Professor Ernst finds that “The value of reiki remains unproven.”

First, the details.

  • 9 studies were of sufficient quality to review.

And, the results.


  • 2 studies suggested beneficial effects of reiki vs sham control on depression.
  • 1 failed to find benefit.

Pain and anxiety

  • 1 study reported benefit vs sham control.

Stress and hopelessness

  • 1 study reported effects of reiki and distant reiki vs distant sham control.


  • No differences with reiki or functional recovery after ischemic stroke vs sham reiki.

Pregnant women

  • No difference in anxiety in pregnant women undergoing amniocentesis.

Diabetic neuropathy

  • No effects of reiki on pain.

Breast biopsy

  • No effects on anxiety and depression in women undergoing breast biopsy vs conventional care.

The bottom line?
“Trial data for any one condition are scarce and independent replications are not available for each condition. Most trials suffered from methodological flaws such as small sample size, inadequate study design and poor reporting,” concluded the authors.

I found almost 500 published articles on reiki since 1994. Yet, the authors found only 9 studies worth reviewing.

One article stated, “Reiki is presently practiced by 200,000 practitioners throughout the world.” At least by allopathic criteria as followed by Prof. Ernst, “The value of reiki remains unproven.”

5/21/08 22:20 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.