Reiki and Chronic Pain


Here is an interesting article about a study done by Dr. Shamini Jain, from the UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, and Dr. Paul Mills, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, and the Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego, US.

They have published their review1 of the science behind biofield therapies (REIKI, HEALING TOUCH, THERAPEUTIC TOUCH) online recently in Springer’s International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

My Two Cents:

Some people will wonder why I would put this on my blog since it does not paint a perfect picture for Reiki’s success.  Here’s why:

There are few western medicine clinical studies of this nature on CAMs (complimentary alternative medicines) or Biofield modalities.  The fact 88 studies were looked at, and 66 used in the final results says that 1) there are a lot of studies happening, 2) the results are more promising than I think a lot of the skeptical community thought they would find, and 3) it calls for more studies, which we absolutely need.

CAMs and energy medicine are just getting started in western medicine.  We can’t expect that a medical community built on scientific evidence, controlled studies, and the belief that physical ailments can be cured by treating the body without the mind and soul, to accept these alternative treatments with open arms and open minds.  I like evidence as well, and I am not a “blind believer” in all alternative modalities jus because they are considered “alternative.”  I think there are a lot of alternative healing modalities that don’t work well, or don’t work at all.  There are a lot of western healing options that don’t work well or at all either.

The main problem I see, and I am by no means an expert in conducting clinical studies, is that we are taking the criteria for methods that lookk to treat the symptoms and find a cure for the cause, purely on the physical body level. Most eastern medicine, CAMS, biofield, etc healing look at healing the person from a wholistic perspective, meaning we must incorporate the mind and soul in the journey of health.  These methods tend to be slower and more subtle, which may not meet the success of the criteria set forth by western clinical studies.

So yes, we DO need more studies, but we may need to look at how those are managed, researched, and interpreted.



scale of 1-4 for evidence of biofield modalities being effective for diseases and syndromes where pain management is often needed.

Level 1. Strong evidence as indexed by findings.

Level 2. Moderate evidence as indexed.

Level 3. Limited evidence as indexed.

Level 4. Conflicting evidence as indexed.


Biofield therapies show strong evidence (level 1) for reducing pain intensity in pain populations, and moderate evidence for reducing pain intensity hospitalized and cancer populations.

There is moderate evidence (level 2) for decreasing negative behavioral symptoms in dementia and moderate evidence for decreasing anxiety for hospitalized populations.

There is equivocal evidence for biofield therapies’ effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients, as well as for comprehensive pain outcomes and affect in pain patients, and for decreasing anxiety in cardiovascular patients.


There is a need for further high quality studies in this area. Implications and future research directions are discussed.


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