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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Reiki: An Intriguing Tool For Stress Management

By January 7, 2013

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What exactly is Reiki? It is a form of "energy healing" that can be used for many purposes. As Phylameana lila Desy, About.com's Guide to Alternative Medicine explains it, "Reiki is an ancient laying-on of hands healing technique that uses the life force energy to heal, balancing the subtle energies within our bodies. Reiki addresses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances. This healing art is an effective delivery system. The Reiki practitioner serves as a vessel that supplies healing energies where they are most needed. Reiki's ki-energies flow out of the practitioner's body through the palms of the hands while they are touching the recipient's body."

Does this sound a little less-than-scientific to you? It isn't a practice you may find is prescribed to you from a medical doctor, but there actually is some evidence that it works. Here are a few studies you might find interesting:

  • One study examined the effects of Reiki for anxiety, pain management, and global wellness in cancer patients. 118 cancer patients received at least one, 30-minute Reiki session (some received more) and then reported their feelings. Overall, sessions were felt to be helpful in improving wellbeing, relaxation, pain relief, sleep quality, and anxiety reduction.
  • Another study looked at whether or not Reiki was effective in managing stress and reducing burnout for registered nurses. Researchers administered a test known as the Perceived Stress Scale with registered nurses prior to and after one Reiki class and three weeks of self-practice. Of the seventeen participants who returned for the follow-up data collection, Reiki was found to have reduced their perceived stress levels. This is a small pilot study, but it supports the effectiveness of educating nurses about Reiki practice to decrease work-related stress.
  • A different study evaluated the effects of Reiki as a complementary treatment approach for community-dwelling older adults experiencing pain, depression, and/or anxiety. 20 participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or control group (which consisted of being assigned to a waitlist). Pre-and post-tests were given, This study evaluated the effects of Reiki as a complementary treatment approach for community-dwelling older adults experiencing pain, depression, and/or anxiety. 20 participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or control group (waitlist). Pre-and post-tests were given, and a semi-structured interview elicited additional information about the experience of Reiki treatments. Researchers recorded significant differences between the groups which showed that the Reiki grpup experienced a reduction in pain, depression, and anxiety, while no change in heart rate or blood pressure was observed. Other changes included improved relaxation, physical symptoms, mood, and well-being as well as increased curiosity and desire to learn, self-care, sensory and cognitive responses.
  • Another study was conducted, which reviewed 66 other studies on Reiki's effectiveness, and found that the studies were generally of medium quality and found moderate results in support if Reiki. The study concluded that further high-quality research is needed, but that there is some evidence of the effectiveness of these CAM treatments.
In fact, Reiki has been shown to be effective enough that it is recommended by Dr. Oz, though he has received criticism for this. Though Reiki may not have thorough support from medicine at this point, it presents an interesting option which may well be found effective by many people seeking to ease anxiety and relax. Read on to learn more.

More Reiki Resources:

Birocco, Nadia; Guillame, Camilla; Storto, Silvana; et al. (June, 2012). The effects of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in patients attending a day oncology and infusion services unit. The American Journal of Hospice & Pallative Care, Vol 29(4).
Cuneo, C. L; Curtis Cooper, M. R; Drew, C. S; et al. (March, 2011). The effect of Reiki on work-related stress of the registered nurse. Journal of Holistic Nursing, Vol 29(1), 33-43.
Jain, Shamini; Mills, P. J. (March, 2010.) Biofield therapies: Helpful or full of hype? A best evidence synthesis. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Vol 17(1), 1-16.
Richeson, Nancy E.; Spross, Judith A.; Lutz, Katherine; et al. (July, 2010). Effects of Reiki on anxiety, depression, pain, and physiological factors in community-dwelling older adults. Research in Gerontological Nursing, Vol 3(3).

February 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(1) Dick Scott says:

Thanks for a great article about Reiki. Itīs highly needed in our times to have a holistic approach to our helth and life though modern medicine dont have all the answers. Mostly we are the answer to our problems by looking more deep into ourselves without being afraid. Unfortunately itīs more common to just run faster in a distressed and empty life. Thatīs the sign for being lost; to run faster. However we dont have to and should not follow the masses because we are all going into a more peaceful way of life that give us our selfvalue back and make us care more about eachother. So holistic thinking is the future for ourselves and mother earth!

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