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Clinical Research

Paranormal healing and hypertension

BMJ 1988; 296 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.296.6635.1491 (Published 28 May 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;296:1491
  1. Jaap J Beutler,
  2. Johannes T M Attevelt,
  3. Sybo A Schouten,
  4. Joop A J Faber,
  5. Evert J Dorhout Mees,
  6. Gijsbert G Geijskes

    Abstract

    A prospective randomised trial was carried out to see whether paranormal healing by laying on of hands might reduce blood pressure in essential hypertension and whether such an effect might be due to a paranormal, psychological, or placebo factor. Patients were randomised to three treatment groups: paranormal healing by laying on of hands (n=40), paranormal healing at a distance (n=37), and no paranormal healing (controls; n=38). Healing at a distance and no paranormal healing were investigated double blind. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly reduced in all three groups at week 15 (mean reduction (95% confidence interval) 17·1 (14·0 to 20·2)/8·3 (6·6 to 10·0) mm Hg). Only the successive reductions in diastolic blood pressures among the groups from week to week were significantly different. Each week diastolic pressure was consistently lower (average 1·9 mm Hg) after healing at a distance compared with control, but on paired comparison these differences were not significant. Probably week to week variations among the groups accounted for any differences noted.

    In this study no treatment was consistently better than another and the data cannot therefore be taken as evidence of a paranormal effect on blood pressure. Probably the fall in blood pressure in all three groups either was caused by the psychosocial approach or was a placebo effect of the trial itself.