09/09/2010 17:16 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Does Touch Have The Power To Heal?

MorgueFile, grietgriet

When Australian Kate Ogg gave birth to twins, it wasn't the moment of joy she'd been hoping for. One of the twins, Emily, was healthy. But the other, Jamie, wasn't breathing.

Staff at the Sydney hospital tried in vain to save Jamie, but 20 minutes later Kate was told her baby had died. Utterly distraught, Kate instinctively took off her hospital gown and held Jamie next to her skin.

Talking on Australian TV, Kate described how Jamie was limp at first. But after two hours of being held next to his mum's bare skin he started gasping for air, and Kate felt him move. Soon after that, he opened his eyes.

Was Jamie a miracle baby? Kate and her husband David think so. Even the doctors couldn't believe what they were seeing, though experts reckon it was the warmth of Kate's body that had helped revive Jamie. Others, however, might say it's just one more example of how hugs can heal.

The evidence for touch
Many scientists have looked at touch and how it may be good for you. Researchers from the University of North Carolina, for instance, found regular hugs reduce blood pressure, especially in women. Australian researchers also believe touch helps people recover from heart attacks.

Miami School of Medicine experts claim touch may help reduce pain and boost your immune system, as well as help premature babies develop more quickly. And there are many more examples.

Touch therapies
Want to try it yourself? You probably already do. For instance, who hasn't banged their head then reached up to rub it better? For a more intense experience, try one of the following touch therapies...

There are numerous types, the best known type being Swedish massage. Often used to relieve muscular tension, massage also helps boost your circulation and is thought to help relieve stress, insomnia and digestive problems. It can also help you relax, thanks to its soothing stroking action.

Reflexology: Based on the idea that there are pressure points on the feet that correspond with each part of the body, reflexology is a relaxing foot massage that provides relief from many conditions, including headaches, migraine, depression, muscular and pregnancy-related problems.

Shiatsu: Originating from China and Japan, Shiatsu is a stimulating form of massage that's based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Concentrating on energy pathways (meridians) and acupressure points, it's thought to help treat many physical and emotional problems.

Reiki: Like Shiatsu, Reiki works on the body's energy systems. Unlike Shiatsu, it is not a type of massage, as Reiki practitioners work with a series of static hand positions around the body to unblock congested areas and help bring the body back to its natural balance.

Craniosacral therapy: A subtle yet powerful type of head and neck massage that works with the cranial bones (there are 22 bones in the skull and face), craniosacral therapy is thought to be particularly helpful for problems such as speech problems, ear problems, head injuries and learning difficulties.

Or alternatively, just try holding someone's hand.