National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Reiki: An Introduction

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Introduction

Reiki is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response. There is a lack of high-quality research in this field. However, this fact sheet provides basic information about Reiki and suggests sources for additional information.

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Key Points

  • Do not use Reiki to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a health problem.
  • Overall there is a lack of high-quality research on Reiki, and studies that have been done show conflicting results.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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Overview

Reiki is based on an Eastern belief in an energy that supports the body’s innate or natural healing abilities. However, there is no scientific evidence that such an energy exists. Research on Reiki has generally focused on symptom management or well-being.

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Use in the United States

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, more than 1.2 million adults—0.5 percent of the U.S. general adult population—had used an energy healing therapy, such as Reiki, in the previous year.

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The Status of Reiki Research

There has been limited clinical research (studies in people) on Reiki. Available research has examined the use of Reiki for conditions such as fibromyalgia, pain, cancer, and depression, and for overall well-being. Although some small studies suggest that Reiki may help with symptoms related to these conditions, others have not found Reiki to be helpful. There is a lack of high-quality research to definitively evaluate Reiki’s effectiveness for any health-related purpose.

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Side Effects and Risks

Reiki appears to be generally safe, and no serious side effects have been reported.

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Training

There are many different forms of Reiki, and no special background is needed to receive training.

If You Are Thinking About Reiki

  • Do not use Reiki to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about a health problem.
  • Be aware that Reiki has not been thoroughly studied scientifically.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

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For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

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PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a Web site, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

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Key References

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Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks Partap Khalsa, D.C., Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCAM, for their contributions to the 2012 update of this publication.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

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NCCAM Pub No.: 
D315
Date Created: 
April 2006
Last Updated: 
April 2013