Sandy Edwards on the benefits of healing in hospitals.
Despite no sign of a natural healing ability, I trained to be a spiritual healer with The Healing Trust, a non-religious, UK charity with international membership. From the beginning, the people I practised on reported beneficial effects. It was astonishing. Everyone must be able to do this.
Within ten years, I instigated probably the largest healing trial in the world. How?
When I qualified, in 2000, I gained a Lottery grant to open a voluntary healing group. There, a patient told me she had been sent by her consultant physician. How amazing! This chance conversation led to my working alongside her consultant as a volunteer healer.
Hospital patients are quite different to those who go along to healing centres. These people had no prior intention of having healing, and they were highly skeptical that it could help them. Some told me point blank that only medication could help them. Nevertheless, most took up Dr Singh’s invitation to have a healing session with me. They probably did so because he presented the idea in positive terms, it was only next door, available immediately and cost nothing.
Dr Singh interviewed each person directly after their 20-minute healing session, and was intrigued by the benefits they reported. Some were dramatic and long-lasting. To avoid this feedback disappearing into the ether, I conducted an audit. The results revealed significant improvements regarding pain, anxiety, vitality, relationships and sleep quality—and gains lasted for at least a week.
When the National Lottery announced research funding for charities that help people, Dr Singh brought the necessary parties together to apply. Against strong competition, we were awarded £205,000.
The University of Birmingham, a top UK university known for world class research, led the study. The trial aimed to discover whether adding healing to conventional care helped long-term sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Both conditions have highly embarrassing and painful symptoms with fluctuating severity, affecting every aspect of a sufferer’s life. There is no medical cure and few effective treatments. As with any chronic illness, depression can be an additional burden.
200 patients were recruited and split into two groups. 100 (the Intervention Group) immediately began a series of five healing sessions provided by members of The Healing Trust. The other 100 (the Waiting List Group) waited for 12 weeks before starting the same series of five sessions. Comparisons could then be made between the two groups during those first 12 weeks.
The primary goal of the study was to ascertain whether lives were improved, and the main tool used for this was the MYMOP quality of life questionnaire. Whether presented in score improvements, ‘effect size’ or statistics, the results were significant for both the IBS and IBD groups equally. Improvements continued to increase after the healing sessions had finished, and most gains were retained for at least 19 weeks after the final healing session. Participants who had all five sessions gained more than those who had fewer. Two other questionnaires supported these findings. The secondary focus was to see if physical symptoms had improved—and they had.
The Waiting List figures revealed that best medical care had not been particularly beneficial for IBS or IBD during their 12-week wait. But once they had received their healing sessions, they followed the same pattern of improvement as the Intervention Group.
The qualitative paper corroborated the findings. From interview statements, it was clear that people enjoyed receiving healing and felt empowered by it. And the sensations they experienced confirmed that something more than simple relaxation was happening.
Published by online medical journals, these research papers are freely available for anyone to access:
But not many people read research papers, so I have written a book about it. There is much more to say about this research than conveyed in the published papers. With 200 citations, my book signposts a wealth of research demonstrating that healing is beneficial for all kinds of conditions affecting mind, body and/or emotions. It also highlights research involving animals and plants, which dispel the myth that healing is only placebo.
If a cheap drug with no side effects achieved these results, it would be snapped up by the NHS. Clearly, IBS and IBD patients should be offered healing in addition to their usual medical care. But these results are actually relevant to all of us.
About the author: Since retiring from an office-based work life, Sandy Edwards has focused her administrative and communication skills on promoting voluntary healing at local, regional and national levels. Healing from others and self-healing techniques have helped her to deal with life’s challenges in a constructive way. Her goal is to introduce as many other people as possible to this empowering way of being. For those who are sick, Sandy’s ambition is to have healing made available within NHS settings, to complement their conventional medical healthcare. She does not teach healing but enjoys facilitating workshops that help healers intensify their ability. She enjoys laughing with family and friends, travelling and dancing. Sandy Edwards is the author of Healing in a Hospital; Scientific Evidence that Spiritual Healing Improves Health.