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.

133 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.

    • sanjay says:

      My friend ,reiki does’nt violate the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy.A reiki healer can’t creat energy .he can transfer some of energy from his body to another body only if hi knows right procedure.

    • sanjay says:

      Hii Alan Henness
      If u want to know –in scientific terms – what reiki ‘energy’ is .then remove the word “reiki” first,and try to know about the word ” Energy” and its definitions,types we need to survives,how/why it works,why we need,how we can get.how may ways are their to get,how many ways we knows,when it will not works and why,when we needs energy and much more.I cant explain much here a good /scientific reiki master can explain this .I myself tries to understand several times why it works,every time unable to get scientific answer ,but process works.A v good scientific research work needed to explain this.It is an ancient science still beyond over reach.If you are interested and want to know how/why it works learn the process and try it ,then try to know the answer.In my opinion a scientist who know reaky healing can only find the scientific answer for this.Person who doesn’t know reiki healing can not find (vaffy diffiult )scientific answer. In absence of good research work we should not give bad comments.Just take the advantage what we knows and wait for the researches .Again if it works for goodness then what is wrong.
      I am against the all reiky master who takes money for healing or teaching.In absence of good research
      work it is not fair,also for money they teaches everybody(may be criminal).Reiki is for good deeds only.Parson taking reiki healing should not 100 % depend on reiki ,do your duty.If you are suffering from illness ,consult your doctor and take the treatment,take the reiki as helping(due to absence of good reaserh) therapy only.
      friend,i am not explaining the process.As publishing it is not good for mankind. someone can misuse it.sorry for this.
      I am not a good typist ,may be their some grammar and typing errors.But i think u can understand what i meant to say.
      good luck to you.You can visit my web site http://reikimaster.hpage.com/

      • Alan Henness says:

        sanjay

        No, that won’t work. I know what energy is; I don’t know what you think ‘reiki energy’ is. And you – although you say you are a scientist – have not been able to explain it either. And you have not provided any good evidence that reiki works either.

  • 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.

    • joe says:

      well my brother is a reiki master and he did reiki on me and i can say that it might work in a placebo way BUT it certainly did nothing for me and for what i got out of it ( which was nothing ) i certainly would not part with any money for it, i can tell you its a sham.

    • joe says:

      hi jo, my brother is a “reiki master”he tried his “craft”on me, needless to say it did NOTHING for me, its a scam, i said it to my brother and as a result he does not talk to me, i dont particularly care except i dont think its nice to take money from people in return for something that is proven to be of little use.

  • joe says:

    hi everybody,my estranged brother is a “reiki master” somewhere in this forum it was mentioned lack of education,concerning my brother this is true, his education levels are low, his mind is closed to the point where he would not consider for a moment that reiki is a load of rubbish, you could place in front of him all the evidence in the world that reiki is rubbish and he would not believe it, but the thing is my estranged brother has nothing else in life, so to lose his title as “reiki master”would mean that he would have to accept the fact that in reality he has nothing and for him and others like him means that they have to cling to their titles for dear life.yes i truly believe lack of good education contributes to the problems we are facing regarding things like reiki.

  • sanjay says:

    hiii.pl read yr own para
    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.”
    if 88% gets relaxation than it proves reiki exists.Research needed for12% why they are not feeling relaxation . A good reiki master can ans this.

      • jm says:

        @Alan – The first part of your question is pretty straightforward. As I think I said before, reiki roughly translates to: electromagnetic potential inherent in unoccupied space.

        Rei is basically the electromagnetic potential of free space.
        Ki is electromagnetism.

        Modern science has been measuring rei for quite some time. Still haven’t proven electromagnetism yet, though. But the effects of electromagnetism are measurable. So when you say “what you believe this reiki ‘energy’ is…” – it’s not a belief system. It’s just physics.

        For the second part of your question…can’t help you there.

          • Alan Henness says:

            jm said:

            Depends. But I think it’s usually pascal units, if memory serves.

            No. The Pascal is an SI derived unit for pressure, not energy.

            But what do you mean by ‘depends’ and ‘usually’?

          • jm says:

            Alan: “No. The Pascal is an SI derived unit for pressure, not energy.”

            Yes, and I was assuming that measuring pressure is probably the most common measurement of empty space (hence the ‘usually pascal units’, since you asked). Another would be vacuum energy, which I believe is measured in joules. Depends on what you’re looking at in empty space. (that’s what I mean by ‘depends’).

            So maybe joules is more common than pascal units. I have no idea. I suppose PSI is even more common than either of the other two.

            Rei doesn’t mean energy. It’s referring to empty or free space.

          • jm says:

            @Alan – You certainly were asking about empty space. Rei → empty space. Ki → electromagnetism.

            Then you ask about how it can be transferred and what the procedure is. That I don’t know.

            (Now is the time for you to reply with “sigh”, and I resign myself to the fact that you can’t understand that different languages have words different from ours for physical phenomena. As we’ve discussed before, different cultures have different words for things like ‘weather’ and ‘gravity’ as well as empty space. Go figure.)

          • Alan Henness says:

            @jm

            No. However, it seems that you don’t know what ‘reiki energy’ is, how it might be measured, what would be used to measure it nor even if it exists. Would that be a fair summary?

        • joe says:

          hi jim, sorry to butt in but there is NO evidence of the so called life energy used in reiki actually exists and as this energy does not exist it therefore cannot be measured, there have been controlled scientific tests to prove that reiki at best can only offer a placebo effect, in other words it really does nothing for you, as i have stated elswhere, my brother is a “reiki master” and he tried on me and to his dismay it did nothing for me, but that does not stop him from taking money from gullible people for his “treatment” if the people are silly enough to pay him, good luck to him.

          • jm says:

            Hi Joe, I’m assuming you mean that the controlled tests → placebo you’re talking about are referring to the therapy Reiki. Alan was asking “perhaps you could explain – in scientific terms – what you believe this reiki ‘energy’ is”.

            I was talking about “this reiki energy”, not the therapy…since that’s what he asked about. I think we can all agree that the inherent qualities of empty space are actually quite useful, and far from placebo.

  • joe says:

    hi jim, a proven and controlled test conducted some time ago involving a test subject named emily rosa, came to the conclusion that “reiki energy”does NOT exist, in contrast there is NO proven evidence that “reiki energy or life force” exists. so the only conclusion that a rational person can make is that “reiki” actually has no effect except as a placebo, which really means its a fake.and quite frankly there is really no point in discussing this further because people with high intellect and very high education have proven that “reiki” is actually fake, of course you have the right to believe what you like.

    • jm says:

      Again, you are talking about the therapy. I’m not. If you can’t understand that, then you’re right – there really is no point in discussing this futher.

  • Quark says:

    If reiki energy is some sort of electromagnetism transfer of energy we should be able to detect heat or light upon effect (let’s put aside the “how it work”). We don’t see anything, so two possibilities : It does not exist. Or it’s some of mystical undetectable “life energy”. First proposition seems more correct.

    jm you are saying “But the effects of electromagnetism are measurable. So when you say “what you believe this reiki ‘energy’ is…” – it’s not a belief system. It’s just physics. ” how can you not then deny reiki ? If the effect are measurable why no one is able to do so ? (and it’s very simple with today technology) Because reiki is not elecromagnetism, it’s belief and nothing else. It’s just pure logical thinking that you are missing.

    • jm says:

      Quark – ” how can you not then deny reiki ?” You’re talking about using reiki as a therapy – actually using the inherent forces of empty space therapeutically. I’m just talking about reiki itself, not the therapy.

      ” If the effect are measurable why no one is able to do so ?” The effects of the weather are measurable, and no one is able to channel those effects therapeutically. But weather does exist, it is not a belief system.

      “Because reiki is not elecromagnetism, it’s belief and nothing else.” Reiki the therapy is not electromagnetism. But the term that the therapy is named after certainly is. That’s what the word means.

      “It’s just pure logical thinking that you are missing” Actually, what’s missing here is the ability to separate the therapy from the term it’s named after. Suppose for a moment that there was evidence that ultrasound therapy doesn’t work. It would be silly to say “Since there is no evidence that ultrasound therapy works therapeutically, ultrasound does not exist.”

      I’m not saying that ultrasound therapy doesn’t work, by the way. I’m also not saying that reiki therapy does work. Again, Alan was asking about the specific energy, not the therapy. Using empty space therapeutically is a different issue.

    • Alan Henness says:

      Indeed. We’ve seen all sorts of obfuscation from jm yet he still seems unable to answer simple questions about the ‘reiki energy’ he keeps going on about. It seems he’d rather talk about anything else but.

      • jm says:

        Alan, I honestly can’t tell if you’re trying to be funny or if you really don’t understand that Edzard is referring to a therapy called ‘reiki’ in his post. The name was appropriated in the early 1900′s for the therapy. The term, used to describe atmospheric conditions / the electromagnetic qualities of empty space, is from the 3rd or 4th century BC.

        You asked about the energy, not the therapy. It’s not that hard, and hardly obscure.

        Bjorn should chime in about fairies and Voldemort about now.

        • Alan Henness says:

          @jm

          I’m not asking about what Prof Ernst was referring to; I’m not interested in the etymology of the word.

          sanjay first mentioned ‘reiki energy’ but was unable to answer a very simple question about it: I want to know how ‘reiki energy’ can be measured. You came into the conversation but you’ve not been able to answer my question either.

          If you don’t know, please just clearly say so so that we can move the conversation along instead of being sidetracked into pointless meta-discussions.

          • jm says:

            What I’ve been describing to you is reiki energy (which is a redundate phrase – you don’t need to include the word energy, that would be the ki part of the term). I’m not giving you the etymology of the word – just the definition.

            The etymology is quite interesting, though.

            And defining the term if far from being sidetracked into pointless meta-discussion. If you’re going to discuss the therapy of reiki, you should understand the term that it’s named after (since that’s what it’s claiming to utilise).

          • Alan Henness says:

            @jm

            Let me try to make this clear: we can maybe discuss the etymology later; we can maybe discuss the therapy itself later. But first can we agree on how the fuck this ‘reiki energy’ can be measured? Once we’ve agreed on that – if, indeed we can – we can start to worry about where it originates, how it can be manipulated by a human being and how it could be used for benefit or harm. But, until we have a some kind of idea how it could be measured, all those other things are moot.

          • jm says:

            @Alan

            Yes, sanjay mentioned ‘reiki energy’. That doesn’t make the phrasing less redundant.

            I’ve told you how the fuck reiki can be measured. If you want to believe that vacuum, atmospheric pressure, and electric potential energy (all would be considered reiki) are unmeasureable mystical forces…so be it. Grab your torch, form a mob, and hunt down Frankenstein’s monster. If you can’t get past the term, or the appropriation of the term by an alternative therapy…that’s your option.

            Let me try to make this clear: I’ve told you that I have no idea if it can be manipulated by humans in the way that reiki (the therapy) claims to. I don’t even care. But when people claim to be dealing with science and evidence, and don’t understand the meaning of the terms they are discussing…I find that relatively disturbing.

            Until you understand the term that the therapy appropriated, all other things are moot. It’s not that difficult of a concept.

    • Pete 628 says:

      Quark, you are wasting your time debating jm. When it comes to science, jm has more than amply demonstrated his/her wilful obscurantism and wilful ignorance in endless pathetic attempts to promote quackery (via being a science- and evidence-based medicine denialist) on Professor Ernst’s website.

      To think of jm as a supporter of pseudoscience would be a category error: jm promulgates anti-science.

  • Martin H. Goodman says:

    As Ernst and Singh in “Trick or Treatment” made brilliantly clear in their introduction to and in the body of their brilliant book (and as the more articulate who expose the quackery that is nearly all of “alternative and complimentary” medicine also explain… among them Steven Barrett on Quackwatch and the Science Based Medicine site):

    It’s of somewhat secondary importance that the explanation of how Reiki works is such obvious bullshit on the face of it, and violates all we know of physics and medicine. One can point out that it violated what then was considered common sense and existing experience with and knowledge of medicine to suggest that citrus juice might treat or cure scurvy, or that ulcers were caused by bacteria, not stomach acid. To be sure, as Carl Sagan is often quoted as saying, “extraordinary hypotheses call for extraordinarily strong proofs / confirmations”, but the bottom line is that it’s NOT necessary to know how something works in order to test whether or not it has merit… especially in the area of medical treatments. Clinical trials when carefully and honestly constructed (in contrast to the shams… dishonest and/or incompetent… often done in the world of complementary and alternative medicine) can confidently show whether a treatment has merit. These trials have been constructed, have been done, and show beyond the slightest iota of doubt (at the same level we know the earth is round, not flat, or that the earth revolves around the sun, not the reverse, or that we are here by natural selection, not some non-existent god created by man in superstition and ignorance) that homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture, and most other “alternative and complementary medicine” is TOTAL FRAUD. TOTALLY WORTHLESS (that is, no better in efficacy than a placebo).

    Those are the facts. Frankly, as a doctor, I would have PREFERRED GREATLY that the clinical trails had shown alternative medicine to be valuable in treating disease. There’s nothing I’d have liked to see more than more effective means by which to deal with disease, for our abilities to provide effective treatments (let alone full cures) of disease is still very much in its infancy, and sadly very limited in many cases. Unfortunately, the studies have been done… done well enough and extensively enough that there is no reason what so ever to repeat them or do more, in the case of homeopathy, Reiki, and nearly all of acupuncture as well.

    BTW: Note that it took almost 400 years for people understand HOW and WHY citrus juice cured and prevented scurvy. And that to this day we have no idea how inhalational anesthetics work, even tho we know they DO work and know a great deal about how to use them.

    MHG MD

  • Björn Geir says:

    Here’s something for our “dada” connoisseur to gloat over:

    What a silly discussion.
    Of course “Qi” or whatever you choose to call it, is not quantifiable. It is singularity. Just like other popular fabulations. There is only one “Santa”, one “tooth-fairy”, one “Qi” and so on. (There are thirteen “Yule lads” in the Icelandic folklore but that is a special case).
    There is no need to measure or quantify “Qi”. I guess you can count the heads containing a quantum[sic] each of the belief but the result of such a quantification does not mean that if there are more “Qi”-believers in USA than the UK that the “Qi” is stronger over there.
    It is the same Santa,,, eh, sorry… the same “Qi” all over. There is of course no “Qi” in a head that has never heard of it but Reiki masters can manipulate “Qi”. They earn money by putting the ideas into other peoples heads, thereby channeling and propagating the illusion. But it is the same “Qi” anyway Then there is only the question how long it will stick. For some it is permanently bonded as seems to be the case with our local dada-specialist :D

  • Quark says:

    Well well jm what’s the “inherent forces of empty space” ? And how this would be therapeuthic in any way ? And how could we use them ? Because human body is far from an empty space.
    I know no “forces of empty space”, if you dare to talk about very specific Casimir effect you are more out of it than it’s possible to be. There is 4 forces in physics, choose one to begin (so it’s not electromagnetism you say, so there is only 3 left).

    Pete628 : I see i might be hitting my head against the wall, but the “inherent forces of empty space definition is tingling me.

    • jm says:

      Hi Quark,

      I’m sure this isn’t a complete list, as it’s been years since having this conversation with a physicist friend of mine. Her love of free space was its ability to transfer electromagnetic energy so effectively, making a wonderful canvas for study. So her favorite inherent quality/force of free space was electric potential energy (measured in joules, I believe). My personal favoite is vacuum. My wife’s is atmospheric pressure (which I would argue is an effect of empty space, not an inherent quality…).

      Some people consider quantum fluctuation to be an inherent aspect of free space. Regardless, the electromagnetic potential of free space (reiki) at least includes vacuum, atmospheric pressure, electric potential energy.

      When Alan commented “What ‘inherent qualities of empty space [that] are actually quite useful’?” I really thought he was kidding. Since without empty space…we wouldn’t have light bulbs. The empty space/vacuum in light bulbs would be reiki.

      As far as “Because human body is far from an empty space.”, I think you’re wrong there. We’re mostly empty space. The current thinking is that the space between the nucleus and electrons is empty. Since we’re made of atoms…that’s a lot of empty space. The electric potential energy in the free space that we’re made of would also be called reiki.

      How any of this would be used therapeutically…I don’t know. I’ve said that many times on this thread. Some commenters here can’t understand that there is a difference between reiki (a description/model of physical forces in nature) and reiki (the therapy that claims to use these forces), which I find quite odd. Asking “what is reiki energy?” is very different than asking “what is reiki therapy?”.

      But you can’t have a useful discussion on reiki therapy without understanding what is mean by reiki itself. You can certainly discuss therapeutic effectiveness without understanding it, but you can’t say “reiki doesn’t exist”. Not without sounding incredibly superstitious or unscientific anyway.

      • Björn Geir says:

        But you can’t have a useful discussion on reiki therapy without understanding what is mean by reiki itself.

        I think “jm” hit the nail on the head. Not even Reiki-practitioners understand what it is.

        “jm” m doesn’t either. I was trying to tabulate all his/her many different versions in her/his many attempts at explanations but this blog is not easily searchable so I’ll let it rest.

    • Alan Henness says:

      jm said:

      When Alan commented “What ‘inherent qualities of empty space [that] are actually quite useful’?” I really thought he was kidding. Since without empty space…we wouldn’t have light bulbs. The empty space/vacuum in light bulbs would be reiki.

      Oh! I thought this was a post on alt med, not physics, so I assumed you were talking about the ‘inherent qualities of empty space’ in relation to reiki therapy, most of which, I understand, is carried out on Earth at STP. That’s why I asked the question. But damn it, I see you’ve evaded answering the question yet again:

      What value is measured when reiki energy is measured?

      PS You’re wrong about the light bulbs, by the way. But don’t let that distract you yet again.

      • jm says:

        Really? Are you sure the invention of the light bulb didn’t rely on vacuum? hmmm…I stand corrected. You should correct the wikipedia page. You’re really sure?

        Last time I’ll remind you – you asked about the energy, not the therapy in the first part of your question. Remember? And, “the inherent qualities of empty space in relation to reiki therapy” – (this is really getting tiresome) reiki the therapy claims to utilize reiki (the energy). Here’s my last attempt, since I’m starting to believe you that you really aren’t getting it. I’ll write the words differently, to differentiate.

        rei ki – electromagnetic potential of free space

        Reiki – a therapy that claims to utilize rei ki

        See the difference there? One includes vacuum, atmospheric pressure, electric potential energy, etc. But it’s a Japanese word for it. The other one is an unproven therapy.

        Your original question was “perhaps you could explain – in scientific terms – what you believe this reiki ‘energy’ is, how it can be transferred and what the right procedures are?”

        I read that as a two part question:

        1. what is rei ki (“perhaps you could explain – in scientific terms – what you believe this reiki ‘energy’ is”)

        2. how does Reiki work (“perhaps you could explain – in scientific terms – how it can be transferred and what the right procedures are?”)

        My interest in rei ki (ling qi, in Chinese) has nothing to do with Reiki. But I thought I could answer the first part of the question for you. And I did, several times. Silly me, I thought you genuinely wanted to know. You fooled me twice (first time I thought you genuinely wanted to know what was meant by qi, but if you didn’t get it from Tom’s really well written tutorial…I should have left it at that).

        Next time hopefully I’ll remember that you don’t REALLY want an answer, but would rather stick with what you think you already know. It’s an interesting approach to science…but hey, whatever works for you.

        As for part 2 of your question…again, I have no idea. I’m very serious about that. I’ve had it explained to me, I’ve seen it used quite skillfully, and without a doubt the person got the results they claimed to be able to get. Repeatedly. But I still don’t believe it. I’d bet you a good bottle of Scotch that I’m a bigger skeptic than you are.

  • Quark says:

    jm, you just haven’t responded to “what’s are the FORCES inherent of an empty space” ? You changed it for “qualities” so you are just mixing the term and be less and less clear, in physics forces have a precise definition, if you won’t stick at what you are saying you speak gibberish. By the way…

    “My personal favoite is vacuum” that doesn’t mean anything… A free space is a vaccum, well it’s more a vacuum is a free space free of physical particle… And it depend if you are recalling to classical or quantum deifintion of vacuum.

    “So her favorite inherent quality/force of free space was electric potential energy”

    It’s not a “force”, we may call it a “quality” but why a so imprecise term…

    “Some people consider quantum fluctuation to be an inherent aspect of free space. Regardless, the electromagnetic potential of free space (reiki) at least includes vacuum, atmospheric pressure, electric potential energy.”

    So now reiki include electromagnetic potential ? Are you just trolling by changing what you are saying in every “answers” ? And now it’s also quantum field theory, i was almost sure to see the quantum escape. Your sentence is still cryptic “the electromagnetic potential of free space at least includes vacuum” there is one thing in vacuum in quantum field theory, the point of zero potential energy (also called “ground state”) wich permit to respect Heinsenberg indetermination.

    “When Alan commented “What ‘inherent qualities of empty space [that] are actually quite useful’?” I really thought he was kidding. Since without empty space…we wouldn’t have light bulbs. The empty space/vacuum in light bulbs would be reiki.”

    You should be more accurate because this is nonsense. And you really should look at what is vacuum… In classical physics it’s an empty space (particles and fields), so there is no such thing in a light bulb. In quantum physics the vacuum is the ground state of fields (lowest possible energy), it’s not the case either in a light bulb.

    “As far as “Because human body is far from an empty space.”, I think you’re wrong there. We’re mostly empty space. The current thinking is that the space between the nucleus and electrons is empty. Since we’re made of atoms…that’s a lot of empty space. The electric potential energy in the free space that we’re made of would also be called reiki.”

    Ok there you are just all dreaming. The atoms of our matter interact with each other, right ? Or we shouldn’t be here. The “empty space” between atom are what we are calling fields, so it’s not vacuum from classic physics point of view, and it’s not vacuum from quantum physics point of view because those fields are clearly not at ground state, there is a lot of exanges and interactions.

    “How any of this would be used therapeutically…I don’t know. I’ve said that many times on this thread. Some commenters here can’t understand that there is a difference between reiki (a description/model of physical forces in nature) and reiki (the therapy that claims to use these forces), which I find quite odd. Asking “what is reiki energy?” is very different than asking “what is reiki therapy?”. ”

    Why call it “reiki” instead of vacuum, maybe because you have no clue of what is vacuum (or reiki) ? Because in all that you say I still can’t see a clear statement of what is reiki : a force ? yes, no ? electromagnetism, yes, no ? A description of physical forces in nature ? Really ? Which forces for Feynman sake ? Now it can describe all the physical forces ? So it’s more complete than actual physics, how interesting ! And how an “invention” from some thounsands years could have been talking about quantum fluctuation of vacuum ? Such wasted time from Einstein and other !

    “But you can’t have a useful discussion on reiki therapy without understanding what is mean by reiki itself. You can certainly discuss therapeutic effectiveness without understanding it, but you can’t say “reiki doesn’t exist”. Not without sounding incredibly superstitious or unscientific anyway.”

    You just don’t know what you are talking about, right ? Just give a definition of reiki already, instead of mumbo jumboing things with each other, learn the definition of term and then write something understandable please.

    • jm says:

      Quark – “It’s not a “force”, we may call it a “quality” but why a so imprecise term…”

      Because it’s a pretty imprecise term. It’s from a time when people realized that what was thought to be just empty space actually has “stuff” going on, and has the ability to affect things – so it must not be empty after all. Relatively recently, we’ve started to determine what some of the “stuff” is. Electromagnetism, strong and weak interaction. Maybe all four fundamental forces (that we’ve identified so far) are involved – is gravity related to empty space?

      The term comes from a culture that focuses on function and relationship over measurement. So rei ki (or ling qi) also would include the qualities of empty space like vacuum. Anything inherent to empty space that can evoke change. If you look at an empty coffee cup, there’s a term for the usable empty space where the coffee would go – and there’s a term for the inherent unseen “stuff” in that empty space, which would be rei ki. If you create a vacuum and attach the coffee cup to yourself, the vacuum quality of the empty space would also be considered rei ki.

      So how would you measure rei ki? Depends on what aspect you’re talking about.

      “Why call it “reiki” instead of vacuum”. There’s a term for vacuum, and it would fall under the category of rei ki.

      “And how an “invention” from some thounsands years could have been talking about quantum fluctuation of vacuum ? Such wasted time from Einstein and other !” An invention? No, an observation. Wasted time I guess would be a matter of opinion – I think it’s pretty cool that we can observe and quantify what was once considered invisible.

      “Just give a definition of reiki already, instead of mumbo jumboing things with each other, learn the definition of term and then write something understandable please.” I’m guessing this is why terms like qi and rei ki have short, poetic translations – in a culture where measurement is king, we want precise answers and we want them now. So qi gets translated as “energy” or “life force” or something equally poetic.

      So the common answer for “what is rei ki”, if all you want is a straight up fast food answer: mysterious energy. If you want to understand it better, you have to give up the need for a simple definition, and dig a bit deeper than a simplistic “what value is measured when reiki energy is measured”. If that’s the level of understanding you want, stick with “mysterious energy”, because without digging into the nuance of the term, mysterious is what it will remain.

  • Pete 628 says:

    jm, I’ll suggest an explanation for your last paragraph to Alan on 28 August 2014 at 08:13 and I’d genuinely like to know what you think of it.

    You wrote: “As for part 2 of your question…again, I have no idea. I’m very serious about that. I’ve had it explained to me, I’ve seen it used quite skillfully, and without a doubt the person got the results they claimed to be able to get. Repeatedly. But I still don’t believe it. I’d bet you a good bottle of Scotch that I’m a bigger skeptic than you are.”

    Let’s just discuss this as non-believers — two skeptics trying to figure out what we’ve personally observed and why it doesn’t seem to match the scientific evidence.

    How does Reiki (the treatment) work?
    According to my understanding, well conducted placebo controlled trials of Reiki show that it works no better than placebo. However, this doesn’t mean that Reiki has no observable beneficial effect. What is being compared is Reiki versus sham Reiki (the placebo). Another way of putting this is that the comparison is between:

    Treatment: Reiki, including rei ki energy.
    Placebo: Some/most theatrical elements of Reiki, but excluding rei ki.

    The results strongly indicate that the treatment is no better than the placebo therefore logic forces me to conclude that rei ki plays an insignificant part in the Reiki treatment process. Perhaps rei ki doesn’t exist or it is too weak in Reiki to have a measurable therapeutic effect.

    You and I have both observed that Reiki (also sham Reiki in my case) does sometimes/often have a useful positive effect on the patient. When we try to explain how something works it’s very tempting to search the literature and understand the history of the subject. In the case of Reiki, we find that rei ki seems to be the explanation. As skeptics, it is our duty to firstly question whether we have made an error because the easiest person to fool is ourself — it’s much easier to detect mistakes made by others than our own mistakes.

    If you can mostly agree with what I’ve written above then here’s my suggestion for you to consider…
    Our personal observations of Reiki were comparing people before and after receiving Reiki treatment and listening to their testimonial evidence. Let’s be skeptical: the trials weren’t comparing Reiki to no treatment; they were comparing Reiki to sham Reiki. Because sham Reiki is as effective as Reiki we mustn’t attempt to explain Reiki in terms of rei ki energy. Invoking rei ki as the explanation leaves us with the huge problem of not having begun to explain how the sham Reiki works. Other skeptics might reasonably accuse us of invoking magic as the explanation. We must instead explain why and how the placebo of sham Reiki works.

    What do you think, jm? By all means point out the errors I’ve made in the above.

  • joe says:

    hi everybody, for the last time reiki as a treatment has been proved years ago to be innefective, google the emily rosa experiment.”reiki masters” dont want the population to find out that reiki treatment is bogus because it will mean they will have to go out and find “real” jobs and that would be hard to swallow after being a reiki ( the treatment ) scam artist.

  • Quark says:

    “Because it’s a pretty imprecise term. It’s from a time when people realized that what was thought to be just empty space actually has “stuff” going on, and has the ability to affect things – so it must not be empty after all”

    You know after few hundred years of studies all over the world you can start to use new term that’s are precise instead of stick to the old mystic stuff. No one (at least no one that is a little rationnal) will call gravity or EM forces “the hand of god” now. So this is a very feable attempt to justifiy your lack of precision.

    “Relatively recently, we’ve started to determine what some of the “stuff” is. Electromagnetism, strong and weak interaction. ”

    Oh… like two hundred years ago. And i would say that magnestim was known from ancient greek so lot more than that.

    “Maybe all four fundamental forces (that we’ve identified so far) are involved – is gravity related to empty space?”

    What are you saying, those forces are not related to empty space… They related to force carriers, you know : gauge boson. I don’t even see what you are meaning in this sentence. Gravity have no gauge boson yet but one is predicted by the actual theory so it’s pretty specific case. But, in any way that have nothing to do with an empty space… It’s the mass or energy that give gravity, the contrary of an empty space. You still don’t understand what is an empty space, keeping using those words without knowing the meaning won’t help you.

    “The term comes from a culture that focuses on function and relationship over measurement. So rei ki (or ling qi) also would include the qualities of empty space like vacuum. Anything inherent to empty space that can evoke change. If you look at an empty coffee cup, there’s a term for the usable empty space where the coffee would go – and there’s a term for the inherent unseen “stuff” in that empty space, which would be rei ki. If you create a vacuum and attach the coffee cup to yourself, the vacuum quality of the empty space would also be considered rei ki.”

    Reiki = empty space for you, great. Then what… ? Still no answer on how the world this is interesting beyond it’s meaning in the asian culture… ( = what is the interest in medicine or scientific term).

    “So how would you measure rei ki? Depends on what aspect you’re talking about. ”

    More dodgy response. The aspect of energy because the other parts are fairly obscure, it’s have been said a lot of times.

    ““Why call it “reiki” instead of vacuum”. There’s a term for vacuum, and it would fall under the category of rei ki.”

    If reiki is vacuum call it vacuum even it’s less poetic, we don’t care. People spend hundred of years to define words in physics so everyone can understand each other : if you don’t respect this you are just brassing air.

    ““And how an “invention” from some thounsands years could have been talking about quantum fluctuation of vacuum ? Such wasted time from Einstein and other !” An invention? No, an observation. Wasted time I guess would be a matter of opinion – I think it’s pretty cool that we can observe and quantify what was once considered invisible.”

    You will kill me of boredom. – How reiki can be linked to quantum fluctuations : tell me instrad of more dodgy answer !

    “I’m guessing this is why terms like qi and rei ki have short, poetic translations – in a culture where measurement is king, we want precise answers and we want them now. So qi gets translated as “energy” or “life force” or something equally poetic. ”

    I understand that measurement embarass you, because it mean progress and reproductibility, two things that reiki is stranger to. And you still dodge, I don’t want a TRANSLATION of the word, I want a clear defition of what is reiki and how it can be linked in any way to human body, a definition with scientific understantable term, not a haiku. If you still manage dodge then you just don’t know what is all about.

    “So the common answer for “what is rei ki”, if all you want is a straight up fast food answer: mysterious energy. If you want to understand it better, you have to give up the need for a simple definition, and dig a bit deeper than a simplistic “what value is measured when reiki energy is measured”. If that’s the level of understanding you want, stick with “mysterious energy”, because without digging into the nuance of the term, mysterious is what it will remain.”

    That’s priceless. You are saying that reiki is too mysterious to be measured ? An energy is an energy, difference in energy quantity can be measured today (even if you seems to be blocked to one thousand years ago, i swear this possible). So if it’s energy with can see it but no one managed to do so. So two possibilities : it’s a belief (strong one) or it’s “too mysterious for mere scientists” so cut the bullshit it’es probably a belief because even reiki advocate don’t understand what is reiki and what they are doing.

    • Pete 628 says:

      Quark, if light bulbs contain mysterious rei ki perhaps this explains why they don’t last very long :-) I shall try to avoid Reiki and rei ki in future because I hope to live longer than the next one or two thousand hours.

      No, wait, I’ll invent a new therapy that involves waving a light bulb around while I channel its mysterious energy to heal my clients of all illness. I’ll also sell training courses in this therapy: First degree; Second degree; Master Teacher; and Light Bulb Therapy Master Practitioner.

      PS: Your English is easy to understand.

      • Quark says:

        Pete, I wonder then why so-called reiki master can’t “activate” (or whatever they are doing) the “quality of the empty space” of the light bulb to create light by modifiying the state of the energy ? As i understand it might be because this energy is too mysterious to be seen ! I don’t how to not facepalm at this.

        “I’ll also sell training courses in this therapy: First degree; Second degree; Master Teacher; and Light Bulb Therapy Master Practitioner.”

        Don’t say it too loud it could work… Also, charge the degree with progressive fee and you will make lot of money – i mean lot of therapy healing.

    • jm says:

      Quark, your English is fine.

      You said “And you still dodge, I don’t want a TRANSLATION of the word, I want a clear defition of what is reiki and how it can be linked in any way to human body”

      That’s basically what Alan asked at the beginning of this mess. And I answered him. He claimed not to understand, and asked the same question. So I reworded the answer. This happened several times. But if you look at my first answer to Alan, it answers the first part of your question:

      Rei is the electromagnetic potential of free space.
      Ki is electromagnetism.

      Is that not clear enough?

      • Alan Henness says:

        @jm

        Now you’ve sorted that out, can you please now try to answer the question you have – so far – not answered?

        What value is measured when reiki energy is measured?

        And if you think you have already done that, you have plainly not understood this simple – and it would seem, revealing – question.

        • jm says:

          So if you understood this time, why all the back and forth bullshit?

          You tell me what value is measured when electromagnetism is measured.

          • Alan Henness says:

            @jm

            I’m not sure why you expect me to answer a question different to the one I asked you.

            I asked you: What value is measured when reiki energy is measured?

            We’ve not sorted out the units of measurement (Pa, J, foot-poundals, V•m-1, furlongs per fortnight or whatever), nor the measuring instrument, so maybe asking for a value is expecting too much. But if you still can’t answer it, please just say so.

          • jm says:

            I’ve told you many times that (I believe, on a few threads) that I have no idea how electromagnetism is measured. So since I’ve answered you, yet again, answer mine: why all the back and forth bullshit if you understood the first time?

          • Alan Henness says:

            Well, that wasn’t what I asked, but I think it might be as well to give up. Unless someone other than jm can both understand what I am asking and try to provide an answer?

          • jm says:

            So while waiting for someone who understands your question and has an answer, answer mine: if you understood the first time, why all the back and forth bullshit?

  • Quark says:

    “Rei is the electromagnetic potential of free space.
    Ki is electromagnetism.

    Is that not clear enough?”

    It’s better than before. But still “electromagnetic potential of free space” is by definition = 0 or it’s not a free space (in the “empty” meaning of it). So Rei is something that doesnt exist then or that have a value of 0 so it can’t do anything.
    I always want to know what is the link with the quantum fluctuation that you mentioned before and how rei can happen in human body, human body that have no empty space in physics meaning of the word. (it could bring an answer at the therapeutic use).

    Anyway here we go again to the : if it’s a “form” of electromagnetism, let’s say “something that can modify the electromagnetic potential of a field” (so we forget the “free space”) then we can measure those modification of state easily by the presence of heat, light, or other radiation, anything related to EM and EM energy. And, in hundred years no one can do this very easy experiment (it’s a macro scale experiment after all, so far from the quantum physics scale), so that’s probably a belief – why not accept this ? why not accepting that people, thousand years ago got wrong onto the physics, nothing to blame it’s like this that progress are made.
    If you add “the empty space” thing in it, all fall apart because it litterally have no sense anymore.

    • jm says:

      “It’s better than before.” It’s the same as before.

      “that have a value of 0 so it can’t do anything.” It can’t.

      “I always want to know what is the link with the quantum fluctuation that you mentioned before and how rei can happen in human body” Me too.

      “so that’s probably a belief – why not accept this ?” I do.

      “If you add “the empty space” thing in it, all fall apart because it litterally have no sense anymore.” You seem to be under the impression that I coined that term. I didn’t. You also seem to be under the impression that I’m in some way defending, or trying to support the whole idea. I’m not.

      I do know that the practice of Reiki doesn’t claim to produce any particular energy in and of itself, but to utilize what already exists. I’m not claiming that it can do that, I’m not claiming to personally understand the nuances of what they are trying to do. And I’m certainly not trying to personally claim to understand the nuances of empty space.

      “why not accepting that people, thousand years ago got wrong onto the physics, nothing to blame it’s like this that progress are made.” I do accept that. I also think that progress is made by trying to understand what people thousands of years ago were observing, rather than just dismissing it outright. From the comments I’ve seen you make, I would assume you agree with that.

      • Quark says:

        jm, if you genuily think that your precedent statement was clear in anyway you should really try to re-read them and pay attention to the term you use, because i don’t think i’m the only one getting hard time to understand what you really want to say.

        last thinking on : “I also think that progress is made by trying to understand what people thousands of years ago were observing, rather than just dismissing it outright. From the comments I’ve seen you make, I would assume you agree with that.”

        Nothing is dismissed outright in science, there is always a man waiting to prove you that you are wrong. Science is the only matter where you can be right or wrong because of the experiment telling you the thruth. I think a lot of people studied reiki and “life energy” in general, with finding absolutely no evidence so far so we shouldn’t put money and apply treatement on patient, it’s not honnest.

        • jm says:

          Quark – “if you genuily think that your precedent statement was clear in anyway you should really try to re-read them ” I only meant my original comment to Alan. I copy/pasted exactly what I wrote, without the ‘basically’. The rest of it certainly is quite convoluted, my apologies. All of the things I mentioned would be considered rei ki…but I’m not a physicist and not very articulate with the terminology.

          One last attempt, though. Hopefully this won’t make things worse. I have a friend who gets a bit irritated when people use the word electricity. She says it’s a very unclear term, and could refer to anything from electrical current, to electric charge, to a host of other related things. Rei ki is similar in that it’s a broad term, not specific. For specifics, there are other terms.

          Since you do seem to be physics articulate, I have a question for you. We were talking about free space in the body. This is from a site on very basic physics (http://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae222.cfm):

          “The empty space between the atomic cloud of an atom and its nucleus is just that: empty space, or vacuum. That’s the simple answer, but there are a few subtleties:

          1) Sub-atomic particles such as electrons, protons and neutrons need to be treated as quantum objects. Thus they have a wavefunction which can be *thought of* as the ‘spread’ in the particle’s location. Electrons are thus ‘spread out’ quite a bit in their orbits about the nucleus. In fact, the wave-functions for electrons in s-orbitals about a nucleus actually extend all the way down into the nucleus itself. In this sense, then, the space between the electrons and the nucleus isn’t really ‘empty.’

          2) The electrons and the protons/neutrons are constantly interacting, either electromagnetically or through the weak force. In quantum field theory we would say that these particles are constantly exchanging photons (in the case of electromagnetism) or heavy gauge bosons (in the case of the weak force). Thus you might say that the otherwise ‘empty’ space between the electrons and nucleus is ‘filled’ with these quanta carrying forces.”

          While a very basic write-up, what is being described would be called rei ki. In your opinion, how accurate is their write-up? And, thanks for any help with this. I can give you some background on why I’m asking, but it’s way off topic…

  • Ex-Acupuncturist says:

    (Sarcasm alert): During a Reiki attunement, the initiate is taught ‘secret symbols’ to visualize to draw in the Universal Ki. Here is a Google Image link to some: https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1327&bih=1326&q=reiki+symbols

    Clearly the founders of Reiki did much clinical research to determine that these symbols work best in accessing and transmitting the Universal Ki. They just can’t share that with the rest of the world because they are secret. SOOPER SEEKRIT!!!11!

    The ideogram for Ki (and Qi/Chi) represents steam pushing up the lid on cooking rice. It is used in chemistry to describe a gas (as in Oxygen Qi, Nitrogen Qi). Since this is Universal Qi, you can capture it by cooking rice in outer space. The rabbit on the moon must do this a lot when he gets hungry after compounding the pill of immortality. (That’s a real Chinese myth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rabbit)

    There are people out there who believe that Qi masters can also light fires and move objects with their mind (but since they are so spiritual, they won’t do it in front of scientists or cameras). While I think it is worth debunking, endlessly arguing with True Believers is, well, endless…

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