Reiki is a Japanese term meaning Universal or God Energy. In India, Prana is the name for this energy, Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Bioplasmic energy in Russia, and Native Americans call it “Medicine”. In Pranic Healing, Vedic Medicine from India, and Medical Qi Gong (MQG), prana or qi is gathered from the practitioner and nature to emit into and balance the patient’s energy system. This is similar in other cultures with other styles of energy healing. In Native American medicine the practitioner is called a Shaman. Karuna is an American form of Reiki (Karuna means “compassionate healer”). American nurses developed Therapeutic and Healing Touch. All of these systems either draw on the energy of the practitioner, universal life energy or a combination of the two (Drake, Novey p.436, and Rand).
In a peer reviewed journal article, Wendy Wetzel states that Reiki has not been put under the same degree of scientific scrutiny as Therapeutic Touch (another energy balancing therapy). The Wetzel study examined the effects of a First Degree Reiki attunement on hemoglobin and hematocrit values of participants compared to a control group. In this study there were 48 people in the experimental group and the control group consisted on 10 subjects. Blood samples were drawn from both groups. The experimental group received the Level One attunement and then both groups had blood drawn again. There was 24-hour time frame from first blood drawn until the second. An analysis of blood values showed a significant change in both values with the experimental group while the control group showed no changes whatsoever.
In Wetzel’s experimental group, pre and post surveys revealed some interesting data. They noted decreased pain and anxiety and a variety of emotional, physical, psychic and energetic reactions. One subject, who had been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia and did not take iron supplements due to religious reasons, saw a 20% increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. Three months later, with daily Reiki self-treatments during that period as the only change, her numbers continued to improve. Over 90% of the experimental group experienced changes in blood values in this study.
This another example of the mind/body connection – measurable physical changes and reported positive change in mental/emotional symptoms.
The significance of Wetzel’s study is in the measurable evidence of physical changes within the experimental group. Physical evidence of mental/emotional changes is more elusive. The fact that reports of emotional and mental changes accompanied physically measurable changes supports the mind-body connection theory. This can be a big help to the health care professional who likes to see scientific data that supports holistic therapies. Wetzel concluded that more scientific investigation is needed with Reiki. She also sees Reiki as a natural tool for Nurses to adopt as a way to "get back to their roots" when they had little more than their hands with which to treat patients (Wetzel 47-54).
Jacqueline Fairbrass states “that the art of Reiki is energy focus. Webster’s Dictionary describes energy as an inherent power: therefore anyone can learn Reiki” (Novey 436). Human touch has been used to comfort, sooth and relieve pain since the beginning of time. It is an instinct we all have. If you stub a toe or bang your elbow the first thing you do is put your hand(s) on it. There is something about touch that is both healing and calming. A Reiki practitioner has undergone an attunement process in which a Reiki Master/Teacher opens up the energy system of the prospective healer so he/she can become a conduit for this healing energy and a greater intensity than the untrained person. In Reiki this attunement can only be passed on by a trained Master and cannot be achieved by self-study. The student receives certification from the Master to provide evidence of his/her training.
For many of the Eastern healing arts there is not a great deal of Western-style scientific literature. The few studies I could find indicate that Reiki is consistently effective as a stress reduction treatment. Stress is a key component in as many as 75 – 85% diseases as well as mental disorders. In the hands of skilled practitioners, Reiki has shown itself to be effective in stress release.
Fairbrass cites the work of Dr. John Zimmerman, a researcher at the University of Colorado; he “has established that the magnetic fields around the hands of healers are up to several hundred times stronger than those of non healers, using a “superconducting quantum interference device” (Novey 484-485). This research gives scientific validity to the preponderance of experiential and anecdotal data available on the effectiveness of energy therapies as more than a feel-good placebo device.
An energy therapist seeks to effect the patient’s energy system to speed up his/her healing process.
Norman Shealy states “most alternative therapies hold that human
beings are not only physical, but consist of a ‘subtle energy’ system that
relates to mental, emotional, and spiritual self, all of which may be
addressed in diagnosis and treatment. Though not yet proven, the concept
of a sort of invisible ‘subtle body’ appears to have some support in the
latest theories in modern subatomic physics” (Shealy 121).
Shealy explains that energy treatments can be used to balance physical, mental and spiritual aspects of clients. Energy healing can help with not only physical, but also mental, and emotional healing as well. Most emotional, physical, and spiritual problems respond very well to energy therapy, even some that Western medicine sees as untreatable. There are no known contraindications, but it is always best to consult a physician before undergoing treatment (Shealy 123).
Reiki is being integrated into traditional care settings across the country. At the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York, Marilyn Vega, RN performs Reiki treatments along with her other duties. Vega is a Reiki Master and has trained six doctors and 25 nurses in Reiki for use with patients at the hospitals where she works. Nancy Enos, M.D. is a Reiki Master and author of the book Reiki and Medicine. She is a member of the teaching staff of the University of Michigan Medical School. Doctor Enos reports that there are at least five other doctors working with her at Foote Hospital whom have been trained in Reiki. This shows that there is interest in the medical community for the benefits that Reiki can offer patients. They see Reiki as a valuable tool in relieving stress and speeding up the healing process.
“Betina Peyton, M.D. a New England physician who has worked with Reiki practitioners, sums it well, ‘Reiki’s utter simplicity, coupled with its potentially powerful effects, compels us to acknowledge the concept of a universal healing energy’”(Rand 13).
Reiki can be effectively integrated into the medical intervention protocol for the following mental health disorders; addictions, headaches, psychiatric disorders, stress and stress related disorders.
Fairbrass states that many people learn the first level of training simply for self-treatment, and it is one of the few therapies that is equally effective in self-care as it is in the treatment of others (Novey 437).
There are no known contraindications or safety concerns with Reiki. It also does not require belief that it will work for it to be effective. It does, however, require the recipient be open to receiving the healing energy (Novey 438-9).
A one hour session of most Energy therapies cost between $60-$75. Level I Reiki training costs between $150-$175.