It's a heart-warming story for a grim time of year. After being plagued by a mystery virus for the past two years, Irish dancing supremo Michael Flatley is now back on stage. Not because of a good dose of vitamin C, yoga or osteopathy, but, intriguingly, thanks to a "bio-energy healer" called Michael O'Doherty.
Bio-energy healing sounds a lot more up to date than hands-on healing or faith-healing, which is what this sort of thing used to be called, except that now, you don't have to be part of any particular belief system in order to benefit.
If you ask a healer what they're actually doing, they'll say they're "channelling energy" in order to "realign" or "clear" the chakras (the body's multiple, invisible energy centres, according to ancient Hindu texts) and coax the body back to working at its full potential. Ask where this energy comes from and you'll be told anything from "a higher power" to "the universal source" or "pure white light", which doesn't really help.
But then the real issue with energy healers is not so much what they do, or how, but whether it has any effect. Because their work is inexact and unscientific, most traditional medical doctors take a dim view of it.
"It does seem that some healers have extraordinary powers," says Dr Guy Staight, a GP practising in London. ''But the problem is that in the world of evidence-based medicine, there isn't much evidence that energy healing works, aside from anecdotes. Healing tends to get used in conditions where there might be a natural resolution, so it is hard to know whether it is the treatment that has done the trick. And it can cost a lot of money."
One of the most intriguing aspects of energy healing is that anyone can learn to do it. According to the experts, it's like singing. Everyone can do it, but only a few people are really brilliant at it.