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Take a Peek into the Evidence on Reiki Effectiveness

Glimpse into the effectiveness of Reiki through studies on humanoids and ratoids.

Proof. That’s what people want, proof of Reiki effectiveness.

After hearing what Reiki is and what Reiki is good for, many people want to learn how effective it is before giving it a try.

The Evidence

Researching studies is a good place to start. As a treatment, complementary or not, people want to know the science behind Reiki.

Ann Baldwin, Ph.D., notes that Reiki shows “positive effect in four areas: Acute and chronic pain; Pain and well-being during cancer treatment; Stress, anxiety and depression; Practitioner well-being.”

A study by Anne T. Vitale and Priscilla C. O’Connor (2006) researched Reiki’s effect on pain in women who received hysterectomies. Results showed that the Reiki group experienced less stress before surgery and less pain after the surgery than the control group, who only received traditional nursing care. (Please be aware that the groups who received Reiki also had nursing care.)

Long-term stress can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems.

As noted in the mentioned study above, Reiki also significantly helps with stress. The National Institution of Mental Health states that long-term stress “can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability.” Reducing stress can be extremely beneficial to people’s health.

Adina Goldman Shore’s (2004) research separated 45 people with depression and stress into three groups: Reiki, Distance Reiki, and Distance Reiki Placebo. The study used the Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Hopelessness Scale, and Perceived Stress Scale to measure results. Shore found that those who received Reiki or Distance Reiki experienced reducing depression and stress while the placebo group didn’t notice a tremendous difference.

There are many studies on Reiki and how it’s helped people around the world. It’s made a difference for people who experience pain, depression, stress, and anxiety.

On the Contrary

While Reiki studies find positive results, many studies are not without their limitations. Lack of sham Reiki, a non-Reiki practitioner providing a placebo Reiki treatment, is an issue in many studies. Baldwin mentions that without this version of placebo in an experiment, “we do not know the role that touch and personal attention played in helping the patients regain some of their cognitive skills.” The results then seem to be inconclusive.

A massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body.

There are also issues with the testing groups being too small or some studies only providing one Reiki session. The University of Minnesota stated that “another obstacle to Reiki research is the inability of contemporary technology to document the existence of the biofield much less study its makeup or measure changes in it.” There are developments in examining the biofield, “a massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body.” Such as studying the electroencephalographic (EEG) and electrocardiographic (ECG). However, the University of Minnesota believes measuring the biofield, along with Reiki, “lie outside the bioelectromagnetic spectrum.” Which, really, is encouragement for further study in both fields.

The danger [...] is that its followers are not always content with relieving your stress.

Jonathan Jarry voices his opinion on Reiki by expressing his understanding that Reiki can be beneficial as a source for reaching relaxation and uplifting your mood. Still, he extensively speculates that “the danger [...] is that its followers are not always content with relieving your stress.” He believes that people will go to Reiki for healing

instead of medical professionals and possibly even be encouraged to do so by the Reiki practitioners. He scrutinizes the studies on Reiki and finds them lacking.

The limitations in the current studies of Reiki does need to be addressed. By doing so, it creates a better chance for further research to find more accurate results. Larger testing groups and sham Reiki as a placebo will assist the studies in presenting what Reiki can do.

The opinion of Jarry, which is likely shared by others, provides a valid worry. However, many practitioners will disclose that Reiki is meant to complement medical help rather than be an alternative.

It’s encouraged to do the research into Reiki and know what you’re getting into.

The Evidence for Animals

Studies show that Reiki is beneficial for those with stress. Even the mentioned skeptic above said it can be useful for relaxation, which is an excellent advantage over stress’s harmful effects.

People are not the only ones to encounter pain and anxiety. Animals are beings who also can and will experience similar emotional, mental, and physical ailments.

Reiki practitioner sat in front of each of three cages and sent Reiki to the pair of rats inside each cage for 15 minutes every day for five days.

There are a few studies conducted on animals, rats in particular. Baldwin references a study she did with her fellow researchers (2008) where a “Reiki practitioner sat in front of each of three cages and sent Reiki to the pair of rats inside each cage for 15 minutes every day for five days.” This was a study that did provide sham Reiki. They found that sham Reiki had no effect on the rats. Reiki did reduce heart rate or their stress.

Animal Reiki is practiced often with positive results. Even a decrease in animal’s stress can provide opportunities for better healing and overcoming behavior issues.


While there are limitations to Reiki studies, such as small testing groups and questions of positive touch over Reiki treatment, the results in the studies of Reiki continue to show effectiveness in reducing stress, pain, and depression.

People are encouraged to seek medical assistance; however, consider Reiki to help boost the healing process. Whether it’s you or your pet, it’s not going to lessen the healing. The University of Minnesota even mentions that there are no negative effects to Reiki treatment.

It’s not going to hurt to give this treatment a try, and you may find it worthwhile if it helps your or your pet.

Article Resources:

Baldwin, A.L., C. Wagers, and G.E. Schwartz. 2008. Reiki improves heart rate homeostasis in laboratory rats. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 14 (4):417 – 422.

Shore, A. G. 2004. Long term effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and self-perceived stress. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 10(3):42 – 48.

Vitale, A.T. and P.C. O'Conner. 2006. The effect of Reiki on pain and anxiety in women with abdominal hysterectomies. Holistic Nursing Practice 20(6):263 – 272.

Further Resources You May Want to Check Out!

From Ann Baldwin’s Article:

Baldwin, A.L. and G.E. Schwartz. 2006. Personal interaction with a Reiki practitioner decreases noise-induced microvascular damage in an animal model. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 12(1):15–22.

Baldwin, A.L., A. Vitale, E. Brownell, J. Scicinski, M. Kearns,. and W. Rand. 2010. The Touchstone Process. An Ongoing Critical Review of Reiki in the Scientific Literature. Holistic Nursing Practice 24(5):260 – 276.

Crawford, S. E., V.W. Leaver, and S.D. Mahoney. 2006. Using Reiki to decrease memory and behavior problems in mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzhemier’s Disease. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 12(9):911 – 913.

Dressin, L.J. and S. Singg. 1998. Effects of Reiki on pain and selected affective and personality variables of chronically ill patients. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine 9(1):53 – 82.

Friedman, R.S.C., M.M. Burg, P. Miles, F. Lee, and R. Lampert. 2010. Effects of Reiki on autonomic activity early after acute coronary syndrome. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 56:995 – 996.

Wilson, L.M. and A.L. Baldwin. 1998. Effects of environmental stress on the architecture and permeability of the rat mesenteric microvasculature. Microcirculation 5(4):299–308.

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