Mind Over Matter – Do Reiki Treatments Work?

By Salon Gold on April 23rd, 2021

The wellness industry reached an astonishing value of $3.31 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow even more in the coming years. As the benefits of wellbeing become ever more apparent, the practice of Reiki has gained more and more traction. This means that working as a Reiki practitioner can be a very satisfying job with a lot of demand –– just make sure you’re protecting yourself with insurance to cover things like theft, property damage and liability cover though. Our Reiki insurance package lets you tailor your policy to your exact needs as a practitioner. However, despite the growth in popularity of Reiki treatments, sceptics still laugh the practice off and claim it doesn’t actually work. So, are Reiki treatments effective in reality or not? color chakra human lotus pose yoga, abstract world, universe inside your mind mental, watercolor painting illustration

What is Reiki?

The word “Reiki” comes from the Japanese words “rei”, meaning universal or spiritual, and “ki”, roughly translated as life energy. It’s a Japanese treatment that emerged in the late 1800s, focusing on the transfer of energy from a practitioner to their patient using their hands. You may have heard of it as palm healing, hands on healing or energy healing. The basis of Reiki lies in a “biofield” (a field of energy) that surrounds and penetrates the body of every living creature. However, when there is injury or pain, this energy stagnates. When that happens for long periods of time, illness can occur, and the job of a Reiki practitioner is to use their own flow of energy from their palms to the patient’s body, releasing the blockage. A patient is asked to sit or lie comfortably while the practitioner moves their palms around their body in certain shapes, either touching softly or just out of reach. The treatment can even be done remotely. In this practice, called “distance reiki”, it is believed that the therapist transmits their energy through space without actually touching the patient. color chakra human lotus pose yoga, abstract world, universe inside your mind mental, watercolor painting illustration design hand drawn

How can Reiki help?

In the past few years, different types of healing have gained momentum, such as acupuncture and acupressure. Reiki works in a similar way, by improving the flow of energy in the body. Practitioners believe that this allows patients to relax, reduces pain, speeds healing and alleviates a variety of symptoms. It’s all about restoring balance in the body. There’s a long list of conditions that Reiki is claimed to improve:
  • Pain and chronic pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Bowel disease
  • Fatigue syndromes
  • Neurodegenerative disorders (like Parkinson’ or Huntington’s disease)
  • Cancer
Usually, patients start feeling the positive relaxing effects from the first session. That being said, practitioners recommend starting with four and going from there. Of course, more complicated cases might require more sessions than others, but this will allow your practitioner to assess your situation and you to see whether it works for you.

Does Reiki actually work?

The answer to this question is quite complicated due to a lack of research and reliable frameworks to examine the effects of energy healing. It can’t be measured using traditional medical tools, for instance.

Historical views of Reiki’s benefits

However, there are many people who have benefited from Reiki and testify that it works, and there are claims going back millennia that similar practices are useful. For example, the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, even wrote in his notes from the fourth or fifth century BC that: “It is believed by experienced doctors that the heat which oozes out of the hand, on being applied to the sick, is highly salutary […] It has often appeared, while I have been soothing my patients, as if there was a singular property in my hands to pull and draw away from the affected parts aches and diverse impurities […] Thus it is known to some of the learned that health may be implanted in the sick by certain gestures, and by contact, as some diseases may be communicated from one to another.”

Modern research into Reiki

In terms of contemporary research, some studies indicate that Reiki can improve heart rate, reduce blood pressure and decrease anxiety and pain. The treatment resulted in patients being more relaxed, and less fatigued and depressed. Although existing evidence is largely anecdotal, Reiki has been increasingly offered in hospitals, in palliative care (especially in hospices), and even as part of workplace and university wellness programmes to tackle burnout. Reiki treatments for cancer are becoming popular too, with some research showing they help to control the side effects of chemotherapy. This is understandable since energy healing is known to reduce pain, anxiety and sickness, all of which are common byproducts of chemo. Reiki is also said to improve surgical outcomes, regulate the autonomic nervous system, and relieve pain –– both physical and emotional. However, no peer-reviewed study has managed to confirm this nor any of the beliefs about the ‘biofield’. Notably though, the treatment isn’t believed to have any negative effects on the body or mind, and does not put the patient at risk in any way. So, does Reiki work? There’s plenty of evidence that when it comes to mental health, it certainly does. When it comes to the physical, it’s more difficult to prove empirically. However, one thing’s for sure: it can never hurt.

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