3 Things Reiki Can Do For Your Health & 4 That It Can't

It's soothing, but it doesn't work miracles.

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“Reiki is administered by laying on hands, and is based on the idea that an unseen life force energy flows through us,” practitioner Jasmine Irons Anokute tells Bustle. There’s some evidence that doing reiki can be helpful, but its benefits are likely because of psychology, not energy.

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It Could Help Some Anxious People

Small studies have suggested that reiki might help manage anxiety when combined with traditional counseling. But there’s not enough evidence to suggest it could be helpful for everyone — and if being touched makes you anxious, it definitely won’t help.

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It May Have Some Benefits For Depression, Too

In studies of elderly people in nursing homes and those in palliative care, reiki has been shown to be slightly beneficial for depression; it’s possibly just nice for depressed people to have touch-based therapy.


It's Been Shown To Soothe Chemo Patients

One 2014 study found that reiki reduced distress and improved quality of life for breast cancer patients. Another study from 2011 showed that the real benefit of a reiki therapist during chemotherapy was their company and sympathy, not the reiki itself.

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But Keep In Mind...

“Most of the research [on reiki] has not been of high quality, and the results have been inconsistent,” the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health (NCCIH) says. Five of its own studies looking at reiki and diabetes, AIDS, prostate cancer, fibromyalgia, and stress, were inconclusive.

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Straight Up, It Can't Heal Disease

Reiki seems to have psychological benefits, but can it heal physical illnesses? “The answer is a definitive no,” Dr. J.D. Zipkin M.D., associate medical director at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, tells Bustle.

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It's Not A Treatment For Chronic Pain

People with chronic pain conditions might turn to reiki, but the practice doesn't seem to help. One 2010 study of 100 adults with fibromyalgia found reiki didn’t make any difference to their symptoms.

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It Won't Work At A Distance, Either

Many of reiki’s benefits seem to be based around touch. “Distance reiki,” where practitioners work without touching their clients, exists, but seems to have no effect. One 2011 study found that distance reiki had no impact on women’s pain after C-section delivery.


There's No Evidence For Human Energy Fields

The energy fields reiki works with have not actually been found in the human body, nor are they shown to be capable of being manipulated by practitioners. Reiki’s real benefits aren’t based on energy; they’re about companionship and therapeutic touch.


“People find spiritual or existential comfort in reiki, but there are no discernible healing effects,” Dr. Zipkin says. However, Irons Anokute says, “It’s important to keep an open mind during the healing process.”