Reiki Healing Research

There are more than 400 clinical studies showing the beneficial effects of Reiki and other energy-healing therpapies; the small selection of research abstracts shown below give some indication of the range of proven therapeutic benefits of Reiki and similar therapies.  I have divided the research abstracts into 3 sections; the first section shows 8 research studies carried out on plants, animals, cultures, etc. and completely removes any suggestion of placebo; the last section shows 4 bits of research that do not demonstrate any healing effect but do show that healers - whilst healing - are surrounded by Energy Fields that are far in excess of the norm; the middle section is research carried out on humans.  The majority of these studies were obtained from MEDLINE – a vast medical database – or from the book "Spiritual Healing" by Dr Daniel Benor.




Research Abstracts

2008, Jhaveri A, Walsh SJ, Wang Y, McCarthy M, Gronowicz G; Therapeutic touch affects DNA synthesis and mineralization of human osteoblasts in culture;    J Orthop Res. 2008 Nov;26(11):1541-6. doi: 10.1002/jor.20688

This study, led by Professor Grnowicz (an orthopaedic surgeon) involved healers, students and cell cultures. Bone, tendon and skin cell cultures were divided into three groups; one group was treated by trained healers for 10 minutes twice a week, the second group was treated by untrained students who were told to hold their hands over the cultures for 10 minutes twice a week, the third group were left in their stands, untouched. After treatment, all cultures were returned to an incubator and later examined by scientists who did not know which group each culture had been in. This was repeated with different healers, different students and different cultures for 3 years.
The results showed that cells treated by trained Healers grew faster and stronger than those receiving sham healing or none at all; Gronowicz tested the cells using several different markers and found that treated cells grew at double the rate of untreated cells and that they absorbed more calcium (the essential mineral for strong bones). Gronowicz also tested cancerous cells, noting that the healers did not know whether they were dealing with healthy or cancerous cells, and found that healing did not make the cancer cells grow.
This study is one of the most convincing proofs of the efficacy of 'healing' since thousands of tests were carried out; the placebo effect was ruled out by using cultures; the researcher's competence was beyond question and, most importantly, the researcher was a sceptic — she had to be coaxed into doing something she didn't believe in by a colleague.

2006, Rubik et al; In Vitro Effect of Reiki Treatment on Bacterial Cultures: Role of Experimental Context and Practitioner Well-Being;    Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 12, No 1 : pages 7-13

In this study, 14 Reiki Practitioners completed 5 sessions on bacterial cultures; each session lasting up to 15 minutes.  Three of the sessions were done just on the cultures; two of the sessions were done after the Practitioners had first given Reiki to a pain patient for 30 minutes.  No overall difference between the control cultures and Reiki-treated cultures was noticeable when the Practitioners were just doing the cultures.  However, when the Practitioner was healing the cultures after first giving healing to a pain patient there was a significant increase in bacteria in the Reiki-treated cultures compared to the control cultures.  The study concluded that Reiki improved growth of bacterial cultures, when Practitioner first treated a patient.

1986, Rein G; A psychokinetic effect of neurotransmitter metabolism: Alterations in the degradative enzyme monoamine oxidase.    In Research in Parapsychology, 1985 (Debra H. Weiner & D. Radin. eds.). pp. 77-80. Scarecrow; Metuchen, NJ.

In a research study conducted by Glenn Rein, a Healer "Matthew Manning" gave healing to preparations of 'monoamine oxidase' (MAO); a human enzyme.   Healing Treatments last 5 minutes and the enzyme levels in the samples were measured before and after treatment; these were compared with untreated controls.   In nine of the trials, enzyme activity in the samples increased, in seven trials it decreased and remained unchanged in two of the trials. The combined results gave a significance of p<0.001 (i.e. the probability that the results were due to pure chance were less than 1 in a thousand).

1983, Patrovsky; Proceedings of the 5th International conference on Psychotronic Research, Bratislava    : pages 88-95

Another study showed that 'healed' water becomes polarized and polarized water is known to stimulate plant growth.

1979, Braud, W., Davis, G., & Wood; "Experiments with Matthew Manning"    Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 50, 199-223

Stressed human blood cells (erythrocytes) are sensitive to the osmotic pressure of the solution in which they are suspended; when this pressure is reduced significantly below that of blood plasma, they swell and rupture.    In this research study, the Healer "Matthew Manning" was attempting to reduce the rate of cell breakdown when the cells were suspended in a hypotonic salt solution.   The experiments consisted of a three series of 10 runs each with each run having 10 samples; five samples in each run were the controls and the Healer sought to prevent or reduce the rate of cell breakdown in the other five.   Nine of the runs were done with the Healer in close proximity to the samples; one of the runs involved the Healer being in another room.   Overall, the results were very positive (p<0.001) with the most significant results occuring in the distant room samples.

1977, Miller; Methods of detecting and measuring healing energies    Future Science (published by Anchor Doubleday)

In a study that took place almost 40 years ago, a healer treated containers of copper salt solutions as if she were undertaking a healing.  The crystals obtained from these solutions were coarser than crystals obtained from solutions treated exactly the same minus the healing.  Further measurements showed changes consistent with an alteration in the hydrogen bonds of the 'healed' water.

1973; Haraldsson E. & Thorsteinsson T; "Psychokinetic effects on yeast: An exploratory experiment"    In Research in Parapsychology 1972 (W. C. Roll, R. L. Morris & J. D. Morris, eds.). pp. 20-21. Scarecrow Press; Metuchen, NJ.

In this study, the researchers used yeast cultures and asked three Healers and four non-Healers to attempt to increase the growth of yeast cultures, in tubes, from close by but not touching.   In each session, each subject worked with ten tubes and there were the same number of controls; in 12 sessions, a totla of 240 tubes were run both experimental and control. The results showed a non-significant result for the non-Healers but a high significant positive result for the Healers — p=0.00014 (i.e. the probability of the results being due to pure chance was less than 2 in 10,000).

1965, Grad, Bernard; Some biological effects of the 'laying-on of hands': a review of experments with animals and plants   Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 1965

Bernard Grad anaesthetized 48 mice and create similar sized wounds on their backs by removing a piece of skin that was approximately 0.5 by 0.5 inches.  He then divided the mice into three groups of 16.  The first group received healing for 15 minutes, twice daily, from the hungarian healer 'Estebany', the second group was an untreated control, and the third group was also an untreate control but had their cages heated to control for the possibility that heat from Estabany's hands might induce faster wound healing.  The Lab workers were unaware of which group they were handling.  After 14 days, the wounds of the treated group had healed more rapidly than those of either of the control groups (highly significant: p<0.001) and the rate of wound healing of the control groups did not differ from each other. Note: the p<0.001 statement indicates that the probability of the results being due to chance or accident is less than 1 in a 1,000.



2004, Mackay, Hansen, McFarlane; Autonomic Nervous-System-Changes During Reiki Treatment: A Preliminary Study;   J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Dec;10(6):1077-81

This study involved 45 healthy people divided into 3 groups of 15; one group received Reiki and rest, the second group received sham Reiki and rest and the third group received only rest.  The sham Reiki was given in exactly the same way as those receiving genuine Reiki except that those giving it had not received any Reiki training.  The study recorded heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, skin temperature and respiration rate at regular intervals.  The results showed a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure and heart rate in the Reiki group that did not occur in the sham Reiki group or the control group thus tending to indicate that Reiki had an important effect that was not caused by suggestion.

1999, Alandydy; Using Reiki to Support Surgical Patients;   Journal of Nursing Care Quality , 1999 Apr;13(4): pp. 89-91.

Surgical patients at a hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire are given the option of a 15 minutes pre- and post-surgery Reiki treatment.  In 1998, 870 patients participated with the result that there was less use of pain medication, shorter stays in hospital and increased patient satisfaction.

1998, Motz, Julie; "Hands of Life". New York; Bantam Books, 1998

The New York Times reported that, in a study carried out at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, none of the 11 heart patients treated with Reiki by Reiki Master, Julie Motz, experienced the usual post-operative depression; the bypass patients had no post-operative pain or leg weakness; and none of the transplant patients experienced organ rejection.

1998, Dixon, M; Does 'healing' benefit patients with chronic symptoms? A quasi-randomized trial in general practice;    J R Soc Med 1998 Apr; vol 91(4) : pages 183-188

This study looked at the effects of 'healing' on chronically ill patients in a large practice.  For the study, 57 patients were alternately allocated to receive ten weekly healing sessions or to be controls.  Two weeks after healing was completed, 22 of the 27 healed patients reported that their symptoms had improved and 15 of them reported that there had been a substantial improvement.  Healed patients scored better than controls on anxiety and depression ratings and these differences were still evident 3 months later.  The report concluded "that healing may be an effective adjunct for the treatment of chronically ill patients presenting in general practice".

1997, Brewitt, Vittetoe, Hartwell; The Efficacy of Reiki Hands-On Healing: Improvements in spleen and nervous system function as quantified by electrodermal screening;   Alternative Therapies , July 1997, Vol.3, No.4, pg.89

Patients suffering from MS, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Thyroid Goiter and receiving Reiki were observed to have increased pain reduction, more mobility and were more relaxed.

1997,Olson K, Hanson J; Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report;   Cancer Prev Control 1997 Jun;1(2):108-13; Cross Cancer Institute , Edmonton, Alberta

The purpose of this study was to explore effectiveness of Reiki as an adjunct to opiates in pain management.  Twenty volunteers experiencing pain for a variety of reasons, including cancer, were involved.  Treatment was carried out by a Reiki Practitioner (Reiki 2) and the results showed a highly significant reduction in pain following Reiki treatment.

1997, Bullock M; Reiki: a complementary therapy for life;   Am J Hosp Palliat Care 1997 Jan-Feb;14(1):31-3; Hospice of the Valley , Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Tom was receiving palliative treatment for an aggressive cancer and was expected to not live very long. Reiki enabled him to have freedom from immobilising pain and swelling and his quality of life improved dramatically.  Reiki is a valuable complement in supporting patients in their end-of-life journey, enhancing the quality of their remaining days.

1997, Peck; Therapeutic Touch & Progressive Muscle Relaxation used to Reduce Pain in Elders With Degenerative Arthritis;    Journal of Holistic Nursing, Vol. 15, No 2 : pages 176-198

In a 10-week trial comparing the effectiveness of Therapeutic Touch (TT) with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) in elders with degenerative arthritis researcher Susan Eckes Peck, Ph.D. found that both TT and PMR significantly reduced baseline levels of pain and distress.  40 subjects received TT treatments and 37 received PMR treatments. The reduction was nearly equal with PMR showing slightly more pain and distress reduction than TT.  While this study did not compare TT or PMR to a control ("placebo") group, a number of studies have already shown that PMR is effective in reducing pain and distress in arthritis sufferers.  Therefore, this study shows that TT treatment is nearly as effective as PMR treatments.  The author points out that both TT and PMR can be used in "practice settings for chronic conditions requiring multiple treatments."  PMR can be taught to some patients so that they can practice on their own.  However, for patients not able to practice PMR on their own or who have difficulty following through with self-guided PMR, TT treatments by a practitioner can be helpful.  One must keep in mind that this study focused on TT and PMR only and did not consider the benefits of concurrent changes in diet, lifestyle, or concurrent holistic treatment programs.  Such a holistic healing programs can be quite helpful in curing arthritic conditions.

1996, Garrard; The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Stress Reduction and Immune Function in Persons with AIDS;    University of Alabama (Doctoral Dissertation)

In this study, twenty men suffering from AIDS were randomly assigned to Healing or Mock Healing. During the healing sessions they all wore sleep masks and headphones so that they would not be aware of the presence of the healer. Those assigned to healing received 20 minutes healing from the healer; in the case of those assigned to mock-healing the healer entered and stayed in the room for 20 minutes but did not give healing. Healing effects were tested by giving all twenty men a stress test before treatment and nine weeks after treatment; Immune system effects were tested by taking white blood cell counts, of a type known to be deficient in those with AIDS, before treatment and then at three, six and nine weeks after treatment. By the end of nine weeks there were significant difference between the two groups with the healed group showing significant increases in white blood cell counts and on stress reduction.

1996, Benor, DJ; Spiritual healing for infertility, pregnancy, labour and delivery   Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery, 1996, Vol 2(4) : pages 106-109

Spiritual healing has been reported anecdotally to be of benefit for most of the ills of mankind.  Research in the past few decades amply confirms this assertion.  This paper discusses the applications of healing for infertility, pregnancy, labour and delivery.  Though healers in the UK are forbidden by law to give healing around the time of birth without the supervision of a midwife or other medical personnel healers are increasingly working alongside conventional carers in doctors' surgeries and hospitals.  There is a definite place for healers to participate in bringing life into the world.  Healers and grateful parents report that labour and delivery are eased when healing is given and that babies born after receiving healing seem more alert and 'connected' to those around them.

1995, Brown, CK; Spiritual Healing in a General Practice:Using a Quality-of-life Questionnaire to Measure Outcome    Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Vol 3 : pages 230-233

In this study, 35 patients with chronic health problems were invited to attend healing sessions with two healers at the surgery.  33 of the 35 patients completed the healing sessions.  11 of the patients had suffered from anxiety/stress for an average of 12 years; 6 of the patients had been suffering from depression for an average of 6 years; and the remainder were suffering from physical problems.  Initially, the mean mental health score of the group was 49.6 (average for general population = 73.7) and they scored considerably lower than the general population on emotional and social functioning as well.  At the end of the trial, the mean mental health score of the group had risen to 63.5 with comparable improvements in emotional and social functioning.  23 of the patients elected to continue with healing and a follow-up questionnaire was sent to them after 6 months.  Nineteen patients answered and the results showed that the improvements in mental health had been maintained.

1994, Sundblom et al; Effect of spiritual healing on chronic idiopathic pain: a medical and psychological study   Clin J Pain, 1994 Dec, Vol 10(4) : pages 296-302

Twenty-four patients suffering from chronic pain were allocated randomly to receive Spiritual Healing or no treatment.  Patients were evaluated at the beginning of treatment, 2 weeks after the completion of treatment and a year after the completion of treatment using: Medical Interview (Visual Analog Scale and Pain Clinic Investigation Formula); IASP Data Base Outline; psychological interview (Hopkin's Symptom Checklist, Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire, Beck's Depression Inventory, Coping Strategy Questionnaire, Health Locus of Control Scale).  The results showed a reduction in drug intake and an improvement in sleep patterns among those who had received healing; there was also a decrease in the feeling of hopelessness and half of the treated patients felt that healing had given them some relief.  The study concluded that healing appeared harmless and was subjectively helpful to some patients suffering from chronic pain.

1993; Wirth, D. P., Brenlan, D. R., Levine, R. J. & Rodriguez, C. M.; The effect of complementary healing therapy on postoperative pain after surgical removal of impacted third molar teeth.    Compl. Therap. Med., 1. 133-138.

Double-blind, crossover study on the effect of healing on post-operative pain, following surgical removal of both impacted lower molar teeth. Twenty one patients were randomly assigned to control or treatment groups before the first tooth was removed; and before the second operation the groups were transposed from control to experimental and vice versa.  All conditions for both groups were the same except that the experimental groups received Reiki and LeShan healing post-operatively.  Healing was undertaken at a distance of several miles from the patients with the healers concentrating on individual patients' photographs.  Patients measured their pain intensity and pain relief over a period from 3 to 9 hours after operation using specialised pain assessment techniques. Results showed a statistically significant difference between treatment and control groups — p<0.0001 (i.e. the probability that the results were due to pure chance were less than 1 in ten thousand).

1990, Wirth    Research in Parapsychology : pages 47-52

This study involved a group of people having identical cuts made on their skin.  The group was then divided into two sub-groups; one of which received healing and the other did not.  The healer never met the subjects (he just focussed on one of the sub-groups) and the subjects were never told which sub-group they belonged to (i.e whether they were being healed or not).  The cuts were examined after 8 days and after 16 days and, on both occassions, the cuts on the skins of the group receiving healing were smaller than those on the group not receiving healing.

1990, Benor, D; Survey of Spiritual Healing Research    Complementary Medical Research, Vol 4 (3), September 1990 : pages 9-33

This was a review of 8 Healing research studies.  Benor concluded that healing was a major contributor in breaking the vicious circles of anxiety,muscle tension, spasm, pain, anxiety, etc.

1989, Wetzel, Wendy S; Reiki healing: a physiological perspective;    Journal of Holistic Nursing 1989, Vol 7(1) : pages 47-54

This was a replication of Kreiger's study using Reiki. Again, significant increases in haemoglobin levels in the healed group, as opposed to the control group, were demonstrated.

1989, Cohen, J;    The Practitioner, Vol 233, August 1989 : pages 1056-1057

In this study, 44 patients were referred to a healing group and data collected over 20 weeks on those who attended.  The results showed that 35 patients felt better for attending.

1975, Krieger; Therapeutic Touch: the imprimatur of nursing;    American Journal of Nursing 1975, Vol 7 : pages 784-787

In this series of 4 experiments, Krieger studied the effects of healing on haemoglobin levels in humans. For the first 3 experiments, healing was carried out by a well-known Hungarian healer, Oscar Estebany. In the last experiment, she used 32 nurses who had been trained as healers. All four experiments showed significant increases in haemoglobin levels in healed groups as opposed to the control groups.

Hodsdon, Mendenhall, Green, Kates-Chinnoy, Wacker, Zwickey; The Effect of Reiki on the Immune System. Helfgott Research Institute at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland , Oregon , USA

This study measured the effect of Reiki on white blood cell counts of volunteers whe were randomised into three groups; one group received Reiki, one group received relaxation and the third group received neither.  Blood was taken from the volunteers immediately prior to treatment, immediately after treatment and four hours after treatment.  The study showed that Reiki increased the number of white blood cells thus proving that Reiki improves the immune system.  There was no such effect in the other two groups.



In the eighties, the medical researcher Cohen tested the electrical potential of healers' hands during healing and found that the potential could surge to 221 volts; the norm for non-healers is about 4 volts.

 

1992,Seto, A, Kusaka, C, Nakazato, S et al;Detection of extraordinary large bio-magnetic field strength from human hand   Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research International Journal. ;17:7594

Dr Seto used a very sensitive Magnetic Field Detection system with a high sensitivity amplifier to measure the field emanating from peoples' hands. He detected a very strong bio-magnetic field of between 2 and 4 mGauss from healers' hands; this is about 1,000 times stronger than the field that the body is normally capable of producing. Further tests showed that there was no electric current associated with these readings. Seto concluded that the extraordinary large fields emanating from healers' hands could not possibly be produced by the body and listed the source as 'unknown'.

Again, in the eighties, Dr John Zimmerman of the University of Colorado carried out tests on the magnetic field surround the hands of healers during healing.  He used a SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) for his experiments and discovered that Electromagnetic Fields several hundred times stronger than the background noise are created around the hands of healers during healing — he also discovered that non-healers do not have these massive Fields.

 

In the seventies, the physicist Dr Robert Beck measured the brain-wave patterns of a large variety of different types of healers including Spiritual and Reiki healers, Psychics, Shamans, Wicca practitioners and a host of others; these healers were from all over the world and from a variety of belief systems.  Regardless of type, belief system or origin, Beck found that they all had similar brain-wave frequencies when healing and they averaged out at about 8 hertz; the alpha frequency range of the brain; he also found that for a few moments at a time, the healers brain waves became synchronised with the Earth's Electromagnetic Field (the Schumann Resonance) — basically, the healers' brain waves were beating in time with the Earth's pulse.

 

These are only a small selection of the studies that have been carried out on the various Healing disciplines (e.g. Reiki, Spiritual Healing, Therapeutic Touch, etc.).  I tend to favour non-human studies, so that placebo can be discounted, but unfortunately, there are less of these studies.