Yount G, Solfvin J, Moore D, Schlitz M, Reading M, Aldape K, Qian Y. (2004) BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Mar 15;4:5. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-4-5.
Practitioners of the alternative medical practice ‘external Qigong’ generally claim the ability to emit or direct “healing energy” to treat patients. We investigated the ability of experienced Qigong practitioners to enhance the healthy growth of cultured human cells in a series of studies, each following a rigorously designed protocol with randomization, blinding and controls for variability.
Qigong practitioners directed healing intentionality toward normal brain cell cultures in a basic science laboratory. Qigong treatments were delivered for 20 minutes from a minimum distance of 10 centimeters. Cell proliferation was measured by a standard colony-forming efficiency (CFE) assay and a CFE ratio (CFE for treated samples/CFE for sham samples) was the dependent measure for each experiment.
During a pilot study (8 experiments), a trend of increased cell proliferation in Qigong-treated samples (CFE Qigong/sham ratios > 1.0) was observed (P = 0.162). In a formal study (28 experiments), a similar trend was observed, with Qigong-treated samples showing on average more colony formation than sham samples (P = 0.036). In a replication study (60 experiments), no significant difference between Qigong-treated samples and sham samples was observed (P = 0.465).
We observed an apparent increase in the proliferation of cultured cells following external Qigong treatment by practitioners under strictly controlled conditions, but we did not observe this effect in a replication study. These results suggest the need for more controlled and thorough investigation of external Qigong before scientific validation is claimed.