Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Reiki is a form of alternative medicine which has its origins in Japan. Palm healing and auras are central aspects of Reiki.

The practice of Reiki is getting more common, however, I was not able to find credible sources confirming or disputing the effects of Reiki.

Are there any scientific publications, studies or other credible sources confirming or disputing Reiki?

Edit: To be clear, by "medically valid science" in the title was a bit strangely worded. What I meant was, whether or not its medical effects could be scientifically conformed or disputed.

share|improve this question
2  
Do you have a source for the claim that Reiki practice is "getting more common"? Social media may be enabling supporters of it to be more visible in groups, but that doesn't necessarily correlate with more people supporting it. – loneboat Feb 24 at 17:29
    
It could be argued that so-called "alternative medicine" is unscientific by definition and that medicine that's grounded on scientific investigation is just called... "medicine" (at least in the 21st century). – Tobia Tesan Feb 25 at 8:12
up vote 82 down vote accepted

There is a review article: Effects of reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials International Journal of Clinical Practice Volume 62, Issue 6, pages 947–954, June 2008.

In conclusion, the evidence is insufficient to suggest that reiki is an effective treatment for any condition.

share|improve this answer
4  
Please keep the comments on topic and polite. I've removed some unnecessarily rude comments from here. – Sklivvz Feb 23 at 21:44
1  
This is one of the quickest and sharpest answers, I've found so far in the entire SE. Great job! – trejder Feb 24 at 9:42

Reiki is a framework that the Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui developed in 1922. In Mikau Usui own account he didn't find it through empiric investigation but says that the Reiki methology came as a vision to him.

In basic Reiki a practioner puts his hands on a patient and then visualizes specific symbols. Those symbols are then believed to create qi flow into the patient. Qi that's not supposed to come out of the energy of the practioner but that's channelled from a higher source.

Reiki teachers generally proclaim that they either practice Reiki as taught by Mikao Usui or the practice it intuitively. There's no systematized empiric process that evolved the field of Reiki. That means that it might be an art but it isn't a science.

Mikau Usui taught Reiki in three stages. The first stage is supposed to allow the practioner to do basic hands on treatment. The second stage supposedly give the ability for distance treatments. The third stage is about the ability to teach Reiki itself to other people and initiate them into the usage of the symbols.

Mikao Usui itself didn't talk about auras to the extend that you find today Reiki practioners who talk about auras it's because in modern New Age concepts blend together.

After being clear that the Reiki isn't a field that focuses on scientific progress the next question is whether it works.

There are positive trials of Reiki like Olson et al A phase II trial of reiki for the management of pain in advanced cancer patients (2003)

On the other hand there's not enough evidence for meta-analyses to conlclude whether or not it's effective.

Lee's at al (2008) comes to that conlucion in Effects of reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials.

In conclusion, the evidence is insufficient to suggest that reiki is an effective treatment for any condition. Therefore the value of reiki remains unproven.

A more recent Cochrane analysis that focuses on the effect of Reiki on anxiety and depression also comes to the conclusion:

This means there is insufficient evidence to make any comment about the usefulness of Reiki for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

share|improve this answer
3  
-1 for talking at length about whether or not it was established with the scientific method, whilst the question was asking about its effect. Thie implied reasoning that 'because it came through a vision it's incorrect' is totally misplaced on a skeptics site. Great sources at the end though, they directly address the question and discuss the effects of the practice, so definitely a +1 without the first half. – David Mulder Feb 22 at 17:44
25  
@DavidMulder : The title does ask whether it's science. – Christian Feb 22 at 17:45
18  
@DavidMulder I disagree. The origins of a treatment seem very relevant to how trustworthy an idea is. You may have a point that it would be better if the information were later in the answer and more emphasis was put on the research itself up front, but the info there is useful information for coming to a conclusion about how much we should believe it. – jpmc26 Feb 23 at 2:46
6  
@DavidMulder No, it's very important to establish the origins of an idea. If it came from genuine science, then all the scientific publications associated with that work would be relevant and it'd be important to be able to trace back. Continental drift for instance used to be thought wrong, but we can look back at the evidence which brought the idea into the light, as well as the individuals who championed it. But if it's simply the product of someone's imagination/vision, it's equally important to tell people that they won't find that evidence. – Graham Feb 23 at 17:52
4  
@jpmc26, not really. You'd be hard-pressed to find (conscious) scientific origins behind many hygiene practices, e.g. human waste sanitation. Yet science can confirm many of them after-the-fact. – Paul Draper Feb 23 at 19:31

protected by Community Feb 24 at 14:03

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.