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Is Reiki a Placebo? – Part 1

April 12th, 2015

By nature Reiki is very intangible.   So in a series of blog articles I will try to explore how Reiki works and what the scientific research says.

For me Reiki is merely a modern name for an ancient healing practice.  Which is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, we are run down and then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

The benefits of Reiki

  • Help some people to feel deeply relaxed
  • Help people cope with difficult situations
  • Relieve emotional stress and tension
  • Help to improve overall wellbeing
  • Help alleviate pain & anxiety

My personal belief about how Reiki works, is that I act as a channel for Reiki energy and the client must be open to receiving it as the Reiki energy cannot “force” itself on to anyone.  As humans have free-will this means a client can block it if they consciously choose too.  The Reiki energy is then a resource that the human body can use to heal itself.

So is Reiki just Placebo?

A placebo is anything that seems to be a “real” medical treatment — but isn’t i.e. it is fake. The judgement is based on the availability of scientific evidence.  Dame Carol Black (– a former President of the Royal College of Physicians and of the Academy of Royal Colleges) and a group of distinguished doctors and scientists at the Kings Fund has concluded that current assumptions about what constitutes good scientific evidence for complementary therapies are too narrow.

Professor Stephen Holgate who is also a member of the Kings Fund said:

“As scientists, we have often sneered at the placebo effect. But as doctors, we know it can have a real impact on the outcomes of treatment for our patients. What is it, after all, but a trigger to the body’s natural ability to heal itself?  That is something worth encouraging.”

I am a firm believer in the body’s ability to heal itself.  As the aim of all complementary therapies is to stimulate the body to heal itself, they could all be considered placebo.  This is probably especially true of Reiki due to the fact that it has not been well studied scientifically.   The limited studies have not gathered enough evidence to “prove” Reiki energy exists, but this is not the same as proving it doesn’t exist.

For me, it makes more sense to assess the impact of Reiki and Reiki energy.  After all if you can assess the impact of the energy then it must exist.  And as to, is it a placebo?  If the Reiki energy has an impact, it must exist, and it can’t be a placebo because its having an impact.

So in my next blog I will at the scientific evidence on the impact of Reiki.

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