Energy Therapies: Introduction - CancerChoices

Energy Therapies: Introduction

Both biofield energy therapies using touch, stimulation, or non-touch energy and therapies using electromagnetics can help you manage symptoms and side effects.

What are energy therapies?

Energy therapies include two different types of therapies:

  • Biofield energy therapies or subtle energy therapies using touch, stimulation, or non-touch energy from a therapist
  • Therapies based on bioelectromagnetics, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating or direct current fields

What are the benefits of using these therapies?

Biofield energy therapies aim to restore and revitalize the flow of energy in your body. These therapies are based on the premise that energy fields surrounding and penetrating your body can be manipulated to relieve symptoms, restore health, or reduce the risk of disease. The mechanism of action is not yet scientifically understood.

Therapeutic electromagnetic fields and direct currents provide benefits for some side effects and symptoms common with cancer, including pain, anxiety, depression, and dry mouth. 

Both types of therapies have been recommended in clinical practice guidelines for managing cancer symptoms and side effects and may improve your quality of life. Energy therapies are most likely beneficial across a wide range of cancers, but evidence to date does not support using energy therapies as stand-alone treatments for cancer.

Insurance plans may cover some but probably not all energy therapies.

Are they safe?

While most energy therapies involve little risk, we encourage you to seek competent, trained practitioners. Licensing options and requirements vary by therapy.

In healing touch and Therapeutic Touch®, hands are placed near, but not on, the recipient. This may be especially appealing if you prefer or need to avoid physical touch. Tai chi and qigong may be practiced on your own (instructional videos are readily available), but instruction from a competent practitioner is helpful, especially if you are new to these practices. External qigong is an energy therapy performed on a patient by a trained practitioner rather than a movement and mindfulness therapy that a patient performs on their own.

Review the safety information in our reviews and consult your healthcare team before using a therapy if you have any concerns.

Energy therapies we have reviewed


Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: February 27, 2023

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.