Reiki Research

Real and Placebo Reiki Boost Comfort in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy

Measures of comfort and well-being among patients receiving chemotherapy improved significantly following a 20-minute reiki intervention, and also after a 20-minute intervention with a sham reiki placebo, according to recent research.

The study, “Investigation of Standard Care Versus Sham Reiki Placebo Versus Actual Reiki Therapy to Enhance Comfort and Well-Being in a Chemotherapy Infusion Center,” involved 189 people ages 18 and older receiving chemotherapy in a northern California infusion center.

These subjects were randomly assigned to receive either standard care, sham reiki placebo or actual reiki therapy for 20 minutes during one of their chemotherapy infusion appointments. These appointments typically involve the patient sitting quietly in a comfortable chair and receiving IV medications for three to five hours, often while reading, listening to music or watching TV.

Those subjects assigned to receive standard care went about their chemotherapy appointment as described above. As for the patients in the sham reiki placebo group, an oncology nurse pretended to perform a Reiki session for 20 minutes, moving her hands on the patient’s body in a specific order.

According to the researchers, “The sham reiki therapist was chosen in part because of her disbelief in biofield energy transfer. In an effort to prevent any possible healing energy coming from the sham therapist, [she] was asked to do math problems or create a shopping list in her head.”

Participants assigned to the study’s actual reiki therapy group received 20 minutes of reiki, provided by an oncology nurse who is also a certified reiki master. During these reiki sessions, the nurse addressed seven main chakras, all major organs and six major energy centers—crown, brow, throat, heart, solar plexus and sacrum—starting at the patient’s head and moving down.

“The reiki therapist managed the energy to treat ‘dis-ease’ and improve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being,” state the study’s authors.

The Healing Touch Comfort Questionnaire and the Well-Being Analog Scale were the two tools employed to assess outcome measures for this study. These surveys were completed by subjects in each group before and after the chemotherapy infusion appointment in which they received either standard care, sham reiki placebo or actual reiki therapy.

Results of the research revealed that both actual reiki therapy and sham reiki placebo resulted in statistically significant improvements in the level of comfort and well-being among patients receiving chemotherapy.

“Some may say that healing went through the sham provider regardless, and that all nurses perform healing in their touch,” state the study’s authors. “Therefore, the investigators in this study postulate that the intervention that improved patient comfort and well-being may have been the attentive presence of a designated nurse at the bedside.

“More specifically, the investigators are focused on the one-on-one nursing presence, rather than human presence alone,” they continue, “because all three groups had the presence of family members at the bedside, and all groups had equal access to the regular chemotherapy unit nurses.”

Authors: Anita Catlin and Rebecca L. Taylor-Ford.

Sources: School of Nursing, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California; and Kaiser Santa Rosa Hospital, Santa Rosa, California. Originally published in Oncology Nursing Forum (2011), 38(3), 212-220.

Reiki Research

Reiki May Help Prevent Illness, Decrease Stress

Reiki may help prevent a decline in health and also reduce overall stress, according to recent research on first-year college students during the course of an academic year.

The study, “A randomised controlled single-blind trial of the effects of Reiki and positive imagery on well-being and salivary cortisol,” involved 35 healthy psychology undergraduates. The goal of the study was to see the possible benefits of reiki for health and mood among a group of healthy participants exposed to “enduring stress.”

“Attending university in the first year has been shown to be an ecologically valid stressor,” state the study’s authors.

Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to one of three relaxation group, each of which employed a different form of inducing deep relaxation. Half of these subjects also were randomly assigned to receive noncontact reiki.

Each of the 10 sessions in the study lasted for about 30 minutes. During these sessions, the subject would engage in the assigned form of relaxation. Those in the reiki group also would receive noncontact reiki.

The reiki master who administered these sessions was present in the room with every participant, sitting several feet behind him or her. During the sessions with subjects in the reiki group, she would direct reiki toward the student by holding her hands three to 30 inches above his or her head or toward his or her back through the chair.

“In order to control for expectation regarding receiving [r]eiki, all participants were blinded as to whether or not they were in a [r]eiki group and were told prior to the start of the intervention that they may or may not receive non-contact [r]eiki,” state the study’s authors.

Results of the study revealed “somewhat improved” scores on the Illness Symptoms Questionnaire, an evaluation of the presence of illness symptoms, among those in the reiki group. In the group that did not receive reiki, scores on the questionnaire were substantively worse at the end of the study.

“Reiki’s main advantage was found in a tendency towards an improvement in health as shown by the reduction in symptoms of illness,” state the study’s authors. “This contrasted with the symptoms of the No-Reiki group, whose total Illness Symptoms Questionnaire scores disclosed a substantive and reliable increase in symptoms.”

Other findings from the study included “persuasive reductions” in the total Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale, in particular the stress subscale, among those students who received reiki.

Authors: Deborah Bowden, Lorna Goddard and John Gruzelier.

Source: University of London Psychology Department. Originally published in Brain Research Bulletin (2010) 81: 66-72