What is Reiki?
Reiki is a therapy often described as palm healing or hands-on-body healing in which a practitioner places hands lightly on or over a patient's body to facilitate the patient's process of healing.
Reiki combines the Japanese and Chinese word-characters of "rei" (spiritual or supernatural) and "ki" (vital energy). One of the basic ideas held by those who practice Reiki is that this vital energy can be channeled to support the body's natural ability to heal itself. - extracted from livescience
Reiki is one of several therapies based on the biofield, or a type of energy field that “regulates everything from our cellular function to our nervous system,” says Shamini Jain, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California–San Diego.
While the biofield itself is generally accepted – it “consists of things that we can measure like electromagnetic energy that actually emanates from us,” Jain says – biofield therapies such as reiki and therapeutic touch are more controversial because they’re based on the idea of a “subtle” aspect of the biofield, which is harder to measure.
“It’s difficult for our Western science to wrap its mind around” because it’s not about popping pills, injecting needles or otherwise altering the body’s chemical composition, says Jain, a clinical psychologist who studies integrative medicine.
Indeed, reiki has its fair share of critics, who point to research that discounts the effects of reiki and other similar alternative therapies as a placebo effect. One study this year in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, for example, evaluated the effect of energy healing on colorectal cancer patients and found the therapy did not improve depressive symptoms, mood or sleep quality. Only study participants who already had a positive attitude toward complementary and alternative medicine practices showed a boost in mood.