This is not an uncommon statement to come across. I've heard it many times in person and seen it online many times. Here is my response to that notion:
"What makes you so sure? Your view may be based on something that you've read from a reputable source. However, just because something has been published, it does not mean it has been adequately studied. As a medical doctor and clinical researcher, I’ve been observing and studying Reiki for years, and I can tell you that when Reiki is done properly, the results can be quite dramatic (and it is not just a placebo effect).
I swear by science, and the only reason I even learned Reiki originally was for educational and research purposes. If at any point I would have found evidence that Reiki does not work, or if there was even a shred of suspicion in my mind that it only works as a result of a placebo effect, I would not have been able to do it in good conscience. So trust me, Reiki is not nonsense.
To clarify, there are numerous forms of Reiki in existence, and I can’t speak for all of them. I can only speak for the traditional Reiki style (Jikiden Reiki) which has been preserved in Japan, its country of origin. Many spin-off forms of Reiki have been created since the last century and not all of them utilize the most essential and the most important Reiki techniques that were used by the founder of Reiki Mikao Usui.
So I cannot guarantee that the newer Reiki styles work (some of them may only be "Reiki" in the name, but could be something else entirely). All I can say, that in my observational research as a medical scientist, the original Reiki method 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 (Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho) as passed on directly through the Jikiden Reiki lineage is most definitely a remarkable healing art.
Current clinical research in Reiki is very limited and of low quality for the most part - there are numerous design flaws and biases in most of the studies that I’ve read. So the scientific perspective (which is based on CURRENTLY AVAILABLE data) is that Reiki is neither harmful nor helpful. The issue here is that we have very little that is currently available on Reiki that’s not flawed in one way or another.
Just because current clinical research in Reiki is very limited (and of low quality for the most part) and just because at this point science does not have a clear understanding or a clear definition of what Reiki even is, it does not mean that Reiki is “nonsense”.
When you think of Reiki, don’t think ‘snake oil’, think of Reiki (the traditional form) as ‘acupuncture minus the needles’. That’s the best parallel I can draw for you. Not that long ago, scientists did not think much of acupuncture either, but now with better and more extensive research, acupuncture has been demonstrated to be effective for a number of indications.
I have no doubt in my mind, that properly designed and conducted clinical trials would be able to easily demonstrate the effectiveness of Reiki vs. placebo. I have not published any of my own observations yet, but repeatedly seeing and hearing "Reiki is nonsense" makes me want to get into high gear and just get it all out on paper, as well as get funding and staff for proper large scale clinical trials in Reiki. It is so long overdue. I think it’s time to put the scientific doubts about Reiki that are based on inadequate research to rest!"
Who is with me? Time to assemble a research team!
Do you have clinical research experience? Are you open- and scientifically-minded? Grant writer?
Post your comments below. Let's make this happen!
Dr. Maria Danilychev, MD is a hospice doctor, clinical research physician, and a Jikiden Reiki Shihan (master/teacher).