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A Spotlight on Reiki Healing

by Richard Eaton(more info)

listed in reiki, originally published in issue 257 - September 2019


Editor’s Introductory Note

This review of the published research literature and organizations regarding Reiki is Richard’s last article written for Positive Health PH Online prior to his untimely and far too early death – aged 65 - in June 2019. His Tribute Obituary was published in Issue 256.


Reiki symbol violet

The top Kanji stands for Rei and the lower one for Ki

The purpose of this article is to raise awareness about Reiki and to provide links to research papers and relevant organisations. I hope it will be of interest to students and practitioners (complementary and orthodox) of Reiki and to patients receiving Reiki.

In my previous article Cancer and Complementary Medicine: A Roundup (published in PH Online issue 252: February 2019), I cited the article Shining Example by Jane Sheehan MFHT who established a complementary therapy service within the NHS that was fully integrated into a multidisciplinary team that provided care for patients in a palliative care setting.

In her article, the author writes:

“…A complementary therapy policy was developed to formalise its delivery. It ensures a consistent approach to provide safe and effective complementary therapy for anyone using it with this client group and is based on the National Institute and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health national guidelines…”

The NICE guidelines to which Jane Sheehan refers are those dated 2004 on improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer. The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health National Guidelines for the Use of Complementary Therapies in Supportive and Palliative Care (May 2003) may be accessed on the SCRIBD subscription website.[1]

I’m grateful to Jane Sheehan and to the Editor of International Therapist Magazine,[2] Karen Young, for permitting me to share the article Shining Example[3] with readers.

Jane was Therapist of the Year at the 2018 Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) Excellence Awards:[4]

“…for developing a new delivery model for a complementary therapy service within an NHS palliative care unit”

In my previous article, I also referred to the following press release[5] issued by The Professional Standards Authority on the 12th March 2015 (Note: bolding of text has been added by me):

“…Having confidence in Accredited Registers covering health sciences, talking therapies, physical therapies and a range of complementary therapies means that we no longer have to depend solely on doctors and nurses but can create broader multidisciplinary teams. We must invest in prevention and wellbeing to deliver healthcare for the 21st century, and that means taking a wider view of the health and care workforce.”

My PH Online article titled The UK National Health Services should Engage with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (issue 248, August 2018), includes a reference to the book The NHS Healer: Onwards and Upwards[6] (Amazon paperback: 26thOctober 2017[54]; Vanguard Press ISBN 978 1 784653 11 8) authored by Angie Buxton-King, Director of the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust (SBHT)[7] a charity which donates funds to NHS cancer centres and hospices enabling the employment of practitioners of Reiki and Healing who are often then taken on by the NHS. The charity was overall winner at the Complementary Therapy Awards 2018.[8]

Angie was employed as a Healer by University College London Hospital (UCLH) from 1999 to 2011. Her book, mentioned above, was given this excellent endorsement by the Senior Divisional Nurse, Clinical Haematology UCLH:

“…Seeing doctors ask for a healer to help support a patient through a medical procedure was not unusual and at the time represented a quiet but important evolution in cancer care. Over the subsequent decade, the supportive and clinical benefits that healing provides has provided the evidence and assurance for healing to be delivered alongside conventional treatments on a wider scale. The further expansion of well governed healing into 13 other centres via the SBSHT is further tangible evidence of the role healing is playing in the integrated care of patients.”

At the Complementary Therapy Awards 2018, the Award for Cancer Care went to Angie in recognition of her work providing healing in hospitals and hospices.

On 13th August 2018, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council[9] (CNHC) published a blog titled Healing in the NHS written by Shuna Watkinson, a CNHC registered healing practitioner who is the Complementary Therapy Coordinator at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust which “covers 3 hospitals–one large general hospital in Stevenage and 2 smaller hospitals which are mainly for outpatients and diagnostics”. Shauna is funded by the Respiratory and Endoscopy Departments at the Trust.

As the above publications and awards indicate, healing, including Reiki which is a type of energy healing, is practised in a number of NHS hospitals as well as in health clinics.

In 2003 the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)[10] produced the, now obsolete, guidelines for its members titled Complementary therapies in nursing, midwifery and health visiting practice: RCN guidance on integrating complementary therapies into clinical care (Publication code 002 204: October 2003) consisting of 13, A4 size pages. Among other things, these guidelines observed with regard to Reiki (at page 3, in the paragraph headed The need for integration strategies):

“…The most recent annual survey of RCN Complementary Therapy Nursing Forum Members (RCN, 2003a) shows that the use of Reiki healing by nurses has gained in popularity…”

For more information about the 2003 RCN guidelines, refer to my August 2018 article (Issue 248: see above).

Since then, some 16 years later, Reiki healing continues to be established especially when used to relieve the symptoms and the side-effects of treatments prescribed for cancer by a consultant or oncologist.

The highly respected charity Cancer Research UK[11] defines Reiki on its website as follows:[12]

“…Reiki is a hands-on type of healing used as a complementary therapy.

Reiki is a Japanese healing art that was developed by Dr Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. It is pronounced ray-key. You may also hear it called:”

  • Reiki healing
  • Usui system of Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch

“The Japanese word Reiki means universal energy. Eastern medicine systems work with this energy, which flows through all living things and is vital to wellbeing. The energy is known as 'Ki' in Japan, 'Chi' in China and 'prana' in India. Reiki isn't part of any type of religion or belief system. It is best described as a hands-on healing used as a complementary therapy.

A Reiki practitioner aims to change and balance the energy fields in and around your body to help on a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual level…”

Some research papers that are inconclusive about the effectiveness of Reiki but many of the following extracts clearly demonstrate a contribution to patient health. To read more, click on the italicised hyperlinks in the text below or paste into your browser the source information provided at the end of this article.

It is interesting to note how frequently the Nursing sector, the leading primary care profession, is mentioned in these papers.

Research Papers: Extracts

Effects of Reiki on pain, anxiety, and blood pressure in patients undergoing knee replacement: a Pilot Study .[13]

“…This blinded, controlled pilot study investigated the effects of Reiki on 46 patients undergoing knee replacement surgery. Of the 3 groups, Reiki, Sham Reiki, and Standard of Care, only the Reiki group showed significant reductions in pain, blood pressure, respiration rate, and state anxiety, which provides evidence for a full-scale clinical study…”;


The increasing use of Reiki as a complementary therapy in specialist palliative care.[14] “…Reiki is a more recent addition to the range of CTs [complementary therapies] available to cancer patients. As an energy-healing intervention it has gained in popularity as a non-invasive and non-pharmacological approach. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the profound relaxation effect has a positive impact on alleviating anxiety, stress, perception of pain and promotes a feeling of wellbeing particularly relating to the nature of psychospiritual wellbeing…This article will consider the position of reiki as an emerging CT within SPC…”;


Use of complementary therapies in hospice and palliative care.[15]

“…patients were evaluated for changes in symptoms such as pain reduction, ease in breathing, stress/anxiety reduction, and increased relaxation, with the results being predominantly beneficial…”;


The effects of Yoga, Massage, and Reiki on patient well-being at a Cancer Resource Center[16]

“…Reiki reduced the pain of patients with cancer to a greater extent than either massage or yoga…”;


An exploratory study of Reiki experiences in women who have cancer.[17]

“…Key themes identified were: limited understanding of reiki prior to receiving any reiki; release of emotional strain during reiki-feelings of a release of energy, a clearing of the mind from cancer, inner peace/relaxation, hope, a sense of being cared for; experience of physical sensations during reiki, such as pain relief and tingling; physical, emotional and cognitive improvements after reiki, such as improved sleep, a sense of calm and peace, reduced depression and improved self-confidence…”;


Reiki for cancer patients undergoing Chemotherapy in a Brazilian Hospital: A pilot study.[18]

“…The Reiki practice delivered as part of the integrative care in oncology did produce clinically significant effects, although not statistically significant results, for more than half of the patients undergoing cancer treatment…”;


Reiki’s effect on patients with total knee arthroplasty: A pilot study.[19]

“…As a result of positive feedback and decreased pain ratings following Reiki sessions, a Reiki program has been established at the hospital. Ten nurses became trained and certified in Reiki…”;


Effects of Distant Reiki on pain, anxiety and fatigue in Oncology patients in Turkey: A Pilot study.[20]

“…The control group demonstrated greater levels of pain (p=0.002), stress (p=0.001) and fatigue (p=0.001). The Reiki group pain score (p<0.0001), stress score (p<0.001) and fatigue score were also significantly lower…”;


Effect of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in adults: an in-depth literature review of randomised trials with effect size calculations.[21]

“…Although the number of studies is limited…there is evidence to suggest that Reiki therapy may be effective for pain and anxiety…”;


Development of a hospital reiki training program: training volunteers to provide reiki to patients, families, and staff in the acute care setting.[22]

“…This program demonstrates that a volunteer-based program can successfully support nurses in meeting patient, family, and staff demand for Reiki services…”;


Reiki and related therapies in the dialysis ward: an evidence-based and ethical discussion to debate if these complementary and alternative medicines are welcomed or banned.[23]

“…While a classical evidence-based approach, showing low-grade efficacy, is likely to lead to a negative attitude towards the use of Reiki in the dialysis ward, the ethical discussion, analyzing beneficium (efficacy) together with non maleficium (side effects), justice (cost, availability and integration with mainstream therapies) and autonomy (patients’ choice) is likely to lead to a permissive-positive attitude…”;


Reiki training for caregivers of hospitalised paediatric patients: a pilot programme[24] “…Based on the successful completion of this pilot program, we conclude that a hospital-based Reiki training program for caregivers of hospitalized pediatric patients is feasible, and may realistically be incorporated into a hospital’s teaching offerings. We also conclude that such a program is able to positively impact and empower patients and their families. While participants in our program subjectively reported perceived benefits, there is a need for more rigorous trials to assess the benefits of Reiki in the paediatric population…”


Symptomatic improvement reported after receiving Reiki at a cancer infusion center.[25]

“…Reiki results in a broad range of symptomatic benefits, including improvements in common cancer-related symptoms…”;


Reiki as a pain management adjunct in screening colonoscopy.[26]

“…Results from this pilot study suggest that there may be a decrease in meperidine needed during screening colonoscopy when patients receive Reiki treatments before the procedure…”;


Benefits of Reiki therapy for a severely neutropenic patient with associated influences on a true random number generator.[27]

“…Statistically significant relationships were documented between Reiki therapy, a quieting of the electronically created white noise of the RNG during healing sessions, and improvement in the patient’s ANC. The immediate clinical result was that the patient could tolerate the high-dose interferon regimen without missing doses because of absolute neutropenia. The patient was initially a late responder to interferon and had been given a 5% chance of clearing the virus. He remains clear of the virus 1 year after treatment…”;


The effects of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in patients attending a day oncology and infusion services unit.[28]

“…Overall, the sessions were felt helpful in improving well-being, relaxation, pain relief, sleep quality and reducing anxiety. Offering Reiki therapy in hospitals could respond to patients’ physical and emotional needs…”;


Effects of Reiki on Pain and Vital Signs when applied to the Incision Area of the body after Cesarean Section Surgery: A single-blinded, randomised, double-controlled study[29]:

“…The Reiki group was observed to use fewer analgesics throughout the study and to need them after a longer time than the sham Reiki and control groups (P < .05…)”;


A phase II trial of Reiki for the management of pain in advanced cancer patients.
Olson K, Hanson J, Michaud M.
Faculty of Nursing and International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Participants experienced improved pain control following Reiki treatment;


Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report.
Olson K, Hanson J.
Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alta
. [31]
Research showed a highly significant reduction in pain following Reiki treatment; 

Pilot crossover trial of Reiki versus rest for treating cancer-related fatigue. [32]
Tsang KL, Carlson LE, Olson K.
Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Participants experienced a decrease in cancer related fatigue and a significant improvement in quality of life;


Energy therapies in advanced practice oncology: an evidence-informed practice approach. Potter P J [33]

“…Reiki as supportive interventions in cancer care…bring harmony and balance to the system in the direction of health…research literature demonstrates the safety of these therapies…”


The empowering nature of Reiki as a complementary therapy.
Nield-Anderson L, Ameling A.
Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
. [34]
The reasons for the increased success of Reiki as an alternative and complementary healing method in the Western world are addressed as well as the practice of Reiki as a healing method for self and others;


Feasibility of Energy Medicine in a Community Teaching Hospital (including Reiki) [35]

“…This study successfully implemented EM provided by a solo practitioner in inpatient and emergent hospital settings and found that acceptability and demand justified its presence. Most patients experienced marked, immediate improvement of symptoms associated with their chief complaint…”;


Reiki therapy: the benefits to a nurse/Reiki practitioner.
Whelan KM, Wishnia GS
Graduate Family Nurse Practitioner Program, Spalding University, Louisville, KY, USA
. [36]
This study evaluates how nurses who gave Reiki therapy perceived the benefit of this therapy on their clients and themselves;


TOMS, Nelda C. Stark College of Nursing, Texas Woman’s University, Houston, TX 77030, USA. [37]: Examined Reiki Therapy and explored Reiki as a valuable nursing intervention;


Autonomic nervous system changes during Reiki treatment: a preliminary study.
Mackay N, Hansen S, McFarlane O.
Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, 1345 Govan Road, Glasgow G51 4TF, Scotland, UK
. [38]
This [pilot] study indicates that Reiki has some effect on the autonomic nervous system;

Reiki as a clinical intervention in oncology nursing practice.
Bossi LM, Ott MJ, DeCristofaro S.
Children’s Hospital Boston, MA, USA
. [39] 
This article describes the process of Reiki, reviews current literature, presents vignettes of patient responses to the intervention and makes recommendations for future study;


Biological Correlates of Reiki Touch Healing
Wardell DW and others,
Journal of Advanced Nursing Vol.33 Issue 4, Pages 439-445
Findings suggest both biochemical and physiological changes in the direction of relaxation;

BALDWIN and SCHWARTZ, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724-5051, USA, [41] have found that Reiki can reduce bleeding caused by excessive noise exposure.

Reiki is beginning to be used in hospitals to accelerate recovery. Despite many anecdotes describing Reiki’s success, few scientific studies are reported and none of those use animals. The aim of this study was to determine whether Reiki can significantly reduce microvascular leakage caused by exposure to excessive noise using an animal model.

In all three experiments, Reiki significantly reduced the outcome measures compared to the other noise groups (p < 0.01);


SHORE AG: Long-term effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and self-perceive stress. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 10 (3): 42-48, May-Jun 2004[42]:

SHORE writes about a trial on the long-term effects of energetic healing on symptoms of depression and stress.
The aim of the study was to examine the long-term effects of Reiki healing on symptoms of depression and self-perceived stress.

46 patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: hands-on Reiki, distance Reiki, or distance-Reiki placebo, with patients blinded to treatment conditions. Each patient received a 1 to 1.5 hour treatment weekly for 6 weeks. Beck Depression, Beck Hopelessness, and Perceived Stress were completed at baseline, port treatment, and one year later.

At the end of treatment, there was a significant reduction in symptoms of psychological distress in both treatment groups compared with controls (p < 0.05), and these differences persisted at one-year follow-up (p < 0.05).

Reiki, whether administered hands-on or at distance, leads to long-lasting improvements in people’s emotional state;


GALLOB, University of Rochester School of Nursing, Loving Touch Center of East Rochester, NY, USA,[43] has reviewed (13 references) the literature on Reiki:

Reiki treatments support the wellbeing and healing process of each individual patient in whatever way the patient needs, on all levels of body, mind and soul. Relaxation, pain relief, physical healing, reduced emotional distress, and a deepened awareness of spiritual connection are among the benefits that have been reported in case studies, anecdotes, and exploratory research.

Reiki is easily adaptable to any setting and provides support and healing for the practitioner as well as for the recipient;

RUBIK and Others [44]
Reiki improved growth of heat-shocked bacteria in a healing context;


Reiki Review of a Biofield Therapy history, theory, practice and research
Miles P, True G
Altern. Ther. Health Med. 2003 Mar-Apr; 9(2): 62-72


Palliative Care Service at NIH includes Reiki and other mind-body modalities
Miles P, Adv. Mind Body Med. 2004 Summer; 20(2
); 30-1[46];


Miles P, Explore (NY). 2005 Sep; 1(5): 414 [47]

If there is any significant experience with using Reiki in the hospital or ER Setting and if there is any literature to support this use?;


FERRARESI and COLLEAGUES, (1) SS Nephrology ASOU, san Luigi (regione Gonzole 10), Orbassano 10043, Torino, Italy, applied integrated evidence based approaches and ethical discussion, to discuss the pros and cons of CAM in the dialysis ward [48].

Results (excerpt):

“According to the EBM approach, Reiki allows a statistically significant but very low-grade pain reduction without specific side effects. Gentle-touch therapy and Reiki are thus good examples of approaches in which controversial efficacy has to be balanced against no known side effect, frequent free availability (volunteer non-profit associations) and easy integration with any other pharmacological or non-pharmacological therapy.”

Listed in Positive Health Online, Issue 225 (17.09.15)


KERR CE, WASSERWMN RH and MOORE. Cortical dynamics as a therapeutic mechanism for touch healing. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 13 (1): 59-66, Jan-Feb 2007 [49]:

Touch Healing therapies, treatments whose primary route of administration is tactile contact and/or active guiding of somatic attention, are ubiquitous across cultures. Despite increasing integration of touch healing into mainstream medicine through therapies such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch and somatically focused meditation practices such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, relatively little is known about potential underlying mechanisms.

This review presents a neuroscientific explanation for the prevalence and effectiveness of these therapies for relieving chronic pain.


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE NURSING 2016, Vol 22, No4 An exploratory study of Reiki experiences in women who have cancer Marilynne N Kirshbaum, Maxine Stead & Serena Bartys & listed here [50]


Distant Healing Intention Therapies: An Overview of the Scientific Evidence.

Radin D, Schlitz M, Baur C. [51]

This, understandably inconclusive but interesting, research may be viewed in the above hyperlink and in the full article here[52] which concludes [my italics added]:

“…[experiments on ‘Distant mental interactions with living systems – DMILS] studies indicate that DHI [Distant Healing Intention] effects are on average small in magnitude, but they do exist, and thus, in principle, some clinical applications of DHI may be efficacious…”;


The Reiki Federation Research: Check for updates [53]


Cancer Therapies Research At The Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust [54];


Cancer Research UK [55];


Further Research in “NHS Evidence”[56]: Insert “Reiki” in the search box.


To conclude, there can surely be no rational objection to healing modalities, including Reiki, receiving the recognition they deserve together with pro-active support for their use within the UK Health and Social Care sectors and elsewhere.




























































This article is based upon a section (at pages 5 & 6) of Richard Eaton’s quarterly Complementary Medicine Roundup – February 2019 newsletter for The College of Medicine and Integrated Health, London. The full text of this and of his previous newsletters may be read here at


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Further Information

Richard Eaton’s book Business Guide for Health Therapists: How to find what you need to Know (3rd edition: January 2019) is available (price: £5.99):

As an e-book (with hyperlinks) from a variety of digital stores at

In print as a coil-bound paperback from Lulu:;

In print as a paperback and as a Kindle/e-book (with hyperlinks) from amazon:


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About Richard Eaton

Richard Eaton LL.B (Hons) died 14 June 2019 of prostate cancer, 65 years old. His professional background was as a barrister (Bar Council - Academic Division) - retired - and as a lecturer in law. He believed that the future for practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine in private practice lies within well-managed Health Centres. He formerly owned and managed, together with his wife Marion Eaton LLB (Hons) Reiki Master Teacher, the Professional Centre for Holistic Health in Hastings, East Sussex. Richard Eaton’s book Business Guide for Health Therapists: How to find what you need to Know is available (price: £5.99): In print as a coil-bound paperback from (Bookstore); In print as a paperback and as a Kindle/e-book from amazon; As an e-book from a variety of digital stores.  Richard wrote a quarterly blog for The College of Medicine (“Complementary” section) and may be contacted via


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