By Timothy J.
Pain is something that people with
chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction
syndrome (CFIDS) and fibromyalgia (FM) often think they have to live with.
to treating CFIDS or FM pain usually focus on balanced nutrition, supplementation, and an individualized
program of mild physical activity. Bodywork is also encouraged as a holistic intervention.
even the moderate levels of pressure used in some types of traditional bodywork, such as massage or shiatsu,
can be agonizingly painful to many people with CFIDS or FM. For these individuals, therapeutic touch may
be a good option.
touch (TT) employs
mostly light physical contact just above a patient’s skin. Thus, a person with CFIDS or FM is less likely
to suffer muscle, joint, or neurological pain and more likely to experience pain reduction, relaxation,
and energy mobilization following a session of TT. TT seeks to restore balance within the body and
stimulate the patient's own healing response.
A treatment takes about 20 minutes and can be done
without any special equipment or requirement that a patient be in a particular position. It can even be
done in bed or in a wheelchair.
Janet Ziegler, a 20-year TT practitioner who has treated people
with CFIDS, says, “Therapeutic touch is excellent for symptom management as well as for healing at deeper
A firm foundation
Therapeutic touch is not a New Age or fringe therapy, but
a well established and scientifically backed health intervention developed in the nursing profession and
taught for more than two decades in many nursing education programs. In fact, most TT practitioners are
nurses, though anyone can become certified.
Studies show that TT treatments can boost a person’s
immune response, relieve pain, hasten the healing of infectious diseases, and reduce the healing time
for wound and bone fractures. It has been used successfully for years in the treatment of chronic ailments
in hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices.
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s)
Office of Alternative Medicine found that TT has one of the strongest research bases of any of the alternative/complementary
therapies, with more than two dozen doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, and postdoctoral studies,
several of which were funded by NIH.
Despite the benefits of TT, it is underutilized in treating
CFIDS and FM patients. Consequently, patients in need of a gentle, effective hands-on treatment that might
be of substantial benefit is never considered.
Gain without pain
touch is a noninvasive, relatively
inexpensive, and effective intervention that can be a valuable part of a holistic recovery program.
Minor, a holistic nurse and therapeutic touch instructor says, “I’ve used therapeutic touch to treat patients
with CFIDS and the results have always been the same—deep relaxation, peace, and hope for healing.”
Timothy J. Fleming, D. Min. (Psy),
NCTMB, a Franciscan Friar
and a PWC, has been a practitioner and teacher of therapeutic touch since 1983. He has studied with Janet
MacRae, PhD, RN and Dora Kunz, two leaders in the field of TT. He can be reached in Tucson, Ariz. at 520-321-9549.