The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Reiki Therapy


What is it?

Reiki (pronounced Ray-Kee) is a form of “energy medicine” that uses touch. Practitioners say it will heal disease by correcting energy imbalances.

Reiki is considered to be a “touch therapy” because it involves placing the hands on or very near to a person’s body. By applying the hands on or near the body, the Reiki practitioner attempts to transmit or deliver energy. The Reiki practitioner uses 12-15 different hand positions and keeps them in place for 2-5 minutes. Some people use the terms “Healing Touch” and “Reiki therapy” interchangeably. Although these practices share many similarities, there are some difference in theory, principles, and training.

Reiki practitioners are largely unregulated in North America. In some states Reiki practitioners must also be licensed massage therapists. There is no consistent standard for training in Reiki therapy. However, most schools recognize three or four levels of expertise. Training for each level takes 1-2 days.

Reiki therapy is used for a variety of health purposes, but primarily for treating pain, stress, and fatigue; for speeding recovery from surgery or cancer therapy; for improving memory and feelings of well being; and for end-of-life care.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The Effectiveness ratings for Reiki Therapy are as follows:

Possibly Ineffective for…

  • Fibromyalgia. Some research shows that receiving Reiki therapy twice weekly for 8 weeks does not reduce pain or other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Early research shows that Reiki therapy can improve memory and decrease behavior problems in people with mild Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Anxiety. Early research shows that receiving Reiki therapy before a colonoscopy can reduce anxiety but does not decrease the use of sedative medicines.
  • Anxiety and pain from breast biopsy. Early research shows that adding Reiki therapy to usual therapy can decrease anxiety in women getting a breast biopsy.
  • Fatigue related to cancer or other conditions. Some research shows that Reiki therapy can reduce fatigue and improve quality of life in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Pain related to cancer or other conditions. There is some evidence that therapeutic touch, such as Reiki therapy, can produce short-term pain relief and improve quality of life in people with cancer.
  • Cancer-related quality of life. Most research shows that Reiki therapy improves anxiety, pain and well-being in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. However, Reiki therapy does not seem to work any better than sham Reiki therapy, relaxation therapy, or having a companion nearby. Reiki also does not seem to be beneficial to men with prostate cancer receiving radiation therapy.
  • Depression. Early research shows that hands-on Reiki or distance Reiki can improve depression and stress in people with self-reported depression.
  • Pain after hysterectomy. Early research shows that Reiki therapy, in addition to normal care, can reduce pain and anxiety in women after a hysterectomy.
  • Post-surgical pain. Early research shows that Reiki does not reduce pain during dental surgery in children.
  • Stress. Some college students report that Reiki therapy can reduce stress.
  • Stroke recovery. Early research shows that Reiki therapy, in addition to usual rehabilitation, does not improve recovery from stroke.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of Reiki for these uses.

Reiki (pronounced Ray-Kee) therapy originated from Buddhist monks. “Rei” means “universal spirit” and “ki” means “life energy.” Therefore, Reiki literally means “universal life energy.”

Reiki is referred to as an “energy medicine” therapy because practitioners believe that it can improve the flow and balance of energy. It is believed that energy imbalances or disturbances result in disease.

People undergoing Reiki therapy sometimes can experience tingling sensations, sleepiness, or relaxation. People with pain, nausea, or fatigue sometimes experience relief of these symptoms.

Currently, the beliefs and theories of Reiki therapy are not supported by scientific research.

Reiki therapy appears to be LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. However, it should not be considered appropriate as a substitute for usual medical treatments.

Reiki therapy has not been associated with any side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of Reiki therapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. But so far there’s no reason to believe that it might be harmful in women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines.

Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

The appropriate or safe use of reiki therapy depends on several factors such as the condition being treated or the person administering the treatment. Be sure to seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.

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