How does Reiki actually work and what are its benefits?

reiki male patient

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a kind of energy healing that takes into account the entire energy structure of the body. The practice of Reiki originated in the 20th century Japan and the term Reiki means “Universal Life Energy” in Japanese. The practice has its roots in spirituality and involves a deeper understanding of the flow of energy in the body. It then uses this knowledge to bring about a healing effect for various ailments and painful conditions.

The practitioners of Reiki can manipulate the energy or the life force that is present in the body and can channel it to the patients as needed. Apart from having healing effects, Reiki also helps in relaxing the system and help in easing the stress and tension in the body as well as in the mind. The energy system that is used in Reiki is called as ‘Ki’ in Japan, ‘Chi’ in China and ‘prana’ in Yogic system of India.

How does Reiki work?

Reiki treatment also helps in enhancing the body’s own healing mechanism so that the system itself can overcome the various ailments. It has a variety of beneficial effects which include lowered heart rate, blood pressure and increased immune strength. The exact theory that brings about these changes is still unknown to modern science.

There have been claims that state that the effects of Reiki originate from a level that is much deeper than the energy body. The practice aims to bring the right level of balance in the energy system and it also brings about a positive change in the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects. Even though the scientific basis of Reiki is still under doubt, there are millions of people who are using Reiki all over the world.

The origins 

The practice of Reiki energy healing using the energy pathway in the body has been around for many thousands of years. In its modern form, Reiki was established by Mikao Usui who established his clinic in Tokyo in the year 1922. He treated Reiki as a spiritual practice and used it in healing a wide variety of conditions.

Among his students, Dr Chujiro Hayashi developed a new form of Reiki which was termed as Usui Reiki. The teachings of Reiki were brought to the west by Mrs Hayayo Takata who was a student of Dr Hayashi and she opened her school in Hawaii. Subsequently, Reiki travelled to Europe in the 1980s. The teachings of Usui Reiki became the most popular ones and other forms of Reiki were gradually overshadowed by its popularity.

The method of Reiki

Reiki is based in the unseen “life force energy” that permeates all living beings. When the overall energy of the body is low and there are blockages in the system, the system will be vulnerable to various ailments. On the other hand, a robust energy system will bring about an overall sense of well-being in an individual.

This energy cannot be measured by scientific instruments but Reiki experts say that the flow of the energy can be measured by those who are tuned with it. Reiki is used for the treatment of a variety of ailments which include the following.

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Infertility
  • Various neurodegenerative disorders
  • Fatigue syndromes

Some research has pointed out that Reiki can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a major effect in reducing the heart rate and blood pressure. Both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system compose the autonomic nervous system and the balance between the two is necessary to maintain a healthy life.

The vagus nerve plays an important role in maintaining this balance in a variety of changing environments. In case the autonomic nervous system is compromised in any way, there can be increased anxiety and depression, along with more symptoms of chronic pain.

It is believed that Reiki therapy can indirectly stimulate the autonomic nervous system via the vagus nerve which can bring about better physical and emotional well-being for an individual. This helps in bringing about speedy recovery after various surgical procedures, lower chronic pain levesl and reduce anxiety along with depression.

The effectiveness of Reiki healing

The fundamental process of Reiki is aimed to bring about wellness in the system and to restore the energy balance. Unlike medicinal therapy, it is not used to target specific diseases. Modern technology cannot measure or map the energy field that Reiki depends on and hence it is not possible to judge its efficacy through scientific methods.

While the physical effects of Reiki like improved heart rate and blood pressure levels can be measured, other aspects like a sense of well-being and reduced stress levels cannot be quantified. While multiple types of research have delved into the various aspects of Reiki, none of them have pointed out any adverse effects arising from it. Reiki does not involve the consumption or the application of any substance and hence physical adverse effects are not present.

More studies are being made to study the impact of Reiki, including its ability to help with a series of ailments like diabetes, advanced AIDS, prostate cancer, fibromyalgia and stress. The studies have also indicated the effectiveness of Reiki to induce relaxation and to reduce pain and anxiety. Various researchers have found that Reiki is more effective than a placebo in relieving various forms of pain.

It also helps in improving self-esteem and quality of life for patients suffering from depression. While there is no evidence to choose it for curing a wide range of ailments, Reiki can be an effective support system to help patients suffering from various chronic ailments. In addition, it is gentle, soothing and suitable for patients of all age groups.

Further research is needed to find out about the effects of Reiki over a long period of time and to examine its benefits in a more detailed manner.

How is Reiki therapy used?

holistic healing reikiLike any other medical practice, the Reiki practitioner will start with inquiries about the overall health of the patient along with the details of the condition he or she is suffering from. After going through the medical history of the patient, a Reiki treatment plan will be formed and discussed with the patient.

The session starts in a relaxed setting with the patient sitting or lying down in a comfortable manner with the shoes off. Any heavy dresses like coats or jackets are also taken off. The Reiki practitioner can also play some music and dim the lights in the room.

They then place their hands a few inches from the body of the patient and move them in some particular patterns. The movement is usually directed from the head towards the foot. A few particular centres in certain areas of the body can be worked upon to enhance the flow of the Reiki energy.

The aim of the process is to allow the energy to flow smoothly in and around the body and remove any blockages that might have formed in its pathway. The feeling experienced by patients can vary depending on the conditions and the ailment.

While some may experience a feeling of warmth or a tingling sensation, other may experience nothing at all. However, most patients experience a deep state of relaxation. A session can last from 20 minutes to an hour.

Many practitioners say that Reiki energy healing works best when three sessions are conducted within a fairly short space of time. The session can make some patients thirsty but strong drinks like coffee or alcohol are best avoided after the treatment.

Some Reiki practitioners also claim that energy healing can be done from a distance and you can experience the benefits of Reiki healing even from the comforts of your home.

The benefits of Reiki

The following are some of the major benefits that Reiki can have on the patient.

– A Reiki treatment promotes harmony and balance in the body. The process focuses on the fundamental problems in the system that are generating the disease instead of acting and suppressing the systems.

– It brings about a sense of deep relaxation in the system that helps to get rid of stress and anxiety. This brings about a sense of calmness along with clarity in the person. The treatment also helps to understand the signals provided by the body more effectively. Stress is one of the major ailments that is severely affecting the health of a wide range of people across the world. Reiki can help in eliminating stress which will lead to a better quality of life at all levels.

– A Reiki treatment can also be very effective in reducing shoulder pain, wrist pain and lower back pain. The treatment also helps in improving the overall range of motion of the affected joint thereby allowing the patient to gain more mobility.

– Reiki can also heal symptoms that are associated with various forms of cancer. Cancer can bring about depression, pain, and fatigue in the life of a patient. Research has pointed out that Reiki sessions can help a patient to cope with these conditions and improve their quality of life. It can also help such patients to get over the feelings of constant tiredness.

– Reiki treatments are also said to bring about better emotional balance in people which can not only help in building better relationships but also assist in the spiritual growth of the individual.

The side effects

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has stated that there is no clear evidence that Reiki helps in improving any health-related conditions. At the same time, it has stated that the practices do not seem to have any harmful effects either.

Using Reiki as a primary mode of treatment for serious health issues and ignoring proper medical help can present a lot of risk for any patient. Many doctors suggest that Reiki healing can be used as a supportive process along with other main forms of conventional treatment.

Some Reiki healers point out that during the treatment, toxins stored in the body are released in the blood stream and this can put some amount of stress on the liver and kidneys. In some cases, this might make a person get a headache or stomach ache or experience weakness. This will be fixed by drinking sufficient water, proper rest and the right kind of food intake.

How to find the right Reiki practitioner

Choosing the right practitioner is very important when you are looking the gain the best benefits from Reiki therapy. The first step in choosing is to look for recommendations from family members and friends who might have used the service. In many cases, your doctor can also provide you with a suggestion.

Doing your research online and gathering the right feedback about the practitioner is also one way to choose. Whoever you choose, it is necessary that you feel comfortable in his or her presence so that the treatment can bring about the best results. Keep in mind that you need to feel relaxed during the session, so a supportive practitioner with the right credentials will be the best choice.


The practice of Reiki therapy is simple and non-invasive and it can also be effectively integrated with other forms of treatment. This is making it not only a popular choice for many patients but also an additional healing element in various hospitals and clinics.

On the whole, Reiki has the right potential to help you recover from pains and bring about a positive effect on your overall well-being. At the same time, the lack of credible evidence in support of Reiki makes many experts doubt its beneficial effects.

It has been established the human touch can have a beneficial effect on the overall well-being of the body. Hence many researchers have concluded that this is the main reason behind the healing effects produced by Reiki. The belief of the patient in the worth of the treatment can also help Reiki to act as a placebo in some cases.

It is best to discuss with your doctor if you are planning to pursue a Reiki treatment so that any potential risks can be taken out of the way. Reiki has shown many promising results till date but much research work is needed to discover its true potentials.

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.





If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.




Top Stories