Autonomic nervous system changes during Reiki treatment: a preliminary study

J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Dec;10(6):1077-81. doi: 10.1089/acm.2004.10.1077.


Objectives: to investigate if a complementary therapy, Reiki, has any effect on indices of autonomic nervous system function.

Design: Blind trial.

Setting/location: Quiet room in an out-patient clinic.

Subjects: Forty-five (45) subjects assigned at random into three groups.

Interventions: Three treatment conditions: no treatment (rest only); Reiki treatment by experienced Reiki practitioner; and placebo treatment by a person with no knowledge of Reiki and who mimicked the Reiki treatment.

Outcome measures: Quantitative measures of autonomic nervous system function such as heart rate, cardiac vagal tone, blood pressure, cardiac sensitivity to baroreflex, and breathing activity were recorded continuously for each heartbeat. Values during and after the treatment period were compared with baseline data.

Results: Heart rate and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the Reiki group compared to both placebo and control groups.

Conclusions: The study indicates that Reiki has some effect on the autonomic nervous system. However, this was a pilot study with relatively few subjects and the changes were relatively small. The results justify further, larger studies to look at the biological effects of Reiki treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Reference Values
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Therapeutic Touch* / methods