Reiki is a complementary therapy relating to energy healing. Some people say it works through the transfer of universal energy from the practitioner’s palms to the client.

Some controversy surrounds Reiki, as clinical research has not proven its effectiveness. However, many people who receive Reiki claim to experience positive outcomes.

This article explains what Reiki is and what treatment involves, its reported health benefits, and the medical opinions surrounding it.

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Reiki is a type of energy therapy. The word “Reiki” means “mysterious atmosphere, miraculous sign.” It comes from the Japanese words “rei,” meaning universal, and “ki,” meaning life energy.

Reiki is a type of energy healing. According to practitioners, energy can stagnate in the body where there has been physical injury or even emotional pain. In time, these energy blocks can cause illness.

Energy medicine aims to help the flow of energy and remove blocks in a similar way to acupuncture or acupressure. Reiki practitioners believe that improving the flow of energy around the body can:

  • enable relaxation
  • relieve pain
  • speed healing
  • reduce other symptoms of illness

Mikao Usui developed Usui Reiki Ryoho, the most current form of Reiki, in 1922. However, people have practiced Reiki for about 2,500 years.

People also refer to Reiki as palm healing or hands-on healing.

Learn more about healing arts.

Practitioners typically give Reiki treatment in a peaceful, private setting. However, the treatment can take place anywhere. During a session, the client will sit in a comfortable chair or lie on a table, fully clothed.

The practitioner will then place their hands lightly on or over specific areas of the client’s head, limbs, and torso. They will typically keep their hands in these positions for around 3 minutes.

If there is a particular injury, such as a burn, the practitioner will hold their hands just above the wound.

Advocates state that while the practitioner holds their hands lightly on or over the body, an energy transfer takes place. During this time, the practitioner may report that their hands feel warm or are tingling. They will hold each hand position until they sense that the energy has stopped flowing.

When the practitioner feels that the heat, or energy, in their hands has gone, they will remove their hands and place them over a different body area.

The whole treatment takes around 60 to 90 minutes.

Some Reiki practitioners will use crystals and chakra healing wands to enable healing or protect a home from negative energy.

Sessions can last 45 to 90 minutes. The number of sessions will vary, depending on what a client wishes to accomplish. Some clients prefer to have one session, while others have a series of sessions to work on a particular issue.

Some Reiki techniques

The techniques that Reiki involves have names such as:

  • centering
  • clearing
  • beaming
  • extracting harmful energies
  • infusing
  • smoothing and raking the aura

Learn about therapeutic touch massage.

According to practitioners, Reiki channels universal energy known as ki, pronounced “chi.” This is the same energy involved in tai chi exercise.

This energy supposedly permeates the body. Reiki experts point out that, while this energy is not measurable with modern scientific techniques, many who tune into it can feel it.

Reiki allegedly:

  • aids relaxation
  • assists in the body’s natural healing processes,
  • develops emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

However, no studies have conclusively shown this to be true.

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that it may:

  • induce deep relaxation
  • help people cope with emotional stress
  • improve overall well-being.

Some people may include Reiki into their wellness plan for conditions such as:

It is important to note that Reiki should never take the place of medical treatments.

However, a 2017 study suggests that Reiki may be able to support the treatment of certain health conditions. For instance, some people with cancer may find Reiki beneficial as it may help them relax.

The gentle nature of Reiki therapy may have a soothing effect on people who find that they become overwhelmed with invasive therapy, fear, and stress.

Although Reiki is growing in popularity, there is little evidence that it provides any clinical benefit.

Practitioners claim that Reiki can enable relaxation, reduce pain, speed healing, and improve some symptoms. However, few research findings support any specific health benefits.

Scientists note that high quality research into its effectiveness is lacking. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, no study has shown Reiki to have any health-related benefit.

A 2017 review found possible links between reiki and a reduction in feelings of pain and anxiety. However, the author of the review is a member of the Australasian Usui Reiki Association, so bias is possible.

More research into the possible health benefits of Reiki is necessary.

Regulatory issues: Time for a change?

Regulatory authorities sometimes ask Reiki websites to change their information to conform with legal standards.

Sites selling Reiki products may carry a legal disclaimer, stating that the products are not medical devices intended to diagnose, heal, or prevent disease.

In the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Advertising Standards Agency has rejected claims that Reiki can heal a range of conditions on a number of occasions.

Due to the non-contact nature of Reiki, this treatment is not harmful.

However, Reiki could lead to harm if people with serious health issues opt for this therapy instead of other treatments.

A person should discuss Reiki and other treatment options with their doctor so that they can make an informed decision about their treatment plan.

More than 800 hospitals in the United States currently offer Reiki services for patients.

In the U.K., some medical establishments, such as hospices, may have volunteers who provide Reiki free of charge as part of palliative care.

A private Reiki session can cost between $25 and $100. A person’s insurance may not cover Reiki treatment.

Anyone seeking a qualified, professional Reiki practitioner should be cautious, as few regulations govern this field. It can help to ask a practitioner about their training and experience.

Reiki is not an alternative treatment for medical issues but a complementary therapy that may help support healing and increase a feeling of well-being for some people.

It is always best to discuss any complementary therapies with a doctor before trying them.

No prior training, education, or experience is necessary to enter the Reiki training or “attunement process.”

In this process, the Reiki master reportedly transfers the attunement energy and healing techniques to the student.

Reiki training varies, but most students learn about:

  • the energies around the body
  • how to work with healing energy
  • the ethics of working with clients

Preparation for attunement may include:

There are three levels of mastery. Those who reach “Master” level can teach others and can reportedly heal from a distance.

What are the disadvantages of Reiki?

There are no known direct risks of Reiki treatments. However, it can be harmful if a person chooses Reiki treatments instead of treatments with more scientifically proven benefits.

Is Reiki scientifically proven?

There is currently no research that proves purported health benefits of Reiki for treating specific conditions. However, the treatment may help a person to relax, which may help reduce anxiety.

How much does reiki healing cost?

One private Reiki session can cost between $25 and $100. However, prices may vary. A person can contact a local practitioner for information about what they offer and how much sessions may cost.

Reiki is a complementary form of energy therapy. Advocates believe that there is an energy field around the body, and that disrupting it can lead to ailments. Reiki therapy aims to remedy these disruptions and the subsequent conditions.

In Reiki treatment, practitioners will place their hands over various parts of a person’s body and transfer healing energy.

During a session, practitioners may focus their energy on the sources of specific conditions. Typically, a single Reiki treatment session will last around 60 to 90 minutes.

Research has not shown Reiki to have any direct healing properties. However, some clients claim that Reiki helped reduce stress and anxiety when they used it as a complementary treatment.

A person should always consult their doctor before engaging in complementary therapies.