Over the last few decades we’ve seen the rise of alternative medicine. As we become frustrated with allopathic choices, more and more of us are looking for another way. And some of those ways are going to challenge us. I take supplements, do biofeedback for migraine, meditation for stress, and see an integrative physician. And recently I had a Reiki session.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Reiki, it is a form of energy medicine grounded in a spiritual practice in which universal energy (ki) is transferred through the palms to promote balance and healing. The original system was developed by Mikao Usui in 1922 and has been adapted over the years by subsequent teachers.
The scientific effectiveness of Reiki has yet to be established as most of the limited studies have been either flawed or inconclusive. I did find a fascinating study of Reiki healers and their ability to influence the growth of E. coli bacteria however. University of Arizona researcher Gary Schwartz (PhD) and Beverly Rubik, a biophysicist, conducted this study at a NIH funded center. The work is detailed in The Energy Healing Experiments.
Fourteen Reiki healers would each come in on three separate days and work with a set of E. coli filled test tubes. After completing a standardized form which asked about their well-being, the healer performed a Reiki treatment on a box of test tubes. In another part of the laboratory, a control group of test tubes was placed without the knowledge of the healers. These tubes received no treatment. There were 42 boxes of Reiki treated test tubes and 42 boxes of untreated test tubes.
All of the test tubes were heated to slow the growth of the bacteria to 50 percent of the normal growth rate. If a Reiki practitioner was successful, one would expect more surviving cells in the test tubes which received Reiki than those tubes which had not received the treatment.
So what happened? Shockingly, Schwartz and Rubik found that the untreated Reiki control samples fared better than about half the samples given the healing. How was that possible? After several days of head shaking, Schwartz wondered about the emotional state of the healer. Could that have been a player?
Luckily the researchers had gathered that data and were able to take another look. In cases where the Reiki healer reported feeling physically and emotionally healthy, there was a positive correlation between giving a healing and cell growth. However, when the practitioner reported being stressed or unwell, those samples tended to be negatively impacted.
Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done in this area. But the point really is to know that Reiki (and other methods like it, including Quantum Touch) is on the horizon and offers the possibility of healing. It wasn’t that long ago that most Americans regarded chiropractors as dubious and now they’re mainstream health care providers. Some of these new energy modalities are likely to do the same.
The Energy Healing Experiments- Gary E. Schwartz, PhD
Soul Medicine- Norman Shealy, MD and Dawson Church
Energy Medicine: Balancing Your Body’s Energies- Donna Eden
The Magick of Reiki-Christopher Penczak