This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Prayer can improve physical health

Thanks to Max Clixby for the link.

Reposted from:,20867,21763278-1702,00.html

COMMUNICATING with God or other spirits can improve your physical health, Australian researchers suggest.
A new report has reviewed controversial scientific evidence that religious or spiritual prayer can boost a believer's emotional and physical wellbeing.

The review, published in the Medical Journal of Australia today, states that 74 per cent of Australians believe in a higher power, with many praying regularly as part of their worship.

"Some studies have shown a positive association between prayer and improved health outcomes," wrote lead author Marek Jantos, Director of the Behavioural Medicine Institute in Adelaide.

Mr Jantos, a clinical psychologist, said there were four ways prayer could have a positive effect on the body.

The first was through its "meditative" effects.

He said prayer was a Western form of transcendental meditation that worked in a similar way, slowing the breath and lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, thereby enhancing physiological wellbeing.

It also boosted positivity and improved mood, both of which had positive health-related spin-offs, Mr Jantos wrote.

Praying could also have a placebo effect on health. For instance, in a study of heart patients, those who were being prayed for by others made significantly better health improvements than those who were not prayed for.

But the most controversial benefit claimed by believers is through direct supernatural intervention from above.

Mr Jantos and co-author Professor Hosen Kiat, from the University of NSW, said the Bible offered several references to making a sick person well and Jesus himself was known for his personal practice of prayer and for his miraculous healings.

The researchers warned that while this area was often dismissed as being beyond the reach of science, it should not be underestimated.

"Irrespective of whether scientists seek to attribute the benefits of prayer to the relaxation response, placebo or positive emotions, the most common reason people turn to prayer is their belief in a divine being that transcends the natural universe and hears and responds to prayer," the pair wrote.

They quoted a chronically-ill elderly woman who believed God took her pain away every time she prayed.

Other researchers writing in the journal's special spirituality supplement call for more work to explore the link between religion and health and its relevance for Australian doctors and patients.



Analysis: Why it’s irrational to risk...

Peter Singer - The Scotsman Comments

Analysis: Why it’s irrational to risk women’s lives for the sake of the unborn

Jumping Genes a Cause of Cancer?

Ruth Williams - TheScientist Comments

Double helix showing coplanar alignment of standard base pairs.

A Mathematical Challenge to Obesity

CLAUDIA DREIFUS - New York Times 15 Comments

Carson C. Chow deploys mathematics to solve the everyday problems of real life. As an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, he tries to figure out why 1 in 3 Americans are obese.

Cocaine decreases activity of a protein...

- - MedicalXpress 27 Comments

Cocaine decreases activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system

Neurons Mirror the Diametric Mind

Christopher Badcock, Ph.D -... 3 Comments

Neurons Mirror the Diametric Mind

Schizophrenics amplify neuronal mirroring, autistics reduce it

How thinking about death can lead to a...

- - MedicalXpress 11 Comments

How thinking about death can lead to a good life
Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies. Even non-conscious thinking about death – say walking by a cemetery – could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.





Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment