Energy therapies are healing techniques that treat the mind, body, and spirit. Doctors sometimes refer to them as alternative or complementary therapies. There is a growing interest in using energy therapies for a variety of health conditions.

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This article will cover different types of energy therapy and focus on Reiki, acupuncture, and acupressure. It will go over the common uses of energy therapy and the scientific evidence that supports them.

People have used energy healing therapies for thousands of years. The principles of energy therapies support the idea that illnesses and imbalances are due to blocks or imbalances in the invisible biofield that exists in and around the body.

Energy therapy techniques harmonize the energy fields in and around the body to promote health and well-being. They may also help encourage positive thoughts and emotions.

A trained practitioner or healthcare professional performs energy therapy treatments using various noninvasive techniques. Often, people use energy therapies as a complementary treatment alongside conventional treatments.

Popular types of energy therapy include Reiki, acupressure and acupressure mats.

Reiki and acupressure

Reiki is a complementary treatment that focuses on healing energy. Dr. Mikao Usui founded the technique during the 1920s in Japan. The principles of Reiki include the belief that each individual has the innate energy to heal themselves. A Reiki practitioner can reportedly manipulate the universal life force energy of their client and encourage the natural healing process.

A Reiki session involves the healer placing their cupped hands lightly on or near the recipient’s body. Usually, the practitioner keeps their hands in one area for a minimum of 3 minutes, depending on the person’s needs.

Acupressure is another form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) similar to acupuncture. Instead of needles, the technique uses manual pressure to stimulate acupoints, so that “qi,” or the body’s energy,” can move freely. A person can do this on their own or with a practitioner.


Acupuncture is a TCM practice that involves manipulating the body’s energy. However, modern medicine has also proven its effectiveness by explaining the body’s changes from the practice. These changes include:

  • inflammatory responses
  • neurochemical responses, including dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin production
  • immune responses, such as white blood cell increase
  • circulatory responses

This type of therapy involves inserting blunt-tipped needles in specific body acupressure points. It stimulates stagnant or blocked qi to create balance and encourage healing.

A qualified and licensed acupuncturist must perform this type of therapy. These professionals must have completed a minimum of a master’s degree, and many have doctorate degrees in acupuncture. They must also complete national board certification by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

The goal of energy therapy is to promote the free flow of energy. People can use it to treat a specific condition or boost well-being, while some use a combination of energy therapies.

Energy therapy sessions are often available at massage and wellness centers and traditional medical settings, including hospitals and clinics.

Individuals often use energy therapy to treat:

While it is difficult to scientifically measure certain aspects of energy therapy, including the energy of the body, some evidence supports using these treatments for treating certain conditions.

Results of a 2021 study suggest that a single energy medicine treatment can alleviate carpal tunnel pain and negative emotions. It may also positively affect stress levels, well-being, and sleep quality. The practitioners gave the 30-minute sessions at close distance, and some included light, stationary touching.

There are also specific research studies into acupressure, Reiki, and acupuncture below:

Acupressure research

Evidence from a 2021 trial suggests that acupressure may alleviate labor pain and the duration of contractions. However, more high quality trials are necessary to verify these findings.

A 2020 systematic review evaluated the use of acupressure in treating adults with chronic lower back pain for 4 weeks. The treatment outcomes included changes in:

  • pain
  • disability
  • sleep

The researchers concluded that acupressure is an effective, safe, and low cost nonsurgical method to treat chronic lower back pain.

Reiki research

A small 2021 study compared the effectiveness of Reiki, physiotherapy, and drug therapy in easing low back pain and improving daily activities in people with intervertebral disk herniation.

The results suggest that Reiki is an inexpensive way to quickly relieve pain and improve daily activities.

Acupuncture research

Research from 2020 suggests acupuncture is effective in treating pain from migraine and fibromyalgia. It may also alleviate neck and low back pain. The researchers concluded that as there are limited side effects and it is an inexpensive procedure, acupuncture is an essential alternative treatment method.

Acupuncture may also be useful in reducing:

Moreover, one of the largest meta-analyses on acupuncture, involving a total of 17,922 patients, demonstrated that the technique is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is, therefore, a reasonable referral option.

Energy therapies involving qualified professionals are safe for most people. A person can talk with a prospective practitioner to ask questions and discuss their treatment goals. They can also find out more about a practitioner’s training and experience.

However, a person should still speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment, especially if they plan to add it to their current treatment plan. To determine if this type of treatment will be suitable for them, an individual should also discuss using alternative treatments, such as energy therapy, if they are pregnant, taking medications, or have a medical condition.

People should not use energy therapies as the sole treatment for serious or life threatening symptoms or conditions.

Several energy therapies may be beneficial for enhancing health, including Reiki, acupressure, and acupuncture to treat mental and physical conditions.

A person can also consult a healthcare professional for advice and recommendations, especially if they wish to add energy therapies to their current treatment plan.