by Tamisha Sabrina.
Part 2. Back to Part 1.
Reiki Induces Meditative State
Zimmerman’s studies show that the brain wave patterns of practitioner and receiver are not only synchronised in the alpha or theta state, but become left-right balanced, both indicators of deep relaxation and meditation. This experience is typical of Reiki. The effects of regular meditation on health have been extensively studied at more than 200 universities, hospitals, and research institutions in 27 countries. The most important contribution to health appears to be in primary prevention. Over a 5 year period, meditators consistently had fewer than half the number of doctor visits and days in hospital, compared with controls. Hospital admission rates for medical and surgical conditions were 60-70% less in the meditating group, with 87% less for diseases of the heart and blood vessels, 55% less for tumours, 73% less for respiratory disorders, 87% less for neurological problems, and 30% less for infections. Notably, the meditating group showed relatively little increase in need for healthcare with increasing age, whereas this trend was clearly seen in controls, as would normally be expected. Further studies showed effective relief from stress, a significant reduction in use of alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescribed drugs, and a significant reduction in medical expenditure.
Although the above studies are not directly about Reiki, they do show the positive effects of regular meditation, the state known to be induced by Reiki, and are consistent with the reported benefits. They also support the purported holistic nature of this type of therapy, that is, it works to achieve overall balance and wellbeing rather than being symptom specific.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that those who receive Reiki regularly seem to find it easier to meditate than before. Most probably the treatments provide an example of ‘body learning’, whereby repeated exposure to the alpha or theta states makes it easier to achieve by oneself.
An elegantly designed experiment by Wirth et al. (1993) shows that Reiki significantly reduces post-operative pain following the surgical extraction of impacted wisdom teeth. The study utilised a ‘randomised, double-blind, within subject, cross-over’ design, which will be further explained. 28 dental patients each received two separate operations for the removal of their teeth, only one of which received Reiki in addition to standard medication for pain relief. 15-20 minutes of Reiki was provided from a distance, with neither the patient nor the independent statistician being aware that this was the focus of the experiment. They all thought the effect of the medication was being tested. The reduction in pain provided by Reiki was therefore neither a placebo nor the result of personal interaction with the patient.
An earlier study by Wirth (1990) on Therapeutic Touch (TT), a therapy very similar to Reiki [more about TT at bottom of this page], examined the healing rates of a punch-biopsy on 46 volunteers. The experimental method was similarly sound, being randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled. The volunteers were randomly split into two groups, only one of which received a daily 5 minute session of TT for a total of 16 days. Each participant was isolated in an empty room and passed their arm through a sleeved hole into an adjoining room. The experimental group received non-contact TT, whereas the controls received nothing. Neither the participants, the physician who performed the biopsies, nor the technician who measured the wounds were aware that the study involved TT. All thought that the bio-electric properties of healing were being monitored, thus ensuring that suggestion and placebo effects were nil. The size of the wound was measured on the day of the biopsy, and again on days 8 and 16. Day one was identical for all. Day 8 showed an average wound size ten times smaller in the TT group than in the controls, and by day 16 almost half the wounds of the TT group had completely healed, whereas none had in the controls. Average size of the treated wounds was then 0.418 mm2 compared with 5.855 mm2. This showed that TT significantly assists wound healing.
A pilot study by Hartwell and Brewitt (1997) explored an ingenious method to investigate the effects of Reiki. A small group of chronically ill patients were given eleven, weekly, one-hour Reiki sessions, during which period no other new allopathic or complementary treatments were received. The electrical skin resistance of each patient was measured at a large number of conductance points on the hands and feet, using a Life Information System TEN (LISTEN) device. All patients were measured three times: before the first session, and after sessions 3 and 11. Three test points showed highly significant differences before and after Reiki. These acupuncture / meridian points correlate with the spleen, adrenal glands, and cervical, thoracic region of the spine. Together they might be termed representative of the neuroendocrine-immune system. The greatest change was seen in the spinal readings which started on average 25% below normal and gradually improved to within the optimal range. Following Reiki all patients experienced a reduction in pain, and an increase in relaxation and mobility. Schlitz & Braud (1985) used biofeedback devices to measure the galvanic skin response (GSR) of people receiving distant Reiki. Stress is measured as skin resistance. There was a greater effect with subjects who had a high GSR and were stressed.
In 1997, Dr Olson, coordinator of Nursing Research, and Dr Hanson, research scientist at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, USA conducted some preliminary research into the usefulness of Reiki as an adjuvant to opioid therapy in the management of pain. Since high doses of opioids frequently aggravate other common symptoms of cancer patients, they wished to explore nonpharmaceutical adjuvants that might allow control of cancer pain with lower dosed of opioids. Patient perception of pain was measured using two standard tests immediately before and after the Reiki treatment. Both tests showed a highly significant reduction in pain following Reiki, and a further, more extensive study is now underway.
Samarel (1992) conducted a thorough investigation into the patient’s experience of receiving Therapeutic Touch, using a qualitative approach with one open-ended interview followed by a second to clarify details. It was felt that this would best reveal the multidimensional nature of the therapy and its simultaneous impact on the physiological, mental/emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Patients recalled focusing on unmet needs in all three areas prior to treatment, in particular physical discomfort. During the course of TT, there was a change in focus from negative to positive experiences, and from physical dimensions to more mental/emotional ones, especially relationships and roles. Finally, following treatment, experiences emphasised the spiritual dimension, referring to such things as spiritual love and faith. A typical example is, “It seemed as if the pain was the most important reason I sought TT. But now it’s not the pain that’s important. I mean I have less pain, but what’s really important is how I feel as a whole person.” Samarel summarised the results in the following way: “The lived experience of TT is a dynamic, multidimensional experience of developing awareness and personal change leading to resonating fulfilment.”
Leading-edge Research in China
Over the last ten years, ‘qi’ or ‘ki’ energy has been studied at leading universities and scientific institutions in China. Quantum physicist Dr Yan Xin has spearheaded the research. Not unexpectedly, it seems that the physiological changes that occur during the ‘ki state’ mirror those of regular meditation, as do the health benefits. Of note is the use of ki energy for pain control through its potential to produce enkephalin in the brain and intestinal walls, and excite the body’s morphine receptors to accept the enkephalin easily.
Experiments using ‘external qi emissions’, similar to sending distant Reiki, have been shown to affect the molecular properties of RNA and DNA, and various biochemical processes. This has led to an innovative collaboration between science and the pharmaceutical industry, in which ki is used to improve the production of antibiotics. In 1990, final formal certification of the process concluded that
1) ki methods can improve the properties of certain antibiotic bacteria, optimizing the selection process;
2) through the methods of mass production ki can save large amounts of raw material;
3) ki can shorten the production period;
4) the efficacy of medicines are improved using ki; and
5) ki can increase production yields.
No harmful effects of any kind were found to occur to humans or the environment using these methods.
In summary of the Chinese research, Dr Yan Xin concludes that ki is known to have properties of matter, energy and information. At the same time, according to different purposes of the experiments, ki can also display different attributes, such as being bi-directional, distance-transcending, self-controllable, reversible and targeting. He comments, “Currently, due to the difficulty in monitoring and investigating qi phenomena, qi-related research is still superficial and limited in scope. At best we can measure only a tiny fraction, or an extremely small portion of the qi phenomena. The major portion of the qi phenomena remains to be investigated.” “Qi needs science to resurrect itself, and through the process of resurrection and renewal, qi will enable science to make a great leap forward.”
End of Part 2. Back to Part 1.
References (for both parts 1 and 2)
Becker, Robert O. ‘The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life’, Pub: William Morrow & Co. Inc. 1985
Bunnell T., ‘A tentative mechanism for healing’, Positive Health, Nov/Dec 1997.
Cade M. & Coxhead N., ‘The Awakened Mind;Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness’, pub: Element Books, 1996 (reprint).
Davies P, & Gribben J., ‘The Matter Myth’, Pub: Penguin, (1991).
Hartwell B. & Brewitt B., ‘The efficacy of Reiki hands-on healing: improvements in adrenal, spleen and nervous function as quantified by electro-dermal screening’, Alternative Therapies, July 1997, Vol 3, 4.
Oschman J, & Oschman N., ‘Energy Review (parts 1,2,3,4,5)’, Jnl of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Vol 1, issues 1,2,3, Churchill Livingstone (1996/7).
Olson K. & Hanson J., ‘Using Reiki to manage pain, a preliminary report’, Prevention & controle en cancerologie, 1 (2) , 1997.
Samarel N., ‘The experience of receiving therapeutic Touch’, Jnl of Advanced Nursing 17, (1992).
Seto A. et al., ‘Detection of extraordinarily large bio-magnetic field strength from human during external Qi emission’, Acupuncture and Electro-therapeutics Int. Jnl. Vol 17. 1992.
Schlitz M. & Braud W., ‘Reiki Plus natural healing: an ethnographic / experimental study’, Psi Research, 4, (1985).
‘Scientific Research on Transcendental Meditation, Part 1, Jan 1998’. British Association for the Medical Application of TM.
Wirth D. et al. ‘The effect of complementary healing therapy on postoperative pain after surgical removal of impacted third molar teeth’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 1, (1993).
‘Dr Yan Xin on Scientific Qigong Research’, International Yan Xin Qigong Assoc., (1999).
Yan Xin, ‘Exploring the Mechanisms of Qigong Healing’, 1999 Yan Xin Qigong Assoc.
‘Structure and property changes in certain materials influenced by the external qi of qigong.’ Material Research Innovations, 2, 349-359 (1999).
‘The effect of short and long term qi emissions on three biochemical processes: nucleotide polymerization, protein (Fab fragment) crystallization, and enzyme (Phosphatidylinositol-3 Kinase) activity.’ Materials Research Innovations, 2 (1999).
‘Observation of the effect of external qi on the ultraviolet absorption of nucleic acids.’ Ziran Zazhi (The Nature Journal, in Chinese), 11 (1988).
‘Observation on the bromination in solution of n-hexane and bromine under the influence of external qi.’ Ziran Zazhi (The Nature Journal, in Chinese), 11 (1988).
Zimmerman J., ‘New technologies detect effects of healing hands’, Brain/Mind Bulletin, Vol 10, No 16. Sept 30, 1985.
Zimmerman J, ‘The laying-on of hands, healing and therapeutic touch: a testable theory BEMI currents’, Journal of the Bio-Electromagnetics Institute. Vol 2, 1990.
* About Therapeutic Touch (TT)
Therapeutic Touch (TT) is a form of laying-on hands ‘energy’ therapy specifically adapted by Krieger and Kunz for use by nurses in a medical setting. Like Reiki it is not practised within a religious context, and requires no faith or belief by either practitioner or patient. TT has been taught, researched and widely practised by nurses in US since the mid-1970s, and is now endorsed by the National League for Nurses. It has a growing interest in the UK, and is taught and researched by the Didsbury Trust in nursing schools, post-basic education departments, and nursing development units. Sayre-Adams, Senior Tutor at the Trust says of TT: “Nurses are drawn to it because it is safe, uses only the hands, and allows practitioners to capture the essence of nursing, an essence many believe has become lost amid high technology medical care. Managers are drawn to it because of the possibility of cutting costs… It is of greatest value in degenerative disease in that pain and anxiety can be reduced. It is also found to be of great comfort in the dying process.”
First uploaded to this website 5 Feb 2015, and updated 29 March 2015. © Tamisha Sabrina, March 2000.
I originally saw this article on 18 Nov 2003 on UK Reiki Federation website reikifed.co.uk. I contacted the federation in 2015 and they contacted Tamisha and obtained permission from her to re-publish this article here. Permission obtained on 5 Feb 2015. The federation also emailed me this article in word document. Minor style amends were needed to format the article to the web. There is a shorter version of this article circulated over the web, but here you can read the complete article in full. Do not copy or publish this article without written permission. Thank you. – Gil Dekel.