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Research Findings on Reiki

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Research shows a mixed response to Reiki therapy. While, some studies show a benefit, others have demonstrated that it is ineffective and time-consuming. Below is a brief review of some of the research studies.

Reiki is a practice that is requested with increasing frequency, is easy to learn, does not require expensive equipment, and in preliminary research, elicits a relaxation response and helps patients to feel more peaceful and experience less pain in patients with conditions like cancer.1 A study by Tsang et al. has shown significant decreases in tiredness, pain and anxiety in cancer patients.2

Reiki has been shown to be beneficial in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic touch might be helpful in dealing with agitated behaviors by people with dementia according to Hawranik et al.3 Crawford et al. also demonstrate that Reiki treatments show promise for improving certain behavior and memory problems in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers can administer Reiki at little or no cost, resulting in significant societal value by potentially reducing the needs for medication and hospitalization.4

A pilot study has been conducted to compare reports of pain and levels of anxiety states in two groups of women after abdominal hysterectomy, in which one group received traditional nursing care plus three 30-min sessions of Reiki, while the other received traditional nursing care. The results of the study have indicated that the group, which received Reiki sessions reported less pain and requested fewer analgesics than the control group. This group also reported less state anxiety than the control group on discharge at 72 h postoperation.5

While the above-discussed studies show a positive effect of Reiki, there are several studies, which contradict these effects. Lee et al. conducted a systematic review of 203 studies on the effects of Reiki. They opine that the trial data for any one condition are scarce and independent replications are not available for each condition. Most trials suffered from methodological flaws such as small sample size, inadequate study design and poor reporting. According to them, the evidence is insufficient to suggest that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition.6 Sharma et al. opine that Reiki is a time consuming process with no significant clinical benefits.7

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Points to Consider About Reiki Therapy

It is important to keep the following points in mind while considering Reiki therapy.

  • Reiki should not be used as a replacement for conventional care.
  • The time to consult a doctor about a medical problem should not be delayed.
  • Health care providers should be informed about any complementary and alternative practices used.
  • It is good to know about the Reiki practitioner’s training and experience.
  • Checking on the cost of treatment is essential, since these could vary from fees to no charge at all.
  • Reiki has not been well studied scientifically, but there are some research studies published on its use for various health conditions.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: August 26, 2013

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