We all have natural energetic healing abilities. My earliest recollection of this came from my mother Margaret. Whenever my brother or I had a “booboo,” she would rub it with her hands, and if it was really serious, kiss it. Somehow it always made us feel better. Of course neither she nor I understood about energetic techniques, but I learned from these experiences that touch could make people feel better.
My knowledge of energy was unknowingly intensified by my father who was growing crystals at his place of employment to use in the development of laser technology. As a child of 5, my father showed me how to grow crystals in our “basement lab.” I grew alum, sodium nitrate, sulphur and others. Three years later, he gave me a gallium arsenide crystal so we could polish the ends and build a laser. Neither of us understood this synchronicity would germinate into a use of crystals in my healing work, or a position at LaserSurge, Inc., where I researched and developed surgical applications of lasers.
As I evaluate my education in energy, it’s obvious my brother Kevin was one of my greatest teachers. Throughout his life, he had serious congenital heart and kidney problems. He held a blue skin color, was small in size and had low set ears. In medical slang, he was a FLK (funny-looking kid). But he was the kindest, gentlest spirit imaginable, and people were drawn to him. Despite his enormous challenges, Kevin was always focused on helping others. Every Labor Day he solicited money for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. He required major multiple surgeries, but was never heard to complain. He taught me about love, caring and compassion. At age 14, he died five days after open-heart surgery, and gave me one of my greatest lessons — that our energy persists beyond physical death, even if our physical body does not. Energy is neither created, nor destroyed. For me, this is an understanding rather than a feeling. He has been perhaps the biggest influence on why I chose to dedicate my life to healing.
I began to live that dedication in 1981 when I graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. I trained in surgery, served in the National Health Service Core, and eventually became board certified in emergency medicine. For the past 16 years, I have been an attending physician in emergency medicine at Rochester General Hospital, and for 10 years an assistant professor of emergency medicine and clinical instructor of surgery at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
In addition to traditional Western medicine, the opportunity came to learn Reiki I and II, and to eventually become a third-degree Reiki Master. At the Monroe Institute in Virginia, I was introduced to the use of Hemi-Sync sound frequencies, a patented process developed to self-induce specific altered mental states. It was there I was first introduced to remote healing, and the Dolphin Energy Club (DEC), a group of healers who attempt to heal and assist others from a distance using guided imagery, reiki and remote viewing. Western medicine would think this unlikely, but quantum physics and energetic medicine suggest it is possible. Now, having participated in many remote healing exercises over the years, I understand it is possible, too.
Energy as a Complement
Energy, or vibrational, medicine is based on the concept there is an energetic body that is the scaffolding or architecture from which the physical body arises. When Einstein proposed E=MC2, he was claiming energy and matter — such as the human body — are interchangeable. Energy effects are mediated through the chakra system, a system linking outside energy with the physical body. There are seven major chakras of the human body that allow energy to be used to affect physical, emotional and spiritual changes. Each chakra is a spinning vortex of energy associated with a specific location, function, color, emotion and tone (see References for additional information on chakras). If we understand that energy consists of different frequencies of vibration, we can begin to understand how many seemingly disparate therapies may have effects on the human body. Color, sound, X rays, flower essences, homeopathic preparations, medicines and each individual human being all have their own frequency of vibration. Your frequency is dynamic, varying with your mood. It changes with foods, chemicals, medications and other substances we ingest. Just as tuning forks may vibrate and resonant with other tuning forks vibrating at the same or harmonic frequencies, outside energies may be used to “tune” the human body back into health.
Energy medicine and traditional Western medicine are wonderfully complementary therapies. Energy healing often works at levels beyond the physical — areas inaccessible to more traditional forms of medicine. And it’s what patients demand: last year people spent more cash out-of-pocket for nontraditional forms of therapy than was reimbursed by insurance for all forms of traditional medicine.
With practice, many people can perceive energy fields. For most, this will be primarily a kinesthetic perception, often “felt” with the hands. You may feel a sensation of hot or cold, tingling, pressure changes, or emptiness or fullness. Some people may perceive energy visually, or have intuitive feelings or “knowing.”
Working With Cancer
In addition to my work at Rochester General Hospital, I offer energy work to patients outside the hospital as well. These have included a wide range of problems — migraine headaches, backaches, anxiety, asthma, etc. One day it occurred to me to do an affirmation: “Please bring those patients to me that I may help.” Almost overnight, large numbers of cancer patients crossed my path. I am not an oncologist, and I will not see a patient unless they are working with one. I am a big believer in conventional medicine, and advocate its use. But energy therapies are wonderfully complementary to more traditional forms of medicine. Energetic techniques may possibly help with side effects of cancer therapy, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss and anemia. Traditional chemotherapy (unlike newer, more targeted chemotherapies) has been aimed at killing fast-growing cancer cells. Inadvertently, it may affect other fast-growing cells such as hair (hair loss), the gastrointestinal tract (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and blood cells (anemia, low white blood count). The side effects may be so severe as to necessitate discontinuing chemotherapy.
Aside from the traditional physical/chemical changes that occur after significant rounds of chemotherapy, the body also produces a thick mucoid energetic discharge surrounding the body. This may depress the third chakra energy, at the top midline of the abdomen, resulting in nausea and vomiting. In addition to traditional therapies for nausea and vomiting (Prednisone, Zofran, etc.), this problem may be treated energetically. Using reiki or Therapeutic Touch, you simply place your hand on the third chakra and visualize energy infusing the area. I have found visualizing a rose-colored light particularly effective. Hematite, rose quartz and fluorite crystals can be beneficial when placed on the third chakra as well. The change is often quite dramatic, in as little as 5-15 minutes. Normally it takes the body 7-10 days to clear the “energetic debris” surrounding the body. If one is getting chemotherapy every seven days, it is easy to see why some patients may feel more ill as their therapy progresses. Clearing this debris with reiki can take 20-30 minutes, and the patient often remains feeling well long after the treatment. At the close of the session, I always show the patients how to treat themselves.
Epsom salt baths are another easy way to remove energetic debris from your field. Add two cups of Epsom salts to a tub of warm water. You may add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to enhance it (rose, lavender, chamomile and jasmine are some of my favorites).1 It is very effective for chemotherapy patients, particularly on the day after chemotherapy when the field may become quite dense. If you have had a particularly stressful or emotionally draining day, you may feel dramatic improvement after a 20-minute soak. To feel refreshed and ready, I always soak before I work in the stressful environment of the emergency department.
Radiation splinters the energy field through which it is focused, like broken glass, and can result in burns to the skin, anemia, and fatigue. By using your hands to “smooth out” the energy field of the treatment area, the impact of the radiation may be minimized. My mother-in-law, Tessie, had a scalp lymphoma surgically excised, followed by radiation therapy. Because the entire dose of radiation was focused on the skin, her radiation oncologist advised she would have potentially severe burns on her skin. I washed her head every day, visualizing smoothing out her energy field as I applied reiki to her scalp. Her surgical wound healed well, and the skin healed without any burn whatsoever. Her radiation oncologist was pleasantly surprised. All her hair eventually grew back as well.
Delores Krieger has shown that Therapeutic Touch can increase hemoglobin blood levels in patients.2 This can be helpful for cancer patients who may be anemic (low red blood cells) or neutropenic (low white blood cells that help fight infection) as a result of their illness or therapy. Fortunately, Epogen and Neupogen injections may be given to these patients to help improve their blood counts, at approximately $800 for both injections. Some of our patients using energetic techniques have been able to decrease the frequency of these injections, and in rare instances, have been able to stop them. This can result in significant cost savings. Ironically, if you want the insurance industry to cover a specific therapy, you need to show them how it saves them money, not just improves patient care. Reiki therapy is now partially reimbursed by HMOs in Rochester, N.Y.
Energetic treatment for anemia benefits more than cancer patients. I was contacted by a family member to see Kelly, a teenage passenger severely injured in a motor vehicle accident three days earlier, and now a patient in the surgical intensive care unit. I had been in emergency that night when she came in, but I cared for the driver who was also severely injured. Kelly had a liver laceration and a compression fracture of her first lumbar spine (lower back bone). Her liver laceration caused her to bleed from a normal initial hematocrit, (blood level) of 40 percent, down to 14%, normally a lethal level. She was aggressively resuscitated with fluids and transfused four units of red blood cells (RBC). Three days later, her hematocrit had stabilized at 27 percent. We did four 30-minute sessions over five days, and afterwards, her Hct had risen to 36 percent, the equivalent of a transfusion of three units RBC. She also had an improvement in fracture pain, anxiety and fatigue.
Energetic techniques may shorten the healing time of fractures, as well as decrease swelling and pain. Initially, energy can be removed at the fracture site (visualizing blue color is helpful) to decrease swelling and pain. Energy may be added to promote fracture healing (green and orange colors are helpful). One patient I saw, Zach, had a distal radius (wrist) fracture that was anticipated to take 6-8 weeks to heal. After several reiki/crystal sessions, his cast was removed at four weeks, with normal healing.
Meeting Gretchen and Ardith
During a visit to Atlanta last year, I had an opportunity to explain to Laurie Monroe of the Monroe Institute my use of the Hemi-Sync exercises with cancer patients, and how I found Metamusic (music embedded with Hemi-Sync frequencies) beneficial for those undergoing chemotherapy — often reducing or entirely eliminating their nausea and vomiting. Having lost her stepmother to breast cancer, Monroe agreed to produce a tape for chemotherapy patients to reduce their fatigue and improve their well-being.
The project was helped along by the impetus of two people, one being Gretchen, a student at St. Bonaventure who was diagnosed with lymphoma. She went to Roswell Cancer Center where she was able to complete only four of the 12 scheduled chemotherapy sessions because she had such severe nausea and vomiting. She had also lost all her hair. She opted to turn to an organic diet in keeping with her holistic beliefs. One year later, her symptoms had only worsened. Her chiropractor suggested we talk, and after speaking, she flew out for an evaluation at Rochester General Hospital. Her chest CAT scan showed the tumor next to her heart had quadrupled in size. I suggested an especially compassionate physician at our oncology center who she immediately liked and trusted. But she was unhappy when he recommended chemotherapy again, even though it was the best treatment for her type of cancer. Fortunately, she trusted his judgment. We discussed her misgivings, including the nausea, vomiting and hair loss that was sure to come, and that “chemo was a poison,” not in keeping with her holistic beliefs.
As a result of her feelings, I suggested the use of guided imagery to think of chemotherapy as a “love potion.” Her chemotherapy drugs were chosen by an oncologist especially for her, mixed by an oncology pharmacist especially for her, and were made especially for her to make her well, not ill. She was receiving an infusion of love, not a toxin. We discussed the energetic implications of chemotherapy. If she became ill, it meant the chemotherapy was working (looking for the positive). In addition to her regular medication for nausea, we could use reiki and crystals to assist her, reminding her it would not last forever. All of this we recorded along with Hemi-Sync frequencies to induce relaxation on a CD, called Chemotherapy Companion. I was near the end of my night shift in emergency when I received a call from her mother. Gretchen had her chemotherapy the previous morning, and had been vomiting for 12 hours, the last four of which were spent kneeling in the bathroom in front of a toilet. I took the Metamusic for Gretchen with me to the home where she was staying. When I saw her, she literally appeared drained, her arms supporting her head above the toilet. I knelt beside her, placed my hand on her third chakra and infused rose energy for several minutes to allow the vomiting to stop so we could lay her in bed. I slipped the headphones on Gretchen, placed crystals on her chakras, and did reiki during the 45 minutes the CD played. When it was finished, she took the headphones off, said, “That was awesome,” got up and ate lunch.
The second person to use the Metamusic was Ardith, a patient having a difficult time with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea due to the effects of chemotherapy for colon cancer diagnosed a year earlier. It had recently spread to her liver, so doctors initiated a new chemotherapy regime to which she again reacted violently. She immediately began vomiting during the 90-minute infusion, and the nurse caring for her said Ardith had experienced three episodes of diarrhea that hit without warning. She remained ill for 10 days, necessitating cancellation of her second chemotherapy scheduled a week later. A family member contacted me and asked if we would be present to assist her in the oncology center for her second chemotherapy, scheduled three weeks after the first. I contacted her oncologist who readily agreed. We started Chemotherapy Companion 15 minutes before her 90-minute infusion of chemotherapy started. We placed a few crystals on her third chakra and did 30 minutes of reiki. When the CD ended 45 minutes later, halfway through her infusion, she told the nurses she was hungry and ate half a baloney sandwich. When her infusion was completed, Ardith left saying, “I feel better than when I came in.” Two ladies receiving therapy on either side of her, who had been present three weeks earlier when Ardith was so violently ill asked, “What was that, and where can we get some?” I explained the process to both and gave each a CD before leaving.
Energy Work for Hospice Patients
Energetic therapies are a natural for hospice patients who are approaching their end of life transition. It can be used to reduce or eliminate pain, decrease anxiety, promote sleep, increase well-being and promote spirituality.
Bob had been a hospital volunteer at Rochester General for more than 40 years and was a ray of sunshine in our lives. His cancer had spread to his ribs, causing him a great deal of pain left unrelieved by radiation therapy or intercostal nerve blocks. His wife Hazel found it amazing he could fall asleep within five minutes of beginning bodywork therapy (reiki, Therapeutic Touch and massage all induce a relaxation response within minutes), and would remain pain-free for 3-4 days. By seeing him every three days, we were able to improve his comfort and decrease his need for narcotic medication. Toward the end, I would see him every day for shorter, 20-minute sessions. You can fit a lot of love in 15-20 minutes, and we would sit afterwards and admire the view of the creek and the birds at the feeder outside his window.
Another patient, Fran, was also able to find benefit from energy therapy during her fight with cancer. Fran was a wonderful respiratory therapist at Rochester General Hospital. She had lung cancer that had spread to her brain, causing her severe headaches. A co-worker had found reiki could relieve her own migraines in minutes, even after narcotic injections had failed. She introduced Fran and me in hopes of relieving Fran’s headaches. Fran did become free of her headaches, although she eventually succumbed to the cancer. She was able, however, to markedly improve the quality of her life as she transitioned and was able to share a parting gift with those of us at her bedside.
Fran’s family gathered around her bedside for the last time. She was too weak to talk, her respirations were labored and noisy from the fluid in her lungs. The family watched as my hands moved fluidly above Fran, without touching her, while her breathing became easier. They asked if it was hard to do. I explained it was simple to do and gave them this visual: “Picture love-like rays of sunshine entering the top of your head and flowing out your hands.” Her brother and sister-in-law said immediately they felt their hands grow warm. Shortly all the family members could feel the energy moving. Fran’s breathing slowed slightly and became easier. Too weak to talk, she spoke loudly without words — smiling and looking radiant. She passed a short time later, surrounded by loved ones.
The More Sensitive Clients
There are so many ways that energy therapies can help. Infant colic is one example of a malady often easily treated with energetic techniques in as little as 3-5 minutes. Simply place your hand gently over the infant’s third chakra, either from the front or back, and infuse a soothing rose energy for a few minutes. A physician friend, who had placed his two children in car seats at 2 a.m. and drove for two hours to get them back to sleep the night before, used this technique the next night with great results. “They both quickly fell asleep in their beds as I rested my hands on each of their stomachs. If I had learned this earlier, I could have saved a lot of car mileage.”
Like children, animals have a natural affinity for energy work, too. For those people who can perceive energy fields, it is fascinating to watch the interaction between humans and their animal companions. As cats and dogs are petted, their energy field starts to expand almost immediately. We all know cats and dogs love to be stroked, now we know why — it increases their energy and well-being. Animals tend to be very sensitive to energy work and often do not tolerate having energy directed to one site for prolonged periods. For this reason I often use a petting motion, with my hands moving constantly, or pausing only for brief periods.
Mickey is a hyperthyroid cat, who is generally shy with people, often hiding out of sight. I was seeing his owner, Jackie, a 30-year-old mother who was 34 weeks pregnant when she discovered a breast malignancy. Mickey continued to lose weight while on thyroid medication. He had a large “energy bloom” over his thyroid area, which I treated with reiki while holding a lapis crystal over his thyroid. I ended up treating them both. Not only did Mickey gain weight, but he thoroughly enjoyed the therapy, often insisting on his treatment before Jackie’s. She had to put Mickey in the basement and close the door in an attempt to get privacy for her own session. The constant knocking on the basement door would cause us to stop, invite Mickey back in, and rub his head and neck. He then allowed us to continue.
People often wonder how accepting my more traditionally-trained colleagues are of my use of energetic techniques. It surprises even me sometimes how accepting they have become. Most of my referrals come from colleagues I work with, the rest from patients I have treated. These techniques are not new, some having been around for thousands of years. I still use traditional techniques — pain medications, antibiotics for infections, etc. But as I examine a patient for hip fracture, and lightly feel their hip, they might notice my hands “feel warm” and their hip “hurts less,” before the nurse can pick up my written instructions for the Dilaudid or Demerol painkillers I will surely order. A gentle hand placed on the head of a child before a painful procedure will almost assuredly reduce anxiety and calm them. And a light touch to help a cancer patient grow their hair back, stop their nausea, improve their blood counts and improve their well-being is strong medicine. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want some of these methods used? These are extremely easy techniques that are easily learned by anyone.
When people ask “why energetic medicine?” I reply “why not?” When learned in a competent setting, energy medicine is remarkably free of adverse effects. It interfaces wonderfully with traditional medicine. It requires no expensive technology, just a loving heart and a desire to help. These energies are subtle, but like ripples in a pond, their effects may be far-reaching, bringing us closer to our natural state of perfection.