WTF Is Reiki? (And Is There Any Science Behind It?)


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 Need-to-Know Does Reiki Actually Work?

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…

What do you think?