Reiki healing

5 mins read

Benefits, origin, efficacy, and methodology

The National Institutes of Health has defined Reiki as “one of several bio-field therapies intended to affect purported energy fields that surround and penetrate the human body.” Dan Benor, a general physician, had studied more than 100 controlled scientific studies published in important scientific journals which show that spiritually oriented energetic healing indeed had biological effects on cancer cells in laboratory cultures, DNA telomerase activity, increase in hemoglobin counts and enzymes. According to Dr. Benor, energy healing can be broadly defined as “a systematic, purposeful intervention by one or more persons aiming to help another living being by means of focused intention.”

What is Reiki healing? Where did it originate?
Reiki is a Japanese art of energy healing using hands in which a certified practitioner places his or her palms on various parts of the body of an individual, including the head, throat, chest, knees, feet, and abdomen, in order to redistribute moribund energy. It is a narrative therapy that prefers energetic, analog conversation to verbal dialog. In the post-session discussions, the stories that appeared through the nonverbal interaction between the giver of healing and the receiver of healing can be shared verbally.

With respect to the origin, Reiki was discovered by a Buddhist monk named Usui. After the practice was well-established in Japan, it was brought to Hawaii by a Japanese-Hawaiian woman called Hawayo Takata in the 1930s. She brought the healing practice to California in 1970.

How is Reiki beneficial?
Here are some of the significant benefits of Reiki healing:

  • Decreases burnout
  • Reduces health problems related to stress
  • Helps nurture oneself
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces anxiety, depression and pain in patients
  • Increases the ease and well-being of patients after chemotherapy

Studies/research on its efficacy

  • Not many studies have been conducted and published on the use of Reiki and patient-centered outcomes.
  • One completed investigation is available on the potential benefits of Reiki for the practitioner.
  • Reiki therapy has been performed on people suffering from anxiety, sedation, fatigue, stress, or those who are unconscious during or after a painful medical procedure.
  • Catlin and Taylor found that Reiki therapy improved the comfort and well-being of patients after chemotherapy in a statistically significant manner.
  • Birocco et al (2012) found that Reiki sessions helped better sleep quality, relaxation, well-being, pain relief and reduced anxiety in patients after breast biopsy.
  • Tsang et al (2007) observed that Reiki helped significantly improve the quality of life of cancer patients in comparison to the rest.
  • It had been found that women who received Reiki after hysterectomy felt less pain and asked for fewer analgesics.
  • A study had also found that distant Reiki is as effective as traditional Reiki in the management of depression and anxiety.

How is the therapy done?
Reiki is an energy approach and is similar to Qigong or therapeutic touch. The word “Reiki” consists of two words – Rei meaning the supreme being and ki meaning universal life energy. Reiki practitioners believe that everything in the universe is made of energy, including the human body. Any disruption in that energy is a prime cause of disease and suffering. The Reiki therapist can access universal energy and strengthen the body’s ability to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and stress. The therapist sends this energy to the receiver with or without light touch.

How can you get started with Reiki?
Reiki practitioners direct energy into the patient by maintaining a meditative stance and placing their hands lightly on the patient. Reiki can be practiced both proximally and distantly, with either the patient sitting next to the practitioner or with the patient and the practitioner being in different locations. Both manners of Reiki are based on the belief that there is a universal source of energy that heals, which can be directed toward the patient through the practitioner.

In a distant Reiki treatment, the practitioner thinks of their patients from a distance. It is similar to a distant prayer. First, they undertake a specific protocol which allows them to channelize the universal energy towards the patient they are attempting to heal. Then, the practitioner mentally asks the patient whether they consent to the treatment. If they do not hear a response or they hear a “yes” in their head, they place their hands on a substitute such as a pillow for the patient and practice the same procedure as they would have done for traditional Reiki. If they hear ‘no’, the Reiki session ends immediately.

Contraindications to Reiki healing
So far, Reiki has not been provided any license to practice. Though the therapy appears to be usually safe. Serious side effects have not been reported so far.


1. Morse ML, Beem LW. Benefits of Reiki therapy for a severely neutropenic patient with associated influences on a true random number generator. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec;17(12):1181-90. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0238. Epub 2011 Dec 1. PubMed PMID: 22132706; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3239316.

2. Vandervaart S, Berger H, Tam C, Goh YI, Gijsen VM, de Wildt SN, Taddio A, Koren G. The effect of distant reiki on pain in women after elective Caesarean section: a double-blinded randomized controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2011 Feb 26;1(1):e000021. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000021. PubMed PMID: 22021729; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3191394.

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