Updated: Apr 10
Here is an extract from Psych Central written by Deborah Bier, PhD 2018
Reiki is increasingly offered in hospital, hospice, and private practice settings, applied to a variety of illnesses and conditions. Those who receive such treatments report relief of symptoms from numerous health challenges, including mental health issues. Research shows that reiki primarily helps in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as relief of chronic pain — the last of which can bring on anxiety and depression, or make episodes worse.
Some investigations were conducted on animals, which helps eliminate some questions of bias and design control among Reiki recipients. Some studies used “sham” Reiki as a form of control (nonpractitioners administered a “Reiki-like” treatment), and others involved distance Reiki (Reiki delivered from too far away to permit touch). Each of these variables lends something importing to understanding the efficacy of the treatment itself.
Reports show that “[s]tress was the most common word written by clients as a description or part description of their condition during their first session. Here 20.27% of the total client group treated used this word on their initial visit for Reiki treatment….” In animal studies, Reiki treatment produced clear signs of reduced stress as indicated by changes in autonomic, biological measurements such as heart rate (Baldwin, Wagers and Schwartz, 2008) and certain cellular signs of stress-related damage (Baldwin and Schwartz, 2006). In a study of nurses with “burn out syndrome,” biological indicators of a significant relaxation response were found as a result of Reiki treatment (Diaz-Rodriguez et al., 2011).
When nurses administered Reiki to a group of patients with acute coronary syndrome, physiologic indicators of a significant relaxation effect were recorded. (Friedman et al., 2011)
Shore (2004) followed patients being treated for mild depression and stress. After six weeks of treatment and for up to a year afterward, those who had received Reiki showed both immediate and long-term improvements in depression, stress and hopelessness. In a small study, complete elimination of typical postoperative depression was seen in heart surgery patients given Reiki during surgery (Motz, 1998).
Pain often causes depression and anxiety. Reducing difficult-to-treat chronic pain can have a substantial effect on psychological well-being. Some studies have found Reiki to be effective for pain, anxiety and depression relief. However, their design or conclusions are unclear as to whether Reiki’s emotional benefits were a result of pain reduction or a separate phenomenon. Nonetheless, research demonstrated Reiki’s positive results for both pain and anxiety or depression.
Dressing and Sing (1998) found that among cancer patients, Reiki brought about significant levels of pain relief, anxiety and depression reduction, improvements in sleep quality, relaxation and general well-being. This effect was stronger in men than women. These benefits remained when checked after three months. Among abdominal hysterectomy patients, Reiki helped reduce pain and anxiety, particularly in a preoperative setting (Vitale and O’Conner, 1998).
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