Toward the end of 2014, U.S News & World report published an article on their website entitled “What is Reiki?” As a proponent for energy medicine, I was happy to see the article show up in such prominent publication!
As one would expect, the practice of Reiki is presented with pros and cons and includes studies that show that it is not effective along with those whose results were more positive. Many of the critics of Reiki say that any positive effects should only be attributed to the Placebo Effect.
They say that like it is a BAD thing! As we shared in an earlier article on BrainSpeak by Lynette Louise, Why The Placebo Effect Can Be Our Greatest Healthy Ally, the placebo effect is not something to be discounted. Our society in general has veered away from the idea that our bodies can heal themselves if given a supportive environment to operate in.
The wonderful thing about Reiki and other similar modalities is that they can help provide the balance necessary to allow your body’s healing ability to kick in – or to help clear the way for more traditional treatments to work better. The U.S. News article begins with a story about a woman who had colon cancer and went to a treatment center that offered Reiki to patients to help them relax and prepare for surgery/chemotherapy. They believe that Reiki treatments can help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and provide the balance that allows the patients to make healthier choices.
If the reason it works is placebo – long live the placebo effect!
Studies are presented that showed mixed results, but they also say that many of the studies were not well designed. That seems to be the case with many studies that center around alternate therapies, perhaps because those that are passionate about them are not well trained in the protocols.
However, 2 studies are presented that seem to indicate that patients receiving Reiki can have positive, clinically significant results. One showed that receiving Reiki treatments within 3 days of a heart attack resulted in better HRV (heart rate variability) and a more positive mood. The other showed that regular treatments for 4 weeks on fatigued breast cancer survivors resulted in less fatigue and better cortisol variability, which is important for immune function regulation.
A warning is included about having no standards for training or practice, so one should use due diligence when finding a practitioner – however that holds true when finding any type of health care practitioner. Even those with documented education are not always effective! It is suggested that one could judge the practitioners best by their demeanor and experience, and not to substitute Reiki for conventional medicine.
On a personal note, I have had training in Reiki and other forms of Energy Medicine. While I am not “in practice” currently, I do use it regularly on family and friends. Most recently I have been using it on our dog Sierra, a beautiful husky that was diagnosed with cancer and given a few weeks to live – over a year ago. She is still with us and pulling like the sled dog that she is! I cannot say for sure that she is here because of her daily Reiki treatments but it sure hasn’t hurt, and we are grateful for her continued presence in our lives.
A summary of potential benefits from Reiki treatments:
- Creates deep relaxation, which allows stress and tension to be released from your body
- Helps prepare for and compliments various medical treatments
- Supports the immune system, probably by promoting cortisol variability
- Promotes better sleep
- Aids the body’s ability to self-heal
- Helps to achieve harmony and inner peace
- Can help emotional distress and provide relief during the grieving process