MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Reiki is a form of  healing which rests on the assumption that some form “energy” determines our health. In this context, I tend to put energy in inverted commas because it is not the energy a physicist might have in mind. It is a much more mystical entity, a form of vitality that is supposed to be essential for life and keep us going. Nobody has been able to define or quantify this “energy”, it defies scientific measurement and is biologically implausible. These circumstances render Reiki one of the least plausible therapies in the tool kit of alternative medicine.

Reiki-healers (they prefer to be called “masters”) would channel “energy” into his or her patient which, in turn, is thought to stimulate the healing process of whatever condition is being treated. In the eyes of those who believe in this sort of thing, Reiki is therefore a true panacea: it can heal everything.

The clinical evidence for or against Reiki is fairly clear – as one would expect after realising how ‘far out’ its underlying concepts are. Numerous studies are available, but most are of very poor quality. Their results tend to suggest that patients experience benefit after having Reiki but they rarely exclude the possibility that this is due to placebo or other non-specific effects. Those that are rigorous show quite clearly that Reiki is a placebo. Our own review therefore concluded that “the evidence is insufficient to suggest that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition… the value of Reiki remains unproven.”

Since the publication of our article, a number of new investigations have become available. In a brand-new study, for instance, the researchers wanted to explore a Reiki therapy-training program for the care-givers of paediatric patients. A series of Reiki training classes were offered by a Reiki-master. At the completion of the program, interviews were conducted to elicit participant’s feedback regarding its effectiveness.

Seventeen families agreed to participate and 65% of them attended three Reiki training sessions. They reported that Reiki had benefited their child by improving their comfort (76%), providing relaxation (88%) and pain relief (41%). All caregivers thought that becoming an active participant in their child’s care was a major gain. The authors of this investigation conclude that “a hospital-based Reiki training program for caregivers of hospitalized pediatric patients is feasible and can positively impact patients and their families. More rigorous research regarding the benefits of Reiki in the pediatric population is needed.

Trials like this one abound in the parallel world of “energy” medicine. In my view, such investigations do untold damage: they convince uncritical thinkers that “energy” healing is a rational and effective approach – so much so that even the military is beginning to use it.

The flaws in trials as the one above are too obvious to mention. Like most studies in this area, this new investigation proves nothing except the fact that poor quality research will mislead those who believe in its findings.

Some might say, so what? If a patient experiences benefit from a bogus yet harmless therapy, why not? I would strongly disagree with this increasingly popular view. Reiki and similarly bizarre forms of “energy” healing are well capable of causing harm.

Some fanatics might use these placebo-treatments as a true alternative to effective therapies. This would mean that the condition at hand remains untreated which, in a worst case scenario, might even lead to the death of patients. More important, in my view, is an entirely different risk: making people believe in mystic “energies” undermines rationality in a much more general sense. If this happens, the harm to society would be incalculable and extends far beyond health care.

57 Responses to Reiki: neither plausible, nor effective, nor harmless

  • Guy Chapman says:

    Energy is measured in Joules. My first question for any quack discussing energy: what instrument do you use to measure the energy, and how many Joules are typically required?

    Of course, if this form of energy did exist, it would violate the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy, so the first good study that proves it exists is a slam-dunk for an all expenses paid trip to Stockholm.

  • Guy Chapman says:

    Incidentally, the big tragedy of this is that those who practise alternatives to medicine such as reiki are often terribly nice people and really desperately sincere. I consider it amassive failing of our education system that we turn out otherwise intelligent people who lack basic critical thinking skills and simple fundamental knowledge of science. There really is no excuse in the 21st Century for not understanding the fact that energy is a measurable quantity which is conserved in all interactions. It is not even remotely difficult to grasp, as a concept.

    • Edzard says:

      absolutely! and some of the comments by alt med enthusiasts provide embarrassing evidence of this lack of critical thinking.

      • Pete 628 says:

        While my car was being repaired recently, I had a wonderful conversation with the Service Manager about the difference between customer understanding of problems and the solid evidence-based science used by all of the workshop personnel.

        Never once have the personnel suggested that a vehicle fault/problem: is due to the customer’s past life or an imbalance of the customer’s energy; can be cured by reiki, homeopathy, or the plethora of “magic devices” offered for sale on Websites.

        The reason that automobiles (and all other electronic and/or mechanical devices) cannot ever be repaired by a reiki master is simply because these devices have zero reaction to placebo.

        Modern cars are made of many recycled materials therefore they have had “past lives” and have had “drivers with negative energy” so I can’t wait to see the comments from reiki masters who are able to demonstrate their critical thinking skills.

        Transistors (which form part of most modern appliances, especially transportation) operate at the quantum level. It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many proponents of quantum quackery for animal health yet none of the proponents are able to influence something as basic as the photon capturing physics of a digital camera.

        My camera has developed a few warm pixels so does it need a replacement part to solve the problem or should I send it to a reiki master, a faith healer, a homeopath, or a quantum healing guru?

        As above, I can’t wait to hear answers that demonstrate critical thinking…

        • edzard says:

          i know of an energy healer who once tried to heal the engine of a bus that had broken down [i am not making this up]. the bus was full of like-minded people who watched in anticipation as she did her healing over the open bonnet. eventually they tried to re-start the engine….and it did not work. they had to be picked up by another bus.

          • Pete 628 says:

            I’m picturing a Monty Python sketch of that. Next time I get in my car I’ll say to myself “To start engine: rotate the qi in a clockwise direction.”

          • PeterJF says:

            That reminded me of some comedy back in the 70s in one episode a young man was convinced he was able to heal car engines by faith healing and praying and after he had been away praying the engines would often start.
            It turned out that his mechanically competent sister was feeling sorry for him and working on the engine while he was off praying.
            I think, but can not be sure, that it was an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

  • Kausik Datta says:

    It’s amazing how closely similar this Reiki business is to the supernatural Japanese anime series of cartoons and graphic novels, such as Yu Yu Hakusho or Dragonball Z. Those, too, have a lot of “energy” generation and energy throwing and so on. Just like the way Biblical creationists seem to consider the Flintstones to be a documentary, I wonder if these Reiki practitioners and believers think the same of these anime shows?

  • Pete 628 says:

    Reiki becomes highly plausible and effective to the practitioner (via self-delusion and business success). The prospective client may be easily seduced by it especially due to initial positive placebo reaction reinforced by the allure of becoming a ‘healer’. It has a strong element of victim blaming i.e. it plays on nocebo reactions (good for practitioner, harmful to client).

    Is it effective? Obviously not. If it was effective it would be medicine rather than a branch of CAM.

    Is it harmless? Absolutely not. All practitioners of panacea CAM are indoctrinated to believe that every negative outcome is a positive sign of the healing process. If after months of experimenting on the client the symptoms are still getting worse a practitioner will either covertly dismiss the client or overtly refer them to their GP. Furthermore, Reiki practitioners must (by definition) have very strong spiritual beliefs (they pay directly or indirectly in an attempt to master their spirituality, which is a never-ending process) and must instil as least some of these beliefs into their clients — otherwise they wouldn’t be performing proper Reiki healing.

    Reiki is one of many branches of CAM that claims to be a panacea, however, what makes it unusual (therefore of possible interest to discuss) is its business model.

    It has a three-tired hierarchy of degrees: First, Second, and Master/Teacher. The client can be ‘cured’ of their ailment(s) just as effectively by a Reiki Master as by visiting a homeopath, but one’s local Reiki Master will likely obtain more income than would one’s local homeopath because the former is allowed to coerce the client into additional spending on training courses with the practitioner whereas the latter practitioner is not allowed to do so.

    The Reiki healing process encourages the client to learn how to heal themselves, for which one or more training courses is essential. From the client perspective this is very tempting because not only does it offer the client the ability to self-heal, it also offers the client the opportunity to become a healer of others and to make money by so doing. This is an alluring triple reward for the client. (For some clients it’s a quadruple allure due to the self-esteem gained from having their first meaningful framed certificate of achievement/accreditation.)

    Reiki, it seems to me, is a lucrative multi-level marketing scheme whereas most other branches of CAM stick to using institutions for practitioner qualification. Vendors of supplements seem to be divided between the two business models. I have obviously avoided naming the many franchise schemes used in other branches of CAM.

    Despite having personally witnessed a myriad of different CAM conjuring tricks over the decades I’m still somewhat fascinated by them. They remind me of the Venus flytrap: this type of predator doesn’t need to get smarter, it relies on the abundance of prey that makes no effort to outwit its predator.

    Attempting dialogue with Venus flytraps in order to elicit evidence for efficacy in curing the diseases of flies is as pointless as attempting dialogue with CAM practitioners to elicit evidence for efficacy in curing the diseases of humans (and other animals). Venus flytraps and CAM practitioners already have enough food on their tables to survive therefore they don’t need to provide further evidence for their efficacy.

    The CAM definition of efficacy is exactly the same as ours: the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

    Our stumbling block is that we expect their desired or intended result to be the same as ours. We cannot overcome this block until we realize, accept, and learn to work with these totally different paradigms.

    If critical thinking skills had been incorporated into the national curriculum, as had been agreed over a decade ago by many world leaders, quackery would be heading towards extinction rather than expanding.

    The JREF has demonstrated that quackery can be a very useful teaching aid to developing critical thinking skills. Perhaps this is the best method to combat what has become “The CAM disease, which is in desperate need of a cure.”

  • Peter says:

    Dear Mr. Edzard

    I have a question.

    There was a scientific experiment that it generated data, ending that there were improvements in several well-being situations with significant percentages.

    Then I read his comment saying that researching causes a mistaken impression of the people about Reiki. Only that.

    I didn’t read any objection really plausible and effective exposing mistakes in the method of research nor that the data were badly collected.

    With the title of PhD, you well know that cannot simply write “I didn’t like” on the results, you need to convince us that the research was badly done in technical terms and it didn’t prove anything.

    Thanks.

  • Guy says:

    @Peter

    The thing is, the study wasn’t placebo-controlled. If you got a random guy (not a Reiki user) off the street and asked him to pretend to be a Reiki practitioner, the patients would still report improvement. Without placebo controls, the study is irrelevant because because *anything* (even sugar pills) can make people feel better.The question is not whether Reiki can help people, but whether it can help people more than placebo (i.e. sham Reiki.)

  • Caroline says:

    Recently the Confederation of Healing Organisations has funded research by University of Northampton Professors Chris Roe and Elizabeth Roxburgh which has shown that distant healing actually does WORK http://nectar.northampton.ac.uk/4671/ The researchers have also shown that such effects are also useful in a mental health setting and recommend psychologists and psychotherapists be trained and supervised in this http://www.bial.com/imagem/Bolsa8210_07022013.pdf

  • Caroline says:

    The study cited (Roe, Sonnex & Roxburgh: 2012) is quite clear in its statement that such healing processes DO WORK. After a thorough review of all the evidence the authors conclude that:

    “Findings with the non-whole human database suggest that subjects in the active condition were observed to have a significant improvement in wellbeing relative to control subjects under circumstances that do not seem to be susceptible to placebo and expectancy effects. Findings with the whole human database gave a smaller mean effect size but this was still significant”

    Roe, C. A., Sonnex, C. and Roxburgh, E. C. (2012) Two meta-analyses of distant healing studies. Parapsychological Association 55th Annual Convention, Durham, North Carolina, 09-12 August 2012. Durham, North Carolina, USA: Parapsychological Association.

    http://nectar.northampton.ac.uk/4671/

    • Edzard says:

      I do not dispute what you are saying about one single study. however, if you take ALL the available evidence into account, you arrive at a different conclusion. cherry-picking your data is misleading.

  • Gonçalo says:

    What I saw here is just false. Just because you didn’t get to explain it, it doesn’t mean that is not real. And yes, I value the scientifically method and believe it will get soon to clearly explain the so called esoteric field of energy that is still a transcendental issue. Well, Reiki is real, is physical and spiritual, and works, simple and effective, simple energy flowing. No detailed studies can place the simple fact of experience felt in your own body. And yet, everyone is free to have an opinion, even empty opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not offending you. But you are telling lies here.

    Peace

    • Björn Geir says:

      @Gonçalo
      Try reading Pete 628 ‘s comment a bit further up. He explains very clearly how and why and what you are experiencing

      The esoteric field of transcendental energy may well be real to you, but only as an idea in your own head.
      The liars in this game are the ones who take money from people promising to cure an ailment with something that only exists in their own head.

      • Alison Cockerill says:

        Complementary Therapies do not claim to cure an illness, rather support a person and make them feel better able to cope with it. However if Reiki is all in the head like you say, I am grateful to have it and a wonderful gift to receive. Have you heard the saying ‘you could cut the atmosphere with a knife’ when First walk into a room, you cannot see the tension you just sense that it is there.

        • Alan Henness says:

          Alison Cockerill said:

          Complementary Therapies do not claim to cure an illness

          That’s a rather sweeping statement and, other than being pedantic that it’s the practitioners of ‘complementary’ therapies who make the claims, it is trivially refuted.

          rather support a person and make them feel better able to cope with it.

          There may well be some therapies that make someone feel a bit better, but that’s not all they claim to do, is it?

          However if Reiki is all in the head like you say, I am grateful to have it and a wonderful gift to receive.

          Perhaps you could provide some good evidence that reiki does, indeed, work?

          Have you heard the saying ‘you could cut the atmosphere with a knife’ when First walk into a room, you cannot see the tension you just sense that it is there.

          Yes, but what do you believe that has got to do with the evidence for reiki?

  • Laura Allen says:

    Thank you for this post. After years of practicing and teaching energy work, I had an epiphany about 5-6 years ago brought on by my conversations with some of the EBP folks I met on the Internet. People don’t like to give up their BS (believe systems or bullshit, your call!), and my speaking out about it has cost me some supporters. After I shared the Rosa study the other day on my FB page, someone immediately said “I hate to see someone I used to admire slamming alternative therapies that they do not understand.”

    I’m not a scientist by anyone’s stretch of the imagination but I do have the ability, when it hits me over the head, to see how something cannot work in the way it’s claimed. I wish I had the ability to impart that to others. I realize people have good intentions, and all the years I was practicing it, I had good intentions, too. Reiki and other forms of energy work were required at the massage school I attended. No one wants to believe they’re spending time and money to learn things that are false.

    I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle because as mentioned above, it’s infiltrated the military, and the last time I counted it there are about 800 hospitals in the US offering Reiki to patients, including some of the most respected teaching hospitals. I don’t think there’s any hope of getting rid of it. It’s growing like a fungus.

    • Edzard says:

      thank you; it is up to us to promote rational thought and disclose irrationality for what it is. I invite you to submit a blog post as a guest to this blog.

    • sue hansard says:

      Well said Laura and I think very honest of you. I work in Palliative Care and REiki and Energy Healing is offered more and more for our patients and their relatives. Training sessions are also taught at my Hospice. Yet we purport, as an organisation, to use evidence based practice! It is a great concern to me and I am stone walled when I question this.

      • Alan Henness says:

        Sue, Laura

        There is obviously a place for some massage in hospices and in hospitals used as a means of relaxation and even just ‘pampering’ and I agree entirely with you that nonsense such as reiki should have no place. I know some organisations provide a very light touch massage: it’s barely even massage – more just a stroking covering arms and shoulders – but clients feel a benefit from that. But these tend to be vulnerable and possibly lonely people for whom this person-to-person contact may be the only contact they have with others and is also a way of giving them an opportunity to talk to someone who is trained to listen. I’m sure something like that – which makes no therapeutic claims other than being relaxing and increasing ‘well-being’ – would be far preferable to the mumbo-jumbo of reiki in hospices and hospitals.

        • Björn Geir says:

          Touch and warmth (both physical and mental) are well known essentials for humans and other warm blooded animals (at least?).
          As Alan says, this is what many people are sorely lacking.

          Someone called this deficiency “skin hunger”.

          As a physician (surgeon) I learned long ago that when visiting a patient at the bed, even if in a hurry, I examine the patient if needed and then try to sit down, however briefly, take the pulse at the wrist (always informative). Then I continue to hold on to the hand while discussing matters at hand. One senses right away if the patient is uncomfortable with this, which is almost never. This touch, closeness warmth and relaxation, however brief and casual, is part of the real art of using placebo to aid real medicine. I could of course pretend to feel the “heat” or “energy” or whatever they call it, those who bought themselves imaginary magical reiki-powers. But I do not need to call it magic. It is real, non-mystical human interaction that the worried-well generation has forgotten how to practice for themselves and are instead buying with varying amounts of deception from well-meaning craniosacral therapists, reiki-masters and other brands of touch-quacks, who have been led to believe it is an alternative form of science.

        • sue hansard says:

          I agree there is definitely a place for `touch’ in palliative care. Some Complementary therapies certainly help patients and carers to achieve relaxation and they report improved emotional `well being’ after wards. But sometimes, and for many different reasons a person may not be able to receive `physical touch’ treatments. In these instances there may be a place for the hands- off `relaxation’, which `REIKI’ seems to afford recipients. After all most of us WOULD feel relaxed during and after spending 30minutes on a comfy couch, in a warm cocoon like room, with tranquil music in the background. So why not call it that and make no other claims. Would it be less beneficial simply because we are being honest?
          If we continue to accept the psuedo science of Reiki, and , by using it so unquestioningly within a medical model of care, we are giving credence to it. The message we are giving is that it IS safe, appropriate and therapeutic and ethical and all on the back of the idea that ` well it can’t really cause any harm can it?’ How do I tackle this? Advice appreciated.

          • Edzard says:

            it is NOT safe to make people believe in mystical nonsense! it undermines rationality in out society which can have disastrous effects

          • jm says:

            Belief in mystical nonsense can lead to disastrous effects like the Crusades, for instance.

            Is there really any kind of evidence that folks are forgoing other treatments in favor of Reiki for serious conditions? Seriously?

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Belief in mystical nonsense…

            Such as homeopathy or the vertebral subluxatiion complex?

            Is there really any kind of evidence that folks are forgoing other treatments in favor of Reiki for serious conditions? Seriously?

            I doubt reiki practitioners record that detail, but you’re missing the point.

          • jm says:

            I don’t think I’m missing the point at all, Alan. I’ve know several christians who, as part of their faith, refuse any and all medical care. I also know quite a few folks who have received reiki trreatments – after receiving chemo, muscle reattachments, various other medical treatments.

            I don’t know of a single person who opted for reiki as sole treatment for a serious condition. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who did that. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but they are outliers who would refuse western med treatment anyway.

            The reiki folks believe they are using electromagnetic potential inherent in uncoccupied space to facilitate healing after a medical intervention. The christians are relying on the hand of an unseen deity at the exclusion of all other treatment.

            So which mystical nonsense do you think is more dangerous? Oh dear…

          • Alan Henness says:

            @jm

            Yes, there are all sorts of similarities between belief in magic medicine and belief in a god, etc: all are lacking in any good evidence.

            But I think this is a good example of the problem of believing in nonsense – it engenders highly dangerous attitudes and actions that can kill: Natural Treatments for AIDS / HIV:

            What this means is that the Bob Beck Protocol must be used by itself.
            1) No orthodox treatments for AIDS – NONE,
            2) No alternative treatments for AIDS – NONE,
            3) No prescription drugs – NONE,
            4) No pain killers – NONE,
            5) No herbs,
            6) No garlic !! (especially no garlic)
            7) No over-the-counter medications (e.g. no aspirin),
            8) No vitamins (especially no vitamin A),
            9) NOT for Pregnant Women,
            10) NO alcohol or “recreational” drugs, coffee, tea, etc.
            11) NO smoking,
            12) NO pacemakers,
            13) etc. etc.

          • jm says:

            Again, it’s most likely that anyone following the Beck protocol would be avoiding western med anyway (for whatever reason). Or finance reasons. Many can’t afford western med, and for every person charging for reiki there are many more who don’t charge (most reiki practitioners hold to the belief that charging money for healing is unethical – but you rarely hear about them for obvious reasons).

            Putting reiki in the “dangerous” category is quite bizarre. Worrying about ‘endorsement’ of psuedo science is also a bit odd…considering that many hospitals house chapels.

            Then again, if that’s our biggest problem – woohoo!

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Again, it’s most likely that anyone following the Beck protocol would be avoiding western med anyway (for whatever reason).

            Your logical fallacy is Appeal to personal incredulity. I refer you to the words I quoted.

            As has already been pointed out, the danger isn’t always the specific effects of a treatment, but the problems that the non-specific effects create, including engendering a mistrust – or even hatred and contempt – for conventional treatments and medical professionals.

          • jm says:

            Not trying to justify anything – just saying that on the scale of “dangerous”…reiki doesn’t even make the list. Or if it’s on a list of dangers, is just below bunnies and kittens. People should be more worried about ibuprophen.

          • jm says:

            Alan – “…engendering a mistrust – or even hatred and contempt – for conventional treatments and medical professionals.”

            What does that have to do with reiki? Or religious beliefs, for that matter? You seem to have pulled that out of left field…???

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Alan – “…engendering a mistrust – or even hatred and contempt – for conventional treatments and medical professionals.”

            What does that have to do with reiki? Or religious beliefs, for that matter? You seem to have pulled that out of left field…???

            Please try to keep up. The link to that exaltation to forgo conventional medical treatment for AIDS was on the website of a reiki practitioner.

          • jm says:

            “Please try to keep up. The link to that exaltation to forgo conventional medical treatment for AIDS was on the website of a reiki practitioner.”

            Oh dear… Next you’ll tell me that all western allopaths are quacks, because someone’s touting a “magic green pill” – and it’s on the website of an MD! As you say, “please try to keep up”. (That was so cute, by the way.)

            If you’re doing a google search for reiki, you have to dig pretty deep to find the site you’re referencing. The top hit for me was reiki.org. Specifically, this page: http://www.reiki.org/faq/whatisreiki.html. And you could have pulled this quote from it:

            “It (reiki) also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.”

            Good grief.

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Oh dear… Next you’ll tell me that all western allopaths are quacks, because someone’s touting a “magic green pill” – and it’s on the website of an MD! As you say, “please try to keep up”. (That was so cute, by the way.)

            What on earth are you on about?

            If you’re doing a google search for reiki, you have to dig pretty deep to find the site you’re referencing.

            No, I found it very easily. But of course, where it is ranked by Google has no bearing on the veracity of what it says. And you have no idea what terms I searched for, so why assume what I found would be the same as what you found?

            The top hit for me was reiki.org. Specifically, this page: http://www.reiki.org/faq/whatisreiki.html.

            So what? ‘Research’ is frequently more than hitting ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’.

            And you could have pulled this quote from it:

            “It (reiki) also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery.”

            Good grief.

            Good grief. So I could. I could have quoted any other words from that site. However, it seems that not all reiki practitioners follow the gospel of reiki.org, so my quote taken from a reiki practitioner’s website still stands.

            BTW, I don’t suppose reiki.org provided any good evidence for their claims?

            Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand rather than how Google searches work, you said:

            I don’t know of a single person who opted for reiki as sole treatment for a serious condition.

            So I searched for reiki and AIDS and, lo and behold, the seventh result here was the one I quoted where a reiki practitioner seemed to be advocating the abandonment of conventional treatments for this ‘Bob Beck Protocol’. Now that ‘treatment’ may well not be reiki, but I was using it as an illustration of how – as you put it – ‘Belief in mystical nonsense can lead to disastrous effects’. A point well made by that quote.

          • jm says:

            “sorry, you are wrong: reiki does NOT work, at least not beyond placebo.”

            hmmm…I missed the part where I said it worked….where was that again?

          • jm says:

            Alan – “Well, you repeated the quote from reiki.org saying that reiki worked. Are they wrong?”

            Yeah, I quoted from reiki.org, because that’s what comes up first if someone googled “reiki”. If someone was unfamiliar with reiki, they would probably search the term “reiki”. Are they wrong? I have no idea, but from what Sue was saying the “promote recovery” aspects seems pretty accurrate. Or am I missing the something about the dangers of relaxing?

            In contrast, you cherry picked some whack job that someone would have to do a relatively deep search to find. And then say “Now that ‘treatment’ may well not be reiki”. I’m sure there’s someone somewhere cherry picking whack job Dr Oz as ‘proof’ that western med is dangerous. (That’s what I was ‘going on’ about, by the way. I didn’t think that would be too hard to follow, but here we are.)

            “But of course, where it is ranked by Google has no bearing on the veracity of what it says.”

            No kidding. Again, that’s what the unfamiliar will find doing a search for “reiki”. Odds are, that would be the search. Or they would check Wikipedia, and find that reiki is considered a spiritual practice with no evidence of treatment success.

            “Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand rather than how Google searches work…”

            Yeah, the topic at hand was the dangers of people believing that reiki works. The therapy isn’t dangerous, belief in the proposed mechanism isn’t dangerous, more often than not it’s free, and there are zero side effects. I think you should google the word “dangerous”.

            If safety in relation to mystical nonsense is really an issue, it would make more sense to replace hospital and palliative facility chapels with reiki practitioners. Or better yet, a good cafe.

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Alan – “Well, you repeated the quote from reiki.org saying that reiki worked. Are they wrong?”

            Yeah, I quoted from reiki.org, because that’s what comes up first if someone googled “reiki”.

            As I said, I did not search for reiki on its own because we were supposed to be discussing reiki and serious medical conditions. But you don’t seem to be able to get past the idea that the first result in Google does not mean it is correct or the most authoritative. It is just a search result.

            If someone was unfamiliar with reiki, they would probably search the term “reiki”. Are they wrong? I have no idea, but from what Sue was saying the “promote recovery” aspects seems pretty accurrate. Or am I missing the something about the dangers of relaxing?

            Please don’t confuse specific with non-specific effects. Sue was quite clear she was referring to the non-specific effects and that there were no specific effects of reiki.

            In contrast, you cherry picked some whack job that someone would have to do a relatively deep search to find. And then say “Now that ‘treatment’ may well not be reiki”. I’m sure there’s someone somewhere cherry picking whack job Dr Oz as ‘proof’ that western med is dangerous. (That’s what I was ‘going on’ about, by the way. I didn’t think that would be too hard to follow, but here we are.)

            At least we can agree about Oz. However, getting back to what we started discussing – the use of reiki and serious medical conditions – are you suggesting that, to find out what reiki practitioners think about treating serious medical conditions, I simply search for reiki and if I find nothing in the first hit, I should conclude that everything is all hunky-dory in reiki land? Maybe that reiki practitioner is a one-off, but I doubt it – how about you?

            “But of course, where it is ranked by Google has no bearing on the veracity of what it says.”

            No kidding. Again, that’s what the unfamiliar will find doing a search for “reiki”. Odds are, that would be the search. Or they would check Wikipedia, and find that reiki is considered a spiritual practice with no evidence of treatment success.

            I’m glad that Wikipedia is accurate on that, but yet again, you’ve missed the point.

            “Anyway, to get back to the topic at hand rather than how Google searches work…”

            Yeah, the topic at hand was the dangers of people believing that reiki works. The therapy isn’t dangerous, belief in the proposed mechanism isn’t dangerous, more often than not it’s free, and there are zero side effects. I think you should google the word “dangerous”.

            I have already given you an good example of a reiki practitioner appearing to endorse a highly dangerous practice. If you want to ignore that, then so be it.

            If safety in relation to mystical nonsense is really an issue, it would make more sense to replace hospital and palliative facility chapels with reiki practitioners. Or better yet, a good cafe.

            LOL!

          • jm says:

            Alan -

            “As I said, I did not search for reiki on its own because we were supposed to be discussing reiki and serious medical conditions. But you don’t seem to be able to get past the idea that the first result in Google does not mean it is correct or the most authoritative. It is just a search result.”

            You need to reread what I wrote.

            “Please don’t confuse specific with non-specific effects. Sue was quite clear she was referring to the non-specific effects and that there were no specific effects of reiki.”

            Yup. According to research, specific results of reiki is: nothing. Non-specific effects: relaxation.

            “At least we can agree about Oz. However, getting back to what we started discussing – the use of reiki and serious medical conditions – are you suggesting that, to find out what reiki practitioners think about treating serious medical conditions, I simply search for reiki and if I find nothing in the first hit, I should conclude that everything is all hunky-dory in reiki land? Maybe that reiki practitioner is a one-off, but I doubt it – how about you?”

            Nope. Again, re-read what I wrote. Read all the words, not assuming that I am in any way supporting reiki. Assume that I am commenting on considering reiki dangerous. Also assume that it’s the rare individual (regardless of one off website nutjobs) that will treat a serious med condition solely with reiki.

            “I’m glad that Wikipedia is accurate on that, but yet again, you’ve missed the point.”

            The point is that folks curious about reiki will be informed that it’s not primary treatment for serious med conditions.

            “I have already given you an good example of a reiki practitioner appearing to endorse a highly dangerous practice. If you want to ignore that, then so be it.”

            I’ve given you a good example of the dangers of western med. Ignore it if you want. Actually, Oz is more dangerous than the site you found. He reaches more people. The difference here is that I don’t think Oz is representative of western med – you seem to think that obscure nutburger is representative of reiki. Not sure why you think that.

            “LOL”

            Chapels in hospitals make me LOL, too!

  • Jo Giles says:

    I can only assume that those who have posted above about the ‘sham of Reiki’ have never actually bothered to go and experience a treatment themselves. Because if you had, you would know that it works. You do not need to have a scientific study explain why a massage is beneficial and you don’t for Reiki. I have been a complimentary therapist for 12 years and a Reiki practitioner for 3 years and I have been amazed at the results I get when using Reiki on my clients. Even the most sceptical – I am part of the Google massage team so you can imagine how many engineers like to dismiss it initially, but yet are completely amazed and converted! I use it to help release knots in a tenth of the time and with half of the pain and can literally switch off pain in some cases – for example putting one hand on the belly and asking Reiki to take the pain away whilst pressing on the IT Band as hard as I can. Instantly switches of the pain. Also, the amount of heat that is generated from my hands when the Reiki is flowing is incredible and yet my hands themselves are usually quite cold. People – including myself are always amazed! I was always a bit sceptical myself, being a hands on body worker, but seriously, Reiki is amazing and it does work and is an incredible support for me in my job – on some days I massage up to 7 hours – before I could give Reiki I would be completely wiped out.
    I watched my mum’s leg (post hip op) that was really swollen literally go back to almost it’s normal size in front of our very eyes after I administered ten minutes of Reiki. My mum was previously a sceptic! It continues to amaze me and sometimes freak me out to be honest how effective it is. It’s only a shame that people like to dismiss things they have never experienced – how do you even know if it doesn’t work if you haven’t even tried it. Honestly, we are not saying Reiki is the cure for all disease, but it does make life better and people feel better, and that can only be a good thing. Reiki is for the highest good of all. It’s a practical application of energy for the benefit of all. Try it, then comment. it’s a bit like reviewing a restaurant that you haven’t eaten in. Until then, your comments have no value.

    • Neil says:

      @ Jo Giles

      Lets keep going with the restaurant metaphor. You got to a restaurant and really enjoy your meal, 10 other people find out they have food poisoning due to the poor standards of hygiene. Even though your experience was good do we ignore the other evidence? Would you go back there if the conditions remain the same?

    • sue hansard says:

      Jo, I have received REIKI. I have also worked in a comp Therapy centre charging for Reiki as well as in other situations where Reiki was/is offered by, I’m certain, well meaning, well intentioned volunteer Reiki therapists. But no matter how well intentioned that doesn’t make the therapy effective, safe or ethical.
      When I had my REIKI treatment I felt very relaxed during and after…. BUT… I was in a quiet, warm, therapy room with candles, floaty music, , the ideal scenario for me to `shut out’ my day to day worries. PLus, my therapist made me `feel safe’, she inferred on me an air of calm, of trust and her belief that this treatment would help. As a rational person I knew that my `feel good feelings’ during and after, were simply because of the environment , nothing else. If I was `suggestable’ I would probably attribute it to the Reiki ESPECIALLY so when the therapist `identifies’ areas of `blocked energy.
      I have sampled many different alternative therapies and guess what?….. they all suggest the same areas of `blockage’. I can predict the areas which will be identified: my liver, my spleen, my pelvic area (usually gynae ), my bowels and always my lymph system! But this is simply guess work and should not be made out to be anything else.

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