Reiki Now Has a Scientific Explanation

Reiki is a form of energy therapy that is based on the belief that a practitioner can channel universal energy into a patient to promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing. From a scientific perspective, the effectiveness of Reiki has been the subject of debate and study.

Its practitioners believe that the beneficial effects of the energy of the therapist's hands helps the patient's body in the fight against illness. To understand the biological changes of Reiki, psychobiologist Ricardo Monezi tested the treatment on mice with cancer. "The animal does not have the psychological preparation, faith, beliefs and empathy for the therapist, to isolate the placebo effect from experimentation with them," he says.

For his research at USP, Monezi chose Reiki among the entire practice of laying on of hands, as it is the only one that does not have religious connotations. However, solid scientific evidence supporting this idea is limited.

From the point of view of conventional science, the effect of Reiki could be explained by several mechanisms:

  1. Placebo effect: Many studies have shown that the simple act of receiving attention and care can have a positive impact on a person's health and well-being, even if the treatment itself lacks scientific basis. In this sense, Reiki could work in part due to the placebo effect.
  2. Relaxation and stress reduction: Reiki practice often involves relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, which can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Reducing stress, in turn, can have beneficial effects on the immune system and the body's ability to heal.
  3. Social interaction and emotional support: The relationship between the Reiki practitioner and the patient can provide a sense of emotional support and social connection, which can also contribute to overall well-being and feelings of healing.
  4. Stimulation of the nervous system: Some researchers suggest that gentle touch and energy manipulation during a Reiki session can stimulate the nervous system, which can have positive effects on pain perception and muscle relaxation.

The scientific experiment that explains Reiki

At experiment, the research team divided 60 tumor-bearing mice into three groups. The control group received no treatment, the “glove control” group with forces received a pair of gloves attached to wooden handles, and the “imposition” group always had the traditional treatment at the hands of the same person.

The animals were tested for immune response, that is, the body's ability to destroy tumors. The results showed that, in the "imposition" group, white blood cells and immune cells had doubled their ability to recognize and destroy cancer cells.


“I still don't know how to distinguish if the Reiki energy that works is magnetic, electrical or electromagnetic. Articles describing the subtle nature of energy “take their explanation from current physics,” Monezi says.

According to him, this energy produces physical waves, which release hormones capable of activating the body's defense cells. The conclusion of the study was that, since there were no significant differences in the groups that did not receive Reiki, the physiological changes in the group that underwent treatment were not due to the placebo effect. The team has begun analyzing the effects of Reiki on humans.

The study has not yet concluded, but the psychologist said that the first group of 16 people shows positive results. ”The results suggest an improvement in, for example, quality of life, and reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression.” The work is part of her doctoral thesis at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp.) And these are not the only work carried out with complementary therapies in Brazil.

Psychologist Elisa Harumi evaluates the effects of Reiki in patients who have undergone chemotherapy. Acupuncture doctor Flavia Freire observed improvement of up to 60% in patients with sleep apnea treated with needles. The amount of recent research on the subject shows that science is increasingly interested in the mechanisms and effects of complementary therapies.Ecoportal.net

By Jorge Ramos

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