Reiki and Research

Reiki and the Evidence Behind its Effectiveness.

By Amanda Solda and Michael Singeisen.
Read on this page or download in a PDF pamphlet.
What is Reiki?
Etymology of the word “Reiki” (Japanese origin):
Rei = Universal Life
Ki = Life-Force Energy (also known as chi or qi)
Reiki = Universal Life-Force Energy
Reiki itself is the universal life-force energy that flows through all of life. When this energy flow becomes disrupted for any reason, many forms of tension can arise which can manifest as a physical dis-ease or illness including stress and anxiety. The practice of Reiki involves transferring this high frequency life-force energy to the recipient (this could be a person, an animal, a situation etc.) to clear energetic imbalances and realign the energy to its natural state.
  • Reiki is an ancient practice and natural healing modality stemming from Japanese origin
  • Ancient symbols are integrated in Reiki which contain the energy of pure life force.
  • Reiki is not connected to religion or any religious practice.
  • In Japan, Dr. Mikao Usui was the first Reiki Master who founded the Usui System of Natural Healing, which is currently the most widely practiced form of Reiki.

    Dr. Mikao Usui

How does Reiki work?
  • Through intention, Reiki flows through the practitioner to the affected areas of the
    recipient’s body to charge and balance the stressed areas with pure life force energy.
  • Reiki can be conducted in person using using a hands-on method or hands above the body, or Reiki can be done remotely through what is called distance healing.
  • Reiki is transmitted where it is needed; Every Reiki session is naturally designed to support the intentions of the recipient and practitioner.
What can Reiki do? The Science Behind Reiki
Evidence-based research proves the ability of Reiki to:
  • Reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.
  • Reduce pain, anxiety, depressive symptoms and fatigue.
  • Strengthen overall well-being, improve quality of life and mood.
  • Stabilize heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Accelerate recovery time after stroke or surgery.
  • Strengthen immune system response and alleviate symptoms of cancer and other chronic health conditions.
Other benefits of Reiki include:
  • Improved quality of sleep.
  • Reduced nausea and improved digestive system.
  • Balanced ‘negative’ emotions and moods.
  • Improved focus, memory and creativity.
Stress, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Well-Being and the Effectiveness of Reiki
The most commonly and perhaps most significantly reported healing benefit of Reiki is reducing stress levels and strengthening overall sense of well-being. Reiki activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps the body to relax, allowing deep healing and releasing to take place. Stress is a significant contributor to many illnesses and dis-eases. In health and medical disciplines, it is understood how stress weakens the immune system and cardiovascular system, as well as how stress can raise blood pressure, increase fatigue, disrupt the digestive system, increase inflammation, interfere with sexual desire/fertility, cause physical aches and pains such as headaches or back-aches and can increase risk of heart attack, heartburn, type 2 diabetes, cancers or other chronic health conditions. Stress disrupts the natural flow of life force energy which is where the power of Reiki comes in, with its ability to harmonize energetic imbalances in the body and contribute to the healing of a number of health conditions.
Evidence-Based Research on the Effectiveness of Reiki
The body of literature on the effectiveness of Reiki has been significantly increasing over the past few decades. Many health professionals are seeking alternative medicines or complementary therapeutic methods that can be used in combination with other healing modalities for a variety of illnesses. The current body of research regarding the usefulness of Reiki is growing at a rapid pace, and it shows promising results for the benefits of Reiki. In particular, research proves the ability of Reiki to significantly reduce stress, pain, anxiety and depression, as well as to promote relaxation and maintain a healthy heart rate.
Below are research studies discussing the evidence-based usefulness of Reiki for the aforementioned symptoms and more.
Study Title
Findings
Source and Link
Effects of Reiki on Anxiety, Depression, Pain, and Physiological Factors in Community-Dwelling Older Adults.
Reiki significantly reduced measures of pain, depression, and anxiety in the treatment versus non-treatment groups of older adults.
Richeson N., Spross J., Lutz K., Peng C.(2010). Effects of Reiki on Anxiety, Depression, Pain, and Physiological Factors in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Research in Gerontological Nursing. 3(3) 187-199. Link.
Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations.
Reiki therapy was found to be an effective method for reducing pain and anxiety in adults.
Thrane, Susan et al. (2014). Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations. Pain Management Nursing; Volume 15, Issue 4, 897-908. Link.
The use of self-Reiki for stress reduction and relaxation.
Reiki effectively reduced stress levels in college students immediately and over a 20 week period.
Bukowski EL.(2015). The use of self-Reiki for stress reduction and relaxation. J Integr Med.13(5): 336–340. Link.
Effects of Reiki on Post-cesarean Delivery Pain, Anxiety, and Hemodynamic Parameters: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial.
Reiki significantly reduced the intensity of pain, anxiety, and breathing rate in patients after surgery.
Midilli, Tulay Sagkal et al. (2015). Effects of Reiki on Post-cesarean Delivery Pain, Anxiety, and Hemodynamic Parameters: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. Pain Management Nursing; Volume 16, Issue 3, 388-399. Link.
Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats.
Reiki significantly reduced the heart rates of lab rats when exposed to anxiety-inducing stimuli, suggesting a homeostatic heart rate effect.
Ann Linda Baldwin, Christina Wagers, and Gary E. (2008). Schwartz. Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume: 14 Issue 4. Link.
Biological correlates of Reiki Touchsm healing
Reiki significantly reduced anxiety levels in participants. Reiki also significantly decreased levels of systolic blood pressure.
Wardell, D. W. (2008). Biological correlates of Reiki Touchsm healing. Journal of Advanced Nursing; Volume 33 Issue 4. Link.
The effect of Reiki therapy on quality of life of patients with blood cancer: Results from a randomized controlled trial.
Reiki significantly improved the general quality of life and well-being of blood cancer patients in the treatment group versus control group.
Alarcão, Z., & Fonseca, J. R. (2016). The effect of Reiki therapy on quality of life of patients with blood cancer: Results from a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 8(3), 239-249. Link.
Massage and Reiki used to reduce stress and anxiety: Randomized Clinical Trial.
Participants who received Reiki and massage experienced significantly less anxiety and stress than the group who received massage only.
Kurebayashi, L. F. S., Turrini, R. N. T., Souza, T. P. B. D., Takiguchi, R. S., Kuba, G., & Nagumo, M. T. (2016). Massage and Reiki used to reduce stress and anxiety: Randomized Clinical Trial. Revista latino-americana de enfermagem, 24.
Reiki reduces burnout among community mental health clinicians.
Reiki significantly improved burnout symptoms in a group of mental health clinicians, compared to the group who received a placebo treatment.
Rosada, R. M., Rubik, B., Mainguy, B., Plummer, J., & Mehl-Madrona, L. (2015). Reiki reduces burnout among community mental health clinicians. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(8), 489-495. Link.
*For more studies on the usefulness of Reiki, please visit The Center of Reiki Research.
Reiki Incorporated into Wellness Centers and Hospitals
Reiki’s therapeutic effects have been growing in mainstream awareness, and Reiki is now being offered as part of workplace wellness programs and university wellness centers as a means to address and alleviate stress and burnout.  Since the 1990’s, Reiki therapy has been increasingly implemented in hospitals as a complementary therapy to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, nausea and negative effects of medication/medical procedures and to improve quality of sleep and emotional well-being in patients with a variety of challenges. According to the American Hospitals Association, in 2007, over 800 hospitals in the America offered Reiki to their patients. The Healing Touch Professional Association estimates that more than 30,000 nurses in U.S. hospitals use touch practices every year. Hospitals in the U.S, Canada, the U.K, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia are some of the countries to implement Reiki therapy alongside conventional practices. For more information on the use of Reiki in hospitals and the scientific implications, click here or here.
Additional Facts about Reiki
  • The number of Reiki practitioners has increased dramatically since the 1990’s, from under 1,000 to over 100,000.
  • Reiki is safe for everyone including children, babies, elders and pregnant women. Reiki can even be practiced on animals, plants, objects, situations – just about anything, because life-force energy flows through everything!
  • There are no harmful effects or side effects of Reiki.