Can intention affect the growth of human stem cells? That was the question behind this recent IONS study.
Maybe you’ve heard of experiments conducted by IONS scientists and colleagues where intentions were shown to change the shape of ice crystals, moods were raised after drinking blessed tea, and mustard plants grew more thanks to positive intentions. Such experiments were the inspiration for the current study.
Why explore the effects of intentionally treated water on growth of stem cells?
Interest in investigating this topic goes beyond mere scientific curiosity. What if intention improved the proliferation and “stemness” quality of stem cells (i.e., the ability of stem cells to turn into any other kind of cell)?
Positive intentions… by Buddhist monks!
Stem cells derived from dental pulp were used in this experiment. They were divided into two lots: one that was intentionally treated with water “blessed” by three Buddhist monks, and the other with water from the same source, but not blessed. The study was then performed under double-blind conditions, whereby the researchers who grew the stem cells did not know what kind of water was used to make the growth medium.
The hypothesis was that cells grown with the blessed water would grow more than those in the control group. We also predicted that a larger number of cells would enter the growth cycle phase, and that we would observe an increase in the cells’ genetic expression related to growth.
In support of the hypothesis, the stem cells showed increased growth when cultivated in a growth medium made with blessed water as compared to control water. Interestingly, only the stem cells from one donor showed statistically significant differences in proliferation on day 6. By contrast, stem cells from the other donor showed a significantly greater percentage of cells in the growth phase. Regarding gene expression, the results weren’t consistently in the predicted direction.
The study thus suggests that intentionally treated water may affect stem cell growth and the number of cells entering the growth phase, but the effects on gene expression will require further research. There was also a non-negligible difference between the results from cells derived from two donors. Perhaps this means that stem cells have idiosyncratic properties that make some of them more or less susceptible to the influence of intention. A replication of this experiment is underway to see if the results observed in the first study can be confirmed.
Read more about this study and the results in the paper “Effects of Intentionally Treated Water on the Growth of Mesenchymal Stem Cells: An Exploratory Study” published in EXPLORE.