Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2016, Vol. 14 ›› Issue (5): 389-399.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(16)60275-3

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Human biofield therapy does not affect tumor size but modulates immune responses in a mouse model for breast cancer

Gloria Gronowicza , Eric R. Secor Jr.b,c, John R. Flynna, Liisa T. Kuhnd   

  1. a Department of Surgery, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA
    b Department of Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA 
    c Hartford Healthcare, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT 06102-5037, USA
    d Department of Reconstructive Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA
  • Received:2016-05-07 Accepted:2016-08-01 Online:2016-09-15 Published:2016-09-15
  • Contact: Gloria Gronowicz, PhD; E-mail:


To assess the effect of human biofield therapy, an integrative medicine modality, on the development of tumors and metastasis, and immune function in a mouse breast cancer model.


Mice were injected with 66cl4 mammary carcinoma cells. In study one, mice received biofield therapy after cell injection. In study two, mice were treated by the biofield practitioner only prior to cell injection. Both studies had two control groups of mock biofield treatments and phosphate-buffered saline injection. Mice were weighed and tumor volume was determined. Blood samples were collected and 32 serum cytokine/chemokine markers were measured. Spleens/popliteal lymph nodes were isolated and dissociated for fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis of immune cells or metastasis assays in cell culture.


No significant differences were found in weight, tumor size or metastasis. Significant effects were found in the immune responses in study one but no additional effects were found in study two. In study one, human biofield treatment significantly reduced percentage of CD4+CD44loCD25+ and percentage of CD8+ cells, elevated by cancer in the lymph nodes, to control levels determined by FACS analysis. In the spleen, only CD11b+ macrophages were increased with cancer, and human biofield therapy significantly reduced them. Of 11 cytokines elevated by cancer, only interferon-γ, interleukin-1, monokine induced by interferon-γ, interleukin-2 and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 were significantly reduced to control levels with human biofield therapy.


Human biofield therapy had no significant effect on tumor size or metastasis but produced significant effects on immune responses apparent in the down-regulation of specific lymphocytes and serum cytokines in a mouse breast cancer model.

Key words: Biological therapy, Breast cancer, Immune system, Integrative medicine, Cytokine, Energy medicine

1 Garland SN, Valentine D, Desai K, Li S, Langer C, Evans T, Mao JJ.Complementary and alternative medicine use and benefit finding among cancer patients.J Altern Complement Med. 2013; 19(11): 876-881.
2 Deng G, Cassileth B.Integrative oncology: an overview.Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2014: 233-242.
3 Huebner J, Prott FJ, Micke O, Muecke R, Senf B, Dennert G, Muenstedt K; PRIO (Working Group Prevention and Integrative Oncology—German Cancer Society). Online survey of cancer patients on complementary and alternative medicine.Oncol Res Treat. 2014; 37(6): 304-308.
4 Heidt P.Effect of therapeutic touch on anxiety level of hospitalized patients.Nurs Res. 1981; 30(1): 32-37.
5 Kramer NA.Comparison of therapeutic touch and casual touch in stress reduction of hospitalized children. Pediatr Nurs.1990; 16(5): 483-485.
6 Gagne D, Toye RC.The effects of therapeutic touch and relaxation therapy in reducing anxiety.Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 1994; 8(3): 184-189.
7 Keller E, Bzdek VM.Effects of therapeutic touch on tension headache pain.Nurs Res. 1986; 35(2): 101-106.
8 Peck SD.The efficacy of therapeutic touch for improving functional ability in elders with degenerative arthritis.Nurs Sci Q. 1998; 11(3): 123-132.
9 Meehan TC.Therapeutic touch and postoperative pain: a Rogerian research study.Nurs Sci Q. 1993; 6(2): 69-78.
10 McCormack GL. Using non-contact therapeutic touch to manage post-surgical pain in the elderly.Occup Ther Int. 2009; 16(1): 44-56.
11 Turner JG, Clark AJ, Gauthier DK, Williams M.The effect of therapeutic touch on pain and anxiety in burn patients.J Adv Nurs. 1998; 28(1): 10-20.
12 Lin YS, Taylor AG.Effects of therapeutic touch in reducing pain and anxiety in an elderly population.Integr Med. 1999; 1(4): 155-162.
13 Gordon A, Merenstein JH, D’Amico F, Hudgens D. The effects of therapeutic touch on patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.J Fam Pract. 1998; 47(4): 271-277.
14 Giasson M, Bouchard L.Effect of therapeutic touch on the well-being of persons with terminal cancer.J Holist Nurs. 1998; 16(3): 383-398.
15 Cox CL, Hayes JA.Reducing anxiety: the employment of therapeutic touch as a nursing intervention. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery.1997; 3(6): 163-167.
16 Cox CL, Hayes JA.Experiences of administering and receiving therapeutic touch in intensive care. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery.1998; 4(5): 128-132.
17 Olson M, Sneed N, LaVia M, Virella G, Bonadonna R, Michel Y. Stress-induced immunosuppression and therapeutic touch.Altern Ther Health Med. 1997; 3(2): 68-74.
18 Movaffaghi Z, Hasanpoor M, Farsi M, Hooshmand P, Abrishami F.Effects of therapeutic touch on blood hemoglobin and hematocrit level.J Holist Nurs. 2006; 24(1): 41-48.
19 Kiang JG, Ives JA, Jonas WB.External bioenergy-induced increases in intracellular free calcium concentrations are mediated by Na+/Ca2+ exchanger and L-type calcium channel.Mol Cell Biochem. 2005; 271(1-2): 51-59.
20 Yan X, Shen H, Jiang H, Zhang C, Hu D, Wang J, Wu X.External Qi of Yan Xin Qigong induces G2/M arrest and apoptosis of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells by inhibiting Akt and NF-κB pathways.Mol Cell Biochem. 2008; 310(1-2): 227-234.
21 Yan X, Shen H, Jiang H, Hu D, Wang J, Wu X.External Qi of Yan Xin Qigong inhibits activation of Akt, Erk1/2 and NF-κB and induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells.Cell Physiol Biochem. 2013; 31(1): 113-122.
22 Yan X, Li F, Dozmorov I, Frank MB, Dao M, Centola M, Cao W, Hu D.External Qi of Yan Xin Qigong induces cell death and gene expression alterations promoting apoptosis and inhibiting proliferation, migration and glucose metabolism in small-cell lung cancer cells.Mol Cell Biochem. 2012; 363(1-2): 245-255.
23 Grad B.The biological effects of “laying on of hands” on animals and plants: implications for biology. In: Schmeidler G. Parapsychology: its relation to physics, biology, psychology and psychiatry. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press. 1976: 76-89.
24 Rubik B, Brooks AJ, Schwartz GE.In vitro effect of Reiki treatment on bacterial cultures: role of experimental context and practitioner well-being. J Altern Complement Med. 2006; 12(1): 7-13.
25 Jhaveri A, Walsh SJ, Wang Y, McCarthy M, Gronowicz G. Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture.J Orthop Res. 2008; 26(11): 1541-1546.
26 Gronowicz G, Jhaveri A, Clarke LW, Aronow MS, Smith TH.Therapeutic touch stimulates the proliferation of human cells in culture.J Altern Complement Med. 2008; 14(3): 233-239.
27 Gronowicz G, Secor ER Jr, Flynn JR, Jellison ER, Kuhn LT.Therapeutic touch has significant effects on mouse breast cancer metastasis and immune responses but not primary tumor size. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 926565.
28 Bengston W, Krinsley D.The effect of the “laying on of hands” on transplanted breast cancer in mice.J Sci Explor. 2000; 3(14): 353-364.
29 Monzillo E, Gronowicz G.New insights on therapeutic touch: a discussion of experimental methodology and design that resulted in significant effects on normal human cells and osteosarcoma. Explore (NY).2011; 7(1): 44-51.
30 Rubik B.The biofield hypothesis: its biophysical basis and role in medicine.J Altern Complement Med. 2002; 8(6): 703-717.
31 Movaffaghi Z, Farsi M.Biofield therapies: biophysical basis and biological regulations?Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009; 15(1): 35-37.
32 Williams CD, Markov MS, Hardman WE, Cameron IL.Therapeutic electromagnetic field effects on angiogenesis and tumor growth. Anticancer Res.2001; 21(6A): 3887-3891.
33 Markov M, Williams C, Cameron I, Hardman W, Salvatore J.Can magnetic fields inhibit angiogenesis and tumor growth? In: Rosch PJ, Markov MS. Bioelectric medicine. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 2004: 625-636.
34 Watson JM, Parrish EA, Rinehart CA.Selective potentiation of gynecologic cancer cell growthin vitro by electromagnetic fields. Gynecol Oncol. 1998; 71(1): 64-71.
35 Salvatore J, Markov M.Electromagnetic fields as an adjuvant therapy to antineoplastic chemotherapy. In: Rosch PJ, Markov MS. Bioelectric medicine. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 2004: 613-624.
36 Cadossi R, Zucchini P, Emilia G, Franceschi C, Cossarizza A, Santantonio M, Mandolini G, Torelli G.Effect of low frequency low energy pulsing electromagnetic fields on mice injected with cyclophosphamide. Exp Hematol.1991; 19(3): 196-201.
37 Salvatore JR, Harrington J, Kummet T.Phase I clinical study of a static magnetic field combined with anti-neoplastic chemotherapy in the treatment of human malignancy: initial safety and toxicity data.Bioelectromagnetics. 2003; 24(7): 524-527.
38 Seto A, Kusaka C, Nakazato S, Huang WR, Sato T, Hisamitsu T, Takeshige C.Detection of extraordinary large bio-magnetic field strength from human hand during external Qi emission.Acupunct Electrother Res. 1992; 17(2): 75-94.
39 Hisamitsu T, Seto A, Nakazato S, Yamamoto T, Aung SK.Emission of extremely strong magnetic fields from the head and whole body during oriental breathing exercises.Acupunct Electrother Res. 1996; 21(3-4): 219-227.
40 Zimmerman J.Laying-on-of-hands and therapeutic touch: a testable theory.J Bio-Electro-Magn Inst. 1999; 2: 8-17.
41 Hansen JN, Lieberman JA.Use of a torsion pendulum balance to detect and characterize what may be a human bioenergy field.J Sci Exploration. 2013; 27(2): 205-225.
42 Aslakson CJ, Miller FR.Selective events in the metastatic process defined by analysis of the sequential dissemination of subpopulations of a mouse mammary tumor. Cancer Res.1992; 52(6): 1399-1405.
43 Yount G, Patil S, Dave U, Alves-dos-Santos L, Gon K, Arauz R, Rachlin K. Evaluation of biofield treatment dose and distance in a model of cancer cell death.J Altern Complement Med. 2013; 19(2): 124-127.
44 Patil SA, Nayak GB, Barve SS, Tembe RP.Impact of biofield treatment on growth and anatomical characteristics ofPogostemon cablin(Benth.). Biotechnology. 2012; 11: 154-162.
45 Jensen MM, Jørgensen JT, Binderup T, Kjaer A.Tumor volume in subcutaneous mouse xenografts measured by microCT is more accurate and reproducible than determined by 18F-FDG-microPET or external caliper.BMC Med Imaging. 2008; 8: 16.
46 Qian BZ, Pollard JW.Macrophage diversity enhances tumor progression and metastasis.Cell. 2010; 141(1): 39-51.
47 O’Brien J, Schedin P. Macrophages in breast cancer: do involution macrophages account for the poor prognosis of pregnancy-associated breast cancer?J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2009; 14(2): 145-157.
48 Sloan EK, Priceman SJ, Cox BF, Yu S, Pimentel MA, Tangkanangnukul V, Arevalo JM, Morizono K, Karanikolas BD, Wu L, Sood AK, Cole SW.The sympathetic nervous system induces a metastatic switch in primary breast cancer. Cancer Res.2010; 70(18): 7042-7052.
49 Nash CB.Test of psychokinetic control of bacterial mutation. J American Soc Psych Res.1984; 78(2): 145-152.
50 Abe K, Ichinomiya R, Kanai T, Yamamoto K.Effect of a Japanese energy healing method known as Johrei on viability and proliferation of cultured cancer cells in vitro. J Altern Complement Med. 2012; 18(3): 221-228.
51 Yount G, Solfvin J, Moore D, Schlitz M, Reading M, Aldape K, Qian Y.In vitro test of external Qigong. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004; 4: 5.
52 Shah S, Ogden AT, Pettker CM, Raffo A, Itescu S, Oz MC.A study of the effect of energy healing onin vitro tumor cell proliferation. J Altern Complement Med. 1999; 5(4): 359-365.
53 Zhang J, Wang P, Ouyang H, Yin J, Liu A, Ma C, Liu L.Targeting cancer-related inflammation: Chinese herbal medicine inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in pancreatic cancer.PLoS One. 2013; 8(7): e70344.
54 DeNardo DG, Barreto JB, Andreu P, Vasquez L, Tawfik D, Kolhatkar N, Coussens LM. CD4+ T cells regulate pulmonary metastasis of mammary carcinomas by enhancing protumor properties of macrophages.Cancer Cell. 2009; 16(2): 91-102.
55 Ikeda H, Old LJ, Schreiber RD.The roles of IFN gamma in protection against tumor development and cancer immunoediting.Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2002; 13(2): 95-109.
56 Schreiber RD, Old LJ, Smyth MJ.Cancer immunoediting: integrating immunity’s roles in cancer suppression and promotion.Science. 2011; 331(6024): 1565-1570.
57 Weng Y, Siciliano SJ, Waldburger KE, Sirotina-Meisher A, Staruch MJ, Daugherty BL, Gould SL, Springer MS, DeMartino JA. Binding and functional properties of recombinant and endogenous CXCR3 chemokine receptors.J Biol Chem. 1998; 273(29): 18288-18291.
58 Tsujimura Y, Matsutani T, Matsuda A, Kutsukake M, Uchida E, Sasajima K, Tamura K.Effects of pioglitazone on survival and omental adipocyte function in mice with sepsis induced by cecal ligation and puncture.J Surg Res. 2011; 171(2): e215-e221.
59 Jochems C, Schlom J.Tumor-infiltrating immune cells and prognosis: the potential link between conventional cancer therapy and immunity.Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2011; 236(5): 567-579.
60 Thaker PH, Han LY, Kamat AA, Arevalo JM, Takahashi R, Lu C, Jennings NB, Armaiz-Pena G, Bankson JA, Ravoori M, Merritt WM, Lin YG, Mangala LS, Kim TJ, Coleman RL, Landen CN, Li Y, Felix E, Sanguino AM, Newman RA, Lloyd M, Gershenson DM, Kundra V, Lopez-Berestein G, Lutgendorf SK, Cole SW, Sood AK.Chronic stress promotes tumor growth and angiogenesis in a mouse model of ovarian carcinoma. Nat Med. 2006; 12(8): 939-944.
61 De Palma M, Lewis CE.Cancer: macrophages limit chemotherapy.Nature. 2011; 472(7343): 303-304.
62 Hughes R, Qian BZ, Rowan C, Muthana M, Keklikoglou I, Olson OC, Tazzyman S, Danson S, Addison C, Clemons M, Gonzalez-Angulo AM, Joyce JA, De Palma M, Pollard JW, Lewis CE.Perivascular M2 macrophages stimulate tumor relapse after chemotherapy.Cancer Res. 2015; 75(17): 3479-3491.
63 Mahmoud SM, Paish EC, Powe DG, Macmillan RD, Grainge MJ, Lee AH, Ellis IO, Green AR.Tumor-infiltrating CD8+ lymphocytes predict clinical outcome in breast cancer.J Clin Oncol. 2011; 29(15): 1949-1955.
[1] Brody Slostad, Tejinder Khalsa, Kathleen Young, Hildalicia Guerra, Anjali Bhagra. A case-based approach to integrative medicine for cardiovascular disease prevention. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(2): 159-162.
[2] Mohammad Hossein Ayati, Ata Pourabbasi, Nazli Namazi, Arman Zargaran, Zahra Kheiry, Amir Hooman Kazemi, Bagher Larijani. The necessity for integrating traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine into medical education curricula in Iran. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(4): 296-301.
[3] Mikhail Teppone. Medicine has always been “Modern” and “Scientific” from ancient times to the present day. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(4): 229-237.
[4] Tamer Aboushanab, Mohamed Khalil, YaserAl Ahmari. The present state of complementary medicine regulation in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 147-149.
[5] Pádraic J.Dunne, Julie Lynch, Lucia Prihodova, Caoimhe O'Leary, Atiyeh Ghoreyshi, Sharee A. Basdeo, Donal J.Cox, Rachel Breen, Ali Sheikhi, Áine Carroll, Cathal Walsh, Geraldine McMahon, Barry White. Burnout in the emergency department: Randomized controlled trial of an attention-based training program. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 173-180.
[6] Hanae Naceiri Mrabti, Nidal Jaradat, Mohamed Reda Kachmar, Abdelaziz Ed-Dra, Abdelilah Ouahbi, Yahia Cherrah, Moulay El Abbes Faouzi. Integrative herbal treatments of diabetes in Beni Mellal region of Morocco. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(2): 93-99.
[7] Carlos R. Oliveira, Daniel G. Spindola, Daniel M. Garcia, Adolfo Erustes, Alexandre Bechara, Caroline Palmeira-dos-Santos, Soraya S. Smaili, Gustavo J.S. Pereira, André Hinsberger, Ezequiel P. Viriato, Maria Cristina Marcucci, Alexandra C.H.F. Sawaya, Samantha L. Tomaz, Elaine G. Rodrigues, Claudia Bincoletto. Medicinal properties of Angelica archangelica root extract: Cytotoxicity in breast cancer cells and its protective effects against in vivo tumor development. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(2): 132-140.
[8] Fung-Kei Cheng. An overview of the contribution of acupuncture to thyroid disorders. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(6): 375-383.
[9] J.M. Oliver-Baxter, H.S. Whitford, D.A. Turnbull, M.J. Bond. Effects of vitamin supplementation on inflammatory markers and psychological wellbeing among distressed women: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(5): 322-328.
[10] Chang-quan Ling, Jia Fan, Hong-sheng Lin, Feng Shen, Zhen-ye Xu, Li-zhu Lin, Shu-kui Qin, Wei-ping Zhou, Xiao-feng Zhai, Bai Li, Qing-hui Zhou, on behalf of the Chinese Integrative Therapy of Primary Liver Cancer Working Group. Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of primary liver cancer with integrative traditional Chinese and Western medicine. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(4): 236-248.
[11] Uday P. Pratap, Hannah P. Priyanka, Karthik R. Ramanathan, Vishak Raman, Lalgi Hima, Srinivasan Thyagarajan. Noni (Morinda citrifolia L.) fruit juice delays immunosenescence in the lymphocytes in lymph nodes of old F344 rats. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(3): 199-207.
[12] Nian Huang. Integrative medicine is an evolving field and the future of healthcare: A summary of the 2017 Integrative Medicine Shanghai Forum. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 71-71.
[13] Lizhou Liu, Simone Petrich, Blair McLaren, Lyndell Kelly, G. David Baxter. An integrative Tai Chi program for patients with breast cancer undergoing cancer therapy: Study protocol for a randomized controlled feasibility study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 99-105.
[14] Saswati Mahapatra, Anjali Bhagra, Bisrat Fekadu, Zhuo Li, Brent A. Bauer, Dietlind L. Wahner-Roedler. Incorporation of integrative medicine education into undergraduate medical education: A longitudinal study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(6): 442-449.
[15] Xuan Liu, Li-juan Xiu, Jian-peng Jiao, Jing Zhao, Ying Zhao, Ye Lu, Jun Shi, Yong-jin Li, Min Ye, Yu-fang Gu, Xiao-wei Wang, Jing-yu Xu, Ci-an Zhang, Yong-ying Liu, Yun Luo, Xiao-qiang Yue. Traditional Chinese medicine integrated with chemotherapy for stage IV non-surgical gastric cancer: A retrospective clinical analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(6): 469-475.
Full text



[1] Wei-xiong Liang. Problems-solving strategies in clinical treatment guideline for traditional Chinese medicine and integrative medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 1-4
[2] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[3] Daniel Weber, Janelle M Wheat, Geoffrey M Currie. Inflammation and cancer: Tumor initiation, progression and metastasis,and Chinese botanical medicines. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1006-1013
[4] Liang-ping Hu , Xiao-lei Bao, Xue Guan. Statistical inference and experimental design of univariate qualitative data of single-group design. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1085-1089
[5] Zhi-mei Wang, Bin Zhang. A study on translation of ellipses in Huangdi Neijing from perspective of hermeneutic theory. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1097-1100
[6] Nian-hong Wang , Jun-tao Yan , Wu-quan Sun , Yong-shan Hu , Jun Xia , Li-cheng Wei , Jie Jia , Gui-lin Ouyang , Yong He , Yan-ming Guo , Jie Xu . Effects of early application of Tuina treatment on quadriceps surface myoelectricity in patients after total knee arthroplasty: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1247-1253
[7] Veena Sharma , Pracheta Janmeda , Ritu Paliwal , Shatruhan Sharma. Antihepatotoxic activity of Euphorbia neriifolia extract against N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2012, 10(11): 1303-1309
[8] Peng-fei Gao, Kenji Watanabe. Introduction of the World Health Organization project of the International Classification of Traditional Medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2011, 9(11): 1161-1164
[9] Li-fang Wang, Jin-feng Wang, Wei-fang Jin, Hong-fu Wang, Shao-fen Zhang, Jian-jun Gao. Effects of daidzein on steroid receptor coactivator-1 expression in MC3T3-E1 cells and the mechanism. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2011, 9(11): 1248-1253
[10] Yi Chen, Wen-jian Wang. Relationships between insulin resistant and hypertension and traditional Chinese medicine intervention. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(12): 1114-1118