Reiki: Research & Science

Reiki and science
reiki research

Reiki research is growing. A study done in 2007 by the National Health Interview Survey (USA) indicates that in the USA only 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children received one or more sessions of energy healing therapy such as Reiki in the previous year. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, 15% or over 800 American hospitals offered Reiki as part of hospital services.

Scientific studies about energy-based healing, self-healing, distant healing, the power of intention, etc started in the mid-1980’s.

Here are a few recent examples:

The Effect of Reiki on Work-Related Stress of the Registered Nurse, Cuneo CL, Cooper MR, Drew CS, Naoum-Heffernan C, Sherman T, Walz K, Weinberg J., Aug 2010. Background. The Reiki Master Teacher group at a large academic, urban medical center studied the effects of Reiki on work-related stress in Registered Nurse Reiki I class participants. Research suggests that work-related stress is an influential factor in nursing burn out and retention. Reiki, an ancient form of Oriental “energy work” or healing, has been found to decrease stress. Methods. The Perceived Stress Scale tool was administered prior to the Reiki I class and after three weeks of practicing self-Reiki. Results. Seventeen participants returned follow-up data. Results indicated that practicing Reiki more often resulted in reduced perceived stress levels. Conclusions. Data from this small pilot study supports educating nurses about Reiki practice to decrease work-related stress.

Effects of complementary therapies on clinical outcomes in patients being treated with radiation therapy for prostate cancer, Beard C, Stason WB, Wang Q, Manola J, Dean-Clower E, Dusek JA, Decristofaro S, Webster A, Rosenthal DS, Benson H., Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 2010. Background. This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) examined the clinical effects of 2 complementary (CAM) therapies, relaxation response therapy (RRT) and Reiki therapy, in men being treated with external beam radiotherapy (EBRx) for prostate cancer. Methods. Study participants were randomly assigned to weekly RRT, Reiki therapy twice weekly, or wait-list control. Well-validated instruments measured anxiety (STAI), depression (CES-D), and quality of life in cancer patients (FACT-G) at randomization and 3 subsequent time points. Results. Fifty-four men were randomized, and 16 of 18 (89%) of RRT and 15 of 18 (83%) of Reiki patients completed the intervention protocol. No statistically significant difference was found between the RRT, Reiki, and control groups on total scores for the STAI, CES-D, or FACT-G instruments at any time point. However, at the end of the intervention, significant improvement was found on the emotional well-being subscale of the FACT-G quality of life scale in the RRT group compared with the Reiki and control groups (P = .01). In participants who were classified as “anxious” at baseline, statistically significant improvement occurred in the RRT group (P = .02), and a positive trend was found in the Reiki group (P = .10). Conclusions. This pilot study documented the feasibility of conducting a RCT of CAM therapies in men undergoing EBRx for prostate cancer. Relaxation response therapy improved emotional well being and eased anxiety in participants. Reiki therapy also had a positive effect in anxious patients. A larger study to verify and better define the benefits of these therapies in men with prostate cancer is warranted. Cancer 2010.

Effects of Reiki on anxiety, depression, pain, and physiological factors in community-dwelling older adults, Richeson NE, Spross JA, Lutz K, Peng C., College of Nursing and Health Professions, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine 04104-9300, USA., Jul 2010. Background. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of Reiki as an alternative and complementary approach to treating community-dwelling older adults who experience pain, depression, and/or anxiety. Methods. Participants (N = 20) were randomly assigned to either an experimental or wait list control group. The pre- and posttest measures included the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form, Faces Pain Scale, and heart rate and blood pressure. The research design included an experimental component to examine changes in these measures and a descriptive component (semi-structured interview) to elicit information about the experience of having Reiki treatments. Results. Significant differences were observed between the experimental and treatment groups on measures of pain, depression, and anxiety; no changes in heart rate and blood pressure were noted. Content analysis of treatment notes and interviews revealed five broad categories of responses: Relaxation; Improved Physical Symptoms, Mood, and Well-Being; Curiosity and a Desire to Learn More; Enhanced Self-Care; and Sensory and Cognitive Responses to Reiki.

Reiki and changes in pattern manifestations, Ring ME., University of Vermont, Nurs Sci Q. 2009 Jul;22(3):250-8. Background. The purposes of this qualitative research study were to describe the changes in pattern manifestations that individuals experienced associated with receiving Reiki, and to present the theoretical understanding of these changes. Methods. The unitary field pattern portrait research method was utilized because it was ontologically, epistemologically, and methodologically consistent with the science of unitary human beings. Results. Reiki was found to be associated with changes in awareness from dissonance and turbulence to harmony and well-being by helping individuals knowingly participate in actualizing their own capacities for healing. Reiki was found to be an appropriate voluntary mutual patterning nursing modality.

Pilot crossover trial of Reiki versus rest for treating cancer-related fatigue, Tsang K., Carlson L., Olson K., Integr Cancer Ther., 2007. Background. Fatigue is an extremely common side effect experienced during cancer treatment and recovery. Limited research has investigated strategies stemming from complementary and alternative medicine to reduce cancer-related fatigue. This research examined the effects of Reiki, a type of energy touch therapy, on fatigue, pain, anxiety, and overall quality of life. Methods. This study was a counterbalanced crossover trial of 2 conditions: (1) in the Reiki condition, participants received Reiki for 5 consecutive daily sessions, followed by a 1-week washout monitoring period of no treatments, then 2 additional Reiki sessions, and finally 2 weeks of no treatments, and (2) in the rest condition, participants rested for approximately 1 hour each day for 5 consecutive days, followed by a 1-week washout monitoring period of no scheduled resting and an additional week of no treatments. In both conditions, participants completed questionnaires investigating cancer-related fatigue (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Fatigue subscale [FACT-F]) and overall quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy, General Version [FACT-G]) before and after all Reiki or resting sessions. They also completed a visual analog scale (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS]) assessing daily tiredness, pain, and anxiety before and after each session of Reiki or rest. Results. Fatigue on the FACT-F decreased within the Reiki condition (P=.05) over the course of all 7 treatments. In addition, participants in the Reiki condition experienced significant improvements in quality of life (FACT-G) compared to those in the resting condition (P <.05). On daily assessments (ESAS) in the Reiki condition, presession 1 versus postsession 5 scores indicated significant decreases in tiredness (P <.001), pain (P <.005), and anxiety (P<.01), which were not seen in the resting condition. Conclusions. Future research should further investigate the impact of Reiki using more highly controlled designs that include a sham Reiki condition and larger sample sizes.

The Effectiveness of Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation and Reiki Healing Sessions In Promoting Health And Enhancing Problem Solving Abilities Of Registered Nurses Authors: Raingruber, Bonnie1; Robinson, Carol2 Source: Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Volume 28, Number 10, October 2007 , pp. 1141-1155(15) Publisher: Informa Healthcare Given the current necessity of retaining qualified nurses, a self-care program consisting of Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation classes, and Reiki healing sessions was designed for a university-based hospital. The effectiveness of these interventions was evaluated using self-care journals and analyzed using a Heideggerian phenomenological approach. Outcomes of the self-care classes described by nurses included: (a) noticing sensations of warmth, tingling, and pulsation which were relaxing, (b) becoming aware of an enhanced problem solving ability, and (c) noticing an increased ability to focus on patient needs. Hospitals willing to invest in self-care options for nurses can anticipate patient and work related benefits. Affiliations: 1: University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacremento, California, USA,California State University, Sacremento, California, USA 2: University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacremento, California, USA

Biological Correlates of Reiki Touch Healing, Wardell D.W., Engebretson J, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 33, Number 4, February 2001, pp. 439-445(7) Background. Despite the popularity of touch therapies, theoretical understanding of the mechanisms of effect is not well developed and there is limited research measuring biological outcomes. Aims. The aim of this study was to test a framework of relaxation or stress reduction as a mechanism of touch therapy. Methods. The study was conducted in 1996 and involved the examination of select physiological and biochemical effects and the experience of 30 minutes of Reiki, a form of touch therapy. A single group repeated measure design was used to study Reiki Touch’ssm effects with a convenience sample of 23 essentially healthy subjects. Biological markers related to stress-reduction response included state anxiety, salivary IgA and cortisol, blood pressure, galvanic skin response (GSR), muscle tension and skin temperature. Data were collected before, during and immediately after the session. Results. Comparing before and after measures, anxiety was significantly reduced, t(22)=2·45, P=0·02. Salivary IgA levels rose significantly, t(19)=2·33, P=0·03, however, salivary cortisol was not statistically significant. There was a significant drop in systolic blood pressure (SBP), F(2, 44)=6·60, P < 0·01. Skin temperature increased and electromyograph (EMG) decreased during the treatment, but before and after differences were not significant. Conclusions. These findings suggest both biochemical and physiological changes in the direction of relaxation. The salivary IgA findings warrant further study to explore the effects of human TT and humeral immune function.

Autonomic Nervous-System-Changes During Reiki Treatment: A Preliminary Study. Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Volume 10, Number 6. This study revealed a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure and heart rate in the Reiki group that didn’t appear in the placebo group or the control group, thus tending to indicate that Reiki created an important effect that was not caused by suggestion. This was a small study, but the quality of its design and the positive results it produced indicates that additional larger scale studies are warranted.

Effects of Reiki on pain and selected affective and personality variables of chronically ill patients, Dressen, Linda J., Singg, Sangeeta, Subtle Energies 1998.

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