·   Alternative Health Therapies in Australia

  • Report by: Arna Richardson  | December 2019

·      Pressure point: Regulations are limiting demand for industry therapies, constraining revenue

  • Growing consumer acceptance of alternative or complementary therapies has helped drive demand for the Alternative Health Therapies industry over the past five years. Complementary and alternative health care medicines and therapies (often collectively referred to as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM) are often used alongside conventional medical treatments to improve health and wellbeing. These treatments include acupuncture, naturopathy, aromatherapy, homeopathy and massage. Australia’s ageing population has benefited demand, as the higher frequency of illness for people aged over 50 has led to many using alternative health therapy. This factor is particularly relevant for palliative care, as patients are often treated in tandem with conventional medical practitioners.
  • However, questions related to the clinical efficacy of alternative health therapies have constrained industry revenue growth over the past five years. The 2015 Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies found no clear evidence that natural therapies are effective. As a result, 16 natural therapies were removed from private health insurance general treatment from 1 April 2019. While private insurers can continue to cover these items, they will no longer be eligible for partial Commonwealth subsidies. Prior to April 2019, the number of natural therapies services claimed under private health insurance ancillary cover grew at a strong rate, with 6.8 million services claimed in the year through March 2019. Due to backlash following the new rebate ban, the Australian Government has announced an additional review of natural therapies for private health insurance, with a final review report due in 2020.
  • Industry revenue is expected to rise by an annualised 0.1% over the five years through 2019-20, to total $4.1 billion. Revenue has been negatively affected by falling discretionary incomes and concerns related to the efficacy of industry services. However, revenue is anticipated to rise by 1.2% in the current year, as the population continues to age and use industry therapies. Over the next five years, the industry is anticipated to continue benefiting from an ageing population, rising incidences of chronic disease and co-morbidities, and growing recognition of the need for a preventative approach to health. Industry revenue is projected to grow by an annualised 1.7% over the five years through 2024-25, to $4.5 billion.
  • Other therapies
  • Other therapies in the industry largely consist of mind-body interventions and energy medicines.
  • Mind-body interventions take a holistic approach to health, exploring the interconnection between the mind, body and spirit. Such methods are based on the premise that the mind can affect bodily functions and symptoms. Therapies in this segment include hypnosis, yoga and relaxation. Energy medicine forms an even smaller segment, which involves healing with putative and verifiable energy fields. Reiki is a popular practice in this segment. The share of industry revenue attributable to other therapies has fallen over the past five years, due to stronger growth in other service segments.

Alternative Health Therapies in Australia

  • Strong growth in demand for alternative health therapies can be attributed to the wide variety of therapies available.
  • Additionally, the industry’s consumer markets are broad as health issues affect the entire population. The industry’s consumer markets are segmented by age.
  • People aged 65 and older
  • Australians aged 65 and older are expected to account for a larger share of revenue relative to their share of the overall population.
  • Australia has an aging population and this age group tends to have greater wealth, a higher portion of private health insurance membership, and greater health awareness. While alternative health therapies are not necessarily effective in curing ailments, their efficacy is more greatly proven when used to relieve pain and suffering, resulting in their increasing use in palliative care. Older generations are more likely to contract terminal or chronic illnesses that require palliative care, resulting in higher use of alternative health therapies. This age group’s its contribution to industry revenue has risen as its share of the population has increased over the past five years.
  • People aged 20 to 64
  • Australians aged between 20 and 64 comprise 59.6% of the overall population and are forecast to contribute a proportionate 58.5% of industry revenue in 2019-20.
  • This market is of working age, has high health consciousness and has increasingly accepted alternative health therapies. Despite this age group’s growing use of such treatments, its share of industry revenue has declined over the past five years due to growth in the share of individuals aged 65 and older using alternative health therapies. While individuals aged between 20 and 64 can use all alternative health therapy segments, this age group tends to make the most use of naturopathy and dietary supplements.
  • People aged 19 and younger
  • Australians aged 19 and under are forecast to contribute less than 17% of industry revenue, despite accounting for 24.8% of the population.
  • Members in this age cohort are likely to use chiropractors or osteopaths, in addition to naturopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists. Children also do not pay for their own treatment. While adults can make their own decisions regarding alternative health therapies, parents are less likely to pay for treatments for their children that display less efficacy than conventional medicine and are often considered to have health risks. This market has declined as a portion of revenue over the past five years, reflecting stronger growth in the cohort aged 65 and older.
  • Population distribution largely determines the industry’s geographic spread. For example, New South Wales accounts for an estimated 33.9% of employment numbers of complementary therapists and 32.0% of Australia’s population. However, some states account for a higher proportion of industry employment than their population would indicate. This trend is due to higher concentrations of people with non-conventional beliefs about health care in those areas. For example, Victoria accounts for 26.9% of employment and 25.9% of the population.
  • The industry’s geographic spread is skewed towards regions with a higher concentration of migrant populations. This is due to the number of industry participants that provide traditional medicines. Traditional medicines from other countries are more commonly practised in migrant populations and practitioners are more likely to be born overseas. Many alternative health practitioners are born overseas when compared with the general population. This factor slightly skews the geographic spread of the industry towards cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, where migrant populations (particularly those from non-English speaking countries) are concentrated.

Survey finds more than a quarter of Aussies are stressed and anxious

  • The report also found that:
  • Younger people (18-25) have consistently reported lower levels of wellbeing than older Australians.
  • The unemployed report the lowest levels of wellbeing whereas the retirees report the highest levels of wellbeing.
  • Australians living with a partner reported significantly higher levels of wellbeing compared to all other groups (e.g. sole parents, living with parents, etc.).
  • Those with children have higher levels of wellbeing than those without children.
  • Wellbeing levels rise with education and income.
  • 35 per cent of Australians report having a significant level of distress in their lives.
  • 26 per cent of Australians report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms.
  • 26 per cent of Australians report having moderate to extremely severe levels of depression symptoms.
  • In 2015, anxiety symptoms were the highest they have been in the five years of the survey.
  • Financial issues are rated as the top cause of stress over the five years.

·      Key Success Factors

  • IBISWorld identifies 250 Key Success Factors for a business. The most important for this industry are:
  • Proximity to key markets: Industry services require proximity to consumers. Operators located near key markets possess a competitive advantage.
  • Economies of scope: Economies of scope can be significant for providers of a range of complementary treatments, such as massage therapy with aromatherapy. These operators can divide the fixed costs of offices and administrative overheads over a wider range of services.
  • Membership of an industry organisation: Industry organisations can provide operators with a framework and direction. They can also facilitate mutually beneficial communication among industry participants.
  • Having a loyal customer base: Many users of alternative health therapies use these treatments repeatedly if they are successful after the initial treatment. Reputation and client loyalty encourage repeat customers, supporting revenue growth.

·      Health consciousness

  • Increased health consciousness tends to increase demand for alternative health therapies. As consumers become more proactive about their health and wellbeing, they are often more likely to purchase additional treatments outside conventional medicine. Health consciousness is expected to increase in 2019-20.

·      Total health expenditure

  • Spending on alternative health therapies is included in total health expenditure. Total expenditure on health is expected to increase in 2019-20, which will likely include alternative health therapies. This trend will positively influence industry revenue.

·      Population aged 50 and older

  • Individuals over the age of 50 visit alternative health therapists more often than those in younger age groups. In 2019-20, an anticipated increase in the population aged 50 and over will provide an opportunity for the industry to expand.

·      Public health expenditure

  • Increased funding for public health services, which represents a substitute for industry services, negatively affects demand for alternative health therapies. Public health expenditure is expected to rise in 2019-20, increasing the volume of public health care services provided and threatening demand for industry services.

·      Real household discretionary income

  • Expenditure on alternative health therapies is discretionary. Growth in the number of money consumers can spend on discretionary purchases therefore positively affects expenditure on industry services. Discretionary income is expected to fall in 2019-20, decreasing demand for industry services…
    What are complementary and alternative therapies?
  • They are a diverse range of treatments and practices, based on different philosophies and beliefs, that are used for healing the mind, body, emotions, and spirit. They are not usually taught in medical schools nor routinely offered in hospitals.
  • There are around 200 different complementary therapies on record. They can be divided into four main groups which can help us understand how they are used. (This is adapted from the Centre for Holistic Paediatric Education and Research in Boston.)
    • Biochemical such as herbs, dietary supplements, minerals, vitamins, Bach flower essences, aromatherapy oils
    • Biomechanical such as massage, osteopathy, chiropractic, Alexander technique
    • Lifestyles such as environment, diet, exercise, and Mindbody techniques such as meditation, relaxation, imagery, hypnosis
    • Bioenergetic such as acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic touch, kinesiology…


  • by Eugenio Lepine
  • If you have already read Reiki is reaching the Top Hospitals, then you probably remember that the Solaris Cancer Care offers Reiki for their patients. They teamed up with the International Institute for Reiki Training (IIRT) and the Reiki Association (WA), and created the Reiki Community Clinic, in order to provide Reiki as a service to their members. Here you will find useful information about the current presence of Reiki in Hospitals in Australia.
  • Reiki is becoming an increasingly accepted presence in hospitals and clinics. (The Center for Reiki Research website lists 70 institutions at the time of this article that include Reiki in their offerings.) It is seen as an effective and cost-reducing method to improve health outcomes and quality of care. Hospital staff, such as physicians and nurses, are adding Reiki treatments to their work. Scientific validation of Reiki’s effectiveness have helped bring this method to the mainstream, where it is able to aid patients in all realms, including those with mental health challenges.
  • The International Centre For Reiki Training.
  • The Reiki sessions are given by 20 members of the hospital staff whom Patricia has trained in Reiki. These include RN’s, physical therapists, technicians and medical records and support staff. Reiki services began in April 1997, and as of 2008 have given 8000 Reiki sessions.

Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy

  • Conclusion
  • Reiki is a safe, gentle, and profoundly relaxing healing modality that can be practiced by anyone who has received an “attunement” from a Reiki master. This review has found reasonably strong evidence for Reiki being more effective than placebo, suggesting that Reiki attunement leads to a quantifiable increase in healing ability.
  • Reiki is better than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and increased heart rate variability. For patients with chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for reducing pain, anxiety, and depression, and for improving self-esteem and quality of life. According to the neurovisceral integration model and the polyvagal theory, these effects are due to higher parasympathetic nervous system activity, mediated via the vagus nerve.
  • This understanding suggests that Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a broad range of chronic health conditions. However, there is no justification to regard Reiki as a cure for any health condition. Instead, Reiki should be regarded as a complementary therapy that can be implemented alongside all other medical and therapeutic techniques.
  • Further research is recommended to help optimize the application of Reiki for specific health conditions and to examine the benefits arising from provision of multiple Reiki sessions over an extended period of time.
  • Finding a Reiki practitioner
  • It is vital that the person who gives you reiki is properly trained.
  • There are 3 different levels of reiki practitioners.
  • Level 1 means you can use reiki to treat yourself, family and friends but are not able to treat other people or charge money for treatment
  • Level 2 (also called practitioner level) means you have studied to a higher level and can use reiki to treat people
  • Level 3 means you are a reiki master or teacher
  • Anyone treating you should hold a minimum Level 2 reiki qualification and should be registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) as a reiki practitioner.
  • There is no law to say that practitioners have to have any specific qualifications. But most reputable practitioners belong to a professional reiki association.
  • Look on the UK Reiki Federation website first for a list of practitioners in your area. Or use one of the other organisations listed below. Contact one or more of practitioners and check what level qualification and training they have.
  • The NHS is advertising for a £24,000-a-year Reiki therapist to provide spiritual healing to cancer and ‘acutely unwell’ patients at a hospital in England.
  • The job advert, posted by United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust, calls for a ‘committed, enthusiastic and a self-motivated’ Reiki therapist to join the team at the Lincoln County Hospital in Lincolnshire.
  • Reiki healers claim to channel energy and heal people through their palms, while also helping people to relax and alleviate stress.
  • Cancer Research UK says Reiki can help people suffering from cancer to relax – but there is no scientific evidence the holistic healing can cure it. 
  • The healer will be working in the hospital’s Waddington Unit – a 26-bed acute haematology and oncology ward that cares for ‘acutely unwell’ male and female patients.
  • The job advert, posted by United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust, calls for a ‘committed, enthusiastic and a self-motivated’ Reiki therapist to join the team at the Lincoln County Hospital in Lincolnshire…
  • SA Health.
  • Back problems are common, with approximately 8 out of 10 people experiencing back pain at some time in their lives. In most cases the cause is not serious and, with the right guidance and support, people recover without the need for specific treatment or specialist help.

Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations

·    Implications for Nursing Education, Practice, and Research

  • Reiki therapy is a non-invasive, often comforting and relaxing intervention that is within nursing scope of practice in most states. Nurses may easily learn Reiki therapy and use this intervention with patients in day-to-day practice (Whelan & Wishnia, 2003). Additionally, Reiki therapy may be a good self-care tool as suggested by more than one study (Cuneo et al., 2011Diaz-Rodriguez et al., 2011Vitale, 2009). Based on this review, there is enough evidence to continue researching Reiki therapy as an intervention for pain and anxiety. Certainly more research is required in order to definitively recommend Reiki therapy as an intervention for decreased pain or anxiety.
  • My business will be a major success because it is recognised in palliative care in some hospitals in Australia including Cancer Care Adelaide SA.
  • Reiki has been tried and tested to prove it is an efficient Therapy that can assist people to relax and help minor injuries, aches, and pains…
  • My website will be full of insights into what Reiki can achieve as well as a menu of therapies that I have on offer similar To Cancer Care SA.
  • I will supply similar therapies to the people of Metropolitan Adelaide South Australia…
  • Nursing homes with avenge 12 employees and 25-30 residents.
  • Classed as moderate to high care.
  • One to one Reiki therapies
  • Teaching students Reiki Therapy…


Reiki therapy is recognized in hospital facilities’ in Australia around the world. It has been tried and tested with positive results making my business more lucrative as a respected therapy.

Reiki’s effect on patients with total knee arthroplasty: A pilot study.

Barbara Byrne Notte 1Carol FazziniRuth A MooneyAffiliations expand


Background: In the immediate postoperative period, managing postsurgical pain with pain medication can contribute to complications. A more effective approach might include a combination of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic measures, such as Reiki therapy.

Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the impact of Reiki therapy on the pain perception of patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) following Reiki sessions, satisfaction with Reiki therapy, satisfaction with the hospital experience overall, and pain medication use following surgery. WHAT IS REIKI?: Reiki is a technique for relaxation and stress reduction that also promotes healing.

Literature review: Reiki has been studied in women undergoing abdominal hysterectomies and in patients with cancer who were receiving chemotherapy. A review of 66 biofield therapy studies, including Reiki, suggested, “strong evidence for the effects of biofield therapy in the reduction of pain intensity in pain populations and moderate evidence for decreased pain in hospitalized patients.”

Theoretical framework: Martha Rogers’s Theory of Unitary Human Beings formed the framework for this study.

Methods: The sample included 43 patients undergoing TKA, who were randomized into Reiki (N = 23) and non-Reiki (N = 20) groups. All subjects in this pilot study had unilateral TKA at the same hospital. Pain was assessed before and after Reiki therapy using the numeric rating scale in the preoperative area, postanesthesia care unit (PACU), and on each of 3 postoperative days. A questionnaire was distributed the day of discharge to measure satisfaction with Reiki and the hospital experience.

Results: All Reiki therapy sessions resulted in statistically significant reductions in pain, except those sessions in the PACU. Subjects receiving Reiki responded positively to questionnaires completed on the day of discharge. No statistically significant differences were found in pain medication use.

Discussion: Reiki may be an effective component in the management of surgical patients’ postoperative pain.

Limitations and implications: Subject numbers were limited due to the difficulty of meeting with the patients and obtaining informed consent. Due to the nature of Reiki therapy, the study was not blinded. Music played during Reiki therapy could have contributed to the effect experienced by the patients. Not all questionnaires were collected before patient discharge.

Recommendations for further studies: Future studies should include more subjects, control for music use during the Reiki session, and measure the length of time pain is decreased following Reiki treatments.

Unanticipated outcomes: As a result of positive feedback and decreased pain ratings following Reiki sessions, a Reiki program has been established at the hospital. Ten nurses became trained and certified in Reiki.

Reiki Is Better Than Placebo and Has Broad Potential as a Complementary Health Therapy

David E. McManus, PhD1Author informationArticle notesCopyright and License informationDisclaimerThis article has been cited by other articles in PMC.Go to:


This study reviews the available clinical studies of Reiki to determine whether there is evidence for Reiki providing more than just a placebo effect. The available English-language literature of Reiki was reviewed, specifically for peer-reviewed clinical studies with more than 20 participants in the Reiki treatment arm, controlling for a placebo effect. Of the 13 suitable studies, 8 demonstrated Reiki being more effective than placebo, 4 found no difference but had questionable statistical resolving power, and only one provided clear evidence for not providing benefit. Viewed collectively, these studies provide reasonably strong support for Reiki being more effective than placebo. From the information currently available, Reiki is a safe and gentle “complementary” therapy that activates the parasympathetic nervous system to heal body and mind. It has potential for broader use in management of chronic health conditions, and possibly in postoperative recovery. Research is needed to optimize the delivery of Reiki.Keywords: Reiki, clinical studies, placebo effect, parasympathetic nervous system, complementary health therapy, chronic health conditions, postoperative recovery

Reiki is one of the more popular complementary modalities used by Australians to manage their health conditions,1 There is little data available on how widely Reiki is used in Australia, but information gleaned from public sources indicates that it is being employed with good effect in some hospitals, cancer support centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and in palliative care. At the Oncology-Haematology Unit at Bega Valley Health Services, Reiki sessions are provided by Jennifer Ahrens, who reported,

Patients and carer responses noticeably referred to their fear and anxiety during a time of diagnosis of cancer and follow-up treatments. Most patients are grateful that the hospital provides this service, which they report as bringing diverse benefits, particularly on an emotional level and one that is personally supportive as they negotiate a stressful and traumatic period with less fear, anxiety or depression.2(p19)

Reiki is not an alternative to allopathic medicine—it is a “complementary” therapy that can be implemented alongside all other medical and therapeutic techniques. It is a gentle technique that is suitable for even very fragile patients, so it is accepted widely in hospitals and hospices around the world. The profound relaxation produced by Reiki has been anecdotally reported to alleviate anxiety and stress, the perception of pain, and to promote a feeling of psychospiritual well-being.3

Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in the 1920s. It is a relaxing form of healing therapy that is applied through noninvasive, nonmanipulative gentle touch. Reiki involves lightly laying of hands just above or on the clothed body, working over the front and back in a slow progression of hand positions. Reiki has no religious doctrine and is accepted by people from all backgrounds and belief systems.

One of the key defining features of Reiki is that the ability to practice is conferred through an “attunement” process and is not dependent on any innate personal healing capability. Attunement is done by a Reiki master, through a series of rituals that are said to open the energy channels of the body. Attunement to first-degree Reiki (Reiki I) confers the ability to treat oneself and others by touch. Attunement to second-degree Reiki (Reiki II) confers the ability to use specific symbols to access Reiki mentally for distant healing. Attunement to third-degree Reiki (Reiki III), or master level, confers the ability to attune others into Reiki. At each level, the ability to effectively heal with Reiki develops progressively through committed practice.4

Understandably, the ability to confer special healing abilities through an attunement ritual is regarded with skepticism by many people. It could be argued that any health benefits of Reiki are nothing more than a placebo effect and that the same benefits could be achieved without attunement.

Reviews of Reiki clinical trials have been published by Lee et al,5 vanderVaart et al,6 and by Baldwin et al.7 In summary, these reviewers found that Reiki had some promise in the areas of pain, relaxation, and anxiety management, but there was a need for further experiments with greater numbers of subjects to allow statistically meaningful interpretation.

In recent years, there have been many new publications on Reiki trials, but these have not been subject to review. The present study was undertaken to review the available clinical studies of Reiki to determine whether there is evidence for Reiki providing more than just a placebo effect.Go to:


Four selection criteria were applied to Reiki studies for inclusion in this review. First, only studies of hands-on Reiki were considered. While distance healing is considered to be a valid Reiki technique, there are currently too few published studies to draw statistical conclusions.

Second, only quantitative studies including a “sham Reiki” placebo control were considered. Sham Reiki involves an actor mimicking the hand positions and other procedures used by the attuned Reiki practitioner. It is intended to serve as a placebo control, in which the only significant experimental variable is whether or not the practitioner has received a Reiki attunement.

Third, this review only includes reports published in peer-reviewed journals, thereby excluding master’s and PhD theses. The rationale for this is that the methods and results in published articles have survived screening and evaluation by peer review, whereas master’s and PhD theses have not.

Fourth, this review only includes studies involving 20 or more participants in the Reiki treatment arm. A criticism raised in previous reviews is that many studies were flawed by the use of too few experimental subjects, making them incapable of reaching statistically significant conclusions. The inclusion of studies with 20 or more participants helps ensure that the conclusions are statistically robust.

The exception to this criterion is the inclusion of 2 studies that used laboratory rats as experimental recipients of Reiki.8,9 These were rigorously conducted studies that collected “hard” evidence through microscopic tissue examination and implanted telemetric transmitters, with care taken to ensure statistically significant outcomes. These are regarded as highly significant studies because they prelude the possibility of a psychological placebo effect. Even so, a sham Reiki placebo control was used in each study.

Identification of English-language Reiki studies was done by undertaking a Google Scholar search using a variety of key words, repeated over a period of more than 3 months. In addition, the reference lists of identified articles were also scrutinized, to help identify any additional references. Full copies of all identified publications were obtained, to ensure that experimental details were correctly understood. Only the publications meeting all of the selection criteria were included in this review.Go to:


There were 13 peer-reviewed studies published between 1998 and 2016 that met all of the selection criteria. There were 4 randomized single-blind studies and 7 randomized double-blind studies with human participants, and 2 studies using rats. The studies included both pilot studies and clinical trials, looking at both short-term and long-term application of Reiki.

To assist in the interpretation of these data, the selected studies can be grouped into 4 categories:

  1. Physiological responses to Reiki
  2. Use of Reiki as a complementary therapy for a chronic condition
  3. Use of Reiki as a treatment for a chronic condition
  4. Use of Reiki as a complementary therapy for an acute condition

Physiological Responses to Reiki

Witte and Dundes10 conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study using university student volunteers to measure objectively the effect of Reiki on physical and mental relaxation. Reiki was provided by a Reiki I practitioner over a period of 20 minutes, involving 4 hand positions on head, neck, and upper torso of a seated participant. Four treatment arms were used, each with 25 participants: Reiki, sham Reiki placebo, a control group relaxing and listening to a meditation tape, and a control group listening to calming music. It was found that Reiki was more effective than placebo, music, or meditation for inducing physical relaxation, but there was no difference between groups for mental relaxation.

Baldwin and Schwartz8 investigated whether application of Reiki could reduce the deleterious effects of noise-induced stress in rats. Loud noise can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the mesentery of rats, so the extent of microvascular damage can provide a quantitative measure of the level of stress experienced by the animals. The experiments involved 3 treatment arms: (1) noise + Reiki (n = 4), (2) noise + sham Reiki (n = 4), and (3) noise-only control (n = 4). Reiki or sham Reiki were provided to the caged rats for 15 minutes per day over 21 days. The experiment was replicated 3 times, and then again using different Reiki practitioners. It was found that the extent of stress-associated microvascular damage for noise + Reiki was significantly less than that for noise + sham Reiki or the noise-only control.

Baldwin et al9 extended their earlier study to investigate whether Reiki can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure of noise-stressed rats. The rats were fitted with implantable telemetric transmitters to provide accurate physiological data. The same procedure was used as before, with 3 rats in each treatment arm and Reiki or sham Reiki provided for 15 minutes per day over 5 days. It was found that Reiki, but not sham Reiki, significantly reduced both the average resting heart rate and the rise in heart rate produced by exposure of rats to loud noise. However, neither Reiki nor sham Reiki significantly affected mean arterial pressure.

Díaz-Rodríguez et al11 employed a randomized, single-blind, placebo controlled, crossover design pilot study to investigate the physiological effects of Reiki in health care professionals with burnout syndrome. The study involved 21 participants receiving either Reiki or sham Reiki placebo, with heart rate variability, body temperature, salivary flow rate, and salivary cortisol levels measured both pre- and posttreatment. Reiki was provided by a practitioner with 15 years of experience, involving a 30-minute session covering the head, eyes, ears, and chest. It was found that a single session of Reiki increased heart rate variability and body temperature but not salivary cortisol levels, indicating that Reiki shifts the autonomic balance toward parasympathetic dominance.

Salles et al12 investigated the effect of Reiki on abnormal blood pressure using a randomized, cross-sectional, descriptive, and double-blind clinical trial. Hypertensive patients were randomized to 1 of 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 22), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 22), or (3) rest control (n = 22). Reiki was provided as a single 20-minute session (no details provided). It was observed that blood pressure decreased in each of the 3 groups, with statistically significant differences between each group. The Reiki group had the greatest reduction in blood pressure, followed by the placebo and the control group.

All 5 of these studies provide evidence that Reiki is better than placebo for inducing a physically relaxed state. This appears to be an objective fact, given that it has been replicated in both humans10 and rats.8 Physiological measurements indicate that Reiki is more effective than placebo in reducing resting heart rate,9 increasing heart rate variability,11 and reducing blood pressure.12 These results indicate that Reiki is more effective than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Reiki as a Complementary Therapy for Chronic Conditions

Dressen and Singg13 investigated the potential benefits of Reiki for patients with a variety of chronic illnesses. This randomized, single-blind, placebo controlled pilot study involved 4 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 30), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 30), (3) progressive muscle relaxation (n = 30), and (4) rest control (n = 30). Reiki was provided by 4 Reiki masters as 30-minute sessions covering the full body of a recumbent participant, given 2 times per week for 5 weeks. It was found that Reiki was more effective than the other treatments for reducing pain, depression, and state anxiety in chronically ill patients. Reiki was also found to cause desirable changes in personality, including reduced trait anxiety, enhancement of self-esteem, a shift toward internal locus of control, and toward a realistic sense of personal control.

Catlin and Taylor-Ford14 investigated whether provision of Reiki therapy during outpatient chemotherapy is associated with increased comfort and well-being. This was a double-blind, randomized clinical controlled trial with 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 63), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 63), and (3) standard care (n = 63). A Reiki master nurse provided a single Reiki session of 20 minutes duration (no details provided). It was found that participants in both the Reiki and sham Reiki placebo groups showed improvement in pre- and postcomfort and well-being outcomes, while those in the standard care groups showed no differences in well-being or comfort. The researchers concluded that Reiki was no better than sham Reiki and that the attentive presence of a designated nurse at the bedside was more important for patient well-being and comfort than the delivery of Reiki.

Erdogan and Cinar15 evaluated the effect of Reiki on depression in elderly persons living in nursing homes using a randomized, single-blinded pilot study with 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 30), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 30), and (3) control (n = 30). Reiki was applied to the experimental group by a Reiki master for 8 weeks, once a week for 45 to 60 minutes. Sham Reiki was applied by 4 nurses who did not have Reiki training but thought that they were practicing Reiki. The control group had no intervention. The researchers observed a statistically significant decrease in depression levels for the Reiki group on the 4th, 8th, and 12th weeks. No significant decrease in depression scores were found for the sham Reiki or control groups. There was no significant difference in the depression scores between the sham reiki and control groups. This study indicated that Reiki might be effective for reducing depression in elderly persons living in nursing homes.

Alarcão and Fonseca16 employed a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study with a cross-sectional design to investigate the effects of Reiki on the quality of life of blood cancer patients. The study involved 2 treatment groups: (1) Reiki (n = 58) and (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 42). Reiki (by Reiki masters) or sham Reiki treatment was provided in 60-minute sessions, twice a week for 4 weeks. Patient responses were assessed using the WHOQoL-Bref, an abbreviated generic Quality of Life Scale. It was found that the Reiki group showed significantly more improvements in the general, physical, environmental, and social dimensions of the WHOQoL-Bref. They generally felt better about themselves, their physical condition, and their relationships with their environment and other people.

Each of these studies investigated a particular aspect of how Reiki may be employed as a complementary therapy in the management of chronic conditions. In 3 of these 4 studies, Reiki was applied repeatedly over an extended period, with 1 or 2 sessions per week over a period of up to 8 weeks. In these 3 studies, Reiki was found to be more effective than placebo, resulting in reduced anxiety13 and depression,15 and improved self-esteem13 and quality of life.16

Only one of the studies did not find a significant difference between Reiki and placebo.14 Interestingly, this was the only study that utilized Reiki as a one-off, short-duration intervention, to improve patient comfort and well-being during chemotherapy. Interpretation of this study outcome is difficult because the trial did not include a “usual treatment” control, which would have provided insight into the sensitivity of the instruments used to measure “comfort” and “well-being.”

Reiki as an Adjunctive Treatment for Chronic Conditions

Gillespie et al17 investigated the efficacy of Reiki for alleviating pain and for improving mobility and quality of life in patients with type 2 diabetes and painful diabetic neuropathy. This was a randomized, semidouble-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week clinical trial involving 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 93), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 88), and (3) usual care control (n = 26). Reiki was provided by 2 experienced practitioners who provided 2 sessions in the first week, followed by weekly sessions over 12 weeks. Patients were recumbent during each 25-minute session. The researchers found that global pain scores and walking distance improved in both the Reiki and placebo groups. However, there were no significant differences between groups at the final visit. The researchers noted that the pain scores were relatively low in all groups, with high variability, which reduced the power to detect a statistically significant difference between treatments.

Assefi et al18 conducted a clinical trial to determine whether Reiki can be beneficial as an adjunctive treatment for fibromyalgia. The trial was factorial designed, randomized, double-blinded, and sham-controlled, with 2 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 25) and (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 25). Reiki was provided by 3 experienced Reiki masters using two 30-minute sessions weekly for 8 weeks to recumbent participants. The trial results showed that neither of the treatments improved the pain, fatigue, well-being, or physical and mental functioning of patients with fibromyalgia. These researchers concluded that adults with fibromyalgia are unlikely to benefit from Reiki.

Both of these studies evaluated the potential of Reiki to relieve the pain of painful diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia, which are difficult conditions to manage with allopathic medicine. In the trial by Gillespie et al,17 both Reiki and placebo showed some promise for relieving the pain of painful diabetic neuropathy, but the experiment did not have sufficient statistical power to detect a significant difference between treatments. In the trial by Assefi et al,18 neither Reiki nor placebo was able to relieve the pain of fibromyalgia or the resulting fatigue and reduced well-being, indicating that Reiki is not a potential cure for this recalcitrant and difficult condition.

Reiki as a Complementary Therapy in Acute Settings

Bourque et al19 undertook a randomized, double-blinded pilot study to determine whether the use of Reiki decreases the amount of analgesics administered to patients undergoing screening colonoscopy. The trial included 3 treatment arms: (1) Reiki (n = 25), (2) sham Reiki placebo (n = 5), and (3) retrospective chart review of prior patients as the control (n = 30). A Reiki master provided a 10-minute Reiki treatment simultaneously with intravenous administration of midazolam (a sedative), prior to the colonoscopic procedure. During colonoscopy, meperidine (an analgesic) was administered to the conscious patient, depending on the level of pain experienced. The trial results indicated no statistically significant difference in meperidine administration between the patients in the control and Reiki groups. The researchers noted that the study would have been enhanced by having a pain scale to determine the amount of meperidine to be administered to the patients. It was observed that patients displayed a calmer demeanor after screening colonoscopy with Reiki.

Kundu et al20 investigated the potential benefits of Reiki as an adjuvant to opioid therapy for postoperative oral pain control in pediatric patients. In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial, children aged 9 months to 4 years who were scheduled for elective dental work or for palatoplasty surgery were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: (1) preoperative Reiki (n = 20) or (2) preoperative sham Reiki control (n = 18). Reiki was provided by a Reiki master for 20 to 30 minutes (details not provided). It was reported that there was no evidence of benefit from a single session of preoperative Reiki in terms of reducing pain intensity, analgesic requirements, incidence of side effects, or perioperative family satisfaction.

In both of these trials, Reiki was not found to be more effective than placebo for reducing acute pain during medical procedures. In both cases, however, it is unclear whether the design of the experiments provided sufficient statistical power to reach a firm conclusion. Bourque et al19 stated that the experiment could have been improved by using a pain scale to help calibrate the amount of analgesic administered. Kundu et al20 used the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) pain scale, which is appropriate for determining the dosage of postsurgery analgesic for young children, but its statistical resolving power is not well defined.Go to:


This review identified 13 placebo-controlled studies of Reiki that included at least 20 participants in the Reiki treatment arm, of which 8 found that Reiki was more effective than placebo.813,15,16 There were 4 studies that found no difference between Reiki and placebo, but this could be attributed to a lack of statistical resolving power of the experiments.14,17,19,20 In one study in which Reiki was not better than placebo, involving patients with fibromyalgia,18 neither Reiki nor the placebo had any beneficial effect.

Viewed collectively, these studies provide reasonably strong support for Reiki being more effective than placebo. Two of the studies were conducted with rats and produced clear, objective evidence of a benefit of Reiki over placebo. This suggests that there is some merit to the claim that Reiki “attunement” imparts an extra healing capacity to the recipient. Although there is currently no scientific explanation for this, the clinical trial evidence is compelling. Further research is warranted to better understand this phenomenon.

Reiki has been shown to be better than placebo for inducing a state of relaxation.8,10 Physiologically, this means that Reiki is effective in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, quantitatively measured as reduced heart rate,8 reduced blood pressure,12 and increased heart rate variability.11 The parasympathetic nervous system is one branch of the autonomic nervous system, the other branch being the sympathetic nervous system. In a healthy individual, the activity of the 2 branches can be rapidly modulated in response to changing environmental demands, but overall are maintained in a state of dynamic balance, or homeostasis. This regulatory process is primarily mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve.21

It is known that the vagus nerve plays a vital role in mediating the mutual interactions between the brain and the body. According to the neurovisceral integration model,22 the vagus nerve plays a key role in processes that regulate the health of the body, including inflammatory responses, glucose regulation, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function. In each of these processes, the regulatory role of the vagus nerve is thought to be associated with its function as part of the “inflammatory reflex.”23

According to the polyvagal theory,21 the autonomic nervous system is the neurophysiological substrate for emotional expression and contingent social behavior. The perception of pain, like other emotions, is an affective state that is governed by the autonomic nervous system. Chronic pain is associated with dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system and reduced heart rate variability. Increased heart rate variability indicates a greater capacity of the autonomic nervous system for affect regulation and reduced pain sensitivity.24,25

A compromised autonomic nervous system, as characterized by reduced heart rate variability, is associated with cognitive and affective dysregulation, and psychological inflexibility, which are major psychological risk factors for psychopathologies such as chronic anxiety and depression.26 Conversely, increased heart rate variability is associated with better regulation of emotional responses, better coping strategies, more positive emotions, and increased social connectedness, supporting an “upward spiral” in social and psychological well-being.27,28

Thus, the vagus nerve plays a vital role in mediating both physical and mental health. Artificial stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system via the vagus nerve has been shown to reduce the perception of pain,29 reduce depression,30 and improve mood and quality of life.31

For patients with chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for reducing pain and anxiety,13 depression,15 and for improving self-esteem13 and quality of life.16 It seems likely that these effects are the result of Reiki’s ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and increase heart rate variability, which can be understood in terms of the neurovisceral integration model22 and the polyvagal theory.21

As a safe and gentle way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system via deep relaxation, Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a broad range of chronic health conditions. Research to date does not suggest that Reiki can cure any health condition, so it is not appropriate to regard Reiki as an alternative to allopathic medicine. Instead, Reiki should be regarded as a useful complement to conventional practices, especially for chronic illnesses where the use of drugs offers little benefit.

Previous research has provided evidence to suggest that Reiki may be a useful complementary therapy in acute settings. For example, the effectiveness of Reiki as an aid to recovery after major surgical procedures has been tested in an Indian hospital. Reiki was provided for 7 days after surgical procedures such as laparotomy, gastrectomy, hysterectomy, cholecystectomy, mastectomy, and general abdominal surgeries. Reiki was found to improve the vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and pain), hence the prospects for better recovery and to reduce anxiety and depression.32 Also, Reiki has been found to significantly reduce pain and the need for analgesics following total knee arthroscopy33 and delivery by Caesarean section.34,35 Such results are potentially significant, because it has been shown that high preoperative anxiety and depression and its persistence during the postoperative period leads to a higher morbidity and mortality rate. Reiki could potentially play a complementary role in acute surgical procedures, to reduce the risk and cost of postoperative complications.32

However, in the 2 placebo-controlled trials considered in this review,19,20 Reiki was not found to be more effective than placebo for reducing acute pain during medical procedures. A possible reason for this is that, in these 2 trials, Reiki was provided for a short period (10-30 minutes) prior to the procedure. In contrast, in the trials that reported success, Reiki was provided for a number of days postprocedure, that is, for 2,34,35 3,33 or 7 consecutive days.32

No research has been conducted to evaluate the optimum duration of a Reiki session, or the optimum number of sessions that should be provided. Typically, a Reiki practitioner would recommend the use of 3 sessions as a starting point, regarding more Reiki as being better than less. The optimum amount is likely to be different for each condition, and possibly each person, so this could be a significant source of experimental variation that has not yet been taken into account. Since Reiki has been shown to have a significant effect on measurable physiological variables such as heart rate variability, it is recommended that research be undertaken to investigate whether the effect of Reiki on heart rate variability has only a transient or lasting benefit, and whether multiple Reiki sessions over an extended period of time have a cumulative effect.Go to:


Reiki is a safe, gentle, and profoundly relaxing healing modality that can be practiced by anyone who has received an “attunement” from a Reiki master. This review has found reasonably strong evidence for Reiki being more effective than placebo, suggesting that Reiki attunement leads to a quantifiable increase in healing ability.

Reiki is better than placebo in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and increased heart rate variability. For patients with chronic health conditions, Reiki has been found to be more effective than placebo for reducing pain, anxiety, and depression, and for improving self-esteem and quality of life. According to the neurovisceral integration model and the polyvagal theory, these effects are due to higher parasympathetic nervous system activity, mediated via the vagus nerve.

This understanding suggests that Reiki has the potential to provide valuable support for a broad range of chronic health conditions. However, there is no justification to regard Reiki as a cure for any health condition. Instead, Reiki should be regarded as a complementary therapy that can be implemented alongside all other medical and therapeutic techniques.

Further research is recommended to help optimize the application of Reiki for specific health conditions and to examine the benefits arising from provision of multiple Reiki sessions over an extended period of time.


Reiki has been used in hospital operating rooms since the mid-1990s. Hospitals are incorporating it into their options for patient services, often with their own Reiki-trained volunteers, nurses, physicians and support staff.

This article is an excerpt from Reiki in Clinical Practice  by Amy Baldwin (copyright Handspring Publishing, 2020). Available at:

A 2010 American Hospital Association survey (2010 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals by Sita Ananth, Samueli Institute) revealed that patient demand (85%) is by far the primary rationale in offering complementary medicine services, including Reiki. In addition, Reiki is now one of the top three complementary in-patient therapies offered in US hospitals. The survey showed that of the patients asking for complementary services, massage was requested by 37% of patients, music and art therapy by 25%, and “healing touch therapies” including Reiki and Therapeutic Touch, by 25%. According to a study published in USA Today (Gill, 2008), in 2007, more than 60 US hospitals offered Reiki as a hospital service, and Reiki education was offered at 800 hospitals.

One reason why hospital patients request Reiki is that hospital culture, particularly in emergency departments, emphasizes medical and technical skill and  efficiency at the expense of bedside manner. As a result, patients’ psychosocial and emotional needs are often neglected (Gordon et al., 2010). Patients feel vulnerable, anxious, stressed and fearful. There is a pattern of fragmentation of care, with one nurse assigned to triage, another to blood tests, a third to check the patient’s temperature and so on. The patients long for the personal contact that is lacking when overworked nurses and physicians have to rush onto their next case. When a patient receives Reiki, they are treated as a whole person; their physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions all receive attention. Anecdotal reports and patient surveys from several hospitals in the USA, along with detailed, extensive data from Hartford Hospital, Connecticut, USA are presented in the following section.

A list of 64 hospitals that incorporate Reiki programs can be found at the Center for Reiki Research website: List.aspx

Reiki  programs have also been  developed  in  other countries but at this stage few, if any, data are available about the effectiveness of the programs. In the UK, the Full Circle Fund Therapies is an award-winning charity that relies on integrative medicine in order to improve the quality of life of patients who are treated at St. George’s Hospital, London. Their mission is to introduce, evaluate and research Reiki in clinical practice. Presently, Full Circle Fund Therapies is working at the funding and logistics level of a project, called “Connecting Reiki with Medicine”, whose aim is to perform well-designed research studies to explore the benefits of Reiki.

University College London Hospitals NHS offer Reiki to patients with stress and mood disorder, and to complement the treatments of cancer and endometriosis. Wallace Cancer Care works with Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals, NHS to provide Reiki to complement conventional cancer treatments . More information about hospitals in the UK that offer Reiki can be found on the websites of the UK Reiki Federation and The Reiki Council. In Canada, the Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, conducted a study on the effects of Reiki with 20 oncology patients in chronic pain. A visual analog scale was used to measure pain before and after Reiki and it was concluded that Reiki greatly improved pain levels. In Spain, Reiki Master John Curtin, head of Fundacion Sauce, has initiated 400 volunteer Reiki practitioners who gave more than 8,000 Reiki sessions in Madrid hospitals in 2013.

Reiki In Hospitals

Reiki In hospitals

by William Lee Rand

At hospitals and clinics across America, Reiki is beginning to gain acceptance as a meaningful and cost-effective way to improve patient care. Personal interviews conducted with medical professionals corroborate this view.(1) “Reiki sessions cause patients to heal faster with less pain,” says Marilyn Vega, RN, a private-duty nurse at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York. [Reiki] accelerates recovery from surgery, improves mental attitude and reduces the negative effects of medication and other medical procedures.

Vega, a Reiki master, includes Reiki with her regular nursing procedures. Because the patients like Reiki, she has attracted a lot of attention from other patients through word of mouth, as well as from members of the hospital staff. Patients have asked her to do Reiki on them in the operating and recovery rooms. She has also been asked to do Reiki sessions on cancer patients at Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital, including patients with bone marrow transplants. Recognizing the value of Reiki in patient care, 6 doctors and 25 nurses have taken Reiki training with her.

America’s Interest in Complementary Health Care
The general public is turning with ever-increasing interest to complementary health care, including Reiki. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. David M. Eisenberg of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital found that one in every three Americans has used such care, spending over 14 billion out-of-pocket dollars on alternative health care in 1990 alone!(2)

A survey conducted in 2007 indicates that in the previous year 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children in the U.S. received one or more energy healing sessions such as Reiki.(3)

Reiki is also gaining wider acceptance in the medical establishment. Hospitals are incorporating it into their roster of patient services, often with their own Reiki-trained physicians, nurses and support staff. Reiki was in use in hospital operating rooms as early as the mid-90’s.(4) Since then its acceptance in medicine has grown. It is now listed in a nursing “scope and standards of practice” publication as an accepted form of care,(5) and a 2008 USA Today article reported that in 2007 15% of U.S. hospitals (over 800) offered Reiki as a regular part of patient services.(6) For a detailed description of 64 Reiki hospital programs, please go to

Scientific Validation
A research study at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut indicates that Reiki improved patient sleep by 86 percent, reduced pain by 78 percent, reduced nausea by 80 percent, and reduced anxiety during pregnancy by 94 percent.(7)

In 2009, The Center for Reiki Research completed the Touchstone Project, which summarized Reiki studies published in peer-reviewed journals. The 25 studies examined were further evaluated to determine the effectiveness of Reiki. The conclusion states: “Overall, based on the summaries of those studies that were rated according to scientific rigor as “Very Good” or “Excellent” by at least one reviewer and were not rated as weak by any reviewer, 83 percent show moderate to strong evidence in support of Reiki as a therapeutic modality.”(8)

Why Hospitals Like Reiki
Hospitals are undergoing major changes. They are experiencing a need to reduce costs and at the same time improve patient care. Under the old medical model based on expensive medication and technology this posed an unsolvable dilemma. Not so with Reiki and other complementary modalities. Reiki requires no technology at all and many of its practitioners offer their services for free. Reiki is therefore a very good way to improve care while cutting costs.

Julie Motz, a Reiki trained healer has worked with Dr. Mehmet Oz, a noted cardiothoracic surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Motz uses Reiki and other subtle energy techniques to balance the patients’ energy during operations. She has assisted Dr. Oz in the operating room during open heart surgeries and heart transplants. Motz reports that none of the 11 heart patients so treated experienced the usual postoperative depression, the bypass patients had no postoperative pain or leg weakness; and the transplant patients experienced no organ rejection.(9)

An article in the Marin Independent Journal follows Motz’s work at the Marin General Hospital in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco.(10) There Motz has used subtle energy healing techniques with patients in the operating room. She makes a point of communicating caring feelings and positive thoughts to the patients, and has been given grants to work with mastectomy patients in particular.

Dr. David Guillion, an oncologist at Marin General, has stated “I feel we need to do whatever is in our power to help the patient. We provide state of the art medicine in our office, but healing is a multidimensional process… I endorse the idea that there is a potential healing that can take place utilizing energy.”

Reiki at Portsmouth Regional Hospital
Patricia Alandydy is an RN and a Reiki Master. She is the Assistant Director of Surgical Services at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. With the support of her Director Jocclyn King and CEO William Schuler, she has made Reiki services available to patients within the Surgical Services Department. This is one of the largest departments in the hospital and includes the operating room, Central Supply, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, the Ambulatory Care Unit and the Fourth Floor where patients are admitted after surgery. During telephone interviews with pre-op patients, Reiki is offered along with many other services. If patients request it, Reiki is then incorporated into their admission the morning of surgery, and an additional 15-20 minute session is given prior to their transport to the operating room. Some Reiki has also been done in the operating room at Portsmouth Regional.

The Reiki sessions are given by 20 members of the hospital staff whom Patricia has trained in Reiki. These include RN’s, physical therapists, technicians and medical records and support staff. Reiki services began in April 1997, and as of 2008 have given 8000 Reiki sessions.

“It has been an extremely rewarding experience,” Alandydy says, “to see Reiki embraced by such a diverse group of people and spread so far and wide by word of mouth, in a positive light. Patients many times request a Reiki [session] based on the positive experience of one of their friends. It has also been very revealing to see how open-minded the older patient population is to try Reiki. In the hospital setting Reiki is presented as a technique which reduces stress and promotes relaxation, thereby enhancing the body’s natural ability to heal itself.”

The Reiki practitioners do not add psychic readings or other new-age techniques to the Reiki sessions, but just do straight Reiki. Because of these boundaries, and the positive results that have been demonstrated, Reiki has gained credibility with the physicians and other staff members. It is now being requested from other care areas of the hospital to treat anxiety, chronic pain, cancer and other conditions.

Alandydy, with her partner Greda Cocco, also manage a hospital-supported Reiki clinic through their business called Seacoast Complementary Care, Inc. The clinic is open two days a week and staffed by 50 trained Reiki volunteers, half of whom come from the hospital staff and the rest from the local Reiki community. They usually have 13-17 Reiki tables in use at the clinic with 1-2 Reiki volunteers per table. The clinic treats a wide range of conditions including HIV, pain, and side-effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Some patients are referred by hospital physicians and some come by word of mouth from the local community. They are charged a nominal fee of $10.00 per session. The clinic is full each night and often has a waiting list.

The California Pacific Medical Center’s Reiki Program
The California Pacific Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in northern California. Its Health and Healing Clinic, a branch of the Institute for Health and Healing, provides care for both acute and chronic illness using a wide range of complementary care including Reiki, Chinese medicine, hypnosis, biofeedback, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapy, nutritional therapy and aromatherapy. The clinic has six treatment rooms and is currently staffed by two physicians, Dr. Mike Cantwell and Dr. Amy Saltzman. Cantwell, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, is also a Reiki Master with training in nutritional therapy. Saltzman specializes in internal medicine and also has training in mindfulness meditation, acupuncture and nutritional therapy. Other professionals are waiting to join the staff, including several physicians.

The doctors at the clinic work with the patients and their referring physicians to determine what complementary modalities will be appropriate for the patient. A detailed questionnaire designed to provide a holistic overview of the patient’s condition is used to help decide the course of treatment. The questionnaire involves a broad range of subjects including personal satisfaction with relationships, friends and family, with body image, and with job, career, and spirituality. The clinic is very popular and currently has a waiting list of more than 100 patients.

Dr. Cantwell provides 1-3 hour-long Reiki sessions, after which he assigns the patient to a Reiki II internist who continues to provide Reiki sessions outside the clinic. Patients who continue to respond well to the Reiki treatments are referred for Reiki training so they can continue Reiki self-treatments on a continuing basis.

Dr. Cantwell states: “I have found Reiki to be useful in the treatment of acute illnesses such as musculoskeletal injury/pain, headache, acute infections, and asthma. Reiki is also useful for patients with chronic illnesses, especially those associated with chronic pain.”

At this point, Reiki is not covered by insurance at the clinic, but Dr. Cantwell is conducting clinical research in the hope of convincing insurance companies that complementary care is viable and will save them money.

More MD’s and Nurses Practicing Reiki
Mary Lee Radka is a Reiki Master and an R.N. who has the job classification of Nurse-Healer because of her Reiki skills. She teaches Reiki classes to nurses and other hospital staff at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She also uses Reiki with most of her patients. She has found Reiki to produce the best results in reducing pain and stress, improving circulation and eliminating nerve blocks.

Reiki master Nancy Eos, M.D., was a member of the teaching staff of the University of Michigan Medical School. As an emergency-room physician, she treated patients with Reiki along with standard medical procedures.

“I can’t imagine practicing medicine without Reiki,” Eos says. “With Reiki all I have to do is touch a person. Things happen that don’t usually happen. Pain lessens in intensity. Rashes fade. Wheezing gives way to breathing clearly. Angry people begin to joke with me.”

In her book Reiki and Medicine she includes descriptions of using Reiki to treat trauma, heart attack, respiratory problems, CPR, child abuse, allergic reactions and other emergency-room situations. Dr. Eos now maintains a family practice at Grass Lake Medical Center and is an admitting-room physician at Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, where she continues to use Reiki in conjunction with standard medical procedures. According to Dr. Eos, there are at least 5 other physicians at Foote hospital who have Reiki training along with many nurses.(11)

Libby Barnett and Maggie Chambers are Reiki masters who have treated patients and given Reiki training to staff members in over a dozen New England hospitals. They teach Reiki as complementary care and the hospital staff they have trained add Reiki to the regular medical procedures they administer to their patients. Their book Reiki Energy Medicine describes their experiences.(12) One of the interesting things they recommend is creating hospital “Reiki Rooms,” staffed by volunteers, where patients as well as hospital staff can come to receive Reiki treatments. Bettina Peyton, M.D., one of the physicians Libby and Maggie have trained states: “Reiki’s utter simplicity, coupled with its potentially powerful effects, compels us to acknowledge the concept of a universal healing energy.”

Anyone interested in bringing Reiki into hospitals is encouraged to do so. The hospital setting where there are so many people in real need is a wonderful place to offer Reiki. The experiences and recommendations in this article should provide a good starting point for developing Reiki programs in your area.

*Editors Note:It is very important when giving Reiki treatments in hospitals or otherwise to make sure the patient understands what Reiki is and to only provide a Reiki treatment if the patient has requested one. Also, if the issue comes up, it is important to explain that while Reiki is spiritual in nature, in that love and compassion are an important part of its practice, it is not a religion and that members of many religious groups including many Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews use Reiki and find it compatible with their religious beliefs.

1 The comments that follow were part of an interview I did with each person either in person or by telephone and were first published in my article, “Reiki In Hospitals,” which appeared in the Winter 1997 issue of the Reiki Newsletter (precursor to Reiki News Magazine).

2 Eisenberg, David, et al. “Unconventional Medicine in the United States”, New England Journal of Medicine 328, no. 4 (1993), 246-52.
2 Beth Ashley, “Healing hands”, Marin Independent Journal, May 11, 1997.

3 P. M. Barnes, B. Bloom, and R. Nahin, CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children, United States, 2007. (December 2008).

4 Chip Brown, “The Experiments of Dr. Oz,”The New York Times Magazine, July 30, 1995, 20-23.

5 American Holistic Nurses Association and American Nurses Association (2007), Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (Silver Spring, MD:

6 L. Gill, “More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit,” USA Today, September 15, 2008 (Online)

7 Hartford Hospital, Integrative Medicine, Outcomes, Measurements cited were obtained during the initial pilot phase of the study, December 1999 – December 2000.

8 The Center for Reiki Research, Touchstone Project, Conclusion,

9 Julie Motz, Hands of Life, Bantam Books, New York, 1998

10 Beth Ashley, “Healing hands”, Marin Independent Journal, May 11, 1997.

11 Nancy Eos, M.D., Reiki and Medicine (Eos, 1995).

Reiki Royal alexandrea hospital

The hospital was opened in 1880 as the Sydney Hospital for Sick Children by a group of concerned citizens, led by Lady Allen the wife of Sir George Wigram Allen, who was worried about the health of the younger members of society in New South Wales. It soon outgrew the small building in which it was housed at Glebe Point. In 1906 it moved to a much grander building, designed by Harry Kent in Camperdown, where it stayed for 89 years, where it was known as the Camperdown Children’s Hospital.[2]:34
In 1995, the hospital was relocated to its current location in Westmead to better serve the growing populations of western Sydney.
This relocation involved amalgamation with most of the pediatric services of nearby Westmead Hospital (apart from neonates) to form a new hospital with a new name; initially “The New Children’s Hospital” and more recently “The Children’s Hospital at Westmead”. The official name of the hospital; the “Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children” is retained.

The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital is providing four specialist Reiki therapists, who offer treatments for 10 hours a week while working closely with clinical teams. The program is fully funded by the Rockinghorse Foundation (the hospital’s official fundraising charity).
The specialized team provides Reiki treatments for parents with children and babies, to help relieve symptoms of chronic and acute illness, manage stress levels, and aid relaxation and sleep. Eight-month-old Blake Mlotshwa from St Leonards is one young patient currently receiving therapy. He suffered a serious infection when he was 18 days old, which led to him having two-thirds of his bowel removed and he is struggling to absorb the food and nutrients he needs to grow. The Reiki therapists are working with the doctors and nurses to help keep him as comfortable as possible.
Mum Denisa feels the therapy offers ongoing benefits for both her son and the family, she explains: “Reiki has been absolutely brilliant for Blake. Besides his digestion issues, he also has an ongoing problem with his left arm, which he cannot move properly. When therapist Ali is treating him, he seems to gain more movement in the joint because he is more relaxed. Blake always settles down beautifully after his sessions with Ali, and he loves the calm and peaceful interaction with the therapists. I love seeing Blake so settled and happy.”
“So often parents tell me they are delighted that during treatment their child drops off to sleep or they see their child become more calm and comfortable,” says Reiki therapist Ali Walters. “It is wonderful to be able to give both the children and parents an opportunity to relax and unwind. I am delighted that Rockinghorse is now funding our work so we can provide more therapists and treatments to support the critical care that is provided.”​
                                                                                                               Source: Rockinghorse

​Dr. Sheldon Feldman, head of breast surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, talks about working with Reiki practitioners during surgery.
Scientific Validation from Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, USAA research study at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut found that Reiki improved patient sleep by 86 percent, reduced pain by 78 percent, reduced nausea by 80 percent, and reduced anxiety during pregnancy by 94 percent.

Specially trained Reiki Volunteers currently provide Reiki throughout the main hospital, the Harry Gray Cancer Center, the Dialysis Unit, and the Brownstone Outpatient Clinic. Although most medical practitioners are interested in seeing more research on Reiki therapies, patient feedback cannot be denied when looking at the effectiveness of the program over the past 15 years. Here are some of their patient comments:

“I hope Reiki is always available because it helped me a lot in relaxing and healing, giving me energy to think positive and forget the bad things wrong with me. I thank you for Reiki, it really, really helped me!”

“I will never go to another hospital again because of the effect Reiki has had on me. I have had eight operations and the last one at HH was the most painful. The Reiki session helped me handle it and believe I can go through it again with Reiki.”

“Even on pain medications, after a Reiki session was the only time I was pain free!”

Italian Hospitals introduce Reiki for Cancer Patients​

The benefits and effects of Reiki have recently been the subject to in-depth scientific experiments and research by internists, neurologists, immunologists, psychologists, oncologists and cardiologists in Italy. The research was carried out in different centers such as C.O.E.S, The Study Center for the Prevention of Cancer, the R.E.F. and I.R.E. and later verified by several Italian hospitals, who tested the effectiveness of Reiki on their patients, reporting the following results:
– Reduction of intensity of pain and of the number of painful episodes
– Faster recovery time.
– Decrease in the administration of medicines and painkillers
– Reduction of depression and anxiety
– Patients were calmer and more serene throughout the process
– Better overall quality of life
– Shorter hospital stays
– Reduced sense of helplessness
– Reduction of physical and emotional exhaustion

The benefits provided by a cycle of 8 weekly Reiki sessions showed:
– Improved quality of sleep
– Greater relaxation and less fear of intervention; this had a positive impact during the administration of anesthetics.
– Number of infections reduced by over 80% in patients treated with Reiki versus 20%  spontaneous regression of infections in patients not treated with Reiki.
– Decreased number of cases with post-operative depression.
– Decreased number of patients with post-operative pain or weakness
– Fewer cases of organ rejection in transplant patients
– Improvement of the functions of the spleen, immune system and nervous system, in patients with chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia and thyroid goitre
– Reduction and elimination of anxiety and depression
– Measurable physiological benefits on hemoglobin and hematocrit
– 98% of patients treated with Reiki reported having immediate psycho-physical benefits.

Further and equally positive results were published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and in the report of the XII National Congress of Medical Oncology held in Rome in November 2010.
Integrative Reiki for Cancer Patients: A Program Evaluation​Kimberly A. Fleisher, MEd1 Christina Seluzicki, BA1, Elizabeth R. Mackenzie, PhD, David Casarett, MD, Eitan S. Frankel, BA, and Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE Abstract: This mixed methods study sought to evaluate the outcomes of an integrative Reiki volunteer program in an academic medical oncology center setting. The team used de-identified program evaluation data to perform both quantitative and qualitative analyses of participants’ experiences of Reiki sessions. The quantitative data was collected pre and post session using a modified version of the distress thermometer. The pre and post session data from the distress assessment was analyzed using a paired Student’s test. The qualitative data were derived from written responses to open-ended questions asked after each Reiki session and were analyzed for key words and recurring themes.
Of the 213 pre–post surveys of first-time sessions in the evaluation period, the team observed a more than 50% decrease in self-reported distress (from 3.80 to 1.55), anxiety (from 4.05 to 1.44), depression (from 2.54 to 1.10), pain (from 2.58 to 1.21), and fatigue (from 4.80 to 2.30) with P < .001 for all.
Using conservative estimates that treat missing data as not endorsing Reiki, the study found 176 (82.6%) of participants liked the Reiki session, 176 (82.6%) found the Reiki session helpful, 157 (73.7%) plan to continue using Reiki, and 175 (82.2%) would recommend Reiki to others. Qualitative analyses found that individuals reported that Reiki induced relaxation and enhanced spiritual well-being. Conclusions. An integrative Reiki volunteer program shows promise as a component of supportive care for cancer patients. More research is needed to evaluate and understand the impact that Reiki may have for patients, caregivers, and staff whose lives have been affected by cancer.

Themes and Illustrative Quotes From Participants:
Relaxation/peace:“It provided a general sense of peace and muscle relaxation over my entire body that I otherwise have not experience in a few years.”“It had a very calming effect on me. I could actually feel my body relaxing. I was able to let go of a lot of my anxiety.”Symptom relief“Less pain; I feel better emotionally.”“Eased the tension I had in the back of my neck.”Physiological response“When visiting my doctors, my blood pressure was high. During Reiki, my pressure dropped over 20 points.”“Could feel myself relaxing and my heart rate, which was high when I got here, definitely lowered.”Sense of connection“The way it connected me to a place inside myself that I forgot all about my illness”“Time and space to connect to my own emotions and connect with the healing visualization, breathing .”“It was my own personal time to take a minute and deal with what was really happening”“I had a wonderful feeling; my father passed away this time last year and I felt connected to him. I was able to release my emotions through crying.”Positive thinking/healing“The calming and energy I feel through my entire body.

Reiki Program in Hospitals Australia…

Reiki is not an alternative to medicine, but rather an integrative way of healing when practiced in conjunction with traditional medical care, Dickinson explained.

Reiki is a method of healing that involves balancing and restoring the body’s natural energies for the purposes of increasing vitality, balancing emotions, and improving health. Reiki is trending among the Integrative and Complementary Therapies programs of so many hospitals. Reiki is provided as a complementary therapy in 5 Australian hospitals.

Reiki in Australian Hospitals and Palliative Care Centres

If you have already read

Reiki is reaching the Top Hospitals, then you probably remember that the Solaris Cancer Care offers Reiki for their patients. They teamed up with the International Institute for Reiki Training (IIRT) and the Reiki Association (WA), and created the Reiki Community Clinic, in order to provide Reiki as a service to their members. Here you will find useful information about the current presence of Reiki in Hospitals in Australia.


Reiki’s use in complex medical settings has grown steadily in many hospitals around the world, along with other complementary therapies. Reiki’s simplicity, the lack of known contraindications and ease of providing treatments make it an ideal therapy for integrating in healthcare settings.
The award-winning Reiki project at St George’s is just the beginning. Full Circle Fund Therapies is creating a transferrable clinical training and mentoring programme which allows Reiki practitioners to work on acute and high dependency units in a way which can be accepted by the medical professions. Practitioner training takes place on the bone marrow and transplant wards. Treatments are also available for oncology and neurosurgery patients who have medical referrals, and was introduced for paediatric patients in early 2020.


St. John of God is considered as one of the leading healthcare providers in the country, and so far 19 Hospitals are part of this enterprise. This includes the previously mentioned Solaris Care Cancer Support Centre , where Reiki is one of the most accessed complementary health treatment for cancer and leukemia patients. This teaching hospital is home to Western Australia’s only comprehensive cancer treatment centre the state’s principal neurosurgery and liver transplant hospital.

The St. John of God Murdoch Hospital manages the Footprints Day Centre, and their complementary therapies include reiki, reflexology, pranic healing, meditation, beauty therapy, wellness and support groups.


Palliative Care Australia is the national peak body for palliative care, and it represents eight member groups. Their objective is based on improving the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, by building strong networks between specialist palliative care providers, primary generalist, primary specialist, support care providers and the community.

Among the massage group of therapies, they include modalities such as relaxation massage, therapeutic massage, reiki, touch for health, craniosacral therapy, polarity therapy, tuina, and acupressure.


The J. W. Whittle Palliative Care Unit aims to promote the quality of life of people under a life-limiting illness,focusing on comfort rather than cure. The palliative care team recognizes that an illness has physical, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural process that is experienced uniquely by each person and each family.

Complementary therapies are available to patients in the Unit, and are offered by professional practitioners and trained volunteers; which are used together with conventional medicine, and include: aromatherapy, massage, reiki, music therapy and art therapy. This is all explained in the Patient and Family Handbook which you can find online.


Finally, the Cancer Council in New South Wales, (a ramification of the australian council), provides resources, information, and support among cancer patients and relatives. They have a very informative PDF file called Understanding Complementary Therapies, where reiki is one of several energy therapies that are being offered there. by Eugenio Lepine


Several top medical facilities are realizing the benefits of Reiki, especially in the areas of pain control and cancer complementary care. In 2014, The Washington Post stated that: “more than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, according to a UCLA study, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals”. ~

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is ranking No. 1 at’s Best Hospitals Honor Roll in 2019-20. This is a clear example of an integrative model, where the latest developments and technology are applied, but not neglecting the spiritual and emotional conflicts and needs that might arise during cancer treatment.

Their Integrative Healing Enhancement Volunteering Program, along with the Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, has a long-range of well being and healing services, in which Reiki is included.~


The scene is a familiar one for Sharon Dickinson, MDiv, coordinator of the hospital’s Reiki Program, who recounted it recently as an example of how certified reiki practitioners help care for patients by relaxing their body and mind.

Stemming from the Japanese words for “universal life energy,” reiki is a healing and meditation practice that promotes wellness and resiliency. At the Brigham, volunteers deliver reiki therapy as a hands-on relaxation technique that helps promote the body’s natural immune response. It is not affiliated with any religion.

Volunteers start a session by turning on soothing music or eliminating distracting noises, dimming the lights and then placing their hands in standard reiki positions on the head, shoulders, arms, hands, lower legs and feet. After the 15- to 25-minute session, the volunteer quietly slips out of the room to leave the patient in their state of deep rest.

Behind the Scenes at the Brigham: Reiki Program

Mathews Carvalho Jr. receives reiki therapy from Nina Averbuck in his hospital room on Braunwald Tower 7A. ~bwhbulletin

Reiki in hospitals

Reiki can benefit hospital patients of all ages. It can be used to promote relaxation during childbirth, decrease pain perception in patients with sprains and fractures, stimulate wound healing, alleviate anxiety during the dying process, and assist with emotional burnout, shock, loss, and grief. It can benefit patients of all ages.

In outpatient settings, a session can last from 30 minutes to hours. In the hospital, however, shorter sessions (lying down or sitting) are offered to avoid interfering with other scheduled medical care. What a person feels during a session varies. Some describe extreme warmth or coldness, while others see colors, hear music, or feel buzzing sensations. Some recipients cry, while others may laugh. Many patients fall asleep or enter a relaxed dreamlike state.

Reiki doesn’t cure disease, so carefully explain this to patients when you offer this as a treatment option. Emphasize that it’s a tool that can be used to assist with medical treatment and shouldn’t be substituted for a provider’s prescribed care plan. Reassure patients that Reiki hasn’t been shown to have any negative side effects.

If you’re interested in providing Reiki to patients, you’ll need to receive training from knowledgeable Reiki Masters. (See Reiki training.) And if your organization doesn’t already have a Reiki program, you’ll need to get approval from leadership. Reiki in hospitals is becoming mainstream, but every organization has its own framework. For example, some hospitals employ full-time nurses to work in the spirituality department and provide Reiki, along with other complementary and alternative therapies. Other hospitals train interested nurses and grant them a set number of hours per month to step away from their regularly assigned jobs to provide Reiki to patients.

Reiki and nurse self-care

Nurses in U.S. hospitals report that their work is mentally and physically exhausting and that they suffer from burnout. Many nurses worry that their fatigue will affect patient care and consider resigning.

Once you are trained in Reiki, you can perform self- Reiki (conducting a series of hand placements on yourself) as a way to aid relaxation and improve resilience. Incorporating self-Reiki and adhering to the Reiki principles may help alleviate the stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and pain related to the physical demands of patient care. (See Reiki and self-care.)

Energy therapies:

In addition to Reiki, nurses can use these three other energy therapies as complementary patient treatment or as part of their own self-care.

Healing touch (or therapeutic touch) is a technique developed by a nurse to open the recipient’s energy blocks. It’s similar to Reiki, but no waiting period is needed between training levels. (See Reiki training.) Also, this is a hands-on technique; Reiki is most often performed without touching.

Emotional freedom technique is a meridian-based energy healing in which a person is taught to tap on body meridians to help clear energy blocks and restore the body to homeostasis.

Healing touch clinic opens at James Cook University in Australian-first

ABC North Qld / By Nathalie FernbachPosted MonMonday 13 FebFebruary 2017 at 4:14pm, updated WedWednesday 15 FebFebruary 2017 at 5:05pm

Australia’s first university-based healing touch clinic has opened in Townsville at James Cook University (JCU).

Healing touch is described as an energy-balancing therapy administered through gentle touching and manipulation of energy from a distance, similar to reiki or acupressure.

Theatre nurse and healing touch practitioner Tracey Jones said treatments moved the body’s energy to promote healing.

“Healing touch practitioners are not faith healers, they don’t actually heal,” Ms Jones said.

“What it really does it unsticks your energy so you can … heal yourself.”

Coming from a traditional medical background, Ms Jones said she was initially sceptical about healing touch therapy.

“For me it was a real eye-opener to actually embrace this, but I see it working. I feel the energy and other people feel the energy too,” she said.

Weaving complementary therapies into study

James Cook University senior lecturer Kristin Wicking said complementary therapies were not offered as a nursing subject, but students were made aware of the range of interventions that could be used to treat patients.

The healing touch clinic will be used for student clinical placements and will accept cross-referrals from other allied health clinics on campus.

“Physiotherapy might be working on a client from their perspective … but are aware that there are other aspects that we could add to the picture by giving healing touch treatments,” Dr Wicking said.

“So that is important for inter-professional training — that the students have a sense of what is out there and what each other does, because they will all be working together when they are out in true clinical settings after they graduate.”

Dr Wicking said several Australian hospitals have healing touch clinics and services, but JCU will be Australia’s first university to host a clinic.

Dr Wicking, who completed her postdoctoral studies on healing touch, said the therapy was well-researched and proven to be effective on stress-related conditions.

“So having some stress relief and stress management literally at their doorstep we hope will be heavily utilised by both the hospital staff and the university staff.”

Healing touch not a JCU course

The clinic is staffed by registered nurses on their day off, university staff are not employed to work at the clinic.

In a statement, a James Cook University spokesman said while the healing touch clinic is situated on their campus, it is not offered as a subject by the university.

“The healing touch clinic is conducted by Healing Touch Townsville and not JCU.”

“James Cook University does not promote nor teach healing touch in its science-based nursing programs.”

AMA Queensland asks for evidence

The Australian Medical Association Queensland’s (AMAQ) Richard Kidd said AMAQ tries to promote interventions and treatments that have strong independent scientific evidence of efficacy and safety.

Dr Kidd said as healing touch does not involve forceful manipulation the chance of doing harm to patients was likely to be small.

“But the evidence that it actually works needs to be demonstrated,” Dr Kidd said.

Reiki treatment stands on its own as a healing practice and is also safely used to support orthodox and complementary medicine. Reiki doesn’t interfere with or diminish the intended effects of other health or medical practices.

Reiki treatments are increasingly accepted in health and community care facilities including hospitals, hospices and cancer support units. For example, at the SolarisCare Cancer Support Centre at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Reiki is the most accessed complementary health treatment for cancer and leukaemia patients. Many patients report significant improvements in their level of pain, fatigue, nausea and breathing.

Reiki in Hospitals: Cancer Patients, Hospice Care & Nurses

Reiki in Hospitals- Cancer Patients

Three of the most prestigious cancer hospitals  in  the USA, as ranked by US News, are: (i) MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas; (ii) Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York; (iii) Mayo Clinic, Minnesota . All three of these hospitals offer Reiki to their patients.

MD Anderson Cancer Center is ranked No. 1 and their Integrative Medicine Center provides holistic  treatments  in  which the mental, spiritual and emotional needs of  the  patient are provided.

Founded in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is ranked No. 2. Their Integrative Medicine Service offers acupuncture, personal training, nutrition and dietary supplement counseling, massage, and mind-body therapies (where Reiki is included). Their goal is to soothe and alleviate symptoms such as pain, muscle tension, post­ operative discomfort, musculoskeletal problems, anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and fatigue.

Mayo Clinic is ranked No. 3 in Cancer Hospitals. Mayo Clinic has also focused on a holistic approach, including the spiritual and emotional conflicts and needs that might arise during treatment. Reiki practitioners provide volunteer services to patients at both Mayo Clinic Hospital campuses and some outpatient areas.

Reiki for Hospice Care

Reiki is particularly effective for patients undergoing pal­liative and/or hospice care. The International Association of Reiki Practitioners states on its website (

As a complementary treatment, Reiki is becoming more and more popular in the spheres of hospice, palliative and home care.”

According to the Merlene Bullock, RN BSN, Case Manager, Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, Arizona, USA (Bullock, 1997), Reiki has been associated with improved quality of life in palliative situations:

Some general trends seen with Reiki include : periods of stabilization in which there is time to enjoy the last days of one’s life; a peaceful and calm passing if death is imminent; and relief from pain, anxiety, dyspnea (shortness of breath) and edema. Reiki is a valuable complement in supporting patients in their end-of-life journey, enhancing the quality of their remaining days.

Pamela Miles, Reiki Master, educator and author, who has consulted with hospital administrators about integrating Reiki practice into clinical care, says:

Caring family members can learn Reiki as easily as the palliative patient can. Caregivers experience stress and the first thing taught in Reiki Level 1 is self-care. This ability can be used to care for the palliative patient, thereby making the family member “feel useful” (Miles, 2003) .

In 2012, the Penn Wissahickon Hospice, part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, tested a volunteer Reiki program for its effectiveness in a hospice setting. Ellen Inglesby-Deering, a volunteer coordinator, commented:

It’s very exciting. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from patients, families and volunteers.

A volunteer mentioned a patient with advanced dementia who giggled after the treatment and then started having a conversation with her daughter. The daughter later com­mented that she had not been able to have a conversation this beneficial with her mother in over a year. The Reiki program for hospice care is still active as judged by the online requests for more Reiki volunteers.

A small study was performed at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA (Connor and Anadarajah, 2017) to explore the experiences of hospice patients and their caregivers who received Reiki .

Three major themes emerged:

  1. Trust plays an important role in both trying Reiki and experiencing benefits.
  2. Sensations are felt in the body during Reiki; notable similarities in descriptions included somatic sensations (arising from skin, muscles, joints, etc.), temperature changes and visual sensations.
  3. Some symptoms are relieved by Reiki, the most common being anxiety. Others include: pain, agitation, nausea, and insomnia. Participants reported no side effects. It was concluded that although symptom management in hospice patients remains a challenge, Reiki has the potential to serve as a useful adjunctive therapy in treating several symptoms, particularly anxiety.

Effects of Self-Reiki Practice on Nurses

Hospital nurses often practice Reiki on themselves because they find it to be a very effective tool for maintaining general well-being. Nurses who are taught Reiki experience immediate stress relief and relaxation after just a few min­utes of self-treatment while on the job (Brathovde 2006, 2017; Cuneo et al., 2011).

Brathvode’s study ofReiki as a self-care practice among nurses demonstrated that the nurses who participated increased their self-care and caring towards others after Reiki education . In Cuneo’s study, 26 nurses completed a perceived stress assessment questionnaire and were then taught Reiki Level 1. After 21 days of Reiki self-practice, they repeated the questionnaire. There was a statistically significant decrease in their perceived stress. Further analysis of the results indicated that the more self-Reiki was performed, regardless of the degree of reported stress of the participant, the more effective self-Reiki was in sup­ porting stress reduction. Common comments after Reiki self-practice were: slept better, felt relaxed/calm/peaceful, felt warm/hot.

Whelan and  Wishnia  (2003)  studied  the  experiences of nurses who were already trained in Reiki and who practiced Reiki on their clients . As Reiki practitioners, these nurses also concurrently received the benefits of Reiki themselves. More than 75% reported satisfaction with the time they spent with patients, were less affected by environmental stress, experienced increased intuition and insight, and noticed a significant decrease in feelings that contribute to burnout. In addition, 75% felt they had helped clients in the healing process by bringing relaxation and calmness to the clients. However, 37.5% also reported a perceived disadvantage of practicing Reiki: decreased credibility with nursing and medical professionals despite research that demonstrated Reiki’s efficacy (Whelan and Wishnia, 2003) .

Vitale (2009) interviewed 11 registered nurses who were also Reiki practitioners to determine how they thought they benefited from Reiki self-practice. The nurses reported that they firstly used Reiki to relax because it promoted an immediate relaxation response . They said that they felt more energized and less tired after self-Reiki use and also mentioned that they would gain a clearer perspective on an issue, after which they would feel calm.

According to the article author, Anne Vitale, herself also a nurse:

“The ability to quickly restore the self to a tran­quil state and awareness to shifting back into a centered state are essential for nurses working in today’s healthcare environments.”[ … ] “The nurses in this study report that the use of Reiki in self-care is useful for daily and workday stress management.”


Overall, the anecdotal and clinical data obtained from Reiki programs in hospitals show that patients receiving Reiki experience enhanced relaxation and well-being, as well as reduced sensations of anxiety and pain. These responses are an essential part of the healing process and are con­ sistent with findings from the published, peer-reviewed, scientific data. Of course, the comments and data obtained from hospital patients can be criticized because there was no systematic comparison made with patients in similar conditions who did not receive Reiki, or  with  patients who received frequent visitation from a friend or family member who was not a Reiki practitioner but offered them comfort. Perhaps it is not the Reiki that is improving their well-being, but just the presence of a caring person who pays them attention. This is known as the “placebo effect”. The placebo effect definitely contributes to Reiki’s success, but there are currently nine placebo-controlled studies that demonstrate Reiki’s beneficial effects are statistically significantly greater than can be explained just by the placebo effect. Obviously, more high-quality placebo-controlled studies are needed that address the effects of Reiki on a variety of clinical conditions, but as shown by the analysis of the quality of Reiki research studies presented earlier, the evidence so far is heavily weighted in support of Reiki as an effective therapy. Of course, there are skeptics who carefully handpick the negative studies and ignore the positive results.

Bioenergetic therapy: What is it?


These days, wellness clinics have become therapy centers to help clients restore their health and increase their well-being. They offer all types of therapies and natural medicine, including bioenergetic therapy and reiki.

What is bioenergetic therapy?

It is a method that connects your emotions, your character, your body expressions, and your muscle structure to release stiff or overstressed areas of the body. It allows you to free up the emotions and feelings that cause disease and energy blockage.

Experiences of suffering and stress over the course of your life manifest in your body as tension. Tension is a form of energy, so your body has an energy imbalance.

What diseases can it treat?

Bioenergetic therapy is intended for people who suffer from anxiety, phobias, obsessive disorders, depression, stress, shyness or insecurity. It can help with chronic tension or muscle spasms related to difficulties in managing emotions like rage or fear.

Ultimately, this therapy can be very useful for all kinds of somatization, including bruxism, back pain, or stiff neck and shoulders.

It can also be helpful in working through the grief caused by the loss of a family member, a job, or a failed project, if you feel disoriented, confused or unmotivated. This method will help you recover your connection with yourself and clarify your life plan.

Principles of bioenergetic therapy

It based on the concept that any limitation to your body movement is the result of an emotional blockage caused by an unresolved conflict. It can also address any restrictions to your natural breathing that reduce the body’s vitality.

Bioenergetic exercises

These exercises allow you to connect with your tensions and release them through conscious movement. You can do them during the therapy sessions, in classes or at home. They will help you increase the vibrational state of your body, sharpen your self-perception, allow you to breathe better and increase your expressiveness. You will also see improvements to your figure and your self-confidence.

Benefits of bioenergetic therapy

– Eliminates chronic tensions and muscle spasms.

– Redirects energy in the present moment.

– Provides knowledge and self-consciousness.

– Unblocks the body’s energy.

– Releases and vents repressed emotions.

Objectives: The main purpose of this study was to measure the effect of a single session of Reiki on physical and psychological health in a large nonclinical sample.

Design: The study design was a single arm effectiveness trial with measures at pre-and postintervention.

Settings: The study took place at private Reiki practices across the United States.

Subjects: Reiki practitioners were recruited from an online mailing list to participate in the study with their Reiki clients. A total of 99 Reiki practitioners met the inclusion criteria and participated in the study. Reiki practitioners were instructed to give a flyer to each of their Reiki clients that contained information about the study and invited the client to complete a survey before and after their Reiki session.

Interventions: Trained and certified Reiki Masters conducted the Reiki sessions in person, with each session lasting between 45 and 90 min.

Outcome measures: The well-validated 20-item Positive and Negative Affect Schedule was used to assess affect, and brief, single-item self-report measures were used to assess a wide range of physical and psychological variables immediately before (pre) and after (post) the Reiki session.

Results: A total of N = 1411 Reiki sessions were conducted and included in the analysis. Statistically significant improvements were observed for all outcome measures, including positive affect, negative affect, pain, drowsiness, tiredness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and overall well-being (all p-values <0.001).

Conclusions: The results from this large-scale multisite effectiveness trial suggest that a single session of Reiki improves multiple variables related to physical and psychological health.


Reiki is a Japanese word that means spiritually guided life force energy.1 It is a form of biofield therapy, which is based on the principle that fields of energy and information surround living systems and that these fields can be influenced by a practitioner to stimulate healing responses.2 Most biofield therapies involve an energetic exchange between practitioner and client, which can be draining for the practitioner. Reiki is different in that the practitioner simply allows the Reiki energy to flow passively through their hands and into the client.3 Reiki helps to restore the client’s energies to a state of balance on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels, thereby enhancing the client’s natural ability to heal.4

Over 800 hospitals (15%) in the United States currently offer Reiki to patients.5 According to the latest information available, in a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use by Americans, more than 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children had used energy healing such as Reiki in the previous year.6 Despite its widespread use, there is little research investigating Reiki’s effectiveness in real-world settings, where Reiki often occurs. In particular, there has been no large-scale study examining how Reiki affects physical and psychological symptoms common to a variety of diseases and conditions, such as pain and anxiety in a general population sample.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of Reiki reveal that it has statistically significant improvements in many physical and psychological symptoms common to a wide range of diseases such as mood problems, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, and nausea.7–13 From 1989 to 2018, a total of 74 peer-reviewed research articles have been published on Reiki. Of the higher quality studies, those comparing Reiki to at least sham-Reiki or standard-of-care largely support the hypothesis that Reiki may reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and burnout and may increase relaxation and well-being.

A number of controlled experiments found Reiki to be more effective than sham Reiki.12 Over the past 5 years, 31 peer-reviewed research articles have been published on Reiki. All but three of these were small-scale or pilot studies, and one of the larger scale studies was on hospitalized patients.14 To date, there is yet to be a pragmatic effectiveness trial assessing individuals receiving Reiki in a nonclinical setting, despite this being where people often receive Reiki for managing their symptoms. Furthermore, Reiki provides immediate relief, whereby symptoms are commonly reduced during or immediately after the Reiki session.14

The main purpose of the current study was to evaluate multiple measures of physical and psychological health using a single arm, pre–post design in a real-world, private practice setting. The secondary purpose was to assess the feasibility of conducting a large-scale multisite study remotely, including ease of recruitment, retention rate, and the clients’ perception of data collection based on any informal qualitative feedback with the Reiki practitioners through e-mail. The authors investigated a range of indicators of physical and psychological health and well-being common to variety of illnesses and disease, such as affect, pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and overall well-being. The authors hypothesized that a single Reiki session would significantly improve the majority of outcome measures, particularly pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and affect, and that it would be feasible to conduct a large scale multisite study remotely.

Materials and Methods


Reiki practitioners were recruited online through the Center for Reiki Research mailing list. An advertisement about the study was e-mailed to ∼5000 Reiki practitioners. Inclusion criteria for participating in the study as a Reiki practitioner were as follows: (a) being a certified licensed Reiki Master with the International Center for Reiki Training (ICRT) to ensure their commitment to the practice and that they abide by the ICRT’s code of ethics, (b) having an active practice in the United States for at least 1 year in which clients are charged money for sessions, (c) providing at least two sessions per week that last 45–90 min, (d) Reiki must be the only modality they practiced in their sessions, and (e) having a computer available to the client that is Internet connected.

Of the 120 Reiki practitioners that expressed interest by the enrollment date, N = 99 Reiki practitioners met the inclusion criteria and participated in the study (83% of those interested). They were provided with an information sheet to give to their Reiki clients that described the purpose of the study and indicated that completion of the surveys indicated their consent to participate. There was no compensation for participating in the study for either the Reiki practitioners or clients. This study was approved by the [blinded] institutional review board.

Reiki as a practice

In a typical Reiki session, the client lies down on a massage table, bed, or sits comfortably in a chair. The client remains fully clothed and often has a blanket for extra comfort. A typical session lasts around 60 min whereby the Reiki practitioner places their hands above or gently resting on different locations on the client’s body while they allow the energy to flow, which is often felt as heat, tingling, or other sensations. The number of hand positions depends on the Reiki tradition or needs of the client. Each position is held between 1 and 5 min or until the Reiki practitioner feels a sensation that the energy has stopped. Before and after the Reiki session, clients are often recommended to drink water to hydrate.

Study procedure

Interested Reiki practitioners were e-mailed a form by the researcher that provided information about their Reiki practice, including the number of years practicing Reiki, cost per Reiki session, average time of each Reiki session, and average number of Reiki sessions per week. They completed the form either electronically or handwritten and scanned and e-mailed the completed form back to the researcher. After being assessed as meeting inclusion criteria, they were e-mailed an information sheet for their clients and instructed through e-mail to hand it to their Reiki clients when they arrive for a session as usual. There were no exclusion criteria to participate as a Reiki client.

The information sheet invited the client to complete a survey before and after their Reiki session and included a link to the survey. They were provided information regarding the study; that it was voluntary and that not participating would not affect their relationship with their Reiki practitioner. Clients that agreed to take the survey completed an assessment immediately before the Reiki session (pre) and an assessment immediately following the Reiki session (post). Reiki clients completed the surveys online using Qualtrics survey software licensed to Harvard University. Each survey took ∼5 min to complete, totaling 10 min across both surveys. Informal e-mail communication between the Reiki practitioner and the researcher provided additional qualitative data on feasibility regarding any barriers to survey completion.

Physical and psychological health measures

Brief, unvalidated, self-report measures were included to assess a wide range of physical and psychological health symptoms in a short period of time immediately before (pre) and after (post) the Reiki session. Physical and psychological health-related measures included pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, depression, and anxiety, which were all assessed on a 10-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (No, e.g., pain) to 10 (Worst possible, e.g., pain). Overall well-being was assessed on a 10-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (No well-being) to 10 (Best possible well-being). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS)15 was also used to assess changes in positive and negative affect. The PANAS is a well-validated and reliable (Cronbach alpha = 0.89) scale and is one of the most commonly used psychological measures to date. The 20 items (10 positive and 10 negative) are rated on a scale from 1 (Very slightly or not at all) to 5 (Extremely).

Reiki session characteristics

Reiki clients were asked to indicate their demographics, including their age, sex, ethnicity, and religious or spiritual belief, their reason for seeking the Reiki session, the support methods used (e.g., massage table and chair), the location of the session, and if they were taking medication for their symptoms.

Data analysis

Descriptive statistics, including frequencies, means, and standard deviations, were computed for the Reiki practitioner and Reiki session characteristics. Changes in Reiki clients’ physical and psychological health measures from pre to post session were analyzed using paired samples t tests. Analyses of variance were used to compare characteristics of the Reiki session to changes in physical and psychological health variables. Missing data within the surveys were dealt with through mean replacement if 10% or less of the data were missing. If more than 10% of the data were missing, the survey was excluded from the analysis. Significance was set to p < 0.005 because of the large sample size and multiple comparisons. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS statistical software version 22.0 (Geneva, Switzerland).


Reiki practitioner characteristics

The characteristics of the Reiki practitioners’ (N = 99) practice are displayed in Table 1, including average number of Reiki sessions per week, average length of Reiki session, cost per Reiki session, and the number of years practicing Reiki. Common reasons for seeking the Reiki session included relaxation, anxiety, pain, stress, cancer, overall well-being, spiritual growth, emotional healing, fatigue, general interest or curiosity, and peace.

Practitioner characteristicValue
Average number of Reiki sessions per week, mean (SD)4.03 (1.44)
Average time of Reiki session in minutes, mean (SD)63.95 (11.51)
Average cost per Reiki session in U.S. dollars, mean (SD)62.35 (33.78)
No. of years practicing Reiki, % 

N = 99.

SD, standard deviation.

Reiki session characteristics

Over a period of 1 year beginning in May 2015, 1575 Reiki sessions were recorded, with 164 missing postsurvey responses, yielding a total of N = 1411 Reiki sessions included in the final analysis (90% of initial sample). Informal qualitative feedback through e-mail with Reiki practitioners indicated that some of the reasons why clients did not complete the surveys included the client not wanting to disrupt the positive feeling following the Reiki session, issues with the Internet or computer, and older clients having difficulty or being frustrated with the computer. There were no significant differences in presurvey scores between participants that completed both the pre- and postmeasures and those who did not complete the postmeasures (all p-values >0.05). The mean age of the Reiki clients was 49.0 years (range 18–89), 1143 (81%) were female, 246 (18%) were male, and 14 (1%) identified as other. With respect to race/ethnicity, 83% identified as Caucasian, 7% Hispanic, 2% African American, 1.9% Asian American, and 6% as other. With respect to religion and spirituality, 49% reported that they were Christian, 33% spiritual but not religious, 3% Buddhist, 2% Hindu, 1% atheist, and 11% other.

The characteristics of the Reiki sessions are displayed in Table 2, including the support method, location of the session, and whether they took medication for their symptoms.

Session characteristicCategoryn (%)
Support methodMassage table1242 (88)
Bed99 (7)
Chair56 (4)
Other14 (1)
Location of sessionPrivate home635 (45)
Massage/wellness center621 (44)
Clinic45 (3)
Other110 (8)
Taking medication for symptomsYes497 (36)
No901 (64)

N = 1141 Reiki sessions.

Improvements in physical and psychological health

At post, there was a significant improvement in pain, t(1401) = −33.62, p < 0.001, d = 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) [−1.90 to −1.69]; tiredness, t(1400) = −38.82, p < 0.001, d = 1.01, 95% CI [−2.76 to −2.49]; drowsiness, t(1396) = −22.32, p < 0.001, d = 0.60, 95% CI [−1.78 to −1.49]; nausea, t(1399) = −11.20, p < 0.001, d = 0.30, 95% CI [−0.55 to −0.39]; appetite, t(1392) = −11.94, p < 0.001, d = 0.32, 95% CI [−0.70 to −0.50]; shortness of breath, t(1397) = −16.13, p < 0.001, d = 0.43, 95% CI [−0.82 to −0.65]; depression, t(1396) = −28.50, p < 0.001, d = 0.76, 95% CI [−1.77 to −1.54]; and anxiety, t(1395) = −37.91, p < 0.001, d = 1.00, 95% CI [−2.69 to −2.43] (Fig. 1). Overall reported well-being also improved following the Reiki session, t(1379) = −23.94, p < 0.001, d = 0.64, 95% CI [−2.04 to −1.73] (Fig. 2). At post, both positive affect and negative affect significantly increased, t(1400) = 19.88, p < 0.001, d = 0.53, 95% CI [3.52 to 4.29] and t(1400) = −32.18, p < 0.001, d = 0.86, 95% CI [−5.89 to −5.21], respectively (Fig. 3). Table 3 displays the individual item-by-item changes for the PANAS. All positive affect and negative affect items showed significant improvements following the Reiki session, all p-values <0.001.

FIG. 1.
FIG. 1. Reiki clients’ mean scores on physical and psychological health variables before (pre) and after (post) the Reiki session. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. *p < 0.001.
FIG. 2.
FIG. 2. Reiki clients’ mean scores on overall well-being before (pre) and after (post) the Reiki session. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. *p < 0.001.
FIG. 3.
FIG. 3. Reiki clients’ mean positive affect and negative affect scores on the PANAS before (pre) and after (post) the Reiki session. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. *p < 0.001. PANAS, positive and negative affect schedule.
PANAS itemPre, mean (SD)Post, mean (SD)tCohen’s d95% CI
Positive affect
 Interested3.65 (1.06)3.77 (1.06)4.470.12[0.65 to 0.17]
 Excited2.69 (1.18)2.92 (1.33)6.720.18[0.16 to 0.29]
 Strong2.81 (1.07)3.43 (1.10)21.620.58[0.56 to 0.68]
 Enthusiastic2.95 (1.16)3.38 (1.17)14.840.39[0.37 to 0.49]
 Proud2.69 (1.17)3.06 (1.23)13.890.37[0.32 to 0.43]
 Alert2.95 (1.03)3.35 (1.12)12.230.33[0.33 to 0.46]
 Inspired2.87 (1.22)3.63 (1.20)24.510.65[0.71 to 0.83]
 Determined3.16 (1.14)3.50 (1.15)11.560.31[0.29 to 0.40]
 Attentive3.11 (1.02)3.44 (1.08)11.420.30[0.27 to 0.39]
 Active2.71 (1.07)3.00 (1.15)10.010.27[0.23 to 0.35]
Negative affect
 Distressed2.10 (1.12)1.31 (0.72)−26.170.70[−0.84 to −0.72]
 Upset1.85 (1.10)1.18 (0.54)−23.840.64[−0.72 to −0.61]
 Guilty1.58 (0.95)1.15 (0.44)−19.540.52[−0.48 to −0.39]
 Scared1.70 (1.05)1.18 (0.52)−21.070.56[−0.56 to −0.47]
 Hostile1.32 (0.72)1.07 (0.36)−13.700.37[−0.29 to −0.22]
 Irritable1.95 (1.06)1.15 (0.49)−28.890.77[−0.85 to −0.74]
 Ashamed1.45 (0.85)1.13 (0.44)−15.490.41[−0.37 to −0.29]
 Nervous1.90 (1.11)1.22 (0.55)−24.530.65[−0.74 to −0.63]
 Jittery1.80 (1.06)1.22 (0.57)−21.600.58[−0.64 to −0.53]
 Afraid1.70 (1.07)1.18 (0.53)−20.030.53[−0.57 to −0.46]

Data were analyzed by paired samples t tests. All p-values <0.001.

CI, confidence interval; PANAS, positive and negative affect schedule; SD, standard deviation.

Pearson correlations between change scores (post–pre) for all physical and psychological health variables are displayed in Table 4. Change scores for all physical and psychological health measures were significantly correlated with each other, all p-values <0.001.


All p-values <0.001.

Anx, anxiety; App, appetite; Breath, shortness of breath; Dep, depression; Drow, drowsiness; NA, negative affect; PA, positive affect; Tired, tiredness; Well, well-being.


This large-scale study was a real-world effectiveness trial of the effect of Reiki on common physical and psychological symptoms in a nonclinical population. Given the preliminary nature of Reiki research, and its widespread use in health care and private practice settings, large-scale effectiveness trials are an important first step toward conducting more rigorous controlled trials. As was hypothesized, a single session of Reiki improved physical and psychological health variables. The authors also observed correlations between changes in all outcome measures. With respect to their secondary aim, the study was feasible to conduct, with ease of recruitment and a high retention rate. However, there were some indicators for study improvement that will be discussed below.

The population used for this study allowed for an assessment of a large number of clients that typically seek Reiki for acute symptom management outside of the hospital setting. The Reiki clients were typical of populations reported to seek CAM, mostly white middle-aged females.6 Therefore, a strength of the study is the generalizability of the results to a broad population, whereas most Reiki research has been with specific clinical populations. Most Reiki clients also reported a spiritual or religious belief system, with only 1% reporting that they were atheist. The authors found that 36% of Reiki clients reported taking medications for the symptoms they were managing with Reiki.

The study was found to be feasible, with participant recruitment not posing any challenges, as 83% of the interested Reiki practitioners met the inclusion criteria. Furthermore, the retention rate for completion of the postsurvey was high at 90%. Informal qualitative feedback on survey incompletion suggests that future studies would benefit from providing paper options for Reiki clients less comfortable with filling out the survey on a computer. Further qualitative data regarding why the clients were seeking a Reiki session and their experience during the session will be reported elsewhere.

The current results point to the therapeutic potential of Reiki for a variety of conditions that correspond with multiple physical and psychological health symptoms. The results of the current study show that individuals are receiving immediate benefits for their symptoms from receiving Reiki in practitioners’ home and wellness centers. Most improvements in physical and psychological health showed medium-to-high effect sizes. The authors observed the highest effect sizes (Cohen’s d) for improvements in tiredness (1.04), anxiety (1.01), pain (0.90), negative affect (0.86), and depression (0.76). Therefore, individuals with health concerns corresponding with the aforementioned symptoms may show the most promise for treating with Reiki. Indeed, the results of this nonclinical real-world study are consistent with small sample clinical trials in which Reiki was associated with improvements in well-being16–21 and alleviation of pain,3,22–24 emotional stress,25–28 anxiety,21,23,26,28 and depression.25,29 Positive affect was below norm levels at pre and increased to norm levels at post, whereas negative affect was at norm and decreased to below norm levels following Reiki. Therefore, a single session of Reiki can provide immediate benefits to affect, and multiple studies have reported affect to be a key factor in physical and psychological health, through pathways such as promotion of healthy behaviors, improved immune system function, and increased social support to name a few.30,31

Although not addressed in the current study, a common criticism of Reiki is that its beneficial effects are due to a placebo response. However, experiments with sham Reiki active controls, in which a person untrained in Reiki uses the same hand positions as a Reiki practitioner on client or patient, also have a therapeutic effect, such as reducing self-reported anxiety.4,12,32 Although sham Reiki has some therapeutic benefits, Reiki appears to be more effective than sham Reiki based on current pilot studies,10,25,26,33–36 although one study reported no difference between sham Reiki and Reiki for treating fibromyalgia.37 It is difficult to study the placebo response in a population who is paying Reiki practitioners to provide them with Reiki. However, one solution would be to pay Reiki practitioners through research funding to give Reiki sessions for free to a group of clients knowingly recruited for research. Half of those clients could be randomly selected as the control group and would be met by a colleague of the practitioner untrained in Reiki but with knowledge of the hand positions, to act as a sham provider.

The current study had several limitations that warrant discussion. First, this was a pragmatic effectiveness trial assessing the effect of Reiki in clients that were already seeking Reiki, increasing the likelihood of expectation effects. Future work will take this into account by including measures of clients’ expectation. Second, while the authors understand the limitation of no control group, the study design was a pragmatic approach, a useful methodology for assessing the impact of outcomes in a real-world scenario. Therefore, the authors would like to suggest that the real-world generalizability of these results is a strength of the current study. This pragmatic approach has recently been championed by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH), which has been making great efforts to foster and support real-world research and implementation science.38,39

Third, there was a lack of standardization across Reiki sessions in terms of style of Reiki and length of session. To attempt to account for this, Reiki practitioners were required to be certified, licensed Reiki Masters with the ICRT, practicing for at least 1 year, the session had to be between 45 and 90 min, and they could offer only Reiki during the session (e.g., no other CAM modalities). Fourth, with the exception of the PANAS, all measures were single-item scales, which tend to have lower validity and reliability than multi-item scales. However, the goal was to efficiently measure as many physical and psychological variables as possible in under 5 min. Future work will use validated multi-item scales to assess changes in variables that showed the largest effect sizes; anxiety, tiredness/fatigue, pain, depression, and overall well-being.

Fifth, the majority of the Reiki clients were middle-aged Caucasian women who identified as Christian or spiritual; therefore, the ability to generalize these results to other demographics or belief systems is limited. A sixth limitation is that the authors were unable to pair the Reiki practitioners and their clients due to the clients’ inaccurate reporting of the identification numbers in the survey. The authors also did not assess whether the clients had been to the practitioner before in the past. Therefore, future work will aim to pair practitioners and their clients through automated electronic means and also measure whether the client had been to the practitioner before, and how frequently. Finally, since the clients were paying for the service, they likely have high expectations for the benefits of the Reiki session. A future study in which the clients do not pay for the Reiki sessions could be compared with the present study to determine the effect of “fee for service” on the results.

In conclusion, Reiki acutely improved physical and psychological symptoms associated with many health conditions, including affect, pain, depression, anxiety, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, shortness of breath, appetite, and overall well-being. Reiki can provide immediate relief for many health conditions and is used for this purpose inside and outside of the hospital setting. This multisite real-world effectiveness trial was feasible to conduct and provided important preliminary data on the effectiveness of a single session of Reiki to improve physical and psychological symptoms. These results are highly preliminary and should be interpreted as such. More research needs to be conducted to confirm or refute these findings. Therefore, the results from this study will be used to conduct a future multisite trial using a control group, such as massage therapy, in a real-world setting. Future research will also prioritize investigation of symptoms that showed the largest effect sizes, as well as inclusion of follow-up assessments. In addition, the progress of clients will be followed over multiple Reiki sessions to evaluate changes over a longer time frame.


  • 6 Growing consumer acceptance of alternative or complementary therapies has helped drive demand for the Alternative Health Therapies industry over the past five years. Complementary and alternative health care medicines and therapies (often collectively referred to as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM) are often used alongside conventional medical treatments to improve health and wellbeing. These treatments include acupuncture, naturopathy, aromatherapy, homeopathy and massage. Australia’s ageing population has benefited demand, as the higher frequency of illness for people aged over 50 has led to many using alternative health therapy. This factor is particularly relevant for palliative care, as patients are often treated in tandem with conventional medical practitioners.
  • However, questions related to the clinical efficacy of alternative health therapies have constrained industry revenue growth over the past five years. The 2015 Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies found no clear evidence that natural therapies are effective. As a result, 16 natural therapies were removed from private health insurance general treatment from 1 April 2019. While private insurers can continue to cover these items, they will no longer be eligible for partial Commonwealth subsidies. Prior to April 2019, the number of natural therapies services claimed under private health insurance ancillary cover grew at a strong rate, with 6.8 million services claimed in the year through March 2019. Due to backlash following the new rebate ban, the Australian Government has announced an additional review of natural therapies for private health insurance, with a final review report due in 2020.
  • Industry revenue is expected to rise by an annualised 0.1% over the five years through 2019-20, to total $4.1 billion. Revenue has been negatively affected by falling discretionary incomes and concerns related to the efficacy of industry services. However, revenue is anticipated to rise by 1.2% in the current year, as the population continues to age and use industry therapies. Over the next five years, the industry is anticipated to continue benefiting from an ageing population, rising incidences of chronic disease and co-morbidities, and growing recognition of the need for a preventative approach to health. Industry revenue is projected to grow by an annualised 1.7% over the five years through 2024-25, to $4.5 billion.
  • Reiki, pronounced ‘ray-key’, is a Japanese form of therapy that aims to increase energy levels and promote relaxation and wellbeing. Developed in the late 19th century, reiki is applied through non-invasive, non-manipulative gentle touch.

    The underlying philosophy of reiki is that if a person’s energy is low, they are more likely to be unwell or stressed. If it is high, however, they are more capable of being happy and feeling well. Reiki will not cure illnesses or disease, but it may help your body to feel more relaxed and peaceful.

  • Industry Research
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  • Females were more likely to be carers (12.3% of all females) than males (9.3% of all males).
  • There were 235,300 young carers (under the age of 25), down from 274,700 in 2015.
  • 3.5% of all Australians were primary carers.
  • Seven in ten (71.8%) primary carers were women.
  • Over one-third, (37.4%) of primary carers had a disability, twice the rate of non-carers (15.3%).
  • The most common reason primary carers gave for taking on a caring role was a sense of family responsibility (70.1% of all primary carers).
  • Half (50.2%) of all carers lived in a household in the lowest two equivalised gross income quintiles, twice that of non-carers (25.6%).
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