Bacterial Growth and Motility Assays for Biofield Therapy

Project: Research project

Grant Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by the applicant): Therapeutic touch (TT) has become a popular biofield
therapy since its development in the US in the 1970s. Taught in many nursing schools, it is used by nurses and others in many health care settings, both conventional and alternative. There are several controlled pilot studies that show the efficacy of TT for various conditions. However, there are virtually no well-designed basic research studies on TT. A scientific foundation toward understanding its mechanism of action is lacking, but important. As part of the Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science (CFMBS), this collaborative 3-year project consists of exploratory, blinded, controlled basic science studies designed to determine if TT and also Johrei performed on bacterial cultures in vitro produces consistent effects on growth and/or motility of the cultures. Growth is a slowly changing parameter, and motility is rapidly changing; together they are complementary measures of vitality. We will develop quantitative in vitro bioassays for biofield effects of TT based on changes in bacterial growth and motility that can also be used to study other biofield therapies. In Year I, Study 1 will measure the effects of TT on E coli culture growth. Based on previous work by the author, Study 1 will utilize E coli in controlled culture conditions with various concentrations of antibiotics added to partially inhibit bacterial growth. Growth will be assayed using standard bacterial plate counts. In Year II, Study 2 will utilize S. typhimurium in controlled culture conditions with a motility inhibitor used to partly inhibit
culture motility. Motility will be measured using an established photographic technique. Standard
psychological tests will also be administered to participants to assess their subjective measures of pain, mood, satisfaction with the experiment, and performance. Four experimental conditions will be tested for both studies, using TT practitioners (N=20), chronic pain patients, and naive participants (N=20) who will perform mock-TT: (1) cultures alone, control; (2) mock-TT, performed by a naive participant; control; (3) cultures treated with TT, no healing context: (4) TT performed first on a patient in the experimental setting and then on bacteria, creating a healing context. The hypotheses are: I. T-1 will enhance the growth and motility of bacteria over controls whether or not a healing context is present, and naive participants will not enhance the growth or motility; II. TT will better enhance the growth and motility of bacteria in a healing context; III. The degree of enhancement of bacterial growth/motility due to TT will correlate with the ability of each TT practitioner to focus and maintain a healing mind-body state in the experiment; patient need, defined as self-rated pain intensity; and practitioners' content, confidence in, and overall rating of their ability to perform the experimental task. For both studies, statistical significance will be calculated between conditions 1 to 4. This study is the very first to explore the effects of TT on simple organisms in the laboratory toward demonstrating measurable effects and elucidating its mechanism at the cellular level. Moreover, these bioassays, if successful, may eventually
become standard laboratory tests to quantify biofield effects associated with various biofield practices.
Effective start/end date7/1/014/30/07


  • National Institutes of Health: $737,944.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $615,813.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $685,537.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $16,665.00


  • Medicine(all)