Did your mother ever lay her hands on you when you were sick? Maybe on your head, when you had a fever?

Many people believe that just as you have a physical body and a mental body, you have an energetic body, and that energy either contributes to or detracts from your state of health. Further, that the laying on of hands has a healing effect and that there are practitioners who specialize in the manipulation of energy for health purposes.

While NCCAM notes that the existence of biofields has not been scientifically proven, we encourage you to be open to the idea that energy medicine can influence your state of mind and your state of health. And we’re going to provide you with some evidence to help convince you, and some side effects that may delight you.

First, what is energy medicine and does it work for headaches?

What is energy medicine?

With energy medicine, the practitioner utilizes various techniques to help influence the energy of your body. Types of energy medicine may include:

The National Institute of Health recognizes Reiki and QiGong, and breaks energy therapies into two distinct fields of practice where the manipulation of energetic fields is used to promote health. The first is biofield therapies and the second it bioelectromagnetic-based therapies. The first includes therapies such as Healing Touch, QiGong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch. The second includes the use of ‘pulsed, magnetic and alternating-current or direct-current fields.’

Does it Work? 

In 2002, “more than 50 major hospitals and clinics throughout the United States offer EH [energy healing] to patients,” according to this study. By 2008, USA Today reported that 15% of hospitals were providing Reiki. And in 2014, the Washington Post reported that it is estimated that “more than 30,000 nurses in U.S. hospitals use touch practices every year.”

That’s encouraging news for believers in energy medicine, and it’s a testament to the healing power of touch.

Yes, energy medicine can work for headaches, and it also has some surprising and helpful side effects. It is important to note that the type of energy medicine you utilize, along with the skill of the practitioner does seem to affect the outcome and effectiveness of the treatments.

In this study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12 out of 13 participants experiencing chronic headache experienced improvement in frequency, intensity, or duration of pain after three treatments of Healing Touch provided by a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner. 

In addition, “11 of the 13 participants experienced profound shifts in their view of themselves, their lives, and their potential for healing and transformation. These changes lasted from 24 hours to more than 6 months at follow-up.” 

We hope that last part is encouraging! Just imagine, not only does your headache receive beneficial help from energy medicine, but your outlook and hope improve too!

In this study on qi therapy and this one on qi therapy for chronic pain, patients who received qi therapy had less pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

How Many Sessions?

In studies, even three treatments of energy therapy provided improvements in the frequency of chronic headaches and the intensity and duration of pain. The number of treatments needed may depend on how long you’ve been suffering with headaches, as well as your willingness to engage with other lifestyle changes that may be needed to address the root causes of your symptoms.


The cost of energy medicine varies by your geographic location and by practitioner. Typically, practitioners may charge between $35 to $150 for a one-hour private session. 

Other aspects affecting the cost of your session include 

Insurance does not typically reimburse the fees associated with energy medicine. However, some practitioners may offer a discount for purchasing a package of multiple treatments to help lower the cost.

Frequently asked questions

Does energy medicine work for headaches?

Yes, studies have demonstrated that energy medicine can be effective in reducing the pain associated with headaches, as well as how frequently you get headaches, and the duration of the headache when you do get one.

Does Medicare cover energy medicine?

No, Medicare doesn’t cover energy medicine for headaches.

How often should I get energy medicine for headaches?

It is advisable to discuss the frequency of your energy medicine treatments for headache with a professional in your area. Studies have shown improvements with as few as three treatments.

Other Alternatives 

There are many complementary and alternative therapies that may help with headaches, including:

Getting Started

Before getting started with energy medicine for headaches, be sure to talk with your physician or medical professional about getting a proper medical diagnosis and what treatment recommendations are appropriate for your condition. 

Work with an alternative medicine practitioner or energy worker in your area to determine which type of energy medicine you will utilize and how many treatments you may need.


Brianna Sacks. (2014, May 16). Reiki goes mainstream: Spiritual touch practice now commonplace in hospitals. Washington Post. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/reiki-goes-mainstream-spiritual-touch-practice-now-commonplace-in-hospitals/2014/05/16/9e92223a-dd37-11e3-a837-8835df6c12c4_story.html 

DiNucci E. M. (2005). Energy healing: a complementary treatment for orthopaedic and other conditions. Orthopedic nursing, 24(4), 259–269. https://doi.org/10.1097/00006416-200507000-00006

Gill, Lisa. (2008). More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit. USA Today.  Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-14-alternative-therapies_N.htm 

Guarneri, E., & King, R. P. (2015). Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Biofield Practitioners in Global Health and Medicine: A White Paper. Global advances in health and medicine, 4(Suppl), 89–96. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.7453/gahmj.2015.024.suppl 

Koithan M. (2009). Introducing Complementary and Alternative Therapies. The journal for nurse practitioners : JNP, 5(1), 18–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2008.10.012 

Lee, M. S., Yang, K. H., Huh, H. J., Kim, H. W., Ryu, H., Lee, H. S., & Chung, H. T. (2001). Qi therapy as an intervention to reduce chronic pain and to enhance mood in elderly subjects: a pilot study. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 29(2), 237–245. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0192415X01000277 

Sutherland, E. G., Ritenbaugh, C., Kiley, S. J., Vuckovic, N., & Elder, C. (2009). An HMO-based prospective pilot study of energy medicine for chronic headaches: whole-person outcomes point to the need for new instrumentation. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 15(8), 819–826. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0592 

Yang, K. H., Kim, Y. H., & Lee, M. S. (2005). Efficacy of Qi-therapy (external Qigong) for elderly people with chronic pain. The International journal of neuroscience, 115(7), 949–963. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590901378