Energy Healing for Agitated Behavior in Persons with Alzheimer's Disease

In a October 2002 article in the journal Biological Research for Nursing entitled 'The effect of therapeutic touch on agitated behavior and cortisol in persons with Alzheimer's disease' researchers from the College of Nursing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences found that very brief ("5 to 7 minutes 2 times a day for 3 days") therapeutic touch (a popular form of energy healing) treatments caused "a significant decrease in overall agitated behavior and in 2 specific behaviors, vocalization and pacing or walking, during treatment and posttreatment".

In addition, "a decreasing trend over time was noted for salivary and urine cortisol", thus providing an objective measure of stress reduction in study participants "who were 71 to 84 years old".

The most interesting thing about this study is the brevity of the energy healing treatments. Can you imagine the effects if the treatment times were doubled (15 minutes) or quadrupled (30 minutes)? The converse is true also: Can you imagine the amount of well being that could be generated in "5 to 7 minutes" in nursing homes around the globe by applying energy healing twice a day? Amazing!

Researchers summarized the health problem that Alzheimer's poses for Americans today as follows:

"Approximately 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease (AD) today, with projections that this number will more than triple by the middle of the 21st century. Agitated behavior presents a major challenge for caregivers and occurs in up to 90% of nursing home residents, 50% of whom suffer from AD or a related disorder (Sky and Grossberg 1994; Tariot 1996). Caring for such individuals is complex. Yet knowledge related to the specificity of interventions is lacking, particularly the complex interactions among biological and behavioral correlates."

The authors summarize the results of the study as follows:

"The current study, supported by previous work (Woods 1993), suggests that therapeutic touch, an intervention that is easy to teach and readily learned, can decrease the frequency and intensity of vocalization and pacing. Nursing staff regard vocalizations, a prevalent behavior, as particularly noxious, which may result in more frequent requests for pharmacological intervention (Cariaga and others 1991). Because medications not only have deleterious side effects but are of limited value in decreasing agitated behavior, interventions that are noninvasive and show positive effects offer the potential to alleviate distressing behavior and improve the well-being of individuals with AD."

The full text of the article is available here.