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Is Reiki Real?

Updated: Jul 11

Great article written by Dr Cüneyt YARDIMCI from Sacred Wisdom of Humanity. This gives you an easy-to-understand summary of the scientific research done on Reiki Energy. life force and the human biofield.

During the 1980’s, Dr Robert Becker, Dr John Zimmerman, and Max Cade each investigated what ‎happens whilst people perform therapies like Reiki. They found that not only do the brain wave ‎patterns of practitioner and receiver become synchronized in the alpha state,

But they pulse in unison ‎with the earth’s magnetic field, known as the Schuman Resonance. During these moments, the ‎biomagnetic field of the practitioners’ hands is at least 1000 times greater than normal, And not as a ‎result of internal body current.

Toni Bunnell (1997) suggests that the linking of energy fields between ‎practitioner and earth allows the practitioner to draw on the “infinite energy source” or “universal ‎energy field” via the Schuman Resonance.

Prof Paul Davies and Dr John Gribben in The Matter Myth ‎‎(1991), discuss the quantum physics view of a “living universe” in which everything is connected in a “living web of interdependence“.

All of this supports the subjective experience of “oneness” and ‎‎”expanded consciousness“, related by those who regularly receive or self-treat with Reiki.‎

Science Behind Reiki

Both Zimmerman (1990) in the USA and Seto (1992) in Japan further investigated the large pulsating ‎biomagnetic field, that is emitted from the hands of energy practitioners whilst they work.

They ‎discovered that the pulses are in the same frequencies as brain waves and sweep up and down from ‎‎0.3 – 30 Hz, focusing mostly in 7 – 8 Hz, alpha state. Independent medical research has shown that this ‎range of frequencies will stimulate healing in the body, with specific frequencies being suitable for ‎different tissues.

For example, 2 Hz encourages nerve regeneration, 7 Hz bone growth, 10Hz ligament ‎mending, and 15 Hz capillary formation.

Physiotherapy equipment based on these principles has been ‎designed to aid soft tissue regeneration, and ultra-sound technology is commonly used to clear clogged ‎arteries and disintegrate kidney stones.

Also, it has been known for many years that, placing an ‎electrical coil around a fracture that refuses to mend will stimulate bone growth and repair. ‎Becker explains that “brain waves” are not confined to the brain, but travel throughout the body via the ‎perineural system, the sheaths of connective tissue surrounding all nerves. During a treatment, these ‎waves begin as relatively weak pulses in the thalamus of the practitioner’s brain and gather cumulative ‎strength as they flow to the peripheral nerves of the body, including the hands.

The same effect is ‎mirrored in the person receiving treatment, and Becker suggests that it is this system, more than any ‎other, that regulates injury repair and homeostasis. This highlights one of the special features of Reiki ‎‎(and similar therapies), that both practitioner and client receive the benefits of a treatment, which ‎makes it very efficient. ‎

It is interesting to note that both Becker and Cade carried out their research on a wide array of cross-‎cultural subjects, and no matter what their belief systems or customs, or how opposed to each other ‎their customs were, all tested the same.

Part of Reiki’s growing popularity is that it does not impose a ‎set of beliefs and can therefore be used by people of any background and faith, or none at all. This ‎neutrality makes it particularly appropriate to a medical setting.

Reiki Induces Meditative State

Zimmerman’s studies show that the brain wave patterns of practitioner and receiver are not only ‎synchronised in the alpha or theta state,

But become left-right balanced, both indicators of deep ‎relaxation and meditation. This experience is typical of Reiki.

The effects of regular meditation on ‎health have been extensively studied at

  • More than 200 universities,

  • Hospitals, and

  • Research institutions ‎in 27 countries.

The most important contribution to health appears to be in primary prevention. Over a ‎‎5-year period, meditators consistently had fewer than half the number of doctor visits and days in ‎hospital, compared with controls.

Hospital admission rates for medical and surgical conditions were 60-‎‎70% less in the meditating group, with 87% less for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, 55% less for ‎tumours, 73% less for respiratory disorders, 87% less for neurological problems, and 30% less for ‎infections.

Notably, the meditating group showed relatively little increase in need for healthcare with ‎increasing age, whereas this trend was clearly seen in controls, as would normally be expected. ‎Further studies showed effective relief from stress, a significant reduction in use of alcohol, cigarettes ‎and non-prescribed drugs, and a significant reduction in medical expenditure.‎ Although the above studies are not directly about Reiki, they do show the positive effects of regular ‎meditation, the state known to be induced by Reiki, and are consistent with the reported benefits. ‎They also support the purported holistic nature of this type of therapy, that is, it works to achieve ‎overall balance and wellbeing rather than being symptom specific.‎

It is perhaps worth mentioning that those who receive Reiki regularly seem to find it easier to meditate ‎than before.

Most probably the treatments provide an example of “body learning“, whereby repeated ‎exposure to the alpha or theta states makes it easier to achieve by oneself.‎

Research Highlights

An elegantly designed experiment by Wirth et al. shows that Reiki significantly reduces post-‎operative pain following the surgical extraction of impacted wisdom teeth. The study utilized a ‎‎”randomized, double-blind, within subject, cross-over” design, which will be further explained. 28 ‎dental patients each received two separate operations for the removal of their teeth, only one of ‎which received Reiki in addition to standard medication for pain relief. 15-20 minutes of Reiki was ‎provided from a distance, with neither the patient nor the independent statistician being aware that ‎this was the focus of the experiment. They all thought the effect of the medication was being tested. ‎The reduction in pain provided by Reiki was therefore neither a placebo nor the result of personal ‎interaction with the patient.‎

Therapeutic Touch

An earlier study by Wirth on Therapeutic Touch (TT), a therapy very similar to Reiki, examined the healing rates of a punch-biopsy on 46 volunteers. The ‎experimental method was similarly sound, being randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled.

‎The volunteers were randomly split into two groups, only one of which received a daily 5-minute ‎session of TT for a total of 16 days. Each participant was isolated in an empty room and passed their ‎arm through a sleeved hole into an adjoining room. the experimental group received non-contact TT, ‎whereas the controls received nothing. Neither the participants, the physician who performed the ‎biopsies, nor the technician who measured the wounds were aware that the study involved TT. All ‎thought that the bio-electric properties of healing were being monitored, thus ensuring that ‎suggestion and placebo effects were nil. The size of the wound was measured on the day of the ‎biopsy, and again on days 8 and 16. Day one was identical for all. Day 8 showed an average wound size ‎ten times smaller in the TT group than in the controls, And, by day 16 almost half the wounds of the TT ‎group had completely healed, whereas none had in the controls. Average size of the treated wounds ‎was then 0.418 mm2 compared with 5.855 mm2. This showed that TT significantly assists wound ‎healing.‎

The Effects of ‎Reiki

A pilot study by Hartwell and Brewitt explored an ingenious method to investigate the effects of ‎Reiki. A small group of chronically ill patients were given eleven, weekly, one-hour Reiki sessions, ‎during which period no other new allopathic or complementary treatments were received. The ‎electrical skin resistance of each patient was measured at a large number of conductance points on the ‎hands and feet, using a Life Information System TEN (LISTEN) device. All patients were measured ‎three times: before the first session, and after sessions 3 and 11. Three test points showed highly ‎significant differences before and after Reiki. These acupuncture / meridian points correlate with the ‎spleen, adrenal glands, and cervical, thoracic region of the spine. Together they might be termed ‎representative of the neuroendocrine-immune system. The greatest change was seen in the spinal ‎readings which started on average 25% below normal,

And, gradually improved to within the optimal ‎range. Following Reiki all patients experienced a reduction in pain, and an increase in relaxation and ‎mobility. Schlitz & Braud used biofeedback devices to measure the galvanic skin response (GSR) ‎of people receiving distant Reiki. Stress is measured as skin resistance. There was a greater effect with ‎subjects who had a high GSR and were stressed.‎

Reiki ‎in the Management of Pain

Dr Olson, coordinator of Nursing Research, and Dr Hanson, research scientist at the Cross ‎Cancer Institute in Edmonton, USA conducted some preliminary research into the usefulness of Reiki ‎as an adjuvant to opioid therapy in the management of pain.

Since high doses of opioids frequently ‎aggravate other common symptoms of cancer patients,

They wished to explore nonpharmaceutical ‎adjuvants that might allow control of cancer pain with lower dosed of opioids.

Patient perception of ‎pain was measured using two standard tests immediately before and after the Reiki treatment.

Both ‎tests showed a highly significant reduction in pain following Reiki,

And a further, more extensive study ‎is now underway. ‎

Therapeutic Touch

Samarel conducted a thorough investigation into the patient’s experience of receiving ‎Therapeutic Touch,

Using a qualitative approach with one open-ended interview followed by a second ‎to clarify details.

It was felt that this would best reveal the multidimensional nature of the therapy, And its simultaneous impact on the physiological, mental/emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Patients ‎recalled focusing on unmet needs in all three areas prior to treatment, in particular physical discomfort. ‎During the course of TT, there was a change in focus from negative to positive experiences, and from ‎physical dimensions to more mental/emotional ones, especially relationships and roles. Finally, ‎following treatment, experiences emphasized the spiritual dimension, referring to such things as ‎spiritual love and faith. A typical example is, “It seemed as if the pain was the most important reason I ‎sought TT. But now it’s not the pain that’s important. I mean I have less pain, but what’s really ‎important is how I feel as a whole person.” Samarel summarized the results in the following way:

The ‎lived experience of TT is a dynamic, multidimensional experience of developing awareness and personal ‎change leading to resonating fulfilment.“‎

Leading-edge Research in China

Over the last ten years, “qi” or “ki” energy has been studied at leading universities and scientific ‎institutions in China.

Quantum physicist Dr Yan Xin has spearheaded the research. Not unexpectedly, ‎it seems that the physiological changes that occur during the “ki state” mirror those of regular ‎meditation, As do the health benefits!!! Of note is the use of ki energy for pain control through its ‎potential to produce enkephalin in the brain and intestinal walls and excite the body’s morphine ‎receptors to accept the enkephalin easily. ‎Experiments using “external qi emissions“, similar to sending distant Reiki, have been shown to affect ‎the molecular properties of RNA and DNA, and various biochemical processes. This has led to an ‎innovative collaboration between science and the pharmaceutical industry, in which ki is used to ‎improve the production of antibiotics. In 1990, final formal certification of the process concluded that:

  • Ki methods can improve the properties of certain antibiotic bacteria, optimizing the selection ‎process

  • ‎Through the methods of mass production ki can save large amounts of raw material

  • ‎Ki can shorten the production period

  • ‎The efficacy of medicines is improved using ki

  • ‎Ki can increase production yields

No harmful effects of any kind were found to occur to humans or the environment using these ‎methods.‎

In summary of the Chinese research, Dr Yan Xin concludes that ki is known to have properties of ‎matter, energy and information.

At the same time, according to different purposes of the ‎experiments, Ki can also display different attributes, such as being bi-directional, distance-‎transcending, self-controllable, reversible and targeting.

He comments,

Currently, due to the ‎difficulty in monitoring and investigating qi phenomena, qi-related research is still superficial and ‎limited in scope. At best we can measure only a tiny fraction, or an extremely small portion of the qi ‎phenomena. The major portion of the qi phenomena remains to be investigated.”

Qi needs science ‎to resurrect itself, and through the process of resurrection and renewal, Ki will enable science to make ‎a great leap forward.


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