Reiki Healing, a Physicians Perspective
I was first exposed to the concept of Reiki Healing back in medical school.
I had a friend who was from Hawaii and he told me he could change my energy.
“I didn’t think much of that experience”
What does that even mean? He didn’t explain much he just asked me to lay down andwhile he did something with his hands (without touching me) while my eyes were closed (I could hear his hands “swooshing” around).
15 minutes later he told me he was done: nothing happened.
To be honest I didn’t think much of that experience afterwards. Mostly because there wasn’t much to think about.
Reiki Healing , Round Two
Recently reiki has come back into my life at full force. I was looking for ways to change certain areas of my life and also to change my perspective on life.
I know what to do if you’re a diabetic, or if you come in with heart failure, but ask me about changing my life perspective?
Well I am definitely NOT board certified in that field.
Living in LA, however, asking around everyone has an opinion or advice on what you can do.
My friend, Megan, suggested I try reiki healing: she had recently started seeing a healer based out of Venice Beach (obviously) and she thought it would help.
This time around I was inclined give reiki healing a second chance as I had been hearing about it and its benefits more often. When I looked more into the art of reiki I realized it had originated from Japan. Well if you know anything about me you would know that I jumped on the bandwagon before you could say “konichiwa”. I have a fascination with all things Japanese: their food, their fashion and now maybe their method for healing? As an MD myself I had (and still have) some skepticism in me.
As a woman of science I also acknowledge that in this universe us humans probably understand and know less than 99.9% of what is actually real and true. So why not right? I mean it wasn’t like was giving away a kidney.
I must admit I have only attended my reiki sessions several times but I like that my healer is engaged with me, I like that she cares and chats with me before and after ( some doctors can take note on that bedside manner). She hugs me when I come and hugs me when I leave.
Yes, most of you skeptics (probably my doctor friends) are rolling your eyes and calling this quackery but give me some time to possibly change your mind.
Maybe it’s the Reiki Healing working
Maybe it is the reiki working, maybe it is an ancient Japanese god smiling down on me or maybe it is the ever so powerful nature of placebo.
All I know is that I feel something each time Ive gone and I can’t deny the efficacy of something until I give it a chance.
Reiki (from the two Japanese words: rei which means universal and ki which means life force: source dictionary.com) is an energy therapy the involves two people: the healer and the one desiring the healing.
The concept of reiki begins from the quirks and quarks.
What that means is that going down to the smallest atoms and even smaller than that – the quarks: the smallest building blocks that make up matter- we are all the same! yes I am a chair and I am a lamp.
Ok, really I am not but the atoms that come together to make you and I are basically the same but at different configurations and energy levels for different objects (ever heard Lauryn Hill’s “everything is everything”: well that is how I interpreted that song).
Does that make sense?
Probably not really if you don’t have basic chemistry and physics knowledge but I had to take almost every chemistry and physics class I saw.
What I am trying to say is that at the core we are all energy in different forms.
The theory behind reiki is that the healer is able to take you from one energy vibration to another. Transform you from the core.
Where is the evidence?
As a physician I was curious. Is reiki healing real?
Or am I just fooling myself each time I go.
The problem is that there can sometimes be a thin line between healing and spirituality.
As a physician I see pastors, priests and most all other religious figures up and down the hospital hallways.
We as physicians have learnt to defer that area of the conversation to these religious figures and sometimes even forget that we may need some spiritual healing.
The truth is that I did an extensive study on the literature out there that examines the clinical efficacy of reiki.
Usually how this is done is by clinical trials where researchers will examine a group of patients and their response to reiki. This is how physicians and pharmaceutical companies can recommend certain treatments and drugs legally to their patients.
The problem that I encountered during my search is that most of these studies have flaws in their methodology and there are not enough studies out there because before recently times there was not funding for treatment options as such.
Medicine is Progressing
However as medicine is progressing with more physicians and researchers looking outside the pharmaceutical box there have been more studies that look at different ways a patient can be treated (such as acupuncture, yoga and massage).
But this doesn’t change that there is not study out there that can prove that reiki is efficacious to use in things such as anxiety, stress, depression, other chronic medical problems or simply energy changing.
Having said this it must be noted that no study was able to conclude that reiki is not helpful.
Most studies were found to be inconclusive and recommended more studies be performed.
In addition no study showed that there was any harm to this form of healing.
What I did find was that there are more and more studies that show the clear benefit of healing touch for almost all chronic illnesses: which arguably is an umbrella of which reiki falls under (don’t tell my Hawaiian friend: but he had no clue what he was doing).
As a physician, here’s what I recommend
As a physician, given the lack of evidence, I cannot and will not recommend reiki healing to any of my patients. However I won’t discourage them either. If they feel that they are benefiting from this treatment modality and it isn’t causing them any harm, or harming anyone else then I won’t get in the way.