MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

The website of the Brighton and Hove News informs us that the Brighton charity Rockinghorse is paying for a Reiki healer to treat young patients at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Kemp Town. They claim that studies suggest that Reiki can relieve symptoms of chronic and acute illness, manage stress levels and aid relaxation and sleep. Rockinghorse has provided funding for an initial three years to therapists from Active LightWorks who have already been treating patients at the Alex as volunteers since 2012. The funding will allow the therapists to double the amount of time that they are able to offer treatments from five hours a week to ten.

One of the HDU patients to receive Reiki therapy is eight-month-old Blake Mlotshwa. He suffered a serious infection when he was 18 days old which led to him having two thirds of his bowel removed. Blake is unable to absorb the food and nutrients that he needed to grow and his condition remains critical. The reiki therapists are working with his doctors and nurses to help keep him as comfortable as possible.

Ali Walters, a Reiki therapist, said: “It is wonderful to be able to give both the children and parents an opportunity to relax and unwind. So often parents tell me they are delighted that during treatment their child drops off to sleep or they see their child become more calm and comfortable. I am delighted that Rockinghorse is now funding our work so we can provide more therapists and treatments to support the critical care that is provided in HDU.”

Kamal Patel, paediatric consultant at the Alex, said: “The reiki treatment has improved sleep, fear, anxiety, distress and pain for children on our Paediatric Critical Care Unit over and above what we can achieve through modern medicine. To have such a fantastic team of people offering reiki really helps our patients get better quicker.”

Yes, we have discussed Reiki several times already on this blog. For instance, I quoted the Cochrane review aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of Reiki for treating anxiety and depression in people aged 16 and over.

Literature searches were conducted in the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL – all years), the Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Review Group’s Specialised Register (CCDANCTR – all years), EMBASE, (1974 to November 2014), MEDLINE (1950 to November 2014), PsycINFO (1967 to November 2014) and AMED (1985 to November 2014). Additional searches were carried out on the World Health Organization Trials Portal (ICTRP) together with ClinicalTrials.gov to identify any ongoing or unpublished studies. All searches were up to date as of 4 November 2014.

Randomised trials were considered in adults with anxiety or depression or both, with at least one arm treated with Reiki delivered by a trained Reiki practitioner. The two authors independently decided on inclusion/exclusion of studies and extracted data. A prior analysis plan had been specified.

The researchers found three studies for inclusion in the review. One recruited males with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of non-metastatic prostate cancer who were not receiving chemotherapy and had elected to receive external-beam radiation therapy; the second study recruited community-living participants who were aged 55 years and older; the third study recruited university students. These studies included subgroups with anxiety and depression as defined by symptom scores and provided data separately for those subgroups. As this included only 25 people with anxiety and 17 with depression and 20 more with either anxiety or depression, but which was not specified, the results could only be reported narratively.

The findings did not show any evidence that Reiki is either beneficial or harmful in this population. The risk of bias for the included studies was generally rated as unclear or high for most domains, which reduced the certainty of the evidence.

The authors of this Cochrane review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to say whether or not Reiki is useful for people over 16 years of age with anxiety or depression or both.

On a different blog post, I concluded that “we do not need a trained Reiki master, nor the illusion of some mysterious ‘healing energy’. Simple companionship without woo or make-believe has exactly the same effect without undermining rationality. Or, to put it much more bluntly: REIKI IS NONSENSE ON STILTS.”

Perhaps someone should tell the guys at Rockinghorse that they are funding nonsense?

Perhaps the charity should have been responsible enough to do a quick search on the evidence BEFORE they committed their funds?

Perhaps the consultant pediatrician should be sent to a refresher course in evidence-based medicine?

So many ‘perhapses’ – and only one certainty: THIS CHARITY IS WASTING ITS FUNDS ON OFFENSIVE NONSENSE.

16 Responses to Charity wastes money on Reiki healing

  • Perhaps also people who give money to this organisation could be informed as to what kind of flapdoodle their money is being wasted on. As to the paediatrician- evidently, he should be ashamed of himself.

  • Dr Kamal Patel is quoted as claiming improvements from Reiki. For him to be able to do that requires comparative data. Comparative data require a trial. If he’s running a trial that requires ethical approval. Do we suppose they sought that?

    • they are not running a trial – but wasting donations is just as unethical, in my view.

      • um, if they are claiming to have improved outcomes based on data, they have run a trial, whether they acknowledge it, indeed whether they even recognise it, or not. And trials require ethical approval when there are human subjects.

        It’s a subtle point and one that can be lost on providers of health services Basically, auditing a service and quantifying its outcome is acceptable but as soon as comparisons are made then it tips over into being a trial

        I’d need to remind myself more of the governing principles to expand any further on this. I think it was covered on a course I was on last year.

      • Back home now with proper access to computer.

        Googling clinical audit versus clinical trial yields lots of links

        If you introduce a new intervention and investigate whether it has worked, then that is research not clinical audit and should be subject to ethical oversight.

        http://www.hra.nhs.uk/documents/2013/09/defining-research.pdf

        I am sure that they have effectively run a research project without recognising that they have done so. A badly run, uncontrolled research project but research nonetheless.

  • Yet another example of the charity sector promoting quackery. More here:

    https://majikthyse.wordpress.com/

  • Make-believe is for children, not adults

  • I have posted comments about the system of Reiki in the past. Unfortunately the majority of those who claim to be able to perform Reiki have no idea as to what it is or can even practice it. One of the most prolific inventors in the early 20th Century with at least 95 known patents to his name Nikola Tesla & Einstein both claim that everything is vibration and that is really the key to the system. To the skeptics, be prepared that one of these days it will be proved but not by those who claim to-day. I can assure even the most skeptic that Ali Walters does not hold the higher vibrations to be a participant of the practice.

    • len said:

      To the skeptics, be prepared that one of these days it will be proved but not by those who claim to-day.

      I’m certainly willing to be convinced by good evidence. How about you? What would make you change your mind?

      I can assure even the most skeptic that Ali Walters does not hold the higher vibrations to be a participant of the practice.

      What value should anyone place on your assurances?

  • I believe that if it works and it is ‘quackery’… So what harm is done. Was anyone claiming that the Reiki was ‘bull’ when it was being done by volunteers?
    This seems to be a money issue not whether Reiki is real or fake!

    • Judee
      What exactly do you not understand about the word ‘if’?
      Of course intelligent people were claiming that Reiki was ‘bull’ when it was being done by volunteers.
      This is by far one of the most grotesquely stupid comments ever on this blog. And there’s been some stiff competition.

      • Thank you for your comment. It speaks volumes about the real issue!

        • I find it disgraceful that you consider it acceptable for ill children-some of them seriously so -to be treated by ‘volunteers’ in a practice that has been demonstrated to be quackery of the highest kind. The idea that money is now the game-changer-implying that no one cared much before – is risible, and not even supported by the facts – rather like reiki in that regard. If reiki ‘masters’ were proven to be working in a demonstrably proven type of treatment, then why should anybody object to their being paid, like nurses, doctors, surgeons and pharmacists? But then if reiki worked, it wouldn’t be an ‘alternative’ medicine. It would be simply ‘medicine’ and we wouldn’t be having this exchange.

    • It is both, because if charity wastes money on …, should anybody donate money to them at all?

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