Touch Therapy Benefits Cancer Patients
Never underestimate the power of positive touch. For cancer patients who took part in a study by University of Kentucky (UK) researchers, the side effects of cancer treatment significantly improved after just one session of Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient form of touch therapy.
How touch therapy helps cancer patients
When one thinks of treatment for cancer, the thoughts typically are not positive ones. Chemotherapy, one of the main cancer therapy approaches, is associated with side effects such as nausea, vomiting, pain, weakness, hair loss, and fatigue, not to mention the emotional stress that accompanies it.
At the UK Markey Cancer Center, a Jin Shin Jyutsu integrative practitioner named Jennifer Bradley wanted to see if she could help relieve some of the symptoms associated with cancer treatment by offering patients Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a gentle healing therapy that works with energy channels that run through the body, carrying the life force. When any of these pathways become blocked or weakened, the result is an imbalance of physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual well-being.
The goal of each Jin Shin Jyutsu session is to help clear the energy channels of tension and allow the body to regain balance. Patients who experience Jin Shin Jyutsu lie in a comfortable position and remain completely clothed except for their shoes.
Practitioners of Jin Shin Jyutsu "tune in" or "listen" to a person's wrist pulses to determine what areas of the body need help. They then place their hands gently on 52 specific spots called Safety Energy Locks as well as the fingers, toes, and key sites on the arms and legs in specific orders called "flows."
Bradley studied the effect of Jin Shin Jyutsu on 159 cancer patients. Before and after each touch therapy session, the individuals rated their pain, stress level, and nausea on a scale of 0 to 10.
After just one visit, the patients reported significant improvement in all three symptoms, and the benefits were also experienced after subsequent sessions. Overall, the average improvement was a decrease of three points for stress and two points each for both nausea and pain.
Previous touch therapy studies
In a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, investigators found that family caregivers who received home-based instructions from a DVD on touch therapy and massage techniques could provide these services for their loved ones with cancer. The study involved 97 patients with cancer and their caregivers in three different cities.
The study compared the benefits of cancer patients receiving either attention from caregivers (they read to the patient for 20 minutes) or touch therapy and massage the caregivers learned from the DVD. Although symptoms improved from 12 to 28 percent among patients in the control group, they improved from 29 to 44 percent in the touch group.
A recent (February 2012) study by researchers at the University of Virginia Charlottesville reviewed the biofield therapies--those that involve directing healing energy through the hands, such as Jin Shin Jyutsu, Reiki, and Shen--and their ability to decrease pain in cancer patients. They noted that "although the therapies have demonstrated clinical efficacy," more research is needed. But they also recommended oncology nurses become familiar with biofield therapies "so they can offer informed recommendations to patients with cancer experiencing pain."
As for Bradley and her study of touch therapy for cancer patients with pain, nausea, and stress, "Jin Shin Jyutsu made improvements in these areas without adding additional unwanted effects that so often occur with medication interventions." While she also agrees more research is needed, she believes "Jin Shin Jyutsu has great promise" as touch therapy for cancer patients.
Anderson JG, Taylor AG. Biofield therapies and cancer pain. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 2012 Feb; 16(1): 43-48
University of Kentucky