We’re all for out-of-the-box ways to make our health and wellness goals a reality. But it can sometimes be difficult to discern the next best thing from the total B.S.
The latter category is where we were tempted to place Reiki (pronounced ray-kee), a Japanese healing practice in which a practitioner’s hands hover above a patient’s body in order to transfer life-giving energy. But in the name of research, we asked the experts—and science—to see if the idea actually holds water.
The practice, which isn’t as ancient as it sounds, was developed by a Japanese Buddhist in the early 20th century. Proponents of Reiki, which loosely translates to “universal life energy,” claim that therapeutic touch or near-touch on the body can have both mental and physical healing effects. In this way, Reiki is a form of vitalism: a pre-scientific belief that if a person’s spiritual force is low, sickness and stress results; improve that force, and they’ll be healthy and happy.
Despite the Star Wars-esque vibes, these claims are not entirely unfounded. According to a 2010 study, patients who were recovering from a heart attack and received Reiki therapy demonstrated increased heart rate variability and an increasingly positi…