Research on “REIKI” the touch therapy

Research conducted in the world by various scientist

There were 13 peer-reviewed studies published between 1998 and 2016 that met all of the

selection criteria. There were 4 randomized single-blind studies and 7 randomized double-blind studies with human participants, and 2 studies using

rats. The studies included both pilot studies and clinical trials, looking at both short-term and long-term application of Reiki.

To assist in the interpretation of these data, the selected studies can be grouped into 4 categories:

Physiological responses to Reiki
Use of Reiki as a complementary therapy for a chronic condition
Use of Reiki as a treatment for a chronic condition
Use of Reiki as a complementary therapy for an acute condition
Physiological Responses to Reiki
Witte and Dundes10 conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study using university student volunteers to measure objectively the effect of

Reiki on physical and mental relaxation. Reiki was provided by a Reiki I practitioner over a period of 20 minutes, involving 4 hand positions on head,

neck, and upper torso of a seated participant. Four treatment arms were used, each with 25 participants: Reiki, sham Reiki placebo, a control group

relaxing and listening to a meditation tape, and a control group listening to calming music. It was found that Reiki was more effective than placebo,

music, or meditation for inducing physical relaxation, but there was no difference between groups for mental relaxation.

Baldwin and Schwartz8 investigated whether application of Reiki could reduce the deleterious effects of noise-induced stress in rats. Loud noise can

cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the mesentery of rats, so the extent of microvascular damage can provide a quantitative measure of the level

of stress experienced by the animals. The experiments involved 3 treatment arms: (1) noise + Reiki (n = 4), (2) noise + sham Reiki (n = 4), and (3)

noise-only control (n = 4). Reiki or sham Reiki were provided to the caged rats for 15 minutes per day over 21 days. The experiment was replicated 3

times, and then again using different Reiki practitioners. It was found that the extent of stress-associated microvascular damage for noise + Reiki

was significantly less than that for noise + sham Reiki or the noise-only control.

References
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of Reiki Treatments” to the Review of Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies) Monbulk, Victoria, Australia:

Australian Reiki Connection Inc; 2013.
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2005;11:248–253. [PubMed]
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7. Baldwin AL, Vitale A, Brownell E, Scicinski J, Kearns M, Rand W. The Touchstone Process: an ongoing critical evaluation of Reiki in the scientific

literature. Holist Nurs Pract. 2010;24:260–276. [PubMed]
8. Baldwin AL, Schwartz GE. Personal interaction with a Reiki practitioner decreases noise-induced microvascular damage in an animal model. J Altern

Complement Med. 2006;12:15–22. [PubMed]
9. Baldwin AL, Wagers C, Schwartz GE. Reiki improves heart rate homeostasis in laboratory rats. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:417–422. [PubMed]
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rate variability, cortisol levels, and body temperature in health care professionals with burnout. Biol Res Nurs. 2011;13:376–382. [PubMed]
12. Salles LF, Vannucci L, Salles A, Silva MJPD. The effect of Reiki on blood hypertension. Acta Paulista de Enfermagem. 2014;27:479–484.
13. Dressen LJ, Singg S. Effects of Reiki on pain and selected affective and personality variables of chronically ill patients. Subtle Energies Energy

Med J Arch. 1998;9:51–82.
14. Catlin A, Taylor-Ford RL. Investigation of standard care versus sham Reiki placebo versus actual Reiki therapy to enhance comfort and well-being

in a chemotherapy infusion center. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011;38:E212–E220. [PubMed]
15. Erdogan Z, Cinar S. The effect of Reiki on depression in elderly people living in nursing home. Indian J Tradit Knowledge. 2016;15:35–40.
16. Alarcão Z, Fonseca JR. The effect of Reiki therapy on quality of life of patients with blood cancer: results from a randomized controlled trial.

Eur J Integr Med. 2016;8:239–249.
17. Gillespie EA, Gillespie BW, Stevens MJ. Painful diabetic neuropathy: impact of an alternative approach. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:999–1001. [PubMed]
18. Assefi N, Bogart A, Goldberg J, Buchwald D. Reiki for the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med.

2008;14:1115–1122. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
19. Bourque AL, Sullivan ME, Winter MR. Reiki as a pain management adjunct in screening colonoscopy. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2012;35:308–312. [PubMed]
20. Kundu A, Lin Y, Oron AP, Doorenbos AZ. Reiki therapy for postoperative oral pain in pediatric patients: pilot data from a double-blind, randomized

clinical trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014;20:21–25. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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22. Thayer JF, Lane RD. A model of neurovisceral integration in emotion regulation and dysregulation. J Affect Disord. 2000;61:201–216. [PubMed]
23. Tracey KJ. Physiology and immunology of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. J Clin Invest. 2007;117:289–296. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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healthy controls: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Physician. 2016;19:E55–E78. [PubMed]
25. Tracy LM, Ioannou L, Baker KS, Gibson SJ, Georgiou-Karistianis N, Giummarra MJ. Meta-analytic evidence for decreased heart rate variability in

chronic pain implicating parasympathetic nervous system dysregulation. Pain. 2016;157:7–29. [PubMed]
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2013;89:288–296. [PubMed]
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28. Kok BE, Fredrickson BL. Upward spirals of the heart: autonomic flexibility, as indexed by vagal tone, reciprocally and prospectively predicts

positive emotions and social connectedness. Biol Psychol. 2010;85:432–436. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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experimental study. Brain Stimul. 2013;6:202–209. [PubMed]
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2008;38:651–661. [PubMed]
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patients with refractory epilepsy. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2012;114:336–340. [PubMed]
32. Sasikala G. Effect of Reiki therapy on biophysiological and psychological status of patients after major surgical procedures: a pilot report.

Indian J Health Wellbeing. 2013;4:1011–1017.
33. Notte BB, Fazzini C, Mooney RA. Reiki’s effect on patients with total knee arthroplasty: a pilot study. Nursing. 2016;46:17–23. [PubMed]
34. Midilli TS, Eser I. Effects of Reiki on post-cesarean delivery pain, anxiety, and hemodynamic parameters: a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Pain Manage Nurs. 2015;16:388–399. [PubMed]
35. Midilli TS, Gunduzoglu NC. Effects of Reiki on pain and vital signs when applied to the incision area of the body after cesarean section surgery:

a single-blinded, randomized, double-controlled study. Holist Nurs Pract. 2016;30:368–378. [PubMed]

Baldwin et al9 extended their earlier study to investigate whether Reiki can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure of noise-stressed rats. The rats

were fitted with implantable telemetric transmitters to provide accurate physiological data. The same procedure was used as before, with 3 rats in

each treatment arm and Reiki or sham Reiki provided for 15 minutes per day over 5 days. It was found that Reiki, but not sham Reiki, significantly

reduced both the average resting heart rate and the rise in heart rate produced by exposure of rats to loud noise. However, neither Reiki nor sham

Reiki significantly affected mean arterial pressure.

Díaz-Rodríguez et al11 employed a randomized, single-blind, placebo controlled, crossover design pilot study to investigate the physiological effects

of Reiki in health care professionals with burnout syndrome. The study involved 21 participants receiving either Reiki or sham Reiki placebo, with

heart rate variability, body temperature, salivary flow rate, and salivary cortisol levels measured both pre- and posttreatment. Reiki was provided by

a practitioner with 15 years of experience, involving a 30-minute session covering the head, eyes, ears, and chest. It was found that a single session

of Reiki increased heart rate variability and body temperature but not salivary cortisol levels, indicating that Reiki shifts the autonomic balance

toward parasympathetic dominance.

Salles et al12 investigated the effect of Reiki on abnormal blood pressure using a randomized, cross-sectional, descriptive, and double-blind clinical

trial. Hypertensive patients were randomized to 1 of 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 22), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 22), or (3) rest control (n =

22). Reiki was provided as a single 20-minute session (no details provided). It was observed that blood pressure decreased in each of the 3 groups,

with statistically significant differences between each group. The Reiki group had the greatest reduction in blood pressure, followed by the placebo

and the control group.

All 5 of these studies provide evidence that Reiki is better than placebo for inducing a physically relaxed state. This appears to be an objective

fact, given that it has been replicated in both humans10 and rats.8 Physiological measurements indicate that Reiki is more effective than placebo in

reducing resting heart rate,9 increasing heart rate variability,11 and reducing blood pressure.12 These results indicate that Reiki is more effective

than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Reiki as a Complementary Therapy for Chronic Conditions
Dressen and Singg13 investigated the potential benefits of Reiki for patients with a variety of chronic illnesses. This randomized, single-blind,

placebo controlled pilot study involved 4 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 30), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 30), (3) progressive muscle relaxation (n =

30), and (4) rest control (n = 30). Reiki was provided by 4 Reiki masters as 30-minute sessions covering the full body of a recumbent participant,

given 2 times per week for 5 weeks. It was found that Reiki was more effective than the other treatments for reducing pain, depression, and state

anxiety in chronically ill patients. Reiki was also found to cause desirable changes in personality, including reduced trait anxiety, enhancement of

self-esteem, a shift toward internal locus of control, and toward a realistic sense of personal control.

Catlin and Taylor-Ford14 investigated whether provision of Reiki therapy during outpatient chemotherapy is associated with increased comfort and

well-being. This was a double-blind, randomized clinical controlled trial with 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 63), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 63),

and (3) standard care (n = 63). A Reiki master nurse provided a single Reiki session of 20 minutes duration (no details provided). It was found that

participants in both the Reiki and sham Reiki placebo groups showed improvement in pre- and postcomfort and well-being outcomes, while those in the

standard care groups showed no differences in well-being or comfort. The researchers concluded that Reiki was no better than sham Reiki and that the

attentive presence of a designated nurse at the bedside was more important for patient well-being and comfort than the delivery of Reiki.

Erdogan and Cinar15 evaluated the effect of Reiki on depression in elderly persons living in nursing homes using a randomized, single-blinded pilot

study with 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 30), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 30), and (3) control (n = 30). Reiki was applied to the experimental

group by a Reiki master for 8 weeks, once a week for 45 to 60 minutes. Sham Reiki was applied by 4 nurses who did not have Reiki training but thought

that they were practicing Reiki. The control group had no intervention. The researchers observed a statistically significant decrease in depression

levels for the Reiki group on the 4th, 8th, and 12th weeks. No significant decrease in depression scores were found for the sham Reiki or control

groups. There was no significant difference in the depression scores between the sham reiki and control groups. This study indicated that Reiki might

be effective for reducing depression in elderly persons living in nursing homes.

Alarcão and Fonseca16 employed a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study with a cross-sectional design to investigate the effects of

Reiki on the quality of life of blood cancer patients. The study involved 2 treatment groups: (1) Reiki (n = 58) and (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 42).

Reiki (by Reiki masters) or sham Reiki treatment was provided in 60-minute sessions, twice a week for 4 weeks. Patient responses were assessed using

the WHOQoL-Bref, an abbreviated generic Quality of Life Scale. It was found that the Reiki group showed significantly more improvements in the

general, physical, environmental, and social dimensions of the WHOQoL-Bref. They generally felt better about themselves, their physical condition, and

their relationships with their environment and other people.

Each of these studies investigated a particular aspect of how Reiki may be employed as a complementary therapy in the management of chronic

conditions. In 3 of these 4 studies, Reiki was applied repeatedly over an extended period, with 1 or 2 sessions per week over a period of up to 8

weeks. In these 3 studies, Reiki was found to be more effective than placebo, resulting in reduced anxiety13 and depression,15 and improved self-

esteem13 and quality of life.16

Only one of the studies did not find a significant difference between Reiki and placebo.14 Interestingly, this was the only study that utilized Reiki

as a one-off, short-duration intervention, to improve patient comfort and well-being during chemotherapy. Interpretation of this study outcome is

difficult because the trial did not include a “usual treatment” control, which would have provided insight into the sensitivity of the instruments

used to measure “comfort” and “well-being.”

Reiki as an Adjunctive Treatment for Chronic Conditions
Gillespie et al17 investigated the efficacy of Reiki for alleviating pain and for improving mobility and quality of life in patients with type 2

diabetes and painful diabetic neuropathy. This was a randomized, semidouble-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week clinical trial involving 3 treatment

arms: (1) Reiki (n = 93), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 88), and (3) usual care control (n = 26). Reiki was provided by 2 experienced practitioners who

provided 2 sessions in the first week, followed by weekly sessions over 12 weeks. Patients were recumbent during each 25-minute session. The

researchers found that global pain scores and walking distance improved in both the Reiki and placebo groups. However, there were no significant

differences between groups at the final visit. The researchers noted that the pain scores were relatively low in all groups, with high variability,

which reduced the power to detect a statistically significant difference between treatments.

Assefi et al18 conducted a clinical trial to determine whether Reiki can be beneficial as an adjunctive treatment for fibromyalgia. The trial was

factorial designed, randomized, double-blinded, and sham-controlled, with 2 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 25) and (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 25).

Reiki was provided by 3 experienced Reiki masters using two 30-minute sessions weekly for 8 weeks to recumbent participants. The trial results showed

that neither of the treatments improved the pain, fatigue, well-being, or physical and mental functioning of patients with fibromyalgia. These

researchers concluded that adults with fibromyalgia are unlikely to benefit from Reiki.

Both of these studies evaluated the potential of Reiki to relieve the pain of painful diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia, which are difficult

conditions to manage with allopathic medicine. In the trial by Gillespie et al,17 both Reiki and placebo showed some promise for relieving the pain of

painful diabetic neuropathy, but the experiment did not have sufficient statistical power to detect a significant difference between treatments. In

the trial by Assefi et al,18 neither Reiki nor placebo was able to relieve the pain of fibromyalgia or the resulting fatigue and reduced well-being,

indicating that Reiki is not a potential cure for this recalcitrant and difficult condition.

Reiki as a Complementary Therapy in Acute Settings
Bourque et al19 undertook a randomized, double-blinded pilot study to determine whether the use of Reiki decreases the amount of analgesics

administered to patients undergoing screening colonoscopy. The trial included 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 25), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 5),

and (3) retrospective chart review of prior patients as the control (n = 30). A Reiki master provided a 10-minute Reiki treatment simultaneously with

intravenous administration of midazolam (a sedative), prior to the colonoscopic procedure. During colonoscopy, meperidine (an analgesic) was

administered to the conscious patient, depending on the level of pain experienced. The trial results indicated no statistically significant difference

in meperidine administration between the patients in the control and Reiki groups. The researchers noted that the study would have been enhanced by

having a pain scale to determine the amount of meperidine to be administered to the patients. It was observed that patients displayed a calmer

demeanor after screening colonoscopy with Reiki.

Kundu et al20 investigated the potential benefits of Reiki as an adjuvant to opioid therapy for postoperative oral pain control in pediatric patients.

In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial, children aged 9 months to 4 years who were scheduled for elective dental work or for palatoplasty

surgery were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: (1) preoperative Reiki (n = 20) or (2) preoperative sham Reiki control (n = 18). Reiki was provided

by a Reiki master for 20 to 30 minutes (details not provided). It was reported that there was no evidence of benefit from a single session of

preoperative Reiki in terms of reducing pain intensity, analgesic requirements, incidence of side effects, or perioperative family satisfaction.

In both of these trials, Reiki was not found to be more effective than placebo for reducing acute pain during medical procedures. In both cases,

however, it is unclear whether the design of the experiments provided sufficient statistical power to reach a firm conclusion. Bourque et al19 stated

that the experiment could have been improved by using a pain scale to help calibrate the amount of analgesic administered. Kundu et al20 used the

Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) pain scale, which is appropriate for determining the dosage of postsurgery analgesic for young

children, but its statistical resolving power is not well defined.

Go to:
Discussion
This review identified 13 placebo-controlled studies of Reiki that included at least 20 participants in the Reiki treatment arm, of which 8 found that

Reiki was more effective than placebo.8–13,15,16 There were 4 studies that found no difference between Reiki and placebo, but this could be attributed

to a lack of statistical resolving power of the experiments.14,17,19,20 In one study in which Reiki was not better than placebo, involving patients

with fibromyalgia,18 neither Reiki nor the placebo had any beneficial effect.

Viewed collectively, these studies provide reasonably strong support for Reiki being more effective than placebo. Two of the studies were conducted

with rats and produced clear, objective evidence of a benefit of Reiki over placebo. This suggests that there is some merit to the claim that Reiki

“attunement” imparts an extra healing capacity to the recipient. Although there is currently no scientific explanation for this, the clinical trial

evidence is compelling. Further research is warranted to better understand this phenomenon.

Reiki has been shown to be better than placebo for inducing a state of relaxation.8,10 Physiologically, this means that Reiki is effective in

activating the parasympathetic nervous system, quantitatively measured as reduced heart rate,8 reduced blood pressure,12 and increased heart rate

variability.11 The parasympathetic nervous system is one branch of the autonomic nervous system, the other branch being the sympathetic nervous

system. In a healthy individual, the activity of the 2 branches can be rapidly modulated in response to changing environmental demands, but overall

are maintained in a state of dynamic balance, or homeostasis. This regulatory process is primarily mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system via

the vagus nerve.21

It is known that the vagus nerve plays a vital role in mediating the mutual interactions between the brain and the body. According to the

neurovisceral integration model,22 the vagus nerve plays a key role in processes that regulate the health of the body, including inflammatory

responses, glucose regulation, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function. In each of these processes, the regulatory role of the vagus nerve is

thought to be associated with its function as part of the “inflammatory reflex.”23

According to the polyvagal theory,21 the autonomic nervous system is the neurophysiological substrate for emotional expression and contingent social

behavior. The perception of pain, like other emotions, is an affective state that is governed by the autonomic nervous system. Chronic pain is

associated with dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system and reduced heart rate variability. Increased heart rate variability indicates a greater

capacity of the autonomic nervous system for affect regulation and reduced pain sensitivity.24,25

A compromised autonomic nervous system, as characterized by reduced heart rate variability, is associated with cognitive and affective dysregulation,

and psychological inflexibility, which are major psychological risk factors for psychopathologies such as chronic anxiety and depression.26

Conversely, increased heart rate variability is associated with better regulation of emotional responses, better coping strategies, more positive

emotions, and increased social connectedness, supporting an “upward spiral” in social and psychological well-being.27,28

Thus, the vagus nerve plays a vital role in mediating both physical and mental health. Artificial stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system

via the vagus nerve has been shown to reduce the perception of pain,29 reduce depression,30 and improve mood and quality of life.31

For patients with chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for reducing pain and anxiety,13 depression,15 and

for improving self-esteem13 and quality of life.16 It seems likely that these effects are the result of Reiki’s ability to activate the

parasympathetic nervous system and increase heart rate variability, which can be understood in terms of the neurovisceral integration model22 and the

polyvagal theory.21

As a safe and gentle way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system via deep relaxation, Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a

broad range of chronic health conditions. Research to date does not suggest that Reiki can cure any health condition, so it is not appropriate to

regard Reiki as an alternative to allopathic medicine. Instead, Reiki should be regarded as a useful complement to conventional practices, especially

for chronic illnesses where the use of drugs offers little benefit.

Previous research has provided evidence to suggest that Reiki may be a useful complementary therapy in acute settings. For example, the effectiveness

of Reiki as an aid to recovery after major surgical procedures has been tested in an Indian hospital. Reiki was provided for 7 days after surgical

procedures such as laparotomy, gastrectomy, hysterectomy, cholecystectomy, mastectomy, and general abdominal surgeries. Reiki was found to improve the

vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and pain), hence the prospects for better recovery and to reduce anxiety and

depression.32 Also, Reiki has been found to significantly reduce pain and the need for analgesics following total knee arthroscopy33 and delivery by

Caesarean section.34,35 Such results are potentially significant, because it has been shown that high preoperative anxiety and depression and its

persistence during the postoperative period leads to a higher morbidity and mortality rate. Reiki could potentially play a complementary role in acute

surgical procedures, to reduce the risk and cost of postoperative complications.32

However, in the 2 placebo-controlled trials considered in this review,19,20 Reiki was not found to be more effective than placebo for reducing acute

pain during medical procedures. A possible reason for this is that, in these 2 trials, Reiki was provided for a short period (10-30 minutes) prior to

the procedure. In contrast, in the trials that reported success, Reiki was provided for a number of days postprocedure, that is, for 2,34,35 3,33 or 7

consecutive days.32

No research has been conducted to evaluate the optimum duration of a Reiki session, or the optimum number of sessions that should be provided.

Typically, a Reiki practitioner would recommend the use of 3 sessions as a starting point, regarding more Reiki as being better than less. The optimum

amount is likely to be different for each condition, and possibly each person, so this could be a significant source of experimental variation that

has not yet been taken into account. Since Reiki has been shown to have a significant effect on measurable physiological variables such as heart rate

variability, it is recommended that research be undertaken to investigate whether the effect of Reiki on heart rate variability has only a transient

or lasting benefit, and whether multiple Reiki sessions over an extended period of time have a cumulative effect.

Go to:
Conclusion
Reiki is a safe, gentle, and profoundly relaxing healing modality that can be practiced by anyone who has received an “attunement” from a Reiki

master. This review has found reasonably strong evidence for Reiki being more effective than placebo, suggesting that Reiki attunement leads to a

quantifiable increase in healing ability.

Reiki is better than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and

increased heart rate variability. For patients with chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for reducing

pain, anxiety, and depression, and for improving self-esteem and quality of life. According to the neurovisceral integration model and the polyvagal

theory, these effects are due to higher parasympathetic nervous system activity, mediated via the vagus nerve.

This understanding suggests that Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a broad range of chronic health conditions. However, there is

no justification to regard Reiki as a cure for any health condition. Instead, Reiki should be regarded as a complementary therapy that can be

implemented alongside all other medical and therapeutic techniques.

Further research is recommended to help optimize the application of Reiki for specific health conditions and to examine the benefits arising from

provision of multiple Reiki sessions over an extended period of time.

SOURCE WEBSITE

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871310/