Among the perplexities of “alternative therapies” there is perhaps none so perplexing as the assertion that some healers can address ill health by holding their palms over, but not touch, their clients. Reiki, healing touch, and other practices confound almost everyone, except for the practitioners themselves, their clients and many nurses who have witnessed the benefits.
Now integrative researcher Richard Hammerschlag, PhD has evaluated the research evidence of these practices and offers a clear-headed review of what science and compelling new technologies have to say. This is bio-sleuthing at its confounding best.
The search for the possible bio systems that influence healing, if they do at all, has been elusive, to say the least. “Take my word for it,” wins no arguments for healing practitioners. Nor does “I feel great!” from clients completing a treatment.
Hammershlag describes in his presentation (below) how new techniques have possibly identified a source of the non-touch effect: within the long ignored fascia between skin and the collection of muscles, bones and organs we are most familiar with. The fascia, it turns out (and there is video that captures this) is another body-wide web of collagen connections just now starting to be examined.
Whatever the internal processes, the ability of some people to relieve others of pain or illness has been observed in societies, if not in contemporary health care facilities, for millennia. As Hammerschlag says, new classes of tools allow us to see more precisely and deeply into our bodily systems.
Hammerschlag conducted this research as a resident scholar at The Institute for Integrative Health (TIIH) in Baltimore, an innovative integrative medicine and health research and program enterprise. 
For the curious and the skeptical alike, Hammerschlag’s presentation here is well worth viewing, as it demonstrates how far the research has come on explaining a practice that at first appears in the eyes of western medicine impossible (“Healing through what? static electricity?! Really?”). The analyses of the imaging that shows an actual fascian web is still very preliminary, but intriguing.
Richard Hammerschlag, Phd and scholar at The Institute for Integrative Health, presents his research on the study of the biofield.
1 – I have been a consultant to TIIH.