time of wound healing as well as a boost in immune markers.2
Note: While the results here show a modest healing effect from prayer and distance healing, there are many studies from hospitals that do not show a healing effect.2
Quantum Physics Explains the Power of Prayer
As far as understanding how distance healing with prayer may work, it’s safe to say that Newtonian physics hasn’t been able to explain it, but quantum physics couldbe getting closer.
The mechanism that describes it best is the Hawthorne Effect, which states that a healing effect from prayer may result from the act of observation or measurement.
This is in line with experiments in quantum physics that have repeatedly proven that observation changes the observed—unlimited by distance.
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Biophotons: The Quantum Answer?
Emerging science is exploring the effect of intention on the body’s release of biophotons, known as ultraweak photon emissions (UPE). These photons, or particles of electromagnetic radiation, are 1,000 times too small to be seen with the naked eye, but have been found to carry information from cell to cell, and into our DNA, and can be manipulated by intention.3, 4
Einstein discovered that photons can interact with each other instantaneously over great distances, which may be the quantum-based mechanism for distance healing. This effect, called spooky action at a distance, was discovered in the 1930s.
Recommended: 53810 The body’s release of UPEs, or biophotons, has been found to be affected by the observer as well. Meditation, for example, which is the observation of oneself, has been shown to change the output of UPEs and reduce the amount of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human body.2, 3
We are constantly emitting biophotons, and our skin has been found to be a UPE-trapping system, suggesting that humans both emit and receive information-carrying biophotons.3
Could this new research be the explanation for distance healing or prayer? Stay tuned as we dig deeper into the power of our Inner Space!
Disclaimer: While this emerging research is fascinating and offers exciting potential for future medical application, to date there is no replicated evidence that a healing effect from prayer or distance healing can be reproduced in a clinical setting. Prayer and distance healing should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment. Always consult your medical practitioner before embarking on any course of treatment for a known or suspected medical condition.
This story is part of a 6-article series on conscious healing and the restorative power or awareness, intention, and energy medicine.
Read all of the stories:
Self-Healing and the Power of Awareness in Ayurveda
Quantum Biophotons: The Science of Healing Prayer
Vedic Healing and the Power of Intention
Ayurvedic Techniques to Unleash the Power of Quantum Healing
What is Quantum Consciousness?
Quantum Physics Meets Vedic Science