It even worked for patients who were very sceptical about the healing, suggesting the improvements can't be due to the placebo effect, say researchers from the University of Birmingham.
It was tested over a two-year period on a group of 200 hospital patients with IBS or IBD, who either had five weekly healing sessions or were put on a waiting list.
Improvements were 'clinically significant', the researchers said, and were long-lasting, with most of the patients still reporting positive effects up to 19 weeks after the sessions, which is when the study finished.
Those on the waiting list said there had been no change in their symptoms.
Spiritual healer Sandy Edwards instigated the study, which was funded with a £205,000 grant from the National Lottery. She described the study as "the largest clinical trial of healing in the world."
(Source: European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017; 9: 110-19)