Reiki and Anxiety

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

The use of complementary and alternative therapies is significantly growing over the years, and Reiki therapy takes a place of choice. Reiki therapy is useful for relieving pain, decreasing anxiety/depression and improving the quality of life in several conditions.

Reiki can be translated as ‘universal life energy’, where ‘Rei’ means universal and ‘Ki’ means life energy. It is well documented that Reiki therapy was first practised by Dr Mikao Usui at the beginning of the 20th century. Reiki therapy involves the practitioner guiding energy to a living receiver (ie, person,

animals, flora and fauna). Before his death in 1926, Dr Usui taught students to become Masters so that they could teach in turn.

The American National Institute of Health reported that the use of complementary and alternative medicines increased from 38% to 47% for adults between 2007 and 2012. More than 5 years later, it could be expected that the number of hospitals that offer Reiki therapy to their patients is significantly higher.


Five review articles looking at 10 studies were used to investigate the effect of Reiki therapy on anxiety, stress, and depression. Six studies showed that Reiki is able to decrease anxiety in healthy persons as well as in people with various chronic pain conditions such as abdominal hysterectomies, women with breast biopsy, stage I to IV cancer, and community-dwelling older adults.

Moreover, five studies reported significant positive effects of Reiki therapy on depression in groups with various chronic pain conditions, depressive conditions, women with breast biopsies, and elderly people living in community housing or nursing homes.

When Reiki therapy was compared with sham Reiki, standard care, or the resting group, the results showed that Reiki therapy had either a greater effect or no different effect on anxiety or depression. In specific populations aged from 19 to 78 years identified as depressive, Shore specified that either hands-on or distance Reiki therapy were effective at decreasing the Beck Depression.

Furthermore, in an elderly population, between 65 and 91 years old on average, Erdogan and Cinar investigated the effect of an 8-week Reiki therapy program where one session of 45 min was provided by a Reiki Master for the first 8 weeks. In comparison with sham Reiki and control groups, Reiki therapy showed a greater effect on depression scores at 4, 8 and 12 weeks.

The interests in and use of Reiki therapy are growing all over the world, and more specifically, in institutional care. Although there are only a few studies conducted about Reiki, the reviews show evidence of benefits in reducing anxiety and depression.

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