What is Reiki and Does it Work?

Reiki (ˈreɪkiː/) is a form of alternative medicine called energy healing. Reiki practitioners use a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing through which a “universal energy” is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing.

Reiki is a pseudoscience, and is used as an illustrative example of pseudoscience in scholarly texts and academic journal articles. It is based on qi (“chi”), which practitioners say is a universal life force, although there is no empirical evidence that such a life force exists.Clinical research has not shown reiki to be effective as a treatment for any medical condition. There has been no proof of the effectiveness of reiki therapy compared to placebo. An overview of reiki investigations found that studies reporting positive effects had methodological flaws. The American Cancer Society stated that reiki should not replace conventional cancer treatment, a sentiment echoed by Cancer Research UK and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Developed in Japan in 1922 by Mikao Usui, it has been adapted into varying cultural traditions across the world.
Research, critical evaluation, and controversy
Basis
Main article: Vitalism
Reiki’s teachings and adherents claim that qi is physiological and can be manipulated to treat a disease or condition. The existence of qi has not been established by medical research. Therefore, reiki is a pseudoscientific theory based on metaphysical concepts.

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The existence of the proposed mechanism for reiki—qi or “life force” energy—has not been scientifically established. Most research on reiki is poorly designed and prone to bias. There is no reliable empirical evidence that reiki is helpful for treating any medical condition,although some physicians have said it might help promote general well-being.In 2011, William T. Jarvis of The National Council Against Health Fraud stated that there “is no evidence that clinical reiki’s effects are due to anything other than suggestion” or the placebo effect.

The April 22, 2014 Skeptoid podcast episode titled “Your Body’s Alleged Energy Fields” relates a reiki practitioner’s report of what was happening as she passed her hands over a subject’s body:

What we’ll be looking for here, within John’s auric field, is any areas of intense heat, unusual coldness, a repelling energy, a dense energy, a magnetizing energy, tingling sensations, or actually the body attracting the hands into that area where it needs the reiki energy, and balancing of John’s qi.

Evaluating these claims scientific skeptic author Brian Dunning reported:

…his aura, his qi, his reiki energy. None of these have any counterpart in the physical world. Although she attempted to describe their properties as heat or magnetism, those properties are already taken by—well, heat and magnetism. There are no properties attributable to the mysterious field she describes, thus it cannot be authoritatively said to exist.”

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, January 22). Reiki. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:37, January 24, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Reiki&oldid=937086586

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