MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Amongst all the implausible treatments to be found under the umbrella of ‘alternative medicine’, Reiki might be one of the worst, i. e. least plausible and outright bizarre (see for instance here, here and here). But this has never stopped enthusiasts from playing scientists and conducting some more pseudo-science.

This new study examined the immediate symptom relief from a single reiki or massage session in a hospitalized population at a rural academic medical centre. It was designed as a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on demographic, clinical, process, and quality of life for hospitalized patients receiving massage therapy or reiki. Hospitalized patients requesting or referred to the healing arts team received either a massage or reiki session and completed pre- and post-therapy symptom questionnaires. Differences between pre- and post-sessions in pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being were recorded using an 11-point Likert scale.

Patients reported symptom relief with both reiki and massage therapy. Reiki improved fatigue and anxiety  more than massage. Pain, nausea, depression, and well being changes were not different between reiki and massage encounters. Immediate symptom relief was similar for cancer and non-cancer patients for both reiki and massage therapy and did not vary based on age, gender, length of session, and baseline symptoms.

The authors concluded that reiki and massage clinically provide similar improvements in pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being while reiki improved fatigue and anxiety more than massage therapy in a heterogeneous hospitalized patient population. Controlled trials should be considered to validate the data.

Don’t I just adore this little addendum to the conclusions, “controlled trials should be considered to validate the data” ?

The thing is, there is nothing to validate here!

The outcomes are not due to the specific effects of Reiki or massage; they are almost certainly caused by:

  • the extra attention,
  • the expectation of patients,
  • the verbal or non-verbal suggestions of the therapists,
  • the regression towards the mean,
  • the natural history of the condition,
  • the concomitant therapies administered in parallel,
  • the placebo effect,
  • social desirability.

Such pseudo-research only can only serve one purpose: to mislead (some of) us into thinking that treatments such as Reiki might work.

What journal would be so utterly devoid of critical analysis to publish such unethical nonsense?

Ahh … it’s our old friend the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Say no more!

8 Responses to Reiki improves pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and well-being … OH NO, IT DOESN’T!!!

  • The world is none the wiser but the publisher may be the richer for the publishing of this pointless exercise.

    I assume the practitioners were sympathetic and polite and friendly in their work. I assume patients were gratified for a little personal attention in the midst of the hospital setting.

    Politely they filled in their questionnaires. Politely they reported favourably.

    To move or not to move the hands? That is the question. Doesn’t really appear to make a holisitic lot of difference.

  • I talked to, in an online forum, a guy who said he was successful at Reiki to such an extent that he could mange to do it over the telephone! Just shows how much nonsense people talk.

  • The Book of Len; Part 1 http://www.thehouseofcalm.com
    On every web site they tell you that Reiki is Spiritual and then they tell you that you need an Attunement.
    If Reiki is Spiritual why then would you need an Attunement?
    You don’t. Why, because Reiki is not Spiritual. It is Physical.
    When we are conceived we develop as 3 bodies. One is Spiritual and two are Physical.
    In our Spiritual we are given Gifts. These gifts are many and varied and differ from person to person and because of our Free Will we can choose to use them or reject them.
    Our other two bodies, one is invisible and the other is visible.
    It is within these bodies that continual work needs to be performed so that we can live this incarnation with enjoyment and happiness.
    So where should we start to learn how to understand and use the system of Reiki.
    Not in the Spiritual but in the physical and invisible.
    When we are born we forget everything that we as Souls are aware of.
    We are aware of the Physical and have to learn everything else.
    So in the physical what do we have? We do have living systems that include Energy Centres (Chakras), Meridians (Connecting lines).
    If we know that why do we ignore them.

    An exercise, hold a cloth/ tissue in one hand and with the other over the cloth write you 1st born name as a signature (lower case), then bring the hands together and pause for at least a minute.
    What may you feel; well that is up to you.

    What is happening, you are working through your physical into the invisible 2nd body, your Psychic/ Mental/ Emotional body and removing dis-ease, not all at once but bit by bit. No you are not using Reiki because that is something else, you are starting to balance self within your Psychic/ Mental/ Emotional.
    If this practice is not Reiki what is?
    A person has claimed that by the means of an Attunement they are passing on to you their connection to Universal Life Force Energy. Nothing would be further from the truth.
    An Attunement is a description of a method to move through the Physical into the chakras of the Physical/ Mental/ Emotional Body and to apply to those selected Chakras an Affirmation (sentence) to increase the vibrations of those Chakras. Nobody owns you.

    Let’s look at Attunement and Affirmations and the claims by some that they pass their energy onto you.
    Attunements are only a word that means “I pass to you” an Affirmation, this describes how the sentence that is used contains energy. If you worked with the exercise suggested then your 1st name is an Affirmation, the energy that does the work to assist in the removal of dis-ease, so it is with an Affirmation that is applied to selected Chakras. Each Chakra is connected to different major organs within self.

    There are rules with the construction of Affirmations, no spaces/ no gaps/ no punctuation and all written as signature (lower case) or UPPER CASE. Simple and no control by the person who is performing the Attunement. However there is one action that is outside of the Affirmation that has to be performed and that is the retention of the sentence of the Affirmation.
    Intention does not retain that energy it is a physical action.

    So there are the basics of the System of Reiki, ignore it and when you claim to hold it, it can be tested.

    • Oh dear…

      I followed the link…

      None of that makes any sense either, even when we ignore the mis-spellings and the poor grammar.

      I’m sure there is a line from a soliloquy in Macbeth which covers this.

    • “So in the physical what do we have? We do have living systems that include Energy Centres (Chakras), Meridians (Connecting lines).”

      Big claims right there.

  • OK, I understand all those individual words, but put together like that I do not understand any of it.

    Can someone please translate it into English?

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