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WOOCS 2.2.1

Does Reiki work?

It is Japanese for energy healing. Mikao Usui came up with this system of healing and taught over 2000 people in his lifetime. One of his students, one Hawayo Takata, was the first person to open a reiki clinic in the United States.


Reiki practitioners encourage mental and physical healing in a patient by transferring and manipulating “universal energy” through their palms into the patient. It is believed that the energy flowing through everyone can become stagnant or disrupted due to physical or emotional problems. Reiki attempts to fix these blocks. By now an eyebrow or two has been raised by the mention of ‘universal energy’ and for the right reason: it is considered a pseudoscience. Pseudoscience in general is a sort of belief or approach that does not align with the scientific method. It may not align in terms of being unable to provide replicable tests, factual evidence, or doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Common characteristics of a pseudoscience are claims that are exaggerated, contradictory or unfalsifiable claims. In reiki’s case, some would say, how would reiki work if there is no evidence of “universal energy” and it’s practicalities – to this a pseudoscientist would reply ‘you don’t have evidence that it DOES NOT exist”. Reliance of confirmation bias: for example, someone goes to such a healer and the patient gets better on their own, pseudoscientists would claim it was because of said healer. A last example of how pseudoscience hinders its own growth is by not being open to evaluation by critics and experts.


Now that you have a general understanding of pseudoscience: back to reiki. The fact that it is a pseudoscience, does not mean that it should not be practiced. It can indeed have some beneficial effects, but more on the practitioner, rather than the patient. For example: through their journey to become a reiki practitioner, they might become a better person, by attempting to bring out their positive energy. Or it could give piece of mind to the patient. It would be unfair to neglect to mention that there are papers that show slight improvement with coping with pain, but the results were not replicable. According to Cancer Research U.K., cancer patients who have took part in reiki sessions say they feel better. Though, they luckily felt somewhat better it cannot be concluded that it was due to “universal energies” – more so that the patient found the session relaxing, because the therapist spends time with the cancer patient and gently touches them. For patients who are overwhelmed by fear, stress and dread find physical contact soothing. Again, not all evidence aligns as there are different experiences reported: some say the practitioner’s hands were cold (some patients liked it, some didn’t), or the hand was to warm, or even felt pulsating waves. All this can be related to the placebo effect. If the patient really does believe that the reiki sessions are helping, they might actually do change things, besides the general relaxation and release of stress.


There is a lot of criticism about it’s claims. That it claims to heal diseases without empirical evidence. Some even said these claims are fraudulent and are scamming people out of their money. Furthermore, critics say that it does not corelate with the current understanding of the universe and energies, while the other side of the aisle claims there are certainly benefits, but they are difficult to scientifically measure. Research into proving the benefits of reiki are riddled with issues that the science community would deem unacceptable like small sample sizes, no peer reviews, or lack of control group. On the other hand, studies that try to measure the effectiveness of reiki usually come to a similar conclusion, like the study conducted in 2008, that reiki is as effective as a placebo. This is because there is yet to be enough evidence to show that reiki is a viable treatment to any condition, and the value of reiki is still unproven as of late.


In conclusion, reiki has the possibility of being beneficial in some ways. Reiki seems to be doing as much healing as harm, which is not a lot, therefore there is no harm in practicing it. It becomes a problem if/ when people try to sell false hopes to sick and mentally unwell people. So, reiki does not seem to have reliable effects in general, but some might find it’s sessions relaxing.


If you are interested in reiki, and what it can offer, check out our course on HarleyOxford.com


At the time of publishing this post, the price of our

Reiki level 1 & 2 Course has been reduced by 90%.


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