Scientific evidence for Reiki

The body of scientific research around Reiki and other energy healing methods is growing all the time. I’ll try to keep this page up to date as I come across new papers. Most of the links are to the PubMed site, which is maintained by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. Some of the PubMed pages have links to the full-text article; I would encourage you to read not just the abstract, but the entire article, if it’s available.

Bondi A, Morgan T, Fowler SB. Effects of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in Women Hospitalized for Obstetrical- and Gynecological-Related Conditions [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 3]. J Holist Nurs. 2020;898010120936437. doi:10.1177/0898010120936437

The Davis article looks at Healing Touch, a close cousin of Reiki:

Davis TM, Friesen MA, Lindgren V, et al. The Effect of Healing Touch on Critical Care Patients’ Vital Signs: A Pilot Study. Holist Nurs Pract. 2020;34(4):244-251. doi:10.1097/HNP.0000000000000394

Gantt, M., & Orina, J. A. T. (2019). Educate, Try, and Share: A Feasibility Study to Assess the Acceptance and Use of Reiki as an Adjunct Therapy for Chronic Pain in Military Health Care Facilities. Military Medicine. doi:10.1093/milmed/usz271

Dyer, N. L., Baldwin, A. L., & Rand, W. L. (2019). A Large-Scale Effectiveness Trial of Reiki for Physical and Psychological Health. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 25(12), 1156-1162. doi:10.1089/acm.2019.0022

Billot M, Daycard M, Wood C, Tchalla A. Reiki therapy for pain, anxiety and quality of life. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2019;9(4):434-438. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2019-001775

Zucchetti, G., Candela, F., Bottigelli, C., Campione, G., Parrinello, A., Piu, P., . . . Fagioli, F. (2019). The Power of Reiki: Feasibility and Efficacy of Reducing Pain in Children With Cancer Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 36(5), 361-368. doi:10.1177/1043454219845879

Zins, S., Hooke, M. C., & Gross, C. R. (2019). Reiki for Pain During Hemodialysis: A Feasibility and Instrument Evaluation Study. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 37(2), 148-162. doi:10.1177/0898010118797195

Demir Doğan M. The effect of reiki on pain: A meta-analysis. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018;31:384-387. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.02.020

Vergo, M. T., Pinkson, B. M., Broglio, K., Li, Z., & Tosteson, T. D. (2018). Immediate Symptom Relief After a First Session of Massage Therapy or Reiki in Hospitalized Patients: A 5-Year Clinical Experience from a Rural Academic Medical Center. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(8), 801-808. doi:10.1089/acm.2017.0409

Jahantiqh, F., Abdollahimohammad, A., Firouzkouhi, M., & Ebrahiminejad, V. (2018). Effects of Reiki Versus Physiotherapy on Relieving Lower Back Pain and Improving Activities Daily Living of Patients With Intervertebral Disc Hernia. J Evid Based Integr Med, 23, 2515690×18762745. doi:10.1177/2515690×18762745

Radziewicz, R. M., Wright-Esber, S., Zupancic, J., Gargiulo, D., & Woodall, P. (2018). Safety of Reiki Therapy for Newborns at Risk for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Holistic Nursing Practice, 32(2), 63-70. doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000251

McManus, D. E. (2017). Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(4), 1051-1057. doi:10.1177/2156587217728644

Mangione, L., Swengros, D., & Anderson, J. G. (2017). Mental Health Wellness and Biofield Therapies: An Integrative Review. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 38(11), 930-944. doi:10.1080/01612840.2017.1364808

Baldwin, A. L., Vitale, A., Brownell, E., Kryak, E., & Rand, W. (2017). Effects of Reiki on Pain, Anxiety, and Blood Pressure in Patients Undergoing Knee Replacement: A Pilot Study. Holistic Nursing Practice, 31(2), 80-89. doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000195

Thrane, S. E., Maurer, S. H., Ren, D., Danford, C. A., & Cohen, S. M. (2017). Reiki Therapy for Symptom Management in Children Receiving Palliative Care: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 34(4), 373-379. doi:10.1177/1049909116630973

Sagkal Midilli, T., & Ciray Gunduzoglu, N. (2016). Effects of Reiki on Pain and Vital Signs When Applied to the Incision Area of the Body After Cesarean Section Surgery: A Single-Blinded, Randomized, Double-Controlled Study. Holistic Nursing Practice, 30(6), 368-378. doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000172

Kirshbaum, M. N., Stead, M., & Bartys, S. (2016). An exploratory study of reiki experiences in women who have cancer. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 22(4), 166-172. doi:10.12968/ijpn.2016.22.4.166

Notte BB, Fazzini C, Mooney RA. Reiki’s effect on patients with total knee arthroplasty: A pilot study. Nursing. 2016;46(2):17-23. doi:10.1097/01.NURSE.0000476246.16717.65

Thrane S, Cohen SM. Effect of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in adults: an in-depth literature review of randomized trials with effect size calculations. Pain Manag Nurs. 2014;15(4):897-908. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2013.07.008

Díaz-Rodríguez L, Arroyo-Morales M, Fernández-de-las-Peñas C, García-Lafuente F, García-Royo C, Tomás-Rojas I. Immediate effects of reiki on heart rate variability, cortisol levels, and body temperature in health care professionals with burnout. Biol Res Nurs. 2011;13(4):376-382.

In the interest of scientific honesty, negative or neutral results are still results:

Catlin A, Taylor-Ford RL. Investigation of standard care versus sham Reiki placebo versus actual Reiki therapy to enhance comfort and well-being in a chemotherapy infusion center. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011;38(3):E212-E220. doi:10.1188/11.ONF.E212-E220

Assefi N, Bogart A, Goldberg J, Buchwald D. Reiki for the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(9):1115-1122. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0068

Dr. Bill Bengston’s healing method is a well-studied technique. Dr. Bengston and his colleagues have done rigorous experimentation using his method and have see statistically significant results in slowing, and in some cases reversing, tumor growth in a mouse model. His website is an interesting read.

Beseme S, Fast L, Bengston W, Turner M, Radin D, McMichael J. Effects Induced In Vivo by Exposure to Magnetic Signals Derived From a Healing Technique. Dose Response. 2020;18(1):1559325820907741. Published 2020 Mar 30. doi:10.1177/1559325820907741

Beseme S, Bengston W, Radin D, Turner M, McMichael J. Transcriptional Changes in Cancer Cells Induced by Exposure to a Healing Method. Dose Response. 2018;16(3):1559325818782843. Published 2018 Jul 11. doi:10.1177/1559325818782843

A link to the Center for Reiki Research, which includes a section on Reiki in hospitals. This site requires you to sign up for a free membership.

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