MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

This pilot study is “delving into the potential benefits of Reiki therapy as a complementary intervention for the treatment and management of stress and anxiety”.

A total of 31 volunteers self-reporting stress, anxiety, or psychological disorders were enrolled. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed using the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) Questionnaire for anxiety and depression. Pre- and post-treatment HRQoL scores were meticulously compared, and the significance of the disparities in these scores was meticulously computed.

Analysis was restricted to volunteers who completed the 3-day Reiki sessions. Statistically significant enhancements were discerned across all outcome measures, encompassing positive affect, negative affect, pain, drowsiness, tiredness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being (P<0.0001).

The authors concluded that the constancy and extensive scope of these improvements suggest that Reiki therapy may not only address specific symptoms but also contribute significantly to a predominant escalation of mental and physical health.

This study is almost comical.

Amongst all the many forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), Reiki is perhaps the most ridiculous scam. It is a form of paranormal or ‘energy healing’ popularised by Japanese Mikao Usui (1865–1926). Rei means universal spirit (sometimes thought of as a supreme being) and ki is the assumed universal life energy. It is based on the assumptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the existence of ‘chi’, the life-force that is assumed to determine our health.

Reiki practitioners believe that, with their hands-on healing method, they can transfer ‘healing energy’ to a patient which, in turn, stimulates the self-healing properties of the body. They assume that the therapeutic effects of this technique are obtained from a ‘universal life energy’ that provides strength, harmony, and balance to the body and mind. There is no scientific basis for such notions, and reiki is therefore not plausible.

Reiki is used for a number of conditions, including the relief of stress, tension and pain. There have been several clinical trials testing its effectiveness. Those that are rigorous fail to show that the treatment is effective – and those that are dripping with bias, like the one discussed here, tend to produce false-positive results.

The present study has many flaws that are too obvious to even mention. While reading it, I asked myself the following questions:

  • How could a respectable university ever allow this pseudo-research to go ahead?
  • How could a respectable ethics committee ever permit it?
  • How could a respectable journal ever publish it?

The answers must be that, quite evidently, they are not respectable.

 

17 Responses to Reiki is a laughable scam

  • 100% agree that Reiki has no health benefits whatsoever, as does most massage.

    If it weren’t for one single temporary benefit I’d want it banned altogether as a facilitator of public health misinformation.

    The one and only benefit is that it may be deeply relaxing for some people, especially those deprived of human touch. The extreme unhurried nature of warm hands resting on the entire body from head to toe, and the particular gentle manipulations of the feet, may be the only time the recipient experiences prolonged caring touch.

    If only they’d cut the mystical BS and spruik it purely as temporary stress relief, or “relaxation”, and stopped claiming any actual health benefits, I wouldn’t have an issue.

    Signed: highly embarrassed ex Reiki Master

    • sorry, but Reiki is normally non-touch

      • Edzard I learned touch only and even in my ancient past thought non-touch was beyond ridiculous.

        I abandoned business networking because they let a Reiki practitioner in as a bona fide business owner, so I’m the last to promote or defend it.

      • I’m sure the Reiki master knows that Reiki is normally non-touch. Do you just like having the last word Edzard?

        • see her response, smarty

        • Mutus I didn’t know that actually. I knew it existed but thought it was a weird offshoot, not a standard practice. So that was news to me.

          • The problem with learning anything from a so-called master is best illustrated by:

            Chinese whispers (some Commonwealth English), or telephone (American English and Canadian English), is an internationally popular children’s game in which messages are whispered from person to person and then the original and final messages are compared. This sequential modification of information is called transmission chaining in the context of cultural evolution research, and is primarily used to identify the type of information that is more easily passed on from one person to another.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_whispers

    • as a ex-Reiki Master – perhaps you need to look at your own energy alignment.

      What Reiki Training did you come to ‘be recognised as a Reiki Master’?

  • The university: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Patanjali was founded by Baba Ramdev: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramdev who owns a very profitable band in India called Patanjali Ayurved: https://www.patanjaliayurved.net. Perhaps the university exists to legitimize and promote quackery resulting in a windfall for Patanjali Ayurveda. Back in 2021 Prof. Ernst blogged about an RCT for one of their products (Coronil) and got banned from Facebook: https://edzardernst.com/2021/03/my-strange-battle-with-facebook/

    Baba Ramdev (like many other gurus in India) is aligned with the BJP (Hindu nationalist ruling party) and made many controversial statements including the following:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramdev#COVID-19
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramdev#Comments_against_modern_medicine

  • Let me share a personal, true anecdote.
    Many years ago, when I did not know anything about Reiki (and not much more about other SCAMs, for that matter), I met a woman who told me that she practised Reiki and that she would introduce me to it.
    I was curious, she did not want any money and so I took her offer. What followed several days later was a VERY awkward meeting, where she performed some wired hand gestures above my body (no touching, of course), for maybe half an hour or even longer. The whole time, I was lying still, feeling no effect whatsoever (except felling extremely silly) and was wondering what the f*k I had gotten into, and how long I would have to endure this nonsense, since I was too polite to stop her. What an experience… 😅
    After this experience, I am baffled that some people are indeed convinced that this utter nonsense can have any effect and that they even spend their money for such a ridiculous non-treatment SCAM.

    • Jashak,

      Some people do indeed feel an effect, which I explained 9 years ago:

      https://edzardernst.com/2015/02/reiki-nonsense-on-stilts/#comment-64549

      • Interesting… I guess my skin was not sensitive enough to sense the heat from her hands.
        All in all, a very unimpressive performance as far as I remember – except the strong impression of being at the wrong place 🤷‍♂️

    • Your disrespect and lack of ‘energy exchange’ such as not paying for the Reiki session, which shows your lack of value for the Reiki, mirrors why you didn’t notice to acknowledge any benefit(s).

      • Retrocausality, or backwards causation, is a concept of cause and effect in which an effect precedes its cause in time and so a later event affects an earlier one.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrocausality

        Jashak did not pay for the reiki theatrics after the theatrics, which, via retrocausality, caused the theatrics to have no effect.

        In fact, there’s an uncountable number of subsequent things that can cause a reiki session to have no utility; and receiving reiki from an incompetent Reiki Master isn’t amongst them (because that cannot possibly be backwards causation).

        Further reading:
        Retrocausality in Quantum Mechanics, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

        ● Reiki Grand Master Degrees 5 – 20
        QUOTE
        These Reiki Grand Master Reiki Degrees are referred to as the secret degrees and or the higher master degrees. These energies are absolutely amazing to work with and very easy to use.

        These powerful attunements include symbols that are ‘channeled symbols’ handed down by Spirit for the betterment of Humankind.

        There is a Prerequisite for these Degrees. You must be a Reiki Master in order to receive The Reiki Grand Master Level Attunements.

        [https://sunshineuni-uk.com/product/reiki-grand-master/]
        END OF QUOTE

  • “Conclusion: The constancy and extensive scope of these improvements suggest that Reiki therapy may not only address specific symptoms but also contribute significantly to a predominant escalation of mental and physical health.”

    That is totally wrong by definition. A pilot study is for assessing a study desigcn, not the effects of a treatment. Their only valid conclusion could be that the study design would seem appropriate or not for a real study, as it is or with necessary revisions.

    Embarrassing that neither their supervisor nor the journal knew this.

  • Reiki Masters Grade II are taught how to send the ‘Reiki energy’ over international distances (!)

    These powerful energies could be misdirected, even by a mm or so, and actually harm human tissues.
    They might even cause cancer, or delay recovery.
    It could be that it is the Reiki energies which by now are surrounding us which are responsible for so much of the world’s current disent and unhappiness – wars even.
    How do we know?

    The use of Reiki in the NHS is clearly experimental and as such should have been approved by a NHS Trusts’ Ethics Committe who will need to see evidence of benefit, and what steps are taken to avoid undesired side effects.
    Any trust which introduces ‘Reiki Therapy’ without due diligence is liable for any untoward side effects – including deterioration in the patients’ condition.
    They may have ground to sue.
    Oh dear.

  • Why the buggery bollocks in this sort of “study” do the “researchers” insist on using assessment tools for anxiety and depression which no-one would use in clinical practice, as the best they are capable of is giving a bit of a hint of a clue that there may be some anxiety or depressive symptoms present which require deeperr assessment? And then make claims about depression and anxiety on that basis. See also many nonsense studies about autism.

    If reaching a conclusion about depression or anxiety or autism was really that simple my jobs would all have been a lot easier.

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