Prayer can be described as requests made while trying to connect with God or another object of worship. People often pray for the ill or dying. Prayer is a part of many religious traditions and has also been studied as a form of complementary medicine.
Distant healing is the projection of healing intention for the well-being of another from afar. Distant healing may or may not involve prayer to God, religious principles, or spiritual forces to help in the process.
Distant prayer is a broader concept than prayer. It includes prayer, but also other approaches to help heal another from afar. For example, it might include attempting to mentally project influence for another’s well-being without asking for the help of a supreme being. Prayer is a very common form of social support and coping mechanism for people dealing with serious illness or who are undergoing a medical procedure.
Hospital chaplains and counselors are trained to respect different religious backgrounds in addressing the spiritual and emotional needs of patients, their families, or loved ones. The chaplains and counselors often incorporate prayer in their support.
Supporters argue that prayer should be used as a form of medical treatment. Critics argue that, without a proven mechanism of action, prayer and distant healing should not receive scientific attention and resources.
People use prayer and distant healing for critical illness, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, anxiety, burns, leukemia, heart disease, pain, depression, infertility, high blood pressure, kidney disease, helping with childbirth, reducing the risk of death, psychological well-being, quality of life, recovery from surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell disease, quitting smoking, diabetes, warts, abnormal heartbeat, cystic fibrosis, improving immune function, increasing blood flow in the brain, skin swelling (inflammatory dermatoses), meningitis, menopausal symptoms, neurological disorders, sepsis, spinal cord injury, stress, stroke, polio, and wound healing.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for PRAYER, DISTANT HEALING are as follows:
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of prayer, distant healing for these uses.
There are many different theories about how prayer and distant healing might help during illness.
Prayer might have psychological effects that result in relaxation. Prayer and spiritual faith might make some people feel more positive or hopeful. This can support relaxation, reduce anxiety, and lower the effects of stress. Prayer might also provide a certain amount of social support. This might help change how people think about their own illness or situation. This might also lower stress in the body.
Some metaphysical systems of belief suggest that there is an unseen dimension of reality in which everything and everyone is connected. Prayer and healing intentions for another person are thought to reach that person through another dimension in which physical separation does not exist.
Religious systems of belief suggest that a higher power hears and decides if and how to respond to the prayers of individual people. This higher power is believed to have the ability to influence people’s health.
There is also a theory about how prayer and distant healing work that is based on quantum physics. This theory suggests that sometimes the human mind by itself might be able to form a quantum system with another person through the use of intention, ritual, or prayer to connect one another. This would not involve the transfer of energy necessarily. Instead it would occur during the connection of consciousness of the two people involved.
It isn’t known if prayer or distant healing is safe. However, there’s no reason to suspect safety issues when used correctly. But prayer and distant healing shouldn’t be used instead of standard techniques or therapies.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is no safety information about the use of prayer and distant healing during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, there’s no reason to suspect safety concerns when used correctly.
It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines.
Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.
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