The year is 1972: President Richard Nixon leaves Washington D.C. for China, the musical “Hair” closes its run in New York City, and two women work diligently to develop a new energy-work technique.

Thirty-eight years later, the technique created by nurse Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., and psychic healer Dora Kunz, called Therapeutic Touch, has been embraced by nurses around the world for its relaxation and pain-relieving properties.

New research suggests Therapeutic Touch effects pain-relief and lowers cortisol levels, while increasing levels of natural killer cells.

Researchers decided to test the efficacy of Therapeutic Touch on pain and biobehavioral markers in patients recovering from vascular surgery, according to a report published on

The between-subjects intervention study, titled “The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Postoperative Patients,” was grounded in a psychoneuroimmunology framework “to address how complementary therapies affect pain and biobehavioral markers associated with recovery in surgical patients,” according to the report.

It measured level of pain and levels of cortisol and natural killer cells before and after a Therapeutic Touch treatment, in 21 postoperative surgical patients.

Compared with those who received usual care, participants who received TT had significantly lower level of pain, lower cortisol level, and higher natural killer cells level, the pubmed report noted.

“Evidence supports [Therapeutic Touch] as a beneficial intervention with patients,” the researchers noted. “Future research on [Therapeutic Touch] is still needed to learn more about how it functions. However, there is evidence to support incorporating [Therapeutic Touch] into nursing practice.”

The study was published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing.

Energy Work Reduces Post-Surgical Pain

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—Karen Menehan